Director's Pass: The Ultimate Challenge (part 2)

Yesterday, we shot in a news studio! It was very cool and the footage looked awesome! Incidentally, this station, KSTP-TV, was the first full-color television station in the country, way back in 1961. Now they’re making the transition to high definition.

This all came about because The Ultimate Challenge calls for a news studio location, and I figured that before I ultimately gave up and attempted to fake one, I should do my due diligence and send out a shotgun blast of e-mails to all the TV stations in the city, fully expecting never to hear back from them. Surprisingly, an incredibly nice woman who is the operations manager for KSTP got in touch with me and said that we could indeed shoot in their studio. Fox turned me down—just sayin’. (And KARE, whose call letters indicate that they should be the nice ones, completely ignored me.)

But it’s all for the better, because of a really beautiful coincidence. My fictional news station moniker of choice is Eyewitness 2 News, simply because it’s generic while sounding specific (the phrase “Eyewitness News” is in widespread use and therefore cannot be trademarked), and guess what?

Don Peterson as Eddie, news director

Don Peterson as Eddie, news director

That’s what: giant metal signs reading “Eyewitness News” all over the place in the studio. Also, only one piece of trademarked signage for us to avoid, and no copyrighted images printed on the backdrops. I can’t think of a more ideal location anywhere else in the world.

Kathryn Criston (director of photography)

Kathryn Criston (director of photography)

A brief bit of geekery:The studio is set up pretty much as expected (three-camera setup on the news desk), but I did take note of a few things: The overhead lighting is a mixture of tungsten and photo-flo fixtures. The tungsten fixtures seem to be predominately Baby Moles. There are two PC workstations set up so their screens are visible through the glass-topped desk, and a laser printer is positioned a few feet behind the desk for easy access. The backdrop is composed of an array of functioning video screens displayed behind a diffusion screen. My favorite, though, were the cardboard cutouts of video patch bays installed at the top of the set (to help it look more high-tech?)

Andrew Gingerich (director) and Matt Kane (excelsior grip)

Andrew Gingerich (director) and Matt Kane (excelsior grip)

The second half of the day was spent in abject misery on the palatial estate of a cycling champion. I wore trash bags inside my shoes and the weather was a bad problem. I don’t want to talk about it.

Sincerely yours (with much gratitude),
Andrew Gingerich

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