I had the pleasure of visiting the CNN headquarters and studio in Atlanta, Georgia. The broadcasting company owns CNN, CNN Headline News (which repeats headlines every 30 minutes), CNN Financial News, a channel that broadcasts in English to other continents, a channel that broadcasts in Spanish, and TNT (Turner Network Television) that broadcasts new and older motion pictures films from the film studio archives that Ted Turner had purchased.
The company has four broadcast locations: headquarters in Atlanta, political broadcasts from Washington, D.C., financial broadcasts from New York, and entertainment broadcasts, such as Larry King from Los Angeles.
I found the most interesting part of the CNN tour to be how the weather is projected and how the teleprompter is used.
The weather is projected on a blue screen. The camera does not pick up the particular shade of sky blue used. The same camera was used in the movie, “Superman.” When Superman appeared to be flying, he actually was lying on a blue board, simply motioning as if he were flying. Viewers only saw Superman flying because the blue board was not picked up by the camera.
Using the same principal of “invisible blue,” the weather is projected in such a way that only selected objects are seen by viewers. Also, when the weather is reported, the reporter looks at the camera but motions broadly to an area—rather than pointing at a specific location. There is a television monitor at each end of the weather stage so the reporter can see where his or her hand is pointed.
Which brings up the most interesting part of the tour. I learned how news reporters are able to look right into the camera and read the news simultaneously. The reporter looks directly into the teleprompter where the eye of the camera is located and where the script is reflected right into the teleprompter in front of the red camera light. In this manner, all the scripts can easily be read—and EVERYTHING is read—except when a reporter is broadcasting from an “action” location.
At the CNN studio in Atlanta, visitors can see how the news is captured, selected, written, edited, rehearsed, and televised. The tour is quite interesting, as is the CNN building itself. It is located in the heart of Atlanta across from Centennial Park and has a fountain commemorating the XXVI Olympiad. The 1996 Olympic Games hosted by the city has the fountain in the formation of the five Olympic rings with a large variety of programmed water spectaculars.
If you have an opportunity to visit Atlanta, plan to take the CNN tour.