The sky is the biggest canvas there is. Animating requires being able to say something meaningful, and doing so with artistic integrity.

Big ideas are one thing – actually realising them is another. Two-dimensional graphics are stacked diagonally in the sky “to get the flattest shape possible”, in a way similar to how graphics are distorted on football pitches. Thinking in three dimensions, however, makes designing the shows harder. Images created by the drones can’t just be stacked one after each other and time is needed to get each drone from point A to B.

Like any design, work begins with “scribbles on paper” . Those scribbles eventually get inputted into a computer software that helps a team visualise the show.

“The more drones you work with, the safer they need to be”

The nature of drone shows – and the fact they’re usually held over populous areas – means there’s usually a lot of red tape involved in any production. Permits and exemptions specific to each city and country are big part of this.

But a lot more than wishful thinking goes into making sure drones “behave”. Avoidance – that is, making sure drones don’t crash into each other – is a key part of the safety process.

The more drones you work with, the safer they need to be. Even if only one per cent of your drones fail, when you’re working with hundreds of drones for a show, that’s a big problem. Automation deals with these issues so designers and show producers don’t have to, meaning drone shows are usually safer than other public displays like fireworks which can depend on more variables. The fact drones produce no smoke, environmental damage or noise, means more and more are looking to them as an alternative to fireworks.

With drones becoming more prominent in live events, will more designers be enticed to work with the technology on their projects? Perhaps with the right story to tell.

As drones get more powerful and smaller, the fairly low-resolution images that are able to put in the sky are only going to get more detailed. Being able to tell stories in the sky is real goose-bump territory stuff, and I don’t think the skies are going to get any less busy anytime soon.


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