Learning About Pyrotechnics
June 21, 2009
Annual Passholders and DVC members got a glimpse into the world of pyrotechnics and night-time spectaculars at two separate presentations yesterday. Brad Cicotti and his team blew-up about 200 various products at the Wide World of Sports Facility giving passholders and DVC members a sampling of various products, and educating guests to the strange and descriptive names given to many of the incendiaries that light the skies over Walt Disney World.
Brad started his career at WDW twenty years a go as an audio technician at Pleasure Island. His reluctance to move to pyrotechnics is laughable since he is now an integral part of so many fireworks productions. His expertise with product had everyone in awe. Brad's experience allows him to "see" combined product explosions without the aid of computer generated views. He prefers to do actual explosions where air currents and weather can show the affects to color, height and smoke.
Brad did say that currently there are no schools that teach the skills that Disney requires to be a pyrotechnic technician. He recommended that aspiring Cm's to the world of fireworks get experience at WDW in a technical field, and then move into pyrotechnics after taking classes offered by Disney. No one is hired to go directly into pyrotechnics.
Later in the day, Steven Davidson gave a presentation, "Wishes, Storytelling With Fireworks". Did you know it took Steven and his team over a year to create "Wishes"? In fact, most of the night-time programs that Steven has worked on have taken twelve months or longer. Six months is the least amount of time and is definitely not desirable. If listening to the history and transitions of how "Wishes" came to be isn't entertaining enough, we were also treated to Steven's re-enactment of how he pitched "Wishes" to the guys with the purse-strings. I still can't figure out what was more amazing; his physical interpretations of musical score, explosions and colors, or that those watching his performance could actually see what he was promoting and said Yes! Someone said it reminded them of seeing the film of Walt acting out Snow White for the bankers years ago and I agreed.
So, what did we learn?
1. Crowds love noise and it's incorporated whenever possible.
2. The reaction of the crowds is what brings tears to Brad and Steven.
3. You can have fireworks at conventions and weddings held at WDW.
4. Telling the story is the most important part of creating a firework presentation.
5. When you see a shape created in fireworks, it's magic. (There are no guarantees in pyrotechnics.)
6. Color plays an important part of the story-telling; red, yellow, blue to express the comedy aspects, and red and purple for the scary parts.
7. When the special event teams do their work well, it makes it even more difficult for new shows to be introduced. The more we like it, the stronger our bond to it and the longer we want it to stay the same. That's tough job for such creative people who have all these great ideas floating around in their heads. (I'd say this is one of those ...between a rock and a hard place...jobs.)
8. If given free rein, Brad's finale' would probably last five minutes and would need twice the amount of product used in the entire show. (Our mini-finale' was pretty darn exciting.)
9. It takes a village to create a great fireworks production; people to create the story, composers to write the music, and technicians to make it happen.
I've already started talking to my family about a trip to Disneyland to see the current project in production in California Adventure. I won't give away and secrets, but if it's half as exciting as Steven described, it's a show not to be missed. The exact date is still under wraps, but Spring 2010 is a target date. Besides, Dumbo is flying around Sleeping Beauty Castle these days, and I wouldn't minds seeing that as well.
A finale thanks to the passholder team that organized both presentations. You rock!