The annual Cavalcade of Lights pyrotechnic show fired from Toronto’s iconic City Hall is an event where Danger Boy really ratchets it up a few notches. Cavalcade takes place every November, and is the official lead up to the Christmas season in Toronto. We have had the opportunity to be a part of this production for many years now and it is always a privilege. This is the largest pyro and fireworks show held in an urban, downtown setting in Canada and that in itself creates many challenges and opportunities.
In order to keep this show fresh, and to stand out, we work with our performance division, Circus Orange, to come up with some pyro/performance hybrid elements. This gives the event a special flavor, and makes the production a lot of fun for our entire team. Instead of creating just a pyro and fireworks display, we step it up a notch by designing a unique performance with live stunt elements that usually take place right on the building itself.
In 2008 we staged two pyro rappellers from each of the two towers of City Hall. These daredevil stunt performers had large revolving pyro backpacks that fired remotely in sync to the music. For this stunt we created our own special pyro proof ropes, and we feel that we are at the forefront of the stunt industry for our ability to work with pyro in a rope access environment.
Another year we created “Pyro Man”, a live action super-hero capable of climbing the 330’ high east tower of City Hall in thirty-seconds and then leaping from the east tower to the west all while bringing his pyro goodness wherever he went. In reality “Pyro Man” was played by five different stunt professionals who each performed one aspect of this extremely complex gag. We implemented everything from an ascender gag to a super high-angle pyro zip line stunt to pull this one off.
Cavalcade of lights is one of our favorite shows because it has grown with us. It is a show where we are given the opportunity to develop new effects and stunts in a familiar, local environment. The production team at Toronto Special Events is second to none and we always have a good time no matter how cold it gets outside. Much of what we have developed for Cavalcade we have taken out in the world and implemented on other sites and events.
When our partner company, Circus Orange, got the 18 day contract for an outdoor spectacle show at the Canadian National Exhibition (The EX) in Toronto, we really needed to up the scale of our special effects, stunt and rigging design.
This show was to revolve around a one ton dramatic flying set piece called “The JumpJet”. This jet was to appear just like a real live flying vertical take off jet with theatrical, aerial and stunt performances taking place on and beneath the flying framework.
We spent a month designing, fabricating and testing the JumpJet rig at our shop before any of the complex theatrical and stunt elements were layered on top.
Simulated jet engines were what the story called for to create the illusion of lift enabling flight. We created this by mounting our custom liquid flame generators in a hydraulically angled body designed to look like a jet engine. When the action called for the jet engines it was the combination of live sound effects with the thirty foot long flames that gave the appearance of the real thing. Because these were liquid flames they could be fired just as effectively horizontally or even straight down!
The second part of the illusion was actually getting the whole Jump Jet rig off the ground so it appeared to “fly”. This we did with a 70 ton industrial crane and some complex rigging that would give us full control of every axis. The JumpJet could pitch, roll and yaw just like the real thing. In the dark night’s sky the crane vanished leaving just the illusion of a mad max styled contraption high in the sky.
We rigged a circus trapeze and bungee act below the JumpJet and a live action stunt scene above. One particularly dramatic moment in the action called for an engine “malfunction” to send the JumpJet into a spiral to earth with the pilot character hanging by one arm from the wingtip. We stunt coordinated and provided all the training and stunt safety protocols for this aspect of the show as well.
This show called on all of our specialized services to “get off the ground” and was a dream gig for us. There were many other unique aspects to this performance and we invite you to read more on the JumpJet page of our partner company Circus Orange’s web site.
In September of 2016 DangerBoy was very pleased to once again work with our performance partner Circus Orange in order to assist them in staging a custom, vertical wall dance performance on the side of a building as part of the SuperCrawl festival in Hamilton, Ontario.
What is a “vertical wall dance performance” you ask? Well, imaging taking a flat stage and turning it 90° so that it now stands straight up and down (think wall, side of building etc.). Now attach eight performers to an intricate dynamic rigging system that redirects back down to our four VisualACT high-speed, computer controlled winches. Voila – Wall Dance!
The team first rehearsed the show and worked out the choreography on the ground before adding in the vertical element. Next, for a week we rehearsed at our facility on a custom built wall structure designed to simulate the actual venue, or, to be more precise, the side of the venue After that we moved the whole system to the performance site in downtown Hamilton and re rigged it on the building where the performance was to take place. At that site we rehearsed for another week and really fine-tuned the show and the choreography. Eighty or so precise cues were written, costumes, music, pyro and effects were layered on and then came the big night. How did the show go? Well, the team blew the audience away with something they have never seen before and everyone had an amazing time. Thanks SuperCrawl for staging this amazing event and for trusting us to play on the side of your building.
This was the debut of our new VisualACT high-speed winch system and we were very pleased with the results. This time around the show was staged on a six storey building. Next time we are looking for something a little taller. Anyone have any 60 storey buildings that you would like to see turned into a vertical canvas?
A few years ago the Danger Boy team had the fantastic opportunity to work with Sir Richard Branson and the Virgin Mobile Group to create a dynamic stunt for their “Escape Your Cell” live event. We were asked to both stunt coordinate, rig and fabricate all the props for a live stunt to be performed by Branson himself. The show was to be held at Yonge-Dundas Square in the heart of downtown Toronto.
Branson gave interviews all morning from a jail cell situated in the middle of the square. His cell was a poke at other cell phone companies and how, at the time, they didn’t make it easy to change providers and keep your current number. With the new number portability rules in Canada, Branson wanted to make certain that everyone knew that they now had the power to change providers and keep their old phone number.
The Virgin Mobile stunt that we implemented involved Branson himself shackled inside the steel jail cell hoisted fifty feet above the square suspended only from an industrial crane. Suddenly there was a huge pyro explosion, the jail cell blew apart in mid air and Branson was free! He then threw down an exceptionally long bed sheet (as you do when escaping from jail) and climbed down to safety. The crowd went wild!
“I felt totally safe and secure. The stunt went completely according to plan and was a huge success”
~Sir Richard Branson – Virgin GroupThis was a challenging, stressful and extremely fun project for us. It brought together many of the components that Circus Orange does best – stunts, rigging, fabrication and pyrotechnics. The tricky part here was that the stunt was not going to be implemented by one of our trained stunt professionals but rather by the A-list celebrity Sir Richard Branson. The other exciting part was that Branson was scheduled to arrive the morning of the stunt and our lead stunt coordinator, Tom Comet, would have a mere 15 minutes to brief him on his role. To say that this stunt had to be “turn-key” would be an understatement!
This was a very interesting project that started out with a relatively innocent question from one of our long-standing clients. The question was, “what do you know about Tesla coils?” Well it turns out our technical director, Tom Comet, worked extensively with Tesla coils a number of years ago on a TV show for the Discovery Channel. What a coincidence…
This time around the Tesla coil was to be part of a large set piece that would play a key role in the Chevy Volt launch held at Yonge-Dundas Square in downtown Toronto. We custom built a pedestal stand for an extremely large coil and incorporated the Chevy Volt graphics. Tesla coil demonstrations were staged throughout the day from 10am to 8:30pm.
In this case it was the car, the Tesla coil itself and the 2 million volt electrical streamers that fired 6-8’ off the top of the coil that was the featured attraction. People were blown away by this high voltage spectacle and it drew a lot of attention throughout the day. It was really interesting to work with high-voltage special effects and something that we hope to work into future performances and events.
When music video director Chris Stacey was looking for some awesome flame effects for the band Manafest, he had to look no further than Danger Boy. This video was shot outdoors, at night, in downtown Hamilton, Ontario and the idea was that it had that gritty, raw quality.
Our Sigma Propane Dragons were the perfect match for Chris’s directorial vision. We set them up behind the band, and created elaborate chase sequences perfectly timed to the music. The nice thing about propane effects such as this is there is zero fallout and the effect can be precisely controlled so that it is exactly the same every time. Flame height can be adjusted as required, making our Propane Dragons the perfect choice for large stadiums, concert tours, or outdoor shoots such as this.
We recently partnered up again with photographer, Matt Barnes, and Westside Studios to work on a firefighter training shoot at the Brantford Municipal Airport. As always, this team is a blast to work with, and the shoot has been one of our best days on site to date! Check out the gallery below for some behind-the-scenes stills we took!
Danger Boy recently had the honor of creating a custom high-elevation pyrotechnic show for the opening night of the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto. This show was an extra special event for us as we were given special permission to fire our pyro off the historic Toronto landmark, the Princes’ Gates.
Now we love pyro and we especially love it when we get to fire pyro off of an interesting piece of architecture as it just adds so much to the show. Add to that the fact that the Princes’ Gates are an historic landmark and this made for one truly awesome show! We had great weather, a fantastic turn out and the show went off perfectly. Now, to just convince our friends at The EX to do it every year…
Well it is video game launch season again and that means some super fun, FX laden events for the team at Danger Boy. This recent event we just completed for Sunset Overdrive was particularly awesome due to the amazing props and effects seen in the game. Our job was to recreate these props and effects safely in real life as an “experiential” marketing experience for hundreds of eager gamers. We helped crate an interactive “mayhem playground” where gamers could enter a cordoned off 60′ X 60′ area, and basically cause as much havoc as they wanted for two whole minutes. Crazy! There is nothing better than when your job description includes building teddy bear launchers and making 500 gallons of green slime! Here is a little video with some of the highlights.