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.
The DangerBoy rigging team just finished up WEDay Toronto where we provided two unique flying effects for the concert event and the live TV broadcast.
The first flying effect was for the lead singer from the band Hedley and this one proved to be a very challenging indeed. The goal was to reenact a scene from Hedley’s recent music video Can’t Slow Down where the lead singer Jacob Hoggard is seen riding his track bike through various scenes and dance sequences.
For the WEDay Toronto live event we set up an automated 2D rig build around our VisualAct flying winch system. This 2D fly system enabled us to fly Jacob from one stage at the Air Canada Centre (ACC) to another about 15’ above the stage deck with millimeter precision. Next came the really tricky part… In order to make this effect work our team had to fabricate a custom, wireless rotate head so when the rider changed directions and came back across the stage in the other direction he was facing forward at all times. We also had to build a custom, fully adjustable spreader bar to suspend and balance the bicycle and the rider while suspended in the air. Phew…
For our second fly gag at WEDay Toronto we orchestrated a complex lowering effect where Jason Derulo appeared “from out of nowhere” and flew down onto the stage deck. Here again, we used our high speed, performer rated winch system but thistime in a simplier lowering configuration. The trick here was that for this act we had to load the performer onto our system from the catwalk 100’ above the stage and get him out into his start position on the high steel beams that support the roof of the ACC. Now, our team regularly traverses beams 100’ up and higher and for us this is easily done. A-list rock stars like Jason Derulo aren’t so accustomed to heights so for this stunt we had to design the rigging and the choreography with him in mind so that he was safe, comfortable and felt 100% confident in the stunt at all times. This gag was the opening to his song and dance number so he had to perform immediately after the lowering stunt so there could be no hickups or missed cues getting him to the stage.
Both our flying stunts at WEDay Toronto worked flawlessly and really impressed both the live and TV audience. The live nature of the event added extra stress but made it all more exciting as well. The show was a huge amount of work but our team rose to the task and pulled it off flawlessly. Thanks to everyone who was involved and helped out along the way, we are looking forward to doing it again next year!
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.
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.
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.
Last week we had the pleasure of bringing the folks from Discovery Channel’sDaily Planet down to check out our exciting FogScreen® technology. We always have a great time working with these guys, and can’t wait for more opportunities to collaborate with them in the future.
In the ongoing quest to bring our clients the best selection of practical special effects in Canada, we are super-excited to announce that we now offer lasers. We have systems from small, self-contained club and corporate sized lasers to full featured, multi-laser systems for large touring shows. We can even provide very powerful lasers for use in outdoor settings.
We recently had a great example of how we can combine lasers with pyrotechnics at Toronto’s Cavalcade of Lights. For this project we added three high-powered lasers to our eight-minute long high elevation pyrotechnic show. In the past we had to allow time between songs for the smoke from the pyro to dissipate. This year we used the smoke to our advantage as it became the canvas for us to paint with 30w full spectrum lasers. It brought a new dimension to the overall show and we got a lot of great comments.
We plan to integrate lasers into more of our projects going forward and to offer them as a stand alone effect.
Photos of our lasers at this years Cavalcade:
Here is a video from this years Cavalcade that showcases our lasers outstandingly.