Two-story studio features over 5,000 square feet of LED space
Sunday marks the start of the 29th season of the NFL on Foxand, to mark the occasion, the network’s popular pregame show, Fox NFL Sunday gets a new home.
Fox Sports is set to unveil a new Studio A at its Fox Studios Lot facility in Los Angeles. The large two-story space features a large anchor desk, offers multiple shooting locations, and leans heavily on LED and augmented reality graphics and imagery with 5,130 square feet of LED wall and floor panels .
“The practical set is absolutely beautiful,” says Zac Fields, SVP, Graphics Technology and Integration, Fox Sports. “It’s very impressive, but I’m a little more excited about what we can do with the LED volume. It’s this next evolution of technology that I think everyone in the industry is working on. is super exciting.
The studio, designed in partnership with Jack Morton Design, features an LED volume comprised of extended reality (XR) technology. Fox has invested in solutions from Vizrt (11 engines) to render all LED monitoring, Unreal Engine (25 engines) to render all AR and LED volume, and Stype’s Stypeland for Unreal Engine camera tracking. The set also uses Stype solutions for multiple display across the entire LED volume.
The studio features new cameras from Grass Valley, new lenses from Canon and a 24-foot screen. Technocrane. Four cameras on set can follow live simultaneously in the LED volume.
“I think it’s probably the most technically challenging set we’ve ever built,” says Fields, who has worked at Fox Sports since 2000. “In terms of the amount of LEDs, how it’s used in a live environment and the number of graphics renderers and the power there, it was no small task, it took the whole team here to get where they are.
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Fox Sports has invested considerable effort in integrating Unreal Engine into its studio operations. The Charlotte, North Carolina-based broadcaster’s NASCAR, which opened in 2019, was a major milestone in Fox’s work in virtual studios. This studio, however, used a green screen rather than LEDs. Fields says that during the construction of the Fox NFL Sunday set, his team preferred LED to green screen in favor of on-set talent: Curt Menefee, Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long, jimmy johnsonand Michael Strahan.
“I would say that was a big factor in our use of LED on a green screen,” Fields says. “We’ve been doing green screens for a while, and the talent gets used to it, but when they interact with anything on the walls, they don’t really see it. With LED, they do. It’s a bit more natural for them and it’s an easier transition.
The studio has been a long sprint for the Fox Sports team with over six months and over 30,000 combined hours of work getting it ready for Sunday’s debut.
“We needed all that time and could have used more of it to figure out how to work with it,” Fields says. “How are the cameras taken in this environment? How do you illuminate subjects and create shadows in real time on a floor? How to make scenes effective so you can have several different ones, because you know you’re going to grow. Couldn’t put value at least given the time we have because it’s new and works totally differently. You can’t shoehorn things like you might have in the past.