LD Al Gurdon created strong backlight looks to underscore Beyoncé’s performance by mixing strong aerial beam work and controlled keylighting with strobes and lightning flashes for the Pepsi Super Bowl XLVII Halftime Show. Lighting director/ programmer Michael “Oz” Owen, a long-time collaborator with Gurdon, starting in London doing previsualization at PRG’s East Molesey, UK office, using Cast Lighting’s wysiwyg system and the PRG V676® Lighting Control Console. “I would say that 90% of it was programmed virtually,” points out Owen. “After doing pre-programming in London, we went to New York and set up our wysiwyg system where Beyoncé was rehearsing. We then took the set up to New Orleans.”
Owen also used a new program, Moving Light Assistant, from programmer Andrew Voller, to move data into the V676. He notes, “One of its features allows us to import the 3D locations of all lamps from CAD into 3D layouts in my console. The 3D in the V676 is a really useful tool. I can try out a lot of the effects and chases in realistic 3D. I also prefer the effects system of the V676, which takes custom-made groups and applies them to sequences of presets. With a show that is ultimately very tight to time and the tempos are very regular, I like to program all of that with realtime parameters so I can very precisely time things to the tempos of the music. The V676 was again rock-solid with absolutely no problems at all and as always, PRG gave us good support on the show, which is nothing unusual from them.”
The two strong walls of beams created with two rows of Clay Paky Sharpys was one of the most visually striking elements of Gurdon’s design. The row from above was on a truss flown in at 80’ with 80 units on it all lined up. A second truss on the sideline had 80 more units. This position was permanent so it didn’t get bumped out of focus on carts during setup. Owen explains that in the case of the Sharpys, this was a very good thing. “We’re able to get a good manual pre-focus on them; to get all of the beams parallel and get them all nicely tightened down so we could precisely line them up.”
A mix of Philips Vari-Lite VL3500 Wash and VL3500 Wash FX units for washes and lighting the audience as well as VL3500 Spot units for keying the stage were hung on a horseshoe truss above. “The 3500 Spots were used as keylights in groups,” comments Owen. “We had a group on the side; a group diagonally from the front ¾; another group in the middle. This was all quite steep and it was a minimum of 180’ away from the stage so we had to do a lot of shuttering in order for Al to key each position.”
Owen also worked closely with lighting directors Bob Barnhart and David Grill from Full Flood on realizing all of the lighting for the Super Bowl. “They were a vital part of the team, interfacing between Al, PRG, and the rest of the Super Bowl team,” says Owen. “They are highly experienced with the Super Bowl setup and both acted as vital communication hubs during the frantic stage setup for Halftime; Bob on the stage and Dave in the truck.”
Another member of the lighting programming team was Pete Radice. He programmed the pre and post game elements of the Super Bowl, for which LD Bob Barnhart handled the lighting. Radice, who had the same V676 show file minus the stage aspects, used the V676 and lighting system for his portions of the show. “Pete did all the rig checking with the PRG crew, leaving me free to concentrate on programming off-line or with wyg,” comments Owen. “He also controlled the smoke and fans on an ETC Expression during the Halftime show, which is always a tricky part to control.” It required accurate on/off control of the fans to not interfere with the special effects and pyrotechnics. PRG chose to use 24 of the Lex Products Slim Dimmer Plus units to control the 24 Reel EFX RE 2 Turbo fans via DMX.
All the hard work of the entire lighting team was evident on the field as the Halftime Show was packed with visual energy. Both the stadium fans and the broadcast audience were treated to a stunning and spectacular lighting show.