Q: When actors are playing dead in all of these crime shows on TV, how in the world do they stay so still? It would be hard enough not to twitch or move, but in many instances they "die" with their eyes open.

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Adam Thomlison / TV Media

With crime-procedural shows still pulling in ratings across all of the networks on TV, a gift for playing dead now has a lot more uses than just really convincing bears not to eat you. Indeed, with three new "CSI"-brand episodes and three "Law & Orders" every week, each episode featuring one or more corpses as the source of its plot, that's at least six high-profile dead-guy roles being cast every week just between those two franchises.

As for the acting part, the experts say it's all about breathing.

"When your 'body' is part of the scene and the scene's length is too long for you to hold your breath, take slow, shallow breaths," according to the list of acting tips offered by The New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts.

This raises the point that a modern TV or film shot rarely lasts longer than five seconds before the camera switches or pans away.

The conservatory also advises the actor to "stay focused on keeping your breathing in your neck and throat. Of course, your lungs will be working, but this visualization on your part will help keep your chest cavity from moving."

As for the eyes, most eye effects you see on screen these days are still done with good, old-fashioned contact lenses. However, at sometimes hundreds of dollars a pair, there's nothing simple about these (and imagine how much AMC's new zombie series "The Walking Dead" must spend on them every week).

There are also eye drops and makeup effects that can help the glassy effect, and too there is the increasing range of things that can be done with computer editing and graphics.

Again, given the brief shot length in most shows these days, the actor playing Victim No. 1 often only has to hold his or her eyes open for a handful of seconds at a go.

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