Earlier today I was only able to catch bits and pieces of MSNBC’s broadcast from 30 Rock. After having gone through my DVR when I got home tonight, it appears I wasn’t really getting the whole picture. This has prompted me to revisit my earlier comments from this morning and re-examine my thoughts on the broadcast.
I’ll start off with the newsroom noise. Admittedly, I wasn’t expecting it. I’d grown accustomed to the “quiet newsroom” broadcasts which are a staple of both cable and broadcast news. However, upon further review, I feel the need to modify my original position. I had originally started thinking about this when I compared it to CNBC’s NYSE broadcasts and how having the anchors on the floor of the NYSE added a feeling of energy to CNBC’s broadcasts. When I looked at it from that light, MSNBC’s newsroom noise took on a whole different aspect. Watching a whole newscast for an hour from start to finish, my earlier misgivings of the noise pretty much dissapeared. It does add a level of energy to the overall delivery.
While I still have some negative reactions to the over-reliance on in studio zooming, particularly when conducting satellite interviews, I have to say that MSNBC has done a remarkable job with regards to shot blocking and lighting. Considering that the anchor desk is frequently changing positions - and I’m still in awe as to how they manage to change the desk’s orientation so quickly and seamlessly - we rarely see any of MSNBC’s cameras poking through unless it’s an extreme wide shot of the studio. This is all the more remarkable considering that those cameras are moving constantly around the studio.
When MSNBC was in Secaucus you could see issues with the lighting where some orientations weren’t as good as others. But in 30 Rock I couldn’t find any issues with lighting. Judging from some of the wide shots I saw, MSNBC’s lighting scheme is based on lights that are mounted to rotating swivels and are probably computer controlled. Which means that no shot should wind up being poorly lit. From a technical standpoint, this is a phenomenal achievement.
The sheer number of in studio guests on MSNBC shot up big time today. No longer will MSNBC have to worry about booking problems with people not being able to cross the Hudson and have to appear in front of some duratrans background, something that happened all too often when MSNBC was in Secaucus. This alone is a major plus for improving MSNBC’s broadcasts.
Having the meteorologists on the second floor was a stroke of genius. With all the talk of Weather Plus moving to CNBC, I was certain we’d be stuck with remote weather forecasts when MSNBC moved to 30 Rock. Not so, it turns out. It’s all taking place in the same studio.
Just like the old addage of “you can’t judge a book by its cover”, you can’t judge a news broadcast by only catching bits and pieces. When I was finally exposed to the whole newscast via DVR, my impressions of MSNBC’s new digs changed remarkably. The technical achievement alone in the planning of the layout of the studio, the set pieces, the lighting, the camera angles…was nearly flawless. I was once tipped off way back that they were toying with the idea of using flashing syren lights and turning the studio blood red for breaking news events. I point this out not to mock what appeared to me to be a horrible idea, but to illustrate that the bad ideas got weeded out as this whole thing came together.
It’s not perfect of course. My position has not budged one iota on the “shooting the monitor wall” approach to covering live shots or showing still images. I never liked it when CNN does it on The Situation Room or FNC does it with the Live Desk and I see no reason to modify that position now. On the other hand I don’t have a problem with shooting the monitor wall as a tease for upcoming events. Maybe those two positions conflict with each other but I don’t think they do.
All in all MSNBC had a very good day today. As the days and weeks unfold we’ll see just how much moving MSNBC to 30 Rock will truly impact MSNBC’s news coverage in a positive way. Today was a good start….