Interview with Team Innovative Pyrotechnik

I met with Joachim Berner, competing for the second time in Montreal with his company IP (Innovative Pyrotechnik), but appearing here for the 11th time, having assisted with Lünig Feuerwerk, Nico Feuerwerk (who had acquired Lünig), IPON, and San Tai over many years since the start of the competition in 1985.

Joachim told me his company had recently brought out an updated version of the ubiquitous PyroDigital field controller, as his company had purchased the rights at the beginning of the year from Pyrodigital Consultants. Ipon’s Gold-Jupiter winning display in 1997 was a landmark in the development of the pyromusical as it was the most complex display fired in Montreal up until that date and still remains in my top three displays ever witnessed in the competition. Joachim explained the challenge of having to use three laptops to contain the script, which was too large for the software at the time. Fast-forward to 2017 and the latest field controller is 15x faster than the previous versions and has 5x the capacity, while remaining backwards-compatible with all existing field controllers and firing modules.

Next Generation Pyrodigital Field Controller

For the display itself, Joachim said the term “Rhapsody” was used deliberately as the definition is a “work that is episodic yet integrated, free-flowing in structure, featuring a range of highly contrasted moods, colour and tonality”. Previously, Joachim has worked with mainly classical repertoire for pyromusicals but noted, this time, some of the pieces are by modern young composers such as Phil Coulter, Yiruma and Philip Glass. The soundtrack was put together by Joachim, but with some suggestions from his colleague Ulrich Fricke, who had suggested Echnaton by Philip Glass. The finale piece is from a modern opera composed by the Flemish composer Johan de Meij.

Joachim said the conception and design of the show took around four weeks, with several more weeks needed for the logistics to put it all together. He would have liked to come to Montreal more often, but due to the amount of work his company has it’s difficult.

The pyrotechnic material used comes from a variety of manufactures with Benito Pagano making some special 8-break shells with customized timing on the breaks to fit exactly to the music. IP also manufactured most of the products on ramp 3 (as well as shells) and other manufactures included Ricasa (Spain), San Tai (Taiwan), Nico (Germany), MP (California) for special comets that have a military name(!), and a small Chinese company of only 60 whose name I didn’t capture. Ipon (Italy) also manufactured many shells, including 21-bombette 200mm cylindrical shells. The largest calibres used in the show will be 250mm. Ramp 5 will not be used due to many special effects that will be on or over the lake. The show will have around 5500 cues.

Joachim Berner

Joachim was surprised to learn that the countries competing this year were selected by the public and was happy to hear that Germany was one of those on the list! WHen asked why people should attend, Joachim said that the audience will see a very special show with new effects and music not heard before in pyromusicals. Let’s hope the positive weather forecast persists!

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