A logo is an important identifier for who a company is and what they stand for. Now, take that logo, make it 20′ tall with flames shooting out of it and you’ve got statement.
During the summer of 2009, the Wizards decided they needed a new feature to add to their player introduction show before each home game. This feature would need to be over the top and capable of rallying an already excited fan base.
Wizman Comes To Life
The Wizard’s requirements for the feature were simple: design something appearing larger than life when placed in the arena as well as add a surprising visual impact to the pre-game activities. Image Engineering’s design team pitched a variety of ideas for the new feature. Finally, the client settled on one design: a nearly 20’ tall three-dimensional replica of the Wizard’s iconic logo blowing 25’ high fire balls from its hands. While it looked great on paper and in renderings, constructing the logo prop to look and function properly had its challenges.
More Than Just A Shape On Paper
To build the complicated set piece, Image Engineering started with the basics: engineering calculations and CAD drawings of the structure. The shape would not only have to conceal a fully certified liquid propane flame effect, but also be designed to support its’ own weight as it hung 70’ down from the rafters in the arena. IE’s design team visualized and constructed a fully integrated supportive frame made completely of aluminum. This frame served as the skeleton structure housing the tanks, hoses and control system for the flame effect and allow for the attachment of the professionally painted skins making up the familiar logo.
One Last Hurdle
While the design construction presented its own challenges, the deployment of WIZ-MAN saw one more hurdle before it could go live: The DC Fire Department. Up until this point, the Fire Department had never approved an LP flame device for permanent installation in any place of public gathering. To convince the Fire Marshal to allow WIZ-MAN to exist in the Verizon Center, Image Engineering’s engineers created a detailed safety plan for operating the set piece. The design for the device incorporated multiple safety features to shut the device down in the event of an emergency. In addition, due to the flame device’s innovative tank and manifold design, the prop would never require more than two 1-pound bottles of propane to operate effectively at any given time.
There’s Always More Excitement With Fire
Since its creation and subsequent acceptance by the DC Fire Department, WIZ-MAN has delighted tens of thousands of excited Wizards fans. He lowers to just above the court floor for each home game to spout fire and announce the arrival of the Washington Wizards starters. Since Wiz-Man’s inception, the Wizards have undergone an entire image overhaul and subsequently required us to create a new flame effect. You can be find the current set piece in our portfolio.