Special Events

CONFETTI: BIG LIGHTS OVER TEXAS AT POWER OF HOUSTON FESTIVAL

Last October, 162 blocks of downtown Houston played host to the largest combination of fireworks, lasers, lighting, music and large-image projection ever, according to its creators. The Power of Houston, sponsored by Houston utility Reliant Energy, was a 30-minute special effects extrava-ganza highlighting a three-day festival celebrating the city.

LD Systems, one of the technical resource companies within Houston-based Stellar Event & Presentation Resources, spearheaded the technical production and creative coordination of the multimedia presentation.

"We blew up 50,000 pounds of explosives," says Rob McKinley, president of LD Systems. "We wanted to make jaws drop."

LD Systems provides these figures to show what it took to drop the jaws of the estimated 2 million spectators:

* 2 million watts of lighting from more than 1,600 fixtures

* 84 sites, including rooftops and ground locations, serving as stages and launch pads for the display

* 21 YAG and Argon lasers

* 26 high-intensity projectors.

Some 5,000 hours went into the technical design, planning, coordination and programming of the presentation. The three-week setup involved 220 helicopter lifts to install the equipment on roofs. With all systems in place, LD Systems controlled the entire show from one central voice and data communication headquarters.

Input from experts was vital, McKinley says. "This was a 'safety-first' exercise-stakes were high."

In the end, after 26,000 hours of setup and staging, not a single accident was reported. "The only way to achieve that," McKinley says, "is by having the right people."

The right people included

* The creative team, made up of six lead designers and engineers

* 125 technicians

* 150 additional support personnel

* 25 licensed pyro technicians

* Syncrolites of Dallas and Sky-watcher of Conroe, Texas, which provided the skylights and searchlights

* Personal Creations of Marina del Rey, Calif., and Production Arts of North Bergen, N.J., which provided large-format projections

* Performance Pyrotechnic Associates of St. Louis, which designed the firework displays

* Laser Media of Los Angeles, Laser Rentals of Joplin, Mo., and Laser Fantasy International of Bellevue, Wash., which provided laser effects.

McKinley said his only regret is not getting enough media coverage. "If this event had happened in L.A., New York or Paris, it would have gotten a lot more attention. But no one expected it from Houston." -T.M.

LD Systems 2040 N. Loop W., Suite 300 Houston, TX 77018 713/681-5664

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