“James – we need you to make a fireworks soundtrack. It needs to be 15 minutes long. Oh, and it needs to be beatmixed..”.
I have only had to make one full on fireworks soundtrack mix.
It was around 2001 and was for the AXA Skyfest Cardiff. It was a huge 15 minute display to celebrate the first Football FA Cup Final to be hosted at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium (whilst London’s Wembley Stadium was being rebuilt). It took me a few weeks to make ( through various incarnations) using a very basic setup on ProTools5 (my first ProTools Rig) and with no fancy Elastic Time tools – just clever edits a little varispeed and a lot of edits.
It worked pretty well and it was fantastic to see the whole of Cardiff Bay lit up to a fireworks display set off and designed by the company that produced the fireworks for the Olympics ceremony at the Sydney Games. You can hear it here. I just listened back to it for the first time in a decade – and whilst it’s a little ragged in places, it was pretty epic!
I was at a party last night so missed the huge London 2012 New Years Eve fireworks display. These have become a Traditional part of each New Years celebration. My friend Will Jackson has tracked down the mix from last night’s display – so thought it worth a share here. It was mixed by BBC Radio 1 and Asian Network DJ Nihal. Take a listen here
In fact this mix was curated by Nihal and engineered by BBC Radio 1 Head of Station Sound, Dan Mumford. You can read more about how the display was put together here
I spent the weekend in Cardiff, once home to another similar event when Red Dragon FM was around. Cardiff is now one of the cities that has Capital FM as its own radio station. And this weekend in Cardiff it was all about the Ball. And even though the event was over 2 hours away in London – it still sort of felt local. All the local shows talked about was the fact that they had last-minute tickets to give away. All the news bulletins led with the Ball – with a reporter backstage and loads of quick relevant scene setting. And on Sunday morning when Cardiff was being soaked in a torrential downpour, the local host had upbeat, excited callers on, getting ready for “South Wales’ road trip to the Ball”.
In fact, the weekend served as a warm up for Take That’s arrival in Cardiff – an event that it seems is so anticipated that one local fashion advertiser has themed their local campaign around the band’s arrival.
My personal road trip home from Cardiff joined coverage of the Ball at about 4, and it was good to hear Capital throwing everything at it – from backstage reporters to “live” interviews along with (somewhat surprisingly) live tracks too. Live performances are hardly ever as good as recorded ones , so this felt a bit of a brave move for Capital. But as a passive listener, it made me feel part if the show. They were also making much of the HD photos available online along with video interviews. And I’m sure they will be hammering home the amount of online content (both photos and video) available for listeners to check out in the next few days.
Little is made of the backstage effort made to make this sort of thing happen. I know there will have been a fairly small team of hugely dedicated people working long hours to make this happen from engineers to online editors to producers. Maybe Global should shout publicly about this a little more – they should be proud of the team.
But, the moment I heard Capital FM’s Greg Burns link to someone high above London in the Flying Eye describing the sight of the stadium and the bands arriving, it felt like Capital had really nailed it. I’m uncertain whether the Flying Eye is still even in existence on air on Capital. But it is radio shorthand to Capital’s past that still exists in the collective memory (certainly for the older part of the audience). It’s a simple device to paint pictures and create context. And it was a nice subtle link to Capital’s past heritage too.