After providing effects for Muse’s Unsustainable European tour in 2013, pyrotechnic and special effects specialists Quantum Corp. joined the British trio for its headlining performances at Coachella this year. David Banks, vice president and senior project manager took lead providing special effects for Muse and Lorde’s performances over both festival weekends.
Quantum Special Effects Ltd. provided effects for Muse throughout 2013, including their WWZ performance at Horse Guards Parade as well as the EU tour. The Spitfire Flame™ system has made a name for itself throughout Europe. With stories appearing in national newspapers from rehearsals, the public thought a stadium was burning down as the flames reached great heights. Muse made headlines again when Italian authorities threatened to ban the band after pictures from the UK shows emerged.
Having headlined Coachella once previously, the British trio wanted to top its last performance from four years ago. Designed and developed in-house by Quantum Special Effects for festival and stadium requirements, the Spitfire Flame™ system is capable of reaching heights of 65'. The units contain all necessary safety features including double shut off solenoids and pilot flame sensors, inhibiting firing if a pilot light is detected.
The fuel of choice for the Spitfire Flames™ system is isopar. “This liquid is reasonably docile in terms of flash point and volatility allowing us to tour reasonable amounts of the fluid without special permissions. As a vapor, however, it produces a very calorific flame of good colour and substance. Fuel additionally can be used to add artificial colour to the flame,” say sBanks.
Two large fuel accumulators on each side of the stage were pressurized with inert nitrogen gas to a pressure of 40 bar. These were connected to the individual flame units by means of armoured fuel hose. At this point, the system was one of pressurized liquid. The flame is produced by the opening of the inline fuel solenoids, which forces the pressurized fuel threw a nozzle and produces a highly flammable vapour. This vapour instantly ignites by means of continuously running pilot light powered by butane/propane mixed gas (similar to a blow torch) attached externally to the rear of the unit. Because the vapor is effectively still under high pressure once released, this pressure flow has the effect of producing quality fingers of flame.
Banks continues, “The burn is almost 100%, producing very little fallout, unburned fuel for stage consideration, power, and flexibility to fire far more effects than just pyrotechnics. For example, at Coachella we were able to distribute 12 stadium shots loaded with custom printed confetti around the front-of-house area, all fired wirelessly using Galaxis one-way receivers and specially designed Quantum booster packs allowing sufficient change to release a heavy dump solenoid."
The band also commissioned its custom Muse confetti, this time with special US dollar prints especially for the festival. Four larger confetti blowers were placed at the front of the stage and front-of-house positions for an even crowd distribution.
Quantum Corp. was also on hand with blowers for Lorde’s performance on the Outdoor Theatre Stage. The 17-year-old singer has taken the US by storm and sang to strong crowds over both weekends. For the closing of her set, two confetti blowers shot out over the audience.
Having also provided effects for P!nk’s Truth About Love world tour, Quantum Corp. is now joining Katy Perry on her upcoming Prismatic world tour, designed by Baz Halpin, as well as Queen's tour later this year. The effects provider is now based in Las Vegas.