When we watch an enormous, worldwide sporting event on TV like the Super Bowl XLVII, we might enjoy the sets without really thinking about how they got there and who built them. Thanks to a behind-the-scenes account from Thomas Meric III, a 2012 graduate of Washington and Lee, we know a lot more about that process as it unfolded in New Orleans this year.
Thomas graduated with a B.A. in economics and theater. He's from New Orleans and is working for that city's Solomon Group, which says on its website that it creates "permanent museum exhibits, one-night-only live events and everything in between." It provides design, project management, lighting, audiovisuals, multimedia. Thomas' W&L theater experience with lighting design, stage management and sound mixing are paying off in his work at Solomon as a production coordinator.
For the Super Bowl, that meant getting down to work last August, when CBS contracted with the company to build three broadcast sets, design a bridge for broadcast and transmission cables, design and build hospitality suites, and light signage on several buildings, including the Superdome.
That was the easy part. "Once January rolled around," Thomas wrote in an e-mail to his friends at the W&L Theater Department, "everything got crazy."
For instance, installing the bridge took five days of work from midnight to 5 a.m. "It rained almost the entire time and was 35 degrees, outrageous fun," wrote Thomas. He spent his days riding his bike from installation to installation, working around the clock and not getting much in the way of sleep or nourishment, along with the rest of his colleagues.
Thomas offered another anecdote: "We designed the lighting for some signage at the aquarium, but because of the site, we could not leave the lighting board there overnight. I volunteered to turn the lights on every night and off every morning for a week, and because of the lighting board situation, I had to walk down the street from our office to the aquarium with a lighting console and monitor. It was nine blocks and funny to think about now, but navigating through thousands of people with a lighting board is not as easy as other things."
Thomas has another passion: sailing. We blogged about his team in August 2011.