Designer Marc Janowitz was challenged to create a stage design that could handle rich media, fast changing dynamic content to support the theme for each episode of the Netflix original series - Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj. Minhaj, a Peabody Award-winning comedian for his Netflix special, Homecoming King and former correspondent for The Daily Show, headlines the original series which explores modern culture, politics, and global news through his irreverent mix of comedy and storytelling. Each weekly uses infographics, data, and video to enhance the topics he covers. Janowitz was tasked to create a set that would be interactive and one that would play an integral role in Minhaj’s storytelling.
The set had to fit Hasan Minhaj’s vision; there was a need to have some more recognizable kind of continuous video playing, in order to tell certain stories. But there was also a desire to have it be environmental; more immersive in a way. The design had to flexible and really adapt to every single week's episode and offer limitless possibilities.
During the design and development process, 5TEN helped navigate the product landscape and support the necessary custom choices. We worked with the designer, client/producer Art & Industry and the Netflix team to understand the overall design intent and provide the strongest possible product solution to meet their needs. We advised on a range of LED video display products that would be most suited to each component of the design. The way Hasan interacts with the screens and the cameras in a rather close proximity gave us some key challenges to focus in on.
The aesthetic of the video walls needed to reflect Minhaj’s desire for a visual departure from the traditional, over-the-shoulder rectangle of video that is normally associated with nightly news programs. Moiré was a big concern, because of the level of difficulty with shooting Homecoming King that couldn’t be fixed in post-production. To help determine the best solution for this set design, we worked with the producers, the production team, and the executives from Netflix by conducting camera tests with various resolutions of LED products at our studio.The testing at 5TEN was invaluable and well worth the time to find the right product and way to shoot it to minimize this issue.
The final design called for a main display in a configuration of an ultra-high-resolution 1.9mm LED video product that also consists of 22˚ concave angled banner displays—with the same 1.9mm product—connected to the main display and extending out and wrapping the set. The floor of the set features a diamond-shaped LED floor using a 4.7mm LED product covered with triangular-shaped acrylic diffusers. There is a 25mm LED screen behind the main display along with 10mm diffused LED strips in the backdrop and 14mm diffused LED strips for the floor edge. With the show being so media heavy, fast changing, and extremely dynamic content-wise, the combination of the disguise 4x4 media server along with Barco S3 image processor provided the optimal solution to deliver the content to the display. All control and data transfer infrastructure— switchers and routers, LED control processors, monitors and programming computers—for the video elements were also provided and installed by 5TEN.
The added benefits of having brand-new gear, the capital improvement value for the TV studio, and the availability of the product in a short turn-around time made it all a logical solution. Within six-weeks, the displays arrived at the TV Studio.
The installation at AMV’s sound stages in NYC was completed in two weeks, plus a week of programming, tweaking, and fine tuning. The install was a pretty complicated array between what was going to be in the studio and in the control room. We were there all the way through the test episodes. We only handed over the project until we felt that everyone was more than satisfied.