john christopher burns DESIGN

email is jcb at thisdomain,
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Rooms with a virtual view.


Creating a home for a daily health program.

When the producers at chTV in Hamilton, Ontario wanted to create a daily health magazine program for syndication, they had one basic problem—the host and interview segments would have to be produced on tight deadlines around the many news segments the station aired daily. But since their newscasts were produced using a virtual set system from Orad, we were able to develop an entirely different look for Body & Health that could be switched into to the empty green-walled studio at the touch of a button. The cameras and crewpeople didn't have to move from news set to health set—it simply changed inside the computer.

We tried to devise a set that had numerous angles that provided enough of a variety of backgrounds to support a daily program, from a large flat panel display to a triple-stack of flat panels to a room that looked like a corridor outside an operating room. An interview area took center-stage, and large vertical translucent windows lent a strong ‘daytime’ feel to the set. The elements were created and shaded in Photoshop and assembled into a virtual environment with Lightwave, and then converted into a specialized 3D format for use inside the Orad system. Virtual set construction involves careful calculation and design to make sure that camera positions and angles represent what you might experience in the real world, and it's important to design a set that has the subtlety to stay in the background, to not call attention to itself.

Outside the virtuality, we tried to establish a bold, elegant look for Body & Health that featured dynamic, abstract blue backgrounds with bright caustics and curved shapes. We created a large library of 3D elements that represented the most frequently discussed topics on the program, and used them on the show open as well as featuring them on specialized segment graphics.