Going to the Canada's Got Talent Finale was unforgettable. John had a blast, my mom and sister did as well. I have to say it's much more entertaining to go to the live filming than it is to watch it on TV.
They start filming at 4:30PM. I learned this is to accommodate the set changes as they take longer than a live broadcast would allow. They do this until about 7PM. Then they ask the audience to take a 1 hour break. During the break they put the recording together. At this time we're free to roam the theatre. We can go up on stage (get in line!), check out the judges desk (but can't sit), etc.
At 8PM we all come back and they air "live" to Canada the recording they did earlier. Then at around 9:45PM the judges come back and they do an actual "live" broadcast of announcing the winner.
Not much (if anything) seems to get cut from what they record so the filming itself looks to be a "do or die" situation. It's pretty much like a live recording, just with a delayed broadcast I guess...
During commercials, for us in the live audience, there is an emcee who hypes up the crowd, finds talent in the audience to pass the time, etc. For example when we were there they found singers in the crowd, people that could do acrobatics, things like that.
They also have a small crowd of "seat-fillers" to fill empty seats or to act as "fans" to some of the contestants (eg: creating a [peaceful] "mosh-pit" like in this Season 2 Finale).
I also learned that the bristol board signs people hold up like "We love you Howie!" are provided by the production team. They're left on random seats throughout the audience beforehand.
The whole production is very well organized. It runs like a well-oiled machine. It's inspiring to watch how much work goes into it.
Dance act Conversion was the winner of Season 2. They were awesome.