Championship Design, Part II

London-based LD Al Gurdon—who specializes in televised events—was lighting designer for the Super Bowl XLIV Halftime Show, seen on February 7, 2010, featuring The Who. Working in tandem with director Hamish Hamilton, with whom Gurdon collaborated numerous times over the past decade, and production designer Bruce Rogers (Championship Design), Gurdon added a second visual layer to the video excitement of the stage.

“Not having a roof made a significant impact on the design,” says Gurdon, confronted with a totally open stadium, without even a partial covering over the seats. That reality, combined with the long distances to reach the stage, helped define the rig for Gurdon: “ We really kept the lighting of the band as simple as possible,” he says. “The are LED Color Blasts on the floor and around each of the band members. Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend had more prominent lighting looks, which helped give the stage more depth.” Strong Gladiator Xenon followspots were also used to highlight Daltrey and Townshend.“I don’t like blasting the performers with a lot of colored light,” says Gurdon.

With the stadium behind the band as the set, the LD added Vari-Lite VL3500s on the balcony mid-way up in the seats to add movement and color to the lighting, along with 7kW Falcons on the ground and 6kW Falcons on sports lighting poles around the field. “The Falcons’ very intense beams seemed appropriate for the size of the show,” adds the LD.

In addition, Chroma Q Color Block fixtures add to the mix, both used with DMX control or pixel-mapped to the video. “With the strong visual backdrop of the floor, we added a visual dynamic to the vertical space in the terracing of the audience,” says Gurdon, who places three rows of the Color Blocks around the stadium. The lighting was carefully crafted to extend the video image from the shield shape of the stage into the audience. “Especially on a show of this scale, I think it’s important to get a very integrated and monolithic visual approach,” says Gurdon. With this philosophy in mind, he went for strong looks with one color for a unified approach, or what he calls “a visceral sense of connection.”

Thus the palette for the show starts and finishes with a strong white look. “We start with white for ‘Pinball Wizard,’ then the color transitions into a deep saturated green for ‘Baba O’Reilly.’ This was a very deliberate color transition to the deep green of the lasers, which were appropriate for the futuristic electronic sound. The color changes are all linked to provide a clear visual identity to each section of the music,” explains Gurdon. The lighting progressed through red and deep blue to fiery amber, and back to white, then a dramatic finish with a lot of pyro at the end of the show. Another touchdown!

Super Bowl XLIV Credits

Directed by Hamish Hamilton
Executive in Charge of Production – Rob Paine
Production Designer – Bruce Rodgers
Lighting Designer – Al Gurdon
Screens and Graphics Producer – Lee Lodge
Lighting Directors – Rich Gorrod, Bob Barnhart, Dave Grill
Lighting Programmers – Michael "Oz" Owen, Peter Radice
Video Content Programmer – Jason Rudolph
Staging Supervisors- Tony Hauser; Cap Spence
Creative Consultant for The Who: Tom Kenny

Manager, The Who: Bill Curbishley

The BRIDGESTONE SUPER BOWL XLIV HALFTIME SHOW is an NFL NETWORK PRODUCTION and is executive produced by Ricky Kirshner and directed by Hamish Hamilton.

Lighting Equipment List
2 – PRG Virtuoso VX Consoles
1 – PRG Virtuoso DX2 Console
1 – PRG Virtuoso Tech Console
12 – PRG Virtuoso Node 1 and Node 2
7 – PRG Virtuoso Node Plus
10 – PRG Series 400 Ethernet Switches
2 – Green Hippo Hippotizer HD media servers
120 – Philips Vari-Lite VL3500 Wash
14 – A&O Technology Falcon 7kW Searchlights
12 – A&O Technology Falcon 6kW Searchlights
78 – Atomic Strobes w/Color Changer
62 – Atomic Strobes
4 – Lightning Strikes 250K
4 – Lightning Strikes 70K
290 – ChromaQ Color Block
45 – Philips ColorBlast TR
45 – Philips ColorBlast iW
11 – Molefay 8-LightsDWE
12 – 4-Light Moles ACL
14 – Strong Gladiator III 3kW Xenon Followspots
16 – ReelEFX DF-50 Diffusion Hazers
8 – ReelEFX RE II Fans
8 – Jem ZR33 Foggers

Lighting Equipment Vendors

Production Resource Group


Arc Light

A&O Technology

Attitude Specialty Lighting

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Super Bowl Sketches

Championship Design

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