l'International Benson & Hedges 1994
Montréal Pyromusical Competition Report
Sweden -- Saturday May 28, 1994
Under perfectly clear skies, the 1994 Pyrotechnics Competition
got off to an impressive start. Whilst there was nothing outstanding, the display was very well coordinated and the quality
of colors was very high. There were also some interesting shaped burst shells which produced hearts and butterfly shapes. Overall, this was a very enjoyable show, though not enough salutes for my liking!
Canada -- Saturday June 4, 1994
Canada's entry this year was of a much higher quality than last year. There were some nice effects and particularly good use was made of tourbillions. One especially interesting effect was that of what appeared to be a group of comets which rose quite slowly into the sky, then fell slowly, then rose again, then fell again and finally rose upwards and burned out. The finale was enjoyable with plenty of noise.
Japan -- Saturday June 11, 1994
This was a very impressive display. The quality of the colors produced and the overall coordination was outstanding. There were some particularly good shells which contained bright stars which propelled themselves across the sky (Go-Getters) and also a lot of tourbillion shells. Once again, there were a lot of shaped pattern shells, though some of the shapes were hard to discern from the viewpoint I had.
There were a lot of very impressive multi-break shells which gave the impression of large bunches of flowers. The most outstanding thing to my mind was the use of some really huge shells which were fired to a tremendous height, probably more than 3,000 feet which produced almost sky filling bursts. I was viewing the display from a distance of about half a mile yet these shells were virtually overhead when they burst.
The finale was tremendous with a huge number of silver comet stars criss-crossing the lower sky with these huge shells bursting high above and a terrific number of very large salutes somewhere in the middle. It was breath taking.
Italy -- Saturday June 18, 1994
This show got off to a false start. A strong thunderstorm was in the area and about 15 minutes before the advertised starting time, a large flash of lightning directly above the shoot site caused the false launch of a rack of shells.
For some reason, possibly weather related, the show started five minutes early. There were some nice effects which included shells which appeared to fill the air with long glistening golden threads which appeared just to hang in the air.
Later in the show, another large flash of lightning caused problems and the show stopped for around 10 minutes. However, things got going again and there were a lot of really good multi-break shells, some of which contained bright green stars which terminated with large salutes.
The finale was particularly exciting with tremendous barrages of salutes being fired. It was a pity that the weather spoiled an otherwise excellent display.
South Korea -- Sunday July 3, 1994
With the weather conditions near to perfect, this display got off to an exciting start for the compulsory five minute opening theme. A lot of good colors and nice shaped breaks including circles and butterflies were used. Also interesting were the use of shells which contained gold comet type stars which terminated in a small strobe effect with a weird noise, sort of similar to the crash of surf on a pebbled beach.
After the opening, traditional Korean music was used for much of the show and it was difficult at times to see how music and pyrotechnics were related ... except for the large comet shells which were almost perfectly timed to "gong" type noises.
Part of the show included a very large Niagara Falls set piece which must have looked spectacular to the paying spectators overlooking the lake in front of the firing site.
A few shells seemed to be failures - especially one segment of the show which appeared to contain shells with whistles, except that the whistles were all but silent - later whistle shells did work. Also, one or two shells appeared to detonate in the launch tubes.
An overall impression was that there were sometimes quite long periods with not much happening or not much in the air. It is my subjective impression that this show used rather less shells than the other displays this year. In particular, the finale was very
short and a lot of people around me hung around waiting for something else to happen after the end of the show - a feeling with
which I could sympathize. Overall, the crowd was very quiet and this is usually a good indicator of how exciting/boring a show is.
Australia -- Sunday July 10, 1994
This was a very good display indeed - much better than last weeks South Korean entry. The show got off to a very exciting start and the choreography was particularly good.
A theme which ran throughout the entire display was the use of shells which contained very vivid blue stars together with extremely bright green firefly stars. These were put to very good use and at one point there were mines containing blue stars at the top with the green twinklers beneath, mid-height shells with the same and very high shells as well.
In fact, very great (and effective) use was made of mine-type effects and these were very well choreographed with the Rock and Roll music that the display was set to. The Beatle's "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" was a particularly good choice!
Another memorable effect was that of two shells which produced a large spiral pattern of stars, one "wound" in one direction, and one in the other.
Very great use was also made of star break comets (crossette - a comet star which splits into several smaller stars at the apex of its flight).
The finale was spectacular with a great deal of very large titanium salutes and again a combination of blue stars and green
twinklers. The crowd was very impressed with this show.
United States -- Sunday July 17, 1994
This was an interesting display for several reasons. The most notable overall impression was the lack of use of colored stars, except for orange mines. Most of the shells used white or pale colored effects.
Another interesting overall comment is how good the choreography was. The timing of the shells and especially mines to the music used was superb. One very nice effect was that of a line of single stars fired from the ground from one side of the display area to the other in time with a glissando effect in the music.
There were some excellent really large high shells used (presumably these were the Japanese shells that someone mentioned a couple of weeks ago).
Very great use was also made of star break comets (crossettes - a comet star which splits into several smaller stars at the apex of its flight). Also, a very large number of mines were used. This was interesting because a lot of them were fired at a 60 degree angle rather than vertically.
There was a good section when a very number of shells with willow stars were fired. This created a very palm tree effect which hung in the sky for seemingly minutes and greatly impressed the crowd.
There was also a nice shell which produced a six-pointed star shaped burst - but with two concentric stars rather than just one.
The finale was exciting and built to a crescendo of salutes.
The crowd was very impressed with this show. Overall, this was an enjoyable show but the lack of strong colors (especially compared to the Australian show) was a negative point in my opinion.
France -- Sunday July 24, 1994
Societie Etienne LaCroix
The final entrant in this year's Benson and Hedges International Pyrotechnics competition brought the series to a dramatic finish.
The show lasted forty minutes, compared to the rest of the entrants' 30. This show was unusual in that there were intervals where a spoken poetic commentary was read out with the music - the theme of the show being the sun, moon and earth.
This show was also unusual in that extensive use was made of rockets. For example, the show opened with a tight group of perhaps 50 rockets thrusting into the sky and giving the effect of a "growing" plant.
One very unusual effect was produced by a large willow star shell which broke quite softly but contained a large (probably magnesium) parachute flare. This was, I think, intended to give the impression of the moon talking to the earth. Another unusual shell was again based on willow stars which burned through to bright stars. Nothing unusual in that except in this case, all the stars in the top hemisphere of the burst transformed to white quite quickly, whereas all the bottom stars fell quite a large distance before they transformed to white. I presume the shell must have been somehow balanced so that its orientation was correct when it burst.
A lot of use was made of "active" stars: stars which propel themselves through the sky at a greater velocity than that from the shell break. As mentioned earlier, a lot of rockets were used in the display, some of which were very large judging by the breaks they produced and the noise of their thrust.
Throughout the display, the quality of the colors used was excellent, especially blues and purples.
A few shells appeared to burst either in their guns or extremely low and one or two burst at a slightly greater altitude but low enough that their stars ended up in the river. All the failures appeared to be from the same area of the launch site.
The finale was breathtaking with an enormous amount of shells being fired in the finale two minutes with a tremendous number of salutes, the display ending with a barrage of very large salutes. The crowd, the largest of the year in my opinion, roared their approval. This was an excellent display.
La Ronde -- Sunday July 31, 1994
The finale to the 1994 Benson and Hedges International Competition in Montreal was perhaps the best display of the season. If this display had been part of the competition, it would have stood a very high chance of winning.
Great use was made of very large multi-break shells - each main shell breaking into perhaps 20 or more smaller shells which, by the time they broke, were well distributed through the sky giving a very dramatic effect of criss-crossing stars as they burst.
The theme of the display was linked to the weather and seasons. A very effective segment of the display created the effect of a large snowstorm as thousands of firefly stars filled the sky.
Later, a simulation of a thunderstorm was created with great volleys of salutes.
However, the most memorable part of the display was the finale. This was absolutely breath taking and had the crowd roaring with enthusiasm as volley after volley of salutes were fired until, at the climax, seemingly the whole sky was filled with thousands of explosions. Just when it seemed impossible that it could get any louder, a big round of extremely large salutes were fired. The ear's of the paying crowd at the firing site must have been ringing.
This was a brilliant ending to a memorable competition.
- Gold Jupiter: USA Performance Pyro
- Silver Jupiter: Australia Syd Howard
- Bronze Jupiter: Japan Marutaymaya