Hosted by Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley, Daybreak is broadcast in HD, live from the former Studio 7 at The London Studios on the South Bank, which has a panoramic view of the Thames from Waterloo Bridge to St Paul's Cathedral through 2.5 metre-tall glass windows.
The new studio's spectacular view presented its own challenge. Ambient light through the seasons during the early-morning shoots is a backdrop that varies from almost pitch black during winter, to summer when the sun rises directly behind the presenters' sofas, which are positioned neatly to frame St Paul's, due east.
The first issue, controlling ambient light levels, was solved by SmartGlass International's Solar Control product, in which a layer of SPD smart film, containing microscopic rod-shaped particles suspended in fluid, is laminated between two layers of glass. In the film's natural state the rods disperse randomly and the film is almost opaque. When a voltage is applied to the film, the rods align in parallel, allowing light to pass through. The transition between the two states can be instant or progressive and the transmissive state is completely even across each panel's surface; ideal, in fact, for the job.
Matt Carter, Head of Lighting and Vision for Daybreak, said: "We needed to control the windows because with St. Paul's as our main shot, at six o'clock in the morning during summer we'll be staring straight down the barrel of the sunrise." The issue was solved by replacing the studio windows with SmartGlass International's Solar Control product, a dimmable glass laminate, which allows light passing through it to be electrically dimmed either instantly or gradually. The next challenges were how to control the glass and balance daylight with studio lighting.
Stage Electrics' Chris Patton explained: "We installed an ETC Paradigm dimming system with daylight harvesting sensors on the outside of the building, which monitor the sunlight falling on each section of SmartGlass. The system then dynamically adjusts the tint of the glass to balance the amount of ambient light in the studio. For manual operation, we installed touch screen panels in the studio and the control room and finally linked the whole system into the ETC lighting network to allow the SmartGlass to be controlled from the Congo Junior lighting desk."