Revolution in Pyrotechnics

Battles in the Sky is a new concept in the world of Fireworks, a new spectacular way to present a pyrotechnic Festival.
It’s a real revolution because for the first time, and unlike the traditional festivals, the artistic value of the fireworks is measurable, observable and tangible with 2 opponents competing at the same time in front of the same audience and with the same technical and atmospheric conditions.
A revolution because the public will be in an interactive situation and will influence the competition: it will be the final judge to decide who will be the winner between the 2 teams in competition.

Battles in the Sky is an international competition taking place over 4 weeks (2 semi-finals, 1 small final and the final) and which gathers 4 teams chosen among the very best pyrotechnic companies in the world.
Each evening is divided in 4 sequences in order to let the audience appreciate and compare the various qualities (technicality, imagination, poetry) of each team...all this in a "festive" spirit and in an evening where fireworks will reach more than 30 minutes.
A judge, true architect of the evening, will present the two opponents positioned side by side, separated by an imaginary line on a stretch of water or on land,. Giving voice to «advocate» for each firm representing a country, he will leave 3 minutes to each "lawyer" to try to convince and seduce the public, to explain the logic of "his" candidate and reasons to believe that the victory will be down the road.
Obviously, each competitor will provide the lawyer.
Then, the judge will draw lots the order in which firms A or B for the first sequence.
After the two arguments and the draw, the judge will launch the "confrontation."


  • Bernard Oheix feu d'artifice - Photo Eric Dervaux
  • Bernard Oheix feu d'artifice - Photo Eric Dervaux
  • Bernard Oheix feu d'artifice - Photo Eric Dervaux
  • Bernard Oheix feu d'artifice - Photo Eric Dervaux
  • Bernard Oheix feu d'artifice - Photo Eric Dervaux
  • Bernard Oheix feu d'artifice - Photo Eric Dervaux
  • Bernard Oheix feu d'artifice - Photo Eric Dervaux
  • Bernard Oheix feu d'artifice - Photo Eric Dervaux
  • Bernard Oheix feu d'artifice - Photo Eric Dervaux
  • Bernard Oheix feu d'artifice - Photo Eric Dervaux
  • Bernard Oheix feu d'artifice - Photo Eric Dervaux

Fire is divided into four sequences as many chapters:

Part 1:
The «business card»

2x3mn. Presentation of each firm only with bombs without musical support.

Part 2:
Music imposed

2x6 min. On the same musical support (sent to competitors 3 months before), alternatively, competitors will outline how they analysed the music, their inspiration to the same soundtrack, the report pyrotechnic material, the choice of colours, the pace of the fire in relation to the rhythm of music. In two times 6 minutes, the audience will actually compare the comparable and understand the differences.

Part 3:
Theme imposed

2x5 min. On a strong and readable theme communicated to applicants 3 months before the competition but also to the public through the press and the judge in his initial speech, both contestants will compete to "stick" to the theme and interpret it, making sense and building bridges between purely pyrotechnic material and the theme chosen, selecting the music matching the best with theme.
Again, the public will be able to compare on the spot the two interpretations and visions from both fireworks designers.
The theme should be simple and clear, to allow each candidate to present his vision. For example: The Mediterranean, The Wild West, The war against Humanity, Science Fiction is Today...

Part 4: «Bouquet Final»
1x3mn. On imposed music. Unlike the first 3 sequences, the finale must be synchronised, both opponents shoot with the same music at the same time to set fire to the sky for the great satisfaction of the audience.
Post-fire. The judge then invites the public to vote using their cellphones on a number displayed on a giant screen. He determines a specific time (30 min) for the duration of the vote. On the screen we see the votes accumulate and move both sliders for each candidate. The public is now fully involved in choosing the winner.

The winner of the first night will therefore go in the final against the winner of the second evening. The public will choose in the third week, the winner of the "small final", and the fourth week, the "winner" of the "Battles in the Sky" Festival during the Grand Final.
Soundtracks and themes for the first 2 nights will be different but for the "small final" and the "grand finale", it will be the same, in order to allow the 4 firms to design their fireworks without being related to the result of the first evening.
Technical installation involves for each competitor, a central barge barges and two medium that means 2 large barges and 4 medium barges for 4 nights. Competitors will get two technicians from the organization to assist and will set up each fire in 3 days.

This project is in direct line with my professional experience.
As Director of the Events at the Palais des Festivals in Cannes for more than 20 years, I was responsible for the organization and the creation of animation and cultural life for the city of Cannes. I created and established "cultural seasons", programming over 2000 performances in the fields of Theatre, Music, Dance and Performing Arts; developed the «Games Festival» for 15 years (becoming the most important games event in the world) and took care of the Summer season’s life in Cannes (6 different festivals between July and September).

In this context, in 1997, I woke up the Cannes Fireworks Festival, sleeping for ten years, with a huge success and immediate benefits, the most obvious is that it generates the highest grossing for local tourism during the Summer. The Festival is repositioned now as the major event of pyrotechnics in Europe, rivalling even Montreal (Canada), a model in this field.
This Festival is organized in a "classical" form, (5 nights in competition, one out of competition every Summer), a panel of judges awarding 2 prizes (a Silver Vestal and a Special Prize), on a 3 years cycle, the winners ending up every 4 years for a grand finale assigning a Golden Vestal.
This structure worked perfectly, and still today, fireworks evenings in Cannes are a «must» in the world of pyrotechnics. They benefit from the enthusiasm and loyalty of the public, with over 150,000 people attending each fire.
However, the situation has changed, the formula has been widely reproduced, the tastes of the public evolved and the "crisis" in which the pyrotechnic firms are struggling, involve evolution and revolution in the world of fireworks.
Indeed, attending a fire in July to get the final results and prize list in late August, is a handicap for the dynamism of the festival and the public now wants to be directly involved in the process of "recognition "of performance even if some efforts has been done recently in this way.
The great revolution announced is to put the competitors physically present, so you can actually compare their composition, inspiration, and let the public make the choice of qualification to the next round. Festival and Audience are on the same timeline!


Ce dossier s’inscrit dans la droite ligne de ma pratique professionnelle.
En effet, Directeur de l’Evénementiel au sein de la Société d’Economie Mixte pour les Evénements Cannois (Palais des Festivals de Cannes), j’ai assuré pendant plus de 20 ans, la responsabilité de l’organisation et la création de l’animation et de la vie culturelle de Cannes. A ce titre, j’ai créé et institué les "saisons culturelles", programmant plus de 2000 spectacles dans les domaines du théâtre, de la musique, de la danse et des arts de la scène, développé le Festival des Jeux pendant 15 ans pour en faire la manifestation ludique la plus importante au monde et assuré la vie "festivalière" des saisons d’été (6 festivals entre juillet et septembre).

C’est dans ce cadre que, en 1997, j’ai relancé le Festival Pyrotechnique en sommeil depuis une dizaine d’années, avec un succès  et des retombées immédiates dont la plus évidente est que chaque feu génère les plus grosses recettes du tourisme local de l’été. Le Festival s’est repositionné comme l’évènement majeur de la pyrotechnie en Europe, rivalisant même avec Montréal, référence en la matière.
Le Festival était organisé dans une forme "classique", (5 soirées en compétition, une hors compétition), un jury de personnalités attribuant 2 prix (une Vestale d’Argent et un prix spécial), sur un cycle de 3 ans, les vainqueurs se retrouvant tous les 4 ans pour une grande finale attribuant la Vestale d’Or.
Cette structure a parfaitement fonctionné, et encore aujourd’hui, les soirées de Cannes sont un must dans le monde de la pyrotechnie. Elles ont bénéficié de l’enthousiasme et de la fidélité du public, avec  plus de 150 000 personnes assistant à chaque feu.

Toutefois, la situation a changé, la formule a été abondamment reproduite, les gouts du public, de plus en plus formé, ont évolué et la "crise" dans laquelle se débattent les firmes pyrotechnique, impliquent un évolution et une révolution du monde de l’artifice.
En effet, le "temps" des manifestations s’est raccourci, assister à un feu en juillet pour un palmarès en fin aout, est un handicap pour le dynamisme du festival, le public souhaite de plus en plus  intervenir directement dans le processus de "reconnaissance" des performances. Les choix d’un jury (même s’il existe un prix du Public par vote sur Internet) sont évidemment aléatoires malgré la sophistication des moyens mis en oeuvre (retransmission des feux sur  le site interactif du Festival Pyrotechnique pour le public, présence d’un "expert" pour guider le Jury...).
La grande révolution annoncée est de mettre les compétiteurs physiquement en présence, de pouvoir comparer réellement leur composition, leur inspiration, et de faire trancher par le public le choix de la qualification au tour suivant. Le temps du festival rejoint alors le temps général du public !

Bernard Oheix.
BO Conseils en Culture et Animation.