Superbowl LVII | Earlybird use Depence

Superbowl LVII | Earlybird use Depence

Once again, design support services studio Earlybird relied on Depence, the powerful and realistic show design and visualization software from Syncronorm, to help bring to life the lighting design for this year's Superbowl LVII half time show featuring pop legend Rihanna. We once again had the opportunity to talk to the team at Earlybird- Eric Marchwinski and Nick Coauette answered our questions and described their work with Depence in regards of this unique project.

The lighting for this year's Superbowl was designed by Al Gurdon and was based on one thing above all else and that was functionality. This was mainly due to the number and combination of fixtures used, which was composed of the following:

  • 146 Vari-lite VL3600 Profile
  • 72 Robe Robin 1200
  • 35 Vari-lite VL2600
  • 325 GLP X4
  • 76 TMB Solaris Flare
  • 3 MA Lighting grandMA3 Full Size
  • 1 MA Lighting grandMA3 Lite
  • 6 Strong Gladiator IV
  • 6 Britebox Flame LT3000
  • 6 PRG Best Boy Ground Control Long Throw
  • 4 MDG The One
  • 8 Reel EFX Diffusion DF-50
  • 8 Reel EFX Fans
  • 2 zactrack PRO servers
  • 4,200 PixMob Nova
  • 12 PixMob IR Transmitters
  • 7 PixMob Kore Receiver

"When approaching a previz project, especially one of this scale, we always look towards Depence as our preferred previz software. The flexibility, fidelity, and efficiency offered by the program helps us to create previz projects that are useful tools in both the design and programming process. For this Super Bowl Half Time Show, we utilized DMX motors to simulate the moving platforms, and NDI video input to replicate the under-platform lighting that was provided by PixMob. Depence's toolset allowed us to begin rehearsals with all of our homework complete while simultaneously allowing us to create a full animation of the show that we were able to share with the rest of the creative team." // Nick Coauette, Earlybird 2023

The physical layout of the fixtures on the halftime show can definitely be described as "straight forward”, due to a unique environment with many complex factors to how and where fixtures can be hung. Once the design was finalized, Earlybird took an approach that focused primarily on how to best utilize the fixtures effectively given the hang and very large area to light. Huge straight trusses finally complement the design, which is also meant to maintain its charisma from afar. The distances in the stadium are a challenge especially for a light show, which the team mastered with bravura.

The demand on their own work was to have an almost perfectly running show for the first rehearsal. Since there are only 3 nights of rehearsal with all cameras, cast, and scenery; being prepared for these small windows was vital to the success of the lighting team on the show. For Earlybird, Depence was a powerful tool in helping assess the approach for lighting the scenery and cast, while learning how to best work around the huge distances within the stadium. Artistically Depence could help with the assessment of the design ideas, becoming both a design and programming tool throughout the process.

Line of sight was another incredibly important part of the show. The team had to be aware of the background throughout the performance as the camera direction was very specifically changing which direction the story was being told in. The DMX camera feature in Depence helped the team replicate the camera storyboard therefore allowing key light and the background composition to be allocated based on the direction of each shot. Depence was also used to simulate the various platform automation positions in the show. These were programmed in Depence with the help of simulated motors and adapted to the sequence, giving the programming team the complete picture at all times.

Although they had almost no time to spend with the real set, the lighting team were perfectly prepared for the show thanks to the help of Depence and the incomparable realism of the visualization.

Designer: Al Gurdon
Lighting Director: Ben Green
Lighting Director: Harry Forster
Lighting Director/Programmer: Eric Marchwinski (Earlybird)
Lighting Director/Programmer: Mark Humphrey
Pre-viz/Depence Tech: Nick Coauette (Earlybird)
Vendor: PRG