Designing with forced perspective in mind
For CBS News’ first outing on the primary debate circuit, the network sought a bold and dynamic set design that would incorporate their “America Decides” election branding. As this particular debate in South Carolina was the last 2020 Democratic Primary Debate prior to Super Tuesday – the day when 14 states cast their ballots for the US Presidential Primary – CBS knew the chances for viewership were incredibly high, so they looked to the Broadcast Design specialists at Jack Morton to bring their debate stage to life.
The South Carolina Democratic Debate was broadcast live from the theatrical stage at the Gaillard Center Performance Hall in Charleston, SC. To keep the spotlight on the candidates – the centerpieces for the debate – we lined both sides of the stage with three L-shaped LED towers whose heights descended and angled inwards towards the candidates. This design created a “forced perspective”, causing the eyes to be automatically drawn to centerstage. Angular graphics were displayed on the towers to increase the effect.
Between the pillars, we placed an elevated platform to help with broadcast positioning, along with seven angular, backlit podiums. As the number of candidates was subject to change at any time, the podiums and their placements had to be adaptable.
Behind the candidates, we designed a curved video wall which featured red, white and blue banner graphics, and a cycle of network and debate partner logos including CBS and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute.
Above the video wall, rows of red and blue lights were installed along with the CBS News 2020 “America Decides” election logo.
Lastly, a freestanding 5-person anchor desk was placed on stage facing the candidates with horizontal LED lines and a bold CBS News “America Decides” logo, placing CBS’ election branding front and center for the live Broadcast.
The Democratic debate in South Carolina was watched by 15.3 million viewers on CBS and BET.