As a stream of international music, TV, and film stars descended on LA’s Microsoft Theatre for the 67th Annual Emmys on September 20, Game of Thrones set records, while Lady Gaga turned heads on the catwalk, opting for classic black for the awards, then donning a striking white gown with sleeves the size of small countries for the after party. We take a look at the big winners, the awkward moments, and chat to the guys that made it all happen behind the scenes.
The Emmys is right up there with The Oscars and The Grammys, one of America’s most recognised award shows, always attended by the big guns in the world of entertainment. It was a very big night for HBO in Los Angeles this year. The leading network accumulated a staggering 43 Emmys in total, with the magnificent Game of Thrones taking 12 from its 24 nominations, including the esteemed best drama series, as well as best directing and best writing.
It was also another big night for ATK Audiotek, the provider of all things audio for The Emmys for several decades. When Headliner went backstage at The Grammys last year, we realised what a tight ship that operation had to be to run smoothly: stop, start, stop, start, and so on. And The Emmys is no different. Behind the scenes, away from the glitz and glamour, the buzz words are less shiny, but equally important: infrastructure, efficiency, and workflow! And with two weeks solid audio prep - pre- production, rehearsals, and the live show itself – it’s no mean feat putting a show of this magnitude on without a hitch. Okay, there’s always a hitch, but we’re talking audio hitch. We’ll get to Jimmy Kimmel later.
ATK’s Kirk Powell has been with the firm 16 years. Adept at setting up all things tech-driven, this year, Powell was hands-on as system tech for the show.
“We loaded in the PA system, and then went into the Creative Arts Emmys for a week – that’s a scaled-down version of the big show – then we went into full rehearsals for the main show, and then we did the live show,” Powell explains. Sounds a lot of work. “It is,” Powell admits. Stressful? “Actually no, this show was very relaxed across all groups of people: us, the lighting guys, the video guys. No-one got wound up, and there were no proverbial guns to heads, as everyone was getting things done. I really enjoyed being hands-on this year, actually, which I don’t necessarily say about every show! It was very well oiled.”
ATK does everything audio with the exception of the broadcast mix (they give the broadcast guys their splits, and let them do their own mix). ATK cover monitors, the house PA system, delays, sidefills, and provide all the kit, which includes DiGiCo mixing consoles and Powersoft amplifiers.
“Audio at The Emmys needs to be powerful, efficient, and reliable, and that’s why we use Powersoft K10s; the company has done such a wonderful job at developing a really great amp in a very small package,” Powell continues, explaining that the K10 takes up just 1U of rack space. “It’s lightweight, and you get a ton of power, so it ticks boxes from lots of points of view: our footprint is so much smaller, which means it’s easier to load the trucks, and lighter to carry, which means it’s also easier on fuel.”
Due to the size of the event and the JBL VerTec PA system, a monumental 116 Powersoft K10 amps were deployed for The Emmys, housed in ATK racks (three K10s per rack). “We rebranded our amps to be universal, and that’s great for configuration, as we can now do two channels of three-way, three channels of two-way, or six channels passive,” Powell enthuses. “All those connections are on a flat panel on site, so it’s very easy to select the connector you want, recall a preset on it, and off you go. There are many stop-starts, and you need something versatile, with the flexibility and the performance, so K10 is a no brainer for us, really.”
The 67th Emmys will be remembered for many things. Viola Davis made history, becoming the first African American woman to scoop best actress in a drama; and our own award for most cringeworthy moment must go to Jimmy Kimmel, whose decision when presenting the award for best lead actor in a comedy to pull out scissors, cut out the winner’s name, and proceed to eat it, will continue to baffle us for some time.
Other shows worth a mention included Veep, which picked up several awards including best comedy, and Mad Men, which John Hamm deservedly picked up best lead actor for.