I met with Alain Carboneau, president of Apogée fireworks, which he incorporated as a joint-venture with Parente in 2001. Alain has been in the fireworks industry for many decades and ran the international competition in Gatineau for several years. He often produces international shows for Parente and has won competitions such as Pyrnoale in Berlin (2008), Fiori di Luce in Italy (2010). Apogée are the exclusive distributor in North America of Italian products from Parente (together with their manufacturing division, Pirico) as well as Pirotecnia Turis (Spain).
Alain told me he got the call to confirm his producing the opening show for this year’s season on 24th December 2015, giving him a special Christmas present. Alain has worked on several competition shows in Montreal over the years and he said he’s thrilled to be producing his own show here for the first time.
As the opening show is out-of-competition, he said there is less pressure than there would be if he was a competitor, but he still wants to do a grandiose display and demonstrate his talents. Using Chinese material from Big Top fireworks as well as Parente and Pirico, Alain assured me there would be some surprises in the show. He said he works to a traditional Italian/Spanish methodology of using time delays for chains of shells (rather than multiple e-matches), something he said speeds the setup of his displays. Design is done by excel spreadsheet “and my head” and the display will be fired by the FireMaster wireless firing system (for which Apogée are the North American representatives). Alain noted he had produced over 50 pyromusicals using this system at the Gatineau competition – all fired without any technical problems. The relatively modest cue-count of 850 is largely as a result of the delay-chain methodology.
A challenge for this display is that the musical is played by the 22nd Canadian Regiment and each of the thirteen pieces has a somewhat similar structure (as does most film music) in that the piece starts slowly and then builds to a crescendo. Alain said it was a challenge to come up with a design that would accommodate this type of music but he believes he has done so, as well as incorporating some special effects such as moving broom sticks (for the Harry Potter music). He also mentioned some clever interplay between different levels that will be seen during the Mario Bros. music – you have to be there on-site to appreciate these!
On a technical level, ramp 3 will have nine main positions together with some nautical effects, but ramp 5 (the floating pontoons) will not be used. Alain mentioned that he moved some cakes to ramp 2 (instead of ramp 3) in case there might be problems with smoke if there is no wind.