A Robotic is a type of pyrotechnic effect that is used more often than you would think

What it looks like / Where it is used

Have you ever seen a movie where somebody flicks a switch, and the electric system sends sparks all over the place? (used in Fight Club, but also in LOADS of other movies) Well, then you've seen a robotic in action.

Robotics are designed to look like "real" electrical sparks, even though you in real life never will see these kinds of sparks - not when we are talking about the 220 V system in use in Europe, and certainly not on the American 110 V system.

The Robotic effect is great as a mood enhancer for scary movies etc.

How it works

A robotic effect is usually a strip or small cardboard pipe. When it is ignited (using an Electronic Fuse, usually built into the effect), it gives a crackling sound, and then sends sparks all over the place. Actors have to watch out, because these sparks are burning Magnesium, which will happily continue burning if it hits the skin, with nasty results.

There are two version: smokeless, and with lots of smoke (the latter is used with "failure" in computer monitors, emulating the dreaded release of the magic smoke)

Although the effect is 99% safe (actors are usually dressed in flame retardant material), the effect is not often used in theater due to its possible disasterous effect (screaming actors is not a good thing on stage)

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Please read the disclaimer. Also, make sure you have read the Pyrotechnics safety tips. SAFETY FIRST