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Surprises spice life for camera teams

Road to the Emmys 2012: Creative Arts - Art Director

“Sometimes the choreography for our camera team is just as complicated as it is for the couples who are competing with each other on ‘Dancing With the Stars,’ ” says the show’s technical director Charles Ciup laughing. “If it wasn’t all precisely staged, they’d end up in each other’s laps.”

And the timing has to be carefully worked out because the goal for technical directors and their crews is to make a broadcast run so smoothly that the audience forgets there’s a crew living on adrenaline and trying to anticipate — or circumvent — anything that could go wrong.

Nominees in the technical direction, camera work, video control for a series and technical direction, camerawork video control for a miniseries, movie or special categories are some of the toughest crews around, with a passion for live TV and the physical stamina to live through those unpredictable moments.

“I used to work on ‘Saturday Night Live’ but I almost think this is harder because when you’re doing such a tightly scripted show live, the timing has to be just perfect,” says Beth McCarthy-Miller, a director on “30 Rock,” which was nommed in the technical direction for a series category for last year’s live broadcast. The series mounted another live show this year.

That’s not to say shows like “The Voice” or “Dancing With the Stars,” which was nommed in the same category last year and has taken home multiple wins for technical direction in prior years, have it easy. Both shows have to deal with the especially unpredictable events that happen when amateurs compete on a national stage.

“It’s never easy but it’s always fun,” says Allan Wells, technical director for “The Voice.” Wells won a 2010 Emmy in the technical direction for miniseries, movie or special category for his work on “The 25th Anniversary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Concert.” “What you’re really trying to do is let the show look live and a little unpolished, because that makes it exciting for the audience, while keeping things on track at the same time.”

Awards shows have their own specific challenges, too. And that’s part of the fun of it.

“We’re all watching to see if someone says something moving or curses in the heat of the moment,” says Barry Adelman, executive producer on “So You Think You Can Dance” and this year’s Golden Globes broadcast. “The technical team is trying to give you the moment without letting the broadcast get into hot water.”

Road to the Emmys 2012: Creative Arts
TV f/x artists doing much more with less | Freshman dramas opt for full scores | Technical direction contenders thrive on adrenaline | TV lensers use color to orient viewers | Costumes help thesps create characters | Design Emmy contenders conjure bygone eras | Emmy limits “Smash” song entries
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