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Let's Design A Lighting System For Your TV Studio

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Projects Department Ltd has been around for over 18 years but with a combined resource of over 40 years providing consultancy, design, supply and installations of TV studio around the world.

Our smallest was an automatic roulette wheel in a sound proofed cupboard in Malta and our largest to date was the multimillion dollar Egyptian Media Production City which took 10 years from initial planning in 1992 to hand over in 2002. But just how do you go about making a space into a TV studio?

There are some very important initial questions to be addressed. One of the first has to be, "What is the primary use of the studio?" Clearly a light entertainment studio needs more than a simple news and interview studio.

Then comes the physical constraints such as what height do I have and how much weight can the building carry. Electrical and air conditioning constraints are tending to disappear as more and more LED lights are being used but the shape of the room, the entry points, windows and other constraints, such as air conditioning layout, also play an important role in the layout of the lighting grid.

With careful design it is possible to integrate the grid into the design of the studio ceiling thereby allowing all the requirements to co-exist whilst still working optimally. This approach can effectively give another 1 metre in height that would otherwise be lost to services. For example, the lighting grid shown here is a little over 3.5 metres from the floor so we worked with the other trades and the final design has acoustic treatment within the spaces of the grid. Fire suppression and cable routes for other equipment runs above the lighting bar where the there is no power outlets. The curtain track has been custom designed to fit the room ensuring that studio floor space is kept to a maximum.

So now we start to know how the studio will look and feel. We know where we can hang lights and get power and data for them.

It is now time to start thinking about what those lights will be. Of course many studios are multipurpose and the lights used on one day could be entirely different to the ones used yesterday or tomorrow and this is where the flexibility of the lighting grid design is paramount. It is vital in these cases to ensure that there are sufficient power and data points for the huge possible selection of lighting that could be used.

For news and interviews, high quality white light is very important. When there are no other distractions, such as moving lights and colour, the viewer will quickly notice if your presenters start to resemble Shrek!

This is where I run out of room in a short introduction like this and so you can contact Projects Department Ltd for help with the design of your studio.

This article also features in the December edition of Broadcast Film & Video.

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