Fox gives viewers virtual trips to Capitol during election coverage

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For its “Democracy 2022,” Fox implemented a variety of augmented reality and other virtual elements into its coverage throughout election night.

Perhaps most prominently was the use a virtual model of the U.S. Capitol. This was similar to an approach used by NBC News and MSNBC, but Fox’s take had distinct differences.

At times, the network would take a wide shot of Studio M, its primary New York City studio that was being used as home base for election coverage and then pan toward the large wall of windows overlooking the street beyond.

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What was different this year is that the wall was replaced by a virtual view of the Capitol, making it seem like the studio opened directly onto the plaza in front of the Capitol.

The view would then shift up toward the model’s depiction of the east entrance portico of the Capitol, depicting a scene that appeared to have a large stage-like structure erected on it.

This was flanked with two vertical columns with elements from Fox’s election graphics package supported by virtual girders (it’s worth noting that these are similar to the LED panels installed between the large, vertical windows in Studio M).

Above was a large header element that was used to label the state, race name and percentage of votes in. 

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Below this, two large floating elements featured photos of candidates with color-coded backgrounds and accent marks along with their last names and, if applicable the “incumbent” label. The frames would turn bright yellow when a race was called.

These scenes included the ability to slowly move around the 3D space, creating the walk and wander-like look of a floating camera. There was also the option to show a smaller “Democracy 2022” branded banner set up to one side.

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This element was often used as a starting point for the viewport instead of transitioning from the real-world studio shot to the virtual Capital.

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To showcase the key breakdowns of the Senate and House, the network could trigger its graphics to take a fast zoom through the halls of the Capitol and into a virtual recreation of the chamber in question.

Each space was depicted with a relatively accurate recreation of how it looks, but with the seating replaced with what appeared to be brown steps and semi-circular risers with floating color coded rectangles on top. 

Two freestanding virtual signs supported by columns showed the current counts as well as the pickups needed to win control, while a large banner reading “Balance of Power” floated above the gallery. 

For governor’s races, Fox used the small video wall on the mezzanine level opposite from where “Fox & Friends” normally calls home. The video wall here was shown depicting a red, white and blue striped look from the network’s election graphics package and augmented reality was used to make it appear that two large signs and a header element dropped down from the grid above.

The same space could be shot the opposite direction — in other words, overlooking the main floor of the studio — to showcase up to six key races at once. 

The network’s video chandelier was also used, with some augmented elements such as network logo seemingly floating above it.

While Fox and NBC both opted to use the Capitol as the focal point of their virtual worlds, they had notably different looks.

NBC’s was more of a dark, serious look, while Fox opted to make its model of the Capitol illuminated with warm yellow lighting. It also had the dinstictive of moving “inside” to showcase the House and Senate status. 

Additional AR elements included adding the election logo and countdown clocks on the side of the News Corp. building. These had some similarities to the more elaborate augmented elements Fox used in past elections, adding towering elements above its “Fox Square” outdoor space.

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