CNN

Reimagining The CNN Magic Wall

The CNN Magic Wall, with John King at the controls, has been a popular and critical part of CNN’s politics and live election coverage and storytelling for almost 10 years. It has spawned internet memes, been a guest of Saturday Night Live, and been imitated by all of CNN’s competitors.

With the approach of the 2018 midterm elections (which were sure to be the most watched and hotly contested in history) CNN partnered with Code and Theory to take its iconic Magic Wall to the next level.

Natl Map Pres State
Global App Switcher 1
H Bo P Dot View Labels

Designing an experience that could bridge physical with digital broadcast.

The Magic Wall presents a number of design challenges. It is a piece of digital software that is operated by one user on a large touchscreen. The ultimate audience experience is watching John King use a piece of technology as the performance is captured by various television cameras under specific lighting conditions in a television studio. That means we had to take into account everything from John King’s height to his personal motion preferences: how he likes to move, how he pinches and zooms the map, the level of responsiveness he looks for from the telestration feature, and also how colors would look on camera.

Information had to be big, bold and bright to show up from a variety of camera positions, while interactions and animations had to pop in a theatrical way that would look great on broadcast. Finally, John had to be able to smoothly operate a number of complex features and filters while continually talking and never turning his back on the audience.

Pasted image 9

Working collaboratively with CNN, we reimagined the look, feel and core feature set of the main individual applications that make up the Magic Wall. We developed a suite of new features and capabilities designed around anticipated 2018 Midterm Election storylines, including, for the first time ever, a House Battle for Control simulation application.

We also reworked the technology to make it more secure and scalable for the future, helping CNN stay ahead of its competitors in an increasingly crowded and cutthroat media environment.

Considered Design And Functionality

To create a more modern (and intuitive) look, we incorporated CNN's proprietary font throughout the Wall, made the key information panels more vibrant and engaging, and made the map movements more theatrical and immersive. A new information hierarchy made previously complex information much more digestible to the audience.

We also built an entire country's worth of custom maps, and narrowed down the scalable features to make geographic borders cleaner and clearer, giving them the most powerful and flexible storytelling opportunities.

CNN was the #1 rated show in the most critical demographics.

The Magic Wall performed flawlessly throughout 13 continuous hours of intense use on live television and, by CNN’s estimation, was on camera for more time than any other national election broadcast in the history of the program. It enjoyed far more screen time than competitors’ products.

Magic Wall apps, including some experimental features, on Surface tablets, were used in the CNN control room to help the politics team drive the coverage. Some of CNN’s journalists used the Magic Wall installs outside of the studio to come up with story ideas for that night and the next day. Not only did the Magic Wall end up being an invaluable on-air storytelling tool, but it played a big role in helping the CNN team off-camera as well.

Continue toThe Things We MakeProject

A Bold Vision for Healthcare

From patient-centric products to back-end systems for providers, we’re reimagining how healthcare is experienced.

BDG Floating
Bustle Digital Group

Modern Storytelling for Bustle Digital Group

Over six years, we invented new media platforms and reinvigorated classics—all with unparalleled design paradigms.

Read More
  • Bold creative identities
  • Flexible and scalable design systems
  • Customizable card formats and interactive storytelling

Cultivating Community in Education & Government

We’re strengthening some of the most influential institutions through digital-first platforms and communications tools.

Digital Media. Redefined.

Sky Italia | A Modern Digital Experience for the Italian Media Platform

Evolving the Financial Services Model

We're transforming an antiquated industry through cutting-edge design—and driving the future of finance forward.

Shifting the Digital Fashion Paradigm

Vogue | Creating a Smarter, Lighter, More Fluid and Fully-Responsive Vogue.com

Transforming
the Physical
into Digital

From museums to film festivals, we’re building online ecosystems that recast physical experiences as digital worlds.

Ad Age 0023Ad Age 0023Digiday1 0039

Recognition

  • Code and Theory

    Ad Age

    2020 Agency A-List
  • Code and Theory

    Ad Age

    2020 Best Places to Work
  • Code and Theory

    DIGIDAY

    2019 Creative Agency of the Year

All Work

Standard Rivian

Rivian | Launching the World's First Electric Adventure Vehicle

Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library | Defining the New Digital Museum Experience

NYCEDC | A New Hub for New Yorkers to Grow Their Business

Standard Car Spotting

MotorTrend | A Gaming App Experience for Car Connoisseurs

Standard NBC News v4

NBC News | Launching Three News Verticals for the Media Giant

The Jewish Museum | Bridging the Museum's Physical and Digital Experiences

Mailchimp | A Digital Platform for Emerging Writers and Creators

MIT Sloan School of Management | Crafting a Platform for Ideas Made to Matter

Pulped | Providing Provocative, Alternative and Irreverent Video Content

United Technologies | Uniting a Quarter Million Employees Under One Platform

Nuveen | Giving an Age-Old Investment Behemoth New Digital Prowess

U.S. Chamber of Commerce | A Brand and Platform for Small Business Partnerships

Sunbrella | Redefining the Digital Textile Space

CoinDesk | Relaunching a Pillar of the Blockchain Community

Axe | An Iconic Men's Grooming Brand Known for Bold Marketing

Mailchimp | Launching the New Digital Home for Tomorrow's Filmmakers

Xerox | Making Now Work: A New Campaign for a New Time

Nylon | Re-introducing an Iconic Publishing Brand

Input | A Brand New Destination About Technology in Our Lives

Dignity Health | Delivering a Best-In-Class Digital Experience

Sky Italia | A Modern Digital Experience for the Italian Media Platform

Indigo AG | Adopting Regenerative Practices with the Terraton Initiative

Bustle Digital Group | Modern Storytelling for Bustle Digital Group

TEGNA | Creating a Centralized CMS for 39 Local News Stations

Facebook | Digital Tools to Revive and Inspire the Journalism Industry

Nasdaq MarketSite | Nasdaq's Global HQ in NYC Gets a Pervasive Digital Infusion

NBC News | A New Experience for Digital News

J.P. Morgan | Powering the Financial Leader's Acquisition Engine

Eurosport | Bringing Live Sports to the Palm of Your Hand

Moncler | Bridging the Audience Gap with Moncler

CNN | Understanding American Elections, One Visualization at a Time

The New Center | A New Home Devoted to Saving the American Political Discourse

NBC Sports | Going Local: An NBC Sports App to Connect Fans and Home Teams

New York Life | What 170 Years of Success Looks Like for Today's Evolving World

MCM | Using Data to Empower an Iconic Luxury Brand for Growth

NBC News | NBC's Iconic Morning Show Becomes a Digital Lifestyle Destination

Citi Ventures | A Mobile Banking Service for a New Generation

One Night | An App Experience Fit for One Night of Spontaneity

Xfinity Mobile | Launching Comcast's Category-Breaking Mobile Service

The Outline | The First Modern Mutation in Digital Publishing

Shirley Ryan AbilityLab | A Digital Platform Transforming the Medical Field

The Council on Foreign Relations | Modernizing the Digital Presence of a Storied Institution

American Bar Association | Modernizing One of the World's Largest Professional Organizations

Quest Diagnostics | Reinventing the Quest Digital Patient Experience

C40 Cities Finance Facility | A Platform Built for a More Sustainable Future

NBC News | Designing Snapchat's First Daily-News Program

Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco | A Modern Identity System Uniting Two Eclectic Museums

H&R Block | Block Advisors, a Financial Planning Service Built Around You

Communication Arts | A New Era for the Iconic Inspirational Hub

Burger King | Introducing Grilled Dogs with Snoop Dogg

WWE | Building a Content Platform for Heavy Lifting

International Rescue Committee | A Responsive Site for the World's First Responders

HearstLive | The World From a Hearst Point of View

NBC | 16 Days With the World's Biggest Website

American Express | Turning an Acquisition Journey into a Bento Box

The Scene | Introducing The Scene, Conde Nast's Ultimate Content Platform

The Guardian | A Native Platform for One of the World's Most Iconic Publishers

Foursquare | Visualizing Data for the Platform's Pinpoint Ad Product

Consumer Reports | Turning a Transactional Brand into a Shared Lifestyle Community

The Truth | Rebuilding a Revolutionary Brand for Modern Times

Comcast Corporate | From Corporate to Modern: Comcast's Brand New Platform

Guggenheim Partners | A United Digital Vision for an Innovative Investment Manager

The Huffington Post | A Redesign for the 10th Anniversary

BBC News | Finite News Optimized for the Video Generation

Brand USA | Amplifying the USA as an International Travel Destination

H&R Block | A New Tax Offering for Expats

Bloomberg | Creating a Smarter, Faster Bloomberg.com

G6 Hospitality | A New, Reliable and Efficient Motel6.com

Vanity Fair | Transforming a Summit Site into a Responsive, Flexible Destination

NY.gov | A New Online Presence for New York State

New York State Senate | A Digital Platform for Transparency, Engagement and Communication

Vogue | Creating a Smarter, Lighter, More Fluid and Fully-Responsive Vogue.com

Hearst | Creating a Differentiated Yet Useful Site Experience

Bloomberg | A Completely Original Take on Political Coverage

Condé Nast | Distinguishing GQ France as a Leading Lifestyle Voice for French Men

Get in Touch

  • Find Us

    One World Trade Center,
    62nd Floor

    New York, NY 10007

    More Offices
  • Work With Us

  • Press

  • Careers

    See All Open Positions

Continue toSays a LotThe Things We Make

Says a Lot —

Latest

Romper IG 5
News — 

Communication Arts Names Romper Webpick of the Week

News — 

Little Black Book | Don’t Take a Stand. Walk the Walk.

Sxswfeature
News — 

Vote for Code and Theory's SXSW 2021 PanelPicker Ideas!

News — 

Little Black Book | The Lifestyle of the Gradient

IB Dstandard
News — 

C&T Receives 5 Honorable Mentions | FastCo Innovation by Design

Amycarvajal
News — 

Little Black Book | 5 Minutes With... Amy Carvajal

Pgimstandard2
News — 

Campaign US | PGIM to Launch 8 Sites

black-background.jpg
News — 

Communication Arts Names C&T Health Webpick of the Week

Get in Touch

  • Find Us

    One World Trade Center,
    62nd Floor

    New York, NY 10007

    More Offices
  • Work With Us

  • Press

  • Careers

    See All Open Positions