Travis McCallum: Sketch #30

My inspiration is from my trip to Disneyworld earlier in October. I had the chance to watch the fireworks show at EPCOT. For my effect, I want to go big and recreate the experience in Unreal.

My goals with this project are to understand lighting better and to build an entire scene that incorporates a variety of visual effects that synchronize with other elements including sound. This might be borderline directing, but hey-- its the holidays!

Here’s a reference video:

Here’s my final iteration: (listen with sound!!!)

final update
Added some repeat fireworks and cleaned up some timing. Satisfied with the look and feel. Now if I can only come back and add another 15 minutes of fireworks… haha.

update 2
Added 3 new fireworks. All the base designs are complete. Now its just tweaking each one and compiling them all in a neat package. Reflections are made, but still going to work on the smoke.

update 1
Added 3 new fireworks to the mix. Still looking to refine them further, but I have about 3 more I want to complete in total. Who knew fireworks could be so diverse?

I’ll include my breakdown in the comments section on this thread as I add additional fireworks to match the reference.


Hi all,
I’m finally done with as much as I can fit in for this month’s effect. To begin with, I just want to cite a couple of the sources that helped me in my fireworks understanding.

Learning the real world mechanics of fireworks was important. This is a nice piece that talks about the ingredients and anatomy of a firework: Lilburn ES / Homepage

Being able to reverse engineer someone else’s work helped immensely. Shout-out to Tom Shannon and Luos for their pioneering.

Tom - Fireworks Particle Effects in Visual Effects - UE Marketplace
Luos - Modular Fireworks Kit in Visual Effects - UE Marketplace

Add some environmental details to sell the scene gave it some more life. Thanks to kitbash -

Since I had a real world reference to build my firework show from it was a bit easier… though a post-mortem indicates a lot of lessons learned which I’ll get to last.

In my show I had a total of:
3 textures
6 materials
7 particle systems
62 particle systems total

1 Like


For the flares, I wanted to thank Jordan Kanoba for helping me add some movement to the GPU sparks.


The shells are used to carry the movement of the fireworks. It was easier to map out the trajectory and simply activate/deactivate.

There are so many ways to make fireworks, but the core revolves around having a source and attaching different emitters to it. I found ribbon trails were excruciatingly hard to manage.


I spent a LONG time trying to figure out how to spiral the velocity of emitters in Cascade. Eventually I just made a Blueprint with the rotate component. Thanks to Luos for the tip!

I just made a longer cylinder in blender and stretched it further with a gradient material. I changed the pivot point to the bottom so I could rotate the mesh as a spotlight. There’s probably a better way to do this…

fx-blast emitter-blast
Super basic.


Lessons learned:

  1. Block out your whole scene with all the components first. Then go back in and iterate each. it’s important you get the the timing and movement down first when working with complex effects. Then you can go back in and refine the shapes and colors.

  2. Lighting is hard. Especially night scenes. I was very unhappy I couldn’t get my smoke to light correctly. I looked into the material itself with translucency and directional shading, applied light sources from Cascade, post process volumes, visual effects, point/spotlights, etc. I really struggled to wrap my head around lighting correctly.

I did learn a lot about lightmaps and reflections as a result.

  1. Using sequencer to map out a firework show is very repetitive. It felt more like creating a cinematic and less than a gameplay tool. Maybe I should make a firework weapon…