Acoustics is a inspirational magazine from AM Acoustics and Gotessons for people that work with beautiful and functional environments. We put focus on the sound environments and acoustics.
Media City in Bergen is Europe’s largest media centre and the head offices of Norway’s TV 2. We visit the new studio and interview Kjetil Frugård, who has worked to achieve a harmonious meeting of workflow and technology.
In 2017, it had been five years since TV 2’s news studio had last been remodelled. Refurbishment plans were drawn up early, and a series of new requirements came to light.
The TV 2 group, which has its head office in Bergen, had grown considerably, not just with new TV channels but also by acquiring other media companies such as the technology-focused Vizrt, a company that works with TV graphics, and the camera company Electric Friends. There also emerged an idea to combine all the media businesses in Bergen into a single unit to create a cluster. In total, there are 1,200 employees working on the 45,000 square metres that form Media City Bergen, making it Europe’s largest media centre.
Construction was completed in summer 2017, and broadcasts from the centre began in November that same year. Previously, TV 2’s employees had been located in three different buildings on six floors, which had made communication between colleagues difficult. It was hard to create a culture and produce the necessary conditions for the simple solutions that arise on a day-to-day basis when people meet. “I often hear journalists and others comment, ‘It’s so great to have so many new colleagues!’ now that they all sit together on just one and a half floors covering 7,000 square metres,” says TV 2’s Kjetil Frugård.
Lena Akselsson at Metropolis Arkitekter in Oslo is behind the planning and interior design of the office sections, and the studio itself was made by in-house experts thanks to TV 2’s access to the world-class media technology companies Vizrt and Electric Friends, mentioned above.
The HUT by Gotessons are used for video editing booths.
Around the centrally located TV studio are office spaces and meeting rooms for the 350 or so employees. A 100-metre-long red running track, a reference to the station’s sports programmes, stretches along the entire floor and acts as the company’s circulatory system. Most employees have no fixed workstation, but sit where there is a free space in the open-plan office landscape.
There are cabinets for work material and personal belongings at various points on the site, as the company works according to the “clean desk” model. There are some special functions with specific workstations, but people normally sit in different groups that fit their specialisations.
The open-plan, free-station work model also requires separate meeting rooms, which are in plentiful supply. The station has paid tribute to its most popular programmes by naming the different rooms after them. “The Farm”, “Day”, “Idol” and other rooms all lead off the “running track” and are decorated with enormous images from the programmes.
To keep the background noise at just the right level in the broadcasts, the studio was equipped with black NIVÅ sound-absorbing wall panels by A. M. Acoustics. With its three-dimensional design, NIVÅ added a dramatic look that is appropriate for a news programme. The style was reinforced by black colouring in RAW edition, allowing the core material to be seen.
Early in the design process with Metropolis Arkitekter, it was decided that the centre should tie in with the city of Bergen, which is known for its old houses dating back to Hanseatic times and is on the UNESCO World Heritage list. This was the reason for using the stylised “cottage” The Hut, which also fit in on purely practical grounds. TV 2 needed meeting rooms that were less formal, as the entire open-plan concept was intended to generate meetings between workers. Thanks to its sound-absorbing properties, The Hut is also used for special functions: for example, video editors each sit in their own huts without being distracted by their surroundings.
The fact that open-plan offices place demands on acoustics was no surprise to the office’s design team, which meant that a long series of measures were included as early as the planning stage. The office section has a floor with soft carpeting to dampen footsteps, and the ceiling is made from conventional sound absorbents, which are very effective thanks to their size. The ceiling absorbents are supplemented by measures focusing on certain “hot spots” with particular acoustic challenges. “To create a more dramatic style, the black sound-absorbing wall panel Nivå with a 3D effect was selected. The absorbent by A. M. Acoustics is used throughout our offices and TV studio,” says Kjetil.
For the individual workstations, a combination of sound-absorbing floor and table screens has been selected. “The way each person prefers to sit is very personal. Some always go for a station with a table screen, while others prefer a substantial floor screen behind them serving as a separating wall,” says Kjetil.
Three video screens “framed” with NIVÅ sound absorbents. Often used for sports.
The company wanted to use the studio more actively, with news anchors and guests able to use different screens to visualise the news rather than cutting in pre-filmed clips. The studio also needed a centrally located news desk, where we as viewers are invited to see the editorial work as it happens, at least in the background. The decision was therefore taken to do away with the classic studio environment, where no natural light or sound from the editorial office could find its way into the broadcast. “Of course we can’t have distracting sounds in the broadcast, and the anchors’ speech needs to be clear and comprehensible. That’s why we chose to use the same type of Nivå sound absorbent both inside the studio and outside in the office area. They can be seen on the background walls and framing the different screens displaying TV graphics,” says Kjetil.
Moving the TV equipment out into the editorial environment, where there are journalists working, naturally creates a number of problems. A unique solution is the new robot cameras manufactured by Electric Friends, part of the same group of companies. A lot of work has been done to hide the camera rails, and it is even possible to walk on them. There are no loose wires; everything is encapsulated inside the robot, which can be controlled manually or programmed for the broadcast. News anchors can move freely around the studio and are followed by the camera when there are explanatory graphics shown on the screens or when an interview is being carried out. “It’s not dangerous to be run over by a camera, but people still feel safer when they can see a red light at the top of the camera box showing which camera is broadcasting,” says Kjetil. He continues: “Today, for example, we can show a public opinion poll on a long video wall as the presenter walks past it. The anchor can then continue to another area and use a TV screen wall to virtually enlarge part of the graphic and explain details in more depth.
The whole point of the studio is to provide a relaxed way of giving the anchor access to a series of different tools to present the news in the best possible way.”
Kjetil believes that, during the project, they have learned to map work steps and the processes behind them. For example, today we know that a larger distance is required between the project tables and the function stations. Zones also need to be added to the office in order to further concentrate meetings between employees in different specialist areas. “For example, teams need to be able to book a zone, so we need to find a balance between so-called activity-based seating and being able to work together in effective groups,” concludes Kjetil Frugård.
Anchor Kjetil H. Dale presents the news – here, an update on salmon prices.