SBS World News sees bright future with ARRI

When the Australian broadcaster needed to convert and update their studio with a complete LED package, they turned to ARRI Lighting.

Apr. 11, 2018

Known for its quality of programing and very high production standards, SBS is one of only two public broadcasters in Australia. Recently SBS’ flagship World News program had been scheduled to receive a new set and updated graphics package. As part of the project, the opportunity was taken to refresh the look of the studio lighting, clean up the lighting grid and convert the studio to LED fixtures. For the lighting component of the new studio revamp SBS chose an ARRI fixture package designed and supplied by ARRI’s Australian lighting distributor and systems integrator, Barbizon Australia.

For this unique project, Barbizon was tasked with providing a full turnkey solution which included designing, supplying, installing, and programing all of the lights, something Paul Lewis, Barbizon’s Systems Manager, acknowledged took great care, planning, and preparation. Lewis explained, “SBS has been a customer of Barbizon’s for many years and we have conducted a number of LED reviews at their facilities updating the fixtures and control in many of their other studios. The SBS World News Programme studio upgrade was another such project and one where we again recommended ARRI lighting solutions.”

There were a number of challenges that needed to be overcome before the project and installation could begin with one of the main issues being a requirement to hide or remove clusters of large fluorescent fixtures and tungsten fittings, all of which previously hung in close proximity to the host desk. Lewis continued, “The solution naturally lay in the selection of fixtures. We also had to upgrade the existing serial DMX512 control system to an Ethernet based sACN system with DMX distribution throughout the studio. The old lighting system was 36 dimmers with limited LED in the scenery whereas the new total LED fit out by its nature required multiple universes of DMX to be distributed around the studio and the lighting grid to supply data to both the fixture and the extensive LED built into the scenery.”

With Barbizon meeting all of SBS’ technical requirements the broadcaster purchased multiple ARRI SkyPanel lights and fixtures including their S120-C Black Pole Op, S60-C Black Pole Op and S30-C Black Pole Op and multiple L7-C Black Pole Op and L5-C Black Pole Op LED Fresnel lights. Lewis continued, “SBS also asked us to freshen up and modernize the lighting style so they could utilize the set for multiple programs and genres. This in turn meant the lighting system had to be particularly flexible in order to adapt as they added workload into the studio.”

He added, “For me as the lighting designer, the ARRI SkyPanel and in particular the S120-C with an intensifier and 30Deg Honeycomb provides a beautiful base source for news desk and panel hosting situations. It is broad and soft with a lovely wrap yet at the same time is defined and easily contained. The light emitted from the SkyPanel with the intensifier also carries further which means I can hang them further out, unlike traditional fluorescent sources which appear to drop off faster and need be placed close in. Using all three models of SkyPanel as my soft sources for base, upstage kicker, and fill it was a natural fit to then use the matching ARRI L7-C for key lights and L5-C for backlights.”

Whilst the initial show commissioned was SBS World News, with the studio operating at a consistent 5500K color temperature to match the monitors and screens built into the set, Lewis, the Barbizon team, and SBS production are also looking forward to exploring the possibilities of utilizing the full color gamut mixing capabilities of the ARRI L-Series for future shows. He explained, “When there is a show that’s booked into the studio where color in backlights is appropriate this new setup will be ideal. The pole operated option SBS have chosen is also key in this studio given that turnaround times between studio bookings and on-air commitments is very short. The studio also runs as a two-operator automated system, so all changes are able to be performed by the technical director without assistance.”

The new studio setup runs up to 12 hours per day on average dependent on the breaking news of the day. With this level of use and activity the lights chosen and used are absolutely key to the success of any show. Paul Lewis explained, “Using the combination of fixtures that we have has allowed the studio to be refurbished leaving a very clean and open lighting grid making it very friendly for wide shots fulfilling one of SBS’ main requirements. LED has also by its very nature increased the reliability of the lighting system and has reduced power consumption by 80%.”

When all was said and done the new studio upgrade and refresh was a great success. This was in part due to Barbizon Australia and ARRI's comprehensive solution for refits and new TV studios. Paul Lewis concluded, “The best way to describe the Barbizon and ARRI solution is as a complete and integrated one with the range of ARRI fixtures acting as the workhorse fittings of a production studio combined with Barbizon’s control systems integration knowledge and capability to make the system work. For new studio builds we provide consultancy services at the initial building design phase bringing our extensive studio installation experience to ensure that the lighting control infrastructure, power infrastructure and rigging is capable of allowing the end user lighting designers to utilize modern lighting fixtures such as the ARRI SkyPanel and the ARRI L-Series. We also strive to accommodate all current requirements whilst simultaneously providing options for future technology advances in lighting.”

Equipment Supplied for the new SBS World News studio included: 

- 2 x ARRI SkyPanel 120-C
- 3 x ARRI SkyPanel 60-C
- 9 x ARRI SkyPanel 30-C
- 7 x ARRI L7-C
- 14 x ARRI L5-C

For more information on ARRI SkyPanel lighting solutions go to: http://www.arri.com/lighting/skypanel/ 
For more information on ARRI L-Series lighting solutions go to: http://www.arri.com/lighting/l_series/ 
For more on Barbizon Australia go to: http://www.barbizon.com.au 

Photos: SBS World News