Bang goes the theory

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Planning a firework display? As some organisers look to cancel firework displays others realise the importance of the colourful explosions in the sky…

You can have as much black as you want, says a laughing John Kennett, technical director of brightFX. He’s recalling a project when a private client told him that her colour scheme was purple and black; could he create a firework display to match her chosen colours?

“I tend to use a smaller colour palette,” he explains. “Reds and blues, gold and silver – we don’t want to create a fruit salad effect. Use too much variety at the same time and you lose the effect; it’s no use having six colours vying for the same bit
of sky,” he tells Stand Out. “If an organiser has an enclosed space to work in then the more expensive a display and the less choice you have. Specific and approximate effects are handmade and therefore are

more expensive but if done properly lift an event to a new level.”

According to Kennett, site limitations are no barrier to dramatic effect and all too often, restrictions imposed by a site can leave event organisers thinking fireworks are out of the question.

The Opening Parade for the Canterbury Festival demonstrated there are no limits. There, not only were brightFX working within the confines of a city-centre location, in a public garden against the old city walls, but they also had to take into account the extreme hazard posed by a nearby petrol station.

Kennett continues: “The festival wanted a display that was visually impressive yet safe. This meant we had to cope with crowds in close proximity and the very real limitations of the site. Our detailed site visits were vital in informing the selection and siting of the pyrotechnic effects and allowed us to make best use of the space.”

Unfortunately, whilst fireworks are impressive, they are the first “nice to have” to get chopped. Komodo Fireworks is currently working with VPW, supplying stage pyro for boxing events.

It has been approached by The X Factor and Wolverhampton City Council has confirmed its annual firework display
for November. Steve Badger, director of Komodo, says that the company has begun to create shapes with fireworks – smiley faces, love hearts and snails in the sky, which are ideal for family friendly events. It is also sole UK distributor for Caballer fireworks – the “Rolls Royce” of fireworks, explains an enthusiastic Badger.

All fired up

As Stand Out writes, Pyro Vision

is preparing to fire a display in Southampton. On May 21, passengers aboard P&Os newly-named Adonia will be treated to a firework display, created by the Surrey-based company to celebrate the naming of the ship. At 3.15pm, Dame Shirley Bassey will launch Champagne and name the ship – confetti, silver Mylar flutterfetti, pyro and streamer effects will mark the moment, says Keith Webb, director of Pyro Vision.

Then, at 10.30pm, a fireworks display, set to a medley of Shirley Bassey hits, will be fired from a barge, changing shape, colour, style and pattern to suit the tempo of the chosen tracks.

According to Jon Culverhouse, managing director of Fantastic Fireworks, to be surrounded by water enables a firework specialist to be almost completely unfettered by considerations such as the proximity of buildings and people.

“We are firing at the Isle of Man TT Festival,” he explains. “This display will take place on a barge moored 200 metres offshore from the island’s capital of Douglas. One of our most eye-catching sequences will be a barrage of fireworks, projected almost horizontally, like Barnes- Wallis bouncing bombs, which will arc into the water and light up in a sea of red.

“Our biggest show of the summer will be at Hatfield House on September 10. The event celebrates the 400th anniversary of one of Britain’s most historic homes. We are thrilled and privileged to be offered the opportunity to fire what by our reckoning will be the biggest display in the UK this side of London New Year’s Eve. We’ll be firing off the roof of the

house as well as the front and the back, all choreographed to a live performance of Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks. The first time this was performed, in London’s Green Park back in 1748, the accompanying fireworks display burned down one of the pavilions, and we’ve have assured the Marquis of Salisbury, owner of Hatfield House, that there will be no repeat!”

Fantastic Fireworks will use the width of the building, its identical wings and central clock tower to create a spectacle, and
the symmetry of the building makes it a perfect platform on which to demonstrate artistic flair, adds Culverhouse.

“In this instance the music will drive the display. Handel wrote it to celebrate the peace treaty of Aix la Chapelle, which marked the end of the war of Austrian succession. Unlike say, the 1812, which celebrated a famous victory, Handel’s piece is more joyful than triumphal. We will be using smaller Calibre fireworks, roman candles, comets and fountains, mirroring the symmetry of the building, bringing in the big guns of shells from the rear when the music calls for it.

“One of the sequences which most caught the attention was our suggestion to create in fireworks images of the years 1611 and 2011, to be mounted on opposing wings. Event organisers are always keen to see how you interpret their brief and this certainly ticked the box.”

Blown away

In most instances event organisers are looking for a proposal that includes the wow factor. But while firing is a pyrotechnicians dream it’s also a cleaner’s nightmare, so says Dan Mott, project manager at Pyrojunkies.

The Dartford-based company has had an “explosive” few months, investing in new kit such as 24-metre propane flame walls and more confetti blowers. Pyrojunkies is currently touring with Peter Kay on his The Tour That Doesn’t Tour Tour. On stage, Kay finishes with an all singing and all dancing finale, using a four head Pro-Flame System creating eight- metre flames and arena glitter cannons.

Talking of tours, Fuse Festival in Rochester, SO Festival in Skegness and Canterbury Festival will get a preview of The World Famous’ brand new touring production – All Hands, which has received funding from Arts Council England.

Mike Roberts, producer and co-director of The World Famous, told Stand Out that the fire and fireworks spectacle centres
on the power of connection and human endeavour and will combine music, sculptures and performance.

Festival audiences will get an opportunity to help build the sculptures, triangular in form and made from scaffolding. The production is in development. Smaller performances will be staged at events throughout the summer – All Hands will then tour in 2012, bringing all of the smaller event elements together to create one large spectacle.