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 Montreal Fireworks Forum —› 2016 Display Reviews —› United States - Western Enterprises reviews
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Posted: Jul 20, 2016 23:21:13

Please post your reviews of the American display here!


Posted: Jul 21, 2016 03:40:15   Edited by: fredbastien

For its second appearance in the Montreal International Fireworks Competition, Western Enterprises performed a massive and powerful extravangaza, with great products and a very particular technical design. A huge quantity of fireworks has been setup on the 4th ramp, where about 12 firing positions were located around the perimeter of the circular roof, as well as on the 5th ramp, made of five floating platforms larger than usual (at least double size). It was a very good show, with significant improvements since their debut display in 2010, but it is difficult, at this stage of the competition, to make a prediction regarding the probability to see the American entrant on the podium.

Whereas the 2010 display began with a useless 1-minute introduction – basically to repeat the basic information provided during the protocol – without any light in the sky, this year performance started on techno musics, with very bright “spotlights” (they were actual pyros) blinding the audience from the fifth ramp, followed with comets and mines from background areas, as well as strobes, multibreak shells and loud crackling. That powerful opening was only the beginning of an unceasing display which kept the pace pretty high for almost 32 minutes.

Very soon, I realized that fireworks launched from the 3rd and, more obviously, the 5th ramps flew higher than usual, making it difficult to frame everything with my camera. That being said, it was great to be so close of these countless comets and mines ; it also permitted to highlight the depth of the firing area. Unfortunately, there was no nautical effect in this show.

I believe that quality of pieces was a strong component of the American show. First of all, a significant proportion of the shells made more than one effect. It is the case with the Western’s signature “plumes” (this name comes from Paul’s report written in 2010), a rare effect we may describe as a skymine ending in horsetails, often featuring a colour change. Other examples are bow-tie shells with perpendicular rings of stars which ended in crossettes, some shells of stars which sequentially ignitated in four quarters, as well as more usual shells with crackling or pistils. Second, we saw numerous colour-changing products, including several mines. I have counted as many as 4 or 5 changes of colours from some shells. That is pretty unusual. We had a lot of opportunities to count these changes, as well as to appreciate the plumes.

On the music of High Hopes, a barrage of very thick gold mines has been combined with similar mines fired horizontally from the 4th ramp perimeter. That sequence had a short duration and it was a shame to not have one more opportunity to see it, later within the same segment. It should have been highlighted. In the same way, a couple of single-ascension girandolas flew during that segment and appeared lost in an action-packed part of the display.

While we saw a good range of pyrotechnic products, some effects and firing patterns were repetitive, including the “plumes”, the barrage of dense mines, as well as the launch of some arked comets from each side of the firing area, so framing the show within these comets.

Note-synchronized colour-changing mines erupted from the 3rd ramp at the beginning of a slightly edited arrangement of Reflections of Earth, certainly my favorite music in that display. Meteor-headed comets with 4 changes of colours (purple > green > orange > yellow > red) and shells of cubes also appeared during that segment. More sequences were note-synchronized and, while the synchronization didn’t have that level of precision through the display, the fireworks fit well with the soundtrack.

I believe that it matters to go back to Mylène Salvas's interview with the designer of the show (see here ). He described his creation with these words : “[...] the most agressive soundtrack I could possibly think of. The show doesn’t stop. It’s 32 minutes. It’s 23 songs. It is as powerful as I can make it.” That is possibly a response to some criticisms made about his 2010 debut display, which lacked of density and low-level effects according to many people at the time (including me). For sure, the show didn’t feature these weaknesses this time. However, powerful segments are more effective when contrasted with more serene parts. In this case, the pace of the show was so intense that the finale itself appeared somewhat tame. To confirm, the audience reaction was not as enthusiast as it is some other nights and I have not seen any standing ovation (but some people).

I am hesitant with the ranking of the American display. I found it similar to the Chilean performance. In both cases we had great quality products with vivid and diverse colours. In both cases, there was no clear concept to glue all segments together. I also believe the synchronization to be quite similar. I assume there was much hard work in the soundtrack design of the Chilean team; however, there were so many songs that it was difficult to create any drama. On the American side, despite the lack of rhythmic diversity, the technical design – with the proximity of the 5th ramp – and the range of products, probably a little wider than the Chilean arsenal, lead me to the below ranking.

At this stage of the competition, it is not clear to my eyes how likely is a Jupiter for the American team. It really depends of the performance to be done by the next entrants from Spain and Sweden.

My ranking so far :

1. Sugyp (Switzerland)
2. Western Enterprises (United States)
3. Pirotecnia SPA (Chile)
4. Big Bang Fireworks (Canada)


We had perfect weather conditions and a moderate crowd at La Ronde for the American display. It was very enjoyable. However, I now understand why aircraft pilots fulminate against laser effects. Indeed, for a second display in a row, a powerful green laser – coming from someone on Jacques-Cartier bridge – appeared in the sky immediately before and during the first minutes of the display. It is really disturbing, especially when the laser targets the audience area.


Posted: Jul 22, 2016 11:53:02   Edited by: julienlh

Je suis bien d'accord avec Frédéric sur son résumé, mais de mon côté, je place les États-Unis en troisième place. Les raisons qui motivent le fait que je place les États-Unis en 3e sont que la finale m'a laissé sur ma faim, parfois le ciel était tellement chargé qu'on ne savait plus où regarder (comme on dit: trop, c'est comme pas assez). Pour la trame sonore avec une thématique similaire, j'ai mieux aimé celle du Chili. En terminant, vous pouvez maintenant aller voir la trame sonore du feu de l'Espagne.

Posted: Jul 22, 2016 14:10:03

My report: http://montreal-fireworks.com/ReportBlog/?p=1187

I'm in agreement pretty much with everyone else so far. It does turn out that the small finale was due to a technical issue, where a large part of ramp 2 failed to fire - so at least this explains what we saw and was not a design mistake.


Posted: Jul 26, 2016 00:27:41

Pleasant evening conditions were present for the return of Western Enterprises. Mid- to late-evening temperatures of 22-23 C took place, along with borderline low-moderate humidity, inducing a mild humidex of 27 C. Wind speeds became light, at 11-14 km/h by evening but favorably transitioned to SW tendencies (from the WSW pattern throughout most of the day), allowing smoke to be blowing closely to the right of the La Ronde audience, affecting mostly extreme right-hand sections.

As most have already stated above, this was, indeed, a strongly delivered performance by the American team, and it was certainly a much stronger, tenacious and technically-sound display than the initial display presented on the evening of July 17th, 2010.

The display began in a comparatively engaging manner, with arrangements of rapidly sequenced angled mines racing back and forth, followed by some bright flares along very low-level. Being a fan of techno-related musical selections (but mostly from the 1980s and 1990s), I very much enjoyed this soon-to-be energetic opening, and it really set the stage for what would be coming for much of the display. The display was very innovative, exciting, and I thought that some of the sequences were quite clever in portraying various soundtrack used. Choreography was also fairly nicely demonstrated most of the time, and this was really brought out along low-levels of the display with the firing patterns of the mines, interestingly angled gerbs, and comets. I really enjoyed the one-shots that introduced “Reflection of Earth”, in which the mines were tightly moving with the deep background bass that engendered the preliminary stage of the music. Colors were very rich and vivid (in many ways, similar to Chile) and usually in an interesting contrast, often actively complementing each other in the correct mixture and often amplifying the visual appeal of the display in its entirety. This was a strong and important factor in this display because of the nature and structural design of the theme. Two segments where colors had been particularly emphasized were during “Fix My Eyes” and “High Hopes”. The transitions in pace were also produced in a good manner, especially from the opening segment to “Paradise”, “High Hopes” to “Reflection of Earth” and “Dance Into The Light” to “The Journey Begins”, followed by a sudden burst of energy into “Tonight”. What was also mostly enjoyed was the selection of songs, which provided a lot of energy to both spectators and the display alike. The selections, too, were appropriate for the conceptual framework of the theme and, in my opinion, definitely worked so well with the pyrotechnics. The sky was often chaotic, and good use was made of many firing positions to add depth to the display.

While the display was very enjoyable, I did not find it to be technically complex. The theme, by itself, though well represented, did have a sense of over-simplification and was, thus, a little too broad. For me, the nature of the theme, in some ways, did not yield many moments of distinct emotions. This is not to say that the display was void of emotions – I did feel a more mesmerizing and emotional feel during “Paradise” and that theme song from “The Lion King”. However, even during those moments, it was difficult to definitively “digest” those feelings because of the abrupt transitions that were typical from one segment to the next, which caused rapid changes internally, rather than more gradually. On a related note, I thought that perhaps some of the fluidity of the soundtrack could have benefitted from further editing to allow for more effective transitions in rhythm and pace. Again, the music was largely enjoyable (some I did not personally care for, but they still worked well with the display), but as with Chile, I found that a selected few songs disproportionately endured for a little too long, particularly “High Hopes” (even though I thoroughly enjoyed the design of that segment)! Also, the creativity of the display appeared somewhat limited (as compared to Switzerland, for example), as I often thought that the music-fireworks connection was, again, sometimes a little too general. There were, though, many moments of fantastic synchronization, but that level of detail tended to struggle in sustaining itself for long. For likely the same reason, I also thought that some of the songs could have been better represented with the use of additional effects, such as in “Dance Into The Light” and “Tonight”. Background rhythm in fast-paced and/or dance-related music is a critical factor in making those particular songs more audibly pleasing, so I feel that it is important for them to be often emphasized through the pyrotechnics in an elaborate manner (i.e. Italy 2013). It would have also been nice to see some nautical effects incorporated into the display, as I did feel like they were in order for some of the songs used. It is also a real pity that the reported technical problem had to occur during the finale, which is a little reminiscent of Italy 2006! Nevertheless, I did not really feel much monotony in this display, and every segment was largely unique in firing style, leading to a diversified pyrotechnical design.

Overall, this was a very enjoyable and engaging display, despite my criticisms, and, once again, a very considerable improvement from the first display, in 2010. It is possible for the team to be awarded with a Jupiter, but the lesser degree of complexity in the display may be a significant disadvantage. This was definitely a pleasing display for the large crowd that was present!


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