Bright studio lights are being adjusted from harsh to bearable.
There can't be any shadows under the eyes. There can't be any squinting.
Three lonely podiums stand amid a glowing blue hue in the belly of the Vegas PBS studios.
Don't wear anything that blends in with the background color. Shorter candidates might have to stand on boxes to be the same height as their opponents on camera.
As the final hours before tonight's 6 p.m. gubernatorial debate approach, production managers and studio helpers hurriedly apply the finishing touches so that Rory Reid and Brian Sandoval can intimately discuss the issues.
Education. Unemployment. Foreclosure. Budget cuts. Taxes.
Only a few dozen campaign staff, family and friends will be allowed into the studio on East Flamingo Road, while thousands of viewers throughout the state will watch from the comfort of their homes.
They will judge how candidates answer questions, what solutions they offer to tough economic problems plaguing the nation and how each respond in a structured debate environment. It will be streamed live on the Internet and podcasted.
"We have a debate that we produce for the people at home to see them, hear them, and make that personal assessment," said Tom Axtell, Vegas PBS general manager. "Look at their eyes. Do they twitch? You read so much into that visual. That's just the way we are as humans. Television pulls that all out. You are transparent when the camera looks at you. Your personality comes across and people make judgments about you.
"That's the power of a debate. You can only make judgments about these people by seeing them, and those are judgments we want people to be able to make with a sense of thoughtfulness."
The hour will pass. The candidates will go home. Television channels will be changed to see what pundits are saying about the debate and the studio crew will tear down and reconstruct a new set -- this time for next Thursday's U.S. Senate debate between Democratic Sen. Harry Reid and Republican challenger Sharron Angle.
Workers will bring in different podiums will be brought in and a frosty plastic background that reflects a different color from the gubernatorial debate will be installed.
After the Senate debate, the crews will have an hour to make any changes for the 3rd Congressional District debate between Joe Heck and Rep. Dina Titus.
Reid and Angle are at the center of one of the hotly contested political races in the nation, and they'll finally be in the same room.
"There have not been a lot of debates, so it ratchets up the danger of making an error," Axtell said. "Candidates don't have a chance to recover. The debates will occur and early voting will begin shortly thereafter."
It is unclear just how many viewers there will be. News crews from Japan and England will cover the event and major national media outlets also will be represented -- 50 television and radio channels will air the debate in Nevada alone.
This will be the first time that Spanish-language closed-captioning will be offered for a debate. Axtell deflected questions about whether that television option was added because their might be questions about immigration reform.
There won't be a studio audience. But that's not because punches were thrown at the last U.S. Senate forum, Axtell said.
"If you have a group of 50 partisans, they can't help but murmur," Axtell said. "And the noise, even though you preselect them, they just can't help it. All of a sudden your debate has distractions."
During the debates, anywhere from 500 to 1,000 supporters will tailgate outside of the studios, cheering their favorite candidate and jeering at responses from the opponent.
Security for next week's Senate debate will be tight, Axtell said. U.S. Capitol Police and Secret Service have already made a preliminary round of security checks, and they'll be back to check again as the debate approaches.
■ Gubernatorial debate -- Rory Reid and Brian Sandoval, 6-7 p.m. tonight.
■ U.S. Senate debate -- Harry Reid and Sharron Angle, 6-7 p.m., Thursday Oct. 14.
■ Congressional District 3 debate -- Joe Heck and Dina Titus, 8-9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 14.
■ State Senate debates -- districts 5, 8, 9, 8-9 p.m., pre-recorded.
Contact Kristi Jourdan at email@example.com or 702-383-0279.