Colin Sullivan

Times Square New Years 2010 Pyrotechnics

This past new years, I continued work for a pyrotechnics entertainment company, this time at Times Square, programming and operating the digital firing system to fire all of the pyrotechnics underneath the ball. Unlike our weekly shows at the casino where scripts are written in our native scripting program, I was handed a script written in a different Excel format.

When I first looked at this script, I was a bit taken back. 942 cues, approximately 650 of which detonate in 60 seconds, between 11:59:00 and 12:00:00. This was a huge script, and it was not in the format that I needed it to be in for the Nighthawk.

I had been working with Ruby for a good amount of last semester, so about a week before the show, I went to town. After a bit of trouble with converting the time on the original script (5:59:45 PM) to my relative time from the start of the script (0.00 seconds), I had the script ready. Since there was about a minute of pyro every hour until midnight, I decided to just make the entire night a single script, and to avoid overflowing any number representations in the system, just added about 100 seconds between these discrete events. This allowed me to simply stop the panel after each event, forward to the next cue, and I was good to go. I worked with the creator of the firing system to figure out how to run such a long show, and he pointed out the number overflow problem.