LOS ANGELES - Pyrotek Special Effects unleashed a flurry of effects at the 2010 BET Awards. As the event took place at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, CA, Special Effects Designer and President of Pyrotek Lorenzo Cornacchia implemented cryogenics, pyrotechnics, propane gas flame effects, and low-lying fog for artists such as Kanye West, Diddy, Usher, TI and others. Cornacchia collaborated closely with the design team including Lighting Designer Bob Dickinson, Brian Stonestreet (Production Designer), Alana Billingsley (Art Director) as well from Cossette Productions, John Cossette (Executive Producer), and Jesse Collins (Show Producer).
At an offsite meeting at Center Stage Studio, Cornacchia reviewed the proposed design for Kanye West, with Kanye, his Production Manager, Aaron Chawla, and Artistic Director John McGuire. “Kanye is a true perfectionist and relayed the concept and exactly what he was looking for in our various discussions about his performance”, commented Cornacchia. Kanye kicked off the BET Awards with a design encompassing a full cryogenics wall positioned directly behind the rapper. Kanye stood tall on a mountain peak set with LED lights to color the smoke, which accented Kanye as he performed his track Power. “The cryogenics wall we created was cued throughout the chorus which illustrated heavy looks of smoke as the video wall transported Kanye through various geographic scenes, and snow-capped mountain ranges”. Towards the conclusion of Kanye's performance, the upstage video wall portrayed a cloudy dark snowstorm scene. Incorporating six snow machines into the set with fans located at various positions allowed the designers to create an interactive life-like snowstorm on the stage and into the audience mosh-pit leaving a lasting impression.
Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs who goes by the name Diddy provided an upbeat performance that included over 350 effects. “Diddy was very detailed in the design process”, Cornacchia commented. At an offsite meeting, discussions focused on how to create a design that would simulate a close proximity fireworks display for the titled song Hello, Good Morning from his album Last Train to Paris. The performance included Dawn, Kalenna a special guest, T.I.. In order to safely create the desired look, the special effects team were very conscious of smoke and various elements of the stage layout. One of the challenges the team faced was a last minute change of the set layout which had two 4' x 16' risers added for the orchestra upstage stage left and right. “Our windows were even more limited after they added the risers on either side”, Cornacchia explained. “Diddy's whole design was to not have effects just going upwards, he wanted things to come across, going out, essentially every direction in an asymmetrical fashion.” Using various red and silver mines along with comets with white flash, they created the desired mayhem of fireworks Diddy was after. The effects were cued to the fast- paced beats near the conclusion of his performance. The detail to the amount of effects and various angles in such a small footprint paid off with a flashy full-throttle scene to close out the performance.
On to another act, Cornacchia worked with Production Manager Curtis Battles and T.I. for his performance of Yeah Ya Know with Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker. “We changed things up for T.I. and made a hot, and I mean hot, set-up with our equipment”, Cornacchia explained. The set was filled with propane gas effects to ignite the stage and was accented with additional scenic flames illustrated by the video walls. Upstage right and left of Travis were two seven-foot wide Dragon Tail units that created a lazy-flame look throughout the song. The beginning of every verse commenced with large-scale bumps of fire that would each shoot seven-foot wide flames about fifteen-feet vertically bordering each side of Travis. During the chorus, four additional dragonheads were positioned across the upstage. The Dragon units created flame columns that were manually operated in a chasing sequence by pyro shooter Keith Hellebrand.
Cornacchia, his Pyro Crew Chief Bob Ross along with their effects team of four pyrotechnicians coordinated the set-up and assembly of the displays with Stage Manager, Gary Hood. Additional acts that encompassed special effects were Usher, DJ Khaled featuring Ludacris, Queen Latifah, and Trey Songz.