When top Latin music stars won big at Premio Lo Nuestro Latin Music Awards at Miami's American Airlines Arena on February 23, over 300 moving lights, 140 LED fixtures, 250 conventionals, and an array of LED panels, curtains, tubes, tiles — you name it — were there to light and affect their path to the podium. Broadcast live by the Univision Network, the show has made its mark as America's most popular and most viewed Latin music awards production, featuring performances by acts los más calientes from this flourishing genre.

With a design team that included Univision creative director Jorge Dominguez, production designer Larry Hartman, and lighting designer Carlos Colina, planning started several months in advance with a review of last year's production. Hartman, whose responsibilities involved scenic elements and setting the overall tone for the production, had many angles to consider. “I try to address the concerns of the executive producer as well as the director and the LD when sitting down and approaching the scenic design,” he says. “I will do a few sketches, trying to cover a range of looks and options, some more conservative and then some a bit wilder, to present. I try to present something sculptural and dynamic, so that even when you are simply sitting in the seats of the venue without the benefit of the moving, changing perspective of a camera, the set appears active.” Hartman worked in VectorWorks with RenderWorks and Adobe Photoshop for graphics and 3D modeling work for conceptuals.

And with such a range of segments within the production — musical numbers of varying styles, presentations, tributes — the creative team had to keep the look as flexible as possible. “I simply tried to create a dynamic, sculptural canvas and then let the lighting and video, integrated into and around the scenery, provide the changes needed,” says Hartman. “The overall feel is to have energy and excitement but to look elegant, as well. With this design, I was looking to echo the curved shapes of the show's logo as well as use LED fixtures embedded into the scenery as much as possible.” Hartman had used Element Labs VersaTubes for the first time on a show last year and saw the potential of the tubes as a design element for this production. “I began thinking about using rows and rows of them standing vertically like anemones in a coral reef or like rows of wheat,” he says.

Early on in the process, Hartman collaborated with LD Colina, production manager Tony Parodi, and Joe Sarchet and the folks at Roca Video, all of whom suggested ways to integrate visuals and fixtures into the look of the set. “I try to incorporate lighting and video elements everywhere it is feasibly and economically possible,” Hartman says. “The versatility they provide is well worth the time and money it takes to integrate them.” Acadia Scenic in Jersey City, NJ built the set. “As always, concepts become reality in the shop, and they also made some great suggestions on how to make the elements workable,” Hartman adds.

The stage was divided into three sections over 160 StageRight decks. The center area had what Hartman describes as “frosted Plexi-skinned ribs,” upright crescents with six VersaTubes built into each, all with a backdrop of eight Main Light SoftLED curtains, some of which were wrapped around a center aluminum structure. Clear Plexiglas® sections incorporated Color Kinetics ColorBlast® 12s to uplight the scenery, while the steps from the VIP floor seating to the podium were broken up by a platform at downstage center. This area incorporated nine 50" plasma TVs — that required their own ventilation system — built into the stage floor and topped with clear Plexiglas.

Stage left's main feature was a flying diagonal with hanging paper lantern-esque cylinders, each containing a ColorBlast, as well as a 15'×20' Stewart rear projection screen with two double-stacked Digital Projection Inc. (DPI) 28SXs projecting on it. These were flanked by curved columns with VersaTile surfaces. Nine Staging Dimensions Pixel Panel stage decks completed the look here. Stage right, which was used for performances, featured a flown hanging curve of Hartman's 75 VersaTube anemones, with five upright 3'×10' Barco D7 LED panels below. A combination of incandescent fixtures, ColorBlasts, and VersaTubes internally lit the apron of the stage, and two Barco MiPIX panels hid subwoofers placed under the deck on each side. Additional LED fixtures incorporated into the set included 62 Coemar ParLite LEDs as truss toners and Color Kinetics ColorBlaze® 72s.

Video director Jason Rudolph ran all video-related elements. Nine High End Systems Catalyst v4 servers managed most of the visuals for the show, eight of which Rudolph custom built and one that was provided by Roca Video, all controlled via an MA Lighting grandMA with Network Signal Processors for additional universes of DMX. The DPI projectors were the exception, used to switch to an SDI feed from the truck to playback video packages or for a camera feed. In this case, content came from Grass Valley Profile servers in the truck.

Almost all of the video content was prefabricated, with very little IMAG used at all. Colina and Rudolph worked together on the video content for the musical numbers. Some footage they shot themselves, some was stock, and other footage came from the artists. Rudolph created original content in Adobe After Effects® and Final Cut® Pro. And since the creative team included many of Univision's own people, the media mogul ensured that scenic and graphic designs worked well together by creating much of the show graphics in-house, with Juliann Langere-Nagle serving as art director.

As far as bringing the set, lighting, and video together seamlessly, Colina adds that such an accomplishment was most notable during the musical performances. Having created the content ahead of time, the lighting was integrated later for a complete look. “With the ColorBlasts and the VersaTubes as set pieces, using the Catalyst systems to drive video through them allowed us to achieve amazing looks,” he says. “I don't think that we could have accomplished that look without the integration of video and lighting.” They also benefited from interfacing with the house Barco iLite 10 LED display around the arena, which also helped to tie everything together visually.

With a set design that ended up having a lot of curves, Colina wanted to complement it using trussing without angles, all of which was by Tomcat and provided by PRG Lighting, who also provided the lighting and rigging package. He says the goal was to achieve a look of infinity on camera by extending the trussing over the audience. “This also enabled me to light the audience,” he says. “Designing for television becomes tricky as far as where you, as a designer, would like to place a truss and where it would actually work in order to give you the right placement of fixtures.”

To actually light all these set and video elements, Colina and his lighting crew had two days of preprogramming that they did onsite using ESP Vision software. Programmer Ken Hudson saw this experience as changing the function of lighting in relation to scenery. “With the development of so many types of LED fixtures, scenery is now being colored from within, as opposed to colored by projection from without,” he says. “So I found myself doing far less ‘painting’ than in the past. I also noticed that the significant improvement in LED intensity requires careful attention to prevent color contamination on camera.”

Hudson also says it was challenging to provide backlight for the band members using big, bright wash lights, given the amount of video and LED features in the set, especially when the band was far back against a video screen backlight, which made it downright impossible. “The challenge was to provide sufficient level on the player without cooking up the stage floor,” he adds.

Running the show meant using three operators, with both a PRG Virtuoso DX2 and the grandMA on their own networks with full-tracking for the live show. Rudolph, as mentioned, handled the video on the grandMA, but he also controlled the array of ColorBlast fixtures and some of the MAC 2000 Performance fixtures being used as keylighting for performances. The intensity of Rudolph's fixtures, however, was controlled by Daniel Perez via an ETC Insight 3 using the DMX remote features of the grandMA. Perez also ran the conventional lighting from the Insight 3. Finally, Hudson ran the Virtuoso console to control almost all of the moving lights in the rig, and all data was distributed via fiber to nodes and NIFs for a total of 16 universes of DMX. The main moving light rig consisted of a couple hundred various Vari-Lite fixtures, as well as an assortment of Martin MAC 2000s and Atomic 3000s, High End Systems Studio Commands®, and SGM Synthesis fixtures.

Calling the show got hectic during the musical numbers, as most acts featured dancers on both stages and sometimes also at center stage. “It got a little crazy a few times, as the artists crossed from stage to stage, says Colina. “Now throw in pyro and cryo-jet blast. That combination made it extremely difficult to call cues and spots. Luckily for us, we had John Daniels calling spots and making sure they were all on the correct cues.”

But neither the lighting nor the video were Hudson's biggest concern on this production. “As always, when televising a concert event, the biggest challenge is communication,” he says. “When is the intercom technology going to catch up with video, audio, and lighting? In 2006, we are spoiled by the rate of innovation and technical advance, and intercom systems seem sadly inefficient and old-fashioned.”

For Hartman and Colina, however, load-in, setup, and programming brought the same time-crunch game that always seems to be involved. “With only three days from the start of the scenic load-in until the rehearsals began, integrating the LED fixtures into the hanging scenic pieces proved the most time consuming,” says Hartman. “Hanging the VersaTubes required additional cabling resources, and because they are designed to cable easiest horizontally, having each tube hang vertically and connecting to the next one involved running longer jumpers that had to be hidden behind the length of the tube.” Ian Henderson from Roca Video spent a good deal of time getting this element, as well as the mapping for the Soft-LED curtains, ready for show.

“We could've used another day,” Colina concurs. “When the set was behind, it put us behind. By the time we got rolling on rehearsals, we were still laying in floor units. As far as materials on the set, everything seemed to work pretty well for us. I worked closely with Larry to test all the materials ahead of time and determine whether they worked or not. This way, we wouldn't have run into any surprises at the venue, even though we did anyway!”

Production Credits:

Cisco Suarez, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
Macadena Moreno, SENOR PRODUCER
Tony Parodi, PRODUCTION MANAGER
Mike Karsch, FIELD TECH SUPERVISOR/TECHNICAL COORDINATOR
Francy Gonzalez, DIRECTOR
Jorge Dominguez, CREATIVE DIRECTOR
Larry Hartman, PRODUCTION DESIGNER
Carlos Colina, LIGHTING DESIGNER
John Daniels, LIGHTING DIRECTOR
Lowell Halpern, LIGHTING DIRECTOR
Jason Rudolph, VIDEO CONTENT DIRECTOR
Juliann Langere-Nagle, GRAPHICS ART DIRECTOR
Ken Hudson, LIGHTING PROGRAMMER
Daniel Perez, CONVENTIONAL LIGHTING BOARD OP
Bernardo Reitich, GRAPHICS DESIGNER
Matt Bloom, HEAD GAFFER
Dennis White, HEAD RIGGER
Brett Puwalski, HEAD AUTOMATED TECH
Tony Pol, ASSISTANT RIGGER
Carsten Weiss, ASSISTANT RIGGER
Dave Favorita, AUTOMATED TECH
Alex Flores, AUTOMATED TECH
Chris DeLorenzo, AUTOMATED TECH
Luis Portela, AUTOMATED TECH
Billy Reynolds, PROPS AND SET DRESSING

Premio Lo Nuestro a La Musica Latina

Vendors:

Scenic shop: Acadia Scenic, Jersey City, NJ (Dave Lawson)

Lighting/rigging: PRG Lighting, Orlando, FL (Martee Nuruddin)

Video: Roca Video, Playa Del Rio, CA (Joe Sarchet, Ian Henderson, Peter Thornton, and Mike Newman)

Staging: Roc-Off, Miami, FL (Jose Luis Roche)

Video:

9 High End Systems Catalyst media server
5 3'×10' Barco D7 LED panel
4 Barco MiPIX Panel
8 8'×33' Main Light Soft-LED curtain
123 Element Labs VersaTube
27 Element Labs VersaTile
1 DPI 28SX DLP projector
1 15'×20' Stewart rear projection screen
13 50" plasma screen
4 42" plasma screen

Moving Lights:

92 Vari-Lite VL5
52 Vari-Lite VL5 ARC
40 Vari-Lite VL7
31 Vari-Lite VL6
26 Vari-Lite VL2416
51 Martin Professional MAC 2000 Wash
22 Martin Professional MAC 2000 Performance
13 Martin Professional MAC 2000 Profile
14 Martin Professional Atomic 3000
6 High End Systems Studio Command®
4 SGM Synthesis

LED Fixtures:

62 Coemar ParLite LEDs
74 Color Kinetics ColorBlast® 12
13 Color Kinetics ColorBlaze® 72

Conventionals:

9 ETC Source Four® 10°
48 ETC Source Four 19°
28 ETC Source Four 26°
62 Strand Pallas 1-cell cyc (500W)
9 6-Bar/PAR64
21 PAR64 MFL lamp (6-Lamp Bar)
33 PAR64 NSP lamp (6-Lamp Bar)
10 Birdies PAR16 NFL
21 9-Lite PAR56
8 4' Mini-Strips MR16
4 Studio Due CS4 ACL
4 Mole-Richardson 2kW Zip Softlight with egg crates

Followspots:

7 Strong Super Trouper II
4 Lycian Starklite Short Throw Model 1271

Control:

1 MA Lighting grandMA console (plus backup)
1 PRG Virtuoso console (plus backup)
1 ETC InSight 3 console (plus backup)
1 MA Lighting Network Signal Processor
2 8-Port Ethernet Switch (10/100mb)
4 Nodes for Virtuoso with cable
8 4-Port DMX Switches
1 2-Port DMX Switch
6 UPS Power Supply
12 Littlite for consoles
6 Littlite (free standing)

Special Effects:

4 Reel EFX DF-50 hazer
2 Reel EFX Fans Turbo
2 High End Systems F-100 fog generator
10 Box fan

Trussing/Rigging:

All trussing by Tomcat
All motors by CM (Columbus McKinnon)

Staging:

160 StageRight decks
9 Staging Dimensions Pixel Panel decks

Hardware:

4 Matthews Studio Equipment C-Stands
16 6' pipes
12 4' pipes
16 12' pipes
6 2'×2' rolling carts
67 Cheseboroughs

RESOURCES:

Adobe: www.adobe.com
Barco: www.barco.com
Columbus McKinnon: www.cmrigging.com
Coemar: www.coemar.com
Color Kinetics: www.colorkinetics.com
DPI: www.digitalprojection.com
Element Labs: www.elementlabs.com
ESP Vision: www.espvision.com
ETC: www.etcconnect.com
Grass Valley: www.thomsongrassvalley.com
High End Systems: www.highend.com
Littlite: www.littlite.com
Lycian Stage Lighting: www.lycian.com
MA Lighting: www.malighting.com, www.actlighting.com
Main Light Industries: www.mainlight.com
Martin: www.martinpro.com
Matthews Studio Equipment: www.msegrip.com
Mole-Richardson: www.mole.com
PRG Lighting: www.prg.com
Reel EFX: www.reelefx.com
Roca Video: www.rocavideo.com
Roc-Off Productions: www.roc-off.com
SGM: www.techni-lux.com
StageRight: www.stageright.com
Staging Dimensions: www.stagingdimensionsinc.com
Stewart Screens: www.stewartfilmscreen.com
Strand: www.strandlight.com
Strong: www.strongint.com
Studio Due: www.studiodue.com
Tomcat: www.tomcatglobal.com
Univision Communications, Inc.: www.univision.com
Vari-Lite: www.vari-lite.com
VectorWorks: www.nemetschek.net