There’s no better way to celebrate a long weekend, or your nation’s birthday, than by blowing up giant paper shells packed with explosives. It’s not hard to understand how the firecrackers you played with as a kid worked, but YouTube’s BeyondSlowMotion channel reveals how those gigantic fireworks that fill the night sky with colorful sparkles actually work.

To safely film a fireworks shell at 3,200 frames per second on the ground, a thin cross-section of a shell was sandwiched between two pieces of glass to allow a high-speed camera to see the fuse burning, and eventually all of the pyrotechnics inside igniting. It’s almost as satisfying as watching the real thing, although it’s missing the thrilling prospect of blowing some extremities off.

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[YouTube via Laughing Squid]