57: Building Jeopardy!, Family Feud, and More
Digital models preserve game show history
Today I present to you the work of Steven Rosenow, a photographer in Washington state with an unusual hobby: He makes digital recreations of old TV game show sets.
Steven watches hours of footage, talks to people who worked or appeared on the shows, scours behind-the-scenes photos, gets blueprints when possible, and uses all that information to build digital models of the sets of games shows he watched as a kid. He works in SketchUp and Thea Render to make the images, many of which could easily be mistaken for photographs.
Here is a gallery of Steven’s work, along with some of his notes:
These are my all-time favorite game show set renders…
If I were to design a set for Jeopardy!, it would be a modern revival of the season 2 set. It is by far, hands down and beyond, the best set the show used IMO. (Can't say that enough!)
Wheel of Fortune
Some sets are extremely difficult to model, and some are difficult to render. This hit the threshold on both… In all, however, it is almost exactly as it appeared. Each trilon on the puzzle board can be independently rotated, as well, so I could in theory render different puzzles.
Here are the first-generation Family Feud sets, as seen in the original Richard Dawson run and the Ray Combs revival…
I have a very strong bias towards the Dawson-era original, but that's just me.
I've always wanted to model the set of the Dick Clark-era $100,000 Pyramid, and was always skittish because of how complex I thought it'd be.
I was wrong.
It was actually one of the easiest sets to model, and took the least amount of time. Of course, a bulk of the details present could not have been modeled were it not for a wonderful piece of reference material in the form of a book titled "Come on Down: The TV Game Show Book," which features an impressive set of photos of the set and a closeup of the contestant/celebrity seating area.
Also serving as reference, are a few high-quality uploads on YouTube, of episodes from 1986 and 1988, respectively, which were used to reference lighting angles…
One thing to note: Each of the trilons on the main game board and the Winner's Circle board, are independently capable of rotating around to display different faces, and are lit from within just like the real board.
This was a very difficult set to model, as I had to work with limited photographic reference, as well as attempting to extrapolate set proportions from various camera angles (over 150 hours of episodes in all, were watched as reference).
One of my favorite 3D game show set renders is this gem, which took a lot of work. It got the attention of Wink Martindale's wife on a game show group I'm on, and that was a really proud moment for me.
Incidentally. one of the show's contestants remarked that the entire set and sound stage looked really shoddy in person, although you'd never tell by looking at an episode.
The Price is Right
This was a fairly difficult set to model in 3D even though I had blueprints of the set to work with, as well as blueprints of CBS Studio 33… Assistance in this project was provided by the current owner of Door No. 2, who bought it from CBS when it was auctioned off.
Steven has more images of all the shows above, plus rendered sets for Bullseye, Concentration, and The Joker’s Wild, but if you want to see those you’ll have to join the Eyes of a Generation Facebook Group where he shares his work. I’ve written about that group before in this newsletter. It’s pretty incredible if you have any interest in television history.
Before I sign off, I’ll leave you with some images from Steven’s other hobby: rendering the old sets from his local news.
That’s incredible work. So much detail and obvious passion went into those. Thanks to Steven Rosenow for giving me permission to reproduce his images here.
And that’s it for another newsletter! As always, if you enjoy it, please share it. See you all next time!