"That's a wrap, boys!" With those words, WRAL anchor Bill Leslie helped tear down the temporary news set the station has been using the past two weeks while the newsroom underwent a major renovation.
Leslie and co-anchor Pam Saulsby unveiled the new set during the noon news Tuesday, along with updated graphics, music and a 3D weather system.
"I like the way (the set) sparkles and shines," Leslie said. "We've always been on the leading edge of technology ... This is a major step forward."
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The new set, designed by FX Group in Florida, incorporates more technology in the design, including several flat screen TVs – the largest of which is 82 inches. The centerpiece of the set, and probably the most noticeable change for viewers, is the addition of the Raleigh skyline on plexiglass behind the anchors, along with 73-inch TVs on each side.
On the previous set, launched in 2001, viewers could see the newsroom in the background, including people walking around and working at their desks.
"We felt (the set) needed to get a face lift, to be more contemporary," said Jim Rothschild, WRAL's operations director. "It was time to reinvest in the most important, most visible product we put on air."
The set is predominantly blue, because "our people look really nice on a blue background," Rothschild said, noting that many network shows use the same color palette.
During the two-week renovation, on-air staff moved to another studio in the station, where a temporary set was erected to resemble the one that was torn down. WRAL donated the old desk to Fayetteville State University's communications program.
To recreate the old set, WRAL enlisted the help of a company in Sweden, which printed a picture of the newsroom on a 14x7 piece of fabric, which hung behind the anchors. The fake anchor desk was created by printing a picture of the desk on a foam board.
"We didn't want it to be jarring for viewers," Rothschild said. "I dare say, most viewers had no idea."
More changes happened behind the scenes as well, with a new high-definition control room, where producers, directors and crew members work to get the newscasts on air. Down the hall, engineers overhauled the heart of the TV station, known as Master Control, where technicians monitor everything viewers see and hear on WRAL-TV.
Below, watch a timelapse of WRAL's makeover, see Bill Leslie tear down the temporary set and get a behind-the-scenes look at the set with Brian Shrader.