Behind the scenes of a fireworks spectacular: CNET News Video
CNET News Video: Behind the scenes of a fireworks spectacular2:34 /
Fireworks shows are getting more elaborate, with carefully choreographed pyrotechnics and soundtracks. CNET's Kara Tsuboi shows us the old and new technology that goes into producing a huge fireworks show set to the music of Super Mario Bros.
[MUSIC] The pow and pop of a fireworks show relies on some technology that hasn't changed in centuries. This is the bottom of the shell, which has gunpowder in it, which is called the lift charge. When this ignites, it lights all the black powder, as ancient as can be. And creates gas, gas pressure which pushes the shell out of the mortar at about 400 feet per second. [NOISE]. To choreograph a big scale production like this one at the open coliseum with synchronized music, you need a burst of new tech to pull it off. The Technology Force Firing Systems has really improved over the years, allowing us to use computers with the show design, as well as the launching of the display shelf. Weeks before the big spectacular, producer Jeff Thomas assigned specific fireworks to each moment in the shows playlist. In this case, it's music from Nintendo's Super Mario Brothers. Slow, quiet segments. I'll put some slower, quieter effects in. Big robust pieces of music, put in the louder, more concussive devices. The fun song, put the happy faces in or maybe the heart, you know, the love song. Then it's up to the crew to lay out the shells in the correct order. This is the main body of the show, that's from the beginning until the finale, everything that get's fired, comes out of here. How many shells are there today would you say? Over 1,000. While the fireworks show itself may only last 15 minutes, it takes hours and hours for the pyrotechnic crew to fill all of these canisters. Each one is then connected to a firing module with specific addresses. I already have 4D set on this, these address buttons. And then, it would be zero throughout so it, the shell address could be 4-D-0. They're all synchronized with this time code they call it and, when the time goes receive we say okay go. We're in sync and we just fire the show. Three, two, one, fire set piece. The sky lights up over the Oakland Coliseum, everything firing as planned, as fans enjoy the summer tradition. We allow fans on the field, we take great pride in the quality of the fireworks, we put a lot of thought and effort into the themes. We want fans to walk away saying that was the best firework show they ever saw. Happy faces in the sky and in the stand. In Oakland, I'm Kara Tsuboi, CNet.com for CBS news. [NOISE]