Tuesday 18/07/2023 |

Disguise creates AR version of Washington DC for MSNBC’s US midterm election broadcast

NBC News and MSNBC showcased the midterm election results in a way that provided viewers with an immersive election night experience like no other. By using a digital representation of Washington DC’s National Mall area and The Capitol, combined with our powerful PX+ hardware, Disguise created a dynamic virtual setting that allowed NBC News and MSNBC to display election data in real time using immersive reality to an audience of over six million viewers according to American information, data and market measurement firm Nielsen.

The concept of a digital twin

NBCUniversal News Group – comprised of NBC News, MSNBC and CNBC – is the #1 most-watched news organization in the U.S.A, reaching more Americans across linear television and digital than any other news organisation in the world. With the 2022 midterm elections looming on the horizon, they decided to get creative with their election night broadcast. 

The broadcast team at disguise used their creative services and technical expertise to implement a compelling concept from NBC News and MSNBC – where viewers would be immersed in a true-to-life digital twin of Washington DC’s National Mall and Capitol Building using augmented reality graphics build with Unreal Engine.


Graphics creation and delivery

In order to create an authentic viewing experience, disguise needed to produce high-performance, hyper-realistic graphics that were fully dynamic. Virtual cameras needed to be able to move seamlessly to any location and perspective within the digital render of Washington DC, and the augmented reality graphics had to be easily controlled using the existing PCR environment. 

These graphics also needed to be incorporated into the green screen virtual studio production workflow and run in real time using Unreal Engine 5 Vanilla in order for them to display up-to-date election data.

Developing a strategy for such a complex project with a number of production possibilities was made even more challenging by the quickly approaching election. The team only had three months to deliver the ambitious viewing experience.


Bringing the virtual worlds to life

The disguise team collaborated with NBC News and MSNBC Design and Data teams to work on creating a visually stunning augmented reality version of Washington DC that the studio team could use to smoothly transition from real life to a virtual world on live television.

A PX+ server was used to maximise rendering performance, ensuring that high-quality Unreal Engine graphics could be shown in real time. The NBC News and MSNBC teams had the option to move around the virtual Capitol area and create unique camera shots and engaging graphics, which would be impossible to achieve with traditional production procedures.

Through effective use of the augmented reality assets with their green screen environment, NBC News and MSNBC transported viewers from the studio to Washington DC - allowing them to view the live election results in a truly immersive experience.