16 Lessons You Can Learn From Disney’s 2017 Fireworks Show

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on print

Dis­ney has been regard­ed as a com­pa­ny busi­ness­es and orga­ni­za­tions can learn from for years. Their com­mit­ment to excel­lence, peo­ple, and suc­cess pro­vide valu­able lessons to both free-agents and For­tune 500 com­pa­nies. After watch­ing behind-the-scenes footage of their new fire­works show, I couldn’t help but rewatch a few times.

I took my first to Dis­ney World in 2016 and was blown away by the guest-first atti­tude. I espe­cial­ly enjoyed the fire­works and the show “Wish­es.” On Feb­ru­ary 9, 2017, Dis­ney Parks Blog announced its new fire­work show “Hap­pi­ly Ever After” will replace “Wish­es.” As sad as I am to see Wish­es go, I’m look­ing for­ward to see­ing the new. The announce­ment video gives us a peak into how the new music was record­ed, and how the Dis­ney team works togeth­er to make mag­ic pos­si­ble.

This post high­lights 16 things I noticed about the mak­ing of Disney’s new fire­work show. I’m writ­ing this because I love Dis­ney. (I’m not paid or claim to own any­thing Dis­ney — just shar­ing some thoughts to encour­age you to make great art!)

Impor­tant for you to know before you read this: I real­ize there’s a lot here about the record­ing stu­dio itself, not exclu­sive to Dis­ney. That’s because Dis­ney uses tried-and-true tech­niques and ordi­nary peo­ple to achieve their excel­lent results.

Some peo­ple roman­ti­cize Dis­ney or believe the work is much more glam­orous than it real­ly is. I’m writ­ing this most­ly to cat­a­log the info for myself, but also to remem­ber that great results start with great per­for­mances and lead­er­ship.

There is so much to learn from in this short video. Take a quick watch (2 min), then read my 16 things.

[youtube id=“aQoKBqzM2C8”]

1. Musicians perform while wearing “normal clothes” — not fancy tuxedos or etc

It’s true that you should dress for the job you want to have. Clothes and cos­tumes have a tremen­dous impact on our behavior—but they can be a mask or an excuse.

To per­form with excel­lence in all of your life and work, the clothes are not the whole sto­ry! It starts with you: your dis­ci­pline, your atti­tude, and what you con­sumed 24 hours ago.

Notice what the world-class musi­cians are wear­ing in this video. Some­times you don’t need the cos­tume to play with excel­lence. It’s not about what your wear­ing or how shiny your instru­ment is. It’s about how well can you play, lis­ten, and “music” (yes, a verb) with oth­ers.

Les­son: Don’t hide behind your cos­tume. Strive for excel­lence on and off the job.

2. There are a TON of microphones everywhere

I stud­ied stu­dio record­ing and helped mix live orches­tras. The one thing I learned is that there are lots of options and no “one way” to do things. There are a lot of mics in this room giv­ing the mix­ing engi­neer plen­ty of options to cre­ate a “full stereo pic­ture.”

Les­son: If you can cap­ture con­tent in mul­ti­ple ways, do it. Give your­self options for the future. You’ll be thank­ful lat­er if when some­thing goes wrong.

3. They’re using Neumann U67s in lots of places

This is a clas­sic record­ing mic that pro­ceeds the pop­u­lar U87. I’m not sure what the hype behind the U67 is all about, but my the­o­ry is this: because it’s around and avail­able in the stu­dio, engi­neers use it. It has prob­a­bly been kept in the stu­dio for years and cap­ture the expect­ed sound.

Les­son: Use what you have. Good enough is good enough.

4. They’re using Neuman U87s

To spot the dif­fer­ence, I usu­al­ly look to the con­nec­tor. I see a few U87/67 look­ing mics with XLRs as the cable, so I’m assum­ing these are U87 and not 67s. Place­ment is rel­a­tive­ly high up. Again, not a ton of close mik­ing going on. This is also the micro­phone used for lots of Dis­ney voice-over record­ings.

Les­son: Seri­ous­ly — use what you have and don’t throw a fit. Don’t over think it.

5. I can’t help but mention the music stands with the holes.

This real­ly isn’t that big of a deal, but they look pret­ty cool, right? Prob­a­bly what the stu­dio had avail­able. The holes make the stand light weight yet still sup­port the music.

Les­son: Cool stuff can inspire you.

6. Many musicians playing with one ear headphones.

Not sure if these belong to the stu­dio or are per­son­al. This is prob­a­bly for every­one to hear the click track to match the ani­ma­tion pre­cise­ly.

The one ear tech­nique tells me they are com­mit­ted to lis­ten­ing to oth­ers but also agree­ing to go the same place.

Les­son: Lis­ten care­ful­ly to oth­ers. Don’t tune every­one else out.

7. The Disney spokespeople wear name tags during their interview, but not while they’re hanging out in the control room

I can just hear the per­son direct­ing the short video let­ting each per­son know, “don’t for­get to bring your badge to wear when we film you!”

Les­son: Rep­re­sent your brand whether you have on your name tag or not.

8. There’s a TV in the main tracking room

This is prob­a­bly here so the orches­tra can glance over at the ani­ma­tion ren­der­ing as they’re play­ing. Even though the fire­works are not over their head, each musi­cian has the oppor­tu­ni­ty to future think their work and under­stand how their spe­cif­ic role plays a part in the end prod­uct. 

Les­son: Think about where your work will end up in 5 years from now. 

9. A piece of cardboard is placed on the stand to make it easier to read/play long sheets of orchestral music. Genius.

Les­son: Make inex­pen­sive adjust­ments to get the job done.

10. The conductor sees a preview of the animation and the measure number | beat number on a display above his score.

Les­son: Every­one plays their unique part. With­out the conductor’s atten­tion to detail here, the music would not match the ani­ma­tion.

11. Analog Mixing Console

This is a clas­sic ana­log mix­ing con­sole (cus­tom build Neve) used in many famous record­ing stu­dios. Leg­end Chris Lord Alge calls these things dinosaurs.

Les­son: Old stuff works just as good as the new. (Mix­ing engi­neers will debate this all day long. Just go with it.)

12. Lexicon reverb

Anoth­er old-school piece of ana­log gear. It’s 2017 and we’re still using a piece of gear from the 70s (or ear­li­er?). Google Lex­i­con 480L for more info.

Les­son: Tried-and-true works.

13. Protools session is one take — not overdubbed

On the com­put­er screen, you’ll notice that the orches­tra is being record­ed using many micro­phones, but the song isn’t over­dubbed (at least not yet). The entire song is played as one take. What you hear is what they real­ly per­formed.

Les­son: Con­trary to pop­u­lar belief, it is pos­si­ble to be THAT good. Strive for excel­lence.

14. In the control room, everyone follows along with their copy of the score in a colored binder.

Les­son: Have every­one fol­low the same map. Then, you’ll prob­a­bly reach the same des­ti­na­tion.

15. Slack is being used in Chrome on someone’s Macbook Pro

Les­son: Find pro­duc­tiv­i­ty tools that work. Use them to get work done.

16. Slack is in the dock of an artist’s computer

Les­son: Stan­dard­ize your com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nels. 

Hope­ful­ly you enjoyed that that clos­er look. I could have gone on to talk about how the guy in #16 dri­ves a Hon­da and uses an iPhone. I could have talked about the Ikea fur­ni­ture all around. But, I’ll leave a few more east­er eggs for you to find.

[reminder]What oth­er things did you see in this video?[/reminder]

You might also like...

Home Delivery Service

Get great articles sent directly to your email inbox.
We value your time and attention and promise never to spam.
Unsubscribe at any time.