PBS and NPR member KQED relies on Vizrt as core of its second-generation virtual set

San Francisco’s KQED, a member of PBS and NPR, is debuting its second generation of virtual sets. Full Mental Jacket (FMJ), which was the agency that built the first-generation sets for them, was recently commissioned to revamp the concept following a major renovation of the KQED headquarters building. The person in charge was Ronen Lasry, Creative Director, FMJ.

The new KQED Newsroom set highlights some of the advances made in the virtual set space in recent years. In addition to the improved quality with Viz Engine 4, one of the most notable new features is FMJ’s use of Viz Arc and how Lasry manages the keys to the set’s iteration and evolution for KQED’s own team.

Viz Arc is Vizrt’s latest augmented reality control system that allows users to drive AR graphics and virtual sets from a single interface. Using Viz Arc within KQED allows Larsy to design and build a virtual set and hand it over to the station along with the tools to drive the set forward on a day-to-day level.

“We no longer need setup and strike days between different studio productions using different sets in the same studio,” adds Jarrett McPeek, Director of Technical Operations at KQED. “Unlike many TV news operations primarily utilizing a single set for daily newscasts, we work with multiple content units – each with its own unique studio production needs and sets. In addition to the vast creative opportunities of virtual, we were seeking increased operational flexibility and efficiency.”

The use of Viz Engine 4, enabled Lasry and the FMJ team to fulfill a design brief that Lasry describes as “having a very San Francisco Bay Area aesthetic.” The virtual set features dark wood paneling for a less traditional news look. The virtual set itself features a mixture of different wood and metal accents along with classic art-deco patterns, as well as a variety of location and background elements that can be updated and fed dynamically with branded or topical graphics.

The virtual set uses Mo-Sys StarTracker for camera tracking and camera robotics from Vinten, and Viz Engine 4 handles real-time rendering techniques. Lasry describes the KQED set as being at the completion of its first phase now, namely getting everything on air, working, and optimized. The next stage is where KQED and FMJ truly start to drive their collaboration forward. The teams have plans for more data-driven content and increased use of charts and graphs as well as a fourth camera, type, motion graphics, and more. By establishing Viz Arc as a central component of the workflow, Lasry ensures KQED has more control and greater opportunity to expand the creative usage of the sets – leading to a better on-screen experience for the station’s many viewers.

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