One of the most challenging Super Bowl Halftime Shows, this year’s issues began before the February 2, 2014 date of the game, but started weeks before when the crew found themselves programming in the snow. “We had to design the show around potentially terrible weather conditions,” says lighting designer Bob Barnhart of Full Flood in LA, a Super Bowl veteran. “There could have been freezing rain and sleet.”
Barnhart lit the show like an old-fashioned rock show, as the production featured Bruno Mars—with his band performing in gold jackets with songs like the classic Isley Brothers “A Little Bit Louder Now.” And Mars wanted the show to feel “as in you were at a live rock concert,” Barnhart adds, noting that the architecture of his rig was decided by the lack of possible positions at MetLife Stadium.
“The set was pushed back into the audience as the tunnel access is very limited there and we couldn’t handle the usual 30 wagons,” the LD explains. “So we put the stage right up against the rails, but they have serious weight limitations. Only three of the four rails can hold lights, and one had so many loudspeakers there was limited room for lights, and the last rail ran in front of the owner’s boxes where this is no rail.” As a result, Barnhart ended up with four positions: two floor trusses at field level and 130 yards on the three rails, each with 66 lights in different configurations.
The lights were hung in clusters of three or six for symmetry (wherever possible…). “On the field there was a solid row but divided in threes, which made for a larger looking rig,” says Barnhart, whose color palette was narrow but echoed the gold of the jackets with star filters that went to gold. The palette shared the discretion of Bruno Mars’ show. There was no reason to use color for no specific reason.”
The 332 Clay Paky Sharpy fixtures (see full gear list) were the workhorses: “They are a small, fast fixture, and extremely bright,” asserts the LD. “There we were outdoors on February 2 in New Jersey and the question was how to maintain an atmosphere to see this rig. The Sharpy was best for that, and they are a good size for the limitation of the rails, they didn’t hang too low into the boxes below.”
Barnhart notes that the 220 LED Ayrton MagicPanel units were used as much as a scenic element, as for lighting. “They added a vibrant area to the stage but were not overused, they were pretty subtle at most times. Their 360° pan and tilt is fantastic.” Barnhart also added 12 Clay Paky A.Leda B-Eeye fixtures, and likes their rotating faceplate in spot position, which makes interesting air graphics. Lighting control was via a PRG V676 console with an MA Lighitng grandMA console used for video, with Green Hippo Hippotizers. The lighting rig was provided by PRG, except the Brite Box followspots, which came from Arc Lite EFX.
All of the fixtures were weather-guarded, and performed well, although Barnhart lost communication with the spot ops right before the show. Using cell phones, he reassured them that while they wouldn’t be hearing from him during the show, just to do what they did in rehearsal and it would be fine. And it was.