Entertainers who appear on the rodeo's round stage are captured by a multi-camera HD video system, and performances are also stored on a multi-track digital audio recording system. That's quite an archive. Think of the performers who've appeared over the years: from Sonny & Cher to Black-Eyed Peas...Rod Stewart, Tony Bennett, Alan Jackson...Beyonce, Garth Brooks, Brooks & Dunn...
Rodeo Chief Operating Officer Leroy Shafer
Rodeo Chief Operating Officer Leroy Shafer has seen almost 40 years of great performances.
"My first show here was the 1974 show — we had Elvis there. It was the second year that Elvis appeared at the rodeo. He was actually a replacement act. He sang on the PA system in the Astrodome, because that's the system we used."
Technology has improved immensely since the Astrodome days. Things are digital now. All the video and audio signals are fed back to Reliant Center through fiber optics. And they're stored on hard drives — each vocal and every instrumental track, and the video feed from each camera.
"Our contract with the entertainer says that we will have the right to show their video image and reproduce their sound inside the entirety of Reliant Park. We also have the ability to record both audio and video, and our contract says that we own the production rights. The entertainer owns the intellectual property rights. And we have every performance from 1981 through today in our archives."
George Strait released a video of the last concert at the Astrodome. ABC ran a summer series of concerts utilizing footage from the Houston rodeo.
"And they can take 19 separate video recordings out of here, of each camera. They're time-coded, and so they can take them back and put them into a professional studio and completely remix that presentation."
Shafer says that round stage is a remarkable engineering marvel. Just watch things as the show's about to begin.
"If you're really watching closely, you'll see a whole bunch of guys come out there and start digging in the dirt, uncovering trap doors, getting the power access. The stage takes about three-and-a-half minutes to get from parked position out to that center position, and parks again."
Shafer has dealt with the needs of many artists. Bob Dylan appeared in 2002, insisting on wearing new western attire for his show. The rodeo rounded up a cowboy hat, shirt and belt buckle for him. This year's entertainment kicks off February 28th and runs each night through March 18th.