Something very rare in this industry happened recently. Tow big market stations debuted a new news sets on the same day.
WPXI and KDKA in Pittsburgh took the wraps off their sets on the very same day.
While TV stations battle it out in the ratings, it is rare that TV news set designers do it in the same market on the same day, dealing with close to the same budget.
Sure it is easy to compare their work, but this is one of the first apple to apple comparisons we get to look at.
Before we go on, some full discloser here. I worked for WPIX for 5 years and enjoyed my time there and still have friends inside the station. The KDKA set was designed by Devlin Design Group who is a sponsor of FTVLive.
Ok, now that is out of the way.
I will say that when FTVLive first looked at both new sets, we have no idea who was the designer of either set. We are also in no way a professional set designer. Over the years, we've had input in building news sets, but that is where are expertise ends.
So, we reached out to some news people that have better understanding of news sets and used some message boards to get people's reaction.
So, let's let the battle begin.
As we said, the KDKA set was designed by Devlin Design Group. The WPXI set was designed by Clickspring. Two big name designers for sure.
FTVLive will be honest, the first set we looked at was our old station WPXI. First reaction was that the set looked cartoonish. The logo on the front of the anchor desk looked very flat and the color seemed more like a comic book than a news set. Most TV news sets use blue as the dominate color and so did WPXI. But the blue was more of a baby blue and not that authoritative blue you would expect.
Turning to TVNewsTalk.net, which has some of the most active forums on Sets & Studios, here is how one person weighed in and it seems to be on the money.
WPXI/Clickspring set: "That doesn't look like a Clickspring set to me...if it is, their standards have fallen pretty dramatically." "Wonder if they (Clickspring) lost some designers or maybe Black Walnut couldn't handle the installation, or the people at WPXI just have bad taste...” "Am I the only one that doesn't think it looks that great...very disappointed with Clickspring’s work here." "$5 says they reconfigure the weather area within the next few years. That's a big studio...why the hell are they jammed in one corner? The rest of the set better be impressive..."
FTVLive has no idea who or what "Black Walnut" is, but we're guessing it is the installer of the set.
Turning to KDKA and the Devlin set.
Once again, Devlin has designed a high tech set that pops on the screen. It really seems in the past 5 or 6 years that Devlin has hit their stride with news sets. No one uses monitors better than Devlin and all their sets have a high tech look and feel.
Again, let's go to the folks in the forums at TVNewsTalk.net that really get into this stuff, for their review.
KDKA/Devlin set: "I really like this, very nice upgrade." "I was blown away by the temp set at first look, so I knew that this new set will leave me brain dead. I was right. This set is the best I've seen all year. I'm just speechless right now." "Now THAT is one beautiful set!" "I really do like KDKA's new set. KDKA or WPXI? Hmm...I have to give it to KDKA. I do like WPXI's new one too, but not as much as KDKA." "WPXI's set is nice too and is well deserved...but it has a strange layout to me. I'm not sure I care for the weather desk being part of the anchor desk...KDKA definitely wins the battle of the studios, I think!" "This is easily the top set this year." "...easily one of Devlin's best works ever. Man, they've really been putting out some great stuff lately. Easily far superior over WPXI's for sure."
It is clear that when comparing two sets designed in the same market that Devlin comes out on top.
We just wish this scenario would play out more like this in other markets. It's the only time you can really see how news set designers do going head to head.