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?
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.
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.
To say that our work here at Danger Boy is diverse would be an understatement, particularly these past couple of weeks. One of the more “out there” stunts that we have been asked to create this past year was an epic battle between Romans and Barbarians that took place last Monday in Yonge-Dundas Square. This live stunt was for the Toronto launch of the of the new Xbox One console, and specifically to create a lot of buzz around the next gen exclusive game called Ryse®: Son of Rome.
Danger Boy was asked to design a dynamic fight scene between fourteen authentically costumed Roman and Barbarian stunt performers. The battle was complete with pyrotechnic arrows (hey, it’s a video game and doesn’t have to be completely based on reality…), background explosions, and lots and lots of blood, guts and gore when the Romans inevitably kicked the Barbarians to the curb.
We spent weeks in the shop and the costume department building everything from battle axes to authentic buckskin Barbarian costumes. The most fun we had was in creating the blood effects. Usually we are doing blood for film and TV where there is time to “reset” between camera takes when the blood can be added, or cleaned up as needed. This was not the case in this five minute long live stunt where we had just one take to get it right. For this dynamic live action stunt we designed and built custom, wirelessly triggered, “blood belt packs” that could pump out up to a half a liter of blood from any of the eight characters who got axed during the scene. The fake blood was plumbed to any part of their body via surgical tubing and could be triggered in any sequence based on the live timing of the event.
This stunt show that we did for X-Box Ryse® represents a new form of advertising that we are being asked to help create content for more and more of these days. I call it viral stunt marketing. The goal is twofold: 1) to make a scene for the live audience and certainly impress the hell out of them and 2) for the content created by the stunt to hopefully go “viral” on social media sites like Facebook, Youtube and Instagram. It is a different way to think about stunt performances, choreography and story but we are really enjoying some of the new venues and opportunities it is opening up for us.
It was a huge amount of work for a five minute show but it was also a lot of fun and the kind of thing that we hope to have the opportunity to do again sometime soon.
Danger Boy recently went to Mexico with our sister company Circus Orange to implement all their pyrotechnics, special effects and rigging. When we work in a foreign country we always work with a “local license” on the pyro side of things. This local company helps us with all of our local pyro needs, from sourcing to transportation, on site storage and show day implementation. In the case of our show in Mexico, the local company encouraged us to use locally manufactured pyro. This video documents some of our experiences with this Mexican pyro.
This past Monday the Danger Boy stunt team had the awesome opportunity to create a dramatic live stunt for the X-Box Call of Duty: Ghosts release in Toronto. The site was Yonge-Dundas Square, which was made up to look just like a military encampment with everything from real Humvee vehicles to training exercises, costumed performers with replica firearms and, of course, demos of the awesome new Call of Duty video game.
Danger Boy was asked to create stunt performance to fit in with this scene. Our client wanted something truly over the top so we went out and sourced a real ex-Canadian military Kiowa helicopter, and rigged it so that it could be hoisted 60’ in the air by an industrial crane. We then created a stunt scenario where the helicopter appeared to be “shot up” and catch fire while “flying” above the square. The two characters inside were forced to throw down ropes and rappel down to safety with the help of a “ground control” character waving signal flares.
Of course this whole scene was done with special effects magic, pyrotechnics, and our daredevil stunt rappellers. The whole thing was then made even more real with the live sound effects from our friend Mr. Ian Goodtimes. We performed the stunt twice just before midnight, and it had a huge impact on the crowd of eager gamers who all seemed to appreciate seeing the action of their favorite game come to life right before their eyes.
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.