How fireworks work

Updated
The answer to those shaped and smiley fireworks is more obvious than I had guessed. As Amy Kule explained, this is just a cross section model. The actual firework would be spherical and solid and heavy, with this smiley face layout arranged by hand inside of a paper shell.
The answer to those shaped and smiley fireworks is more obvious than I had guessed. As Amy Kule explained, this is just a cross section model. The actual firework would be spherical and solid and heavy, with this smiley face layout arranged by hand inside of a paper shell.

When my colleague Andy showed me the press material he’d received about this year’s fireworks dispaly in New York City, we were excited by the idea going to check out the pyrotechnicians setting up the launching barge in New York Harbor. Sadly, the logistics were such that our field trip would not come to pass.

This is as good a time as any to fully disclose that msnbc.com and msnbc are partly owned by NBC, and NBC is showing the fireworks on TV this year. So when Amy Kule, the executive producer of the 35th annual “Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular” came to 30 Rock to do an interview with the local NBC affiliate, three floors above the TRMS offices, I popped up to their green room for a quick chat.

Yes, the miserable camera work is my fault. My only excuse is that the quality of the camera handling is inversely proportional to the interestingness of the answers:

After the jump, a look at how they make those smiley face fireworks…

 

This is what the barge looks like while it is being prepared. I was surprised to learned that what launches the firework out of these mortars (cannons?) is the same kind of black powder that makes them explode once they're in the air. Amy Kule...How fireworks work

How fireworks work

Updated