From humble beginnings, the Super Bowl has expanded to become one of the year’s greatest televised events. It’s one of the few occasions when millions of Americans still sit in front of a TV and watch a live show together. No matter which teams are playing or which artists are performing at the halftime show, the Super Bowl is must-see TV: a giant party that America throws for itself.
As audience expectations have grown, so has the Super Bowl halftime show. For the first 20 years of Super Bowl history, halftime shows were basic and unmemorable, maybe a college marching band (or infamously, an Elvis-impersonating magician). But starting in 1993, when the legendary Michael Jackson gave a show-stopping performance at Super Bowl XXVII, the halftime show became an event of its own.
Since then, the halftime show has become one of the year’s biggest arts events, and the list of performers is a who’s who of the greatest names in music: Paul McCartney, Prince, Beyoncé, and in this year’s show, Rihanna. Along with the level of musical talent, the halftime show’s scenic design keeps upping its game year after year. Audiences are dazzled by the latest in LED lighting, digital projection, and epic fabrications that enhance the grandeur of the performance.
The same company has provided the set and staging for the Super Bowl Halftime show since 2010: Torrance, California-based All Access. Today, Show Ready takes a look at some of their best work. Watching the halftime show every year inspires us to up our custom exhibit display fabrication game.
Super Bowl LVI – Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige, and Kendrick Lamar
In 2022, the Super Bowl was held at newly-built SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. The show’s theme was on point, honoring R&B and hip-hop artists who hail from sunny SoCal. The hometown feel was completed when the LA Rams won it all.
Viewers were dazzled by the show’s innovative themed environments: an entire row of constructed buildings dubbed the Neighborhood. The giant set piece was divided into seven sections: the Courthouse, the Barber Shop, the Club, Tam’s Burgers, Dr. Dre’s Studio, Snoop’s House, and the MLK memorial, all chosen because of their personal significance to the performers.
Every halftime show has to be designed to roll in and roll out within minutes without damaging the playing field. The All Access pros have developed a special cart system with pneumatic tires that rolls relatively lightly over natural grass and turf. The Neighborhood required almost 30 carts, each 24 by 8 feet, to move onto the field, with 300 total wheels. Dr. Dre’s studio alone featured the largest lift ever built for a halftime show: 24 by 16 feet, traveling eight vertical feet.
The Neighborhood was surrounded by an aerial view of Compton, constructed with the help of ATOMIC. This virtual street map was built using a field cloth cover strung with thousands of LEDs and deployed using All Access’ specialized carts. More than 2,000 feet of LEDs were used on the entire set.
This outstanding example of event exhibit design worked so well not only because it was well-built, but because every element supported the theme of honoring hip-hop and R&B artists’ home neighborhoods in Los Angeles. This made it one of the best custom scenic displays in Super Bowl history.
Super Bowl LV – The Weeknd
Super Bowl LV, held in February 2021, presented a special challenge because of the Covid pandemic. All Access determined that they would not be able to move a set onto the field within minutes while still maintaining social distancing.
So, in an innovative solution, they were able to build a fixed set in the north concourse of Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Instead of minutes, they now had weeks to prepare their spectacle. The challenge became building a set around an active public area, leaving openings for two main fire exits, plus food and drink stands and restrooms.
This set consisted of a multi-tiered choir platform that split open in the middle, allowing the Weeknd to make his grand appearance illuminated by more than 4,000 LED bulbs. In one epic shot, the camera traveled inside the set to reveal the Infinity Room, a unique space composed of mirrors and over 5,000 incandescent light bulbs.
All Access provided not only the set, but the grid system to support the 100 by 24-foot video screen and 18 scissor lifts that raised the audio cabinets around the field by five feet.
This custom scenic display delivered not only in terms of visual impact, but in the practical challenges it had to overcome. It worked with the constraints that the pandemic imposed and found creative ways around those constraints. That makes it one of our favorite Super Bowl sets.
Scenic Contractors California
All Access had a home-field advantage for Super Bowl LVI, since the game was located just a few minutes’ drive away from their headquarters, allowing them to save on the usual shipping costs. At Show Ready, we’re also proud of our California location in Huntington Beach.
We are a team of driven, innovative custom exhibit display builders providing private label fabrication for trade show exhibits, scenic displays, and other custom work for top brands. Check out our work and get in touch with us to find out how we can make your vision a reality. We’ll be watching the Super Bowl this year and taking note of its no-doubt cutting-edge scenic design to make sure we stay on top of our game.