2012: A Look Back at Some of the Biggest Staged Events

in Features

Super Bowl XLVI Halftime Show featuring Madonna, photo by Brad DunsWith 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).

Super Bowl XLVI Halftime Show featuring Madonna, photo by Brad DunsSuper Bowl XLVI Halftime Show

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,
Michel Laprise


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 Team

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 Jubilee concert at Queen Victoria Memorial outside Buckingham Palace, London, June 4, 2012. Photo courtesy of CAST SoftwareQueen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee

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

Crew: Fraggle

Event Producer: Robbie Williams

Staging: StageCo

Seating: Arena Group

Rigging & Drapes: Blackout

Security: Showsec

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)

—Justin Lang

The XXX Olympiad's closing ceremony, photo courtesy of Merging Technologies2012 Summer Olympics in London

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.

—Frank Hammel

2012 Republican National Convention photo by Roger StaubThe 2012 Republican and Democratic National Conventions

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
(Conventional Fixtures)

Head Riggers: Ed Kish, Scott Crawford

Lighting: PRG

Video: XL Video

Screens Management: Control Freak Systems

Scenic: Freeman

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

2012 Democratic National Convention photo by Andie PetrusThe Democratic National Convention

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

Vari*Lite VL3000s

Vari*Lite VL3500s


Green Hippo Hippotizer

VER BR7 7mm (501 tiles)

WinVision 9.375mm (598 tiles)

Barco NX4 4mm (168 tiles)

—Michael S. Eddy