When I covered the Super Bowl halftime show three years ago I referred to it as the toughest eight-minute load-in in show business. It hasn’t gotten any easier over the years; in fact it has gotten more technically complex as artists and audiences have embraced the video and LED world. Every year I am struck with the ingenuity and coordination that gets a stadium show in place and entertaining millions in just moments. Few ever get to work on productions of this caliber, with this level of one-shot-at-it, in-front-of-the-world-watching pressure. Of course, the Super Bowl adds the unique challenge of actually building the stage and technical elements in mere minutes. In little more time than it took for a six-year-old Darth Vader to turn on his father’s Volkswagen with The Force, the production team had to set-up a stadium-size rig in front of thousands of football fans.
The very nature of the Halftime production means that flawless will, at times, be an elusive goal but creativity was certainly center field this year, when they turned the challenge up a notch by reconfiguring and creating the stage in front of our eyes. Plus they added in the spectacle of using the entire field by making the field cast themselves elements of the visual design. Ambitious production goals considering the time constrains, perhaps, but isn’t design on this level supposed to be about doing the ‘impossible,’ amazing the audience, and even stretching the imagination of our industry to what is possible. My hat is off to them for trying and, I would strongly argue, once again doing the impossible!
In the coming days I will be posting more from both production designer Bruce Rodgers and lighting designer Al Gurdon about the technical aspects of the show itself. To get the coverage started however, Rodgers, on behalf of his team at Tribe, Inc., have shared some of their drawings, renderings, and a few words about this year’s Bridgestone Super Bowl XLV Halftime Show.
Bruce Rodgers: The Super Bowl Halftime Show design process is the most collaborative design experience I've ever been involved in. This particular show design, starring the Black Eyed Peas, was no exception.
Executive producer Ricky Kirshner, director Hamish Hamilton, lighting designer Al Gurdon, producer Rob Paine, and I worked together from the beginning of the design process to the final product, adopting other talented people into the fold as we progress along the design path. Storyboard artist and art director Sean Dougall, field cast director KP Terry, choreographer Fatima Robinson, staging supervisors Cap Spence and Tony Hauser, and pyro effects designer Ron Smith of Pyro Spectaculars all added their expertise to the overall design as we developed the production design. Our collective design teams, the set shop All Access Staging & Productions, the LED-illuminated cast costume fabricators ShowFX and Just For Kix, and lighting supplier PRG, all added their valuable input as we moved from concept design to design development.
Our main design goal, after last year's high tech show starring The Who, was to strive to set an even higher mark that involved not only a great production and lighting design but also a large field cast performance given the fact that the Peas were mainly a club dance band. The concept of building the show in front of the audience during the performance was the great idea of director Hamish Hamilton that excited us all.
I would also like to thank the tireless efforts of the many volunteers who helped make this production a visual success.