HIGH VOLTAGE TESLA COIL FOR MARINA ABRAMOVIC AT LUMINATO FESTIVAL

This is great example of why we love to answer the phone around here:

Hello, is this Danger Boy?
Yes, how may I help you?
Do you guys know anything about tesla coils?
Well as a matter of fact, we do. We actually own one of the largest non-scientific tesla coils in Canada and have demonstrated its awesome capabilities at both live events and for TV stunts. Our head Danger Boy, Tom Comet, hosted a two hour special on the Discovery Channel all about high-voltage and tesla coils.
Oh… Well I guess I found the right place…

A couple of months ago one of the producers at the Luminato Festival contacted Danger Boy to see if we would be willing to provide a tesla coil and the on-site implementation and stunt coordination for a very unique high voltage effect (HVFX).  The world famous performance artist Marina Abramović was coming to Toronto and wanted to perform an interactive exhibition entitled PrototypeA large, multi chambered tent was to be built in Trinity Bellwoods Park in Toronto and the audience was to be guided through from room to room in groups of four by the pre recorded voice of Abramović playing via a headphones.  The attendees would have various experiences along the way, each based on the artist’s previous works. One of these experiences would involve a tesla coil.

When the participants entered the tesla coil room they would be told to pick up a fluorescent tube.  They would then be told to stand in proximity to the coil.  When the coil fired the fluorescent tubes were to light up creating a very unique experience.  The electricity would transfer wirelessly through the air and light up the tubes though no shock would be felt.  Just the faint smell of ozone in the air.

A tesla coil is a high voltage resonant transformer invented in 1891 by Nikola Tesla.  It takes low-voltage electricity and steps it up through a unique configuration of transformers and coupled resonant electrical circuits to create high-voltage, low-current alternating power.  The end result is an impressive looking device capable of creating high voltage streamer trails (electrical discharges) from 12” all the way up to 10’ in length.

High voltage electricity is not something to be taken lightly, especially when the public is involved.  Right from the start we viewed this demonstration as a stunt and took all the appropriate precautions.  A custom tesla coil and a back up unit was built up to meet all the appropriate Canadian regulations.  Here in Ontario we have the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) who have jurisdiction over all things electrical.  It took a while to convince them that a device capable of creating 250,000 volts is actually safe.  The thing is that our coil only produces that voltage at 1 milliamp which is far below the lethal level for humans.  Even so, we had to build a custom polycarbonate box to enclose the coil to guarantee that no one could get too close.  Their mandate was that no one could get shocked during this demonstration.

It took some long nights but we got there in the end.  The coil is up and running in the show throughout the week until next Sunday.  If you want to experience our tesla coil and a series of other unique experiences I urge you to go and see Abramović’s Prototype at Luminato Festival.

For more information on Danger Boy’s HVFX click here.

SPECIAL EFFECTS PHOTO SHOOT

Yesterday the special effects team at Danger Boy had the fantastic opportunity of working on an exclusive photo shoot with Allan Davey and his team from Allan Davey Photography.  The goal of this photo shoot was to capture extremely high resolution images of some of our very best flame effects.  This was a terrific excuse to fire off some of our favorite flame effects over and over, outside of the normal constraints of a show (no time deadlines, no audience perimeters, no formal cues etc.)  This was a dream gig!

We started by helping his team set up a large black background so the flame effects could be “separated” from the rest of the image in post production (Photoshop).  Allan Davey is a master at creating extremely complex photo montages made up of many photos and individual elements.  He creates a lot of book covers for authors as well as corporate marketing for the aviation industry.  He told me that sometimes he will be asked to create detailed photos of air planes that don’t even exist yet.  He will be given just the specifications and has to create a better than lifelike representation using photo elements from other objects.  His work is really is amazing and you really need to see it.

We started the shoot with one of our propane dragon units.  This is a propane gas effect that fires a repeatable, billowy fireball up to 15’ high.  Right away I could see that Allan was getting some spectacular shots and we weren’t the only ones having our dream gig.  He was shooting on a Phase One, 60 megapixel camera so the detail he was able to pull out of the flames was like nothing I had ever seen before.  I felt like I was seeing flame for the very first time in his viewfinder window.  Amazing!

Next up we moved on to shooting one of our liquid flame throwers.  This unit we built ourselves and I still don’t think any other effects company has anything quite like it.  Our hand held flame thrower is capable of firing very long, skinny flames up to 30’.  What makes it unique is the fact that the flame can be fired in any direction from vertical to horizontal and even straight down.  It is like writing with fire in the sky!  Our flame thrower is extremely precise which is why we use it when we are doing shows with Circus Orange where we fire it right under trampoline performers as they jump high above the flames.  Again, Allan Davey and his team got some wicked shots of this custom flame effect.

We saved the biggest effect for last – a pair of gas bombs.  What is a gas bomb you ask?  Well, this is a staple effect in movie special effects industry –   a 50’ diameter fireball explosion that lights up the night sky.  When you see the huge fireballs when cars are blown up on film you are probably witnessing a variation on a gasoline bomb.  A gas bomb is an effect that we fabricate out of black powder and gasoline and assemble by hand in a large steel V-pan mortar with extra strong ¼” steel side walls.  It is an effect that needs to be treated with the utmost respect and it is always worth the effort.

I think everyone was very impressed with our massive gas bomb fireballs and all the effects fired last night.  I know I will be impressed with Allan Davey’s photos once he is through manipulating them at his studio.  We will post some of the results here as they become available to us.  Oh, and we are already planning our next joint venture photo shoot with Allan and his team.  He said he wants to shoot our high voltage Tesla coil.  It is another one of our effects that I have never been able to get a good photo of but I just bet that Allan can.  We will keep you posted.

Here are some of the photos we took during the shoot.  THESE ARE NOT ALLAN DAVEY’S SHOTS – his will be posted at a later date.

DANGER BOY TO PROVIDE ALL THE FLYING EFFECTS & RIGGING FOR TV SHOW

We are super excited to announce that Danger Boy has been asked to provide all the performer fly rigging for the new show called Japanizi. This show is based on those crazy Japanese stunt shows where the contestants do insane stunts and appear to really hurt themselves. The twist here is that it is all done with kids (and they don’t hurt themselves). It has been a lot of fun coming up with custom fly gags for some of the unique “games” that the producers have designed up with for the show. We will have more information on this project once the show airs.