Panto Day 2020
Friday 18th December

Panto Advice

Spectacle, Special Effects and the WOW Factor

From start to finish the process to create some of the our effects that we produce for panto takes up to 12 months in advance of the shows. We usually start some kind of dialogue towards the end of the year and set up a meeting for early Feb with clients to look at requirements.

Prior to that we have a brain storm session with our creative team and come up with ideas and drawings of all sorts of creative thinking. Each year we try and be a little more futuristic than the year before. Obviously some of the ideas that we put forward for the following year might not become reality until a year or two later. We tend to make on average just for panto alone 5-10 big builds that keep our teams on their toes through the year. Once we have finished our own sifting process we will have the final ideas drawn up ready for our client meeting so that we can present. We will usually take with us to the initial meetings at least 100 rough ideas for magical effects/illusions. 

Next comes the discussions around the restrictions of the theatres. Don’t forget even though we might make an effect for a specific show in a specific location, we have to be sure that it will fit the majority of the first houses across the UK. So we have to look at door heights, stage point loading, loading bay access. For instance if you have ever visited the Kings Theatre you will know that the dock door is 6ft off the ground and directly out onto the street. There is no fixed access so each time they have to build a deck that can support the effects off the lorry and then a team of skilled technicians are required to haul the effects up a very short steep ramp, the same process for the OUT and its down a ramp onto a deck!!!!! If you have seen some of our effects then you will have some idea of the technical problems that have to be overcome.

Once we have agreed the 5-10 builds in Feb we set about with the creative teams in the workshops pulling together the project plan and we start the build. We have a core team of 12 staff but at our busiest, there are as many as 40 model makers, painters and engineers working away in their workshops, like a crack team of seasonal elves. The process of design and construction does take up to 8 months in most cases and we usually work to a complication date of the end of September early October. This gives us the time to allow for the testing of all of the equipment. The logistics of getting all of the effects from our workshops/storage facilities can mean that we have up to 45 Mega lorries turn up over a three day period to load and ship across the UK . For some of the bigger shows there can be up to 3 mega lorries for a show just with Twins FX effects in.

We start the same process as you are all sitting watching opening night we are working on the following year already. It’s a full 12 months process and we love it…

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