Gallery: New-look set for ABC News Breakfast
Exclusive: TV Tonight visits the expanded new set at ABC News Breakfast.
The studio expands to three new presentation spaces: couch, desk and vision wall.
Michael Rowland, Virginia Trioli, Paul Kennedy and Vanessa O’Hanlon all return tomorrow to the revamped set, which echoes the blues of the News 24 studio, and includes a new plasma backdrop, white coffee table and wooden platform rostrum.
Today the team were having a technical rehearsal in preparation for tomorrow’s new show.
“We were aware there was going to be a new set, but I don’t think any of us thought it was going to be this substantial,” said Trioli.
“We kept the couch with the same stains, isn’t that nice? We’re frugal at the ABC!
“But we have a fantastic new plasma backdrop and a huge new feature which is the vision wall. And we have the desk, which gives us more flexibility. ‘The Starship Enterprise!'”
“I’m Captain Kirk,” joked Rowland.
“The programme starts at the desk, there’s a bulletin at the wall which is pretty schmick. Part of the programme is from the couch for more relaxed conversations and interviews,” Trioli added.
The set was built while the show was recently broadcasting from Sydney, but the studio remains home to 7 programmes including News Breakfast, Insiders, Offsiders, 7:30 Victoria, ABC News and Newsline. Thanks to the redesign it’s now a lot more functional.
“The great thing is before the studio was reconfigured, you realise how big the space is. Before it was quite a small studio,” says Trioli.
“That’s because you had a set in front of a set, so we’d lost probably 2 metres into the space because of one flat and another behind it.”
“The Insiders set was permanent so they would wheel in the News Breakfast set every Sunday (afternoon),” adds Rowland.
Despite camera automation, having three presentation spaces also opens up new options for guests performances and graphics.
“We have new flexibility with camera angles getting new broadcast shots. So it’s really fresh, almost like a new programme,” he says.
The desk, which is also used by ABC News, will soon be replicated in Sydney, while the vision wall is available to other journalists for presentations on other programmes.
The vision wall also means no more chroma-key for Vanessa O’Hanlon presenting weather.
The plasma screen features a backdrop of Melbourne that has been “slightly tweaked” to make it more generic, but can now feature moving vision instead of a static shot.
“The advantage of this one is if it’s a sad rainy day you don’t have teardrops of rain rolling down the glass,” Trioli notes.
“It’s always fine and sunny on ABC News Breakfast,” jokes Rowland.
“The majority of our viewers really have no sense of where we come from and in a sense that has to continue and will continue. We’re broadcasting from nowhere, really. It’s a national programme so it has to have a connection and a feel to all of the locations and internationally. We’re broadcast on the Australia Network. Our (international) Reach is still an unknown figure but we have enough information to know it’s substantial,” says Trioli.
“We come from TV land, wherever that place may be.”
In the base of the coffee table are the laptops which regularly lead viewers to ask ‘Do they ever use them?’
“Oh yes we use them! We live on them,” Trioli insists.
“Every single second of the programme we are checking, looking, updating, looking at what’s coming up, receiving messages from Erin (Vincent, Executive Producer), sending messages back if we have to, checking information, checking Twitter, the news wires. Yes they are used.”
Trioli is remaining with ABC News Breakfast despite an earlier announcement she was headed to ABC Radio’s AM programme in Sydney. But she remains private about the change of heart.
“The decision was made for family reasons which are private and I intend to keep them that way. It was a difficult decision and a very challenging time to deal with a number of other issues and to decide between these two places and that’s what I’ve decided,” she says.
“I was very happy to go and was delighted with the offer from AM and equally happy to stay. That’s all I’m prepared to say about that.”
For now it’s business as usual for the show that last year was netting metro averages of up to 130,000 across ABC1 and ABC News 24.
“We’re 5 years old now and we’ve established that you can have some light and shade and some fun, light conversation, and great guests but this is the programme where you will get very serious and very stringent interviews. We know we’re going to build on that this year. The guests are turning up and the politicians know this is an audience that you have to speak to and must be addressed, so we’ll be working on that assiduously,” Trioli explains.
Despite increased competition in breakfast television, Michael Rowland remains enthusiastic about what lays ahead in 2014.
“We’ll also be getting out a lot more. We went out on the road last year with bushfire coverage in NSW. We had really good election coverage and there are 3 state elections coming up this year, so there are opportunities for OBs,” he says.
“We showed that we can do it, so that’s something we’ll look forward to this year.”
ABC News Breakfast airs 6 – 9:30am on ABC1 and is simulcast on ABC News 24.