11 minute read

Special Effects Companies



Special effects plays a dynamic and creative part in the event live event experience, bringing production values to the forefront of design. TPi takes a look at some of the latest effects technology on offer today.


Le Maitre’s newest flame machine, The Wireless Salamander Quad Pro is battery powered with integrated wireless COBRA firing systems technology. With no running cables, it can simply be put into place and switched on, making for easy, quick and safe usage.

This compact, canister-based unit produces 30 seconds of continuous flame or up to 120 fire bursts. Flames reach up to 25ft high when all four canisters are fired simultaneously, or up to 12ft if fired individually. Chases are lightning fast and visually stunning, with fluids available in natural, red or green.

The Wireless SQP is extremely safe. There are no internal valves or accumulators, so gas never remains in the system once the canister has been removed. There is also a tilt safety switch. The internal built in charger provides over 48 hours standby time per charge, and there is an easy to use OLED display and menu structure.

An optional accessory is a separate pluggable and magnetic LED ARMed indicator. This allows the operator to position the indicator anywhere on the machine to know its armed status, regardless of its orientation.

The standard Salamander Quad Pro has been used regularly at festivals and in concerts and tours around the world. With its new features and increased ease of use, the Wireless SQP is sure to prove just as popular. www.lemaitreltd.com




The AC Multi-Function Laser is a new generation of laser effect fixture which fuses traditional laser projection with a variety of diffractive effects, combined with the flexibility to be highly scaleable on stage.

The AC Multi-Function Laser (AC-MFL) is the standard fixture, containing a 3W RGB laser source, and the AC Multi-Function Laser eXtreme (AC-MFLX) contains a brighter 6W source.

Both fixtures can be used to create scanned laser effects, or use static or rotating diffractive optical elements, to provide ‘burst’, ‘linear’ or ‘grid’ effects. These can be combined with scanned images for some really creative looks. With correct usage, and adherence to safety guidelines, audience scanning is also possible.

Each fixture also has a built in Pangolin FB4, the de facto standard for laser control, allowing control from Beyond, or any lighting desk via ArtNet or DMX.

Complex and large scale designs on stage can be realised with ease, as all power, data and interlock connections can be daisy chained, allowing for up to 16 fixtures on a single cable run. www.aclasers.co.uk




Typhoon is ER Productions’ newest product, a CO2-free confetti blower, which made its debut at the very beginning of the year at Ozzy Osbourne’s NYE show, at the LA Forum.

Typhoon’s innovative and adaptable design allows the product to be rigged on top of truss but also flown, allowing for huge confetti hits at largescale events. Typhoon works via a set of powerful but silent fans, which push confetti out through a specially-designed tunnel, and a controllablehopper evenly distributes it.

David Holmes, ER Productions’ Technical Manager, designed Typhoon, initially creating designs in Sketch Up and building the product with ER Productions team on-site at the head office, said of the new creation.

“I love the finished product. The brief from ER’s Co-Founder and Director, Ryan Hagan, was to build a confetti blower that would be able to run on electricity, without using the harmful greenhouse gas, and we have done exactly that.,” he said.

“Other models on the market are cumbersome and don’t have the ability to be flown. Typhoon gives designers more flexibility to create something really amazing at their shows.”

Typhoon is constructed with an aluminium frame with steel panels and weighs 90kg, and the voltage is 200 to 270 or 50/60hz. It holds 10kg of confetti and can be adjusted to how much and how far you want the confetti to be distributed, enabling vast coverage across an audience.

ER Productions were pleased to debut the CO2-free confetti blower for Ozzfest, at the LA Forum, at the end of 2018. 25 of the units were positioned on a u-shaped truss, over the audience, which delivered a 200kg hit of white confetti, creating a snow blizzard effect during carefully-planned cues for tracks Mr Crowley and Mama.

Ozzy’s Lighting Designer, Michael Keller, commented on Typhoon’s performance during the show. “This large mass of fine white confetti started separating and blanketing the crowd with snow. Indeed we had the Blizzard of Ozz in full effect. Where it really shined was when ER’s Laser Tech, Alex Oita, brought up some laser cues. It looked amazing reflecting through all the beams.” www.er-productions.com


KVANT Burstberry is a self-contained laser and lighting fixture, designed to be used in multi-head configurations and controlled mainly from lighting desk via ArtNET. Because of Pangolin FB4 controller integration, Burstberry and other Kvant systems are supported by all major lighting

desk manufacturers.

As well as being fully equipped RGB laser display system, each Burstberry also offers Beam Burst (Starburst) effect and white-LED blinder. The individual Burstberry units can be attached one to another from 12 different directions, making it possible to create Burstberry clusters in pretty much any shape required.

Although Burstberry can be used very effectively as a stand-alone laser system, the power of it lies in a multiple unit setup and amazing effects that Burstberry clusters can perform. Due to its beam size and very low beam divergence, it is also an ideal system for supporting high power lasers on large stages.

The concept of several laser display units synchronised together has been around for a while. But none of the existing Burstberry alternatives will offer you such refined visual output, effectivity and flexibility.

All Burstberry features brought together represent a new type of a lighting fixture - the one that can provide you with some truly staggering visual effects. www.kvantlasers.co.uk



At Pyrotek Special Effects Inc. ® , we createjaw-dropping, awe-inspiring special effectsfor the world’s biggest acts – on the world’slargest stages. For decades, our teamof professionals has used their passion,tools and techniques to help clients creatememorable experiences through innovative,safe and reliable end-to-end special effects.And we can do the same for you.





For over 15 years, BPM SFX has been a special effects and laser provider for live music touring and festival events, TV, corporate and theatre markets.

Situated in Burnley Lancashire, BPM SFX HQ is a 47,000sq ft three storey converted 100-year-old mill. Its custom designed facility includes both indoor and outdoor testing areas, large scale state of the art workshop, technical repair room, research and development area, multiple programming rooms and large space prep area, along with a 30-person custom built office space.



In addition to its large HQ, the team also has an Ibiza European office and have recently expanded into a specific TV work office at the Greenhouse, MediaCityUK, [Manchester] to be on hand for its TV clients.

Despite this, BPM SFX remains a growing and advancing business with the founders, Adam Murray (MD) and Jamie Holmes (Operations Director), playing an active role in the company, working alongside Technical Director, Liam Haswell to expand clients, markets and locations.

From the early days, BPM SFX has worked with the likes of Swedish House Mafia, Rihanna, Coldplay, Calvin Harris, Radio 1, Sky Sports and ITV to name a few. BPM SFX consistently work with the biggest artists, management and productions throughout the world, developing its SFX & laser designs to achieve the best creative look and service, as well as ensuring the safety throughout.

With 25 full time staff ranging from Junior Technicians, through to Senior Project Managers and everything in-between. Murray added: “From the point of first contact with clients, through to the design team creating the brief, full animated previsualisations, to warehouse prep and finally onto the

head technicians who run in and produce the high-end show specifications, everything is considered and delivered. The client feels in control of what they want to produce and achieve from Day 1, and every step of the way inbetween, the client is in control for their vision.”

BPM SFX has an expansive range of equipment covering all aspects of special effects and laser supply. Having such a varied range of solutions for each aspect of laser and special effects provision, means it can present clients with a number of options on how to deliver the effects they desire or envisage.

Boasting large licensed stores on and off site, BPM SFX holds a large and varied consumable and pyrotechnic stock, meaning world tours to one off show is not an issue to facilitate, even at short notice.

BPM SFX remains committed to working with the best and most innovative manufacturers from all over the world. In order to keep its creative designs fresh and current, it also has electrical engineers and fabricators in-house to make bespoke products and equipment. So, no job is too big, small or too complex for the one of the world’s largest SFX companies. www.bpm-sfx.com




Quantum Special Effects was established in 2009 and has become the chosen pyrotechnics and special effects company for some of the biggest names in the global entertainment industry.

QSFX boasts a large team of experienced designers, engineers and technicians working together to develop and deploy a variety of special effects.

With offices in the USA and the UK, its primary goal is to develop innovative and unique effects for the entertainment industry from corporate events, large-scale concerts and tours to one-off spectaculars and primetime TV shows.

QSFX supply award winning, bespoke special effects to some of the world’s biggest music artists, globally. With our team of experienced and professional on-site crew we aim to ensure a seamless service and integration into the live productions its supplies; ensuring together, it creates unforgettable, endorphin-rushing, iconic moments for audiences worldwide.

With 2019 marking QSFX’s 10th anniversary, TPi anticipates the expansion of QSFX’s opening an office in London. Watch this space for further announcements. www.q-sfx.com


As live performance has become the focal point of the music business, so too has the sheer scale of many concerts. Fans have likely noticed an increase in ‘big’ moments in their favourite shows over the years and one of the growth areas has been special effects.

As one of the leaders in this increasingly important field of special effects in live shows, Pyrotek Special Effects’ expertise revolves around live special effects, including pyrotechnics, flame effects, lasers, atmospheric effects (cryo, fog), confetti and water effects.

Pyrotek Special Effects’ recent clients include Bruno Mars, Taylor Swift, P!nk, Kendrick Lamar, Metallica, Florida Georgia Line, The Killers, Katy Perry and Trans Siberian Orchestra, to name only a few.

The special effects specialist fulfils a critical role within the scope of these productions, helping clients refine a vision of how special effects can be used to enhance the performance and then taking care of the myriad of production and organizational logistics required to deliver this vision in the real world, in front of an audience.

There are countless moving pieces that need to combine to deliver special effects to an audience. Typical matters that need to be managed include technical design, equipment specification and customisation, programming, safety and risk assessments, crew, product selection and procurement, permitting, insurance and transport logistics.

Pyrotek Special Effects handles all of these details for its clients as part of a turn-key solution and to do this, it harnesses the scale of five offices - in Toronto, Las Vegas, New York, Nashville, and Lititz, PA - and the skill sets of over 90 employees and road technicians, all of which combine to form a

multi-faceted team with the wide-ranging expertise and depth necessary to integrate special effects into some of the world’s biggest shows.

Pyrotechnics, flames, lasers, cryo and water effects appeal to an audience’s primal fascination with some of the core elements of the universe. The development by companies like Pyrotek of the operations and systems necessary to harness these forces and deliver them safely and consistently to audiences explains the growth in popularity of live special effects over the last several years.

So, if you are an artist, a production manager or designer, or anyone else facing the challenge of putting together an engaging live event, don’t overlook your opportunities for those ‘big moments.’ They can make an out-sized difference, and Pyrotek Special Effects will always be there to answer your call to help in ‘bringing live alive.’ www.pyrotekfx.com