How tall is the Eurovision stage LED screen? How many kilometres of cable is needed to connect all the cameras in the arena? How do the pyrotechnics work? All of these things need to be worked out in great detail to build a working stage and create the elaborate production that is the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest.
Coming to grips with just how much technology and manpower goes into the creation of the Eurovision Song Contest isn't exactly easy, so we've tried to break down some of the most important facts and numbers about this year's shows to give you an idea.
The first step to planning a show is finding a venue to hold it. You need an arena big enough for the stage, green room, props storage, crew space, offices, press centre, delegation bubble (where 41 delegations need dressing rooms), hair and make-up spaces, a medical centre, restaurant, chill out area, practice room and more. It turns out, a large exhibition centre works pretty well.
What happens when Eurovision moves in?
Once the venue is secured, The Eurovision Song Contest can move in. This year, it took 21 days to build the stage, and lighting rigs, and prepare for the start of rehearsals. It will take just three days to break it all down and move out again.
There are 225 people operating equipment on site and a staggering 250 trucks of gear that go into creating the set you see on television. In total, there are over 3000 shift changes to ensure that everything is ready on time.
With this year's Eurovision Song Contest stage complete, it became clear that we were in for another extraordinary show. The stage features the highest resolution backing LED screen in the history of the Contest. The giant screen, which sits at 36 metres wide and 12 metres tall, is made up of 12 vertical screens that rotate 180 degrees to allow light through from the back of the stage.
130 LED triangles in the overhead lighting structure allow the flags of each nation to appear in the arena before each performance. On the ground, it takes 30 crew members and stage management to switch props in the 40 second-long postcard between songs in the live show. In total, over 80 kilometres of cable is used for the stage lighting alone.
The use of LED lighting has saved an estimated €100,000; the pre-programming of which took the lighting designer and their 4 operators 24 days to have all the lighting ready for the rehearsals and 3 live television shows. The stage itself is 250 metres squared in size, and then there are two 12 meter long runways with bridges that connect them to the main stage.
With staging and lighting all set, it is time for the show. Well, three shows actually, because there are the two Semi-Finals and then the Grand Final this Saturday 18 May. In total, everything you see will be shot by 23 cameras, of which 3 are mounted on extendable cranes, 2 are on remote-controlled dollies, and 1 is a spider cam - an ever-present camera since it debuted at Eurovision in Kyiv in 2005. There are also three steadicams for on-stage shots during the performances which you won't see during the shows, as their operators are fit and fast.
The cameras are connected to the production desks and recording equipment by 11 kilometres of cabling. With what you see on-screen under control, we then need to make sure that what you hear is high quality, whether you're watching at home or in the area. In total, 232 microphones will be used for the singers, backing singers and hosts.
150 loudspeakers will be used in the hall so that the audience gets the full effect of the songs as 33 members of the sound crew and 14 sound desks make sure that the sound arrives at your televisions in the highest possible quality.
Pyrotechnics and special effects
Finally, it wouldn't be Eurovision without the pyros and special effects and, yeah yeah, this year there is more fire than ever. There are an incredible 48 stage flames, 20 fire fountains, 18 smoke jets, 10 fog machines, 8 fans and a fire waterfall to heat up the performances. Two wind machines will help with the special effects on stage.
As you can see, there is a lot of technical effort that goes into producing the Eurovision Song Contest; we hope you enjoy the results!