New NFL on FOX set a dazzler
When it comes to FOX Sports, there’s no place like dome.
Studio 2A at the FOX Network Center is center of the FOX universe, home to NFL on FOX and CFB on FOX. And as our universe changes, so will the universe at FOX, as a redesigned, state-of-the-art domed set greets viewers this month.
The brainchild of Clickspring Design and designer Bryan Higgason, the new studio can be described as a mix of new-age sports stadium and the ultimate man cave.
"Our goal was to create a unique and dynamic home to showcase not only FOX Sports' signature pre- and postgame shows, but to also have the flexibility to air all of FOX Sports Media Group's studio assets, and that goal has certainly been accomplished," said FOX Sports Media Group President Eric Shanks. "We hope our viewers agree and will now enjoy their favorite FOX Sports shows from their brand new home."
Viewers will see a dome-like structure that features wall-to-wall television screens that can offer a single view or multiple displays, a state-of-the-art demonstration field, a new interview area and many other unique components that combine into the ultimate hub for sports fans.
“Shanks and (former FOX Sports Chairman) David (Hill) stress the fact that we do big events and that we are at the event, a part of it,” explains FOX Sports Executive Vice President of Graphics Gary Hartley. “So we take a live shot with that kind of scale behind your talent and it literally feels like you are looking in to the event.”
But it’s about more than just making sure everything looks good. The new set is also functional, beginning with it being a 360-degree set that allows cameras to give viewers the best angles.
Then, there’s the view itself.
“There are around 179-180 (TV) screens on the main set that can be combined into a huge video walls. The reason for them is that it allows us to rebrand programming for different networks and different shows for different sports graphically without having to do a big structural re-haul,” says Hartley. “So the combination of being able to reorient the desk and change the graphics and/or the video we are feeding into them creates an opportunity to get more flexibility.”
Opposite the demonstration field, which offers a touch-screen to help break down plays and give a deeper look at the game, viewers will get a glimpse inside the referee war room, where FOX Sports’ rules analyst Mike Pereira and his group of current and former officials keep tabs on all college football and NFL games during the weekend to break down the good and bad calls.
“I really feel a part of the group now. Just being on the same set as everybody brings us all together,” said Pereira, who was the NFL's vice president of officiating from 2004-09. “I’m really looking forward to being in here Sunday and look outside (our room) and see Howie (Long), Terry (Bradshaw), Jimmy (Johnson), Michael (Strahan) and Curt (Menefee) sitting there — I’m really looking forward to when they don’t agree with a call and start throwing things at me!
''It’s been a fantastic two years that I’ve been doing this, and I wasn’t really enthused about the new surroundings when I first heard about it but now that I’ve seen it I really feel part of a group and I think it’s going to be very functional. I’m really happy with it.”
Pereira will be with his team on set most of the day during college football Saturdays and throughout the NFL on FOX games on Sunday, answering fan questions via his Twitter account, @MikePereira.
“The one thing I really want to do is teach rules, and the more people I can reach through Twitter through more games like with college (football), then I have even a better chance of helping people understand the rules.”
From start to finish, the ambitious new set took close to a year, with design and construction taking up almost five months of that time span, according to Hartley.
FOX Soccer, which will use the set throughout the year, as well as CFB on FOX, got to break it in earlier this month, while NFL on FOX will be making its debut this weekend.
“The new set is first class, aesthetically pleasing and fun,” said former Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George, a CFB on FOX analyst. “As good as the players have become in college football, the FOX set takes broadcasting to another level.”