Fresh election set decor ideas

As Super Tuesday approaches, many news stations are getting ready to pull out the bunting to deck out the set and newsroom. But, there are some other ways to make your set ready for the election.

  • The most basic idea is to change the duratrans or duratran on the set. One option is to design a whole new dura with flag, star and American landmarks imagery. Or, mimic the current duratrans but do a subtle color shift to make them more blue and add some red and white coloring, plus election themed imagery. Your art department can create the duratrans. Then, locate a local print shop that can print on large format materials.
  • Use red, white and blue accent lighting on the set. You could consider changing or placing gel in accent lights on the set or add some additional spotlight-style lights to highlight portions of the set. Just make sure you don’t interfere with talent lighting (no one wants a blue anchor).
  • You can also add colored spotlights to the background of your newsroom or control room shot to add some visual interest.
  • If you have a rear projection screen, DLP or plasma monitor, consider using this to display real-time election graphics that your talent can interact with. Anchors can point out specific numbers or precincts on maps to give viewers a clearer picture.
  • RPs or other large screens are also a great way to toss to field reporters and showcasing your team coverage.
  • You can also use your chroma key wall as a way for talent to point out data and toss to field reporters, though this may require having anchors practice a bit.
  • Also check with your weather staff to see if your weather software supports interaction with the graphics. Many modern systems allow talent to point to elements on the graphic and have them glow, expand or otherwise interact with the anchor. In addition, some weather systems can display multiple video or graphic feeds that can be “selected” by pointing to them and then expanding to fill the key. This can be used for showing multiple data graphics or tossing to live shots.
  • If you have a spare studio or unused corner of a studio, consider creating an additional reporting location here. You can set up a mini-newsroom with laptop or desktop computers. Throw in some small monitors to add an active look. Rather than build scenic walls, you can use the studio curtains with some colored lighting splashes, a star or flag gobo or by hanging a large printed sign with your station’s election logo from the grid. You can designate this area to be used for a specific purpose — whether reporting exit poll data, analysis or updates.
  • If you don’t have the space or resources to do a complete mini-newsroom setup, another option is to use a curtained corner of a studio with a plasma screen as on OTS element. Just add some accent lighting to the curtains or use them plain. Another good option is to use a freestanding American flag in the background with some well-placed accent lighting.
  • Use your weather center as an election reporting location. Even if your weather center features prominent weather branding that can’t be changed, experiment feeding election graphics to any monitors on the set and sticking to tight shots only. On election night, any weather reports can be done from the key wall.
  • Add signage to the set and newsroom with your station’s election logo or brand it as “Election Central,” “Election Newsroom” or other similar name. You could take it a step farther and completely brand the newsroom, wowing viewers with the size and depth of your election team. Good places to add signage are set headers, the front of the anchor desk and just behind the anchor two-shot.
  • If you’re featuring partisan analysts, use unique backgrounds for each party. They could be branded with the traditional party symbols or just be solid color. The idea is to give viewers a visual cue as to what side the guest is on.

Have any other ideas? Have comments on our ideas? Share them in our forum. We hope to continue adding new ideas as they come in.

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Elections, Set Design

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