Use the same ematches fireworks pros do

Use the same ematches fireworks pros do

Written by Harry Gilliam

Topics: Electrical Firing of Fireworks

Some people think homemade electric matches are 2nd rate.

Think again.

This homemade ematch…

…was used by Chicago special effects pro Geoff Binns-Calvey to explode this brick wall…

…which was done in order to make this bad-ass commercial

Notes from Pyro Professional Geoff Binns-Calvey

The big air mortar and foam brick effect is seen at around :28 seconds, and reprised at around 1:44.

At around :34 seconds, there’s another effect also using a bit of FFFG black powder and titanium in a little squib (using Skylighter electric matches).

My method on the sparking hits (at :34) was to print up strips of paper. When cut down from a full sheet, each piece was about 1 1/2″ wide, and 4″ long, and had black and yellow miniature caution stripes printed along one edge, about 1/2″ wide. I would roll these up on a dowel, using a squirt of 77 spray on the edge, then roll a nice crimp on the edge to make a bottom with a hole in it. I’d insert an electric match into this, and hot glue it into place. Then I’d load the cylinder, about the size of a cigarette butt now, with black powder and titanium flakes. Then I’d make a little cap of paper and insert it, friction fit, into the end of the tube. This gave me a nice little directional mini-mortar.

At :40 seconds, there’s a smaller pyro effect, but the big air mortar suspended above the set gives a nice rolling toroidal cloud of dust. And there are also some smaller propane effects–not mortars per se, but electrically valved small propane fireballs, just visible on the ground and foreground, at around 1:47.

The firing box (GN6011) I got from you worked like a champ. As I might have mentioned, I think I’m going to make an adapter for single shot use. I didn’t need the slat and multi conductor cable for any of this, and it was a little bulky.

Oh, and at around 1:45, I think there’s some Flying Fish fuse dancing through the upper left corner. I didn’t use much of it, though. It’s a great look, but if it’s close to the actors, there’s a risk of a piece squibbing around and shooting down someone’s collar.

Also, I was standing just out of frame with a die grinder and a scrap of mild steel, throwing sparks at around 1:38 to 1:43. That’s a simple, very controllable way to spark up the set.

Oh, you’re not making your own bad-ass commercials?

Well, take a look at this amazing prize-winning fireworks show my friend Ron Silva made using just ematches and consumer fireworks that anyone can buy. (Save youself some money on ematches, too, if you want to go that route with your next show.)


Roll the credits:

Special effects and pyro, courtesy of Geoff Binns-Calvey.

BASH commercial by The Odd Machine. (USE EXTREME CAUTION! Do not click on Odd Machine’s blog right before you need to go to sleep.)

Bad Ass Sledge Hammer (BASH) by Wilton. Doncha just wanna go out and git your own BASH right now?

Ematches made by Geoff-Binns Calvey the first time he tried, using Skylighter’s Ematch Blanks, Dip Kit, and tutorial.

1 Comment For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Jeff Evans says:

    That was quite an impressive performance by the company doing the pyrotechniques.So they make there own how can I?Its one thing seeing the kit for sale, would love to see a small tutorial from you guys on the “HOW TO!!” You guy’s have given so many of us safe and professional tutorial’s. This is a must have as far as Im concerned!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Jeff

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