City Montreal finally launches its flagship show Breakfast Television on Monday. This week, I was among those invited to the new studio in the Rogers building on McGill College Ave. to take a peek.
(I also spoke to Executive Producer Bob Babinski for a feature story that appears in Saturday’s Gazette about the state of morning TV in Montreal.)
I was quite surprised by its size of 2800 square feet. It certainly doesn’t look like the kind of thing you’d find on the 8th floor of an office building, and its impressiveness even gives CTV Montreal’s new studio a run for its money.
The studio is on the northeast corner of the building, and the anchor desk is positioned so that the view behind it is the mountain, McGill University and McGill College Ave., though somewhat obstructed by buildings like the former Maison Astral.
City takes advantage of this in the positioning of the anchor desk, so that you get the mountain in the background. The desk sits on a raised platform, with audio and other connections wired in behind out of sight.
To the left of the anchor desk is an open space with a 15-screen video wall (only the centre nine are actually used for video). Here, they can setup yoga mats, musical acts, or anything else that requires a large amount of open studio space.
City has made it clear from the beginning that it wants the show to be about Montreal, its culture and two linguistic communities. Here we see a hint of that in the decor (though shouldn’t it be Sainte-Catherine, or Saint Catherine without a hyphen?)
Giant video walls can be used for different things. They can be simple set decoration, they can provide visual support to an anchor standing in front of them by showing graphics or video, or they can be used in transition shots when you want to show off the set with by having a camera move around in it.
We’ll see what City has in store for this one. At more than 150 inches diagonally by my estimate (not including the six static panels), it’s 50% larger than the 108-inch giant plasma screen in CTV’s studio (which they don’t seem to be using much anymore, sadly).
The touchscreen next to the video wall (it’s on wheels so it can be moved elsewhere) is Elias Makos’s new toy. As the new media commentator, he’ll be presenting information about trending stories online, viewer feedback and tech stories once an hour.
Of the four English-language television stations in Montreal, this is the only one with a studio couch. CTV has its comfy chairs, but even then there’s a physical and psychological separation between host and interviewee that you won’t see as much here.
The space between the couch and the table in front of it leaves plenty of space for leg-crossing, but don’t try doing a crossword puzzle or working from a laptop.
One of the surprising things about this set is how much of it is mobile. The couch, the touchscreen, the presentation desks, even some walls can be moved around to give the set a different look, make space for something or rearrange things for an unusual demonstration.
The set has three studio cameras on tripods with wheels. Two have prompters in front. The third can be taken outside the studio, so if Catherine Verdon-Diamond wants to do her weather from the street, she can do that.
Each of the three cameras has a body behind it. This is different from Global and CTV, whose studio cameras are robotic and remotely controlled.
A fourth, fixed camera sits in a small room with a green screen.
Behind the scenes
Among the people working there will be Catherine Verdon-Diamond, who will be preparing her traffic and weather maps.
For all the open space of the studio, the control room is a bit cramped. There’s barely room for the six people working here. But it still looks pretty cool.
More from the studio
Breakfast Television airs 6-9am weekdays on City Montreal. Its first show is Monday, Aug. 26.
Wow, impressive. This is a really awesome tv studio. I will even say that it looks better than the fake one from CTV morning show. I can’t stand the studios with so much fake stuff, this looks more real and doesn’t have too many fake walls, fake environement,…
Who did it?
I didn’t think to ask that. You’re looking for who designed it, or who actually built it? I imagine both involved teams of people.
Hmmm….yes, what is the name of the company behind this wonderful studio. Probably FX group, that is the big specialized company for that type of task.
It looks a lot like the Citytv Toronto set, the fake brick piece especially. I’m sure it was designed by the same people.
Faguy, have you been invited by City Montreal to view from behind the scenes the first BT Montreal’s first show Monday morning Aug 26th(or sometime during the first week)?
The BT Montreal Traffic Reports with Catherine Verdon-Diamond, is it teamed with a Montreal radio station or not? The Dave Sidaway Gazette picture in your tomorrow Gazette story on BT Montreal’s personalities, those are cut-out pictures of them, not actually them in the picture? I don’t know for certain, to me it looked a little fake.
We’ll see, but it looks like no.
No. Verdon-Diamond will be handling her own traffic.
Those are actual people.
I’m just curious. Is there going to be product placement on the show like it’s sister stations do?
There was lots of Tropicana orange juice at the event. Since Tropicana’s deal with City is national, it will extend to Montreal as well. Beyond that, it’s up to the sponsors.
Beautiful studio! Looks so much nicer than CFCF. It’s a shame Bell ExpressVu doesn’t have City in HD. Do you know when they will add it?
When they want to. If there’s enough demand for it from customers in Montreal, they might prioritize it. But there’s no obligation to do so just because it’s now a City station.
Interestingly, the studio is in the same building where CFCF-AM and CFQR-FM were located at one time in the 1990s after they moved from 405 Ogilvy following the Pouliot controlled CFCF Inc.’s sale of the radio properties to Pierre Beland and Pierre Arcand. As I recall, the radio stations were on the third floor.
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I have to give them a big round of applause, they are the small player in the game in Montreal, but they have certainly outdone even the biggest player (CTV), this is a huge studio with plenty of room for them to expand and use it for other purposes as well. You can see where it wouldn’t be hard to use this same setup for everything from daytime talk shows to news and sports reports as well. While City may not be playing in the news area for Montreal for now, clearly they have a studio that could almost do the job already.
My personal thought is that City will leverage this to create more local programming, giving them an edge in community connection, which over time will let them get moving towards CTV. Local news is maybe a couple of years away, but could be sooner.
I wouldn’t hold my breath. The City stations outside of Toronto haven’t been moving in that direction, and the experience of CityNews Channel might make the company more hesitant to go into more local news. It even said at the CRTC hearing that if it were to do more local programming, it would probably be a daily lifestyle show or something else that didn’t compete directly with CTV and Global.
Yes, we don’t need another local news Show. Montrealers are covered well in that area.. like you say a daily lifestyle show or a local entertainment show with local performers. The emerging artist and music scene is a big thing now…also covering the local movie scene, the music scene,etc…There is a crying need for it..
In my eyes, they badly need a News department to be credible. The only one they got right now is Laura Casella covering news. For their local news on BT Montreal show, outside of Casella, they have to use other sources to get any material.
Yup, I am aware of what happened with City TV in other markets, they tried to bring the open studio “walk around talking” news methods from Toronto with them and they fell flat on their faces. What they discovered is that the intense “communities” based news that they did in Toronto didn’t work in other places. Notice I said “communities” because Toronto’s City news for a long time was almost more like an ethnic news reel than anything else. It might play there, but apparently the Moses Znaimler vision of the world didn’t do as well in other places.
So yeah, they aren’t rushing to get back into the local news business because they got seriously burned trying to blindly into it. They are still smarting from the abject failure in Toronto of their CityNews Channel, which went absolutely nowhere, and proved that poorly done synergies generate nothing but wasted money.
However, not doing specifically local news doesn’t mean that they cannot do other “local” programming. Clearly a 2800 square foot studio is not needed to do only a morning TV program, and an investment in all of that studio equipment only to generate 15 hours a week seems a little out of whack. Local news and inforamation is one of the few ways for a station to bond with an audience, without that local contact and local content, they are just another re-broadcaster, so at some point they may be lead back to doing some news programming.
Is it? 15 hours a week is a lot of programming. They use that studio about as much as CTV Montreal uses theirs (and for a larger contiguous block of time). It’s also going to be used for the Montreal Connected sports show.
It’s clear, that while CITY Mtl’s BT doesn’t quite yet have the polish nor the resources of it’s TO counterpart, it could be said that it “got it”, to use an old Global slogan, over Global’s Morning show. Global’s show has finally found it’s legs and eliminated most of the technical gaffes, but it’s a simple question of too little too late…and BT Mtl is only bound to improve, especially if ratings do well and even more resources are made available to it….
Fagstein, is that your story ghost written in Broadcaster Magazine profiling City Montreal? You’re about the only one covering professionally local English media in Montreal. The first thing I noticed about the article, it has no byline(maybe it’s written by City Montreal staff).
OK. Then I’m guessing it’s written by City Montreal(or City HQ) & they paid for it to be featured in the Broadcast Industry trade magazine.