Team Australia’s Honda Celebration of Light fireworks show tonight will run on a ‘Live and Loud’ theme based on a soundtrack mix of cuts from live concerts.
“The idea is to have a concert feel,” Howard’s Fireworks’ director Christian Howard told Daily Hive during a barge tour yesterday. “So we looked at what are the best concerts we can put together, and then design a fireworks display around it from start to finish.”
As a result, crowds gathered on the beaches and parks around English Bay can expect to hear tunes from Robbie Williams, Pink, K.D. Lang, Coldplay, and AC/DC.
Approximately 3,500 fireworks will be used, and this figure climbs to 6,500 when multi-shot cakes are considered. There will be 3D effects and shells that change colour during the secondary phases of explosion.
Video of Howards’ Fireworks setting up for their Celebration of Light show representing Australia.
When asked about his strategy, naturally he answered by saying it was to “go for gold”.
“You’ve got to think about who you are going to shoot against,” he said. “You might have to do a bit of a study, like football. Look at what the team did last time, what are their moves.”
He particularly noted the competition from Walt Disney Company’s entry this coming Saturday, given that Disney does all of its own displays at its theme parks around the world and is known for being “very clever” and “creative”.
His company, which not only stages shows but is also a globally renowned fireworks manufacturer, also has a long history with Disney as it supplied its theme parks for 21 years – up until the 1990s.
Howard’s Fireworks is a family-operated fireworks institution that began in 1922 with Christian’s great grandfather, who started the business. It then passed on to his grandfather, who he had the opportunity to work with, and his father.
Before the era of computer animated visualizations, fireworks display designers had to completely imagine how the show would unravel in their head based on their knowledge of fireworks.
“Back in the day, it was all in your mind,” said Christian. “You needed to have the product knowledge stored in your memory bank, and you would just work out what would happen at what time.”
“For those secondary effects to work out, when it bursts and when the flowers will appear, you have to really work it out. Now, we’ve got a great computer program called Finale Fireworks, and we can design a show with that as it connects to an inventory and makes our job so much easier.”
Today, he runs the business together with his brother Andrew, who is currently at their Sydney headquarters getting ready to do another display in Cairns, Australia.
On average, they stage about 750 fireworks displays, with most of the shows located within Australia. Between 45 and 60 shows per year are done in another country.
“Australia is a very big continent with a small population, but we’ve got a lot of festivals going on,” he said.
Some of the biggest and most prestigious fireworks shows Howard’s Fireworks has ever done were also done at home. In 2006 for the Opening Ceremony of the Melbourne Commonwealth Games, the company staged a massive show from a number of barges along the Yarra River and fireworks going off the rooftops of the tallest skyscrapers of the Melbourne City Centre skyline.
And then in 2010, the company produced the fireworks for the Opening Ceremony of the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
As for the conditions for tonight’s show, Christian hopes the weather cooperates with a slight offshore breeze of 5 km/hr to clear the smoke. Currently, the forecast calls for clear skies, with temperatures dipping to 20°C by 10 pm when the fireworks begin going off.
Without a breeze or an onshore breeze, the firework effects can be obscured by a thick cloud of smoke, as experienced during Royal Fireworks’ Netherlands’ performance this past Saturday.
“If the wind is right, you’ll see it perfectly and it’ll look amazing,” said Christian.
Photos of Howards’ Fireworks setting up for their Celebration of Light show representing Australia.