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Stagecraft Frequently Asked Questions
Section - 15. Pyrotechnics - explosions, flashes, smoke

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Safety
   * Always use professionally made pyrotechnics, don't improvise them
     (not even flashpowder)
   * Use a commercial control box, with a removable safety key
   * Never smoke while handling pyrotechnics
   * Unpack the pyro in a safe place, away from anything flammable
   * Store pyro in it's packaging until you use it
   * Never put pyro in your pockets
   * Turn the control box off and take the key with you while loading
     pyro
   * If the pyro is a cartridge designed to be used in a pod, use a real
     pod, don't just twist wire to the terminals
   * Ensure that each pyro position can be clearly seen from the control
     position
   * Never fire a pyro effect unless you can clearly see the area is
     clear of cast and crew
   * Always wear safety goggles or a face shield when loading pyro.
   * Always clean your flashpots before loading them. (reduces
     "shrapnel")
   * Never try re-firing a dud. Soak it in water and destroy it by
     tearing it to pieces.
   * Never dispose of destroyed pyro duds in the trash; use a "safe
     can".
   * Never fire pyro over an audience.

Two manufacturers of theatrical pyro are Le Maitre (
http://www.lemaitrefx.com/ ) and Jem (no web site, but pictures and
descriptions at http://www.midnight-design.ltd.uk/spyro.htm ).

Le Maitre's PyroFlash system and Jem's Stage FX are similar in many
respects. They have a control box, a number of 'pods' connected by cable
to the control box and a range of pyro cartridges that can be plugged
into the pods. Effects cartridges include
   * Flash - a bright white or coloured flash and puff of smoke
   * Starburst - similar to the flash, with a spray of silver or gold
     stars
   * Smoke - Dense white or coloured smoke, burning for tens of seconds
   * Fire - intense coloured flames and white smoke
   * Whistler - Loud screaming noise
   * Glitter or confetti - Loud bang and a spray of confetti or glitter

Other effects include gerbs, maroons and confetti cannon.

Gerbs spray white or gold stars in a 30+ foot jet for a few tens of
seconds. These are spectacular for outdoor performances, but think very
carefully before trying to use them indoors - they spray white-hot
fragments a long way.

Maroons come in a range of sizes. The smallest ones make a very loud
bang. The larger ones are very, very loud. Maroons should only ever be
fired in a bomb tank - this is a heavy metal tank with an open top
covered with a metal mesh. When fired they will throw fragments out of
the top of the tank. Always put up clear warning notices near the bomb
tank, ensure everyone knows you're using maroons and ensure no-one is
near the tank when you fire the maroon.

A confetti cannon is a short cannon which uses a maroon to fire confetti
(or glitter or fireproofed leaves or...) into a huge swirling cloud.

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Top Document: Stagecraft Frequently Asked Questions
Previous Document: 14. How do you make smoke rings?
Next Document: 16. Refilling beverage cans

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Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:12 PM