Just one day after revealing that it would retain the semi-final allocations from 2020, the EBU has dropped another nugget of information about Eurovision 2021. In a press release published on 18 November, the song contest organisers confirm that all 41 competing acts will be required to record “live-on-tape” backup performances.
This is just one of the measures which is being implemented in order to ensure that the show will go on regardless of the COVID-19 situation.
Eurovision 2021: All 41 acts to record “live-on-tape” backup performances
All of the participating broadcasters will need to create a “live-on-tape” recording prior to Eurovision in May. If a delegation is unable to travel to Rotterdam or an artist is forced to quarantine on-site, this will be used in place of a live performance on the Ahoy stage.
The EBU explains what exactly a “live-on-tape” performance entails:
All the participating broadcasters have been asked to record a live performance of their act in their own country. This recording will be delivered prior to the event and will take place in a studio setting. The recording will take place in real time (as it would be at the Contest) without making any edits to the vocals or any part of the performance itself after the recording.
Organisers are branding this move as “OpenUp to Variety”. Thus, unlike Junior Eurovision 2020, broadcasters will not have to meet specific staging guidelines. This is so that the contest can “embrace the artistic freedom, creativity, ambition and style of each of the 41 countries”.
However, it must be stressed that this is merely a backup option. It is hoped that all 41 delegations will be able to travel to Rotterdam and perform live on stage without any issues. This failsafe is to ensure that the show will not have to be cancelled as happened in 2020.
Live-on-tape performances at Eurovison 2021 – FAQs
In addition to the press release, the EBU has also published a series of FAQs on the matter. Here are some of the questions answered.
Do all the live-on-tape back-ups have to look the same in each country?
Rather than trying to impose a strict format for the live-on-tape back-ups, the EBU and Host broadcasters NPO, NOS and AVROTROS decided to fully embrace each country’s diversity in creativity, ambition, and style.
Beyond a set of basic guidelines and minimal limitations, each participating broadcaster will have maximum freedom to create a performance they are proud of and they feel will best represent their country.
How will you ensure fairness when it comes to the live-on-tape recordings?
Before the recording each participating broadcaster will meet with a co-ordinator from the Host Broadcasters and submit a recording session schedule, studio set up, camera plan and signed Declaration of Compliance with the Production Guidelines.
The Head of Delegation must be onsite during the 60-minute recording session of the permitted three takes and, either alone or together with someone who has the appropriate mandate, make the final decision on which take is selected.
A live connection will be set up during the recording to allow the ESC Executive Supervisor and a representative from the Independent Voting Observer (E&Y) and the Host Broadcaster to observe the recording session, to provide assistance and support, but also to ensure the integrity of the Contest.
Who has the final sign off on the live-on-tape recording?
All materials will be checked for approval by the Host Broadcasters and the EBU. The Host broadcasters will perform on a final sound mix and any image enhancements to ensure uniform levels and quality. A copy of that final mix will be sent to the respective Head of Delegation for approval (not to be unreasonably withheld)
Is there a limit on how many rehearsals can take place before the live-on-tape recording?
No, the number of rehearsals prior to the recording session is up to the participating broadcaster.
What are the basic guidelines for producing the live-on-tape recording?
The live-on-tape recording should be produced in line with the Eurovision Song Contest Rules and essentially be a recording of a single 3-minute live stage performance. It should not be a music video.
The back-up should be recorded in a studio or studio-like environment without an audience present or audience sounds.
The use of a recognisable set of an existing protected TV format is not allowed. The recording should be unique and should not be published before the event in May.
What familiar ESC elements can the broadcasters use in their performances?
Each broadcaster may use any of the elements that they would benefit from if they were performing live on stage in Rotterdam. For example (but not exclusively); a multicamera set up, LED video content, projection, pyrotechnics, smoke and wind machines and certain props.
What can’t broadcasters use in their performance?
The live-on-tape recordings should not contain any augmented or virtual reality, overlays, confetti, drone shots, water, use of chromakey or green screen.
Can autotune be used on the live-on-tape recordings?
No, autotune or any other alteration of live vocals, is not permitted on the recording.
Should the live-on-tape performance be similar to the planned stage performance?
Each broadcaster is free to either produce a recording of their planned stage performance or an alternative performance. However, the audio track should be similar.
Can a country submit their national selection performance where appropriate?
No, the live-on-tape backup should be unique recording and not be publicly available before the event in May. A national selection set can be used, however, and similarities are fine.
Will broadcasters be given assistance by the Host Broadcaster in making their Live on Tape recording?
Yes. It is up to each Participating Broadcaster to develop a creative concept for their live-on-tape recording. as they would for their on-stage performance for Rotterdam. The ESC 2021 Contest team will be available to advise, guide and support.
The Contest team will oversee all the creative concepts, lighting, and LED content, to ensure diversity across the 41 acts and to avoid significant similarities.
When do all the live-on-tape recordings have to be delivered by?
Each participating broadcaster must submit their live-on-tape recording by 26 March 2021.
What do you think of the new measures? Are they a good idea? Let us know below.