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For one segment, we wanted to see what happens inside of a firework. Since we knew that following a firework as it streaked across the sky was nearly impossible, we brought the firework down to the ground—well almost. With the help of pyrotechnic experts, we determined that we could explode the core of a firework safely from about 25 feet off the ground. We built a 25-foot pole with a small platform on top for our firework, and about 12 feet away from that platform we constructed a 25-foot steel tripod with a large platform for the SA-1 camera in its blast box. From that vantage point, we were able to film the ignition of a firework at 20,000 frames per second from 12 feet away. The result was a truly awesome shot (see Figure 2 – fireworks sequence).
Over the past few seasons of Time Warp, we have had our blast housings overtaken by the rushing of a 500-gallon water balloon, dented by an AK-47 round ricocheting off a minivan and we’ve even mistakenly dropped a toilet from a crane directly on top of one (don’t ask), but through it all, I’m happy to report, the cameras remained intact and with a little bit of triage here and there, they proved to be the workhorses we hoped they would be.
Our goal in bringing a high-speed imaging show to the air was not to merely shoot cool stuff with high-speed cameras, but to really cover these incredible events, to do them justice by pushing the limits of high-speed camera technology and combining creative minds with established broadcast know-how. Hopefully, the results speak for themselves. AI
Matt Kearney is Vice President of Tech Imaging Services (Salem, Mass.) and co-host of Discovery Channel’s Time Warp. He would like to extend special thanks to Discovery Channel for their permission to use stills and footage from the Time Warp television series. For more information, visit www.techimaging.com)