FAQs & Helpful Hints
have to admit that I love this time of the year. It seems, right
now, like simply everyone is planning a celebration. Politicos are
preparing for victory celebrations, companies are planning their
end-of-year bashes and theatre groups and schools around the country
are rehearsing all sorts of holiday spectacles. And they're all
asking the same question, "What can we do this year that will
be different, bigger and better than last time?"
You've probably guessed my answer already from the title of this
article. So what are Aerotechnics™
anyway and how can they enhance a show or party? Aerotechnics™
is a system of confetti
and streamer launchers powered by air or Carbon
Dioxide (CO2). Invented by Ed Bartek, special effects engineer
extraordinaire. Aerotechnics™ is the most comprehensive line
available, featuring the largest variety of launchers, the most
efficient launchers, and the largest variety of accessories.
Aerotechnics™ is so named because it was originally conceived
as a safe and regulation-free alternative to pyrotechnic special
effects. You truly can use Aerotechnics™ to create spectacular
indoor simulated fireworks displays, launching showers of streamers
and confetti that seen to burst in mid-air. But Aerotechnics™
doesn't stop there. Use Aerotechnics (tm) to launch T-Shirts, puffs
of simulated smoke, water, ping pong balls, business cards and more.
Fill the air with huge pieces of fluttering brightly colored tissue.
Amaze your audience by shooting streamers from an apparently empty
Most of our Aerotechnic™ devices use CO2
cartridges that screw into a valve near the base of the device.
When a lever is pulled, a pin punctures the end of the cartridge,
releasing all of the CO2 into the barrel of the device and propelling
the load (confetti, streamers, etc.) into the air. A very simple
principle that can produce amazing results.
While the principle of Aerotechnics™ is simple, the challenge
in using them comes in deciding how they should be loaded. Even
our smallest device, when loaded properly, can produce a huge-looking
effect. Following are some tips for getting the most out of every
First, always use Backpressure
Caps. A Backpressure Cap is a cardboard cap that fits over the
end of the cannon's barrel and is secured in place using masking
tape. We sell black masking tape for just this purpose but standard
masking tape may work just as well. When the Backpressure Cap is
sealed in place it allows the pressure from the CO2 to build up
in the barrel until the cap is finally blown off, lifting the payload
high into the air. Without a Backpressure Cap you may notice that
your shots do not travel as far or generally appear to "fall
Next, when shooting confetti always use a Lifting
Cup. The Lifting Cup is designed to be inserted into the barrel
first and pushed all the way to the bottom. It is slightly smaller
than the inside of the barrel has a beveled edge that produces an
airtight seal. This allows the CO2 to press on the bottom of the
Lifting Cup, which in turn presses on the payload, instead of the
gas escaping around the sides. A Lifting Cup will add height to
any effect, but is especially useful with confetti loads as the
CO2 seems to have a hard time propelling them any distance without
A quick note on both Lifting Cups and Backpressure Caps; when shooting
out towards an audience, be aware that people may be startled when
a small cardboard piece comes out of the air at them. Both Lifting
Cups and Backpressure Caps are small and light enough that they
shouldn't cause any harm whatsoever to anyone they may land on.
In today's litigious climate, however, one should always be cautious.
Finally -- the fun part -- the payload! What you load into an Aerotechnics™
device depends on what effect you're looking to achieve. Experimenting
with the supplies you receive with your device is a good way to
get ideas, but allow me to make a few suggestions. The following
descriptions are for loading the Pocket
Cannon™, but will work in all of our Aerotechnics™
devices. Be aware that larger devices will require more payload
is tissue confetti cut into 5/8" x 2" rectangles. Usually
packed in stacks of 480 pieces, it creates a cloud of confetti that
flutters and spins gently to the ground over a period of several
seconds. For a "traditional"
confetti look, this works great! The supplies for a "traditional"
shot would be: 1 - 1" Lifting Cup, 2 – stacks Turbofetti™,
1 - 1" Backpressure Cap and 1 - 8g CO2 cylinder.
Aerostreamers™ are streamers that shoot into the air and unroll
as the fall to ground. They create a wonderful "bon voyage"
look that would work for many shows. No production of "Anything
Goes," should go on without at least one streamer cannon. One
thing that makes streamers appealing to many people is that they
create a large-looking effect like a confetti shot without as much
mess. Streamers are simply easier to clean up than confetti, which
may explain why streamer shots are so popular at trade shows and
conventions where many shots happen of the course of a day.
We have many sizes of Aerostreamers™ available, from 1/4"
Standard Streamers to monstrous 1/2" x 50' streamers. The
18' streamers work wonderfully indoors as they can unroll completely
before hitting the ground. Here's my favorite way to use these,
developed over several years' show-floor experience: 15 - 18' Aerostreamers™,
1 - 1" Backpressure Cap and 1 - 8g CO2 cylinder.
An interesting look may also be achieved by mixing Turbofetti™
and Aerostreamers™ in the same shot. The effect is a burst
of streamers emerging from a cloud of confetti and would make a
great finale for an event that uses other confetti or streamer shots.
The supplies to create this look are: 1 - 1" Lifting Cup, 10
- 18" Aerostreamers™, 1 – stack Turbofetti™,
1 - 1" Backpressure Cap, 1 - 8g CO2 cylinder. The key to preparing
the payload is to load the streamers, but keep one out. Take the
free end of this streamer and wrap it several times around the Turbofetti
(tm). This will hold the Turbofetti™ together until the streamer
has started to unroll, delaying the confetti burst.
As I've already stated, the Pocket Cannon™ comes equipped
with enough supplies for three shots. However, if you get only one
thing from this week's article, let it be this:
BUY MORE SUPPLIES WHEN YOU ORDER ANY AEROTECHNIC™ CANNONS!
I know that sounds like a sales pitch but, trust me, you'll want
more than three shots worth of stuff. The first three shots are
good for getting used to the device and what it can do. The catch
is, once you know what you can do you're out of supplies! Additional
loads, CO2 cartridges and other supplies are not that expensive
and the benefit of getting exactly the look you want is worth the
Theatre Effects Customer Service Department
Effects, 11707 Chesterdale Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45246
Phone: 1-800-791-7646 or 513-772-7646 Fax: 513-772-3579
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