Earlier this year, I got a call from Bruce Ferri of Ferri Lighting Design & Associates (FLDA) interested in a new solution for CNBC headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. He had an idea for enhancing the studio space and wondered if I could make it work.
Because the timing was good, I went out to CNBC that night for a look. We talked the next day about what they wanted. As is often the case in the early stages of a project, CNBC said, “It’s got to go like this and like that,” and I replied, “Well, no, it can’t go like that. I’ll bring out some pieces, and you’ll see.”
And that’s what I did. We spent an hour and a half in the space talking about their goal — to install a rolling green screen on one wall of the set — and how to make it happen. Once they saw what I was talking about in terms of spatial relationships, we were all on the same page and ready to move forward.
After taking more precise measurements and confirming the details, my team went ahead an installed a rolling green screen approximately 15 feet wide and 12 feet tall. In addition to enabling control from the lighting console, we added a keypad with custom controls. To minimize any impact on CNBC production operations, our team spent a long overnight shift putting the system in place. From initial phone call to finish, the project took less than a month.
When extended to cover a wall behind the presenter’s desk, the new green screen provides a smooth chroma key backdrop that allows the production team to digitally place video, still images, graphics, or a combination of those elements as a backdrop. With this flexibility, it’s easy to create a more immersive environment for the presenter and audience.
CNBC could have updated the set by putting in a new video wall, but the cost would have been exorbitant by comparison. Along with its low cost and relatively quick installation, a green screen solution allows users to keep power consumption down and heat generation much lower.
While a stand-alone green screen was a great solution for this CNBC studio, a green screen can also be valuable in windowed sets with an outdoor view. When incorporated along with gels and shades into a daylight control system, the green screen opens up a wealth of new options for adding visuals to an existing set. In both scenarios, the green screen is a convenient and affordable solution for giving a different look and a fresh life to existing studio space.
A studio build represents a significant investment. By making it easy to customize a studio set, the addition of a green screen can not only enhance that environment but also make it possible to leverage the space more often and in more ways. It’s been a winning choice for CNBC, which is already planning to enhance its San Francisco bureau with a similar solution.