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The FX Factor

The Science of Special Effects Live Show

Join former science teacher and pyrotechnician Matthew Tosh for an inside look at the science of special effects as seen on stage, screen, at festivals and immersive spectacles. Flames, smoke and pyrotechnics are used on TV and in film to create an explosive atmosphere. But how do scientists go about making these dazzling phenomena? This show explores the exhilarating world of live special effects. 

In this immersive show, Matthew uncovers some of the fundamental and effective aspects of science that are used to entertain and thrill audiences in stunts, films, live theatre, and on stage at concerts. Audiences will witness columns of smoke, vapour, coloured fire, electrical explosions, dry-ice effects, Harry Potter-style bubbling potions and firework fountains – all in an indoor setting!


But of course, what you really want to know is, how does it work?! Matthew unpicks each effect so that the audience can see how science allows us to control and exploit the visual aspects to create spectacular entertainment. By walking the audience through the stunts step-by-step, he’ll show how science can be applied creatively – and safely. 

Take, for example, the humble kettle. How did making a simple cup of tea lead technicians to create fog that stays close to the ground and doesn’t fill the theatre and choke audiences? All will be revealed…! 

This show is packed with live demonstrations, audience participation, and inspirational engagement. There’ll be flames in hands, handling dry ice and firing Matthew’s very own self-styled portable CO2 jet in a robust health and safety environment. Designed to entertain and educate, this is a show you won’t forget in a hurry.



Matthew will liaise with your site managers and technical staff and full health and safety management of the show is provided, along with a venue-specific risk assessment. PLEASE NOTE: Matthew does not issue a template risk assessment as each show is tailored – and risk assessed – for the particular venue. £5m public liability is included as standard.


Expected outcomes 

  • Intriguing demonstrations of STEM in the real-world. 

  • How science can be deployed creatively and for entertainment. 

  • For schools in particular:  

  • An engaging exploration and understanding of key science topics such as diffusion, density and evaporation. 

  • Audiences gain an increased insight into temperature, convection, energy pathways, particles, forces, sound waves, light, states of matter and material properties. 

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