HAVE YOU EVER VIEWED A DRONE LIGHT SHOW?
Probably you have come across an image or video footage of drone light shows? But I presume that you have not watched any such event in real life. Well, to be honest, I have also not viewed it either!
This sounds quite creepy since Time Magazine proclaims that we are living in the Drone age!
If you have happened to view Intel’s drone light shows at the Super Bowl or the Olympic games on TV or YouTube, you must be wondering why they have not become a regular spectacle!
I have been working in the drone light shows business for the past few months and I believe that I have got an answer to these queries.
Drone light shows are quite complicated to choreograph and set up and cost a ton of money.
This may sound incredible at first considering the fact that you can purchase a drone for less than $100 from Amazon and get it to zip across the sky within a matter of a few minutes after unboxing it. It should be a piece of cake to purchase a couple of dozen of such cheap drones, mount multi-colored LEDs on each one of them, conjures some almighty software to maneuver them, and start producing 3D animations and images in the skyline, right?
This is so not true!
The drone swarm management software that choreographs all these drone movements is the trickiest part of this jigsaw puzzle. If you are looking to conduct your research, you can comfortably purchase a drone and use an app to pre-program its flight route. However, once we add more drones into the fleet, it becomes all the more complicated. Even if you succeed in creating automated flight trajectories for all drones, how do you plan to make them fly at the same time? Will you be using multiple computers and smartphones simultaneously and then press Fly at the same time?
No, I don’t think so! Beginning to get a sense of it all?
HERE’S THE SOLUTION!
SPH Engineering is a startup headquartered in Latvia and they have come up with their Drone Dance Controller – a swarm management software – as a viable commercial solution to creating drone light shows.
Having said that, this software does not create dance routines for the drones. A third-party 3D animation software has to be used to conjure 3D animations. Each of the 3D shape’s positions from the animation is then translated into a drone waypoint file which is then uploaded into Drone Dance Controller which in turn uploads it to the drones.
This may seem to obfuscate at first but smart engineers can make it work like a charm. Why are other companies not jumping on the bandwagon and creating drone light shows of their own?
Well, we haven’t discussed the cost yet! Haven’t we? A year-long license fee of $12,000 is being charged by SPH Engineering for Drone Dance Controller. They also offer requisite training for an additional $8,000 while the license renewal fees are around $8,000 per year.
Hey, this software is not compatible with just about any drone you buy. The drones have to be built from the ground up and then programmed manually. The material for each of these drones costs about $600 and if you want to come up with a pretty thing such as Intel’s Shooting Start drones, then you could go bankrupt!
How will the drone light shows gain popularity?
Here’s a quick question: what did it cost to purchase a drone capable of capturing video footage at 4K UHD and sharing it to social media platforms just a decade ago?
Such a drone wasn’t there back then?
Nevertheless, you can get your hands on such a drone for no more than $400 and it can even be stuffed into your trousers’ pockets.
As drones get less expensive, light shows are also going to be easier to perform. As a matter of fact, there are a few tech companies out there who are planning to come up with a more wholesome solution than the one provided by SPH Engineering.
Drones are likely to become safer with improvements in drone technology. As a matter of fact, drone technology is quite fabulous at the moment and is quite safe as well. The only risk associated with it is human error.
As people and software get better at handling fleets of drones, event organizers will deem it a safer option to bring drones closer to their audience. Safety is a huge concern among event organizers. As a matter of fact, every one of them has raised safety alarms when we talked them for the purpose of this post.
What will the drone light shows look like?
When birds fly together in a certain formation, it is called a murmuration. It seems like a solid shape flying in the sky. Now, just think of it as each bird has a distinct color and that you are able to change the color of each bird and the shape of the entire formation. Think that you can change the shape anytime you want with an intuitive desktop application.
That is what we should expect in our future! Endless possibilities!
At the moment, drone light shows are carried out far off in the sky or a long distance away from the spectators as each drone has to maintain a safe distance of 2 to 3 meters from the other. We should expect drone light shows to take place above the viewer’s heads both indoors as well as outdoors in the days to come. They are going to become as ubiquitous as lasers and smoke machines during performances.
You may as well pay to watch them!
We should also expect drone light shows to be maneuvered in real-time in the future. As of now, flight paths are programmed prior to the show and uploaded to each drone. That time is the night when operators will be able to maneuver the whole fleet on queue. This will make them an essential part of the performance rather than an aberration.
When are the drone light shows happening?
Well, it is happening and quite fast as well! After Intel’s Shooting Star Drones, crews at Arrownics, Verity Studios, SkyMagic, FireFly Drone Shows, and RotorScape are coming up with imaginative light shows.
This is quite an exciting technology this is in the making. The entertainment industry is being disrupted by this fantastic technology at an alarming speed. It won’t take long before drone light shows could be seen everywhere!