With both the Olympics and Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee taking place, London was the epicenter for big events in 2012, in terms of lighting, staging and projection. But Madonna's 2012 Super Bowl Halftime Show will also be hard to top in 2013 (it will feature Beyoncé), and while the Olympics required both marathon-like stamina for the opening ceremonies (with more than 100 consecutive nights of programming) and speed (close to 100 truckloads of gear needed to be loaded in within 18 hours for the closing ceremonies), the Super Bowl Halftime Show has long been known as an all-out sprint, with only 27 minutes allotted for load-in, the performance, and load-out. Finally, of course, 2012 will be remembered as a Presidential election year in the U.S., and for the challenges of staging huge political events in hurricane-threatened Tampa (the RNC) and Charlotte, NC (DNC).
This year’s Bridgestone Super Bowl XLVI Halftime Show featuring Madonna, hailed as both an artistic and technical success, was led for a third time by executive producer Ricky Kirshner of RK Productions, director Hamish Hamilton, production designer Bruce Rodgers and lighting designer Al Gurdon. This year, Rodgers also worked with Madonna’s creative director, Jamie King; Jake Berry, Madonna’s production manager; and Michel Laprise from Cirque du Soleil. After months of designing, planning and rehearsing the production lasts just 27 minutes, including the load-in, performance and load-out.
One of the key elements of the production design for this year’s show was the video content, furnished by Moment Factory, which was part projection mapping onto the field and a stage floor of 796 BasicTech FLED io11 11mm LED video tiles provided by LMG. The field projection area ended up being 80 feet tall by 149 feet wide, for a total area of 11,920 square feet. The raster size was 4,608 x 2,592 pixels.
LD Gurdon worked closely with the video content designers and team to balance lighting and projection. His design this year used more than 200 Clay Paky Sharpys in aerial lighting pods and on the field carts along with Vari*Lite VL3500 Wash units with clear lenses. Chroma-Q Color Blocks within the set also bathed the performers in changing hues.
For full details, see “Production Profile,” PLSN, March 2012, page 37. Posted online at: http://www.plsn.me/PLSN2012haftime.
Executive Producer: Ricky Kirshner, RK Productions
Director: Hamish Hamilton, Done and Dusted
Production Designer: Bruce Rodgers, Tribe, Inc.
Lighting Designer: Al Gurdon, Incandescent Design
Video Screens: Sakchin “Saky” Bessette, Joanna Marsal, Moment Factory
Video Technology: Ken Gay, LMG Design Studio
Pyro Designer: Ron Smith, J.E.M F/X, Inc.
Executive in Charge of Production: Rob Paine
Madonna Production Manager: Jake Berry
Madonna Co-Creative Directors: Jamie King,
Lighting Services: Full Flood, Inc.
Lighting Company: PRG
Followspots: Arc Light EFX, Inc.
Lighting Directors: Rich Gorrod, Bob Barnhart, Dave Grill
Lighting Director/Programmer: Michael “Oz” Owen
Lighting Programmer: Peter Radice
Gaffers: Tony Ward, Paul Bell, Jr., Brian McKinnon, Keith Berkes
Best Boy: Jose David Serralles
PRG Project Manager: Robb Minnotte
PRG Lead Technicians: Matt Geneczko, Jeff Anderson
Arc Light FX Technician: Quinn Smith
Video and Projection
Video Companies: LMG, DWP Live, Mobius Productions
Video Programmer: Jason Rudolph, Mobius Productions
Assistant Video Programmer: Matt Waters
Video Technicians: (LMG): Steve Bodzioch, Stephen Campbell, Justin Carlson, Dustin Cunningham, Trace Deroy, Doug Eldredge, Zack Heimbegner, Johnny Jordan, Sam Kriemelmeyer, Melvin Legrand, Neil Morrison, Luke Pilato, Stephen Reid, Rod Silhanek, Benjamin Spence, Meaghan Stack, Anthony Tisdale, Nathan Vanderpool, Michael Viehmeyer, Charles Weiner
Staging and Scenic
Staging Company: All Access Staging & Productions
Field Screen Fabrication: Sew What?, Inc., Meghan Duckett
Throne Design: Jimmie Martin Limited
Wings: Fabricated by Michael Curry Design, Inc.
Art Directors: Anthony Bishop, Douglas Cook, Sean Dougall, Amber Stinebrink, Tribe Inc.
Assistant Art Director: Lindsey Breslauer, Tribe, Inc.
All Access Crew: Erik Eastland, Timothy Fallon, Jr., Roger Cabot, Fidel Garza, Thomas Keane, Jesus Arroyo, Zach Eastland, Arturo Martinez, Ryan Funderburg
Production Supervisors: Augie Max Vargas, Brad Duns
Production Manager: Amanda McDonough
Staging Supervisors: Tony Hauser, Cap Spence
Cast Field Director/Cast Choreographer: Kristen “KP” Terry
Rigging Coordinator: Steve Thomas
Head Rigger: Joel Magarian
Rigging Supervisors: David Hernandez, Michael Farese, Denis Machado, Lyle Centola
Pyro Company: J.E.M F/X, Inc.
Pyro Technicians: Rebecca Timohovich, Dimitri Timovich, Bryan Whittaker, Sherry Souza, Carter Hillman, Omar Torres
Gear (Partial List)
2 PRG V676 Lighting Consoles
1 PRG Series 400 power and data distribution system
204 Clay Paky Sharpy fixtures
50 Philips Vari-Lite VL3500 Spot
90 Philips Vari-Lite VL3500 Wash
16 Philips Vari-Lite VL3500 Wash FX
19 PRG Bad Boy Spot CMY
442 Chroma-Q DB4 Color Blocks
111 Philips Color Kinetics iW Blast TR
32 Philips Color Kinetics iW G2 Profile
32 Philips Color Kinetics ColorBlast TR
60 Martin Professional Atomic 3000 Strobes with Atomic Color
18 Strong Gladiator III 3kW Followspots
1 Brite Box Flame 1,500W Prototype Followspot
16 Reel EFX DF-50 Diffusion Hazers
14 High End Systems F100 Fog Generators
32 Barco FLM HD20 20K Projectors
796 BasicTech FLED FL-io11 Video Tiles
2 MA Lighting grandMA2 light Consoles (Main and Backup)
12 Green Hippo Hippotizer HD Media Servers (6 Backup)
—Michael S. Eddy
The main focus for Queen Elizabeth II’s year-long Diamond Jubilee, which marked 60 years since she first took the throne, was on an extended holiday weekend from June 2-5. The festivities were elaborate, ranging from the flotilla of 1,000 boats plying the Thames to the Epsom Derby horse race, with 2,012 beacon lightings around the world and Royal receptions following a church service at St. Paul’s Cathedral. In terms of stage lighting and video, however, the BBC Concert at Buckingham Palace on June 4 served as the main event.
Televised and broadcast around the world, and seen on large video displays set up around London for the benefit of the million-plus crowds of well-wishers thronging the Mall and city parks, the concert featured performances by rock ‘n’ roll royalty including Sirs Paul McCartney, Cliff Richard, Tom Jones, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Elton John, Dame Shirley Bassey and a long list of untitled musicians (but not exactly commoners) including Stevie Wonder, Kylie Minogue, Robbie Williams, Annie Lennox, Gary Barlow and Lang Lang, among others.
The concert featured a temporary stage costing about $800,000 (with funding support from the BBC) that extended the nautical theme of the Queen Victoria Memorial while taking pains to eliminate any risk of physical impact on the monument itself. The design resembled both a huge crown and sails stretched by wooden spars (in this case, wood-covered steel truss). The stage, with ample video I-Mag, served as an “in the round” centerpiece for the 12,000 people who were seated, and 8,000 in standing room only areas, at the free live concert. (About 1.2 million entered a lottery for a chance at the free tickets.)
Event Producer: Robbie Williams
TV Director: Geoff Posner (BBC)
Executive Producers: Guy Freeman, Ben Weston (BBC)
Project Manager: Ollie Green
Event Designer: Durham Marenghi
Lead Programmer: Tim Routledge
Programmers: Alex Passmore, Dave Hill
Syncrolite Tech: Jeffrey A. Smith
Video Content: Miguel Ribeiro, Paul Clutterbuck (XL Video)
Scenic Designer: Mark Fisher (Stufish)
Projections: Steve Greetham, Andy Joyes (XL Events)
Crew Chief: Graham Vinall
Creative Director: Sam Pattinson (Treatment Studio)
Lighting: Neg Earth
Event Producer: Robbie Williams
Seating: Arena Group
Rigging & Drapes: Blackout
Crowd Barriers: Mojo Barriers
Projections: d3 Technologies
Video: XL Video
Modular Displays: CT
6 MA Lighting grandMA2
60 Clay Paky Sharpys
64 Clay Paky Alpha Beam 1500s
36 Clay Paky Alpha Wash 700s
46 Clay Paky Alpha Spot QWO 800s
32 Clay Paky Alpha Beam 700s
170 PAR 64s
20 Syncrolite SXL 7/3s
36 Syncrolite Arena Colors
5 Robert Juliat Lancelot followspots
4 Strong Gladiator followspots
36 Barco FLM HD 20K projectors
12 Barco ImagePRO video scalers
600 Pixled FX-11 LED video tiles
2 Lightware DVI Matrix switchers
2 Lighthouse R7 video walls (97 and 39m2)
While there were a large number of Olympics-related events and activities in and around London in mid-2012, the main focus of the Summer Games beyond the sports competition itself were the four staged productions held in London’s purpose-built, 80,000-capacity Olympic Stadium: the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the Summer Olympics (July 27 and Aug. 12) and Paralympic Games (Aug. 29 and Sept. 9).
The stadium was outfitted with 14 curved lighting poles, called “paddles,” designed to extend over the playing field in the stadium’s interior. Among other lighting gear affixed to the paddles were 40 Syncrolite SXLs, each with up to 350,000 lumens of output, to light the playing field, and 54 Syncrolite ArenaColors on the back of the paddles for color-changing washes for the stadium’s interior. (Syncrolite also provided the 40 XL 8000W fixtures, mounted on 20 towers, that washed the Olympic Stadium’s exterior wrap surface.)
PRG served as the main lighting supplier, with four different “specials” lighting packages supporting each of the four main ceremonies, including an extra 100 GLP Impression Zooms used for the Paralympics closing ceremony. The “specials” supplemented the main rig of more than 300 Clay Paky Sharpys, 224 GLP Impressions, 120 GLP Zooms, the 40 Syncrolite SXLs, 36 Elation Beam fixtures, 66 PRG Bad Boys, 44 PRG Best Boys, all controlled with 52 available universes via the main grandMA2.
The ceremonies also marked the Guinness World Record-recognized largest landscape video display, with 70,500 of Tait Technologies’ pixel tablets — one for each stadium seat — filling the bowl with video imagery involving a total 634,500 individual pixels (9 pixels per tablet).
Beyond mere pageantry, the ceremonies served as elaborate theatrical narratives with music compositions and thousands of characters and wrapped up with a series of performances by music artists ranging from The Who to Coldplay.
A closer look at just one of the shows — the Olympics Opening Ceremony, Isles of Wonder, for example — reveals a succession of tightly sequenced sub-shows. It began with a two-minute, Boyle-produced film squeezing in references to iconic contributions to British culture from children’s story books to punk rock. The focus then shifted to England’s agrarian past, the Industrial Revolution, World Wars I and II, the “iron-forged” Olympics rings, James Bond escorting the Queen to her stadium seat via helicopter and parachute, the tributes to the U.K.’s National Health Service with hospital beds as trampolines, the London Symphony performing “Chariots of Fire” with a comic interlude from Mr. Bean; homage to British pop music since the 1960s from the Beatles and Rolling Stones to Amy Winehouse and Tiny Tempeh, and Britain’s Internet inventor, Tim Berners-Lee, texting the crowd via the stadium-wide LED video system. All those memorable moments were packed into the first hour and nine minutes of the 3 hour, 46-minute production — which also included the culmination of the weeks-long torch relay plus parades of athletes, winged bicyclists, cauldron-lighting and closing fireworks.
LD Patrick Woodroffe designed the lighting for each of the major ceremonies, working with artistic directors Danny Boyle, (Olympics opening) Kim Gavin, (Olympics and Paralympics closing) and Jenny Sealey and Brad Hemmings (Paralympics opening). Mark Fisher and Stephen Daldrey served as executive producers. The executive producer, broadcast was Hamish Hamilton and broadcast LD was Al Gurdon.
Woodroffe also worked with associate lighting designer Adam Bassett and lead lighting programmer Tim Routledge, who led the team of lighting programmers that included Andy Voller, Pryderi Baskerville and Alex Passmore.
The lighting programmers had their own pre-Olympics marathon — it included more than 100 overnight programming sessions leading up to the Opening Ceremony. The Olympics Closing ceremony had challenges of its own, including a tight load-in timeframe (18 hours), lots of gear (100 truckloads) and, as always, stringent security.
The programming team previsualized the lighting with wysiwyg and grandma 3D, assisted by a custom macro provided by programmer Matt Peel that incorporating X-Y-Z coordinates of stadium CAD drawings. The crew also used onscreen layouts via Camera View to select, control and view fixtures quickly.
Two grandMA2 full-size consoles were used for the field of play (one for backup). The shows were each triggered by a combination of manual cues and SMTE timecode, with 24 timecode scripts running for the Opening Ceremony alone. Control data was sent via ArtNet and merged into the streams of other consoles operating show lighting via PRG’s Series 400 nodes.
Crystal CG International provided the content for the Tait landscape video system, with large-scale pixel mapping carried out by Immersive/Avolites. Two Avolites Ai Infinity servers and two Sapphire media consoles provided control and backup for the team from Immersive. The control room crew included Dave Green, Trey Harrison, Mark Calvert , Martin Harvey and JB Toby.
The Republican National Convention
The U.S. Republican Party scheduled its National Convention for Aug. 27-30 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa, FL to formally nominate Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan for President and Vice President. That schedule was disrupted by the threat posed by Hurricane Isaac, but the convention resumed after the weather-induced break. The production design included 13 wood-framed LED screens, configured in various sizes and layered for visual depth. LD Steve Brill and his team from The Lighting Design Group, including fellow designer Dennis Size, reinforced the feeling of the wood tones on the set by using warm hues, lighting everything between 4000K and 4200K; right between daylight and tungsten.
Executive Producer: Phil Alongi, Alongi Media Solutions
Production Design: Jim Fenhagen, Eddie Knasiak, Jack Morton PDG
Lighting Design: Steven Brill, Dennis Size, The Lighting Design Group
Screens Producer: Allan Wells
Screens Director: Dirk Sanders
Assistant Lighting Designer: Alex Kyle-DiPietropaolo
Lighting Consultant: David Grill
Content Manager: Roger Staub
Gaffer: Chris Szabo
Lighting Programmers: Evan Purcell
(Automated Fixtures), Rolf Lee
Head Riggers: Ed Kish, Scott Crawford
Video: XL Video
Screens Management: Control Freak Systems
Rigging: Kish Rigging
Gear (Partial List)
ETC Eos console (for automated fixtures)
ETC Ion console (for conventional fixtures)
PRG Series 400 power and data dist. system
Custom Gigabit Ethernet data dist. system
Clay Paky Alpha Spot 700s
Vari*Lite VL3000 fixtures
Vari*Lite VL3500 Spots
Vari*Lite VL3500 Washes
PRG Best Boy 4000 Spots
Control Freak Systems Encore Bridge (2)
Control Freak Systems Freakulizer (1)
Barco Encore routers (8)
PRG Mbox EXtreme media servers (18)
Pixled LED video screens (15 total), using Pixled F-6 (4 screens), F-4 (6 screens), F-11 (canopy/I-Mag)
—Michael S. Eddy
The Democratic National Convention (DNC) was staged at Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, NC from Sept. 4-6 to confirm the nomination of incumbents Barack Obama and Joe Biden for President and Vice President of the U.S. In a break from convention, production designer Bruce Rodgers of Tribe, Inc. put the stage and podium in the end goal of the arena. The use of wide concave and convex curves on the set, mostly filled by video screens, was designed to create an embracing feel along with the sense of vertical strength. LDs Bob Dickinson and Bob Barnhart of Full Flood, Inc. balanced the video with lighting, using 60/70 fc on both the delegate floor and the speakers.
Crew (Partial List)
Executive Producer: Ricky Kirshner (RK Productions)
Production Design: Bruce Rodgers (Tribe Inc.)
Lighting Design: Bob Dickinson, Bob Barnhart (Full Flood Inc.)
Screens Producer: Allan Wells
Lighting Directors: Ted Wells, Jon Kusner, Travis Hagenbuch
Screens Systems Designer: Jason Rudolph
Screens Programmer: Loren Barton
Gaffer: RJ Styles
Lighting Programmers: Tim Rogers (automated fixtures), Ron Martin (conventional fixtures)
Head Rigger: Ty Russell
Lighting: PRG, Arc Light Efx
Video: VER, Mobius Productions
Scenic: PRG, All Access Staging & Productions
Rigging: Kish Rigging
Gear (Partial List)
PRG V676 console (for automated fixtures)
ETC Eos console (for conventional fixtures)
PRG Series 400 power and data distribution system
Green Hippo Hippotizer
VER BR7 7mm (501 tiles)
WinVision 9.375mm (598 tiles)
Barco NX4 4mm (168 tiles)
—Michael S. Eddy