In an age where large music festivals dot the global landscape and touring festivals from Lilith Fair to Lollapalooza pass through cities large and small, the 40-year-old Internacional della Cancion in Vina del Mar, Chile, still dwarfs the competition. This annual six-day event, held every February at Quinta Vergara and attracting over 25,000 people per night, boasts an international lineup that's a virtual who's who of today's Latin and pop superstars around the world. Recent performers have included Backstreet Boys, Ricky Martin, Heart, Ana Gabriel, Ace of Base, even Placido Domingo; this year's lineup included Enrique Iglesias, Ricardo Arjona, Emma Shaplin, and Creedence Clearwater Revisited, made up of original members of the legendary rock band.
But that's only the half of it; the show is also transmitted via satellite to over 16 countries around the world and more than 500 million viewers. Since 1994, Pat Henry of the Mexico City-based Pat Henry Iluminacion has been responsible for the design and installation of the lighting for this mammoth event. "My design has to be bigger and better every year," he notes.
To that end, Henry this year assembled one of the more unusual concert lighting rigs. The moving lights consist of 36 SGM Galileo IV 1200s, 24 Studio Due Live Pro 1200s, and 16 of the brand-new SGM Giotto 1200s. The conventional fixtures include a wide variety of Strand fresnels, from the 2kW Castor to the 1kW Pollux, plus nearly 300 PAR-64s, 200 TPR Enterprises Tube Strobes, and two 3,000W Strong Super Troupers followspots. Control of the system was via an Avolites Rolacue Pearl 2000.
Henry was particularly enthused about the moving fixtures he used on the event. "The Giotto is a special wash, and I think it's going to be very big," he says. "The brightness is good: over 22,000lux at 5m. It has a 1,200W bulb and a zoom lens, and instead of having 360 degrees of pan, it has 540 degrees. I'm so happy with it, because it gives me whatever I need, no matter what color I need. I can do a thousand things with it. And the Studio Due Light Pro 1200 gives me a 1,200 MSR lamp, 420-degree pan, two wheels with five gobos, and a five-head and four-head prism. It's also a good fixture that gives me lots of possibilities."
The inclusion of the Strand fixtures is due in part to the fact the show is televised. Henry says the challenge on this show is to ensure that the TV audience gets the same visual treat as the live audience. "On TV," he explains, "the beams lose a lot on the air, whether it's the Oscars or Michael Jac kson. On most shows, you see it only reach about 2'. But I try to make sure the beam hits the floor, and I do that by making the beam come very close to the camera without touching it. Also, the conventional lighting on TV has to be in a color that won't kill the color of the intelligent lights. Otherwise, it's a black hole."
For effects, Henry used six Le Maitre G-150 smoke machines, which he paired off with six strong fans. "This festival is 25,000 people a night," he explains. "It's an open space, and we have a lot of wind at night. Plus, it's being televised. So, to protect the singer in front, I'll turn on fan number five to clear the smoke, and I know exactly where it's going to go. That way I can always send more or less, and not have that problem on TV where you have a shadow in front of the singer."
Henry's production schedule for Vina del Mar generally works like this: the lighting and sound is installed in four to five days, then he has the relative luxury of 12 days for programming, approximately eight hours per night. He'll work with the lighting designer for each act (approximately 90% of the performers have their own LDs) to get the appropriate looks for each song. "When the Backstreet Boys LD comes in, for instance, I'll tell him, 'This is what I have available, we can use this color and this color, but we can't use the blue chromes because we're going to lose the image on the air,' and things like that. He'll bring a tape and play the music and explain to us, 'This is a slow song, this is where the guy sings, be careful of the guitar solo here.' And before the next day's show, I take all the looks, put them together, and pick and choose for the performance. And I also might change things on the air. I have lots of cues on memory, so whether I have Enrique Iglesias singing ballads, or Backstreet Boys singing pop, or Creedence singing rock, I have everything covered. Even if Placido Domingo comes, I'm going to be OK."
Production manager for the Vina del Mar festival was Jose Miguel Sanchez. Technical director for lighting, TV, and satellite transmission was Alfonso Infante. Lighting programmers included Luis Quiroz, Luciano Sepulveda, and Claudio Feunzalida of Megavision Chile. TV director was Juan Pablo Gonzalez. Technical staff was Ricardo Villagomez, Ermanno Tontini, and German Pino. Technical director for the sound system and operation was Antonio Ormazabal.
Henry has two projects scheduled for May: he'll be discussing lighting for television in a seminar at ExpoLatina early in the month, and he'll be designing the Festival d'Acapulco at the end of the month.