For a traditional Outdoor Aerial Display, the general requirement for a safety zone is based upon the largest device we intend to use. This area is typically a circle with a radius from 150 to 850 feet. The zone must be able to be kept clear of any unauthorized personnel and hazardous or highly flammable objects during firing. If these minimum requirements can’t be met, we will consider the possibility of performing a close proximity or an indoor display where the distance requirements are much smaller.
Alternatively, if your function is on or near the coast, we may be able to fire the show from a floating platform offshore. As part of this process, we will have to receive permission from the property owners of the safety zone in order to obtain the necessary permits.
The final determination of the display site will influence the types of effects to be utilized and the overall design of the display. A site with a large, open area allows us to design a display utilizing a wide variety of effects in various sizes to fill as much of the viewing area as possible. Conversely, a site with a limited safety zone may only allow us to utilize smaller diameter effects. However, it is important to note that the use of only smaller diameter devices may allow us to bring the display site closer to the audience, where the laws of perspective will allow the display to have an impact equivalent to a show using much larger devices. It is this knowledge of the types of effects available and their performance that will help us to ensure the most effective design.
The keystone effect in this type of display is the aerial shell. Typically, displays will consist of a few hundred aerial shells in diameters ranging from 3 to 6 inches. Larger shows may utilize shells in 8”, 10” or 12” diameters. The shells will be arranged in various patterns and configurations to maximize their effect based on the display site area. The aerial shells will typically be accompanied by various repeater cakes and/or display candles to create fronts. On an aerial display proposal, aerial shells will typically be categorized by size and quantity (the “shell count”), while repeater cakes and display candles will be listed as multi-shot effects and be categorized by type, quantity and number of individual effects or “shots”. The total number of shots, if listed, will represent the combined number of aerial shells plus the quantity of shots contained in the cakes and candles used.
Standard aerial displays may also contain various ground display devices such as set pieces and waterfalls. These devices often add a spectacular “custom touch” to a show.