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Fire & Smoke: A Book Review

In addition to providing information about a wide range of pyrotechnic products and devices, the book "Special Effects with Fire & Smoke" can also serve as inspiration for directors faced with creating magical effects in their productions. Chapters two and eight, in particular, list many devices which an imaginative director or technician could use on stage; either as-built or with minor adaptations. One of the most versatile devices covered in the book is also one of our most popular products, the Electronic Flash Gun.

Basically, the flash gun is a battery-operated device that ignites flash paper. The effect it produces is one of a ball of fire shooting across the stage. The gun is designed to be palmed and is virtually unnoticeable on stage. This maximizes the effect, as the performer appears to shoot fire from their fingertips. Any director who has worked on The Wizard of Oz will immediately see the benefit of this handy little device. There is a scene in the play in which the Wicked Witch terrorizes the Scarecrow by tossing a ball of fire at him . With the flash gun, it is possible to achieve this effect, with a real fireball, and do it safely.

The basic principle of the flash gun has also been applied to many types of props and devices. There are double-shooting flash guns which allow the performer to produce two fireballs without having to reload the device. Flash wands, as the name implies, are magic wands with one or two flash guns inside. There are also parts kits available for the enterprising technician who wants to build a flash effect into a specific prop for a show. These kits, along with some inspiration from "Special Effects with Fire & Smoke" can provide an unlimited variety of magic wands and staffs, fire-breathing props, "exploding" gizmos and other fantastic effects.

In addition to providing inspiration for effects, "Special Effects with Fire & Smoke" also covers, in detail, how to use pyrotechnic devices safely. Issues such as loading the effect, pre-testing , and even checking local laws regarding the use of pyrotechnics are all covered in the book. Shipping, transportation and storage of various compounds is also covered. The importance of safety and responsibility in the use of any pyrotechnic device cannot be overstated, and this book goes a long way towards helping "newbies" to the world of pyro start off on the right foot. 


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