We get to create some pretty awesome practical effects at Danger Boy on a very regular basis but it is always fun to partner with another creative company in order to create something larger than we could even dream up. This is exactly what happened recently when our good friend Allan Davey from Davey Photo asked us to provide some flame effects and stunts for a fantasy photo montage that he was building up from scratch. Allan builds up spectacular photos out of unusual individual elements. He shoots with the best gear available and then brings a bunch of disassociated images together in Photoshop where he creates finished shots that totally blow your mind. Allan is the kind of artist that I admire most. He has the technical skills to get the very most out of his gear but he also has the creative ability to take the imagery that exists within his head and make it real. Here is a brief overview of how we worked with Allan Davey to help him create the stunning photo you see above.
A few months back Allan and his team shot a bunch of our flame effects outdoors on a black background. We used our propane “dragons”, our liquid flame throwers and even fired off a few of the huge 40’ diameter gas bomb effects to suitably impress the boys who spend too much time working with Photoshop fire.
After Allan had all the flame he could handle he went back to his studio and shot everything from cabbage leaves to zoo animals in order to create the montage for his fantasy dragon. I don’t know how you turn a cabbage leaf into a dragon but I am not sure I want to sit in front of a computer long enough to learn either. I guess that is why I do effects and Allan does photos.
He then added in the flame effects shot earlier in the year to create a truly spectacular fire breathing dragon photo. For most photographers this probably would have been enough but Allan is a bit like us so he chose to step it up a few more notches. He called me up and said that he wanted his fire breathing dragon to be roasting someone. “We can do that!”
Allan and his team came back to our shop ( I think they like it here) and we did a fire burn day. Our lead stunt coordinator Tom Comet did the “hero shot” burn for the actual photo. Tom has been performing burn stunts for over 10 years now and still enjoys the smell of singed eyebrows from time to time.
As fire burn stunts are not something that we get to do every day so we set this job up as a workshop and photoshoot so some of our team who have not been involved in burn stunts could experience what it was like to do partial burns and be on the stunt safety side of it. It was a great day, no one got hurt and we got to help make some incredible art.
Photo by Allan Davey Photography
Thanks again goes out to Allan Davey for the opportunity of working together.
Danger Boy has done a few TV segments on Discovery Channel’s Daily Planet before and we always have a lot of fun with them. It is one of the few shows left on Discovery that still has more science than BS and we appreciate that. Last week they asked us for some assistance as they were doing a segment on police surveillance drones (AKA quadcopters, UAVs etc) and they wanted Danger Boy to “spice it up” a bit with some real world explosions. This sounded super exciting as we love big blow ups and, drones are something that we have been getting into recently with the purchase of our shop DJI Phantom quadcopter. Right away we loved the Phantom quadcopter but we realize that it is just a consumer model. We were really looking forward to seeing what the real high end surveillance drones could do.
Our team gathered on an secret site near Burlington Ontario where the police are allowed to blow stuff up whenever they like. We then staged a couple of pretty large scale gas bombs directly behind the Daily Planet host Ziya Tong. In her opening sequence the police drone hovered overhead capturing the shot as Ziya read her intro. On cue we set off a 40’ diameter gas bomb went off behind her and everyone loved it. Ziya then interviewed our old friend Andy Olesen of the Peel Region police and they talked drones. It will be a fun segment.
After the shoot was over we still had one “hit” left. Now you can’t really disassemble a gas bomb and take it home. Not safely at anyway… We decided to blow this one off with our own drone (AKA Danger Drone) hovering very close above with a GoPro in tow. Check out the crazy video we got of the gas bomb exploding right from Danger Drone’s POV. It was literally covered in gas at the end of that shot but all is well though and Danger Drone will certainly live to fly another day.
Thanks to everyone who helped put this dangerous outing together: The Peel Police and the Daily Planet.
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.