'SNL' Tides Fans Over With Behind-the-Scenes Video Despite Not Airing New Episode

There is no new episode of Saturday Night Live this week, but NBC released a new behind-the-scenes video to hold fans over in the meantime.

There is one more week ahead of fans before SNL comes back from its holiday hiatus. While there is no fresh political satire, sketch comedy or live musical performance this weekend, there is still a lot to see in the iconic studio. A video posted to YouTube shows an in-depth look behind the scenes of one of TV's most ambitious productions.

The video is titled "Creating Saturday Night Live: Crane Camera." It explores one of the most iconic pieces of equipment associated with the series, the Chapman Crane. In interviews, the crew explains why the crane is iconic to SNL and how its use has evolved over the years.

"Operationally, it's strong, reliable, versatile — a very good piece of equipment." Crane Camera Operator John Pinto explains. "And another thing, it's become an image. A part of the show."

With clips ranging back to the earliest episodes of Saturday Night Live, Pinto explains how the heavy use of cranes in the program goes back to the original director of the series, Dave Wilson.

"He wanted to project a live atmosphere," he explained. "He wanted the people at home [and] the people in the audience to realize this was live."

Technical Director Steven Cimino listed some of the unique shots that the crane can get by itself -- "dolly moves, trucking moves, high shots and low shots" and so on. The wide range of motion on the camera creates some of the huge theatrical presence in SNL's weekly telecast.

Of course, operating an indoor crane in a room full of spectators is no small task. The video also introduces some of the highly specialized professionals who work behind the scenes every week. There is a small crew dedicated to just the crane itself, including Phil Pernice, a 15-year SNL veteran who drives the crane at ground level, Louis Delli Paoli, who has been operating the crane itself for nearly 17 years now.

"And then Johnny sits up at the top on his perch and tells us what to do," Pernice jokes.


The video takes fans down memory lane in terms of SNL iconography, exploring some of the opening shots the crew has faciltated over the decades -- including the zoom-out from the "ON-AIR" sign, the chandelier and today's opening shot of the clock. It also shows how the crane has been used in a prop, such as Sam Rockwell's cold-open dance number last year.

SNL is back next week with a new episode, hosted by Marvelous Mrs. Maisel star Rachel Brosnahan with musical guest Greta Van Fleet. This week, a re-run will air at 11:30 p.m. ET on NBC.