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Team Darmah and CHAUVET Professional Help Daddy Yankee Create Farewell Tour Fit For a King

By PLSN Magazine
Mar 27, 2023, updated Oct 25, 2023
 Team Darmah and CHAUVET Professional Help Daddy Yankee Create Farewell Tour Fit For a King

During the U.S. leg of Daddy Yankee's La Ultima Vuelta tour, 4Wall Entertainment provided 240 CHAUVET Professional fixtures. Lighting Designer Felix Peralta and Lighting Director/Programmer Chris Fernandez utilized a combination of Color STRIKE M and COLORado PXL Bar 16 fixtures on the rig. This article was written by CHAUVET Professional and posted on PLSN website, which you can view here.

How do you say goodbye to a legend? For the creative team involved in designing the production for Daddy Yankee's La Ultima Vuelta tour, the answer was quite simple, you create something "fit for a king." This was the directive that Production Designer Rodrigo Proal of Darmah Studios received when he was asked to work on the Puerto Rican born super star's 84-date official retirement tour of North and South America, which concluded with a January show in San Juan.

Proal, joined by a gifted and inspired creative team, didn't disappoint either; the production they collaborated on, with its bold, vibrant colors, intense aerial effects, beautiful scenic elements, and evocative video content created by Screens Director Bianca Moncada, did justice to the career of a genius who is credited with coining the term "reggaeton," and whose 2004 party favorite "Gasolnina" introduced modern Latin music to a wider audience.

"This was a special experience for all of us, one we'll never forget," said Felix Peralta, the tour's Lighting Designer. "We all wanted to make this show fit for a king to honor an artist who ruled so brilliantly for so long."

For Peralta, the concept behind La Ultima Vuelta (The Final Turn) began three years before the tour, when he joined the Darmah team and Lighting Designer John Daniels, a life-long friend and mentor, as the Lighting Director/Programmer for Daddy Yankee's 14-show residency in San Juan.

"As Production Designer, Rodrigo created a sleek and clean architectural structure for that residency," said Peralta. "That would be the canvas for the production and, after being reimagined as a tourable rig, set the tone for La Ultima Vuelta.

Peralta and Lighting Director/Programmer, Chris Fernandez accentuated the clean lines of the production design, and set the mood for a magical journey through the storied career of Daddy Yankee, with a lighting rig that featured 240 CHAUVET Professional fixtures, supplied on the USA leg by 4Wall Entertainment.

"Chris and I approached this tour like a two-headed monster, programming the show together," said Peralta.  "Chris understands my design aesthetics. I have been mentoring Chris for many years and was really excited to collaborate on this. Inspired by what Rodrigo had presented, we took an architectural approach to lighting the shows. Our goal was to create something that was simple in concept, but certainly not simple to execute. We wanted it to serve almost as a 'palette cleanser,' so we could move from song to song and tell a story with Bianca Moncada's video and our lighting."

To accomplish this, Peralta and Fernandez divided their lighting design into three levels of staging.  The first was upstage, behind the "Vanish Video" blow through walls, where they started their show and returned time and again throughout the performance. Next was the Main Stage area in front of the screens, where Daddy Yankee and the dancers did a large part of the show. Finally, came the B Stage, affectionately dubbed "The Basement," where the legendary star went to get closer to the audience.

Many of the rig's 175 high-output Color STRIKE M motorized strobes were positioned behind the blow-through video screens. Projecting white and colored light through the screens, the light helped create a more embracive environment on stage by weaving the transformative video images into the entire productions.

"The blow-through interaction between lighting and video really helped integrate everything into one story," said Peralta. "I think the color and energy from the lights helped bring the video imagery more to life."

Imagery from the video walls was, in a word, transformative, captivating not only the eye, but the heart as well as it created a powerful sense of Daddy Yankee's career traveling through time. In one memorable moment, there is a scene where the Darmah team created a "landing" sequence for Daddy Yankee and his private jet.  After that aircraft begins to appear in the far distance, lighting builds up the energy level as it gets closer. Eventually the plane "lands," and its door, which was actually staging behind the Vanish Screen, opens, and out walks Daddy Yankee onto the aircraft wing to sing  the first half of "Campeon," a huge show stopper. Then, the dancers appear and perform on the opposite wing.

"Our lighting team has been working closely with Rodrigo, Bianca, and  the rest of the group at Darmah Studios for more than a decade integrating the video & lighting elements for both live and television broadcast events, which helped set us up for success with "La Ultima Vuelta" tour," said Peralta. "We did pre visualization production down in Miami, in mid-July over at the Darmah Design Studios.  Bianca worked closely with us to define a well-balanced integration of lighting & video elements throughout."

In addition to contributing to these stunning blow-through video moments, the Color STRIKE M units filled a variety of other functions during the show.  "They were our heavy hitters," Peralta said of the fixtures. "We basically treated them as three separate fixtures... a basic strobe, a 14-pixel RGB strobe plate, and a 28-beam pixel strobe accent piece. We found moments for the 'heavy handed' accents with the dynamic RGB/CMY pixel to be a fun story, the nitty gritty beam pixels added beautiful accents to the musical story."

The 45 COLORado PXL Bar 16 fixtures in the rig were used to create curtains of light throughout the show, while the other CHAUVET Professional units, 20 Maverick MK3 washes served as "side shin buster" lights for the dancers, on both the main and B stages.

Versatile fixtures, and a very realistic-looking blow-through video wall were by no means the only reasons why La Ultima Vuelta wowed  the audience night after night, there was also the tireless collaboration on the part of a large group of creatives. In addition to praising the Darmah team and Chris Fernandez, Peralta complimented the work of Mike Smrka, the tour's Lighting Director, who was there doing stellar work every single show. "The people made this show special," said Peralta. "It's something I'll always remember."

It's a safe bet that the fans who turned out for one of this tour's 84 show are always going to remember the experience too - and among the many memories they have of the incomparable Daddy Yankee, this one is bound to have a special place in the heart.


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