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New look for Brooksby TV

Television studio gets makeover from residents and staff

Created date

December 16th, 2014
Residents and staff created a new set for Brooksby’s TV studio. (From left) Chris DeThomas, TV/AV manager; Emile Beauchamp, studio volunteer; Lauren Alicandro, CTV coordinator; and Patrick Gordon, lead CTV coordinator.
Residents and staff created a new set for Brooksby

The television studio at is sporting a new look, thanks to a makeover from residents and staff.

“Our old set was four years old and dated,” says Chris DeThomas, TV/AV manager at the Peabody, Mass.,Erickson Living community. “It needed a fresh look.”

Planning for the new set began in April 2013 when DeThomas created a three-dimensional rendering of a new set and solicited feedback from residents.

“We have over 130 residents who volunteer with Brooksby TV,” says DeThomas. “It was important to get their input on the design.”

Updated equipment

The new set is the latest in a series of updates to the studio, which opened in its current location in the community’s McIntosh Clubhouse in 2005.

“Brooksby TV started many years ago as a scrolling message board,” says resident Marie Wakefield, who currently hosts two popular shows for the station, Brooksby’s Antiques Roadshow and Village View. “Over the years, it’s evolved into a fully functioning television studio.”

As plans for the new set got under way, DeThomas and Patrick Gordon, lead CTV coordinator, were looking at options to upgrade the studio’s equipment.

“Our switcher was failing, and we needed to replace it,” says DeThomas.

A switcher is a piece of electronic equipment used to select or combine different video and audio signals.

“We purchased a switcher for the studio that essentially takes a whole room full of equipment and packages it into one computer,” says DeThomas. “Our new switcher creates virtual sets, handles video playback, is high-definition, and records all shows internally.”

Style and function

Because the new switcher has the ability to create a virtual set, the redesign of the studio had to include a better green screen option. When subjects are filmed in front of a green screen, the switcher replaces the green screen with a digital image. 

Hosts of the community’s iPadder Show, Dorothy MacDonald and Bob Mehrman, sit in front of a green screen while filming. The switcher inserts a digital set, and the viewing audience sees Dorothy and Bob sitting behind what looks like a newscaster’s desk.

“In the studio redesign, we incorporated a green screen curtain that runs on a track,” says DeThomas. “It’s much easier to use than the portable green screen we had before.”

With the new design approved, DeThomas approached Bill Phelan, head of Brooksby’s woodworking and craft shop, to ask for help.

“We wanted to create a warm, homelike setting for the new set, so I asked Bill to make wood columns and a wooden mantel,” says DeThomas.

Bill obliged and spent a week making the columns and mantel with assistance from fellow woodworker Lou Zirin.

Big reveal

In July 2014, DeThomas, Gordon, and Lauren Alicandro, CTV coordinator, hung cloths in front of the studio entrance as construction began.

“Our resident volunteers had already seen the design, but we wanted to unveil the new set all at once,” says DeThomas. “It created some anticipation.”

Bill installed the wood columns, mantel, and wainscoting around the perimeter of the set. DeThomas, Gordon, and Alicandro painted the walls, hung glass tile between the columns, and assembled furniture.

When it was time for the big reveal, residents were delighted with the result.

“This is a first-rate studio,” says Cliff Kent, who volunteers as a camera operator. “If I had my druthers, I’d be in here all the time. It’s one of the reasons I moved to Brooksby.”