PRODUCTION HIGHLIGHTS FROM SUPER BOWL XLII
21 February 2008
(Glendale) - Stageco, Electro-Voice, XLTV, PRG and tmb pull off an intense twenty minute show during the halftime entertainments of the 2008 NFL SuperBowlSTAGING
Despite the hundreds of modern mechanical ways of moving equipment, there are times when only good old-fashioned people power is still the best. This was the case when Stageco US installed media and camera platforms in the upper reaches of the enormous University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, for the NFL SuperBowl XLII, the USA’s most celebrated sporting occasion, on 3 February.
The company was asked to build 13 media platforms above one quarter of the venue’s top three tiers of seating by event production company Noel Lesley Event Services Inc. (NLES), in conjunction with HOK Events.
The platforms were used for the broadcast and press booths which provided a temporary home to the huge international media circus which brought the SuperBowl into the homes of 97.5 million viewers worldwide (the second most watched television programme in the US, ever).
About 35 tons of scaffolding was lifted to the stadium’s fourth level concourse (at the base of the upper levels) using a combination of lifts and “dollies” (wheeled trucks). From then on the only option was to move the equipment through the remaining 23 rows of seats by hand.
Stageco’s team leaders Hans Wert, Keith Ray and Jon Hawkins managed a local labor force of approximately 16 stagehands, carpenters and equipment operators, under the watchful eye of Noel Lesley himself (owner and president of NLES), who, given the magnitude of the event, took personal control of the operation, as well as NLES’s Billy Thompson.
“Sometimes the old ways are the only way,” laughs Stageco’s Vice President of US Operations, Mary Lou Figley. “The construction time allotted for Stageco was about five days, which typically would be a long timeframe. But given the challenge of moving the material by hand to the top rows, we used every minute. As we finished each platform, the production teams installed the décor elements, then went back to dress each structure to give it the final, show-ready presentation.”
This was Stageco US’s first year of working with the main NFL event, although the company has provided stages for the series of Pepsi-sponsored concerts that runs alongside SuperBowl for many years. “Like any vendor, we quoted on the project,” explains Mary Lou. “Although we may not have been the least costly, NLES were pleased with our attention to detail. We have also worked with some of their long-standing clients, who have had good things to say about our work with them in the past.”
So when the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots 17-14, the world’s media had Stageco US to thank for their bird’s eye view of the game.
XLTV was video screen supplier for Tom Petty’s performance at the Super Bowl XLII Bridgestone Halftime Show. The show loaded in on January 23, 2008 in advance of the February 3, 2008 Super Bowl.
XLTV provided 9 Main Light Soft-LED SCRIM curtains, each of which was hung from Main Light’s proprietary Soft Motion systems and had animation content provided by Robb Wagner/Stimulated, Inc.
The Design team consisted of Lighting Designer for Tom Petty, Jim Lenahan, Lighting Designer for XLII Bridgestone’s Halftime Show, Robert Dickinson and Production Designer Bruce Rogers, with the system being engineered by Giovanni Ciranni of Main Light. Giovanni worked closely with Dave Hyslop, Project Manager of XLTV to successfully deploy the screens within the time limits of this half time show.
Hyslop says “The demand of this show was a challenge to meet, with having to have the screens deployed and ready with content in 4 minutes. It would not have been possible without the experience of all involved.”
Steve Thomas oversaw all aspects of rigging, Braden Stroup was Soft Motion Operator with XLTV’s L Sidney Ptah assisting.
As the last seconds of the first half of Super Bowl XLII came to an end and the two teams prepared to head to the locker room for halftime, another team consisting of hundreds of crew and volunteers prepared to race against the clock themselves. They would run onto the field where, in less than seven minutes, they would assemble the stage for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ halftime performance. In those seven minutes there was no margin for error and no time for technical problems.
Lighting designers Bob Dickinson and Bob Barnhart and production designer Bruce Rodgers depended on PRG to pull it off – and they were not disappointed. “This event is truly the most intense 20 minutes in show business,” says programmer Mark Butts. “Every year it gets more ambitious. The amount of gear and the number of electrical and data connections are staggering.” Butts programmed the equipment on the floor of the stadium, which included 600 Color Kinetic ColorBlast TR units, 250 Element Labs Versa TUBEs, 20 Martin Atomic Strobes with scrollers and 10 Vari-Lite VL5 Arc luminaires. To control the equipment, Butts used PRG’s Virtuoso lighting control console and Mbox Extreme media server.
“The main challenge for the Super Bowl is the lack of time,” explains Butts. “We get precious few opportunities to see the full production on-camera before the actual show. That’s why it’s essential to have equipment that is flexible and reliable.
“I’m really pleased with the improvements that PRG has made in the Virtuoso console, especially with the V6.0 software. I made extensive use of multiple cue stacks, wave-based effects, and bump/flash features, all of which are new features in V6.0.”
PRG’s Mbox Extreme media servers were used in conjunction with the Virtuoso for control of the ColorBlasts and the Versa TUBEs. “We used the Mbox pixel map software for the ColorBlasts under the stage, all 600 of them,” says Butts. “Utilising a pixel map, rather than running the units directly from the console, saved a lot of time both in troubleshooting and in programming. It reduced my channel count so programming was faster and more efficient. I really like the ability to crossfade on a single layer on the Mbox. It saves time, not having to manage intensities and media on multiple layers. I also love the ability to quickly create thumbnails on the server, load them into the Virtuoso and see them in the media window. This is a unique feature of these two products and a lifesaver in the television world.”
Lighting director Matt Firestone operated a second Virtuoso system, which controlled several hundred automated fixtures and effects, including Mac 2000 Washes, VL3500 Washes, and VL5Arcs. Some of these luminaires were mounted on trusses suspended 37 metres (120 feet) over the end zones and some were mounted on the balcony rails in front of the top seating sections. There were also VL5 Arcs on two 21 metre (70 feet) vertical trusses that were hung to the left and right behind the band.
At halftime, 60 trolleys (35 of which contained lighting equipment) were pushed onto the field to create the stage for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ performance. Two PRG Series 400 Power and Data Distribution Systems were also provided. “We isolated each cart for Tom Petty’s stage and in most cases, fit it with a single Series 400 cable, which meant that most carts required only one cable (for power and data) connecting to the S400 rack,” says PRG’s Tony Ward, vice president, television and special events. "To make the lighting system work, nearly 150 separate connections needed to be made, including trailing four 46 metre (150 feet) sets of 4/0 feeder. Using the Series 400 on the field was the right choice because of the limited time we had to make all of these connections, and because it’s so reliable!”
After Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers brought down the house, all the connections were quickly undone and the trolleys were swiftly removed from the field. Over the following 48 hours the crew loaded the gear into nine 53 foot trucks. “I’m not surprised that it went well,” comments Butts. “The PRG technical crews have really become experts at this. The show would simply not happen without their expertise and dedication to this project.”
Alpha One Technology's new FALCON 6000™ and the existing FALCON 7K™ xenon lights played key roles. Premiering at the big event, the FALCON 6000 is a compact indoor/outdoor, DMX controlled, xenon fixture equipped with douser, pan-and-tilt movement, electronic and mechanical dimmer, electronic and mechanical strobe, zoom and integrated electronic power supply. The next release of the FALCON 6000 will include a CMY 1 color changer, with extra scrolls for special effects. The CMY color changer system will allow for thousands of brilliant color combinations. A fourth gel string will be equipped with special colors, and/or other special effect films.
“Finally a versatile xenon light designed especially for both floor and inverted use,” states Emmy Award winning lighting designer Bob Dickinson. “Its exceptional output, comparable to that of the 7K at a third the size and weight with one-third the power consumption, is a great advancement in xenon technology. I am looking forward to using A&O's CMY version of the FALCON 6000.”
During the Halftime Show, which year featured TOM PETTY & THE HEARTBREAKERS, 18 FALCON 7Ks played on the field while 14 FALCON 6000s played on an upstage truss. The Super Bowl XLII Halftime Show is produced by Don Mischer Productions and White Cherry Productions. Also at the Super Bowl, 10 FALCON 3K™ BEAMS were used on the NFL Pepsi Smash Concert Series.
For the fifth year running, the team of Jeff Jones, Jim Lillie and Al Jacquez (Amazing Audio Inc.) has used Electro-Voice equipment to deliver stellar audio production for General Motors’ annual dealer meetings and events at the Superbowl, working as part of a complete Audio, Video, Lighting and Creative Team.
For this year’s GM event, for Chevrolet, at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix, a “green” theme was evident in more ways than one. “Revolutionizing the Game" saw a strong focus on GM’s high performance eco-friendly vehicles, fuel efficiency, and alternative fuels. The Michigan-based audio production team’s approach tied in seamlessly as, due to a combination of low ceiling height at the venue and current high fuel costs, they deployed a high performance, lightweight, low profile EV sound system, utilizing a smaller trucking footprint without compromising an ounce of coverage or power—a “fuel efficient” PA in all respects.
Main hangs of (3) XLD281 small-format line array enclosures were flown from the main truss in the venue, with stacks of (5) XLD281's on the far stage left and right. Xi1122’s served as center fills, stage foldback, and delays, with Xsubs providing ample low-end for high impact videos and new TV commercials. Additional XLD281’s provided front fill. Power was via lightweight CP3000S and CP4000S amps, processed via Dx38 running RACE.
Jeff Jones described another successful year with GM at the Superbowl: “I am delighted to report that Chevrolet and GM top management and support staff, Maritz Interactions, and Jack Morton Productions all agreed that the audio was flawless in every respect. The system delivered concert-quality sound for this corporate application, while maintaining open sightlines and a tidy footprint. The presentations and video segments sounded powerful and dynamic, and the special guests sounded crisp and clear. Sports legends Howie Long, Chris Collingsworth, Boomer Esiason, Phil Simms, and Darryl Green were on hand to pump everyone up and increase the laughter a hundredfold, Newt Gingrich spoke for about an hour on ‘Green Conservatism’, and Frank Caliendo left the audience and crew laughed out... The superb EV audio, superb video and projection, superb lighting, superb production and creative content earned the producers and crew many handshakes and warm ‘Thank-You’s’.”
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