Finale is committed to supporting industry wide research and development of fireworks related software technologies. The papers listed here represent Finale's efforts to share information with the fireworks community.
Published in the Proceedings of the 2010 International Fireworks Symposium in Porto, Portugal.
For more than a decade, computer based visual simulation of fireworks displays has enabled choreographers to create pyromusicals that would be impossible without seeing what the display looks like while designing and laying out the show. The results are seen all around the world in computer fired shows at major celebrations and fireworks exhibitions. In reality, though, computer fired shows represent only a tiny fraction of the fireworks shows every year. The vast majority of shows occur on major holidays, making it economically impractical for display companies to carry enough computer firing systems and trained operators to put on that many computer fired shows simultaneously. Consequently, there are many people in America and other countries who have never even seen a pyromusical or the type of choreography that computer simulation makes possible.
Is computer choreography therefore inherently limited to the big budget displays? If you associate computer choreography with computer firing, the answer appears to be yes, but what if you break that association? Let us rethink how computer choreography might apply to the tens of thousands of non-computer fired displays every year. Beginning with the assumption that the majority of a display company's shows are hand fired or electrically fired, we will illustrate how innovations in choreography software can improve the safety, quality, and profit of these non-computer fired displays.
Effect names of firework products generally provide a brief description of the effect sufficient for identifying the product in an inventory or pick list. There are times, however, when a more precise description of the effect is required. For these cases, such as describing an effect with sufficient precision to have it manufactured or to create a visual simulation, it is helpful to have an Interlingua for describing effects that is easily readable, unambiguous, and expressive enough to define effects at whatever level of particularity is required, from a general description of a shell such as “Peony” or “Willow” to a precise recipe of the fuse delays and effect types that go into the design of a cake.
This paper presents a visual description language called VDL that has these properties. The paper begins with a short tutorial for writing effect descriptions in VDL, then presents a formal definition of the language expressed as a context-free grammar, and then goes on to discuss applications of the language ranging from the obvious applications in circumstances requiring precise communication to more esoteric applications such as defining a set of visual effect identifiers to enumerate and uniquely identify a large class of visual effects.
The large class of visual effects stops short of an attempt to standardize a language for all effect names, for any ambition to define “all” would carry the weight of ruling out anything that is not contemplated in the language or that is expressed in other terms that a manufacturer or designer may prefer. The language of VDL does not have to be universal to be useful. One out of a thousand effects may not even be describable in VDL, but for the other nine hundred and ninety-nine VDL can provide a variety of practical communication benefits.