Here is what I truly do believe to be the last of the Super Bowl videos from this year. This was made by our own Doug Cook, who shot the footage (except that which he’s in — he’s the first guy you see in the video), and wrote and performed the music that you hear. This video is the best of all of them because these are our people. Our crew. (But don’t look for me, because I’m not in it anywhere.) This is what we do for the two weeks leading up to the show. He captures it perfectly.
Archive for the ‘Super Bowl’ Category
Never has the stage set-up gotten so much (well-deserved) attention. There are a bunch of crowd videos up on You Tube now of the stage being set up on the field. The first one on this list is the coolest, because it shows the whole thing in time-lapse. Also the last two are neat because they are shot from fairly close. I don’t have the patience to go look for these, so I gratefully give credit to Bryan Ransom for sending these links.
1. Fast motion stage set up from a fan in the end zone:
2. Gossip Girl talking about the wonders of stage building on the Jimmy Fallon show:
3. Generic end-of-show stage view from upper deck:
4. Short clip of stage set up:
5. Nosebleed cam:
6. More set up cam:
7. Field-level cam:
8. Field-level cam, pt. 2:
This first video is from Hamish Hamilton, the director, who managed to squeeze in his own “making of” featurette while still doing all the crazy preparation for the halftime show.
This second one is also from Hamish. This is even better, from my point of view, because it has LOTS of volunteer footage. THIS is EXACTLY what we do for the two weeks preceding the game.
I started writing this post at the airport Monday morning, before my flight home to Nashville. Alas, my cold left me muzzy-headed and couch-bound for the following two days and I’m just finishing it now. Better late than never.
Holy cow! We pulled it off and it was a-maze-ing! The most awesome moment might have been when we were back at NOVA University (where we parked) with the volunteers after the show. Cap brought a DVD straight from the TV truck at the stadium. When the first ariel shots of the stage came on screen – with all those LED graphics going – our people literally gasped. It was the first time any of us really saw what the stage could do. From our point of view the stage looked like many, many, huge wedge-shaped pieces of metal frame, electronic equipment, lights, wheels, and wires. Impressive in its own way, yes, but it gave no hint of the spendor it displayed when plugged in on the field. On TV, when combined with the lasers, the lights in the stadium, and the pyro, it looked greater than we ever could have imagined. That DVD was the first time any of us had seen the stage from above and we were so proud.
Accomplishing the stage-assembly feat this year was both harder and more rewarding than at any past halftime show. Not only was the stage bigger and more technologically complicated, comprising a larger number of carts than any other stage, but since the accident last week we were under intense scrutiny from many different directions. That only added to the general stress level, which wasn’t particularly low before the stage piece tipped over.
But that accident had the effect of galvanizing our volunteers. They pulled together into a strong team that worked together efficiently, effectively, and safely. We put that monster of a stage together on the field in a time that exceeded everybody’s expectations (and by “everybody” here I mean the higher-ups) and helped bring this ambitious, gorgeous show to life. We may have jobs next year after all!
Remember the audience participation video I talked about making? Here’s a shot of it, on the jumbotron as we were setting the stage up. I’m in the second row. The phone-waving thing looked cool in the stadium, but you couldn’t really see it on TV at all.
Being on the field during this show differed starkly from the past two years. This year there was no field cast – no screaming kids running on the field and therefore there were approximately 2,000 fewer people around the stage. We and our volunteers retired to the sidelines where there was plenty of security, sure, but it was twelve minutes of relative calmness in which we could enjoy the show. I was on the back sideline; there weren’t even any photographers back there.
Some random things stick in my mind, like the guy on the field who was eating a can of tuna fish with a fork. (It does tend to be really busy on game day, so you gotta grab food whenever/wherever you can, I guess!) Since we were on the sidelines, we were right next to the stacks of speakers. Both earplugs and mouse-ear headphones made it just bearable, but the bass vibrated my entire body.
The least interesting part of the show, for me, were the old white guys playing and singing on the stage. The stage graphics, the lights, the lasers, and the pyro were what I was watching and I couldn’t have been more impressed. Now that it’s over the question on everyone’s lips is, “What are they going to do next year?”
Today’s the day, the one we’ve been preparing for, practicing for, stressing out over. As with the Pro-Bowl, Holly and Bryan and I, along with Holly’s neice Ashley, will meet at the volunteer parking location to check everybody in. From there we’ll board busses to the stadium, where we arrive about an hour before kickoff (which is at 6:28). It will be craziness, it always is, but it’s amazing to be there.
Yesterday we had the day off, as is always the case. It gives everyone a chance to unwind and rest (and perhaps recover from their production party hangovers) (but not me – I didn’t have a hangover) (…this year). I took the opportunity to drive down to Miami and find the two locations where my dad and his parents lived when he was a baby. I also searched out a vegetarian restaurant at which to eat lunch: Om Garden.Just a little hole in the wall place – a little hard to find – but wonderful food. I had a green smoothie and their rainbow roll, which was carrot, beet, avocado, baby greens, cashew pate, mango, and figs all wrapped up and presented like sushi, with a yellow dipping sauce that was a little mustardy. The combination of tastes was amazing! My only mis-step was the café con leche at the end, because, being a vegan restaurant, they use nut milk instead of cow milk, and that tasted not like I like my coffee to taste. Not bad, just different. I’m so glad I found that place, and I’m bummed that it’s 900 miles away from my house.
That night for supper we went to a Spanish restaurant in Hollywood called La Barraca. They have flamenco dancing. Last year in Tampa we also went to see flamenco dancing and I suspected at the time, although I had never seen flamenco before in my life, that it was not very good. Seeing last night’s dancers confirmed that. A guitarist/singer and a percussionist provided the music, and both dancers clapped rhythmically along when they weren’t dancing. Their dancing, both together and solo, was passionate and sexy. Plus, the guy had on awesome red shoes.
I wish I was going to be here one more night so I could check out the restaurant next door to La Barraca. It was called Restaurant Transylvania and had slightly vampiric decorations in the front window. I’ve no idea what Romanian cuisine consists of, but I’m betting they use a lot of garlic.
This halftime show is going to look awesome on TV. It looks awesome in person as well, but since most of you are going to see the televised version, I thought I’d gush about that one. Lots of pretty lights. Lots of loud music. Lots of British people.
We put the stage together twice on dress rehearsal night. Earlier in the day our crew, stage hands, and any available early volunteers assembled it on the field on wooden pads (to save the grass) and it stayed there for a couple of runs through the show. Before the third run we broke the stage apart and took it out of the stadium in reverse-entrance order to line up in the tunnel and down the street. This run-through is not strictly to time because at the end we again have to back the stages out in reverse order.
But the last run-through, the full dress rehearsal, is timed on the in and on the out. We are so, so happy that our time was great. If we perform like that on Sunday, we’re golden.
Everyone was excited about our times and the smoothness with which the stage went together. Some volunteers weren’t so happy about all the waiting around they had to do. That’s probably the hardest part about their job. They get to be part of a huge show that’s a big deal; they watch the show from the sidelines; they help make it happen. Yet with that come hours and hours of waiting around, and that truly is a part of show business. Hurry up and wait – that’s what it’s all about.
At Super Bowl 42, Tom Petty was the halftime artist. We got sweatshirts that year with a Petty quote on them: “The waiting is the hardest part.” Musicians do it all the time, it’s part of the job. But people not in show business typically don’t have to do such intense waiting around except at the airport and at the doctor’s office. They get to thinking, well, couldn’t we have showed up later? Or can’t we go ahead and leave now?
Being a cog in this huge production machine means that we often can’t see the other things that are going on. Our television people, the network television people, the lighting, sound, pyro, talent, not to mention the NFL and two football teams – we have to wait for a “go” from all of them before we do our thing, but we have to be ready at the drop of a hat. Which means that we have to stand around being ready for a long time.
We have the utmost respect for our volunteers’ time. We wouldn’t ask them to do anything we aren’t willing to do ourselves. We try our hardest to get them in and out as quickly as we can while still doing our job safely and well. We know they make sacrifices to be here for all our practices and we are grateful. We couldn’t do this without them. In return for their hard work they get to be part of a team and have an out-of-the-ordinary experience that they’ll remember for the rest of their lives. We’re all in this together. Good luck on Sunday. The world will be watching.
Everyone here, staff and volunteers included, were exasperated to see how the media sensationalized the stage accident that happened at Tuesday’s practice. Every story dramatized it to the point that all of us got calls from family and friends all over the country asking if we were okay. We’re all okay. The four volunteers involved also escaped without serious injury, and for that we are all thankful.
At last night’s practice both the producer of the show (Ricky Kirshner) and the director (Hamish Hamilton, whose next gig is the Oscars!) spoke to the volunteers, assuring them that this show cannot go on without them and that we greatly value their safety and appreciate their dedication. Cap gave a moving speech explaining how important it is for us all to get right back up on the bike (or horse, depending on whether you prefer animal or mechanical analogies) and continue with our work.
Whatever they said it must have sunk in because we had a great practice. Everyone is pleased with how the stage is going together and we’re looking good for game day. Today’s dress rehearsal is the last test before the big show. Once again, fingers crossed.
Personally I had a low key day. I was glad to be back at work, but I tried to conserve my energy for the evening practice. I’m reading Cleaving by Julie Powell. It has gotten negative reviews, but the author’s obsession with Buffy the Vampire Slayer mirrors my own. She also quoted Young Frankenstein, which is possibly my favorite movie ever, so I’m totally on board with the book. I’m reading it with the Kindle application on my iPhone, which is the best thing since paperbacks were invented.
Post-practice we ended the night at the hotel bar. I was drinking Jameson (for medicinal purposes). I sure felt better, but I sound like a frog today.
The reason there’s no Super Bowl Blog today is that I was home sick yesterday. I do know that it quit raining in time for us to hold practice last night, which is good, but I can’t tell you anything about it since I wasn’t there. I can, however, tell you that the SciFi channel (now stupidly renamed SyFy) had an awesome “Star Trek TNG” marathon on all day yesterday, of which I watched about eight hours, followed by some “Home Improvement.”
Actually, I can tell you something about it. I wasn’t going to, but someone has already texted me this morning to ask if I’m okay, and not because he knew I was sick. He saw on the news that one of the stage pieces overturned last night during practice injuring four of our volunteers, who were taken to the hospital. I only know what I saw on the Sun-Sentinel website, which said that the injuries were not life threatening. If I can I’ll let you know more when I find out.
About supper time I had to roust myself out of my room to go find some food. I went to the organic juice bar on the boardwalk downstairs and got the mixed veggie juice (kale, collard, cucumber, dandelion, parsley, fennel, cilantro, mixed lettuces, carrot, and beet), figuring that a whole lotta green could only help me kick this cold. My next stop was the convenience store in the lobby for a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, which is also known for aiding the immune system. The clerk at the counter said, when he saw my green juice, “What the hell is that?” Instead of chastising him for cussing at the customers I patiently explained and went back to my room to crawl into bed and eat my ice cream.
So when I said yesterday that it could rain all it wanted between now and Game Day, I may have been exaggerating slightly. What I really meant was closer to: it can rain all it wants TODAY as long as we can get in our three remaining volunteer practices before Game Day. Because, honey, we really need those practices. I have mentioned to you before that this stage is huge, and it is. There are also some maneuvering challenges when getting it on and off the field, like the goal post, for example, which is right in front of the tunnel and you kinda have to swerve and do this little sideways movement to get the longer pieces around it. Those little moves take time, and time is something we are short on.
Boy, it sure did rain all it wanted to yesterday. Poured all day. The practice field was a lake. They were pumping water out of various tents. They had put pallets down on the floor of the catering tent so that we could walk over the pond-sized puddle there. Good thing there was no practice scheduled, because it wouldn’t have happened. Today we’re waiting to see if the field drains enough to use for tonight’s practice. It’s looking good so far. The sun is even peeking through. Fingers crossed. Toes crossed. Everything that can be crossed is crossed. (But crossing my eyes is going to make it difficult to finish this post…)
I’m home sick from work today. Yesterday I work up with a sore throat, which I hoped would get better as the day wore on, but instead got worse. It hurt so much that I could not swallow without flinching. It hurt so bad that I thought I would cry. Along about five o’clock I had to hunt down Holly and Bryan to see if we could leave because I was desperately tired. I needed to get home, not in that I-need-to-make-a-cup-of-tea-and-sit-on-the-couch way, but in the I-need-to-crawl-directly-into-bed way. Which is just what I did.
After a couple hours I felt enough better to move from bed to couch, and the medicine I took started helping. Cap (our staging crew boss) brought me some gigner ale. After several eposodes of “Ghost Whisperer” and one of “Life on Mars,” which I fell asleep during, I went back to bed and awoke ten hours later feeling marginally better. But I’m still writing this post from the couch, lacking the necessary energy to sit at the table.
I hate that I’m sick. I hate missing work. It makes me feel wimpy, though I know that’s ridiculous, because everyone gets sick sometimes and it’s better to not be around other people and risk getting them sick. And as I’ve mentioned, my part in this production is minuscule, so it’s not like they can’t soldier on without me. But I feel like I’m letting the group down. That, by the way, is the same feeling we want to develop and foster in our volunteers because we really can’t soldier on without them!
The rain that we fervently hoped would not come down yesterday is coming down today. That’s okay though. It didn’t rain on the Pro-Bowl. It can rain as much as it wants this week and get it out of its system so that we have a dry Super Bowl as well.
Yesterday couldn’t have gone better. We and our volunteers parked at a local high school. Holly, Bryan, and I got there two hours before our volunteer call time, but one of the vols beat us there anyway. All but one of our people showed up and we all donned bright orange shirts, which were ugly but great for keeping up with everyone and spotting them in the crowd. Next week’s black crew shirts are not nearly so useful in that respect.
Holly and I had not planned on wearing one of the orange shirts, but we foolishly believed the weather forecast when it said it was going to be warm. Sitting outside for three hours checking people in clearly demonstrated that my t-shirt and jacket combo was not going to cut it. So the orange shirt went on.
We had two separate crews working the pre-game show. The audio volunteers, who worked with the sound company and moved the speaker carts on and off the field, and the stage crew, who moved the stage (which was in three pieces) and the team entrance arches.
When our busses unloaded at the stadium we walked the volunteers through security (a pat-down and bag check with one line for boys and one line for girls) and to the show compound. After a relatively short time standing around we relocated to the tunnel in the stadium, where we spent another relatively short time standing around. The first stage move was to the sidelines where we stood and watched the players warm up on the field while it started to drizzle. We speculated about who would be the first to break out the “emergency pancho” that we gave to each person upon check-in. As it turned out it was our very own Bryan, but everyone else was not far behind.
While on the sidelines we also handed out ear plugs, because the aforementioned speaker cards are so freakin loud. Those of us with walkie-talkies were wearing big mouse-ear-type headsets that block out a lot of the sound, but I ended up wearing earplugs as well because I’m kind of fanatical about protecting my hearing.
The player warm-ups took a long time, so we brought the vols back into the tunnel for a water/pee break and so they wouldn’t get any damper than strictly necessary. We walked back to the sidelines about three minutes before the players came off the field, untarped the drum set that had been sitting on the cart the whole time, and got ready to move.
When the word came we quickly rolled the three stages out and set them on the field, connecting the necessary cables and velcroing decorative cloth onto the sides. I had never heard of the band who was performing and singing the anthem—Honor Society. We stood on the sidelines through the two non-televised songs, the televised team entrances and the anthem. I’m always a little on edge when I’m on the sidelines, worried that someone security person is going to ask me to move, even though I’m supposed to be there.
At one point, once the players came to their bench area, Bryan had to go retrieve some of the opportunistic vols who wandered over there to shake and get autographs. Not cool. They’re supposed to be working, not schmoozing.
As soon as the anthem finished, we struck the stage (took it apart), rolled it off the field and parked it back in the tunnel. We took the volunteers directly to the exit, walked a long way back to our busses, and were driven back to where we parked. We arrived at the hotel before the second half, for beer and food in the bar.
All of us are extremely glad to have Pro-Bowl over with so we only have to think about one show. Bryan and Holly and I are glad to have one day without having to check in volunteers, a soggy day though it will be.