As darkness envelops the man-made lake at Tokyo DisneySea, a series of barges sneaks out onto the water. Loaded with pyrotechnics and water effects, these barges are the backbone of BraviSEAmo!, a new 16-minute nighttime spectacular that premiered in July. With an original score by Gavin Grennaway, the show was directed by Yves Pépin of Eca2 in Paris, France, in collaboration with a team from Disney Creative Entertainment and Walt Disney Imagineering. Bruno Corsini from Marseille, France, served as lighting designer, with Barbizon Lighting providing the majority of the lighting equipment.

The action takes place in an area of the park called Mediterranean Harbor, where highly stylized facades create a Mediterranean village nestled around the lake. An erupting man-made volcano, Mount Prometheus, serves as a backdrop for the show and also hides the barges when they are parked during the day. As Mickey Mouse appears on the first barge, lights around the harbor come on to illuminate the lake and set the stage for the encounter of Prometeo, a spirit of fire with six large wings, and Bellisea, a spirit of water. These two supernatural beings meet, and although fire and water usually don't make good bedfellows, in this case they are attracted to each other.

“There are a lot of firsts in this production,” says John Haupt, producer, Disney Creative Entertainment. “This is the first time we used a GPS system to track the location of the barges on the lagoon. Their positions need to be highly accurate, due to all the pyro and large water fountains.” There are four fountain barges whose drivers use the GPS to get the barges into show position, at which point four support feet lower hydraulically to the bottom of the concrete shell of the harbor to attach the barges during the show. After the show, the feet are raised, and the barges are driven to their backstage marina.

There are also nine smaller pyro barges that are towed into place, four at one end of the lagoon and five at the other. The fireworks design was by Christophe Berthonneau of Groupe F Pyrotechnie in France, who also provided 40 flame projectors that help create Prometeo. The two largest barges are free-floating but also use GPS for placement, with a driver in front and a spotter in the back. One of these is for Mickey Mouse, who sets the stage for the show, and the other is for Bellisea, the water spirit. Her barge is the largest and contains her figure, which is created with water. The Bellisea figure is over 36' tall. “She has a thin, light metallic structure hidden by the water,” says Pépin.

The imposing fire figure of Prometeo has a heavier metal armature. “The figure is like a crane with a body and six wings that move hydraulically,” explains Thomas Tryon, production manager, Disney Creative Entertainment. “The rest of his structure is shaped with the 40 flame projectors.” This figure stands almost 46' high with a wingspan of over 100'. He lives underwater 23 hours a day in a pit in the center of the lagoon and rises into place during the show. His body and wings sparkle with over 3,000 generic Japanese waterproof LEDs and 250 Birket Strobe-Brik strobes that run via DMX, with eight 32-channel, two 16-channel, and four eight-channel controllers all in stainless steel enclosures. The strobe cables have to be submersible so they are heavier than usual.

“Prometeo is a bit like the Eiffel Tower,” adds Pépin, pointing out that the metal structure is somewhat triangular. It also has 17 articulations that help make the movement of the figure both fluid and graceful. There are narrow spot PAR lamps used for his eyes, with a yellow gel to add warmth. “He rises from a sea of fire that spreads 300' in diameter,” says Pépin. “From the eruption of the volcano to a dance of flames on the water, to the sea of flames, it's as if he is rising from the center of the earth.”

Another first on this project is the use of a wireless LAN (local area network) to run all show communications. “The DMX for fountain control and lighting control, as well as the pyro digital control signals, are all sent via wireless LAN to the barges,” says Tryon. “This is the first time nothing is hard-wired for one of our nighttime spectaculars. It was very exciting and risky but turned out to be very reliable. They have a very controlled environment with no competing radio frequencies at Tokyo Disneyland.”

Wired Ethernet with antennae sends signals to land-based dimmers, while Ethernet ports around the lake were used for lighting programming positions. The show control is via the NetPils System from Profil Productions in France.

Corsini designed the lighting to accompany all the water and fire effects in the show. “I wanted to help illuminate the two main characters, as well as add ambiance and color through the lighting,” he says. Many of the fixtures are mounted directly on the barges under the water fountains and run via power generators. Other fixtures are on light poles placed around the lake that are raised into position on scissors lifts at show time and lowered out of sight to blend into the decor of the park during the day.

The equipment, provided by Barbizon (some of which was installed when the park first opened), includes 42 Halto/Griven Rainbows and 42 Griven Everest CYM MSD700 fixtures, 10 Space Cannon Ireos Pro VHT 7kW color-changing fixtures, Coemar NAT 2.5kW and 4kW fixtures in Tempest Lighting outdoor enclosures, 380 Pace PARs, 130 Hydrel waterproof PAR64s with custom dichroic color filters, and Aqua Signal marine floodlights with control via High End Systems' Wholehog® III via DMX, and Electrol Engineering D625dx dimmers. Barbizon's Troy Starr served as systems integrator, working out of Barbizon's Denver office.

“I tried to follow the movement of the water with the lighting,” says Corsini, who has worked on large-scale shows with Eca2 for many years, including the opening ceremonies for the Olympic Games in Athens. He opted for a water-inspired palette, with colors ranging from aqua and peacock blue to sea green, plus yellow and amber to accent the flames. “The challenge was to synchronize the effects to help tell the story in a short time,” he notes. “You have to be efficient and choose your tools well.”

Corsini used two consoles, an HES Wholehog® II and a Wholehog III, while programming at night. “I was there for 33 days, working with Japanese technicians and a translator,” he says. “This is not a light show in itself, but the lighting is truly integrated into the total effects package.”

The story of BraviSEAmo! evokes such tales as The Beauty and The Beast, The Firebird, and the phoenix. “I always wanted to create characters made of the elements and not just have people or animals representing fire and water,” says Pépin, who must be a romantic at heart, as his fiery character of Prometeo is seduced by Bellisea. “The fire is tamed by the water, and they sing together in a shower of light and fireworks,” he says, noting that there is pyro on the barges, on the lake itself, and on Prometeo, whose wings become cascades of gold as he is rendered into a softer, more docile man of fire.