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Behind the scenes / Experience of drone show providers

While the COVID-19 pandemic caused a freeze in the event market in 2020, surprisingly it did not create pent-up demand for drone light shows. Self-isolation pushed a global wave of drone art shows that can be enjoyed safely from a distance.

For example, Wuhan, Dubai, and Seoul performed huge shows to say 'thank you' to healthcare and essential workers on the pandemic frontlines. Furthermore, dozens of smaller-scale shows were performed by SMEs globally, pushing the barriers of language and creativity. Read below for some insights from event organizers to learn about what went on behind the scenes at shows featuring up to 200 drones.

Patrice Guy, Technical Director at North Star Drone Shows / Canada


The first major show that we performed in Canada was for a bank in eastern Canada, they're called Desjardins bank and they are the largest bank in Quebec. The theme of the related publicity campaign was to thank kids and teenagers that had performed good actions during the COVID pandemic.

So the way that they would thank them was to invite them to a secret spot and without telling them, out of nowhere perform a drone show for them that would highlight the things that they did during the pandemic. This was filmed for television and social media and also included a behind-the-scenes video. At the end of the development process, they focused on two youths who were highlighted in the publicity campaign and filmed over two nights, one in Montreal and another in a town called Shawinigan about 200 kilometers away.

We performed three flights in each location, using 200 drones each time. The reason we did three flights was that the customer wanted to be absolutely certain of capturing the show from all possible angles using various camera settings, later editing the footage down to a one-minute video. Due to the COVID situation, the show was not advertised or open to the general public.

Once we opted for drones, why did we choose Drone Show Software? Well to be quite frank, when I started out almost five years ago there was no other alternative. Drone Show Software was the only available platform for a company like ours. All the other companies that were making drone shows used in-house software that they wouldn't sell.



Tony Martin, CEO and Co-Founder at Celestial / UK


The purpose of our show in Scotland was to celebrate Hogmanay (New Year) in December 2020. For better or worse, we performed the show on a bog, on the side of a loch (red. lake), which was some 16 miles long. Indeed, it took our 7.5-ton truck an hour and a half to traverse the road to the end. To cut a long story short, when we finally got there, we had a crew of 40. We had tree markings set up and landing platforms for each of the 150 drones built on the truck above the bog next to the lake. So, we had one ground crew responsible for battery management and changes, and another for placing the drones onto the matrix for take-off and landing.

Drone Show Software (DSS) was key to managing all aspects of the overall show. We coded some of our own plugins that we work with together with animation software to port animations in and out of DSS more effectively, but also to allow us to render animations in a pre-visualization environment. So that is before it goes into DSS. So there is very little in the world right now. What happens once it is in DSS everything is great and it works really well. We are really grateful for that, it is kind of an inhibitor of the market growth potential. 

Find out more at BBC
https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-55485371