Channel 9 today unveiled the new set/graphics for their Today program with mixed results. The show is now being produced out of a much larger studio, meaning the show can employ a much larger set. But, is bigger necessarily always better? There’s something that can be said for intimacy on the small screen.
The old set had to go. It was looking dated and not entirely dissimilar to something you might have found Steve Liebmann sitting at. With Ten launching a new Breakfast show in the near-future and competition continuing with Sunrise and (to a lesser extent) ABC News Breakfast, the time was right to give the show a sprucing up.
Compared to the set of old, everything looks bigger and better. They’ve ditched the desk concept entirely, promoting the sense of intimacy and openness that can only be achieved with an audience once you can properly see the presenters pants.
The large circle couch is welcome as a focal point for the set. It enables the sizeable on-air presentation team to be able to gather on set together. It feels relaxed, while being adaptable for any number of segments. I’m also a big fan of the massive screen positioned behind the couch which can be utilised for weather and other video elements that work better with a presenter interacting with the vision. Being positioned behind the couch also enables a presenter by the screen to interact comfortably with other presenters. The use of depth here should liven up segments.
The size of the set is also a massive benefit to Today and something that Sunrise is unable to beat while located at Martin Place where space is at a premium. While traditionally a tighter space played better on TV, these days with many viewers watching TV on screens of 40″ and up it is a benefit to utilise sets with greater depth and scope.
Too much of the revamp looks either like the Sunrise set/graphics, or looks like imagery that Sunrise have jettisoned. Some of the backgrounds use far too much orange and yellow. While this does symbolise the dawn of a new day, an *ahem* sunrise, that visual look has been so successfully employed by Channel 7’s breakfast show that it really renders Today looking too much like a copycat. Further to that, the Today logo in the left-hand corner of the screen along with the news flipper is that exact same shade of orange. Beyond being just a bit ugly, it looks completely dreadful seeing the orange graphic against the orange background. It’s too much.
And the new logo? It’s okay on its own, while not being particularly that appealing. But compare it against Sunrise’s well-known and distinctive logo and things start looking…similar.
Beyond the sameness of the set, it still just feels so detached. One of the major strengths of Sunrise is that it is located in Martin Place. Viewers can feel that the show exists somewhere spatially that isn’t very far removed from the hustle and bustle of real life people in a major city. The Today Show set just feels fake. It feels just like a set. Recently, I blogged about the CBS This Morning set. One of the strengths of that set is that it felt like a real space. Yes, it was just a TV studio, but the room felt real and not just like a fake Ikea loungeroom. The new Today set is far too traditional and far too Swedish modular furniture.
Is the new set a success? It all depends on the intent. If Nine were actively seeking to mimic the Sunrise visual style and try and reduce the point of difference between the shows, then the new set is a resounding success. And if that is the case, then that is a bit of a shame. In Lisa Wilkinson and Karl Stefanovic, Nine have a breakfast duo that audiences generally seem to like and respond well to. With Ten’s ‘Breakfast’ launching soon, the time was right to take what had become a reasonably strong offering and take it somewhere more distinctive. While something as radical as CBS’ This Morning may have been too much for Today, I feel the time was right to really inject the show with a new visual look and to take the audience somewhere interesting with them.