3 Nov 2021

Best On Ground: The 2021 AFL Grand Final

by Jason Allen

(Lead photo courtesy AFL Photos)

The Mighty Dees weren’t the only ones breaking a drought on AFL Grand Final day on September 25. The live production industry, including many techs from the locked-down Eastern states, got to lace up their boots and kick a few goals themselves.

In a first for the AFL, the creative, entertainment and tech for the Final was handled by Mushroom Group’s Creative and Events division, headed by the team of Creative Producer Tom Macdonald, and Producer and Production Designer Travis Hogan along with Production Manager and Lighting Designer Simon Johnson. It was truly a national event, with companies, gear, staff and expertise supplied from both within WA and around Australia, all handled out of the AFL’s spiritual home in Melbourne.

And Mushroom put on a spectacular pre-show, with Abbe May belting out AC/DC’s Thunderstruck from the roof of Optus Stadium. Baker Boy gave us a Kylie mashup, and John Butler and guests the Icehouse classic Great Southern Land. Local heroes Eskimo Joe took to the stage to perform their hit Black Fingernails, Red Wine before covering INXS’s Kick. Colin Hay from Men At Work beamed in from LA for Land Down Under and Amy Manford got the honour of singing the national anthem.

Photo by Daniel Njegich, Mushroom Creative House

The halftime show, now performed just as the sun set, saw Birds of Tokyo belt out three tracks with the Western Australian Symphony Orchestra. There were, literally, fireworks, and the famous lights cladding Optus Stadium got to show off all their colours.

So let’s give credit where credit’s due and get everyone involved to take a bow:


The Grand Finals’ lighting design was by Mushroom’s Travis Hogan and Simon Johnson, with Andrew Krenske operating the grandMA on the day. “We needed to cater for both daylight and sunset performances, so the rig needed to be adaptable,” explains Travis. “With this in mind, we curated fixtures from various companies including PRG, Novatech, and Showscreens. The flown rig was made up of 10 trusses in the roof. There were an additional four trusses positioned as front light in the northern stands, four trusses as back light in the southern stand, and four trusses for field light. We also had some wheeled elements that were used in different positions for pre-game and halftime, which consisted of three strobe dollies and two 40 foot trusses of Robe Mega Pointes.”

Eskimo Joe. Photo by Jarrad Seng, Mushroom Creative House

Lighting Rig

From PRG

12 x Bad Boy HP with colour correction wheels

From Novatech

12 x Claypaky Unico

48 x Claypaky Sharpy

4 x Tour Base Hase

From Showscreens

40 x Robe Megapoint

20 x Claypaky Sharpy

20 x Robe BMFL

36 x Claypaky Stormy

16 x GLP JDC1

16 x Elation Six bar

4 x Robert Juliat Lancelot Followspot

1 x MA Lighting grandMA2 fullsize

1 x MA Lighting grandMA2 lite

3 x MA Lighting grandMA NPU

4 x Antari F7 smazer

plus all rigging and cabling.


Pyro was provided by ShowFX Australia and Cardile International Fireworks with Show FX’s Allan Spiegel skilfully hitting the cues. The pre-game entertainment used 21 positions for flames on the field, and 18 positions for pyro loaded with approximately 400 shots. When the players ran on, 12 positions of pyro blasted 250 shots into the air. Eight positions for flames and pyro handled the half time show, and the spectacular fireworks ending Birds of Tokyo’s set were fired off of two barges in the Swan River unleashing 200 shells. Oh, and there was 20kg of confetti shot into the air during the post-game presentations.


Mushroom created a large visual canvas on the field by arraying eight 6×6 metre and eight 3×3 metre ROE LED screens on the field, facing the sky. Supplied by Big Picture, the 3x3s were built from ROE MC7 panels, and the 6×6 from ROE CB5. A stage skirt was created with ROBE CB5 mounted on 45° angle.

“One of the challenges facing the video department was seamlessly integrating the built-in LED striping around the ground,” adds Travis Hogan. “They had to ensure all video sources arrived at their destinations at the same time, regardless of what processing was in-line. The venue required the in-house Daktronics system to handle their advertising commitments, but the pre-game and halftime entertainment packages required disguise to take the reins. This needed to be seamless with redundant failover, so a dual Barco E2 system was installed in-line which tied together both systems effortlessly and reliably. disguise also looked after some playout packages going to both the house and broadcast simultaneously, requiring some fine-tuned multiple outputs to handle the delay requirements between camera and screen.”


disguise media servers provided by Novatech and operated by Caleb Restall

All content created by Dave Hase from Hase Creative

Video panels, venue LED integration: Big Picture, Creative Technology

Video staging elements: Pro Stage Victoria


Optus Stadium’s gigantic in-house Nexo rig was more than capable of revving the crowd up, and James ‘Oysters’ Kilpatrick was at the helm of the mix on an AVID S6L, going out to the crowd and to broadcast. Lewis Paton-Ryan handled monitors on a DiGiCo SD10, with a massive 164 in-ear monitor packs on the field, supplied by both local company Audio Technik and JPJ Audio.

That’s a lot of monitoring…

Audio Crew

Team Leader/System Tech: Andy Walters

2IC: Clancy Travers

FOH and Broadcast Mix: James ‘Oysters’ Kilpatrick

Monitor Engineer: Lewis Paton-Ryan

Stadium System Tech: John Kerns

RF Coordinator: Scott Jennings

RF Wrangler: Jacob Gray

Comms Mixer: Rob Knowles

Patch Tech: Charles Logan

Stagehand/Roof guy: Ben Tarbard

Companies On the Ground in Perth

Video panels, venue LED integration: Big Picture, Creative Technology

Video staging elements: Pro Stage Victoria

Media servers, lighting fixtures, comms: Novatech

Staging, lighting fixtures: PRG

Pyro, Fireworks: ShowFX Australia, Cardile International Fireworks

Lighting, rigging, lighting control: Show Screens, CCP

Staging: Corprahire

Backline: Lounge Backline

Broadcast and on-field audio: Audio Technic

Audio performer monitoring and audio infrastructure: JPJ Audio

East Coast Crew

Creative Producer: Tom Macdonald 

Producer and Production Designer: Travis Hogan

Talent Producer: Anna Toman

Choreographer: Yvette Lee

Musical Director: Chong Lim

Production Director: Nick Pitts

Production Manager and Lighting Designer: Simon Johnson

Content: Hase Creative, Dave Hase

Audio Director: James ‘Oysters’ Kilpatrick

Pyro Designer: Allan Spiegel

Stage Manager: Jeremy Nolan

Head of Video: Dan Aulich

Video Crew Chief: Matt Downs

Adelaide Crew

Lighting Director: Andrew Krenske

Media Server Operator: Caleb Restall

RF Tech: Rowan Lee

Comms techs: Leko Novakovic, Michael Wickens

Perth Local Crew

Assistant Production Manager: Leon Kneebone 

Site Manager: Glenn Watson

Playback Tech: Andy Walters 

Monitor Operator: Lewis Ryan 

Lighting Crew Chief: Justin Twible


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