Hi-Definitely a Sharper ‘GMA’

Nov 7, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Ever since she watched the eye-popping, crystal-clear opening shots of New York’s Times Square as “Good Morning America” opened the hi-def era for network news with last Thursday’s broadcast, all The Insider wants for Christmas is her HDTV.

The view from the couch in “GMA’s” green room, where a standard TV hung from one wall and a flat-screen HDTV hung from another, can be summed up in three words: Fab. U. Lous.

Or as co-anchor Charlie Gibson put it: “The ‘America’ in ‘Good Morning America’ is going to look so much better.”

Everything popped, from the Chyrons (which sported a thin blue top edge on the familiar combo of “GMA” orange and yellow strips) to the wildly tie-dyed T-shirts the ABC morning show handed out to members of the crowd that gathered outside the 6-year-old studio for a street concert by Carlos Santana; from the crisp Manhattan skyline shots to the extended “GMA” family’s assorted skin tones (now air-brushed instead of pancaked).

“This is for light-skinned black weathermen [only],” Tony Perkins joked as WABC-TV anchor Bill Ritter popped into the middle of a segment with Mr. Perkins’ predecessor, Spencer Christian.

The decision to change formats was made four months ago. ABC’s special projects VP Roger Goodman worked with California architect-designer Steve Bass to give the studio a new look that plays with variations on the “GMA” family of colors-ambers and sands and oranges and reds-with texture and depth everywhere.

It took less than a week to install, test out and touch up the upstairs set that was unveiled Thursday. (While the “GMA” control room was being upgraded, the show’s executive producer Ben Sherwood called the shots from a truck.)

Hours after the maiden HD broadcast, Mr. Goodman said, work began on the conversion of the street-level studio area at the ABC Times Square Studios, which will look more like a home recreation room than the subway station it originally was modeled after. That area is likely to be unveiled on-air by Tuesday.

Mr. Goodman pronounced himself “very, very happy” after Thursday’s show.

Because the rectangular HD image is horizontal, like letterbox format or a theater screen, the camera captures more expanse. That means crew members on the floor have to be farther away to ensure they are not accidentally in the picture. Mr. Goodman was particularly tickled to see that a shot of one of the couch areas, which he expected to accommodate only four people, in fact easily framed six adults (and one child each on two of the laps).

Mr. Goodman also ordered up a larger version of “GMA’s” familiar weathered-wood American flag.

As cake was cut and champagne was poured after the show Thursday, “GMA” executive producer Ben Sherwood said, “Everybody’s going to follow us.”