Best way to blow up a tv?
May 10, 2009 10:52 PM   Subscribe

What's the best way to blow up a TV for an art project? It should be easy to set up, relatively safe, and reasonably priced. I plan on filming it so it should look good on camera. If I need to buy anything, I'm in Los Angeles.
posted by alitorbati to Media & Arts (10 answers total)
put a tannerite target in it and shoot it.
posted by Iron Rat at 10:59 PM on May 10, 2009

The best way to do this is to recruit someone who knows about explosives.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:02 PM on May 10, 2009 [3 favorites]

"The best way to do this is to recruit someone who knows about explosives."
Truth. It does not take much going wrong to be a big disaster.
posted by Iron Rat at 11:11 PM on May 10, 2009

Also, after it goes and blows up real good, make sure you're VERY careful picking up the pieces. There are capacitors inside a standard tube TV that can kill you when they discharge.
If a couple of those get scattered around and survive relatively intact, someone picking them up might accidentally bridge the leads with their skin and that could be... unfortunate.
posted by barc0001 at 12:20 AM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

The best way to do this is to do it in post.

Things blow up much more quickly in real life than they do in movies. Unless you have access to an extremely high speed camera, and get the lighting just right, the explosion will likely be a disappointment.

Find a friend who can do good explosions in software, and overlay that on your film of the TV set.
posted by b1tr0t at 4:18 AM on May 11, 2009

Drop a bowling ball on the TV. This would be an implosion, rather than an explosion, but I would still like to see it in super slow motion.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 6:19 AM on May 11, 2009

Fortunately you're in LA, so you have the best effects houses and pyro technicians in the world...
posted by musofire at 7:09 AM on May 11, 2009

You'll find that screens are MUCH tougher than you think. I've bounced a 5lb aluminium block off a screen multiple time without breaking it.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 7:39 AM on May 11, 2009

"Find a friend who can do good explosions in software, and overlay that on your film of the TV set."

Second this. If it's for video effect, you really don't have to *actually* blow it up. You can accomplish lots of really cool things with video editing these days. Most gunshots aren't real and lots of explosions aren't real. This is safe, you'll learn a lot, and the results are very good.
posted by jlstitt at 9:39 AM on May 11, 2009

Don't blow it up yourself. Get a pyrotechnician. And old pyrotechnician.

Once in college we wanted video of a TV getting destroyed with the logo of our show on it. Since this was before you could reliably do this in post, we did it the old fashioned way. We had a large old tube TV, set it up a long way from anything, set up three cameras with long lenses, ran drop cords to the TV with a GFI plug, and put fire pots in front of the cameras so it looked like things were on fire. Then I put on insulated gloves and boots, grabbed a sledge hammer (wooden handle) stood on the TV and swung the thing hard. It took two swings, the first just bounced off and scuffed the glass. The second smashed the hell out of the TV, made an amazing noise, and shot a crazy electric arc. Looked decent on replay, but I don't think I'd do it again. As barc0001 said above, there are some huge capacitors in a tube TV and they're killers.

If I had to do it over again I'd automate the destruction by swinging something on a pendulum, or dropping it. A TV tube is hard and you'd need a well located shaped charge to blow it without vaporizing the thing. Get a pro if that's what you want to do. Even then you'll probably want to fabricate something that merely looks like a TV but that can be blown up easily.

Alternately come up with an urban legend about TV's exploding and send it to Mythbusters.
posted by Ookseer at 10:43 AM on May 11, 2009

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