Report by Pyro Pete: Our first summer assignment of 2004 and a very special day for a number of reasons. After meeting the Dynamic Fireworks crew for a feature on their shop and a visit to their stores last year, this was our first look at one of their professional displays. Plus, a new venue for us, the beautiful Leez Priory in Essex. And last but not least, our initial trials of a new way of filming fireworks - using a remote wireless camera mounted on the firer's helmet - a true firer cam. We hoped this would provide some unique and original footage.

The picturesque Leez Priory.

We couldn't have asked for a better day either, beautiful sunshine and as we arrived at the Priory we enjoyed some stunning views of this wonderful location. A quick call to the fireworks crew and they kindly met us in the car park, and we then followed them down to the firing site. This was located at the far end of the Priory between a courtyard where the wedding guests would watch from, and some wooded areas behind. It was a great site in fact, plenty of space and with nice views too.

Graham and Barrie ran through the intended display for us. "It's a small wedding display" they explained. "The emphasis is on pretty effects rather than noise, although we have a number of nice shells and cakes in tonight to keep the pace going. We also have some nice fountains, and a few heart shells too as a nice touch for the bride and groom. The shells go up to four inches which is more than enough for this type of venue, and the finale should be spectacular with a bank of nine shells and mines firing simultaneously to give effects at three levels. It will be fired by hand and should last in the region of five to six minutes".

Getting the many shells ready.

The pyro certainly looked impressive on the ground for a small display although as we are beginning to learn, what is "small" to Dynamic is actually "quite large" to many other companies! Over now to our pictures as we get down to work and have the customary nose around (you can click on any image to enlarge it):

 

1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7:

1: Hard at work getting the show ready. 2: Securing the candle fans. 3: A selection of pyro. 4: No Wedding would be complete without a heart shell or two, here a close-up of the label. 5: Picking and sorting the shells so they're in the right order. 6: The shells all sorted and ready for loading. 7: Loading the first shell.

 

8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14:

8: More shells get loaded. 9: All the racks now complete, loaded, fused and ready to be moved to the main firing area. 10: Getting a set-piece (gerbs) in place; the courtyard and wedding guests are behind in the distance. 11: A gold conic fountain with part of the Priory as a backdrop. 12: The sun sets on the Priory. 13: Shells ready and waiting. 14: As night falls, shell racks stand poised with wedding guests in the distance.

 

The sun has set and the guests enjoy the lovely surroundings
with the anticipation of a fireworks display to follow.

With everything now in place it was over to us to complete the final setting up of our cameras. The new wireless camera would be best placed on top of a firer's helmet, but we anticipated some problems in doing this because we had not met the firers before and we assumed that the suggestion of a radical filming idea might need lots of explaining. Well not so with the Dynamic crew, and we were pleasantly surprised when the conversation went like this: "OK, would you mind having a camera strapped to the top of your head?". "Not at all, sounds like a good idea!". Sorted and job done, a few cable ties and a bit of tape later and one of Dynamic's firers was loaded with a live camera on top of his safety helmet!

This new camera was going to be the trial of a new filming idea to capture a display from three angles. The helmet cam was christened "Firer cam" as it was the closest you can get and the most mobile, staying with the firer the whole time. Our secondary camera was a normal mini-DV camcorder, set up about five metres from the action to capture the ground zero effects, we now call this one the "Blast Zone Cam".

We made final preparations and checked the two cameras were running before retiring to the far side of the Priory with the last camcorder - the "Display Cam" - which would record the normal footage. We didn't have to wait long before the show started...

35MM STILLS CAMERA (PETEB):

DISPLAY CAM:

You can click on any thumbnail to view a larger image:




BLAST ZONE CAM:

Moving a little closer to the action now with the Blast Zone Cam. This was situated a few metres away from the main shell racks.




FIRER CAM:

And now about as close as you can get - a miniature camera on the firer's helmet. This is our first trial of the ultimate Firer Cam, giving you an opportunity to experience the display as if you were the firer himself (all that's missing is the smell of sulphur!). These images and the video below are from an analogue source, so the quality is lower than the digital camcorders but the subject matter more than makes up for this - enjoy!

 

Complete Display: The whole display from ALL THREE cameras, edited together. 34.9Mb Windows Media clip. Right click and save complete file (which is in ZIP format) before opening and playing.
Firer Cam: The display all from just the Firer Cam (note that the above complete display clip includes the best parts from this clip). There is some picture and sound break-up in this clip. 10 Mb Windows Media clip. Right click and save complete file (which is in ZIP format) before opening and playing.
Highlights: Highlights from the first part of the display featuring all three cameras. Lower screen size for dial-up users. 3.2Mb Windows Media clip. Right click and save complete file (which is in ZIP format) before opening and playing.

As the last shells finished the crowd cheered - a brilliant wedding display featuring lots of very nice pyro and a good balance between pretty effects and pace. Well done to the Dynamic team for a good night's work.

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