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My ongoing mission to replace fireworks

Anyone that knows me, knows that it’s my long-term goal to replace fireworks. (There are so many reasons that they’re problematic, but let’s save that for another post!)

I’ve been making interactive digital fireworks since 2007, but it didn’t really get serious until I launched PixelPyros in 2012. The project has since travelled far and wide and incidentally, it was the reason I first started working with lasers- I added them to the project for the 2013 UK tour.

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We are go!!! #rainbowlaserflares

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So I’ve gradually been moving away from traditional projectors – even the brightest and most powerful are nowhere near as bright as lasers.

So it’s something I’ve been considering for a while – can I make a fireworks project without any traditional projectors at all? That’s the question I think I just answered with my latest fireworks project, Electric Laser Flares*, which was recently premiered at Spectra Festival in Aberdeen.

The big challenge was making a trigger system that was safe for the public and was well out of the way of the projection area of the lasers. I made some custom light sticks filled with super bright LEDs and an array of capacitive touch sensors (very similar to how the Laser Light Synths work).

I track the position of the sticks using infra-red lights so that the participants can shoot fireworks at any angle. The sticks communicate with the main system via LORA radio. It took a bit of tuning but in the end I was really pleased how seamless the connection was between the light sticks and the laser projections.

I’ve already had several serious enquiries for later in the year so my plan is to make another 10 or 20 of the light sticks over the summer, and bring it to a huge scale in time for light festival season later in the year.

*note that the project was named Electric Rainbow Flares for the Aberdeen event