Months of work go into the live 20-minute Halftime production watched by 108 million people worldwide. Working closely with lighting designer Al Gurdon, lighting director and gaffer Rich Gorrod helped to ensure that the design moves from paper to show time as efficiently and seamlessly as possible.
“This is my fourth Super Bowl Halftime show so I have a good idea of the considerations and challenges that are unique to this particular event. Early on I work with LD Al Gurdon to put it all on paper,” says Gorrod. He watches for the details that could become challenging both physically in the stadium or to accomplish in the limited time frame. While still in London, where both Gurdon and Gorrod are based, Gorrod input the system into Cast Lighting’s wysiwyg system for previsualization and patched the show with programmer Michael “Oz” Owen. Working at PRG’s East Molesey office in the UK, Gorrod, Gurdon and Owen set up at PRG’s previz suite using the PRG V676® Lighting Control Console.
Owen selected the V676 as the console he wanted to use for the fast paced, heavily programmed show. “There is a lot of data coming from Oz’s console,” explains Gorrod. “So when I laid out the patch in London for the pre-viz sessions, I did a lot of balancing of the data across the nodes to make sure it moved quickly around the stadium.” Gorrod laid out the power and data distribution system by choosing to once again use the PRG Series 400® Power and Data Distribution System. He worked in conjunction with PRG’s Chris Conti on the best ways to layout the power and data system, which required extremely long runs from the FOH control position to the numerous lighting locations around the New Orleans' Superdome. “We took full advantage of the PRG S400 system,” comments Gorrod. “It is great, especially in such a large stadium. The S400 allows us to cut down on the optos we need to boost signal for the data and cuts way back on the amount of cable needed. Robb Minnotte was back with up again as the systems technician from PRG who maintained the S400 system for the Halftime show; he’s a S400 specialist and really knows the system well. It is great working with him.”
The stage for this year’s show had the largest amount of set carts yet for a halftime show. “There was a lot of lighting on the stage carts this year; more than last year,” says Gorrod. “There were a lot of LED pucks outlining the face profiles as well as Robe Robin 600 LEDWash lights and [Martin] Atomic Strobes that were mounted on the stage.” In past year’s Halftime shows, LD Gurdon used carts on the field for his backlight positions, which are an important part of his designs. Gorrod explains that this year they came up with a better solution for backlight from the field level. “This year there were large sidelines, so we could create a permanent lighting position on the sideline behind the stage and we didn’t have to deal with lighting carts that needed precise positioning and refocusing after they got into place. We could leave the field of play truss in position during the whole game. This was a 12”x12” Thomas truss with 80 Clay Paky Sharpys along with Atomic Strobes and Atomic Colors.”
In addition to the Sharpy truss on the field level, Gurdon specified a system of Chroma-Q Color Block 2 LED fixtures to be mounted on the rails of the stadium. “We send runs of Art-Net to the 200 and 500 levels for the Chroma-Q Color Block 2 units that were mounted on those balcony rails,” says Gorrod. “There were 113 Color Block units on each level for a total of 226 units.”
Additional backlight came from above as well. “There was also another Sharpy truss with 80 more Sharpys rigged above,” says Gorrod. “That truss hung up at 170’ during the first half and then flew into 80’ for the Halftime show. We also had the horseshoe truss hung above with the moving lights for keying the stage. These fixtures were a mix of [Philips Vari-Lite] VL3500 Wash, VL3500 Wash FX, and VL3500 Spot units.” The entire lighting package was provided by PRG and the followspots came from Arc Light Efx.
“We also handled some of the smoke and fans on the stage that were in our control,” explains Gorrod. “They were all controlled by lighting programmer Pete Radice from an ETC Expression console. We had DMX controlled fans around the stage to work with the smoke and haze as well as for Beyoncé’s hair.”
Gorrod, who also worked on the Opening and Closing Ceremonies at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, takes the pressure that goes with large-scale live events in stride. “There is no room for error, you know that and you plan the best you can to avoid any errors,” says Gorrod. “Everything has to be up and running in under eight minutes. At four minutes in, the power was connected to the carts and they are up and running.”