The BBC was relocating its nation-wide morning news show, Breakfast, from its London base to the new Media City in Salford, Manchester. The program came from a 400m² studio fully equipped with motorised hoists in London, but was to move into a small office-style studio. A second studio for regional news presentation was also required. The new regional news studio had windows to allow external daylight images to be included. In the Breakfast studio, owing to extremely high levels of daylight it was impossible to balance studio lighting levels, so the windows were closed off and large plasma screens used showing exterior images from cameras on the roof.
The building was designed with an air conditioning system providing a cooling capacity of only 15kW. This complicated the lighting design because the studio’s low ceiling height was restricted further by the installation of the house air conditioning system. The building had steel tensioning rods running through the structural concrete and when these were located by LSI staff using X-ray equipment, the options for where lighting grid fixings could be accommodated were limited. LSI engineers faced the problem of a grid height of 2.7m, which had to fit around the existing air conditioning and could only be mounted where the steel reinforcement allowed. LSI’s consultancy and design team, headed by project lead engineer Nick Mobsby working with the BBC lighting director Elliot Carman, had to look for new methods of lighting the studio with a background of 50 inch plasma screens, a reduced hanging height and a limited amount of cooling.
A number of possible options were considered before LSI’s specialists suggested using an complete low-energy lighting rig, including Desisti 40 Watt and 90 Watt tungsten colour temperature low energy LED fixtures. This made BBC Breakfast the first completely LED-lit studio to be launched in the UK by a national broadcaster.