Is really safe?

Snake

Member
Joined
Nov 2020
Messages
13
Hey guys, i hope you all are good and safe.

I found this forum while looking some info about firewoks, specially cold sparks.

It is supposed to be safe, i ask you now, is it?.

If it is, im.. we are planning to use some of that in my cousin's wedding, during a very geeky short show.

I'll tell you what i want to do, but I don't know how, yet.

My cousins and I are big star wars fans, we want to perform a lightsaber combat, and "cut" some stuff during the choreographed fight.

Absolutely every movement is going to be planned, to make it safe and make sure is going to look good.

We think that is possible use some of the trick the used in the original trilogy, for example when someone lose a hand, everything is set prior the filming, so, we want to set a couple of points that will be hit by the prop (lightsaber) and by consequence some cold sparks will burst, we are thinking in a sort of fake power line and a thin pipe, the props (power line and pipe) are going to be cut or broken since the beginning and rigged with the device that will release the sparks once each end is separated by the blow of the lightsaber.

Any help you can give me will be highly appreciated.
 

rbarbourbis

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Mar 2020
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Location
Pendleton, KY
Please define for us what you describe as "cold" sparks. There are professional stage effects that are called this. But, even these have limits to distances from certain things. Hopefully someone with more experience with close prox effects will chime in. That said, you are going to need to test whatever you are using for sparks with every material it may come in contact with. Please post more details of the actual device and composition you are thinking about.
 

Snake

Member
Joined
Nov 2020
Messages
13
I have 3 screen captures of the old star wars trilogy that show how close the actors were from the sparks and the type of sparks, these are scenes that are easily find in youtube, the three combats are, anakin vs count dooku, vader vs luke (empire strikes back), and vader vs luke (the return of the jedi).

There is also a video in which someone puts his/her hand in the stream of sparks, it is called:

spartic,indoor cold spark fountain,cold pyro fireworks machine

But, i think there is good use for me with a big machine, it has to be something small, and not a fountain. I need 1 fairly "big" burst, like in the old movies, that must be activated by contact or... Man, i dont know, maybe a device that is rigged in the end of a fake big power line or pipe and when the two ends are separated a plug is disconnected and that activates the burst, it is just an idea, but it seems to have logic anakin%20vs%20dooku%205.jpg vader%20vs%20luke%205.jpg luke%20vs%20vader%206.jpg
 

coachtimmyj

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Jun 2019
Messages
62
What you're looking for are called "Robotics" or some other form of SPD (Spark Producing Device) and not a single supplier in this country is going to sell them to you without a flame effects/special effects proximate license because these are not "cold" and can injure you (or others) if you don't know what you're doing.

They are ignited just as any other pyrotechnic device is, there is an ematch (or similar igniter) which is connected to a firing system (either wired or wireless) and an operator fires the devices on cue. These devices don't simply "ignite" when they are hit or something is cut, they are fired by the technician.
 

Snake

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Joined
Nov 2020
Messages
13
What you're looking for are called "Robotics" or some other form of SPD (Spark Producing Device) and not a single supplier in this country is going to sell them to you without a flame effects/special effects proximate license because these are not "cold" and can injure you (or others) if you don't know what you're doing.

They are ignited just as any other pyrotechnic device is, there is an ematch (or similar igniter) which is connected to a firing system (either wired or wireless) and an operator fires the devices on cue. These devices don't simply "ignite" when they are hit or something is cut, they are fired by the technician.
Jmm.. i understand that's.. disappointing, so, there no way in the world to do that with cold sparks?
 

coachtimmyj

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Jun 2019
Messages
62
Jmm.. i understand that's.. disappointing, so, there no way in the world to do that with cold sparks?

Well, the one thing you have to understand is there is really no such thing as "cold sparks" when it comes to pyrotechnics. Yes, there are some effects which are called "cold sparks" but they are still created by using very high temperatures inside a machine (many times thousands of degrees of heat). Even a sparkler that produces "cold sparks" still burns at 5000 degrees at its creation point.

And I definitely understand the disappointment when there's something you want to do which is really cool, but then find out it's really complicated (and has legal loop holes to boot) to pull off without a professional's help/equipment. As for whether you could possibly pull it off? Well, if you were to hire a professional effects company to come out and set the effects and fire them for you anything is possible ;-) It depends on how bad you want to do it. You could probably find an effects company or licensed lead who would do something simple for you for a lot less this year than it would normally cost because many have lost entire season's worth of displays/events and might be just looking for something to do. Where are you located? Maybe someone on here might be willing to help out with the project.
 

coachtimmyj

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As far as the light sabers go, if you haven't come up with a plan for those, when we were kids we robbed the plastic golf club protectors from my uncle's golf bag, taped them to the end of a flashlight (with different colored cellophane paper to chance the color of the light), capped off the end of the tube and wala....light saber :) Of course my uncle wasn't thrilled with the idea lol
 

MrTheHerder

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Joined
May 2019
Messages
17
All the advice Coach has given you is good and you'd be well served to pay attention to it.

But I case you're still not convinced let me come at this from another angle.
I have a live theater background. Ideas like this come up in design meetings pretty regularly. But I've never seen one actually make it beyond the idea phase. There's lots of specific reasons why but they all basically boiled down to "because it wasn't worth it." I've both seen and crewed shows that *did* include pyro and even then, rarely worth it, especially for fight choreo. Why? Because for it to work it has to be absolutely PERFECT. Off by less than 1/10th of a second and it doesn't look right. Hit a little too high or to low and it doesn't look right. Get the choreo even a little wrong, and if you're lucky and it doesn't end up being dangerous, it still doesn't look right. Instead of adding to the realism of your scene suddenly everybody is thinking about the pyro and aren't paying attention to the acting anymore. And it's going to get messed up. Actors that do this every day get it wrong all the time. I've seen it more times than I've seen it go right. Yeah. And even when it's spot on perfect it's *A little * cool, but when it goes wrong its *REALLY* distracting. Risk vs. reward says not worth it. And that's even before anybody considers safety, cost, time, or any other limitations.
 

coachtimmyj

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Staff Member
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Messages
62
All the advice Coach has given you is good and you'd be well served to pay attention to it.

But I case you're still not convinced let me come at this from another angle.
I have a live theater background. Ideas like this come up in design meetings pretty regularly. But I've never seen one actually make it beyond the idea phase. There's lots of specific reasons why but they all basically boiled down to "because it wasn't worth it." I've both seen and crewed shows that *did* include pyro and even then, rarely worth it, especially for fight choreo. Why? Because for it to work it has to be absolutely PERFECT. Off by less than 1/10th of a second and it doesn't look right. Hit a little too high or to low and it doesn't look right. Get the choreo even a little wrong, and if you're lucky and it doesn't end up being dangerous, it still doesn't look right. Instead of adding to the realism of your scene suddenly everybody is thinking about the pyro and aren't paying attention to the acting anymore. And it's going to get messed up. Actors that do this every day get it wrong all the time. I've seen it more times than I've seen it go right. Yeah. And even when it's spot on perfect it's *A little * cool, but when it goes wrong its *REALLY* distracting. Risk vs. reward says not worth it. And that's even before anybody considers safety, cost, time, or any other limitations.

Couldn't agree more. I've only been involved with one live theater event with pyro and it was pretty much exactly as you described. There were only 6 cues in total and it was more nerve racking than any large scale pyromusical I've ever produced given the fact that everything has to be absolutely "perfect" or, like you said, at best it looks like crap...at worst, someone could get hurt. The only thing I really enjoyed about doing it was the cast from the UK. They were on a U.S. tour (we did the D.C. part of the tour) and hanging out with the brits for a month was interesting lol.
 

Snake

Member
Joined
Nov 2020
Messages
13
As far as the light sabers go, if you haven't come up with a plan for those, when we were kids we robbed the plastic golf club protectors from my uncle's golf bag, taped them to the end of a flashlight (with different colored cellophane paper to chance the color of the light), capped off the end of the tube and wala....light saber :) Of course my uncle wasn't thrilled with the idea lol
Jajaja, is a good suggestion, but the saber part we have it covered :)
 

Snake

Member
Joined
Nov 2020
Messages
13
Well, the one thing you have to understand is there is really no such thing as "cold sparks" when it comes to pyrotechnics. Yes, there are some effects which are called "cold sparks" but they are still created by using very high temperatures inside a machine (many times thousands of degrees of heat). Even a sparkler that produces "cold sparks" still burns at 5000 degrees at its creation point.

And I definitely understand the disappointment when there's something you want to do which is really cool, but then find out it's really complicated (and has legal loop holes to boot) to pull off without a professional's help/equipment. As for whether you could possibly pull it off? Well, if you were to hire a professional effects company to come out and set the effects and fire them for you anything is possible ;-) It depends on how bad you want to do it. You could probably find an effects company or licensed lead who would do something simple for you for a lot less this year than it would normally cost because many have lost entire season's worth of displays/events and might be just looking for something to do. Where are you located? Maybe someone on here might be willing to help out with the project.
Ok... Welll, im not so sure now to do it.

How can people put their hand in to the stream of sparks if it is heated as such high temps?.

I live in a tiny portuguese island brother, we though it wouldn't be so complicated
 
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Snake

Member
Joined
Nov 2020
Messages
13
All the advice Coach has given you is good and you'd be well served to pay attention to it.

But I case you're still not convinced let me come at this from another angle.
I have a live theater background. Ideas like this come up in design meetings pretty regularly. But I've never seen one actually make it beyond the idea phase. There's lots of specific reasons why but they all basically boiled down to "because it wasn't worth it." I've both seen and crewed shows that *did* include pyro and even then, rarely worth it, especially for fight choreo. Why? Because for it to work it has to be absolutely PERFECT. Off by less than 1/10th of a second and it doesn't look right. Hit a little too high or to low and it doesn't look right. Get the choreo even a little wrong, and if you're lucky and it doesn't end up being dangerous, it still doesn't look right. Instead of adding to the realism of your scene suddenly everybody is thinking about the pyro and aren't paying attention to the acting anymore. And it's going to get messed up. Actors that do this every day get it wrong all the time. I've seen it more times than I've seen it go right. Yeah. And even when it's spot on perfect it's *A little * cool, but when it goes wrong its *REALLY* distracting. Risk vs. reward says not worth it. And that's even before anybody considers safety, cost, time, or any other limitations.
I understand, thanks for such a complete answer.

Exactly because what you said, we wanted the device to be triggered on impact and not cue, if the miss it, it ok, but if they hit the point the sparks show up.
 

Snake

Member
Joined
Nov 2020
Messages
13
Well, i think that's the end of that..

Thanks to all you guys, i appreciate a lot your advices.
 

coachtimmyj

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Staff Member
Joined
Jun 2019
Messages
62
Ok... Welll, im not so sure now to do it.

How can people pit their hand inthe stream of sparks if it is heated as such high temps?.

I live in a tiny portuguese island brother, we though it wouldn't be so complicated

The sparks in the pit of the hand could be accomplished a number of ways, but most likely there were two "shots" of film edited together. The one with the actors and then a second one with a stunt man, protective equipment/glove, they ignite the device, and then edit just the sparks into the original set with the actors in the editing room. There are lots of effects done this way where we think one thing but they actually pulled it off in another.
 

Snake

Member
Joined
Nov 2020
Messages
13
The sparks in the pit of the hand could be accomplished a number of ways, but most likely there were two "shots" of film edited together. The one with the actors and then a second one with a stunt man, protective equipment/glove, they ignite the device, and then edit just the sparks into the original set with the actors in the editing room. There are lots of effects done this way where we think one thing but they actually pulled it off in another.
But what i see here:


Looks so real...
 

BigTopCanada

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 2019
Messages
51
That is a cold flame fountain which works by using fine titanium that is ignited in a hot burning fountain composition or in as in the video the ignition of the titanium is by heat produced by electricity in the device seen ejecting the sparks. The titanium does not burn skin because each particle of burning titanium is very small so does not produce enough heat to cause a burn. I am not aware of a device that produces the quick burst of sparks at a low temperature as you would need for the desired effect. I am thinking it would be possible but what would be needed is a very quick ignition and very short burning fountain with very fine titanium. That said the burning composition or electric heat that ignites the very fine titanium is still very hot.
 
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Snake

Member
Joined
Nov 2020
Messages
13
That is a cold flame fountain which works by using fine titanium that is ignited in a hot burning fountain composition or in as in the video the ignition of the titanium is by heat produced by electricity in the device seen ejecting the sparks. The titanium does not burn skin because each particle of burning titanium is very small so does not produce enough heat to cause a burn. I am not aware of a device that produces the quick burst of sparks at a low temperature as you would need for the desired effect. I am thinking it would be possible but what would be needed is a very quick ignition and very short burning fountain with very fine titanium. That said the burning composition or electric heat that ignites the very fine titanium is still very hot.
That gives me hope.

I think that is the way to go, the trick would be.. a device that can produce 62 degree heat in a very short amount of time for a short duration, maybe half second.

A low powered, miniaturized electric arc perhaps?
 

MrTheHerder

Member
Joined
May 2019
Messages
17
That gives me hope.

It shouldn't. Like BigTop mentioned that machine is not designed to do at all what you're after. It does one thing and one thing only. It shoots a stream of sparks straight up in the air. Not sideways, Not a shower, not a burst, just a stream directly up from the machine. And it takes a few seconds for it to get going. If you trigger that machine for only half a second you're going to get nothing out of it. That machine is designed to be used during concerts or something like that where they line the stage with a dozen of them and fire them for 30 seconds at the end of the closing number. Also, be aware of the cost on that type of equipment. Even inexpensive versions of that machine are $400-$500 USD per machine, Quality ones that turn on faster and produce more sparks are considerably more.

And still it doesn't get past my original point that it's going to look bad. This is one of the main things a student learns in theater school. An audience will forgive a lot of things if you let them. Hang a door frame in open space and have actors walk through it, the audience will just believe that that door is in a wall and be happy. But the second you put what appears to be a brick wall there it had better act like a brick wall. If it shakes AT ALL, or moves, or the bricks don't quite look right, people will notice and it will be worse than having no wall there at all. That's not to say I never did a show with walls. But there were a lot fewer of them than should realistically be there.

Here's my basic point. No matter what you do, if you try to make this effect happen its going to cost money. If you go with the cold spark machines its going to cost maybe a thousand dollars and not look very good. Now, you could spend much more and have it look better *maybe* or you could spend nothing and focus on the performance and that ABSOLUTELY WILL make it better. You said in your original message that you wanted to make sure it was safe and it looked good. The best way to do both of those, by far, is to not do the sparks.
 

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