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VARI*LITE is My Safety Net

VARI*LITE is My Safety Net

latin-grammy-2010-1.jpgOn November 11, 2010, the biggest night in Latin Music, the 11th Annual Latin GRAMMY® Awards, aired live to a worldwide audience from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. Presented by the Latin Recording Academy, the awards ceremony recognizes the best in artistic and technical achievement as the industry's most prestigious award. Behind the scenes, lighting designer Carlos Colina created his own technical and artistic achievement through a beautiful lighting design using 124 VARI*LITE luminaires from Philips Vari-Lite, all provided by Atomic Lighting.

“This was my fourth year as the lighting designer for the production and while each year we always try to do something a little different, this year presented a series of challenges,” began Colina. “When I saw how wide and video-heavy the set would be, I knew competing with and complementing the video, while being able to hit all the areas needed, would be one of the main challenges. But then since the show would also be airing live worldwide in both a high-definition TV broadcast and a streaming web video, I would also need lots of wide beams with punch that I could count on when the cameras started rolling.”

As Colina and Jorge Dominquez (Set Designer) began their design meetings to discuss the lighting elements, they began with the set layout as this would define the necessary placement locations of the lighting fixtures that would end up incorporated into the set. After receiving the set design, Colina placed Renderwork cameras into VectorWorks to review all the angles that they would be shooting. From this 3D mock-up, he was able to identify all the lighting locations needed, which led him to hang three main trusses to mimic the wide, open set.

“This year, the set consisted of walls that were framed with LP screen material on all sides with a rounded back which shaped it into an oval. Our idea was to continue the set with the lighting, so we used three rounded main trusses over the top of the set to complete the oval shape and gives it a nice complementary dynamic look that worked on TV.”

Since trussing would extend the width of the stage to approximately 120 feet, Colina and his team would have to be able to precisely hit all the open areas, especially those in the middle of the set where the majority of the performances and award-winner announcements would take place. And because this production would also feature a large amount of video on stage, all the lighting instruments chosen had to be able to compete with the video. To gather the ideal instruments for the job, Colina turned to Atomic Lighting who brought on 58 VL3000 Spot, 24 VL3500 Spot, and 42 VL500D 120V Wash luminaires.

“I have worked with Atomic before and they are consistently solid. I know they are invested in the project and always have the gear maintained extremely well. This event was no different with a very hands-on approach throughout the entire project.”

When putting the lighting design together, Colina focused on five primary lighting necessities; lighting for the medium shots and close-ups, lighting the band, back lighting, key lighting, and then lighting for TV and video. The automated luminaires chosen for the event had to be able to handle whatever he needed, and that was the primary reason he chose VARI*LITE luminaires.

“With an extremely wide set, a large amount of video, live music performances, and an actual awards ceremony all to be broadcast on TV, our automated lights had many responsibilities, and this is why we wanted VARI*LITE fixtures. I like to use VARI*LITE because of the brightness and white that we get out of them with the color temperature we use for TV. Our programmer, Felix Peralta, relied heavily on the VL3500 Spots because of their extraordinary consistency with the shutters as well as their amazing zoom capabilities and overall lumen output. These fixtures have become the workhorse in the Television industry for scenic lighting treatment and critical key lighting over a long distance. We then used the VL3000 Spot fixtures for their fantastic output and solid beams to give both the camera and those at the show a bit of eye candy. And I chose the VL500D 120V Wash fixtures because of their incredible colors which provide a big aperture that looks fantastic on camera.”

With all the design elements now in place, successfully executing the live event becomes the final hurdle, but it was one that Colina and his team cleared with ease. As with many live events, backup gear is used to ensure that if a vital piece of equipment fails, another is ready to instantly take its place. The same is not true with lighting instruments that hang 50 feet in the air, but that is not something Colina was ever worried about.

“Having worked with Atomic before, I know they have great gear and the VARI*LITE fixtures just don't have the same issues that others might. With a live show that is broadcast to an international audience, you need the lighting to be consistent and work as designed. When using VARI*LITE luminaires you don't have to worry, and you don't need a safety net.”


Lighting Designer - Carlos Colina

Lighting Director - John Daniels

Automated Programmer - Ken Hudson

Automated Programmer - Felix Peralta

Video Content Programmer - Laura Franks

Media Server Tech - Angel Banchs

Head Gaffer - Brett Puwalski

Head Automated / Head Gaffer - Alex Flores

Automated Tech - McClain Moss

Automated Tech - David George

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