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Testing Ejendals Products: Pyrotechnics and Special Effects Pros Behind the Scenes

Unveiling Hidden Heroes: Pyrotechnics & Special Effects Pros Behind the Scenes. Explore the world of Johan Gunnarsson and Frank Kooistra as they create awe-inspiring moments on stage. Discover their challenges, artist collaborations, and the role of Ejendals products in their safety. Join us on this exploration into the world of unforgettable entertainment.

Summer is a bustling time for the entertainment industry as artists embark on worldwide tours, captivating audiences at festivals and one-off shows. However, behind these awe-inspiring performances lies a significant amount of planning and hard work.

Johan Gunnarsson and Frank Kooistra are pyrotechnic professionals specializing in crafting breathtaking special effects for concerts, theater productions, and sports events. They have collaborated with renowned artists such as Europe, Veronica Maggio, Sabaton, Twisted Sister, Zara Larsson, Hammerfall and Galantis.

Prioritizing Safety

Working as pyrotechnicians requires constant vigilance and prioritizing safety for artists, the audience, themselves, and other stage personnel. The risks inherent in their profession make staying focused crucial.

Pyrotechnic work is diverse, involving careful behind-the-scenes efforts that culminate in what audiences see on stage. Beyond handling the special effects for a lineup of artists, the work at a festival usually also contains handling permits and providing consumables and some times assistance to artists who bring their own touring pyrotechnic productions.

At the festival we recently worked at there were six stages spread out over a vast area and we handled special effects productions on five of them. We also painted the sky above the festival entrance with some colourful magical fireworks during each days opening ceremony.
To close the last day of the festival we had the privilege of orchestrating a grand finale fireworks display to celebrate the festival's 30-year anniversary.

Johan and Frank

Frank is wearing JALAS Zenit Evo 7128 safety shoes.

It all started with KISS

Frank has been working professionally as a pyrotechnician on and off since 2012. Reflecting on his journey he shares "It all began when I was captivated by the centerfold of KISS's ALIVE2 album. The band members were surrounded in powerful fires and a pyro inferno on stage. That's when my fascination with pyrotechnics ignited. When it was time for my own band to make a similar explosive impact, I knew I had to collaborate with the best in the industry – Unique Pyrotechnic, the leading special effects company in Scandinavia. When the opportunity to join their team arose, I eagerly embraced it without hesitation."

The biggest challenge

The biggest challenge of working with special effects on tour is the ever-changing conditions. Each day presents different stage sizes and ceiling heights, necessitating adjustments to the equipment setup. Weather conditions play a significant role, not only in the visual impact of the effects but also in terms of safety. A sudden gust of wind can bring a flame 1.5 meters closer to the artist on stage compared to earlier in the same performance.

A special experience

"The most enjoyable aspect of the profession is the show itself," Johan explains with excitement. "There's something magical about witnessing the artist's reaction on stage and seeing the audience's response as the flames light up the stage, unexpected explosions create a sense of awe, or a burst of confetti that showers over the crowd. It's the collective energy and shared experience that make it truly special."

Johan is wearing JALAS Exalter GTX 9968.


Safety is of utmost importance

Safety is paramount when working with pyrotechnics, as it involves handling flammable, explosive, and pressurized materials. Pyrotechnicians have a responsibility to ensure their own safety and that of others in the stage environment. Tasks like rigging and equipment unpacking require caution to prevent accidents such as hand injuries or falls from high stage edges. Safety considerations are present throughout the entire workday, from preparation to post-concert, as risks are minimized.

In the role of pyrotechnicians, appropriate workwear is crucial. Operating in diverse environments with varying temperatures, adaptable attire is necessary for agility and security. The risk of pinching or foot injuries from heavy equipment is ever-present, emphasizing the need to minimize potential harm. Clothing, shoes, and gloves should support multiple consecutive long workdays without straining the body. With extended work hours and extensive physical activity, maintaining comfortable feet, especially after days at hot festivals, is of utmost importance, according to Frank and Johan


JALAS Zenit Evo Shoes: A Lightweight and Comfortable Choice for Pyrotechnicians

Frank shares his experience wearing JALAS Zenit Evo shoes. "My initial impression was that the shoes felt remarkably lightweight while still offering stability. They resembled casual shoes rather than typical safety shoes with toe caps. The grip they provide on various surfaces is crucial when moving heavy equipment across stages and loading ramps to transport vehicles.

During one day at the festival, I decided to test switching between the Zenit Evo shoes and my previous work shoes, which I considered to be comparable. I noticed a significant difference in how the JALAS Zenit Evo shoes effectively dissipate heat and moisture from my feet. Absolutely fantastic!"

JALAS Exalter: Lightweight, Comfortable, and Versatile Work Shoes for Pyrotechnicians

Johan describes his experience working in JALAS Exalter shoes. "JALAS Exalter pleasantly surprised me. I expected a heavy and bulky shoe, but instead, I found it to be super light. During work, I didn't even realize I was wearing safety shoes. I was also pleasantly surprised by how comfortable they were. Even after 16 hours and nearly 30,000 steps in a day, my feet were okay. Of course, there was some occasional discomfort in certain areas of the feet, but I don't think any shoe can eliminate that.

I have previously always needed to have two different pairs of shoes to work in. One durable pair for rigging and tearing down, and one comfortable pair for standing and walking throughout the day. JALAS Exalter works for both of these purposes."

Frank's Reviews of Tegera Safety Gloves Await!

Don't miss out on our upcoming meeting with Frank and another colleague of his, as they share their reviews of TEGERA safety gloves. Stay tuned for their valuable insights and experiences!

Photo: Emil Gustavsson