Happy Fourth of July Weekend!


Happy Fourth of July weekend! I say that even though the Fourth is on Monday. It’s a time for grilling and, if you’re like me and in Las Vegas, getting roasted (that’s not a euphemism) in the blistering sun before it cools down to 100 degrees at night to watch fireworks.

So since the 4th of July is rapidly approaching and you should be out celebrating Freedom and Liberty, I’ll just put up a brief post talking about the technology behind putting together a fireworks display. I’ve posted it the past couple of years and the technology hasn’t changed that much since then. The process is exactly the same.

As you can probably guess, with the spectacular fireworks displays you see every Fourth of July – like the ones we have right here in Las Vegas for the Fourth and New Year’s Eve – sync’d to music as they often are, it requires not just the fireworks themselves but a major amount of computerization and automation to pull everything off. Besides the mechanical triggers and fireworks themselves, there is actually software that is designed solely for the purposes of controlling and synchronizing the firing, timing, and music of the displays.


CueMaker firework controlling / timing software

If you’ve ever used music-editing software such as ProTools or Audacity or anything in-between, or perhaps created a holiday light show right in your own front yard, then you already have an idea of how the software works. You use a timeline to indicate when specific triggers should launch, and if necessary make them in-line with music. It’s pretty nifty.

If you’d like to know more, here is an interesting, interactive explanation of how a firework gets launched. Keeping that in mind, Disney, which puts on some of the most unbelievable fireworks displays I’ve ever seen, developed a method for launching fireworks with compressed air as opposed to gunpowder all the way back in 2004! That’s a good use of technology.