Everything is mission-critical during a live televised performance event, but perhaps the most essential is rock-solid power and control for the lighting system. A reliable power and data distribution network is where it all begins, and for the Pepsi Super Bowl XLVII Halftime Show you not only need reliable, you need to be able to absolutely trust your connections since many of them have to happen in a mere four minutes leading up to performance time.
The lighting team, including Rich Gorrod, lighting director and gaffer; project manager Robb Minnotte; and lead gaffer Tony Ward, selected and took full advantage of the PRG Series 400® Data and Power Distribution System’s ability to reliably streamline the distribution runs while decreasing failure points. The critical backbone for the lighting system for this year’s Halftime Show, the Series 400 system combines power, DMX, and Ethernet data through a single custom-designed trunk cable and includes purpose-designed Ethernet switches with the ability to route any DMX universe to any DMX output connector in the system, along with complete electrical isolation. Also important in an event the size of the Halftime Show, the Series 400 Ethernet switches are designed specifically to handle the massive amounts of lighting console data that standard off-the-shelf Ethernet switches often see as a network attack, causing shut down.
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Redundant data runs were also required for this live, globally broadcast event, so certainly anything that cuts back on cabling is welcome. This is an important consideration for an event in the large Mercedes-Benz Superdome where extremely long runs are required—it’s over 1,000’ from control at FOH to the field. The production used fiber-optic cable between locations, running a main line, back up, and a redundant back-up fiber line. The choice of running DMX over Art-Net along fiber-optic cable meant the long data runs did not require opto isolators, as there is no need to regenerate the signal. Still the team had to use miles of fiber cabling when all was said and done to cover the Superdome.
The FOH consoles and main data-distribution point were located on the upper level near the press box. The show was operated by programmer Mike ‘Oz’ Owen using two PRG V676® consoles, one main and one backup. The V676 console outputs Art-Net into three S400 7-Port Switches, which split out into 11 PRG Node Plus units. Four streams of Art Net data were sent to video programmer Jason Rudolph’s computer to convert to a DVI signal. This allowed Owen to control the LED pucks that outlined the edges of the stage, making the face outlines, via the lighting console.
A high amount of control data came from the lighting console, so the nodes were divided up to balance the system and keep the speed up on all of the data being moved around the stadium. The PRG Node Plus units distributed 38 total streams of Art-Net around to the various lighting positions. Just for the stage alone, there were 10 streams of Art-Net used for control. All of the S400 node positions—FOH and around the stadium—were furnished with uninterrupted power supplies (UPS).
The catwalk and platform rack positions fed power and data to the aerial Sharpy truss and the horseshoe truss with the automated lights that LD Al Gurdon used for keylighting the stage. On the balcony rails of the 500 and 200 levels, there were 226 Chroma-Q Color Block 2 LED units for backlighting the show; 113 on each level. There were S400 data racks on each level.
With S400, the team cut down on a lot of cabling and equipment. including racks and racks of opto isolators, which in turn cut back on the need for additional techs to monitor all those additional points of potential failure. The team also could easily re-patch or readdress units directly at the S400 racks, in a traditional distribution layout a tech would have to go to that lighting position to readdress that unit. That is not an option when half the lights in the plot were inaccessible during the game and Halftime Show.
There are eight minutes allotted to get the show set-up on the field. At four minutes all of the power and data needs to be hooked up and everything lighting-wise is operational. There is no time for a second chance to get it right. Months of planning, patching, and strategizing by the team made sure that those eight minutes passed without an issue and the 20-minute show came off without a hitch.
Lighting Control Equipment List
2 PRG V676 Lighting Control Console
1 Leprecon LP-624 Console for Submaster Fader Wing
6 PRG Series 400 Power and Data Distribution System Racks
1 PRG Series 400 FOH Breakout Box
22 PRG Series 400 10-Port Ethernet Switches (Art-Net Mode)
6 PRG Series 400 7-Port Ethernet Switches (Art-Net Mode)
3 PRG Series 400 7-Port Ethernet Switches (V676 Mode)
27 PRG Node Plus Network Interface Devices