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Eurovision backstage: they've got the fire!

10 June 2018 at 11:00 CEST
Hungary rehearsal Andres Putting
Special effects are a key element for stepping up your Eurovision game and taking a performance to the next level. In Lisbon, artists used a lot of special effects and we went behind the scenes to learn everything about them. We made sure that pyro technicians Vítor Machado and Paul Philipsen spilled all their secrets.

From flames to sparklers and from smoke to aerial-pyro, we've seen it all during the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest. But how do you implement these physical effects in a show with 43 different performances and how do you keep it safe for contestants, crew and audience? Vítor Machado and Paul Philipsen give us all the insights. 

Working with 43 different cultures

It is both Vítor and Paul's frist time working on the Eurovision Song Contest, so that makes this experience already really special for them: "It is such a unique event with the way it is planned and all the preparations that come with it. It truly is a journey, we work together with all the different songs and artists towards one final."

There are 43 different delegations to work with who all have different cultural backgrounds and speak different languages, which makes their job quite challenging: "If you work at a festival, you only have one or two styles of music to work with, but there are so many different styles at Eurovision. It is also very intense, as we are constantly rehearsing, making changes and making sure everything is perfect in combination with video and sound. Our job is different every day."

Metal with a Eurovision touch

The act of Hungarian metal band AWS was the most intense performance, Vítor explains: "We basically use every resource we have from pyro to flames and from sparklers to smoke. But we are using all these effects without it being messy; it needs to have meaning." Paul adds: "It's a heavy rock metal act and it is a challenge to make something special, but it really has a Eurovision touch to it."

Is it safe?

With around 10,000 people inside the arena and people walking, dancing and running around on stage, how does our pyro crew guarantee the safety of it all? Vítor and Paul have only one thing to say: "It looks heavy, but it is safe. We have six people on the ground to focus on the safety of people and equipment. Yes, there is a lot of rehearsing and communication, but all effects are safe."

We would like to thank Vítor and Paul for taking the time out of their busy schedules to answer our burning questions during the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest.