Launched in April 2016, ViuTV is the second biggest free-to-air TV station in Hong Kong. The TV broadcaster regularly airs a variety of live entertainment, talk shows, music programs, dramas, and news on both its Chinese and English channels. Determined to create studios that will stay ahead of the curve, ViuTV built a massive 2,000 sqm facility in 2019 with the help of ARRI Asia and its partner distributor, New Digital Technology (NDT) Ltd.
“When our team built these three studios, it was always meant to be for the future,” explained ViuTV’s AVP for production and facilities, Mr. Mike Lau. “It needed to be 4K-ready, have the potential to generate high dynamic range (HDR), and be able produce a wide color gamut (WCG). We carefully selected every single piece of equipment based on these specific criteria.”
“In addition to 4K cameras, gigantic video walls, and multi-function control rooms, what sets ViuTV’s newly completed studios apart from the rest are their unmatched lighting capabilities. “The primary requirement in selecting the lights was to choose the best ones for color rendering,” said Lau. “We replaced the tungsten and opted for LEDs in a deliberate departure from traditional TV lighting, enabling us to achieve more artistic effects with varying color temperatures. Bearing in mind the modern style of TV production, we had to choose fixtures that would be on par with our 4K cameras.”
With more than 250 ARRI LEDs – including 100 L7-C and 120 L5-C lamp heads plus 40 S60-C soft lights – available to them, ViuTV is making good use of their new full-color LED studios to create flagship shows like King Maker 2 and Chill Club. When asked why they chose ARRI, Lau listed ease of use, tuneability, and color fidelity as the main factors in their decision.
“Having used a lot of ARRI tungstens in the past, our lighting staff are quite familiar with Fresnel lights,” revealed Lau. “They were pleased to find that the L-Series fits perfectly into their already established work practices and techniques. There was no need to adapt to new lighting.” But it’s a slightly different story for SkyPanel: Lau’s staff soon discovered, to their delight, that the revolutionarysoft lights require much less effort to manage. “The lighting guys realized they won’t have to climb anything to change the filter or to adjust the effects. Every lighting set-up can be programed and queued within the controller,” he continued.
With the all-new facility coming on stream, the TV station also had to upgrade its lighting controls. “Previously, traditional panels with hardly any controls – just a power switch and a dimmer – were the only options available,” Lau recounted. “Now the station has computers and DMX connections. We have access to plenty of channels so we can freely and easily control everything.” The studio now uses a grandMA3 lighting-control console for a wide range of programming.
Mr. Chow Chung Keung, ViuTV’s Production and Facilities Manager, added that this arrangement benefits them immensely, considering the tight schedule of their programs. “Sometimes we only have a day to set up the whole show. ARRI’s system and the SkyPanels help us a lot,” he said.
As for the color, Lau is satisfied with the accuracy of the LEDs. “The color space and color rendering of this studio are on a whole new level because the colors you see now are exactly what the camera sees,” said Lau, visibly impressed. “Everything you see looks more natural, like the rendition of the artists’ skin tones, even their make-up. We hear comments from our audiences that our programs are quite different – they’re more real. It wasn’t our original goal, it just happened.”
Throughout all stages, from planning to installation, ARRI Asia and NDT were instrumental in bringing ViuTV’s vision to life. “The other companies that came in were either solely lighting companies, or solely hoist companies, or computer console companies, unlike ARRI Asia with NDT, who came in together with all the experts pushing for superior integration,” Lau recalled. “NDT examined our requirements and tried to satisfy them all. They provided the designs, calculated the dimensions, and placed the hoists and lighting, all the while taking cabling and power limitations into consideration. They helped us figure out what we needed so we could get what we wanted.”
With a game-changing facility at their disposal, the end goal for ViuTV is to evolve into a video-production platform with content relevant to all audiences across Asia. “Traditional TV is not the only goal,” added an upbeat Lau. “We already have the platform and the content, and we are in the process of nurturing our stars. The ultimate goal is to get bigger and better.”