SVG Sit-Down: Devlin Design Group’s Dan Devlin on the New Age of Sports Studios

As shoulder programming booms at regional sports networks and operations teams rely more heavily on “at-home” production models, sports broadcasters are leveraging their studios more than ever. High-tech video, big graphics, and flexibility are all critical to a successful studio set.


DDG’s scenic environment for the American Sports Network webcast is designed to be flexible.

SVG sat down with Dan Devlin, owner/chief creative strategist, Devlin Design Group, a popular set- and lighting-design firm to discuss the latest trends in studio design and take a look at the company’s latest work.

Why did you decide to join SVG as a Premium sponsor?
We realized the sports-production community doesn’t know us all that well. We’ve been very successful in the TV-news–production arena for 29 years but [are] relatively unknown outside of that genre.

Why sports production?
In the world of TV news, we’ve achieved great success. Team DDG is already the go-to company for truly groundbreaking design in TV-news production. We’ve won the Set of the Year Award five years running, and the PromaxBDA Gold Award for scenic design the last three years.  I guess you might say we’re on a roll and a bit restless, and we’re always looking for new challenges!

You’re exhibiting at the upcoming SVG Summit. What are your expectations?
We are very excited to be attending. Last year, we went to the Summit to kick the tires a bit and see what it was all about. It seemed to be the perfect venue for us to debut Team DDG to the SVG community.

What can a new sports client expect from DDG?
Frankly, we see a lot of “sameness” in the look of sports broadcasting. Even though we are the new kids on the block when it comes to the competition in sports-set design, we believe our biggest asset is that we can bring a fresh eye and a fresh approach to sports productions.

We’ve got a deep bench when it comes to talent and experience. We are looking for that client that wants to innovate and stand out from the pack and redefine sports scenic design.

With the success we’ve had over all of those years, we’ve learned a few things along the way. We are at that point where we are ready to expand into a new market. Sports production is somewhere we can really bring some innovative thinking.

What are your current clients gravitating toward? Large video screens? LED technology? More-advanced tech, such as augmented-reality graphics?
With new technology, you also have lots of new possibilities. Viewers have higher expectations as technology continues to evolve.

The types of tech used in any project is normally dependent on the budget. A plus for us is, not only do we have a creative design team [but] we also have the experience and knowledge to incorporate the latest tech into any project because we’ve already done it.

For Team DDG, the best in scenic design is about helping our clients make and shape experiences and relationships with their audience. We refer to our design not as a “set” but as a “scenic storytelling environment.” Our goal is to engage the audience in the broadcast, no matter the size of the screen. We want sports fans to be inspired, informed, and entertained.

Any recent projects you can talk about?
Recently, we designed a scenic environment for the American Sports Network webcast. The main focus of ASN is for sports fans to learn more about the college-sports community — games, athletes, coaches — as well as to be entertained.

The design has all of the components of a regular broadcast-studio environment, including a large 1×6 video array, a moveable multi-person desk, and an area dedicated for guest interviews.

The client directive was to have lots of flexibility. Even though the screen may be small when it comes to a digital broadcast, American Sports Network has a big presence. ASN has been taking full advantage of an adaptable design.

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