Fox pits candidates in a ‘ring’ in new debate set

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Fox debuted a new debate set Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023, centered around a metaphorical “ring” for candidates to spar in. 

The set, which was erected in the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which is also slated to be the host venue for the Republican National Convention, featured a large, ring-like element that reached from the floor on either side of the stage before curving up toward the ceiling.

The element, which was lit, created the illusion that a large, oversized ring had been brought in and installed at an angle, with the non-existent other half reaching under the stage floor.

Below this, a curved freestanding wall was installed, extending about half the height of the ring element. The upper portion of this wall is outfitted with seamless LED video panels.

This served as the primary background behind candidates, featuring a blue White House motif in roughly the upper two-thirds of the backdrop, with a simulated white frost ribbon in the lower third featuring a slowly moving animated loop of the Fox logo alternating with the RNC elephant icon.

This was positioned so that it occupied roughly half of the background behind candidate one-shots.

Moderators Martha MacCallum and Bret Baier sat opposite this a wide desk with branded front and prominent metallic strip on top, presumably to help hide devices, notes and candidate “cheat sheets” from camera view.

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MacCallum and Baier were captured using either a handheld camera that would travel across the stage or from an off-axis angle from somewhere off to one side of the set. A drone was also used for select shots.

Above the row of lecterns, which were also fronted with branded graphics are several vertical graphic panels along with a larger segment in the middle of the ring element. These do not appear to be LED video panels given that they were not animated and only feature the generic “Democracy 24” branding as opposed to the debate-specific version of the look.

Fox also utilized two large LED screens installed in front of draped areas on either side of the main set to toss to video packages. A wide stretch of LED near the rear of the arena floor also appeared behind the moderators’ two-shot frequently. 

The debate’s graphics centered around the title “Democracy 24” and used the red, white and blue motif the network introduced in 2019 when it switched from the “America’s Election HQ” to “Democracy” branding.

Fox notably has dropped the “20” portion of the year for its debate branding, which it has used going back to 2020. Programming is titled with simply “24” as well. 

Jack Morton worked with Fox on the design for the new set, which will be used for future debates. Mystic Scenic Studios provided fabrication with Fox’s in-house team providing lighting design, led by Chris Bazzoni.

NEP provided production support for the debate.

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