Recorded Seminars

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Virtual Winter Blast 2021 recordings are now available. Look for ***VWB***.

Date Title Presenter

Tom Rebenklau Rockets & Precision Headings - part 2

In part II of this Tech Talk we will show the rest of a special video interview with Tom as he goes through a myriad of custom tooling he has created for making and assembling his precision fireworks components. Topics covered in this episode include: • Aligning headers on the rocket using a jig • Homemade star pumps • Detailed discussion of crossettes and crossette headings • Cutting time fuse for precision timings. Tom will be present to answer questions and further explain certain details. Ned Gorski will join us as a panelist along with Dan Miller who conducted the interview.

Tom Rebenklau Denied

Tom Rebenklau Rockets & Precision Headings - part 1

In this Tech Talk, presented in 2 parts, we will show a special video interview with Tom Rebenklau as he goes through a myriad of custom tooling he has created for making and assembling his precision fireworks components. This includes crossettes, star pumps of every imaginable shape and size, fuse cutters, and jigs for precisely attaching headings to his rockets. Tom will be present to answer questions and further explain certain details. Ned Gorski will join us as a panelists along with Dan Miller who conducted the interview.

Tom Rebenklau Denied

Introduction to Black Powder Rockets

This introduction to BP rockets will cover the requirements for building core burning motors and some practical considerations.

Kurt Medlin & Elisabeth Dombrowski Denied

Senko Hanabi: The World’s Greatest Handheld Firework!

Senko Hanabi - Presenters cover the history, chemistry and practical considerations of this beautiful but ephemeral firework. Senko Hanabi has been described as a miniature fireworks show in your hand. We assembled an all-star group of presenters and panelists from around the world to lead this in-depth discussion.

Mark Anticole, Ben Cusick, Barry Sturman, Bonnie Kosanke, Frederick Van Der Sypt Denied

Copper(I) Bromide: An Alternative Emitter for Blue-Colored Flame Pyrotechnics

Dominykas will present his study done on CuBr, a candidate emitter for blue flames. Spectra, sensitivity, color properties will be discussed. Dr. Dominykas Juknelevicius is a chemist from Lithuania. He has spent 7 years doing research on illuminating pyrotechnics and last year he has defended his PhD on the same topic. Besides scientific work, he shoots firework displays and is also familiar with the craft of making fireworks. Moderated by Joel Baechle

Dominykas Juknelevicius, Per Alenfelt, Rutger Webb Denied

An Introduction and Practical Guide to Using Glitter Mixes

In this seminar, Kurt will present an overview of basic glitter effect types, common formulations, and the role of the various components in glitter mixes. Practical considerations for using glitter mixes in stars and comets, as well as static and propulsive devices like fountains, drivers, saxons and tourbillions will be presented.

Kurt Medlin Denied

Practical Tips for Using Ematches and Wires When Planning a Show

Without aligning with any firing system, there are several considerations for choosing how to wire effects to firing systems and even simple batteries, along with using long runs of shooting wire. Parallel and Series firing have many different factors that affect them. The proper selection of wire, series vs parallel wiring, and the overall field layout can have a big impact on the success of your show. Will cover how ematches work, shunting, simple methods for calculating the number of ematches you can shoot in various series/parallel configurations, why wire gauge of your shooting wire matters, tips when mixing matches from different manufacturers, and situations where some methods may be better than others. Using standard (<= 24V) vs high voltage capacitive discharge firing units in different situation will also be covered.

Don Kark Denied

After the Shutter Clicks

Tom Calderwood goes over his process of what happens after he takes a fireworks picture. Recommended to see the Pyrotography seminar first.

Tom Calderwood Denied

Collecting Firecrackers and Vintage Fireworks

Preserving the history of vintage crackers and fireworks through collecting. Tom and Rob will share their passion for collecting vintage fireworks.

Tom Wilson, Rob Berk Denied

The Evolution of Pyrotechnic Digital Scripting, Firing and 3D Simulation

“Visual Show Director” is a the first computer software program intended for scripting with 3D simulation of professional fireworks displays and pyrotechnic effects in real time. The software originally allowed the user to capture and record time cues to create a script where the effects descriptions are inserted in order to program the Pyrodigital firing system or others, and later integrated and introduced 3D visualization giving the user the option to add it to the pyro design experience. This seminar will go over the development of such a system over the last few decades.

Alberto Navarro Denied

Torpedo Canes

Innovation in a technological, economic, and social milieu. Warren will discuss the history of a pyrotechnic device from a bygone era. Implications for both history buffs and the fireworks industry are discussed in addition to the technical problems associated with these devices.

Warren Klofkorn Denied

***VWB*** Builders Showcase

30 minutes of the best fireworks made by members of the WPA and other outstanding fireworks builders in the USA. Each device or set of devices are shown in detail for construction and then shot showing their spectacular performance.

Kevin Mather and Tom Calderwood Denied

***VWB*** Shoot Fire Like a Girl

Four members of the Flaming Lotus Girls discuss the combustible fuels we know and love, and the colorants and chemistry behind their prettiest effects. They cover their philosophy around buttons and crowd interaction, the anatomy of a poofer, how our control systems work, and how we incorporate our extremely popular blowdown shooters into our shows. Then they talk about how we design overall show flow, and incorporate special features like fireworks... plus, how do we get away with this insanity, and why do we even do this? The answer is rooted in the importance of inclusion, which is core to our mission and our very existence.

Flaming Lotus Girls Denied

***VWB*** Round Ball Shells from Zero to Hero

Round ball shells are a staple of American display fireworks and a point of rich pride and tradition in Japan. With perfectly spherical breaks, the basic shape of a flower is created. Adding additional stars and effects give multiple petals, and even elaborate color changes as the display unfolds in the sky. This seminar takes the participant on a journey from simple single petal designs through ever larger and far more elaborate effects. We begin with the basic anatomy of a round ball shell, and work up from there. We discuss star rolling using the Toro method, star sizing, how to make burst charge and calculations for lift / timing. We use traditional Japanese construction techniques including total isolation of components with tissue paper, and the use of forms to create a negative cavity directly inside the burst charge for more even and symmetrical breaks. This is not a demo, but rather a series of visuals while we discuss construction technique, design philosophy, and walk you through our decision making process as we plan and execute a project. By the end of this seminar, the participant should have a solid understanding of Japanese round shell construction and be able to make effective decisions around lift, burst and timing.

Cliff Pearson and Ellen Webb Denied

***VWB*** Finale 3D Live Choreography Showdown

This seminar features both an informative Finale 3D demo and the live choreography showdown. To kick things off, we'll begin with an overview of the scenery features in Finale 3D Pro. Watch as a virtual shoot site is transformed through the use of background images, 3D models and landscape features. To set the stage for our main event, we'll take it a step farther by showing how to work with music and arrange firing positions. Finally, we'll unleash our guest designers, putting their skills to the test in a head to head live pyromusical design showdown!

Drew Espenshade, Will Harvey Denied

***VWB*** Bullets And Blood: Thaine R. Morris Presents The Hit Kit

Join master pyrotechnician and Academy Award winner Thaine R. Morris for a fascinating discussion about the evolution of his forty-plus-year career in special effects, the development of his Hit Kit bullet hit system, and a demo of the Hit Kit, followed by a Q&A. Thaine R. Morris is a legend in the effects industry. From his early days in stage and theatre to his ground-breaking work in major motion pictures like The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Ghostbusters, and Die Hard, Thaine’s forty plus years of experience make him one of the industry’s foremost experts in the field. Now mostly retired from filmmaking, Thaine is owner of Roger George Special Effects, a family-run effects company that provides practical effects supplies to film, television and stage productions all over the world., as well as president and co-owner of MP Associates Inc., a world-wide supplier of pyrotechnics. Get to know this Academy Award winner here.

Thaine R. Morris Denied

***VWB*** Saturday Night Displays

Garry Hansen Memorial Pyrofoor de Amsterdam - Defqon in the time of Covid Big Sky - Galaxis Demo Pyrodigital - Holiday Show in the time of Covid Pyro Spec - Pyro Party

Dave X Denied

***VWB*** Set Pieces and Lance Work

Lanceworks consist of a series of small, quick matched colored flares (lances) arranged to form images and designs or to spell out messages. They reached an elaborate form in the mid - 19th century in Great Britain where some lanceworks were as long as 200 feet and 60 feet high and produced fire pictures for example of Queen Victoria and her generals. Today, lance works continue to be used around the world to advertise fireworks display sponsors and to deliver messages to the spectators. This presentation will briefly consider the mechanics and techniques used in creating lanceworks and importantly, provide a series of lancework ideas – some tried, and some untried by the author. Lanceworks can and should generally be inspirational, humorous, sometimes mysterious but always entertaining. They are especially effective when they have moving parts, are motorized, or tell a “story”. They can include various pyrotechnic ornamentations including fountains and gerbs, waterfalls, whistles, salutes, wheels, saxons, strobes and roman candles and many other kinds of pyrotechnics. They can be accompanied by music and appropriate (or inappropriate) sound effects. They may include political caricatures, current events, and likenesses of famous (or infamous) people. They can feature changing images such as a frowning face becoming a smiling face, moving eyes, and a surprised face after a loud salute. Elaborate transformation pieces can be designed using color changing lances and dark fire lances in which a green pastoral scene transforms into a bustling city, or a green garden into a colorful flower bed. Hair can suddenly grow from a bald head, a big white mother duck lays an egg and the egg cracks open to release a moving yellow duckling, faces can transform from sleepy to surprised or from angry to happy, a long green caterpillar changes into an elaborately spotted winged butterfly, or a giant figure on stilts walks mysteriously through a forest. Multiple lancework frames can be ignited by a series of line rockets. Lancework frames can be ignited when lying flat on the ground and then pulled upright on hinges to become fully visible – this can be designed to be especially “mysterious”. Creativity and imagination have few limitations!

Robert M. Winokur with Bonnie Kosanke, Art Tilford and Ron Dixon Denied

***VWB*** Introduction to Making Girandolas

This seminar provides an overview of how girandolas are built and how they function. Topics include girandola performance aesthetics, basic girandola designs, stability considerations, drivers for lifting and spinning girandolas, girandola frames and common construction methods, driver ignition sequencing, fusing techniques, rising garnishments, ending effects, and launch considerations. If you’re considering making your first girandola and want to know what you would be getting into, or you are simply curious about what all goes into making the ones you’ve seen, this seminar will provide that insight and demystify these fascinating items!

Kurt Medlin Denied

***VWB*** Sharing the Stage - Techniques and Technologies in Working with Multiple Medias

Designing pyrotechnic displays within a multimedia production requires much more than the average viewer might consider. Mammoth productions such as the Olympics Opening Ceremonies, Rolling Stones World Tours and Fantasy in the Sky at Disney Parks all must go through an extensive design and planning process. A vast number of disciplines must be considered such as music, video, lasers, water features, moving scenic elements, and live performers. Additional considerations might include smoke mitigation, trace chemical residue, relative light levels and even the cultural traditions of the audience. Eric Tucker and this group of renown panelists are all very accustomed to working with these conditions on some of the finest multimedia, highest budget productions of our time. They discuss these topics and lend some of their experiences to what might very well be the most informative seminar in WPA history.

Eric Tucker, Pyro Pete Cappadocia, Joel Baechle, Rutger Webb, Amanda Nixon Denied

***VWB*** Passfire Presents "Western Winter Blast 30th Anniversary"

What do you get when art and fireworks collide in the desert during the middle of the winter? Winter Blast! Join us for an encore presentation of "Winter Blast," the Passfire Maximum Load episode on WWB's 30th Anniversary. Filmed on location in 2019 and featuring a sound mix by club member and sound designer Peter Brown.

Jesse Veverka/Passfire Denied

***VWB*** Pumped and Pressed Stars for Maltese Shells

In this seminar Mitch goes over various methods of making pumped and pressed stars. Discover the reason your stars may be fragmenting. Watch how married stars are made in one pressing without joining two stars after they are pressed. See pounds of composition pressed in minutes. The use of basic hand pumps to star plates & hydraulic pressing it will all be covered. Other topics discussed will be: composition dampening and granulating for use, pressure calculation and how much, priming techniques, and general safety rules for handling chlorate compositions. Kevin Mather adds color and comments

Mitch Piatt Denied

***VWB*** The Pyrophile Brothers Show

A couple of decades ago the Pyrophile Brothers changed a boring safety meeting into a live-fire presentation. Originally crafted for an industrial setting, it soon became obvious that some of the most worrisome chemicals were readily available at the local grocery, pharmacy or hardware store. It ultimately changed from an oft requested safety meeting and morphed into the “finale” for the annual “Take Your Daughter/Son/Kid to Work Day”. The presentation includes vintage video clips and a live discussion on chemical safety, scrounging for pyro chemicals, and insights on live pyro demonstrations.

Chris Spurrell and Tom Calderwood Denied

***VWB*** Friday Night Displays

Live Opening - Sara Park Shoot -Round Eye Fireworks Spirit of 76 - Countdown To VWB Flame FX Fire Dance Group Fireworks America - Salute to America!

Dave X Denied

***VWB*** Fire Engine Gone Wild!

Using theatrical pyrotechnics and gas flame effects from a moving motor vehicle in a parade presents many unique challenges compared to their use from a fixed stage. These challenges range from how to make their use entertaining to how to do so safely. Working out the details from the types and styles of theatrical pyrotechnics and flame effects to be used, their locations on the motor vehicle, the firing methods, the personnel required and their duties, how to communicate in the shifting dynamics of a parade with an unrestrained audience, and provide for fire prevention, fire protection and public safety requires both creativity and attention to detail. This presentation will cover the use of theatrical pyrotechnics and gas flame effects from a 1953 Ford F600 Fire truck in both daylight and night parades over the last 20 years.

Charley Weeth Denied

***VWB*** Tried and True Pyro Chemistry

The seminar covers a variety of well-known and other useful formulations from published literature and personal experience, explaining why they are reliable, and including tips on how to adjust them for better handling and performance. The requirements for making good, all around fireworks mixtures will be contrasted with specialized techniques. Everyone likes to pass recipes around, but some information gets misunderstood over time, and some things found online are best avoided. Much of this was covered in Rev. Ron Lancaster's 4th edition, and that overview will inform the formulations covered in the seminar. Force and spark, colors, glitter, illumination, tailed and trailing effects, whistles, flash and sound and others will be described. Tom Mattrocce is guest panelist

Joel Baechle Denied

***VWB*** The Essence of Pyro Wizardry

During the past several years a new and unusual series of workshops were included called “Pyro Wizardry”. These workshops were influenced by the magical effects seen in the Harry Potter movies. It was decided that the essence of what was presented at the PGI workshops might find interest among the WPA members. Therefore, the essence of all of this is being presented.

Dr. Arthur Tilford Denied

***VWB*** Passfire Presents "World's Largest Firework"

Four teammates dedicate years of their lives to building the 62", 2800-pound Guinness World-Record largest aerial firework. This is the 60-minute version of the 90-minute feature-length documentary included with Passfire Maximum Load. Jim Widmann joins afterward with Q&A's.

Jesse Veverka/Passfire and Jim Widmann Denied

***VWB*** Selected Modern Pyrotechnic Literature

Anyone who is serious about getting involved in pyrotechnics needs to be well informed on the various aspects of chemistry, safety, manipulations and perhaps some history. Newcomers to the craft may naturally migrate to Google for information, and certainly much can be found there, but a vast wealth of fireworks knowledge can be found in the trove of excellent pyrotechnic literature that goes back a few centuries. This literature is not easily found in the average public library. In this seminar we have assembled a comprehensive list of prominent literature written over this last century or so, primarily in English, which you might want to consider acquiring and poring over. We will discuss many of these pointing out their strong points, importance and availability.

Klofkorn, Beck, Wilson, Baechle and Webb Denied

***VWB*** Building BP, Whistle and Strobe Rockets

This seminar details the general construction of a variety of rockets using one set of tooling. Information detailing making fuels and basic shop safety guidelines will also be covered. Nozzled BP, nozzleless BP, whistle and strobe rocket construction will all be detailed. Though this class will use the FireSmith Super BP Core Burn tools, the basic techniques, fuels and safety guidelines are applicable to the construction of just about any type of rocket.

Ben Smith Denied

Pumped and Pressed Stars

In this seminar Mitch will go over various methods of making pumped and pressed stars. Considerations will be given specifically to chlorate water bound star comps used in Maltese style shells.

Mitch Piatt Denied

What Kinds of Fuse Might You Use when You Use Fuse?

An overview of most every kind of fuse used in pyrotechnics and blasting. Bob will discuss the merits of each kind of fuse and it's applications.

Robert M. Winokur Denied

Birth of the Blues

A history of the development of the color blue in fireworks will be presented, including limited formulae prior to the use of copper compounds and chlorates. Barry Sturman will present this seminar live from Melbourne Australia.

Barry Sturman Denied

Tiny Fireworks with a Massive Impact: How 1.4G Products Can Enhance Any Show

An exploration of the world of 1.4G Fireworks and their endless applications in the entertainment world. From consumer fireworks to special effect articles pyrotechnic items, this seminar will cover the vast and ever expanding variety of non-ATF regulated pyrotechnics. Topics to be covered: Classifications of 1.4G Fireworks and how they are regulated, Advantages of 1.4G Fireworks, Types of 1.4G products and effects, Uses of 1.4G fireworks in the display and entertainment arenas, Thinking outside the Box : Unique uses of 1.4G products, How and where to buy 1.4G Fireworks

Peter Rogoz, Daniel Haines Denied

Quantum Fireworks

An explanation of how quantum mechanics has been indispensable in the workings of every pyrotechnic effect from the golden sparks of ancient Chinese gunpowder to the rainbow hues of the most modern colored flame. Barry Sturman and Bob Winokur are slated as guest panelist

Wes Smith Denied

The Wonderful World of Winged Tourbillions

This seminar will cover techniques for making traditional winged tourbillions of the type that take off from the ground (not the smaller wingless type used in aerial shells). The seminar will explain how they work and cover in depth the tools, techniques and formulae used for making flitter, glitter and colored tourbillions. The seminar will also weave in historic commentary from some of Kurt’s favorite nineteenth century pyrotechnic writers on the subject of tourbillions.

Kurt Medlin Denied

Developing excellent pyrotechnic formulations and effects for use in display fireworks by thinking "outside the box"

Advice, ideas, suggestions, and techniques are discussed and compared for creating effective and entertaining content for use in professional fireworks displays. This includes some do's and dont's and pitfalls to avoid. Topics include how to prevent boring your audience, how to make them laugh, how to surprise them, how to engage them, and techniques that make fireworks displays more than simple spectacle. Fireworks displays should not only be entertaining, but also should be stimulating and engender an appetite for genuinely good displays. They should utilize humor, generate emotions, puzzle and sometimes fool the audience, engage perhaps in social and or political commentary and be more than simply “pretty”.

Bob Winokur Denied

Recently Discovered U.S. Pyro History

As the years seem to be flying by faster and faster, the pyro masters of the last 50 years are becoming fewer and fewer. This is why documenting the wonderful stories we so often hear are so important to cherish and protect. Gregg Smith has been blessed to spend the last 45 years of his life somehow entrenched in the world of Pyrotechnics. His experiences with many of the fireworks families have been fantastic as well as some of the strange, but true historical facts discovered along the way which he believes have not been seen. Gregg will share some of my unique finds dating back more than 100 years that have had a huge impact on his life as well as many others, even if it means “venturing into the dark side” of the fireworks industry

Gregg Smith Denied

Realizing a Scripted Fireworks Show with Pyrodigital

In this webinar streaming from Germany, Marcel will show us step by step how a pyromusical is created. The talk gives an overview of the different technical tasks in creating a fireworks show.

Marcel Berner Denied

Are Fireworks Poisonous?

In this talk Bob Winokur explores the toxicity of fireworks and the chemicals used in their manufacture. The presentation first attempts to define what “toxic” actually means then applies that point of view to the kinds of chemicals and quantities we use in fireworks. A variety of classic, common, suspected toxic chemicals and ingredients are explored. Both exposure to such chemicals in handling and discharge are examined. His basic conclusion is “don’t eat fireworks” but do enjoy them while preventing intimate exposure.

Bob Winokur Denied


A lot of pyros shoot fireworks and some also shoot fireworks - with their camera. Tom will show off some of his work as well as tips for getting that “perfect” fireworks picture. This discussion will include camera and related equipment use, some computer processing, camera settings and setup locations. Special emphasis will be made on the ever-changing technology in the digital camera world. If there is time and interest, we will also spend some time discussion on post-processing.

Tom Calderwood Denied

The Performance of Red Flare Pyrotechnic Compositions Modified with Gas Generating Additives

“The Performance of Red Flare Pyrotechnic Compositions Modified with Gas Generating Additives” will be given by Dominykas Juknelevicius and Per Alenfelt from Lithuania and Sweden. They will present their paper recently published and discuss some of the details in the work. We will have questions and comment from Joel Baechle and Dr. Bob Winokur.

Dominykas Juknelevicius Denied