Jands Vista Sends Campbells Cove Up In Flames

Posted on Tuesday, June 21st, 2011


One of the most popular events at this year’s Vivid Festival held in Sydney was FireDance, an incredible performance of dancing flames choreographed to music, the likes of which has never been seen in Australia before.

Using forty jets of flame higher than a three-story house, FireDance exploded several times a night every night of Vivid Sydney – making Campbells Cove in the Rocks, the world’s biggest campfire!

Choreographed to music using the same technology that controls the Harbour Bridge fireworks every New Year’s Eve, FireDance featured two different shows, alternating between each other on the eighteen incendiary nights of Vivid Sydney. One show was more pop music with the firejet flames dancing to the Katie Perry hit Firework, remixed by renowned artist Peewee Ferris, whilst the other show saw them in a choreographed balletic performance to the magic of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite.

FireDance was produced and created by Howard & Sons Pyrotechnics, a fourth generation family business and leading exponents of flame-projector technology. FireDance uses a pressurised non-toxic hydrocarbon liquid in its FireJets, and its poetry and warmth could be felt literally tens of metres away.

Howard & Sons trialed a new method of flame delivery; ripping the optics out of some cheap moving head fixtures and mounting their flame heads in them!

“It was pretty challenging but now we’ve proved it can work we will probably do it with a better quality moving head,” explained Stuart Bensley, Designer and Project Manager of Fire Dance. “The Jands Vista was controlling all the flame heads and moving heads; about 160 channels of DMX to control 38 Flame heads and 4 moving head fixtures. We had a Vista S1 connected to an iMac and also a full redundancy system too, both running off timecode so we could swap over if needed.”

Stuart further explains that timing is extremely intricate with the FireJets and that an on and off command 15/100th of a second apart produces a completely different effect.

“That’s why the Jands Vista is so good,” he remarked. “The way the timeline works is perfect for this as you can manipulate the FireJets very quickly and accurately. Each show has thousands of cues in it and is very complicated. I did discover that programming moving lights is a hell of a lot easier than programming the flames!”

The show proved so popular, more and more show times were announced throughout the festival and ultimately approximately 260 shows were successfully staged.

“We didn’t have one technical problem and didn’t miss one show due to weather,” said Stuart.