Drone shows the new black?

Drone shows, for long a future industry trend, are becoming more popular as event organisers look for new ways to amaze their customers, explains Janis Kuze, Sales Director at SPH Engineering.


Impressive drone displays have already been seen at the Olympics, the Super Bowl, Coachella festival, Cirque du Soleil performances and many other landmark events, both corporate and private. But how can you make it work for your event? The event organiser has two options really – to rent a drone show or to establish their own drone swarm fleet and, using the Drone Show Software, create an unlimited number of events.

Let’s go through the basics of creating drone shows.

Just a couple of years ago, no one could have imagined something like a drone show would be popular. 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 possibilities to scale up and down — from a few dozen drones to thousands.

Drones 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 4 July 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 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. A 3D animator is then brought 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 specialise in resolving. And its 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 promises to deliver the necessary software for a small fraction of the price.

We have developed proprietary technology that makes it much easier to put on drone shows and 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.

A test drone show by SPH Engineering, using their Drone Show Software. Fifty drones create 3D forms and send the message “From Riga with love”.

Stuart Wood is a news reporter across the Mash Media editorial portfolio. He writes for CMW alongside sister publications Conference News, Exhibition News, Access All Areas and Exhibition World.

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