How do they do that
We take you behind the scenes of a professional firework display
Ever watched an award-winning display and wondered ‘how do they do that?‘
It’s not ‘light the blue touch paper and retire’. Today, creating a fireworks display demands long hours of planning and preparation.
We will take you behind the scenes of a firework show, and show you what goes into organising and firing a professional fireworks show. So let’s see how all professionals set up their shows. As well as how they use remote firing systems.
How do they do that: A brief break down
Planning a firework display.
Planning a firework display begins with a lot of legwork and long-term planning. From discussions with the client about budgets, style, and timing of the show, site layout. To conditions of the site and, safety considerations etc. Finally a site survey is always necessary, together with liaison with a variety of authorities.
All big shows nowadays are programmed into a computer for split-second precision of firing. So the music, firing list, timings, and cues are all programmed into the computer.
Creating the display.
The Display Director devises the show. Next all aspects are planned in detail with sequences prepared for all the necessary elements of the show. And the opening and closing sequences are usually showpieces which are linked together with speciality feature elements.
The first order of business is sourcing the fireworks need for the display. Although all display companies will keep large stocks sufficient for most displays, fireworks may be brought in specially for a competition or a very special occasion. Crews have to be booked and briefed, transport arranged, and all of the necessary equipment assembled together or built specially.
Music and fireworks.
Many shows are fired to music and the soundtrack has to be edited, usually from pre-recorded sources, then timed to correspond with the pyrotechnic effects. Finally, the soundtrack is cued and a copy burnt to CD to be played over the showground P.A. system.
How do they do that: A closer look
Please click on the images below to learn what piece of equipment are being used.
Arrival on site
Arrival on site involves unloading the hardware, tools and Pyro, next the display layout is marked out. The majority of the hardware consists of mortar tubes and frames for roman candles. Of note apart from the very large ones, mortar tubes are assembled together into crates and these have to be braced and fixed for security. And candle frames likewise hold multiple elements, often in fan-formation, and need to be secured. Lastly single-ignition units and batteries of cakes are the other main types of fireworks that make up a large display.
The first thing to do is to set the hardware out according to the display layout. The fireworks are distributed to the corresponding location. Next, fireworks are fused together into their correct sequences. Often this may involve the use of delays or slower fuses to achieve timing but this is often unnecessary if the show is fired using a remote firing system, or by computer.
Firstly only small displays are fired by hand. So for the larger display the next step is to insert a pyrotechnic igniter or electric match at the correct point in each fuse run. Next the lead from the igniter is connected to the firing box, usually through one or more hubs or distribution points. And finally throughout this process, the fireworks will have been fixed to their framework or loaded into the mortar tubes.
When the circuits are all connected and ready, the process of testing begins. Firstly a tiny electric current is fed to each igniter – sufficient to test that the connection has been made, but not sufficient to actually fire it.
Finally as the process of fixing and fusing each firework or battery is completed, the final task is protection. All fireworks need to be protected from pre-ignition by sparks from other fireworks, and from non-ignition because of damp from the rain.
How do they do that: Final Thoughts
Now that you have had a closer look at how the professional setup a firework show, you can tell all your friends when they ask how do they do that?
If you would like to know more about fireworks check out the related articles below. As well as keep an eye on our fireworks blog and the firework academy section of our website for more articles. additionally please get in contact with us using the contact form so we can answer any of your questions.