Use The Right Tool For The Job!
"Use the right tool for the job!" It's a cry that sons heard from fathers since Adam first found Cain banging on a nail with a crescent wrench. (He was the bad son, after all.) It's a simple enough concept; using the tool designed to do a specific job will yield better results than just "making do" with whatever's at hand. This applies in the special effects industry as well -- you should always use the device designed to create the effect that you want. Of course, choosing the correct effect device can be more difficult than knowing whether you should use a ball-peen hammer or a Philips screwdriver to tighten that loose screw. So what can you do when you're stuck choosing the "right tool" for your special effects job? Ask the experts, of course!
This week, I'd like to focus specifically on handheld confetti cannons. We get a lot of requests for our Aerotechnic cannons, they've been used in everything from marching bands to Broadway shows, and there's almost always some debate over which cannon will produce exactly the effect the customer is looking for. I try to encourage customers to consider three factors when choosing a cannon capacity, variety of shots, and price -- in that order. Let's take a look at some of Theatre Effects' handheld cannons. Perhaps this article can help you choose the right tool for your next job.
At 2" x 32" the Parade Bazooka (AE06) is the big gun of our handheld confetti cannons. This cannon can easily hold a half-pound or more of confetti, or an entire package of streamers. It uses two 16g CO2 cartridges in tandem to provide a massive amount of lift -- the Parade Bazooka can shoot streamers up to 75' under optimal conditions! The size of this cannon makes it somewhat impractical for confetti shots in small venues, but it's perfect for large theatres or outdoor shots. Also, the Parade Bazooka makes a great t-shirt launcher! Using lifting cups and backpressure caps, you can throw a t-shirt up to 60' away!
Our next largest cannon is also the most popular cannon for rental applications. The Sky Cannon (AE07) is half the length of the Parade Bazooka, measuring 2" x 16". It can hold about 1/3lb of confetti or a half-pack of streamers and uses one 16g CO2 cylinder for power. The Sky Cannon is a great multi-purpose cannon -- it can throw streamers up to 60' for great-looking outdoor shots, and it can produce a huge cloud of confetti for stage shows. The 2" barrel of the Sky Cannon and Parade Bazooka make it possible to shoot more than just confetti and streamers. Try loading them with Aero-Puffs or Rocket Rings for kiddie shows, and business cards make for an interesting alternative to confetti for sales meetings or presentations. Pretty much anything that's reasonably soft and that can fit in the barrel can be fired from these two cannons.
As much as it pains me to write, there are times when the biggest cannon you can afford just isn't the right choice. For example, the Sky Cannon or Parade Bazooka would be overkill for a magician who works exclusively in small clubs or private homes. For situations such as these, the Pocket Cannon (AE11) can be a great choice. This cannon is relatively small (1" x 8") and can easily be hidden in a costume for a quick surprise effect. Since the barrel on the pocket cannon is smaller, it will only hold about 20 streamers, or two stacks of Turbofetti. You can, however, also load it with Mylarfetti, small Aero-Puffs, or silks for a variety of effects.
The Streamer Pistol (AE21) is the smallest handheld confetti cannon we offer. It measures 1/2" x 7" and uses one 8g CO2 cartridge for power. Because of its small size, the Streamer Pistol can easily be carried in even the skimpiest of costumes. This is also the least expensive cannon we offer, making it a popular choice among performers who aren't sure if a confetti effect is right for them. However, the small size does limit the variety of loads that can be used, and the effects produced by the Streamer Pistol will be noticeably smaller than those of the larger cannons. Still, for a company on a tight budget, or a performer who doesn't want an overwhelming effect, the Streamer Pistol can be a good choice.
You'll notice that I haven't mentioned the third factor, price, in most of the above descriptions. I really do believe that price should be the last thing you consider when choosing an effects device of any kind. If you choose a confetti cannon based only on what it costs, you could end up spending more money that you have to for a cannon that's too big for your show, or saving a few dollars but getting an effect that leaves the audience yawning. Only after you've decided on what the look is you're going for and which cannon would do the best job, only then should you worry about whether or not it will fit into your show's budget. After all, do you really want to use a five-dollar hammer when a six-dollar screwdriver would do the job so much better?
Theatre Effects Customer Service Department
Theatre Effects, 1810 Airport Exchange Blvd. #400, Erlanger, KY 41018
Phone: 1-800-791-7646 or 513-772-7646 Fax: 513-772-3579