Interview with Team Pyro2000

I met with Graham Wilkinson, founder of Pyro2000 at the end of their second full day onsite. Graham founded Pyro2000 in 1996 with his life partner Kathryn after they both left the struggling Huddersfield-based British fireworks manufacturer Standard Fireworks. A sea change was taking place in the British fireworks market at the time with the introduction of products from China, Standard themselves becoming part of the Blackcat group.

Graham Wilkinson of Pyro2000

Graham Wilkinson of Pyro2000

Since the company’s inception in 1996, Pyro2000 has been involved in, and won, many competitions around the world. They achieved first prizes at the competitions in Monaco, Vancouver, Knokke-Heist (Belgium), Gatineau (Quebec) as well was two first prizes at the Chutes Montmorency competition in Quebec City.

I asked Graham why it had taken so long for them to come to Montreal and he told me that, due to the prestige of the Montreal competition, he wanted to make sure they were really ready to compete here. Now with two full years of using their FireOne firing system at large events, he said they were ready to fire the most complex display they’d ever designed . He also noted the size of the Montreal firing site demanded a reliable firing system good knowledge of how to use it.

Technical details here are that they are using 68 32-cue firing modules. Graham pointed out that most of their shells are grouped into chains using (parallel) pyrotechnic delays such that, if each shell had a cue, over 4000 cues would be required. All the shells are sourced from various companies in China, but due to shipping issues in the UK, all of their 1.1g material (i.e. shells of 8″, 10″ and 12″) were sourced from Zambelli Fireworks in the United States and shipped by road to Montreal. Graham noted that Zambelli were very helpful in this regard, even though they are also competitors this year.

Graham said he’d been working on the show for approximately six months and that he had sought music tracks from artists around the World and arranged them in such a way that there would be a mix of vocal and instrumental tracks building towards the finalé. He said that he believed the audience would all find tracks they’d enjoy, though, of course, it’s impossible to please everyone all the time. Graham’s son Gary, an amateur DJ, helped with the arranging and editing of the soundtrack.

Quite a few interesting set pieces are being built, though Graham noted one of the challenges of overseas competitors is that they can’t ship special structures back to their home countries after the display is over. So they had to innovate in the design of some pieces, such as the dancing ladies build of drivers and fountains sourced from fellow British company, Kimbolton Fireworks.

Asked which part of the show he was looking forward to most, he replied “all of it”! He said he’s looking forward to seeing his vision come to life on Saturday and emphasized the best place to view the display is from the grandstands at La Ronde to best appreciate all the low-level effects being used.

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