Stage design for the debates is challenging due to the many shot requirements as well as variability in number of candidates and show format. In addition, the set has to work for different venues, unknown at the time of the initial design, and be installed and show-ready in a three-day period. That being said, the energy and pressure of the live event are what make it a special experience.
Our goal with the design was to provide NBC maximum flexibility of background content, by using LED tile, without the set becoming just a big boring video screen. The White House, and in particular the architectural front elevation of the building, gives the set an iconic quality while reminding us of the stakes for the campaign. Trends dictate that the set has to be contemporary both in style and technology, but it was important to us to infuse the concept with a bit of tradition and class, while touching on the theme of transparency.
Design is a collective process and NBC put together a great team for this one. Senior Design Director Kendra James collaborated closely with VP of Design Emmett Aiello with myriad contributions from our entire CSD internal team. Steve Brill and Niel Galen’s lighting (Lighting Design Group) really gave the set its depth and richness, and Ben Jacobsen’s (Mystic Scenic) engineering of the build was both smart and true to our design intent.