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Cheers is filmed before a live studio audience. I've just finished watching the entirety (at least available on Netflix) in the last couple years. There are scenes overseas, in airplanes, in characters' houses, even in Sam/Rebecca's office.

Does filming in front of an audience only mean the part in the bar? How much is canned laughter versus audience-prompted laughter?

Cheers for any explanations.

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    Worth noting that just because a scene takes place in an airplane doesn't mean it was filmed inside a real airplane. It could have been a set on a sound stage, filmed with a live studio audience off camera.
    – Steve-O
    Dec 29, 2016 at 2:49
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    @Steve-O - yes, I understand that; I was wondering to what extent this show was actually performed in front of an audience stage-style (I think it would be cool to see). I think Roseanne was filmed as well on different stages: how do they accomplish all of these set changes, etc? This is a whole new concept to me.
    – Mikey
    Dec 29, 2016 at 2:57
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    It is also possible that it was filmed and played before live audience later.
    – A J
    Dec 29, 2016 at 5:18
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    @Mikey i.stack.imgur.com/1vASo.jpg multiple sets side by side.
    – cde
    Dec 29, 2016 at 5:26
  • ... I just realized I wrote, "Cheers" for any explanations. It was not meant to be cheesy, but I'm keeping it.
    – Mikey
    Jun 9, 2017 at 8:00

2 Answers 2

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Just like any other show filmed in front of a live audience, only the fixed stage parts are filmed in front of an actual audience. The parts outside or special episodes are pre-filmed and maybe shown to the audience between the regular set parts. This is how Fresh Prince and the Big Bang Theory are done, and how every other live sitcom is filmed.

See Show recorded in front of public: how does it work? for more info.

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Most sitcoms will have two or three main sets that face the audience (the bar and pool room, using Cheers as an example), and several less commonly used sets in other sections of the soundstage (Sam’s office and the restroom). Oftentimes, extra sets are also constructed in the free spaces behind and around the main sets that can be reused whenever needed (like Diane’s apartment or Carla’s house).

Depending on what soundstage they’re using, there may already be a plane set already, but if not, they either pre-shoot those scenes on another soundstage and play them to the audience for live responses, or they may shoot those scenes on another day with a different audience.

Any exterior or location shoots are prerecorded and played to a studio audience for live responses.

Sometimes scenes are intentionally shot without an audience, either for quiet, emotional moments, to avoid spoilers, or when stunts or special effects need to be added later. These scenes may either have a laugh track added later or be left with silence.

Finally, laughs can be added or subtracted in post-production (called “sweetening”).

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  • Using Red Dwarf as an example (I was in the live audience a few years back), this is the case. We had a few "regular" sets, plus a guest set, and space between and around the back of sets for corridors. Other things were filmed beforehand (eg location shots) and shown to us on screens, with our laughter recorded. Sometimes things such as special effects or visual jokes required a scene to be partly recorded live in front of us, and partly on screens (in the same set) with that part of the scene having been recorded beforehand.
    – user25730
    Apr 27 at 3:05

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