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Through fireworks, a 'Transient Rainbow' illuminates the night sky

The ‘Transient Rainbow’ firework technique uses 1,000 shells in 15 seconds.

Courtesy of Fireworks by Grucci/File
The ‘Transient Rainbow’ (left, celebrating a Museum of Modern Art opening in New York in 2002), uses 1,000 shells in 15 seconds.

Electronically lit fireworks allow for millisecond precision, instead of four or five seconds when hand-fired, according to Philip Butler, producer for Fireworks by Grucci in Brookhaven, N.Y.. Experts can now direct blasts to exactly where they want them – to spell words, to form the Olympic rings (as during the Beijing games), or Mr. Butler’s favorite: to create a full rainbow across the night sky.

The “Transient Rainbow,” from Grucci and gunpowder artist Cai Guo-Qiang, forms a 300-foot arch of colored bursts. One thousand shells fire in just 15 seconds. With computer-assisted timing, the group can place each of its seven different colors perfectly in space, as if using pixels to create a full picture.

Check back here in July for the full story of how technology has revolutionized fireworks shows.

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