Black News Channel, which launched on Feb. 10 and is the nation’s only African American news network, features a dynamic news set lit with Brightline L1.2 and L1.4 SeriesONE LED soft light fixtures. Based in Tallahassee, Fla., BNC is available on Spectrum, Xfinity X-1, and Dish Network, and is expected to reach more than 100 million homes in the near future with additional distribution partners.
Designed by Devlin Design Group in Scottsdale, Ariz., the main set is about 2,000 square feet with a lighting grid outfitted with almost 70 lights. The centerpiece of the set is a news desk bookended with vertical LED screens. Two large LED video walls are located on either side of the news desk, along with a small interview set to one side. RGB lighting elements, which required extensive DMX programming, are positioned across the set, so the look of the newscast can be changed instantly.
Kenny Elcock, director of engineering and operations for BNC, said the concept behind the set was to “create a cultural experience for our viewers and still maintain a network quality.” As a startup news organization offering specific content, BNC needed a set that would allow multiple shot setups within a relatively small space. According to Elcock, response to the set has been “overwhelmingly favorable.”
Lighting designer Bill Holshevnikoff developed the lighting for the news set as well as the channel’s green screen virtual studio, a separate space equipped with about 20 L1.2 and L1.4 fixtures. As in many of today’s news sets, the RGB lighting elements – including hanging set pieces, walkways, and video wall backlights – created some talent lighting challenges.
“They wanted a very colorful, RGB-driven set,” explained Holshevnikoff. “When that happens, you’ve got to keep all your lighting for talent off the RGB elements or the color won’t pop. You really have to work hard to control that spill light. Brightline has great control options on their fixtures, so you can make sure you’re not spilling light on the RGB elements and spoiling the color.”
Another challenge BNC faced was providing consistent lighting for the variety of skin tones of the on-screen talent. “Lighting people of color is a challenge,” Elcock noted, “but because we chose right, we’ve been able to overcome all those challenges. Brightline was a perfect fit.”
A 35-year lighting director and director of photography veteran, Holshevnikoff has seen some significant changes in news set design over the past few years.
One of the biggest changes is the need to light the entire space to allow for talent movement – without washing out video screens and other set elements.
“Instead of a weather wall, everyone has gone to big LED video walls,” he said. “News directors love movement, and now there’s a lot more talent movement, so we have to light for more movements and multiple locations.”
For general task lighting in the newsroom, BNC is using Flex-T LED lights that are pendant mounted from the ceiling via custom brackets. The low-voltage Flex-T fixtures are controlled via DMX through wall stations. During shows, the main studio console can take control of the lights, creating a fully integrated studio/newsroom lighting system.