Pablo Munguía: Making Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl Halftime Show Sound Great
How does the Super Bowl consistently draw viewership that far exceeds the amount of football fans in the world? Part of the answer, surely, likes in the sheer spectacle of the annual event, especially the Super Bowl Halftime Show, which is, time and time again, the most-watched musical event of the year in the United States. This year, as the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons headed to the locker rooms at the midpoint of a game that included one of the greatest comebacks in the history of professional sports, that halftime show featured a boisterous set by headliner Lady Gaga.
If you’ve ever wondered what goes into producing the world’s most-watched televised performance, look no further than Pablo Munguía, multi-Emmy-winning program director for the Master of Music in Music Production, Technology, and Innovation program at Berklee’s campus in Valencia, Spain, who is also a 1997 Berklee alumnus. Munguía is no stranger to live audio work for television’s biggest broadcasts. This year will mark Munguía’s 11th Super Bowl Halftime Show, and he has also served as an audio engineer for the Academy Awards, the Grammys, MTV’s Video Music Awards, and more.
As a Pro Tools operator for the halftime show, Munguía helped ensure that Lady Gaga and her fellow musicians sounded fantastic. Getting everything right before a global audience is no small feat, to put it mildly.
“The Super Bowl Halftime Show is the most challenging musical event on the planet, from a logistical standpoint,” Munguía says. “A fully operational stage, complete with lighting, video, fireworks, audio, and musical instruments, has to be assembled from scratch, line tested, and be ready for show in roughly seven minutes, in the middle of a football field, without damaging the field.”
Munguía notes that the 12-minute show "must wow and awe an audience of over 100 million television viewers that has come to expect the extraordinary."
The Super Bowl Halftime Show has often featured Berklee alumni as well, such as, for example, Arnetta Johnson B.M. '16, DANiiVORY B.M. '08, and Rie Tsuji B.M. '02, who have all performed during halftime at the Super Bowl with Beyoncé.
The challenge doesn’t end once the performance is over, either. As Munguía explains, "The stage has to be disassembled in roughly five minutes, in time for the kickoff of the second half of the game."
Munguía graduated from Berklee with a professional degree in music production and engineering, and, in addition to his work on major live broadcasts, he has worked as a freelance music producer and engineer for Justin Timberlake, Madonna, Alicia Keys, Usher, and Michael Bublé, among many others.
The Master of Music in Music Production, Technology, and Innovation program that Munguía leads at Berklee’s Valencia, Spain campus aims to challenge students to invent the future of music and align their skills for careers as artists, technologists, producers, DJs, electronic composers, educators, and software and/or hardware designers. Students in the program study areas such as hybrid recording, music video production, sound design, musical app development, electronic production, and live performance—a mixture that may help Munguía’s disciples take marquee performances like the Super Bowl Halftime Show to new heights in years ahead.