Kiss has rocked the AFL grand final pre-match entertainment at the MCG playing three songs with an abundance of pyrotechnics and flames.

The creative direction for the performance was by Tom McDonald, Mushroom’s Chief Creative Officer, and Show FX was contracted to provide all the pyrotechnics and flames by Frontier Touring’s Travis Hogan. Show FX’s Allan Spiegel and Rohan Thornton worked together to ensure a spectacular and safe outcome utilising 48 x Pyrotec Galaxis, 6 Sunshines and 48 Magic FX CO2 Jets.
A few months ago, Rohan purchased an MA Lighting grandMA3 command wing XT console and he has used it a few times to operate pyro effects. For this production, Rohan decided to treat the control of the pyro as a traditional pixel map, reintroducing himself to timecode programming.

“One thing you’ve got to consider when dealing with devices that can seriously hurt people, is the control factor becomes a very important feature,” said Rohan. “I had a look at the timecode functions of the MA3 and realised that that would be perfect for what we wanted to do. It also gave us flexibility which was important as these events take on a life of their own. The idea was to treat it as a pixel map, but control it just using traditional cues.”

Rohan and Allan worked out what they wanted to do and just kept on ‘banging cues until we got the patterns we needed’ eventually reaching 3211 cues in the timeline!

“There is a bit of physics you have to work with because you’ve got to cue them a little earlier as there’s about half a second of mechanics that has to happen before the flame appears,” elaborated Rohan.

“Consequently, part of the programming is instinct and intuition especially as there is not much in the way of simulation around. All of these effects have a safety feature to arm and disarm and the trick is to ensure you don’t include all that safety stuff in your cues. If you have that control independently, you can instantly access it and do what you need to do if anything goes wrong.”

Rohan says that he is still learning the MA3 platform and was delighted to discover Layout Views. He found that programming off Layout Views was an absolute God’s send. It delivered an indication of how the effects would look and the timing, meaning it was something he could show clients.

“Everyone else has got fancy renders but just running the Layout View was enough to provide a bit of comfort,” he added. “Also, I found there were no flame effects libraries I could use but the layout views certainly solved the problem. I ended up programming out all our views and the cue list and everything like that and the flexibility in the cue list, you know playing the piece was really good, being able to quite easily change times and follow the delays and everything like that so it was a really easy intuitive way of putting it together.”

Using the MA3 platform for control afforded Rohan an extra level of safety. At one stage, 500 kids came onto the field to practice their choreography so he had to shut down the system. Rohan had programmed all of the shutdowns but he didn’t know whether or not they were going to leave the stage when they were supposed to.

“When you’re running timecode, it’s not like you can simply stop hitting buttons,” he explained. “So having the arm/disarm control on separate playbacks was really good. Some of the kids did leave a bit late and, particularly in rehearsals, some of the cameras ended up in areas they weren’t supposed to be. So it was great to disable particular effects, particular groups of effects so no one got hurt.”

Rohan utilised his brand new MA3 onPC fader wing for this function saying he prefers operating this combination rather than one larger console favouring bigger screens and slightly more faders.

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