Fire, Water, Light

Special effects can create a visual memory of your meeting or event that will remain vivid long after the flight home. In fact, attendees have come to expect pizzazz at a new product launch, awards ceremony, or other company celebration, and plenty of companies are creating powerful, if not always inexpensive, visual experiences. The trick is to match your event's theme and message with the special effect, integrating the ideas and the “wow” for a lasting impression.

Drop it!

Who can resist cracking a smile under a shower of confetti? While confetti won't be an effect your attendees have never seen before, it immerses the audience and is often surprising and just plain fun. Companies such as Van Nuys, Calif. — based Artistry in Motion can set you up with tissue or metallic confetti, confetti in special shapes (cars, stars, leaves, parrots, doves …), or even confetti imprinted with a message or die-cut in your company logo. They also rent the blasters.

Pyrotechnics, Up Close

Fireworks are always a hit, but if you haven't got the space or the right weather for a full-blown display, special effects companies such as Zigmont Magic F/X, Brandon, Fla.; or Digital Lightning, Kensington, Md., offer pyrotechnic centerpieces to wow your banquet guests. At the chosen moment, sparklers, usually hidden in a floral display, are set off by remote, producing a 3- to 4-foot-high display that lights up the table but won't burn linens or flowers.

Décor as Effect

Sometimes a special effect can double as the event's décor. For example, Westlake Village, Calif. — based Holo-Walls manufactures a line of semitransparent holographic films, available in 12 multidimensional patterns and delivered on wide rolls. The films reflect light in a rainbow of colors and can be used as an eye-catching backdrop, a funky dance floor, or in other design applications. Another new product that can remake a room's décor is electric tape. Available from Los Angeles — based TLC Creative Special Effects, the tape comes in widths of up to 8 inches and can be electrified to glow in a range of colors.

Hire an Fx Pro

Whether your special effects involve lighting, lasers, or a full-blown snowstorm, use a supplier with a solid reputation, comprehensive technical support, and a clean safety record. The special effect should be something attendees remember for all the right reasons. One place to look for professionals is in the Buyers' Guide at Special Events Magazine; find it online at www.specialevents.com.

Sources: Artistry in Motion, www.artistryinmotion.com; Digital Lightning, www.digitallightning.com; Holo-Walls LLC, www.holowalls.com; Special Events Magazine, www.specialevents.com; TLC Creative Special Effects, www.call4ideas.com; Zigmont Magic F/X, www.zigmont.com

SPECIAL EFFECTS (noun) 1. Visual elements in film, television, or events that are used to create an imaginative reality that would be impossible or impractical to have otherwise.

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