United States – July 20th – Western Enterprises

Dance to the Colours of Life

Designed by Gary Caimano, Pyroseeking firing with 165 32-cue modules ~5000 cues

Perfect weather greeted the American team for their return to Montreal. Bitten by heavy thunderstorms during their inaugural presence, it looked like the night was set for a flawless show. Despite it being a Wednesday, a large audience were in attendance to witness this colourful display.

Gary had promised the display would start “hard”, and so, with a techno mix for the opening musical segment, dazzling flames erupted from ramp 5 as comets and mines flew up from ramp 3 with multi-break shells bursting above. And so the stage was set for a soundtrack that proceeded with nary a pause throughout the almost 32-minute display.

The quality of the low-level effects as well as the matching shells above was really superb. Bright colours with up to four or five colour changes. Possibly due to the wind, the display seemed very tall, with all of the shells rising to great heights. The close proximity of ramp five also enhanced this perception. The interplay between the ramps was good and the sky was often filled. Firing patterns were quite unique, again emphasizing the vertical area. Less use seemed to be made of outward-facing angles, though arcs of bombettes and smaller calibre shells often filled in horizontally. Ramp 5 contained more material than any other display I can remember, with, again, the close proximity magnifying the effect.

There were some interesting firing patterns used, particularly the horizontal gold mines that were fired from ramps 3 and 4 at one point. Sadly, though, these more interesting patterns were typically not repeated. The variety of shells used was quite large, though there was a lot of repetition of shell type, made variable more by colour than anything else. The multi-colour changing stars were very impressive, though, as were the other effect transitions used in the comets. Some nice pattern shells, particularly butterflies with rings of crossettes, as well as some nice “ghost shell” effects. Some of the colour changes were also synchronized to the music – this was particularly evident in David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” piece where red stars transitioned to blue at just the right moment. One other stand-out product was what Gary had called “plumes”. These were also used in their 2010 display and are form of sky-mine that transitions to a horsetail effect. Firing these left and right at angles produced some nice visual angled mine effects in the sky.

Synchronization of this display was different from others I’ve seen. Note-sequenced mines were used in the famous Reflections of Earth piece (composed specially for the fireworks at Disney’s Epcot park), but in other places it was less evident. Gary had said in the interview that he didn’t synchronize shell bursts to the beats in the music.

I was surprised to find that the soundtrack was not as engaging as I thought it might be. Most of the transitions between pieces were immediate, hardly giving a moment’s pause before the next track was already playing. This lead me to think the variety of the soundtrack was somewhat lacking, giving a feeling of the same pace and intensity most of the time, though there were calmer segments. There were a few surprising places where not much was firing, leading me to wonder if there were any technical issues as these seemed out of character with the rest of the high-energy display. This, unfortunately, lead to an anticlimactic finale of gold, which seemed to end suddenly with less intensity than the more energetic moments earlier in the display, where we had had many salute barrages etc. The audience also seemed surprised, although they cheered the team, they did not give a standing ovation. Later, when I returned to the salon des artificiers, I noticed out of the corner of my eye that many racks on ramp 2 seemed to still have their plastic coverings in place.

All in all, this was a very good display by Western Enterprise and was of a much higher quality than their 2010 debut. The quality of their Skyworks own-brand material was really excellent. I enjoyed the display overall, but felt there was something a little bit lacking – I think the design style gave more the impression of a sequence of snapshots rather than a sequenced holistic work, though there were many enjoyable scenes created. The anticlimactic finale turned out to be due to a technical issue, as I found out the next day, so at least it made sense as I’m sure the real finale would have been of the appropriate calibre to fit with the rest of the display. So far, this display is in the top 3, though was my least favourite soundtrack. With two more hot contenders still to come, it is going to be an interesting fight for the podium this year!

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