The Sci-Tech website SiliconRepublic.com has named Matthew as a top influencer in the city of Bristol.
In an article published on 15th February, Matthew is cited as “the UK’s number one firework science presenter” and listed as one of ten of the biggest sci-tech influencers in Bristol.
The website aims to keep readers informed on vital issues impacting STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths). In this focus on Bristol, ten people are highlighted as “people you should get to know from the Bristol area”, particularly for new people moving to the city.
Matthew first moved to Bristol in 1995 to study physics at the University of Bristol and quickly fell in love with the city. When he is not on the road, he actively supports the local science communication scene, taking time to network with early career and aspiring science-communicators at the monthly Bristol SciComm Socials. He is also a regular voice on local radio, including BBC Radio Bristol, BCFM, Ujima 98, and Pirate Nation Radio.
In the words of SiliconRepublic.com: “For anyone with a passion for science, fireworks and pyrotechnics, [Matthew] is a must-follow.”
Matthew’s special effects work is featured in Aardman Animations’ latest film, Early Man.
Producer Peter Lord wanted a set of volcanic eruptions in keeping with the characteristic Aardman look and feel. It had to be real and not computer-generated.
Matthew was approached by Director of Photgraphy, Dave Alex Riddett, in April 2017 with a request for very specific flame, smoke and debris effects.
Following a theatrical volcano project earlier in the year, Matthew stepped up to the mark and scoped out a series of scaled effect sequences to be shot against green screen.
He teamed up with Mark Lewis from Aardvark FX when it came to building specific rigs and testing debris launchers.
“We were clear that the eruptions had to feature explosive elements, with flying debris. But we also wanted to give the production team a variety of eruption styles to include on the volcanic horizon.” says Matthew, who has a genuine interest in volcanology and geophysics.
Their work features in several of the official trailers:
Matthew managed all Health and Safety aspects and arranged a suitable filming location near to Bristol for the shoot.
He added: “The Aardman crew aren’t used to working with pyrotechnics and our day of filming was somewhat of a novelty for them. Aside from the flames and smoke, we were shooting at 120 frames per second, rather than a few frames per hour.”
Pictured after the shoot: Matthew with Tom Barnes (middle), Technical Director and Dave Alex Riddett (right), Director of Photography.
Set at the dawn of time, when prehistoric creatures and woolly mammoths roamed the earth, Early Man tells the story of Dug, along with sidekick Hognob as they unite his tribe against a mighty enemy Lord Nooth and his Bronze Age City to save their home.
The film goes on general release in the UK from 26th January.
Matthew has taken to the road with LabLive17 across the North of England.
Kicking off the tour at the Lancaster Grand Theatre, Matthew launched a brand new stage show about fireworks, which looked at how STEM skills are used in creating live spectacles in the sky and on stage. Featuring awe-inspiring pyro demos with seamless transitions between video and the live stage, the new show also involves members of the audience on stage.
Yes, that right – young people, flames and explosives on stage together, all thanks to Matthew’s meticulous show planning and attention to safety.
Sharron Pearson, Education Manager at Cheltenham Festivals described Matthew’s on stage presences as “True showmanship”, with the “flexibility and confidence to respond to particular audience needs.”
Matthew provided full Health and Safety management support for the two week tour. He presented shows in the first week and switched to H&S support for the tour in the south of England.
He has earned huge respect from science communication colleagues due to his proactive and can-do approach to Health and Safety. Matthew added: “Managing Health and Safety enables us to do exciting things and entertain audiences safely.”
Matthew appeared at venues in Lancaster, Hartlepool, Hull and Gainsborough. The tour was supported by EDF Energy.
Craig Dohring, station director at Hartlepool power station said: “This was a fantastic event and one which really showed the pupils how science is used in everyday life as well at workplaces such as ours.”
LabLive is a spectacular show for Y8&9 which brings all the fun of Cheltenham Science Festival to school audiences around the UK. It aims to engage inquisitive young minds through an interactive show where they will learn more about the benefits of studying science, technology, engineering and maths at GCSE.
Matthew Tosh’s success at communicating firework science to public and school audiences is being acknowledged internationally this month, as he speaks at the 16th International Symposium on Fireworks (ISF). On Tuesday 25th April, Matthew will talk to representatives from the worldwide firework industry about how he has developed demonstrations and narratives for stage shows to engage and inform audiences.
It’s his second ISF. At the 15th ISF in Bordeaux, overseas colleagues were quick to recognise Matthew’s passion and dedication for engaging with the public. They encouraged him to submit a paper on his work, particularly about his successful STEM education and public engagement.
Matthew will be highlighting the challenges of presenting to different audience abilities and scaling up shows to fill big stages which, if you aren’t careful, can easily reinforce the misconception that fireworks are just about noise and big explosions.
“It’s much more subtle. It’s about showing the public how diverse and detailed this industry is.” says Matthew. “There is a lot of unseen work behind the scenes including research and development, firework and show design, risk assessments, mathematical modelling and meticulous planning. This is long before the first firework is even taken out of its packaging.”
“As an industry with materials that can be lethal if used incorrectly, we have a responsibility to communicate our work to our audiences. And how we communicate effectively and responsibly is an art in itself.”
The former science teacher also aims to raise awareness about firework safety and inspire young people about the creative possibilities with strong STEM skills and qualifications.
Matthew adds “Many careers in the live events and entertainment industries require good science and maths qualifications. It can be easily overlooked when careers advice is being given out to young people.”
The week-long Symposium is being held in Omagari in Northern Japan, the location of several huge firework festivals and celebrations in summer months. It is a gathering of professionals from all over the world to discuss cutting edge firework developments. Presentations will cover the research and development of firework ingredients, safety, transport and firework control technology. It’s also a chance for suppliers and traders to showcase their offerings.
And in case you were wondering… Yes, the Symposium features many firework displays!
Matthew will be providing updates from the 16th ISF via Twitter, Facebook and Youtube.
Three and a half tonnes of fireworks were fired from two barges on The Humber in twelve minutes. It was a successful show which touched the imaginations of thousands of people.
The show was designed and operated by Titanium Fireworks Ltd, a provider of high-end large scale firework displays in the UK, including the London New Year fireworks on The Thames and Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations.
Titanium Fireworks directors approached Matthew during Summer 2016 about working on the Hull show and, in particular, using his skills to engage audiences with some of the behind-the-scenes operations.
It’s the first time that a professional firework display of this scale has had such specialist coverage in the UK.
With his highly unique combination of TV presenting and professional fireworks experience, Matthew produced exclusive behind-the-scenes footage of the show preparations. He talked about safety considerations, featured fellow team members and explained some of the technical aspects of the show.
Matthew says “The feedback, particularly via social media, has been tremendous. I think we captured the spirit of this special year for Hull.”
His content was shared by official Hull 2017 and Titanium Fireworks Ltd PR teams, helping to increase audience engagement in the lead up to the launch of Hull 2017.
Matthew’s passion for live broadcast shone through too, when he fronted a number of Facebook live videos as the barges moved into position on The Humber.
Unsurprisingly, his press and media skills were in demand; escorting TV news crews on site and providing interviews on behalf of Titanium Fireworks for BBC Look North regional news, BBC Radio Humberside and local newspapers.
In Matthew’s own words, filming on a fireworks rig of this magnitude isn’t straightforward. “Aside from the obvious safety issues, there are often many commercial, event security and creative sensitivities. What’s more, you don’t want to give too much away and spoil the show!”
But as Matthew consistently demonstrates, he finds that balance perfectly, using his enthusiasm, industry knowledge and occasionally witty style to ensure that the audience is engaged.
Between filming and editing, Matthew was able to assist with shell-loading and got thoroughly mucky on the de-rig.