Saturday, January 8, 2011

Thanksgiving + Leftover Fireworks + Father and Son = Movie Special Fx

So my son and I found ourselves with some time to kill over the Thanksgiving 2010 weekend. Looking for a diversion, we came across a box of leftover fireworks from the 4th of July and we said, "Hey, let's make a movie." And so we did.

Given the fact that mom was home, we promised to be careful, which in retrospect was probably a good idea. So, instead of lighting the fuses directly, I recommended we take a lesson from my old model rocketry days and observations taken from watching Mythbusters. We created a firing board consisting of some large gauge nails, wire, a portable car battery jump starter and homemade rocket igniters (more on this in a minute). The nails served as contacts for triggering each of the igniters to fire when touched by a lead from the battery. What this enabled us to do was run 8 foot leads to each of the fireworks we wanted to explode and trigger one or more in sequence when we wanted from a "safe" distance.

Key to the success of this operation was the homemade rocket igniters. To create these, simply take about 3" of picture hanging wire, create a small loop in the middle, coat the loop with some lacquer nail polish (see mom for this) and let dry. Running current from the jump starter causes the loop to heat up rapidly igniting the lacquer which in turn will ignite the fuse of the fireworks.

After 32 years of waiting, a day of making mayhem with my son made a childhood dream of my own come true - producing a movie with real explosive special effects, just like those seen on the big screen. The results of our day can be seen in the videos below. Note, the two videos are the same except for the sound tracks. Izy discovered that you get an entirely different experience based on the music playing during the movie. Enjoy!

- Ken

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