Portfolio of Kimberly Johans

A collection of articles created during my stint as a journalist at The Macau Daily Times

Grupo Luso Pirotecnia, Portuguese fireworks team with point to prove

Posted by Kimberly on September 26, 2007

By Kimberly Johans
Published in The Macau Daily Times
September 26, 2007, page 4 (1,037 words)

Portugal’s Grupo Luso Pirotecnia had a lot to prove last night, not simply because their past displays have been judged winners, but because of their new Macau venture.
Speaking to the Macau Daily Times about what opening a local branch means to them, Vitor Machado, General Manager and Artistic Director said, “everyone we’ve spoken to in the industry that’s involved with entertainment of fireworks in Macau is very happy that they have a local solution.”
With the company, Macau Fireworks, having been opened since April, he admitted that the beginning was always difficult, “because we have to prove that we can do what we say we can do.”
But the reaction has been positive, despite not every door being opened just yet.
And the company has some exciting endeavours in the works over the next few months, including what Melanie Cagnon, International Business Manager for Luso alluded to as “one of the key events in Macau, like the festival and the Grand Prix.”
“We are working on a big project that will be one of the biggest firework shows done in Macau that will be an annual event,” said Vitor.
He added that they have had good feedback from possible sponsors for the show, feeling they had started “at the right moment with a little luck.”
The fireworks won’t be stored in Macau, as it is not possible, so “all the fireworks have to come from outside, so when we started this project, of course, we had to have a Mainland partner,” said Vitor.
As for last night’s show, it was the first pyromusical show done by the team in Macau. But don’t take that as a  negative point. This sort of show happens to be their speciality.
Technically, their show wasn’t just about music and fireworks; they also used sound effects to “create an environment.
“We call it ‘firework choreography’ a dance to music,” said Vitor.
He added that with the fireworks shot from just one barge, it was “very difficult to create a big impact.”
but despite the limitation, the company’s hopes were to create “a new firework effect that I don’t think Macau will have seen,” said Vitor.
Asked his thoughts on Taiwan’s show, he admitted it had been a “very good show” and that “it will be very difficult to beat them.”
With Luso doing about five or six competitions each year, it’s no longer about winning, said Vitor.
“Of course in the beginning we were very eager to do the competitions but with time have realised it’s not very important to win or not.
“It’s always about doing a good show that we are happy with and do something different, to put our signature on the show,” he said.
Yet it’s not every team that can lay claim to having come first in the Macau Fireworks Festival in 1996, the year of their company’s birth. In fact Luso came first in two competitions that year.
“Our average for winning prizes is very high so of course we have people around the world that follow our work,” said Vitor.
“We try not to let those prizes go to our heads. It’s a continuous work,” he added.
Starmaker Fireworks, on the other hand, is taking their second shot at fame and recognition, having participated in 2001.
Asked what lessons had been learnt form that attempt, Mr Doy Tan, Managing Director of the company said, “the way we were shooting the fireworks was very different.
“We didn’t even have a computer before. Well it was electrically triggered but it wasn’t a computer. “Now we have the hardware, it’s an American system,” he said.
He also added tha a trip to Spain also taught them a lot, allowing Starmaker to “clean the show.”
“Because when you do music, you don’t need to shoot too many shells in the sky.
“You don’t gung-ho you don’t overdo it. It’s not about the size, it’s about position.
“Everything going at the same time with the music,” he added.
Starmaker, who have been in operation for almost 13 years, has had the chance to refine their technique, having had the exclusive means of providing a fireworks display every weekend for the past two years at the Philippines’ largest mall.
“We’re starting to become a 7/11!” said Doy.
Of the Macau fireworks last night, Starmaker’s main concern was the music, being unsure about what genre to choose.
“We wanted to do something Filipino but that’s very risky because a lot of Filipino songs are either rock or ballad.
“So we thought we’d mix it up,” said Doy.
The company has been known to post  their shows up on You Tube but that’s no longer the case, “because it’s so competitive and so easy to copy,” said Doy.
Asked about why the Australian show had not gone to plan, Doy said, “I think there was a technical problem with the Australian show.
“Maybe some grounding or if the Tower is an antenna, it could have jammed some of the signals,” he added.
Of the Taiwan show he said, “very good show. Very good colours.
“They laid down a lot of their racks, pointing downwards.
“We saw what their set up was on the barge because we were right beside them,” he added.
As with Luso, Doy also felt the barge idea provided limitations on the team’s capacity to produce a worthwhile show.
“You saw how the Taiwan show went. It was very wide spread and that’s how we wanted our show to be done.
“The barges had cranes on both sides so that put a limiting angle on the way you shoot the show.
“The barge that was given to us was flat with no cranes but the Portuguese barge right beside us has a ramp which was covering our other side,” he said.
The Macau law, it seems, states that a team cannot have fireworks within a certain distance from anything else, so Doy’s idea of two barges was declined.
But he did suggest another idea that he hopes the organisers may consider in the future.
“You have the two bridges and you can put a lot of fireworks on those bridges and you can still have the barge,” he said.

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