Network newscasts turn to plenty of AR, video panels ahead of election night
On the night before election day, the major network newscasts all lead with the impending vote and began showcasing some of the special venues, graphics and other features they have planned for coverage Nov. 8, 2022.
The space, which was built ahead of Super Tuesday 2020 and used during election night later that year, had anchor David Muir start the broadcast standing from the opposite side he normally uses, with the staircase and hinged LED video wall behind him.
That video wall showcased an image of the Capitol. Throughout the broadcast’s election coverage, Muir moved around the space, showcasing the three desks arranged in a ring around the studio’s LED floor.
Those desks have been updated to ones featuring internally-lit bodies, edge-lit frames and ribbons of LED panels. There’s also more metallic in place of the flatter off-white finish they had previously. It also appears that some portions of the desks are divided into smaller segments of seating, though it’s not entirely clear why yet.
Muir showcased the key races of the evening using an augmented reality Capitol model inserted onto the floor, with supplementary black text fed to the LED panels in the floor.
For “WNT,” a trio of three movable monitor carts, which appear to be new and carry through the edge-lit frame and metallic look of the desk, have been added. Two correspondents joined Muir in-studio for segments, showing that at least two of the three panels are touchscreens.
Behind this area, additional seating could be seen, though it’s not clear if it’s meant for on-camera commentators or a functional workspace.
At the top of the broadcast, the network started with an impressive wide shot showcasing the studio’s 40-foot curved video wall as well as the portable touchscreen in the opposite corner. The camera moved in so that latter appeared over Holt’s shoulder showcasing a graphic of the current makeup of the House of Representatives. It then moved again to use the video panels in the production area to showcase a graphic showing the number of seats Republicans need in each chamber to gain control.
After cutting away for some video on video shots on the flat freestanding video wall on the opposite side of the space, Holt appeared back on camera with President Joe Biden’s approval rating on the portable panel behind him before the camera adjusted again to show a graphic of congressional preference. Leading into the first package, the camera swung back around to frame Holt with part of the video wall behind him again.
Additional stories were introduced from in front of the video wall, with the star anchor desk parked behind Holt — just like the broadcast usually parks a generic anchor desk here.
Later in the newscast, “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd joined Holt in-studio, walking into the frame before the camera moved in to show him interacting with the portable screen. After his segment was done, he stepped out of frame and the camera adjusted again to use the production area video wall for a topical graphic.
“CBS Evening News” originated from the Paramount building in Times Square using the space that’s normally home to “CBS Mornings.” The core of the set being used was actually originally built for CBS News election coverage in 2020 but after some updates it became home to the morning newscast.
The space has been outfitted with a new, wide anchor desk set in front of the largest video wall, which typically shows a highly stylized image of Times Square that has CBS News and Paramount branding elements as well as animation effects ranging from stream emitting from vents to stripes and stars.
The set has two alcoves on either side of the main area. Camera left is used for two additional on-air commentators at one desk as well as what CBS is calling the “Democracy Desk” with space for three whose job it will be to watch poll security and related issues.
Opposite of this, camera right of home base, the other alcove has a wall-mounted video panel, a small video wall and a mobile monitor cart to use. O’Donnell referred to this space as the decision desk in a mini-tour she gave during “Evening,” though it’s likely this is not the actual one since there are no visible workstations.
Back in 2020, CBS had workstations set up nearby the studio that served as the official decision desk workstation but it’s not clear if that’s the case this year.
O’Donnell also mentioned “cutting edge, never-before-seen” technology that allows the network to digitally remove the ceiling and lighting grid in the studio and replace it with augmented reality elements, including the inside of the Capitol dome or a view of Times Square.
There was also a multi-segmented floor element that was added in front of the desk, though sharp-eyed viewers noticed that the effect was partially ruined when O’Donnell’s left could be seen behind it — rather than in front of it as it should have been if it would have been real, structural scenic.
Finally, the network also gave viewers a look at an augmented reality application applied to the exterior of the building the studio is in, a virtual facade that appears to be a large open platform of sorts with a lower portion with a ceiling element above.
All told the AR here covers approximately four stories of the real building. Some applications only have the first floor of retail shops visible, with the multiple levels of both the second-floor studio and the entire multi-level windowed wall looking into the hallways of the Minskoff Theatre, home to “The Lion King” musical, removed.
Others retain the CBS News level, with real CBS News-branded banners visible.
In between this massive space curved elements and a floating panel for a logo can be inserted. It’s also fairly easy to imagine data, maps or candidate pictures along with projections being inserted into this space.
“Noticero Univision” also went heavy on the AR, including an entire segment that used a video wall to showcase monotone 3D models of the White House and Supreme Court building before pulling back to reveal that the rest of the studio had been replaced with a 3D model of the Capitol contained inside of a columned chamber of some sorts.
Animations that circled the Capitol dome and then flowed out on the floor could trigger the display of recreations of the House and Senate chambers, complete with miniature chairs.
The overall effect of the AR was slightly ruined due to the fact that the reflections of the real set that was essential behind the AR layer could be seen in the reflection of the floor — and not any reflection of the virtual elements.
“Noticias Telemundo” moved its coverage to its large newsroom in Florida, just like it did for 2020.
Many of the same scenic elements, including multiple freestanding video walls and panels placed around the space as well as semi-transparent see-through monitor walls and augmented reality inserted into the large circular atrium in the center of the space appear to be making their return.