Continuing our discussion with Bruce Rodgers regarding his process and production design for the Super Bowl XLVII Halftime Show.
LD: Talk a little about the video integrated into the set.
Bruce Rodgers: Back in May 2011, I worked on my first Beyoncé project. I suggested and designed a front interactive projection dance for Beyoncé for her BillBoard Awards performance of “Run The World.” For this project, Beyoncé hired the talented imagery and content design team of Kenzo Digital and Breathe Editing, and that performance design, which was a huge success, was the seed of the video portion of the Halftime Show.
Breathe was once again brought on and did a beautiful creative design. They worked tirelessly with Beyoncé and her internal creative team, consisting mainly of cinematographer Ed Burke, designer LeRoy Bennett, and famed choreographer Frank Gatson Jr. The work they created with Beyoncé was exciting and well planned. We helped by creating and engineering a carted hinging video floor that would hinge up vertical to give Beyoncé a video wall background for about 30 seconds of the show.
LD: Describe your process for getting to actual renderings? Do you sketch first? Storyboard?
BR: The process this year involved a lot of discussion and reference finding and basic sketching, diagramming by our team and Beyoncé’s team. Her team makes amazing sizzle reels of the concepts, which includes music, screen grabs, and other visuals. Everything helped the group understand and discuss scale, vibe, goals. Several full-color presentations were created, and we even built a mock up of a car reveal idea that was scrapped at the very last minute that had the makings of a great original opener. And in New Orleans, Beyoncé had a full-scale mockup for her rehearsals.
LD: How did this year differ from others?
BR: The creative team was bigger than ever, which was rewarding and also crazy because it made the target harder to identify. Once the basic idea was discovered, and Beyoncé was satisfied, we attacked the design and built it in a few short weeks. Beyoncé and Ed Burke were in love with a stage that was based on Beyoncé’s body silhouette, her standing shape, her sitting shape, her curves, her hair. We studied various ways to do this, and LeRoy Bennett was helpful in finding the nugget of the two faces stage idea, based on the old illusion of two faces and a vase, so we went to work making the idea real.
Scale was a challenge, as was function, and space and cart counts, but we worked it all out. Her face and eye line work was perfected with the help of artists and Scott Nylund and Reuben Butchart, and her hair effect was created by All Access Staging and Productions and AirDD's Doron Gazit and his guys onsite led by Raul Velenzuela and Patrick Traylor. The pyrogirl shape standing in the background was a combination effort between all entities, such as rigging, set shop, pyro, and power, and was a result of the early shape studies being used in interesting ways in the design.
LD: What were the biggest challenges?
BR: Last minute changes.
LD: What was the most rewarding aspect of this year’s design?
BR: For me it was everything coming together even though there was a lot of last minute small changes. Timing and choreagraphy of show cues and camera work was critical to help the TV audience feel the big performance. I sat in on a Super Bowl Sunday afternoon camera meeting in the TV truck, listening in as Hamish and his key camera squad discussed their moves, reviewed the last rehearsal, and made minor changes for the evening's live performance. The dialogue was impressive, with each squad member visualizing their camera positions before and after key shots. It reminded me that every department has a story to tell and responsibility to the same story.
LD: What others were involved in the visuals (design, construction, etc.)?
BR: It was fun working with Beyoncé, LeRoy, Ed, Burke, Al Gurdon, Mike "Oz" Owen, Hamish, Ricky, Mark Grega with Strictly FX throughout the process to find the best show design, and it was a great experience working again with All Access, PRG, VER, Audiotek, Steve Thomas and Joel Magarian and the rigging team, KP Terry and Jason Olthoff and the field cast teams, and the stage management teams to build and create the production design.