Carlos Colina chooses VARI*LITE luminaires for Premios Juventud 2011
Published Thursday, September 1, 2011
by Philips Vari-Lite

When Premios Juventud 2011 aired live on Univision, millions of votes had been cast to honor Spanish-speaking celebrities in the areas of film, television, music, sports and fashion. While the awards ceremony is a vibrant and enthusiastic evening filled with musical performances by some if the top artists today, behind the scenes lighting designer Carlos Colina was tasked with bringing the annual celebration to life for both the live and at-home audience. Faced with some unique lighting obstacles, Colina would need the ideal lighting package to help him succeed, so he called upon Atomic Lighting who provided him with a rig full of VARI*LITE automated luminaires from Philips Vari-Lite.

“When I received the initial set design in April 2011, I looked it over and immediately knew that we would have a few challenges with how the set was laid out,” began Colina. “I called the set designer (Jorge Dominquez) to see how we could accommodate lighting fixtures into some of the more difficult spaces in the set, but I was mostly concerned about the air space above the set. The design called for steel beams hanging straight-forward towards the audience. They were designed to be ceiling pieces and in the past I have known these types of structures to cause a big challenge to the lighting. Not only did we have the beams to deal with, there were also arches in the air that would run parallel to the set, plus LED Panels that would hang from the arches. With all these pieces hanging in the air, the space was becoming quite full and finding lighting angles would prove very difficult.”

After approaching the set designer with his concerns during follow-up production meetings, a few of the arches were removed to make additional room for lighting, but since the set design had already been approved, the majority of them were left hanging, along with their LED panels. Since he uses a 3D program to design his lighting plots, Colina felt comfortable that he could simulate any obstacles that may be in his path and adjust his lighting placements accordingly. But with so many obstacles in the air, he had his work cut out for him.

“This is the main reason I love working with 3D design programs. With the set design dropped into the program, I can see if I need to adjust my placements. If I know what a light can do, I can visualize the beams path and immediately see any obstacles. The actual design of this plot took about one week and then I sent the renderings over to the set designer and art director (Anthony Bishop) so that they could see the direction the lighting would go.”

With the lighting plot complete, the production meetings continued to discuss the needs for each musical performance. This year the show would feature 20 acts so the lighting design would have to cover many areas, but must also be able to create several unique looks in order to keep the production fresh and exciting for the audience and viewers.

“This year we had about 20 musicals, 12 of which had specific scenery that had to be lit. In addition to the band scenery they usually had about 10-20 dancers, and or 3-4 people singing at the same time, so it made it a bit chaotic and hard to light such a expansive part of the set. With the help of my Lighting Director (John Daniels) we really had to manage the lighting well and make sure we could cover whatever was happening onstage. I also needed the looks to be as creative as possible. So not only were we dealing with flying obstacles, we also had a few performance challenges as well. In order to make sure we got the most out of our lighting rig, I had to have the right fixture for each job and that’s why I went with VARI*LITE luminaires.”

With his full design now complete, Colina put the project out to bid naming the specific VARI*LITE fixtures he wanted for each location. After receiving the proposals, he chose Authorized VARI*LITE Dealer Atomic Lighting based in Lititz, Pennsylvania, who provided him with VL3000 Spot, VL3500 Spot, and VL1000TS luminaires. And then to further enhance the design, he was also able to use VL3500 Wash FX luminaires, which he had never used before.

“I love working with Atomic Lighting. They always provide fantastic gear, customer support and they seem to always go above and beyond to make sure that the event is a success. Plus, I love working with VARI*LITE luminaires. They are workhorses whose output seems to continue to get better and better, they rarely break down, and they have the perfect tool for any application.”

After receiving the luminaires and loading in to the arena, Colina and his team found one more lighting challenge, but with the VARI*LITE luminaires hanging in the rig, they quickly found an answer.

“I usually don’t have to change many lighting locations once we are onsite. With every show things do have to shift here and there, but this year when they hung the arches and steel beams, we found that some of the steel safety cables were going to be an issue. There were a few cases where the cables were going right through the path of the light, so we had to move locations and trim the trusses to get around it all, but with the VARI*LITE fixtures in the air we could quickly re-shutter and adjust as needed with relatively no problems at all.”

With the lighting challenges now behind them, Colina and the show’s programmer (Felix Peralta) moved into the programming phase of the show. Approximately four days before the initial rehearsal, they received the music with timecode for various musical acts and they quickly set their cues. Understanding that they would need to tweak a few of the looks during the rehearsals, Felix was confident that the fixtures that Colina had chosen would give him the greatest flexibility for creativity.

“When you talk about using VARI*LITE luminaires, you talk about using the best that the industry has to offer. I used the VL3000 Spots as a stage wash for their bright colors and fantastic gobos to really bring the stage to life. I then used the VL3500 Spots for their shutters to get around all the set pieces, and used their great punch for the band key lights and back lighting on the set. These were easily my workhorse and my favorite light. Next, we used the VL1000 TS luminaires on the VIP section of the audience that was approximately 23x30 feet. These lights are great for key lighting because they have the ideal color temperature for TV and crisp shuttering capabilities. Finally, I used the VL3500 Wash FX luminaires, which I had never used before, and I was immediately excited and impressed with the size of the front aperture. These were not part of my original lighting plot, but I received them as demo fixtures from Jaime Freidstadt at Philips Vari-Lite. I put all six lights on road cases out in the audience and shot their big, powerful beams into the air then used the effects wheel to make them look even more amazing. I love these lights.”

So with all the production elements in place, Premios Juventud aired live on Thursday, July 21, 2011. And as the evening drew to a close and the final award was given, Colina was extremely pleased with how the celebration and the lighting came together. Overcoming all the lighting obstacles created from various set pieces, along with giving the event the flair needed for the rowdy audience, Colina is confident that key to the ceremonies success was finding the right light for the right job.

“I choose VARI*LITE luminaires because of their dependability and the complete set of characteristics that each fixture has to offer. There are so many varieties that you can easily pick the perfect fixture to overcome each challenge. While the brightness and the colors are amazing, for me it’s being able to choose the ideal fixture for each task that truly makes VARI*LITE luminaires the industry leader.”

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