Live Design talked with SPH Engineering’s Chief Technology Officer, Alexey Dobrovolskiy, about the goals behind the competition and the future of drones in entertainment.
Live Design: SPH Engineering produces Drone Show Software, but designers do not need to use your product to enter the competition. Why did you take this approach?
Alexey Dobrovolskiy: As you know, SPH Engineering is a multiproduct drone software company and Drone Show Software, which celebrates its fifth anniversary this year, is just one of our product lines. Our goal with the competition is to form a global drone show community, not be exclusive.
LD: Tell us a little about the evolution of DSS.
AD: The very first version of UgCS, our core product, allowed different users to connect to the system from multiple devices and control flights. This did not appeal to customers for a few years until we got an email query from a US company that checked to see if our software could manage a number of drones making various figures in the sky. We explained the strengths and limitations of our existing software and agreed that we would adjust it to our client’s needs. Paul Creasy from Full Spectrum was our first drone show client. For a few years he arranged drone shows in an amusement park near Atlanta .
That version was complicated and could only manage about 20 drones. One of my engineers believed we had to create a brand new software. To persuade me, he did not talk to me for a couple of weeks and then presented a demo of how a new solution would work. That was a great fresh view! It eventually became the prototype for Drone Show Software which can manage hundreds of drones. The solution attracted many more customers who use DSS for their event needs. Today, our software can support shows of over a thousand drones.
LD: What is the learning curve on Drone Show Software? Does the designer need to have a working knowledge of how drones work or can a lighting designer play around with it and create a show?
AD: Any drone light show starts with animation, which can be exported to Drone Show Software to launch an event and then loaded onto drones. A drone show choreography designer can start a drone show business on his or her own or work as a part of drone show provider’s team.
The learning curve on Drone Show Software starts with a training, which could be completed in Riga, Latvia or in digital formats. So far, we have trained over 250 professionals in 45+ countries who now form a global drone show community.
Apart from basic software knowledge a person needs to take care of manpower and hardware.
1. A team. There should be at least one engineer responsible for working with the software and one drone specialist familiar with drone assembly and manual piloting.
2. A creative mind. Use your ideas and DSS to develop innovative choreography for your spectators.
3. A fleet. Probably the smallest show to start with would require 20 drones, most are compatible with Drone Show Software.