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An overview of the Viewing Room

22 May 2015 at 13:00 CEST
Viewing Room of the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest Andres Putting (EBU)
When following the rehearsals over the past week, we often make reference to the artists and delegations going off to the Viewing Room. So, what is the Viewing Room, what exactly happens there? 

The Viewing Room experience

As soon as the artists come off stage, they join the rest of their delegation, and walk through the labyrinth of corridors in the Wiener Stadthalle to the Viewing Room. 

It is small room that can seat up to around a dozen people, set out in a cinema style. There is a quick chance  for everyone to get some quick refreshment, a coffee, a soft drink, perhaps some fruit etc, before they all sit down before the large television screen.

The Viewing Room Producer is Stuart Barlow, who is very experienced in this role, as this will be his fifth Eurovision Song Contest in charge of the Viewing Room. There are a couple of other people in the room to take precise notes on various technical aspects that arise, as well as operating the playback equipment.

Each delegation has around 20 minutes in the Viewing Room, and just as in the rehearsals in the arena, there is a countdown clock, so the delegation is aware of how long they have left to review their rehearsal.

The normal routine is to start to review, by watching the last run through of the rehearsal that has just taken place. This is the one that would have included all the special effects, such as the pyrotechnics, and will usually be the best take from the rehearsals. This is watched in its entirety, with no one making any comments at this stage, although all probably taking some mental or written notes. The video playback is numbered up with each shot, for easy reference for everyone.


The first aspect that is discussed is whether there are any issues with the sound? This year it seems that most delegations have been extremely happy with the sound, so they can move onto the next aspect. If there are any issues, Stuart will take the relevant notes to pass on. 


The next technical issue for the delegations to discuss is lighting. Sometimes there are some minor adjustments to made here, and notes are taken as to which exact shot, or the duration point within the song.

Camera shots

Not surprisingly it is the camera shots that take up most of the discussion time, and therefore is the final topic to be covered. A delegation may want a tighter or a wider shot at one point, and Stuart will take a note of which numbered shot it is. 

To the fans and press who watch the various rehearsals, some of these differences in camera shots between a first and second rehearsal are so small that they may not be noticed. It could be in a transition shot, that maybe has a quick cut from one shot to another in the first rehearsal, and is smoothed out by a cross-fade the next time around.

Another change may be in the variety of shots. It could be that a delegation thinks that a particular shot is used too often, and they want some variety, perhaps replacing a long shot with either a medium or extreme close-up, or vice-versa.

Consideration has to be given as to where other cameras are positioned at the time, to see whether some of these changes are possible or not. Stuart has a note of all the camera positions, and may offer some helpful suggestions to the delegation.

Sometimes they may refer back to an earlier take of the song, where perhaps someone felt there was a better shot used. The appropriate take will be called up to view again.

In a music show, cutting shots from one to another is more effective if timed correctly to the beat of the music, and it could be that one of the musicians or composer may offer constructive comments on which beat this should happen on.

With all points noted throughout the session, these will be passed onto the Director and the production team. If there is anytime left then the delegation may use it just to simply watch through the last take again.

Second time around

There is a similar routine following the second rehearsal, which is usually a lot more straightforward, as most, if not all issues should have been resolved by then. Of course there is still a chance to change things if absolutely necessary, but if everyone has done their job properly then this shouldn't be necessary.

During the dress rehearsals the delegation can go into the viewing room to watch their own particular country.

What behind-the-scenes procedures would you like to know more about?