Pyromusical synchronization is an art form that can only be mastered through experience. The firms that participate in the Competition possess the skills required to distinguish themselves at the summit of the pyromusical arts. The fireworks makers who design the 30-minute pyromusical displays are more than just pyrotechnicians; they are artistic innovators.
The designers often use music as a starting point for the creation of the displays to be presented in Montréal. The choice of music determines the rhythm and the meaning that the artist wants to give to the presentation. Then, the crucial step consists of selecting the pyrotechnics according to their esthetic and technical characteristics. It is not enough to have impressive pieces such as a golden shell or a Roman candle; it is essential to take into account the timing, the seconds or fractions of second between the time a piece is launched and its release in the sky. Developing a plan for 30 minutes' worth of launches requires hours and hours of painstaking work.
For each presentation, La Ronde provides the competitors with the services of an experienced 17-member technical team, giving crucial support and sharing their expertise. This team's reputation is well established among the firms that have participated in the Competition. Indeed, it is the close collaboration between the two groups which guarantees that the displays presented each season will be of the highest quality.
To work in the field of pyrotechnics, one must take a course in fireworks and receive the requisite accreditation. The basic training consists of learning about safety rules and the various regulations governing explosives in Canada. The course is given by the Explosives Regulatory Division of the Department of Natural Resources, the only authority qualified to issue fireworks permits in Canada.
Success in this profession requires real passion. The team at La Ronde is hard working and highly motivated. Their outdoor occupation, extremely physical in nature, can expose them to blazing sun or abundant rainfall. At first glance, their work environment resembles a gigantic sandbox since the majority of the pyrotechnical materials are set in sand. In spite of the long days, from 10 to 18 hours, their enthusiasm is boundless. Satisfaction in this profession comes from the quality of the emotions felt by the pyrotechnicians themselves as they admire the product of their labours, the most beautiful fireworks in the world!
When the foreign pyrotechnicians arrive at La Ronde's launch pads, they are welcomed by the members of that organization, who greatly appreciate the displays from each country. With experience, the team has learned that the work methods of the competitors vary from one nationality to another; it goes without saying that the firm from China will not have the same approach as those from the U.S. and Spain. No matter what their cultural background is, all the participants take great pleasure in presenting their displays.
The site chosen for the Montréal International Fireworks Competition is truly exceptional, offering designers a full range of options. The 4 launch pads are located between the banks of the St.Lawrence River and the Lac des Dauphins, situated in the heart of La Ronde.
Launch pad 1, on the banks of the river, can be used for large-calibre shells (maximum 305 mm). These pyrotechnics can be directed toward the river, thereby ensuring the safety of the audience. Launch pad 2 is at the outer edge of La Ronde, near the Lac des Dauphins. Here, the entire range of medium-sized fireworks can be deployed (maximum 105 mm), namely rockets and flying saucers.
Launch pads 3 and 4 are set on the Lac des Dauphins. Launch pad 3 consists of a series of floating docks, while Launch pad 4 was built in 1998 using a barge. From there, Roman candles, volcanos, water pieces, and small shells and special effects pieces are deployed. All of these ground-level pyrotechnics are particularly captivating thanks to the reflection provided by the lake.
In 1999, major investments provided for the installation of a high-technology multisystem firing network. This equipment allows the participants, including those who use computer systems such as Pyrodigital or Fire One, to connect their firing cables directly to any of the 24 boxes on the launch pads. These connection boxes are linked to a central system located on the barge, which is in turn connected to the launch control board.
Using a system of underwater cables, most of the firing is activated from the launch control booth, located in the centre of the public seating area. For the manual firing, La Ronde provides the participants with a launch control board that can handle up to 500 firings.
In order to ensure top-quality sound reproduction for the show, 60 acoustic loudspeakers have been installed around the lake. The amplification system boasts 100 000 watts of power, providing maximum sound quality. As of the 2001 season, all participants will be required to provide their music on DAT (Digital Audio Tape) which will be transferred to D-160 hard disk. This transfer allows for a high-performance handling of the music and optimizes the compatibility between the various computerized launch control boards.
The grandstands around the Lac des Dauphins provide a comfortable environment for the audience to enjoy the 30-minute show. Seating for more than 7 600 people (as well as standing room for 30 000) is available on site at La Ronde every evening the fireworks are presented.