Fire Banner

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Behind the scenes at the end-of-festival fireworks

On Thursday I had the chance to look at the impressive amount of work that goes on to create the firework display to mark the end of the Edinburgh International Festival. The display is set to live music (this year it's a feast of Glinka, Sibelius, Borodin, Nielsen and Tchaikovsky) using Edinburgh Castle as a backdrop.

This year, like many before, the fireworks are designed by Keith Webb from Pyrovision and he was kind enough to show us a bit of what goes on. The first thing that becomes apparent is the sheer scale of the display. There were fireworks everywhere!
More fireworks.
Even more Fireworks

 Some of the fireworks are mounted to create directional displays.

And this is only half - it is replicated on the other side of the castle!

We heard about how the display is planned to fit in with the music and how the use of computer firing means they can incorporate fancier sequences in the display. Surprisingly (at least for me), most of the firing is still done manually to make sure it is in time with the live music. This is what a firing board looks like:

Firing board.  It has a lot of buttons.

It's a high-tech operation deserving of its own control room. This is where they plan, rehearse and manage the operation/tangle of wires.
Control room with maps of the castle, the sequence of the display.

Two fire extinguishers ought to be enough.

Unfortunately, time was limited and I have a few more questions that I would like to have asked Keith.
  • How do you get the cross/heart shaped fireworks?
  • What is the biggest firework in the show?
  • How do you time the actual firework explosion to the music?
Keith, if you are out there, please leave a comment.

The fireworks display is this Sunday evening at 9pm.


Guillermo Rein said...

We can invite him to give a seminar and he could tell us about making art out of combustion.

hww said...

Is Keith an accomplished musician, or does he have the music sheet in front of him, so that he can anticipate the music in the next twenty seconds - to time his next rocket ?
hans-werner wabnitz