All Access provided major engineering and automation solutions for the Pepsi Super Bowl LV Halftime Show, serving as the primary set shop, working in collaboration with Tait and Atomic to realize the production designs by Bruce Rodgers of Tribe. Live Design chats with All Access president Erik Eastland about the scope of their work and the challenges provided by this year's pandemic-era project, and the fixed-location set in a busy football stadium concourse.
Live Design: Please outline all access's role in this year's Super Bowl Halftime Show…
Erik Eastland: All Access was the primary set shop of the three. Our scope included engineering the entire stage and set, design and engineering of the large LED support grid for a screen 100’ x 24’ and weighed 15,000 pounds. We designed the choir platform to incorporate an automation system that splits the 110’ wide x 21’ high platform in half; the platform overall weight was 80,000 pounds. We coordinated with Tait and Atomic to streamline how their set items could easily connect with the choir platform. Lighting, audio, pyro, and other associated items were fitted into the internal structure. Our team handled all the master drawings that kept all parties on the same page. All Access also provided special lifts on the field that raised ATK speaker clusters from a 2’ low height to 7’ high; this was designed to eliminate any sightline issues during the game. Speakers were raised just after the 2nd quarter and lowered just after the Halftime show. Our team also handled all the engineering plans while working closely with Populous who handled the flow of the public in and around the set.
LD: How was this year different due to the pre-fixed location of the stage and no need to assemble on the field... did that create any specific challenges?
EE: It was a real challenge primarily because where we were on the north concourse is a major food, drink, and restroom location that the stadium wanted fully operational–not ideal. We had to design two major fire isles into the set, that were fully open for people-traffic to travel through at all times, other than when the Halftime show was active. Lots of masking, corralling and safety steps to ensure public safety in our area. I personally can’t wait to go back down to the field next year and never deal with this kind of thing again, assuming we are doing it next year of course. Converting the set into the full show from being public-access compliant was a bit of a challenge and took almost as much time as it took to put 50 full stage carts on the field in previous years. When you’re working in a tight space and you have many pieces to hinge closed, install, uncover, test, etc. it’s a tight moment. Remember it all needs to be returned to full public access after the Halftime show.
My favorite part of the set was what we called the infinity room; this is the part of the show where The Weeknd was in the room full of mirrors, bulbs, signs, and many other reflective items. it contained more than 5000 misc. incandescent bulbs.
One area that was a bit of a challenge was automating the set so it could split in half to open the show and reveal The Weeknd surrounded by 4,000 more bulbs. The set needed to split 48” on each side to create an 8’ opening; it had two more moves during the show that were only 6’. The question was what type of drive system should we use, time was not on our side, Covid-19 was doubling the timeline problems, and making us have to decide quickly. The first option was an “off the shelf” or a system we have in-house like typical mobilators. This option could have worked, but its precision is limited and with the high likelihood of rain, we were worried about traction. After about a week of discussion, we decided to design and construct a rack and pinion system; with this we knew we’d have 100% precision every time we ran it. The system was driven by a Creative Connors computerized automated control system. The four-motor drive system had to push up to 40,000 pounds. on each side on and off stage.
LD: How do you collaborate with Bruce Rodgers of Tribe and the rest of the production team?
EE: I pretty much take all my direction from Bruce, who works directly with the artist’s designer to make sure the concept can fit into the Super Bowl Halftime Show template. I then take the information that Bruce has gathered and engineer all of it so it can be what they want, and see that it fits the Super Bowl Halftime Show criteria. Bruce and I worked closely with Tait and Atomic to develop the set pieces that they’d be supplying to make sure they were in line with the same criteria. They were great to work with.
All Access Staging Team Credits
Erik Eastland- Manufacturing Design
Tim Fallon Jr.- Staging Supervisor
Tommy Rose- Project Manager
Roger Cabot- Head Carpenter
Zack Eastland -CAD lead/Automation Lead
Fidel Garza- Automation Technician & Fabrication Lead
Jesus Arroyo - Lead Staging Technician
Bill Spoon- Head Rigger
Marc Knowles- Rigger
Julio Rocha- Staging Technician/Fabricator
Dale Jewett- Hydraulics/Automation Technician
Nick Berg- Hydraulics/Staging Technician
Christian Davis -Staging Technician
Talus Jarvis- Electro-mechanical Technician
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