Photo courtesy of Avalon.
Having worked on the show’s previous series, White Light recently supplied the technical system to run all the visual content on the latest socially distanced series of The Russell Howard Hour. The company also helped create the technical set-up of the show’s newly built lockdown studio, ‘Your Questions Room’.
WL has worked on The Russell Howard Hour for the past two years, having initially being approached by the show’s production company Avalon. The company’s role is to provide a system to run all of the content being sent to the screens throughout the studio. This includes those positioned behind Russell Howard which act as his backdrop and a point of reference for most segments.
WL’s Key Account Manager for Broadcast Ian Charlampowicz explains: “The content used is based on a main run of the show but changes every week depending on what topics were being discussed. As we live in a world where so much is changing day in, day out, we had to utilise a system that would respond quickly to any last-minute changes. As such, on the day of recording, our team, led by Lee Woodger and Alex Loftie, has to program in new bits of content for that day’s show which often includes different guest introductions, updating the topic images and, from time to time, adding an entirely new section”.
One of the most important aspects of WL’s role is to create a relaxed, helpful environment for Russell Howard which allows him to feel at ease and completely confident that no disruptions will occur; hence he can focus solely on presenting the show. To achieve this, WL drew on the disguise media server, which it has also used on other high-profile broadcasts. The show is filmed at BBC Studioworks, White City, and the server linked into the in-house system allows the vision mixer to overlay content and graphics on the screens inside the studio. Once the video feeds have been sent to the studio’s system, they can then be distributed around the studio to feed the screens. Another advantage of the disguise system is the ability to see content live within the visualizer, which allows any last-minute changes to be made as and when required.
As a company renowned for its adaptability, the past few months have been particularly busy for WL’s Broadcast team, in which they have been approached to work on productions which must adhere to new government guidelines. This includes BBC One’s VE and VJ Day Tributes as well as Eurosport’s Grand Slam Tennis coverage. The company was also asked to assist with the build of a new ‘lockdown studio’ being used on The Russel Howard Hour.
Ian explains: “As guests from outside of the UK could not travel due to the current restrictions, Russell conducted a number of his interviews virtually. The main studio space itself seemed too large for this so a specific room was created in which Russell could virtually interview guests. This was essentially an office which featured set walls that replicated the aesthetic of the main show. Our role was to supply the lighting which complimented the sets as well as create certain affects such as shadows and colouring”.
The Russell Howard Hour Series Four started earlier this month, with episodes being broadcast at 10pm every Thursday on Sky1.
Ian concludes: “It was brilliant to once again be working on The Russell Howard Hour. Not only were we able to continue supplying the reliable technical system that we have done for the past two years, but we also showed our ability to adapt to the new restrictions in place by helping create the lockdown studio. It’s a great example of how we can work with our clients and create bespoke set-ups which allow them to continue working in these ever-changing times”.