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Sep 23 2011

Globo Television

One of the surrounding hillsides

I spent the day on Tuesday at Globo Television in Rio de Janeiro. Globo is the largest TV production facility in Brazil and after touring the place I am not sure that it may not be the biggest in the world.

Globo is about an hour by car from the main airport in Rio on the South side of the city. Some 20 years ago, it was in the middle of nowhere, but Rio’s Los Angeles type sprawl has brought the city to it in a rather major way.

The studio is in sort of a bowl surrounded on three sides by jungle covered hills and the place is seriously gorgeous. It operates 24/7 and at any time there are between 10 and 12 THOUSAND people working there. It is literally a small city within itself and has its own infrastructure including power and its own bus line!

This bus line ONLY services the inside of Globo!

The staff there, particularly Ricardo and chief engineer Ronconi were incredibly kind and arranged an extended tour and enough dark, very strong, Brazilian coffee to keep me awake far into the night.

The facility has 10 sound stages. 2 Large, 4 medium and 4 smaller ones. Inside of the sound stages they have sophisticated lighting systems that can mimic the conditions of any time of the day. If you have not been on one, a sound stage is a place where they build a set for filming inside. The level of detail that goes into this is staggering, particularly on the period shows where they are trying to insure that there is nothing anachronistic going on. These sets are often built just for the day before being torn down and stored for another day’s filming.

The big sound stages are the place where they would film something on the scale of American Idol or Dancing with the Stars and are large enough to house a sizeable live audience.

Big sound stage across the Yamaha digital console

Frantically setting up for the afternoon shoot

In addition to the sound stages there are many fake sets built throughout Globo for outside shooting and these are built to the same exacting standards as the inside sets. These are as varied as period sets for slums or cities, or a modern gas station mock up.

One of my favorite sets was a mockup of a church. The three sides of the building were designed to be three different churches so that they could get the most use of the building. Everything at Globo gets recycled!

You can see in the pictures the division between the decorative styles of the church. In the first one they have even gone to the level of detail to craft their own stained glass window!

The people in Rio sent me off with well wishes and some good natured ribbing of my travel companion, who was from Sao Paulo.

The country wide joke is that the Paulistas live to work and the Rio people work to live. Seeing the beach side in Rio made me understand this completely.

The people from Rio (the Paulistas call them Cariocas after the parrot Joe Carioca from the Disney cartoon with Donald Duck in Rio) were concerned that I would never come back after seeing Sao Paulo.

“You must end your stay in Rio to love this country,” they warned me. “The Paulistas will chase you away!”

I don’t think either of them have to worry. Brazil is a fascinating country that is riddled with the contradictions of a burgeoning third world country. I look forward to a trip with less business and a bit more Rio!

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