LiveDesign LiveBlog

Projection Master Classes: Superbowl Half Time Case Study

10:56 It's time to talk about the Superbowl Half Time Show featuring The Who. We're gonna see some never before seen video as well as an in-depth discussion of how to execute greatness when you're load in is about 8 minutes. Should be interesting.

10:57 Now for a little half time show history. Lots of girls. Helmets. More girls. Riverboat set. Girls. Tribute to Winter Olympics. Fire and car stunt. The King Of Pop, surrounded by kids. Girls. Ross in a helicopter. Girls dressed as KISS. Wardrobe malfunctions. And some beautiful sets, including U2, McCartney, Bruce, Prince, Petty,

11:05 Some really cool plates of the various plans.

11:06 Stagehand Doug Cook has some pretty talent video skills. Great behind the scenes vid. “Stop raining for f*** sake.” Nice.

11:10 “A set design based on Captain America's shield.” Great design does not come from nothing.

11:13 Set shops, complex renders, custom built pieces. What's it like to have this much money to create your design?

11:16 “A rough ballet with burley guys.” 390 connections to make this set work. Everything has to fit through a tunnel and cannot be more than 8' wide.

11:18 The show is predicated on volunteers who are there to support the band. Over several weeks they become, “ ninjas.” Hard to imagine getting that many strangers to function as one complete body.

11:21 First rehearsal took 24 minutes to install. Nothing worked. Talk about pressure. Who here has the chops to look that kinda madness in the face and not crack?

11:25 400W of lasers were used. We're hearing about all the various types now. Its nice to see the technology has really gotten a lot smaller and more accessible. These units are totally manageable, unlike the old school types.

11:27 Now we're talking about the approval process. You have to talk to the FAA when not terminating a laser. That's pretty fascinating. I'm picture some freaked out pilot 30,000 feet. Probably not good.

11:30 We're watching a video of the show, and it's interesting to see some of these close up shots. It strikes me you really must design a larger than life environment in which the talent interacts in. Tight shots on the talent forsake a lot of the overall design gesture. So it begs the question … who is the real audience?

11:37 Heavy emphasis on how each department works with each other and is equally important. Lots of integration. You hear a lot talk about this, but it's nice to see it emphasized in the real world. Or as real as the Super Bowl Half Time show ever will be.

11:45 A great line: If you don't have time to do R&D, you're never going to realize the true potential of the project. SO true, and often not budgeted for in our cost conscious world.

11:49 “God bless the programmers!” The room laughs. Great ideas and designs will always need those who can execute it.

11:52 Hippo and XL Video are getting some praise for the successful execution of this job. This ability to tweak and change stuff on site is pretty amazing. Still, nobody is blowing off preproduction.

11:54 And the install video begins. We're seeing the install in real time in never been seen video of the entire stage and setup.

11:56 Words utterly fail to describe what we're seeing. It represents the best example of execution anyone in this room is ever likely to see.

12:00 Watching the LED screens “boot up” …. unbelievable.

12:02 The room erupts in applause when all the screens finally go live. In rehearsals the screens never all worked. For the show when it matters, they do.

12:04 The show starts and there is a lump in my throat. The first guitar hit is … just, wow.

12:08 The various departments' distinctions melt away. Everything functions as one. I assume there are people preforming at the center of the radial stage, but we can't see them. And, frankly, I don't think anyone here really cares. This is about design and execution. The big picture. The overall arc.

12:13 As the lighting cue triggers the sweeps, people gasp.

12:17 Bob says it best, “Shows like this make you proud to be in this industry.” A great truth indeed.


Lance Darcy is a Lighting Director and Director of Photography.  He writes the almost bi-weekly column LD On The DL, here on the Live Blog.  

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