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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » F/X » » Pyros or not pyros, that is the question. (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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templemagic
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Sunderland, North-East England
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Would you use them - do they really add that much to a performance?
ROBERT TEMPLE
"The Power to Amaze"

robert@roberttemple.co.uk
http://www.roberttemple.co.uk
Gawin
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Germany
171 Posts

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After I watched several big shows, my opinion is that Pyros (I think you mean fire effects) get boring very fast - it isn´t magic creating big flames on the stage! One or two effects, O.K. But more????
snuf
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Antwerp Belgium
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Well, I'm setting up a fireshow for a 'Cirque de Soleil' - like project. I hope it won't be boring when you put some theatre in it, a story you can follow and where the use of fire is as clear as water. But, you have to use the products which are safe for indoor use Smile

Steven
Gawin
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Germany
171 Posts

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Steven
If your show is a real fireshow no matter with this - it won´t get boring I think. Above I was talking about this "great" come on stage with a flash - firing flashes from my hands, let disappear a whatever - in a flash, then tied with cuffs under some spears (burning ones of course) and so on.
Sid Mayer
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Santa Fe, NM
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There is a book called, I think, "Flashes, Bangs and Puffs of Smoke." I purchased Magic, Inc. in Chicago. It has a lot of ideas for special effects. HOWEVER, BEAR IN MIND, that all pyro effects are dangerous. Some U.S. venues require a licensed pyrotechnician. Then there's the hassle of clearing it with the local fire inspector. Unless you have a clear need for such effects and know exactly what you're doing, I would avoid pyro stuff.

Sid Mayer
All the world's a stage ... and everybody on it is overacting.
Kevin Ridgeway
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Indianapolis, IN & Phoenix, AZ
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We have been using pyro for almost 2 years and wouldn't want to be without it. Our show is much more like a concert with an X-Games or Extreme sports feel to it. We open not with flames in the hands, but with Phantom Flame, the same flame used in Phantom of The Opera. It is a 3 second flame that shoots 8 feet high. It is smokeless and has no fallout. We use 2-4 flames at the opening and 2-4 at the finale. That mixed with today's music like P.O.D. makes for great build up and release. Yes, you must jump through alot of hoops, but for us it is worth it.
Kevin
Living Illusions
Ridgeway & Johnson Entertainment Inc

Kevin Ridgeway &
Kristen Johnson aka Lady Houdini
The World's Premier Female Escape Artist

www.LadyHoudini.com

www.livingillusions.com
Daniel Faith
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Inner circle
Neenah, Wisconsin
1526 Posts

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I always use some type of fire in my shows. Whether it's making a BD cake, a flash pot, a burned anad restored cigarette paper, a flaming head chest, a flaming wallet or whatever.
One effect per performance is enough in my opinion. Don't over do it.

:magicrabbit:
Daniel Faith
Luke Kerr
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I like fire, but it must be used cleverly.
Create fire one or two times --it's ok.
Create fire for three hours is not.
I'd like fire in the scenes but all the show must be set so that it is logical.

And if you put a lot of fire it gives the impression of not being so dangerous.
zigmont
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Hi
Phantom Flame are small flame projectors and use smokeless (Shot)gun power but do have a dirty ash that falls with littlefallout. To use pyro anywhere in the US, you need various licenses/permits with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (ATF) and the State/cities where you live or are performing, and various other localities to allow to import, transport, store, buy, manufacture (mix) and display (shoot) all types of explosives involved in a pyrotechnic display.

You must have a permit from the local authorities having jurisdiction and must pull a permit from the local fire dept. and have schedule fire watch with the fire Marshal's office. That is to have the fire alarms shut off and a fireman on location.

You will need to provide a $1,000,000.00 Class "C" 1.4G Explosives Liability Insurance policy required on all pyro shoots. This is a policy that is just for pyro and not a general liability policy. You will have to show your qualifications (bio)and show that you certified with NFPA 1126 national fire codes for Standards for the use of Pyrotechnics before a Proximate Audience. Showing Your Log Book of shows performed to the fire marshalls office and the related information of facilities and the MSDS for the effects. Heavy fines and arrest can occur for shooting without a license and insurance. This can include open flame and smoke machines in some cities.

You need to follow National Life code 101, fire codes 1126 to pull a permit. The test is on the regulations for indoor pyro and is a 25-50 question written test. You can't not use Pyro unless you follow all of the above and that's for any state in the USA.
Zigmont
Magic F/X
paulapaul
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Nevada
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Zigmont speaks the truth. And if you use as much pyro as often as he does, you'll want to handle the licensing, Class C Pyro Insurance, permits, etc. yourself. If, instead, you do them only on occasion, call your friendly local pyrotechnician. For a fee, they can pull the permits and stage the firemen. They provide the Insurance - written out specifically for your event and everyone involved - you, the venue, the local fire dept., the client, etc.

They will oversee the Fire Marshall Inspection, and will be the licensed party on site for the show. He/She will make sure that all things they supply are up to code, and when they write up the effects for permit, they must advise you as to whether your powders, props and all are up to code.

If you are touchy about your effects, ask your pyrotechnician if you can supply and load your own effects. It may be OK - as long as there is a licensed person on site (correct, Zig?). I have always been able to do it, but don't know if it's legal. The guys I work with trust me, because I have gone to a lot of time and expense to educate myself and to build firing systems with keyed and dead-switch safeties.

You can have the pyrotechnician supply and load the effects (at a huge premium!). The best idea is to contact a technician before needing one. Discuss fees, supplies, can's and cant’s. That is a good way to have a general idea what the cost will be, and you can give the client an idea.

So the trick is to make sure that any show with pyro either has the $$$ needed in the fee - or, they handle all the above. Most of the shows I've been booked in handle all the requirements for pyro usage. I always ask, and get it in writing.

By the way, here in Nevada, there is a Magician's License. It covers the use of flash paper, cotton or string. But, beyond that, if you so much as light a match, an Open Flame Permit is required. (OK, I confess, I would not get a permit to light a match. But without one, an act can be stopped from performing. In fact, what convention here in Vegas had to change all the performers last-minute over Permit issues? (It was a couple of years ago.)

Anyone with the insurance can pull an Open Flame Permit. Since I do not keep the insurance, I use a pyro company to supply it for the event. With the guys I use, the fee for this is much smaller. Things differ slightly from state-to-state. But Zigmont has put it into as much of a nutshell as this complex subject will allow.

Hey, Zig, you have a strong computer savvy person in your family. Get to send The Magic Café a picture of a nice 25 5-second gerb-fountain for the fun icons that are available for putting into posts? That would give the pyromaniacs in our midst a picture of their innermost thoughts! Smile Meanwhile, maybe this one will suffice: Smile pp

Uh, back to the original question: is pyro really worth it? It’s more of a routining question than one about pyro law. So -

Fire regulation is just one of the factors in answering the question. The laws do limit the places where the act can be used. (Conversely, pyro opens up jobs that call for that kind of production value.) But, from a routining perspective – and taking all the laws governing the use of stage fire into consideration, I would still say “yes”
In some cases.

It is great for some effects, and distracting for others. The first question might be – does it become the most important thing in an effect? If so, then the magic becomes secondary to the pyro. Plenty of people do this, like rock stars. But for a magician, it is probably best to sell the magic, with pyro as an added theatrical and/or psychological value.

I do a few productions of J Scott Berry swords. On one, I used to toss a flash out and pull a sword from the fiery air. It turned out to be much stronger when I simply lit a match and, in the action of blowing out the match, find myself holding a sword. For another production, I produce the sword first, then point it into the sky where it is framed in a shower of sparks. In the first, the off handed “everyday” action of blowing out a match makes the production of the sword more amazing than doing it in a flash. In the latter, the sword comes from nowhere, and is punctuated by the pyro. Making sure the sword – and its appearing - were the points of interest were the important thing.

Now, take a prop like a Corvette. When Lance uses a curtain of pyro to produce his
‘vette, the car easily outweighs the pyro. None of the real effect is lost, and the pyro gives some time-misdirection, plus visual misdirection and an image retention - all strengthing the moment. But the Appearing Corvette is the most important thing in the audiences' mind, not the pyro.

It is mighty expensive to test effects to see where the pyro will help and where it will hurt. One answer to this question BEFORE spending the time and money, can be to think of the pyro as a prop. Now, there are times when the use of a prop being handled or an assistant entering are perfectly suitable to providing misdirection, or adding theatrical value. So it is with the pyro. Is it adding more than just sparks? Is there a psychological value as well? If not, then at least theatrical value?

Now, there are other times when you want tight focus on something, and looking at or rolling in a new prop would be distracting. At such a moment, a flash might not make the trick better. However, it is such a case-by-case thing!

I think the performance value of pyrotechnics is a question better suited to the subject of attention control than strictly about fire or sparks. In thinking of props – we know that sometimes a flashy prop is your best friend. Sometimes a flashy prop can kill the effect.

Here is an example of some props used in one routine, and how their psychological value was weighed. The effect is “Driving a Harley Through the Magician”. When I originally built this in 1980, it was pretty straightforward, with an ugly wooden frame to tie me into, and giant sheets of paper providing the cover. Recently, I built a new version, using fog as cover, rather than the paper. Now - I’m all kinds of excited about this thing, and the new frame was an archway rather than a doorway. Nice! I asked a friend how I should paint the archway. Marbling? Granite? Art-deco?

The friend answered, “The arch is the UNIMPORTANT thing on stage. The motorcycle is important. The handcuffs are important. But the audience should pass over the arch as not worth noticing. Make it smaller with black paint and a bright color accent, and let it go at that.”

I am really SOLD on my not-sleek archway! I painted the inside black, covered the outside surfaces with yellow & black Caution Tape, put a yellow caution light on the top (talk about dramatic and helpful lighting shadows and pulling the eyes away from the truth!), and rented a Canary Yellow Harley. The arch became a “functional” prop. All the excitement went to the bike, and to "the moment".

The point is – what are you making flashy – the motorcycle or the arch?

That is how I think through my pyro usage as well.

That’s my story and I’m, uh, stuck with it.

Pyrotechnically Yours, pp

P.S. Does anyone out there have a spell checker that recognizes the word
“routining”? I have used the word for years, and my spell checker hates it.
Kendrix
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I saw the "Driving the Harley through a Magician" at the Millenium Theater in Orlando. I am trying to be diplomatic, but it didn't fool anyone.
Magic74Josh
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Pennsylvania
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Where can I get information on pyro licensing in my state of PA? I tried to go to the ATF website, but cannot find anything, let me know if you can, thank you so much!
Magically Yours,
Magic74Josh
Magic7Josh@aol.com
zigmont
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First off you need to be train by a professional and then obtain a 1,000.000.00 fireworks insurance policy ( must be 25 years old or older)to aloow you to shoot. That is almost impossible to get (with the 9/11 event) theses day for a start up pyrotechnic company and does cost a bundle. No one will let you shoot without the insurance

The ATF permit is a serious step as they will interview you and you need to know all the rules and bylaws or you will not get the permit. They inspect every few months as well.This permit is for the use of powders and buying all pyrotechnics.You will not be able to store pyro on your property and have a secondary approved storage for the event you have storage.

The local fire depts or Fire marshall will require you to know the National Fire Protection Association standards and codes of 1126 and be Certified along with the insurance and ATF permits.

PA does not have a state license and you will have to deal with the State fire marshal office;
Commander
Fire Marshal Section
Pennsylvania State Police
1800 Elmerton Avenue
Harrisburg, PA 17110
717-783-5529

Step one - learn the ropes from a professional.
Zigmont
Magic F/X
tamaka
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California
17 Posts

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I use flash string, and fantasio candles, flash paper and such, and here in California you need a license for even these things. I have found if you want to make a good impressive illusion of fire in a bowl the La Flames are great. A bit expensive, but in my opinon well worth the money and we even fooled the fire marshall with them. You don't need a license to use them.
mforteath
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Tasmania, Australia
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You need a pyrotechnic licence to buy flash paper in Australia. I have developed a 'shot box' which fires individual gun powder shots electronically. It can cast a shot up to 10 meters in the air.
Darkwing
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Nashville Tn
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I use a piece of flash string in my manipulation act. Does that count as a pyrotechnic effect?
zigmont
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Lit by a glow plug, strike match or lighter in your hand, no it doesn't.

Use a squib or electric match with a remote.
Zigmont
Magic F/X
floridamagic
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lakeland Fl
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Here is the best advice if you want pyro done safe—hire Zigmont F/X. That's what I do.
Chezaday
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Naperville, IL
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Now I think everyone sees what can happen when you don't play it safe with pyro. I think this week's tragic event will change the use of pyro in all live performances. This will directly affect all magic with fire. My illusion show has safely used pyro for years, because I go by the rules and play it safe. I don't know if we will ever be able to legally use pyro in a show again. The night club tragedy reminds us just how fragile life can be.
Kevin Ridgeway
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V.I.P.
Indianapolis, IN & Phoenix, AZ
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Chezady has said it correctly. Even those that play by the rules now may be turned down just because the venue is going to be extra cautious. Interesting that you make this your first post. Just ribbing you Steve. Hey we will be in Chicago for The Halloween and party show. Are you going to be there? Email me when you get a chance.

Kevin
http://www.livingillusions.com
kevin@livingillusions.com
Living Illusions
Ridgeway & Johnson Entertainment Inc

Kevin Ridgeway &
Kristen Johnson aka Lady Houdini
The World's Premier Female Escape Artist

www.LadyHoudini.com

www.livingillusions.com
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