As event organisers look for new ways to amaze their customers, drone shows are becoming more popular than ever.
Hundreds of light pixels in the sky, composing intricate patterns, words or even portraits in a delicate dance.
Drone shows used to be a thing from the future, but in the past few years, they have helped to open a new chapter in the entertainment industry. They have already appeared at the Olympics, the Super Bowl, Coachella festival, Cirque du Soleil performances and many other landmark events, both corporate and private. Why are they gaining popularity so fast, how are they designed and can you have one for yourself — let’s go through the basics of drone shows.
Drones with benefits Just a couple of years ago, no one could have imagined something like this is possible, let alone affordable for almost any event or drone company. Drone shows are not trying to outcompete more traditional ways of lighting up the sky such as fireworks and laser shows – indeed, they often happen together – but drone shows do have significant benefits that set them aside from other aerial show types.
Firstly, they can be used both indoors and outdoors, with endless possibilities to scale them up and down — from a few dozen drones to thousands. They don’t make loud noises, and so avoid causing stress to animals and children.
They can also be used in conditions when using rockets is too dangerous — such as dry areas at risk of wildfires. This is why states like California, Colorado and Arizona decided to switch to drone shows for their July 4th celebrations this year.
Drone shows are also immensely flexible in terms of choreography — drones can dance ballet or display logos, create two and three-dimensional forms, move fast and slow, go high up or stay close to the awestruck spectators. And, since we’ve got onto the subject of choreography, how are drone shows actually created?
Creating a show to remember Finding drones is easy these days. Companies offer the option to rent drones — hundreds of them, if necessary. The types of drones used in shows are typically smaller ones with a bright LED light fitted to them. To make them dance, the choreographer first needs to envision images that will be displayed in the sky and create a compelling story. Then a 3D animator comes into play, having the task of transferring these moves into three-dimensional space.
Then comes the difficult part — programming. It’s pretty obvious that when hundreds of drones are involved, they cannot be flown by pilots — no human can achieve the level of precision needed to perform such complicated harmonised movements. This is a problem that companies like SPH Engineering can solve. Currently, their Drone Show Software is the only widely commercially available software for drone show mission planning, management and control.
Money question While recent drone shows across the world have been visually astonishing, they have also been mind-blowingly expensive. Shows created by large corporations are notorious for costing at least several hundred thousand dollars. But SPH Engineering can promise to deliver the necessary software for just a small fraction of this price. “We have developed proprietary technology that makes it much easier to put on drone shows,” says Janis Kuze, Sales Director at SPH Engineering. “We want to help not only global companies but also regional and local event agencies and organisers to bring the beauty and technological awe of drone shows to their audiences”