When it comes to finding a spot on the campaign trail to shoot a program or sit down with an interview subject, the major networks often turn to buses, local diners or high school gymnasiums. So, when Fox News Channel executives were thinking about how to approach quasi-studio operations in New Hampshire and beyond, they knew one thing: None of the above would work.
"We didn't want to be in a hotel, on a bus or in an old mill building," says Production Manager Jennifer Williams. "That's all been done before. We loved the setting so we came up with a creative way to let viewers look at New Hampshire."
With the help of North Carolina-based stage manufacturer Summit Staging, Fox created its "Fox Box," a 40-x 40-foot portable studio that most likely will find its way onto future campaign stops given its reception by on-air talent. The Fox Box is actually larger than the network's Washington studio.
The studio is simple in concept but tricky in design. Two semi trucks are involved in the buildout. One has a roof and floor that unfold to form the roof and floor of the studio. The walls of the studio, which include 12 4- x 8-foot pieces of tempered glass, are carried in the second semi, along with heating and air-conditioning gear. A production vehicle from New Century Productions connects to cameras in the studio to handle such production needs as switching and graphics operations.
"People suggested using doublewide trailers or a big tent, and that wasn't what we wanted," says Williams. "We wanted something that would look amazing. The big windows were definitely part of it."
They were also the trickiest part. Most glass-walled studios have two sets of glass, but that wasn't possible for the 7,000 pounds of windows used on the truck.
The glass walls also introduced lighting issues during the daytime, when bright conditions outside required neutral-density filtering. Williams says neutral-density gels were used, the biggest problem making them stay in place. The solution: Scotch tape.