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And the Award goes to ?

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By Prayitno [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Well, it seems that yet again the Oscars are incapable of giving away 24 gold-plated statues to a load of rich actors in designer gear without some kind of controversy. This year Bonnie and Clyde – Faye Dunnaway and Warren Beaty managed to inadvertently inject anarchy into the awards do by opening the wrong envelope. resulting in La La Land winning best picture when it should have been Moonlight. It transpired, Beaty had been handed the envelope for the previous award for Best Actress, won by Emma Stone for La La Land. The Academy have announced an inquiry but here are the basic facts

apparently, there are 2 people backstage responsible for handing the envelopes from one of 2 sets of envelopes to the presenters. You have to assume the envelopes were marked with the award on there and yet 2 people failed to give an envelope to someone who didn’t even bother to check he had the right envelope. It seems that the problem can be summed up as follows. unused envelopes had contaminated the award pool. either the old envelope opened by Leonardo Di Caprio had somehow made its way to Beaty, or the alternative Best actress awards had been handed out in error. Now I didn’t watch the awards but I would assume there would be some stage directions managing where presenters and winners would enter and exit the stage. Here’s a brief intro to stage direction terms

Areas of a standard proscenium stage; plan view This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

 

in this diagram, we can see that stage left (SL) and stage right(SR) is relative to an actor standing on stage and facing the audience that forestage (FS) is closer to the audience and backstage(BS) is further away. Now a lot of these awards will also have an elevated staircase that the presenters enter sometimes from SL some time from SR but always from an elevated position, meeting in the center and walking down a shared staircase to centre forestage. Once at the podium the presenters ad-lib and read the autocue to announce the nominees for the award, the envelope is opened, the winner is read, the winner receives the awards, talks for 30 seconds then returns to their seat, the presenters then also leave. Because the next presenters should already be in position, ready to come on it is doubtful the presenters will exit the stage the same way they came in. so here are our stage direction options:

  • presenters walk in either from stage right
  • presenters walk in either from stage left
  • presenters walk in either from a central staircase

once they have given out the awards they exit

  • If presenters entered Stage Right, then exit Stage left
  • If presenters entered Stage Left then exit Stage Right
  • If presenters entered from central staircase, then exit either Stage left or stage right

If there are 2 people handing out the envelopes, then I suggest that 1 of them hand out the envelope at the start, once the envelope has been handed to the presenter, the matching envelope from the alternate set is destroyed. The other person waits for the actors to exit, takes the envelope and card from the, rips them in half and places them in a bin before ticking them off a list.there should be no contamination of envelopes and if the envelopes are in order then the person handing out the envelopes merely has to hand the next available envelope to the presenters, something a robot could do.

in future, the best way to do this possibly would be to announce all the nominees on the autocue and have just a blank piece of paper in the envelope. then there’s only one person responsible for messing up, namely the person who enters the text for the autocue. The text could be signed off by the awards committee either beforehand or in situ ( to be honest, I can’t believe there is no such thing as an autocue that reads from an external file )

This kind of falls into our examination of award ceremony structure. We did look into how an open source award ceremony could be made. our method removes the need for envelopes, mix-ups and incorrect nominees as the award ceremony is generated from the votes dynamically, the only thing you need is someone to press the buttons to switch slides and then bring up the winner at the end. its possible that the next slide preview could be piped to an autocue system or the text from each slide scraped into the autocue giving the announcer the text they merely have to read.

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