SNY Studios at 4 World Trade Center, the home of the New York Mets, has one of the most unique settings for a broadcast studio anywhere. Located on the 50th floor of 4 World Trade Center, the studio offers breathtaking views of Manhattan below. For all its glamour and excitement, though, the skyscraper venue presents challenges when it comes to lighting broadcasts.
Having enough output during the day to stand out against the open-air background without bouncing light off windows is essential to making the studio’s system work; so too is having solid low ends when broadcasting at night. Mike Grabowski of the Lighting Design Group met these and other challenges at the state-of-the-art SNY 4 studio with help from over 300 CHAUVET Professional Ovation fixtures.
“SNY’s Studio 42, numbered after baseball great Jackie Robinson, has a unique environment because it’s up so high,” said Grabowski. “Unlike other windowed studios in New York, which are located on the first or second floor, this one is 50 stories up, so you have a lot of open sky. Given the location of the studio, we needed fixtures that are great at the high end and able to produce a lot of clean bright light for daytime shows. Then at night, we wanted those same fixtures to have solid low ends at about 10 foot-candles, so we could light the set while still having all the twinkling lights of the city be visible in the background.”
The output and low-end capabilities of the Ovation fixtures were not the only features that made them invaluable in this installation. Grabowski also placed a premium on their color rendering capabilities.
“There are two other studios in this complex besides Studio 42,” said Grabowski. “Both of them are numbered after Mets players: Studio 31 for Mike Piazza and Studio 41 for Tom Seaver. “Everything here is sports themed, so color fidelity is essential. We need to reproduce sports team colors like Jets Green and Mets Orange. It can’t be kind of like those colors, it has to be those exact colors. So, we need a great deal of finesses in our lighting, which is exactly what the Ovations have delivered.”
SNY’s lighting system utilizes 316 Ovation E-910FC ellipsoidal fixtures, 24 of which have 19° lenses, 50 with 26° lenses, 191 with 36° lenses and 51 with 50° lenses. “The Ovations are distributed throughout all three studios, so they fill a very wide variety of roles,” said Grabowski. “They make up all of the talent light and many of the scenic accents. Every highlight on the metal panels in Studio 31 (the Mike Piazza studio) is created by an Ovation fixture. Really, you can’t look at a shot on SNY without seeing something that is driven by the Ovation fixtures.”
Studio 31 serves as a “chameleon” at the station, notes Grabowski. Serving a variety of functions, it is painted in neutral grays and neutral metal accents, but through its lighting can turn from authentic Mets Orange to Jets Green or any other color depending on programming requirements. The design in Studio 41 is more directly driven by the look of Citi Field, home of the Mets.
“We need to reproduce the colors and accents of the stadium to bring that flavor into Studio 41,” said Grabowski. “The Ovations gave us this capability. What makes this even more impressive is that a lot of the scenery we want to show off goes to the ceiling or pretty close to it, so short yoking is a must.”
Also, a must in this project was that all fixtures in the three studios be powered by LED engines. “We knew we needed to go all LED, because of the amount talent positions and surfaces in the room,” said Grabowski. “Our lights needed to be workhorses that didn’t produce excessive heat. The Ovations did this, plus they have a full spectrum of color, which allows us to pivot more easily and move between lighting scenery and talent, all while meeting the needs of this very unique broadcast setting.”