Photo Getty, Ezra Shaw
Erik Eastland and his team at All Access Staging & Productions have built quite a few Super Bowl Halftime Shows for production designer Bruce Rodgers at this point, six in a row as of Super Bowl 50.
Eastland describes the Halftime Show staging as “like an erector set that’s evolved over the years,” noting that his company has developed a system that’s been tried and tested—various surfaces, types of staging, trussing—that works in a similar way each year. “We just need to figure out how to put the erector set together, depending on the design,” he adds.
Photo Getty Images, Ezra Shaw
Assembling that erector set requires mocking up the stages at Sony Studios in Culver City, CA well in advance to get every detail right, and then, once onsite at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA, the set and staging crew is given a dedicated offsite practice field where everything is built and from where volunteers can start rehearsing rolling in carts to the main field.
Starting working with Rodgers’ initial concepts in August or September, Eastland says his team begins actual engineering in mid- to late October. “You like to think that you can get a green light on the center stage, and that will not change,” he says, noting that that doesn’t usually happen until around Thanksgiving.
The main stage, which rolls out in sections along with all the carts for additional lighting, audio, pyro, and effects, comprised more than 300 WinVision 9mm tiles from VER built into the stage deck for video playback, as well as more than 500 Elation Professional Elar Q1s built into the wings for pixel effects. An extra lighting feature to backlight Beyoncé’s field entrance was built into a double cart with a wall of 72 Harman Martin Professional Atomic 3000 LED Strobes.
Photo Getty Images, Harry How
All the carts require special turf tires, since maintaining the field integrity for game play is of the utmost importance. When Eastland and his team first started working on the production, they found that rethinking the sets and staging as much as possible was a major goal. “For example, some carts were originally steerable,” he says. “We never wanted to go that route because we love getting things simpler, taking into consideration all the volunteers that will be moving this thing, the use and abuse in between, all the rehearsals. Every year brings a new palette from the design, but there is definitely a certain formula we follow that is similar to the year before.”
The biggest challenge, although Eastland says it was a relatively easy year, was Beyoncé entering on the grass and the various stage surfaces. “It really could have been wet and muddy, with her then going onto the stage onto the clear Plexi deck, “ he says. “With so many different surfaces, our challenge was to attack and test every surface as best as we could, not to mention that the various performers felt differently about the stage surface. We provided a lot of samples, but we also had to reassure the artists, through their people, that it has been done before, and it would be fine. Of course, they sometimes still asked for changes, so we compromised about each person’s main performance area and then created a middle neutral zone where they all came together.”
Watch the time lapse of the rehearsal load-in:
Eastland jokes that the most “rewarding moment is start of the third quarter.”
Set And Staging Crew/Creative
All Access Staging & Productions: Erik Eastland, Timothy Fallon, Jr., Jesus Arroyo, Roger Cabot, Kyle Duarte, Micky Dymond, Fidel Garza, Logan Gibson, Dale Jewett, Bobby Marshal, Julio Rocha, Matt Garrett
Staging Supervisors: Tony Hauser, Cap Spence
Consultant: Stephen Thomas
Head Rigger: Joel Magarian
Staging Coordinators: Shalah Cave, Aaron Chawla, Doug Cook, Robert Cray, Matt Gorenc, Glenn Ingram, Graeme Lagden, George Mcpherson, Tony Menditto, Hans Wert
Staging Assistants: Daniel Carlton, Michael Mutti
Props: Jan Parent, Carl Robertshaw
For additional information on the Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show, check out our full Project In Focus, sponsored by VER.