This season, the New York Mets aren’t turning heads just on the field.
On the corner of 51st Street and Avenue of the Americas, the franchise’s television home recently unveiled dramatic renovations to its Midtown Manhattan studio. SNY, now in its sixth season, debuted a modernized and revitalized set in Studio A earlier this week during Daily News Live.
“We’re really thrilled with it,” says Curt Gowdy Jr., SVP of production and executive producer, SNY. “It was time to update it, and we needed a flexible studio space in Studio A that could give us multiple shows. We are very pleased because it did exceed our expectations. You see it on paper, you see it on storyboards, [but] it doesn’t come alive like it comes alive here.”
SNY’s Studio A, which provides an enviable street-level view of Radio City Music Hall and Rockefeller Center, will provide the setting for Mets Pre- and Post-Game Live, as well as the network’s daily programming, including Daily News Live, The Wheelhouse, Loud Mouths, and SportsNite.
Great Wall of Video
Providing the set’s centerpiece are nine NEC 55-in. monitors tiled in a three-by-three configuration and stacked in a custom-built wall mount constructed by Premier Mounts. The video wall, fed by seven HD clip servers, can show different sources or operate as a single unit, play back channels of graphics, or hook up to a computer-scan converter. Because the desk in front of the video wall can be moved and the monitors can be split into multiple boxes if needed, the possibilities of the wall are seemingly limitless.
“When you’re in a limited space, we try to maximize [it],” says Tom Healy, senior director, SNY. “If [SNY’s analysts and athletes] want to come in here and give a batter’s-box demo or pitching demo, we’ve found ways to sneak in a virtual stadium backdrop. It opens the floor and gives these guys some room to show a pretty good demonstration.”
In total, the set contains 14 monitors, including three 60-in. Panasonic portrait-mode plasma screens, one 65-in. plasma, and a 42-in. plasma installed in the desk.
“[Each monitor] is fed [an] HD source all the time; there is never any SD [fed to] any of them,” says Alex Blanding, senior director of engineering. “They’re all color-corrected and under control of the video operator, so we can paint all those monitors to match perfectly to the cameras, which is a very important part of making it look good. I’ve seen other people try and cut corners, and it doesn’t work.”
SNY will continue to film its studio shows with Sony HDC 900 series cameras.
Lights, Camera, Action
As the official home of the New York Mets, Jets, and Big East Conference, SNY approached the renovation with the intention of making the Studio A set as flexible and versatile as possible.
“We went from a very classical wood look to a much more progressive, sleek, and energetic look,” says Healy. “We’re always continuing to expand our coverage, and, from the get-go, the process was to have maximum flexibility that [allows us to] change the look [of the set] and to always produce a high energy.”
The set’s lighting design allows each show to have an individual look and color scheme. Rather than host each show against a uniform backdrop, SNY can adjust the graphics, camera positions, and color scheme of the set to blue and orange for Mets programming, green for Jets, and so on.
Although the change may be easy to execute, the design process was complex and ambitious, requiring creativity and an indefatigable attention to detail. Partnering with Creative Dimensions and The Lighting Design Group, SNY tore down the old lighting fixtures, cleaned and replaced those that could be reused, and created a lighting design comprising more than 9,000 LED lights.
After signing off on the concept to renovate the studio early this year, SNY began the process on St. Patrick’s Day and worked steadily for three weeks to ready the set for its April 9 target date. CLICK HERE to see a time-lapse video of the renovation.
“Anything like this is a huge collaborative effort,” says Bill Clarke, VP of Operations, SNY. “The process couldn’t have been much smoother, given the scope and the complexity of it. It’s really a credit to everybody that it went as well as it did.”