Lighting up the sky
There's something breathtaking about staring into the night sky and seeing it light up with a symphony of colour. The dazzle of pyrotechnics fills you with mixed emotions. In fireworks, blooming beauty and a sense of lurking danger combine into a potent mix.
As part of the Lunar New Year celebrations, PyroMagic Productions will light up Victoria Harbour on Friday at 8pm for precisely 23 minutes and 23 seconds. 'We're using 6,000 kilograms [of explosives],' said Wilson Mao (right), the company's CEO who is the chief organiser of the pyrotechnics display. 'It's in line with the biggest shows we've done. We've done 6,000 kilograms before - in 2009, for Chinese New Year and for National Day. I'm using the same amount again this year,' he added.
Sponsored by The Hong Kong Hainan Commercial Association, the expected budget for the show, including marketing and reception arrangements, will be about HK$6.8 million. PyroMagic won the contract to put on the display.
Staging such a spectacular show is no child's play. The show has to be fine-tuned down to its smallest detail. This includes the appropriate music, which will influence choreography.
Mao said he had spent about a month deciding what pieces of music to use. Finally he settled on eight songs. Sometimes his clients have their own wishes, but Mao says he's usually allowed more creative freedom for a Lunar New Year show.
'It's a happy holiday, and people are expecting a festival, so I'm free to use a wider range of colours and music,' he said.
'But when it comes to National Day, the songs need to have some kind of national heritage or national theme. So a lot of times we have to use patriotic songs for such an occasion. I'm fine with that. I just have to be diplomatic about it,' he added.
Once music is sorted out, the next step is to establish a layout. For this show, Mao and his team decided to use four barges from which to launch fireworks. Each barge contains a pair of panels: one primary and one backup.
Mao and his team will be on shore during the show and will activate the panels remotely to set off the fireworks.
Mao will oversee the extravaganza from the Museum of Art. 'From there I can broadcast music along the whole shore - the Cultural Centre, Avenue of Stars,' he explained. 'On the Hong Kong side, there will be music along the Convention Centre and Bauhinia Square. The entire front [Hong Kong and Kowloon] will have music.
'When I begin running the music, a time code will be broadcast to all four barges. The audience will not hear it. They'll only hear music, but the barges will hear a time code.
'The panels will then be activated by the time code, which will then fire the fireworks according to what I've pre-programmed. The fireworks will run in sequence with the music,' he said.
The eight selected songs will run for a total of 23 minutes and 23 seconds. One of the major highlights of the show will be a 'rabbit face' during the second song, in honour of the Year of the Rabbit.
Mao said the show's finale will be truly spectacular with four different streams of colours blending into one at the end.
As with any pyrotechnic show, safety will be a prime concern. Mao stresses the importance of planning for the unexpected, like rain or other extreme weather conditions.
'We're actually running a very high-risk activity,' he said. 'We're dealing with 6,000 kilograms of explosives. The show will last for 23 minutes, so a lot of explosives will be going off in a very short time. Safety is always the most important part of any display.'