How South Korea made love heart fireworks at the Celebration of Light

We spoke to firework producer Kelly Guille to find out how the magic happens

If you were left wondering how South Korea made love heart fireworks … you weren’t the only one.

We were just as curious.

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So we had a chat to Sirius Pyrotechnics Chief of Awesome Kelly Guille to find out how they did it.  He has been producing firework displays for 25 years.

Team South Korea won the hearts of judges and the crowd, beating out competitors South Africa and Sweden in the annual Honda Celebration of Light to take home the People's Choice award.

In an age of emojis, the Daehan Fireworks Company spoke a language familiar to the crowd and fitting to this year’s theme of love – with stars, love hearts and smiley faces lighting up the sky over English Bay at Saturday's finale.

The judges said they were impressed by timing and sync, the size of the show and the novel effects in its pyrotechnics display.

But how did South Korea make the shapes in the sky?

Guille, who was in the fireworks barge during the display, simply said, “South Korea used patterned shells.”

Let's break that down for non firework enthusiasts.

Guille explained that inside the aerial shell (the part that’s shot up into the sky) there are stars.

The stars are combustible pellets that are placed inside the shell and burst when ignited – they also determine the colour and effect of the firework.

He said pattern shells had stars arranged in shapes.

“Stars are the individual lights of colour you see in the sky,” Guille said.

“If you were to take apart the shell you would see the stars arranged in the pattern you would want to see up in the sky.

“In this case you would see a love heart or a smiley face inside.”


. 하트도 스마일도 역시 코리아🇰🇷

A post shared by 은경 (@_eunn.s_) on

If it is just a design in the shell, why doesn’t everyone use them?

Well, it’s a hit or miss scenario.

“Whoever is designing the show has to shoot enough pattern shells for people to see them, because they can break (or burst) in different directions, “ Guille said.

“If the shell doesn’t break the correct way the audience won’t catch it.

“That’s what South Korea did well – they repeated the pattern enough times in the sky for people to say ‘oh that’s a heart’.”

Guille said pattern shells weren’t anything new, but when done well could be very impressive.

He said the best part about being a part of the Celebration of Light, was knowing over a million faces had lit up watching. Organizers say 1.2 million people came out to watch the display from the beaches of English Bay, Second Beach and Vanier Park this year.

In case you missed the grand finale:

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