Backstage at the Oscars: Transforming the Dolby Theatre for the show [video] reports that on a normal day, the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood is a movie theater, with the surrounding shopping complex overrun by tourists. It’s hard to believe this is the home of the Oscars — which makes the transformation even more impressive.

The day I visited the Dolby Theatre was definitely not a normal day. It was less than a week before the 87th Academy Awards and I was there to see what it took to change the theater for Hollywood’s biggest, most glamorous night.

In the days leading up to Sunday night’s Oscars ceremony, the Dolby Theatre’s auditorium is one of the hardest places to get into. And don’t even think about whipping out your phone to snap a picture.

The most closely guarded area is the stage, with its glitzy set. From backstage, I could see it as rehearsals played out, but in no way could I shoot video or photos. Security is so tight you’re instructed to wear your media credentials backward, so they can’t be photographed and replicated. That’s more strict than some White House events I’ve covered.

The Dolby Theatre’s transformation for the Oscars started in January, when a crew of about 20 to 30 people began to strip the 3,400-seat venue of some of its movie theater components, including a selection of speakers, trusses, cables, seats and rigging motors.

David Gray, vice president of global services and industry relations for Dolby Labs, oversees the theater’s conversion. He said one of the most nerve-wracking tasks is packing up the 60×32-foot movie screen.

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