Create explosive and pyrotechnic effects

Business Sectors (Suites): Physical Special Effects
Developed by: ScreenSkills
Approved on: 01 Mar 2017


This Standard is about your ability to design and create an explosive or pyrotechnic effect safely. This may relate to firing single or multiple charges and testing circuits. It assumes you already have experience of physical special effects and need to apply this specific area of expertise to your work. You will need to know about the dangers involved with using different explosive materials, the ignition and extinguishing methods and the health and safety management which surrounds this work area. This Standard is for you if you create explosive or pyrotechnic special effects.

Performance criteria

You must be able to:

  1. create explosive or pyrotechnic effects in line with production

    breakdown and budget constraints

    1. identify and use pyrotechnic or explosive techniques that are most

    appropriate for the job

    1. source, purchase, store and transport explosive and pyrotechnic

    materials in compliance with current legislation

    1. provide and maintain required documentation in expected formats

    2. calculate current, voltage, resistance, power, with parallel and

    series circuits using accurate information

    1. select and use firing systems and ignition sources appropriate for

    the job

    1. prepare charges in mortars to boost or reduce explosive effects

    2. design chemical and explosive mixtures that simulate the desired


    1. document all aspects of risk assessment and risk management in

    appropriate formats

    1. ensure safety zones are specified and adhered to by all people

    2. communicate with cast and crew to maintain safety at all times

    3. ensure appropriate Personal Protective Eqiupment (PPE) is used

    by all people as required for the job

    1. stop a shoot with immediate effect when you consider it unsafe to


    1. specify all safety requirements with clear firing position and line of

    sight to the effect

    1. create effects that satisfy directorial requirements

    2. use reliable information to assess the impact of effects on the

    location and its environment

    1. liaise with enforcing authorities to ensure all legal protocols have

    been adhered to

    1. make sure that all materials used are disposed of in line with legal

    and production requirements

    1. make sure that locations are returned to a safe state

    2. make sure that suitable and competent fire cover is present

    3. provide alternative solutions within budget and schedule when

    effects cannot be produced to original design or budget

Knowledge and Understanding

You need to know and understand:

  1. script breakdown, budget and schedule for the physical special


    1. health and safety regulations and legislation relating to explosive

    and pyrotechnic materials including: storage, licensing,

    transportation, purchasing and manufacture licensing

    1. enforcing authorities and other relevant bodies you need to liaise

    with and the legal protocols with which you need to comply when

    using explosives

    1. how to convert a script idea into reality through using explosives

    or pyrotechnics

    1. the dangers involved with different types of explosive material and

    products available commercially and how they can be used

    1. the general principles of using minimum force to achieve a visual


    1. basic safety relating to using explosives including: means of

    initiation, avoidance of inadvertent initiation, suitable storage, safe

    handling and working practices

    1. how to effectively communicate with production and all relevant


    1. the most appropriate film speeds to use for the effect, particularly

    with miniatures and different scales

    1. how to create an impression of a full scale effect with miniatures

    2. the environmental considerations and the effect on a location both

    during testing and execution

    1. how to design basic electrical circuits for use with pyrotechnics

    2. how to use mortars to isolate and direct charges, and control


    1. how to dress an explosion to add visual impact

    2. bullet hits on people and objects

    3. specialist constructs and materials in pyrotechnic miniature work

    4. how to control and supervise an effect on set

    5. the safe operating positions for special effects crew on set

    6. how to make sets safe post effect

    7. the procedure for dealing with misfires and making safe

    8. the different protective clothing and Personal Protective

    Equipment (PPE) for cast and crew

    1. how to ensure the camera is appropriately protected

    2. how to act in an emergency or accident

    3. possible alternatives to pyrotechnics and when they can be

    implemented, including: air mortars, air line bullet hits and

    mechanical rigs

    1. how to liaise with and advise fire service and paramedics

    2. the appropriate levels of special effects staff coverage to ensure

    the safety of cast and crew at all times

    1. what can be achieved by post production and visual effects


Scope Performance

Scope Knowledge





Links To Other NOS

External Links

Version Number


Indicative Review Date

01 Mar 2020





Originating Organisation

Creative skillset

Original URN


Relevant Occupations

Arts, Media and Publishing, Physical Special Effects Professionals, Special Effects Trainee, Special Effects Technician, Special Effects Senior Technician, Special Effects Supervisor

SOC Code



Physical special effects; Design; Plan; Practical fire effect; Explosive effect; Pyrotechnics; Breakdown; Budget