Filling AT&T Stadium with Imagery for AdvoCare’s National Success School

by Mike Wharton
in Corporate AV
MIG tied into the stadim ribbon boards to run content, tooStadium ribbon boards ran content. Photo by Jeff Monuszko
MIG tied into the stadim ribbon boards to run content, tooStadium ribbon boards ran content. Photo by Jeff Monuszko

Multi Image Group’s Visuals Ride the Big Screens in the Home of the Cowboys

The annual AdvoCare National Success School is more than just an event; it is a destination. Held at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX for the last five years — the home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys — the annual training and sales conference focuses on celebrating the achievements of the company’s independent distributors, while also providing education, inspiration and motivation for continued successes.

AdvoCare, founded in 1993, provides innovative nutritional, weight-management and sports performance products. In addition, AdvoCare offers a business opportunity for individuals interested in pursuing extra income and is headquartered in nearby Plano, TX. Their 2017 National Success School was held at AT&T Stadium July 13-15.

Multi Image Group (MIG), a corporate event production company specializing in live events, digital content, and exhibitions, has been playing a key role in bringing big events like this to life since it was founded 37 years ago. Chris Bishop, MIG’s vice president of technical sales, is the production manager for this annual event.

Advocare booked the stadium to be able to use the big in house LED wall.

‡‡     A Mega-Event Evolves

“We’ve been working with AdvoCare for 15 years now,” Bishop says. “Our client-building partnership started in convention halls with break out rooms averaging 4,500 people.” That quickly grew to staging three events a year averaging 10,000 attendees. At that point, AdvoCare decided to consolidate all three conferences to one annual event in a stadium that could accommodate current and future crowd sizes. In 2013, they held the first of five annual conferences at AT&T Stadium.

Several elements played into the selection of AT&T Stadium besides its ability to accommodate the audience size. (More than 30,000 attended in 2016). AdvoCare wanted to utilize the landmark four sided LED in-house screen which runs up and down the field between the two 20 yard lines and have the football field turf in place for the show.

The scoreboard, which provides rigging points for the LED scenic elements, sits directly above the stage. For this event’s purposes, one side of the screen was black as it faces the upstage area where no one is seated. The in house LED screens facing the end zones are in play for the event.

Green Hippos drove scenic and set LED product.

‡‡     Video Production

Seth Tours is the engineer in charge (EIC) for MIG. “Essentially, I handle all aspects of video content formatting displays,” he says, which are myriad. One of his responsibilities was to ensure that the imagery appearing on the big stadium screens would not only look big, but look good as well. The center hung LED display scoreboard, currently one of the largest in any stadium, measures 160 by 72 feet (WxL), with a display ratio of 20 by 9.

“Usually the building operators stretch everything to fill their screens to cover that 4 by 9 space,” notes Tours, “which can cause images to look a little wide and wonky. For corporate branding and logo purposes that is unacceptable. What we did instead is pre-shrink it, so it looks proper.” Seth achieved this by adding a Christie Spyder X20, which is a versatile hardware-based video processor combined with the flexibility of a universal routing switcher.

He used this in conjunction with the in-house Sony Production Switcher in the stadium broadcast suite. Two media servers are tied in with the Spyder to drive the media server looks on the side of the elongated surfaces, enabling him to cover the “leftovers,” as it were.

Because the center hung screen is at that 20 by 9 aspect ratio, MIG built their content carrying LED screens on stage to match those unusual dimensions. Pixled F-11 tiles were used. “This allowed us to send the same info to the LED’s that we brought in, as we were already sending to the permanently installed LED,” Seth noted.

Content ran across the LED “ribbon boards” installed on the seating facades throughout the stadium as well, “providing eye candy to support whatever look is being utilized at the time of the event,” he added. “We have sources all over the field and backstage consisting of confidence monitors, graphics operators, teleprompter operators, a couple media servers and a few other random computers around the field that which are fed content from the broadcast control room.”

Seven in-house cameras are switched through the Sony board as well. All the in house CCTV screens receive the same program that is going to the stage screens during the show. Conference planners encourage people to walk about and network. This way, no one misses anything happening on the field.

“The challenge we have,” says Seth, “is making sure we get everything in the right place. We’re very spread out on this job. Main video control is in a room four stories above the stadium floor in an enclosed control booth. Graphics and prompters are on the field backstage and cameras are on the field in the house.” Grass Valley Turbo Two’s provided by MIG were used for playback.

Fortunately, due to the sophisticated state of the art fiber optic network infrastructure at the Stadium, signal routing is quite simple considering the scope of coverage throughout the stadium required by AdvoCare’s creative team. If the word difficult could be applied to the system at all it would only be in the sense that getting from point A to B may necessitate a couple of additional incremental zig and zag patch points as a straight line is not always an available option. “But again, “ says Tours, “it’s fiber optic, so distance never plays into signal drop.”

Of course, audio, lighting and communications were utilizing the fiber optic patch system as well. So, while no hardwire had to be run, mapping out signal flow was a priority during the site survey. “This was as much an aspect of signal management between departments as well as between MIG & the stadium,” Seth adds.

The custom LED Chandelier sculptyre provides unique entrance reveals Photo by Jeff Monuszko

‡‡     Lighting

“The unique challenge for me on this event,” says Jeff Reeks, lighting and production designer, “was staging to the sideline of the stadium, which placed the center of the stage at the 50-yard line and in the middle of the field in order to utilize the scoreboard for the event.

“Wrapping this huge visual element into the three-day event proved challenging on a design and technical front,” Jeff continued. “The 160-by-72-foot LED screen position prevented a front light truss from being placed where one would normally be as it would block any light hitting the stage.

“Audience sight lines became an issue as well, since audience seated from the 300 level to the upper decks would be looking right through the trussing as well,” he said. “Placement of a truss in the upper decks to avoid that scenario created throw and proper illumination problems.

Jeff came up with a solution of having ground supported “up and overs” built on the 200 level. He placed 69 VL3500’s in this position. Their lumen capacity gave him the color temperature he needed for cameras, while their shuttering capabilities allowed for spill control, as at that distance the diameter of the beam was quite huge. He called for PRG Bad Boys to provide the necessary punch as a front fill. Best Boy fixtures were used as sidelights in the stands upstage.

In the rig overhead on the stage proper, Jeff used “a ton” of Claypaky Sharpys, along with Martin MAC Profiles and Vipers. Underneath and above every LED surface on stage, he placed Martin MAC Auras and more Sharpys.

Bad Boys were sprinkled throughout the stadium seating all the way up to the 400 level. 16 were placed each side, dedicated to completing the line of light fixtures that followed off the stage, thus completing the “frame.” Jeff Monuszko, lighting director and programmer, ran a Jands Vista console to handle all the eye candy, effects and atmospherics lighting.

Jeff ran a grandMA2 for the key wash/key lights and the 13 Green Hippo media servers. The Hippos drove the entire scenic and set LED product. Graphics run through Pixled F-11’s were employed on the framing surrounding the four content screens on stage. ROE MC-7 NT’s provided imagery for stage set pieces, while the ramp leading from stage to audience was comprised of the Pixled F-30 panels.

The upstage entranceway for speakers was masked by an LED sculpture, which came to be known as the “Chandelier.” Three arrays of vertical Pixled F-40 tiles were flown from three semicircle truss sections, which hung from inverted variable speed hoists in the super grid. Height could be adjusted for entrances and exits. Behind the entrance area, MIG supplied a video wall comprised of Absen A3 Pro panels.

“We would shoot with a handheld camera backstage,” notes Seth Tours, “looking through the entrance and over the shoulder of whoever was making a big walk-on. It was a really nice way to mix the LED and the camera work and just looked phenomenal.”

“Obviously there are challenges to every live production, says Chris Bishop, who sees the main challenge of this event stems from a rigging standpoint. “We were hired as an overall production company to design and execute the show. As a full production house we are able to provide top design and production people from in house, and we have an extensive inventory. However, when it came to the rigging for this we called on Atlanta Rigging Systems (ARS). ARS brought in their standard super grid and array of inverted motors which hang from it. The show is 161 points, 23 of which had to be hung directly from the score board, due to stage placement.

MIG is well-known as a high end smaller business meeting producer. “The thing is,” points out Bishop, “we have been doing shows of this scope for quite some time; just not in such a visible context. AdvoCare is a very large concern in their field and with them playing on the stage in such a high profile venue like the AT&T Stadium I believe it’s time for everyone to realize…’We’ve grown up now!”

 

AdvoCare National Success School

Crew

  • Executive Producers: Bill Lange/MIG; April Duncan/AdvoCare
  • Senior Technical Director: Chris Bishop/MIG
  • Technical Director: Dave Kleinman
  • Assistant Technical Directors: Pat McBennet, Rauri McBennet
  • Lighting/Media Production Designer: Jeff Reeks
  • Lighting Director/Programmer: Jeff Monuszko
  • Lighting Techs: Jason Dunn, Alex Jones, Mike Love, Kenny Barnum, Mike Kennedy
  • THEE Master Electrician: Jason Rosenstock
  • Master Electrician: Adam Barnum
  • Account Executive: Jim Ballentine
  • Director of Video Engineering: Seth Tours
  • Video Technical Director: Paul Remo
  • Video Producer/Director: Terri McCormack
  • Visual Designer: Lon Hendershot
  • LED Technicians: Ryan Hooper (Lead Tech), Curtis Luxton, Raphael Nagel, Frederic Derynck, Dallas Downin, Tyler Korsack, Ged Chopping, Andrew Paul
  • Video Technicians: Alex Woo, Trevor Craig, Brent Hall (Projectionist), Dave White (Camera Ops/Driver), Skye Gaskill (Jib)
  • Scenic Designer: Lary Hartman
  • Stage Manager: Tim Smith
  • Stage Carpenters: Jose Ramirez, Anthony Pozos
  • Scenic Carpenters: Ken Wolf, Fred Holupka (Lead Carps), Peter Schwalder, Garvie McNab, Pedro Trinidad Gomez
  • Rigging Project Manager: Jason Adams/Atlanta Rigging Systems
  • Lead Rigger: Scott Ward/ARS
  • Rigger/Automation Technician: Matt Chappell/ARS
  • Riggers: Wayne Parmley, Kunta Grier/ARS
  • Senior Audio Engineer: Edward Gonzalez
  • Audio Technicians: Neil Rosenstock, Stan George
  • Communications: Kelly Holder
  • Event Producer: Emily Daniels
  • Associate Producer: Anna Perez
  • Production Coordinator: Dan Sclafani
  • Prompter: Kurt Festge

 
Gear

Video LED:

  • 144         ROE MC-7 NT
  • 145         Pixled F-11
  • 130         Pixled F-30
  • 70            Pixled F-40


Rigging:

  • 161         1-ton hoists
  • 3               ½-ton variable speed hoists (64fpm)
  • 1               20.5”x 20.5” truss system (1,993’)
  • 1               12” x 12” truss system (1,334’)
  • 1               12” x 18” truss system (85’)
  • 68            corner blocks

 

Greg Phrommer, 1967-2017

In Memoriam: Greg Pfrommer, 50

Greg Pfrommer, lighting designer and freelance entertainment lighting technician, died June 27, 2017 from a form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, just a few weeks after celebrating his 50th birthday.

Pfrommer began his career in community theater during high school. After graduation, he started his own sound company. He then went on to Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), graduating with a degree in lighting design.

After running crews at the Patriot Center in Fairfax, VA (now EagleBank Arena), he moved south where he went on to work with PRG, NMR Events, and Multi Image Group in the roles of LD and Master Electrician. Pfrommer also worked with Trilogy Entertainment as their spotlight technician and Atlanta Rigging Systems.

Pfrommer is remembered for his curiosity of how things work and his indefatigable pursuit of how to make things work led to him designing and manufacturing custom electronics for the entertainment industry, often in pursuit of creating working solutions for seemingly insoluble problems.

“He was both a friend and mentor to everyone on this crew,” said Chris Bishop, vice president of technical services with MIG — a sentiment shared by all who knew him. Pfrommer worked as ME on the AdvoCare event for over 10 years, and they honored his life during the event.

Services were held at Winkenhofer Pine Ridge Funeral Home in Kennesaw, GA, near Atlanta. Greg Pfrommer is survived by his father, sister, and wife Cathy.

 

 

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