Billboard Latin Music Awards Dazzles Live Audience with Innovative Set Design
The Billboard Latin Music Awards (BLMAs) aired live Wednesday, Oct. 21 on Telemundo from Sunrise, Florida's BB&T Center. The show was originally scheduled to take place in Las Vegas this past April but was postponed due to COVID-19. While there was a limited, socially distanced audience, the BLMAs still managed to capture the glamour of a pre-pandemic awards show with a red carpet and live performances, all brought together by an innovative set and lighting choices.
Venezuelan actress Gaby Espino, star of "Jugar con Fuego” hosted the show. Bad Bunny and Ozuna led nominations with 14 each, with Bad Bunny and Daddy Yankee being the big winners of the night with seven awards each. The show featured more than a dozen live performances including the Black Eyed Peas, Pitbull, Maluma, Carlos Vives, Daddy Yankee, Luis Fonsi, and Paulina Rubio.
Rodrigo Proal of production design company Darmah, LLC designed the octagon- shaped set which featured four main stages. Having this number of stages allowed the crew to accommodate the disinfecting demands of the pandemic in a live setting. Behind the scenes, each stage was color coded. While an artist performed on one stage, the previous stage was disinfected. Efficient changes of cameras and environment allowed for the fast-paced awards show to exist within strict COVID compliance.
Lighting designer John Daniels had the challenge of replicating pre-pandemic levels of audience interaction and excitement with clever lighting tricks.
“The lighting has to replace the energy that the large audience brings,” explains Daniels. “I’m putting fixtures where I wouldn’t typically put them to bring the energy that’s lost to the camera.”
PRG provided lighting for Daniel’s design, which struck a delicate balance between LED pixels and hard-edged beams. “I get a lot of the energy from the GLP X4 Bar-20s and X4s. On this particular show we are also using Robe Tetra 2s,” says Daniels. “These types of high-performance LED batten fixtures were perfect for defining the set boundaries.”
The unique stage setup meant there was no easy vantage point or traditional front of house to see the stage, so Daniels and the video team were dependent on cameras for focus and programming.
The lighting order also included 12 of PRG’s proprietary GroundControl™ Followspots. Although the GroundControl system became a staple for shows of this caliber years ago, it delivers an added benefit during the pandemic, as remote control allows for flexibility in social distancing and safety.
Network Tech and Ground Control Spot Tech Ronald Beal networked the rack lands throughout the venue with a mixture of fiber and copper ethernet to 12 rack locations. At each rack, he used some form of network to DMX devices output to the rig.
Beal used a 24 Pathport via 12 network switches with a safety ring for full redundancy, which automatically rerouted any network failures. The networking order also included 20 PRG Supernodes, 12 Pathport Octos and eight MA Lighting GrandMA2 8-port nodes. The lighting gaffer was Chris Szabo, LD/ Programmers were Felix Peralta and Kevin Lawson, and the Floor Lighting Director was Chris Delorenzo. PRG’s lighting tech was Michael Pagan.
“I think that the pandemic has caused us to be more organized, efficient, and some of the other methods of production, including extended reality, are opening up new opportunities for how we do these productions,” says Daniels.
The evening’s programming featured a mix of extended reality performances and traditional LED backdrops with seamless transitions. To achieve that effect, Daniels says the lighting and video had to work very closely together. His main concern was controlling the light levels and not letting the ambient lighting wash onto the wrong surface.
Despite these many challenges, the evening was a success, and one of the most impressive examples of a major award show to set the precedent for what is possible during the pandemic. Logistics take more preplanning and communication has been crucial - now more than ever. Producers MBS Special Events, Inc. executed careful and detail-oriented management of the show to make it all possible.
“Supporting live events is more challenging in these times of the pandemic especially for our industry,” explains PRG account executive Anthony Ciampa. “There is limited staff all around the country with all vendors just trying to keep the machine running while still putting out great shows. Our shop’s staff have done an incredible job taking on multiple duties and working as a team. We want to show the rest of the world that we can still have high level productions.”
Daniels agreed that it truly takes a dedicated team to pull off a show in these times.
"It's all about relationships, and Anthony Ciampa always takes care of me,” says Daniels. “That’s what this business is about - being able to make that phone call.”
Producer: MBS Special Events, Inc.
Production Design: Darmah, LLC
Content: Darmah, LLC
Lighting Design: John Daniels
Lighting and Networking Gear: PRG
LD/ Programmer: Felix Peralta
LD/ Programmer: Kevin Lawson
Floor Lighting Director: Chris Delorenzo
Gaffer: Chris Szabo
Networking/ Ground Control Tech: Ronald Beal
Lighting Tech: Dan Antolick
Lighting Tech: Leslie Holm
Lighting Tech: Michael Pagan
56 Robe Pointe 100-240V78
Robe MegaPointe 100-240V
36 Robe BMFL Blade 200-240V
18 Vari-Lite VL3500 Spot+ 200-240V
26 Robe BMFL WashBeam 200-240V
114 GLP Impression X4 Bar20 100-240V
80 GLP Impression X4 100-240V
18 Chroma-Q Color Force II 48" LED Batten 100-240V
87 Robe Robin 1200 100-240V
44 Chroma-Q Color Force 12" 100-240V
13 GLP JDC1 Strobe 100-240V
5 Litepanels ASTRA Soft Bi-Color LED Panel 100-240V
12 PRG Best Boy Spot HP w/Camera GroundControl
12 PRG GroundControl FollowSpot System Controller
2 MDG theONE Atmospheric Generator 100-240V
1 MA Lighting GrandMA2 Lite Console
2 MA Lighting GrandMA2 Full Console
10 MA2 NPU - Network Processing Unit
3 ProPlex GBS 8port w/ Optical Con Tac4 OM3
1 Tour Lighting Snake v3 150m