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Muppet Explosions

Discussion in 'Classic Muppets' started by mupcollector1, Jan 17, 2013.

  1. mupcollector1

    mupcollector1 Well-Known Member

    I was just curious how are Muppet Explosions done on The Muppet Show and the Muppets Tonight years. From what I remember, the explosions seem to be more like smoke or powery unlike The Muppet Show years where you can actually see flairs and some fire clouds in them from time to time so it must have been very dangerous. Especially the guest stars and the Muppeteers. Was there any behind the scene stories on the explosions at all like in the books Muppets & Men or Jim Henson: The Works? I'm sure the studio must have been a bit nervous with the explosions I'm sure. lol Even when Monty Python's Flying Circus did explosions, the technical ones where done outside and the more puffs of smoke would be done inside.

    I remember in Muppets on Puppets, the 1968 documentary Don Salhin used a funnel with duck tape across it and baby power to make the explosions with a post production sound effect, Though The Muppet Show explosions are more technical.

    Anyway, does anyone have any information on this? I'm just curious just for research reasons not that I'll try it at home or try a Mythbusters experiment on it or anything like that. lol
  2. FrackleFan2012

    FrackleFan2012 Well-Known Member

    I know that on The Muppet Show Season 1 Crew Video, there's a crew member doing the explosion SFX starting at 1:30.
    Muppet fan 123 likes this.
  3. mupcollector1

    mupcollector1 Well-Known Member

    I wonder what that lever thingy is, looks more like a prop. Plus it would be difficult to do an explosion if the same technician was on camera, you know for safety purposes and such.
  4. Oscarfan

    Oscarfan Well-Known Member

    It's definitely just pyrotechnics.
  5. snichols1973

    snichols1973 Well-Known Member

    I wonder if Crazy Harry had anything to do with the behind-the-scenes designing of explosives besides detonating them....:crazy:
    Dominicboo1 likes this.
  6. Auberoun

    Auberoun Well-Known Member

    By utilizing a flash pot. You can read about flash pots here.

    I had one at one time, and with the right mix of flash powder and flash paper, you can get a pretty convincing small explosion when coupled with an appropriate sound effect.

    Yes, they can be dangerous, if safety precautions are not followed. Most of the time, the flash paper and powder burn so quick, that you could hold your hand over it, and feel an intense heat for a split second, and it wouldn't burn your skin. (Since it is so quick.) But, I wouldn't recommend it, as other outside factors could make it worse, or catch someone standing nearby on fire.

    For example, I had a "fireball" (flash paper in ball shape, fired through a small brass tube upon ignition) hit me in the face once, and luckily I wasn't wearing hairspray or else my whole head could have gone up in flames! It singed my eyebrows a little, but no other damage.

    Pyrotechnics are best left to the experts, and I am sure the studio had a few of these experts on hand.
  7. snichols1973

    snichols1973 Well-Known Member

    According to IMDB's trivia section of The Wizard of Oz (1939):

    In the first take of the scene when the Wicked Witch of the West leaves Munchkinland, the smoke that was supposed to go up around her came early, and started forming before she stepped on the platform she was supposed to be on. On the second take, part of Margaret Hamilton's cape became caught in the platform when the burst of fire appeared. Her make-up heated up (sic) causing second- and third-degree burns on her hands and face, and it was later discovered that one of the key components in her make-up was copper. The producers used the first take.


    In the book "The Making of The Wizard of Oz", the author mentions that following the accident in which Margaret Hamilton was burned, they had to remove the green makeup from the burned area. To do so, they used the strong solvent acetone which, when rubbed on the burned areas, caused agonizing pain.
  8. Auberoun

    Auberoun Well-Known Member

    I had heard that in an interview with Margaret Hamilton sometime in the early 90's.

    It's a good thing that pyrotechnics have come such a long way since then :) Having been a part of "The Phantom of the Opera" for many years, I developed some training that way.
  9. miss kermie

    miss kermie Well-Known Member

    I think for the spark, they use firecracker, and just use... Puffs or whatever, for smoke.

    The effect is stronger outside, because it's safer that way...
    In my opinion.
    I don't know.
    *runs out of thread,*
  10. Auberoun

    Auberoun Well-Known Member

    Actually, for the spark, it is a flash pot, loaded with some "sparkle" flash powder. I think it is called "sparkle burst" for the technical term, but it is used in productions when an electric spark is needed. For a flame type, it would be a bit of flash paper and smoke powder loaded into the flash pot. If the flame needs to shoot up in the air creating a fireball effect, then a bit of flash cotton is placed behind or under the wad of flash paper since it burns quicker than flash paper. The cotton ignites, shooting the flash paper out of the tube or pot, and lights it at the same time creating a fireball that quickly burns out and leaves no ash. I like pyrotechnics, and at one time had a bunch of stage effects for my private collection. (To use for community theaters and such who couldn't afford to hire a big pyro-production company.)

    *edit* this company gives you an idea of whats available.
    miss kermie likes this.
  11. ploobis

    ploobis Well-Known Member

    Here's a fun compilation of Muppet Explosions from The Muppet Show! :crazy:

    snichols1973 likes this.
  12. ploobis

    ploobis Well-Known Member

    This rare clip might give us more clues about how they created explosions on TMS

  13. Iscah

    Iscah Well-Known Member

    Haha, I hadn't seen that clip before!

    Anyway, I don't have time to look it up now, but i remember in "The Muppets on Puppets" (on the season 3 boxset) there was a bit where they did a puppet show then explained the 'behind the scenes' process and effects. It included an explosion that from memory was some sort of powder (probably flour) blown out of a tube.

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