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Breaking Down the Academy Awards

February 26, 2019 // Insights

Breaking Down the Academy Awards with metroConnections Producers

Caitlin Miller, Production Coordinator
Rachel Portela, VP of Production Services

That’s a wrap! Awards season came to a strong close with the 91st annual Academy Awards on February 24th. It was a host-less event that had its fair share of ups and downs. Check out some of the most notable moments from our producers’ Oscars breakdown.

Cringe-worthy Moment: Best Animated Feature acceptance speech

As with any live show, microphone operators have the hard task of deciding when to cut the microphone. Going purely off of heightened social cues and a timer leaves many opportunities for error. During the acceptance speech for Best Animated Feature, flustered winners and a hard commercial cut combined to make one substantial cringe-worthy moment. The winners didn’t know who was going to speak, so they ended up weaving in and out of each other to get their 15 seconds, which ended up looking unprofessional and disorganized.

It would be an excellent idea for any nominees to designate a speaker, or at least pre-determine an order for who will speak. This will give the operators a clearer understanding of when the speech will finish. If the operator has to cut off the mic, cameras need to pan to something else entirely to help alleviate awkwardness for the viewer.

Wow Moment: Queen opening

Enough said. There was a lot of pre-show buzz about not having a host, but the host’s main spotlight is in their opener and having a champion performance like Queen and Adam Lambert was the perfect fit for the host-less evening.

For any award show or program you are running, the first five minutes sets the tempo for the remaining time – investing in great talent and spending extra time with this portion of the script is time and money well spent.

Whoops Moment: On-camera stage managers

One of the golden rules of being a stage manager is “Never Be Seen on Stage,” unless it’s planned. Viewers at home caught one too many shots of stage managers running in the background. This could have caused the viewer to think something bad was about to happen, as the last time this happened at the Oscars, the wrong best picture was announced.

If you must be on stage for any reason, army crawl – anything to avoid being seen!

Laughable Moment: Melissa McCarthy and Brian Tyree Henry presenting Best Costume Design

These two were the perfect pair while presenting Best Costume Design. Their presentation was a great example of successful prop use (little stuffed bunny) and camera cuts. Much of what they were saying wouldn’t have been as funny if the director didn’t call for close camera cuts on the moving bunny puppet prop when Melissa said key words.

If you’re ever planning to use a prop during a presentation, rehearse it! And test it on an audience to experience the same kind of success Melissa and Brian did.

Encouraging Moment: Spike Lee winning his first Oscar

This was a long overdue and fun moment to watch. The second Spike Lee’s name was called, the audio tech’s hand was ready to go on the mute button. With such an outrageous personality, there were bound to be some not-made-for-TV words. The audio post edit did a great job cutting out all inappropriate words to ensure no fines from ABC or public dissatisfaction. Spike delivered a heartfelt and long overdue speech that everyone in the audience felt, punctuated with an ending sentence of “Do the Right Thing”.

“They Hit the Nail on the Head” Moment: Breathtaking stage set

Stage set designer David Korins is best known for theater shows such as Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen, War Paint and Beetlejuice. His theater background showed with the seamless and effortless set changes throughout the evening – even transitioning to a full orchestra for the in-memoriam section. He hit the nail on the head for his warm design using organic and natural materials vs. harsh, industrial materials. It fit what the Oscars are all about. The proscenium of the stage was one for the books – the massive gold structure not only wrapped the stage but went out into the audience. A great idea to make audience members feel more part of the show.

It was also clear that each presenter was given the exact stage set they would be standing in front of as each of their outfits corresponded perfectly – a subtle touch that goes a long way on camera. (Pro tip: Plan your outfit if hitting the stage – it’s more noticeable than you think!)

What did you think of the Academy Awards? Was there anything else you would change or call out? We’d love to hear from you! 

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