Emmys leverage long LED bands installed in rooftop event space to complement telecast

The 2021 Emmys moved to what was technically an outdoor location to be COVID-19 compliant but, as at least one presenter noted, seemed a bit too much like “inside.”

Aired by CBS this year, the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards originated from the Event Deck at the L.A. Live entertainment venue, which includes the completely indoor Microsoft Theater, the normal host venue for the Emmys. It is also adjacent to the Staples Center, which was the alternate host of last year’s “bubbled” Emmys.

The ceremony took place under a semipermanent tent-like structure on the roof of the complex that included air conditioning, striking some questions as to its safety during a pandemic, though Los Angeles officials would later confirm it was.

Images from previous events held at the venue show it can be configured in a variety of ways, including blending a rooftop garden style area with the covered portion. Additional tents and tent-like structures can also be installed as needed for ancillary event areas or operations such as catering and production control.

Whether the area qualified as truly “outdoors” or not is probably debatable, but it’s worth noting that other major awards ceremonies have been held in similar setups.

The 2021 Oscars in April were actually held indoors, albeit in the voluminous open hall inside of Union Station with an accompanying outdoor “lounge.” 


Attendees were also required to be vaccinated and some nominees accepted awards remotely to help cut down on travel.

Inside the structure, a sleek, bold surround was created using oversized black panels with an oversized Emmy statuette in the center.

This was backed with a simple cyc with color changing lighting and a short set of stairs. 

This element, which is similar to ones seen in other L.A. Live deck events, also served as an entryway for presenters and speakers.

Farther out, a square stage was used for most presentations. A small plinth was used to hold the statuettes to avoid any touching or close contact during the handoff (as with most award ceremonies, the trophies are not engraved when handed out on stage; that’s done later backstage). 

The production added two long bands of LED in the upper portion of each side of the structure, which were used in a variety ways, including showcasing category and winner names and imagery. 

During an extended opening number, the LED was also used to display the lyrics of the song, so audience members could sing along. These graphcis were complete with a Emmy globe “bouncing” along top as words were sung. 

The always popular “In Memoriam” segment also used the panels, showcasing clips and photos of each person with a darkened lighting scheme.

Gradients were used heavily in the lower third style graphics used to identify nominees. These graphics, along with the ones shown on the LED in the space, changed color throughout the show and would match each other as well as the backlighting in the stage area.


This telecast notably did not use the multibox layout showing each nominee in real time, but winners were identified on screen as well.

CBS also showcased a unique typographic take on “The Emmys” logotype — with the word “Emmys” character width stretched and “The” in a condensed style.

This did not match the typography used in the key art CBS released prior to the event — and select on air promos used yet another typeface. 

Those typographic inconsistencies aren’t uncommon no matter what network is airing the event, though a light, modern geometric sans serif has been used off and on over the past few years. 

COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are highly recommended by multiple public health officials and experts. COVID-19 vaccines and boosters have undergone extensive testing and monitoring to ensure their safety. Scientific research has shown the vaccines and boosters to be very safe and highly effective any may help stop you from contracting COVID-19 or resulting in less severe symptoms and chance of hospitalization or death. For more information about COVID-19 and coronavirus, visit the CDC website. You can locate a free vaccination site or clinic near you at Vaccines.gov. As with any medical decision, you should always discuss your options with your doctor.