Wondering what is drone light show and how it works? Well here is the complete guide for you, read on to know more about it.
During the Tokyo Olympics, drone light show was one of the most memorable highlights people talked about for so long after the event.
Quite many people really do wonder how the spectacular drone light show works.
In a drone light show, several hundreds of drones participate in a coordinated fashion executing choreographed patterns in a scintillating way.
The choreography is accomplished with the help of 3D animation tools.
Once the pattern is developed, software like Drone Show assign a flight path to each of the participating drones to stage the light show in the sky.
Just a single flight operator is needed to conduct the drone light show.
In this informative write-up, we will cover such topics like how drone light show works and how a drone light show is created.
Drone Light Show Examples
Drone light show – what it is
Drone light shows are spectacular light works in the sky accomplished by a large fleet of drones linked by a coordinated communication.
Fitted with LED lights, these drones can perform stunts and create patterns in the air. Some drones can also take smoke ejectors with them.
The patterns for the light show are pre-programmed on some advanced software. It will be a mammoth task to have hundreds of pilots controlling each of their drones to perform a light show.
On the other hand, by the use of programming, 3D modeling and AI, a smooth coordination is achieved between the huge fleet of participating drones. Just one or two drone pilots can execute the whole show.
For the first time, the concept of flying drones in a coordinated fashion was introduced by Vijay Kumar, the dean of the University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering and Applied Sciences in 2012.
He demonstrated how to team up small and agile drones for performing stunts for application in construction, and search and rescue.
Later, firms like Intel and Verge Aero played a significant role in popularizing this concept in the world of entertainment.
Drone light show – how it works?
A drone light show may look like a straightforward idea. However, so much goes into creating and executing one in a scintillating way.
The complexity of a drone light show grows with the number of drones participating in it. Here are the different steps to creating and executing a drone light show.
Constructing the drone
We are familiar with professional and consumer drones. These drone models are meant to carry out some commercial tasks like photography, videography, agricultural applications, survey, and package delivery.
Drones used for light shows feature an altogether different kind of construction. In fact, some drones used in light shows do not have cameras.
The important components in these types of drones include large LED lights, a few sensors, GPS, and batteries.
These drones feature a light weight construction so that they can be at flight for a longer time besides being agile enough to perform different kinds of maneuvers needed.
For example, the weight of Intel drones is lesser than a pound. These drones are made of foam and plastic.
Planning the flight
A crucially important part of the whole process, this step includes designing the different movements the drones will engage in as part of the light show.
This step can take a few weeks or even months to accomplish for the programmers. In this step, light show is choreographed using a 3D animation software like Blender.
This is relatively a newer technology and hence there are no clearly defined best practices or bad practices to guide us with. Similar to pixel art, all you have to do is to create a story to stage it with a fleet of drones.
An important thing to take care with drone light shows is to ensure that the choreography is visible from all directions.
Those into animation can bring their imagination into reality through this interesting as well as challenging task of drone light show choreography.
Testing the choreography
After the drone light show is choreographed, the whole thing must be tested to see how it works.
This step will ensure that during the actual show, the drones can successfully execute the complete choreography, they do not collide with each other at any point, the distances required between them are maintained, and they have the speed expected of them to execute the light show successfully.
The testing part does not need the drones to be launched. This can lead to crashes and make this step very expensive.
On the other hand, software like DroneShow is used to perform the test and make any adjustments needed. This software can simulate the size and speed of the drone and will help enhance the accuracy of the choreography.
Choosing the right place for deployment
After the choreography is tested, you must find the best place for deployment. The location for the show must be such that the drones will not collide with each other and the audience can view the show comfortably from their seats.
The best option is a flat ground. Some devices you will need to launch a drone light show include a GPS ground station, a WiFi router, and a controlling laptop.
Checking before the flight
Before the deployment of drones, every drone must be checked individually to ensure it is working as expected.
In this process, the battery charge, and suitability of the weather must be ascertained. Also make sure that you are authorized to fly drones in the airspace where the show is planned.
Organizing the drones
Once you have found the best place for the drone show, the DroneShow software or any other suitable program you are using will assign the flight paths to each of the participating drones. In this way, you can ensure that no two drones will be found in one position.
DroneShow software has a few excellent safety features that will render the whole process safe and effective. Starters will find the Go-Fence an interesting feature which will help keep every drone within a pre-defined parameter.
If any of the drones happens to lose its power during flight and crashes to the ground, it will fall within the predefined perimeter and not on the spectators.
Also, there is an interface that will let you land one or any number of drones if there are any issues.
If the laptop or the launching system has to fail at any point, one drone pilot can take control of the drones. If there are no problems, the fleet of drones will execute the choreography successfully and safe land after the show.
Can a drone light show replace fireworks?
It is highly possible that drone light shows can effectively replace fireworks shows. During their evolution and spread, drones have successfully replaced many other technologies across different industry sectors.
For example, some notable areas where we notice such replacements include the replacement of helicopters in filming, replacement of airplanes in surveillance and aerial photography, and replacement of delivery vehicles in some sectors.
Therefore, we have strong reasons to believe that drones will replace fireworks too. Here is a list of reasons why drone light show is a better option than fireworks.
Why drone light show is better than fireworks
You can reuse drones
Fireworks are known to create some attractive patterns in the sky. During the New Year’s Eve and other celebrations, fireworks become the top highlight of the celebrations. The cost of fireworks is great as they can’t be reused.
On the other hand, drones safe land after the show and you can reuse them again for the same kind of program or a different one. Unless they crash (a rare thing to expect), you can use the drones several times.
Drones make quieter operations
The heavy sounds caused during fireworks make pets and many people feel uncomfortable. For some health conditions, explosive noises are very bad.
The only noise you will hear from drones is the one of its propellers. Drones fly in the designated parameters and at around 150 feet above the ground.
For those who hate fireworks for the noise they create, drone light show will be a better option.
You can customize drone light shows in myriad ways
The possibility to innovate myriad patterns means a big breakthrough in creating drone light shows.
Therefore, the variety and wow factor you can achieve with drone light shows are quite outweighing when compared to the possibilities with fireworks. In short, anything that you will be able to create on a 3D software can be executed in a drone light show.
Drones facilitate safer entertainment
There are a number of risks connected to fireworks. Quite a many times, we have heard of fireworks causing fire accidents. Drone light shows bring in safer ways to celebrate.
Though there are some potential risks in flying drones, the risks are not as high as found in the case of fireworks. By taking enough precautions, these risks can be mitigated effectively.
Some such precautions include taking steps to prevent the hacking of drones, and keeping the spectators at safer distances while watching the show.
Drone light shows do not harm the environment
One another risk connected to fireworks is the danger they pose to the environment. In addition to noise pollution, fireworks also spread pollutants into the atmosphere.
Some typical chemicals used in the making of fireworks like sodium, calcium, lithium, strontium and barium combust in the air while getting exposed to oxygen and release gases like carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen. These are some dangerous pollutants contributing to global warming.
Even after the combustion, some of the residue is still left in the atmosphere, which is toxic to lives including plants, animals and humans.
These particles that end up in the air can cause respiratory problems. Fireworks leading to some adverse effects like acid rains is something undesirable to all of us.
As against fireworks or other vehicles, drones do not emit any pollutants as they are powered by batteries.
Though drones can produce a little amount of carbon-dioxide, the quantity is negligible when compared to fireworks.
Drone light shows are cost effective
In majority of cases, organizing a drone light show is lesser expensive than fireworks show. It is possible to create small drone light shows yourself. There are also several firms specializing in offering sophisticated drone light shows.
Considering the cost of setting up and the risks involved, fireworks are more expensive options.
Drone light shows can be readily received by more number of people as they are free of intimidating noises and some adverse risks. Considering that drone light shows can make more number of people happy, they are really more desirable.
What Is Drone Light Show And How It Works: FAQs
How many drones are needed for a light show?
The number of drones you will need for a light show can range from 10 to a few thousands. This will depend on your budget, the space available for the show, the size of the audience, and the choreography.
Getting together around 50 drones can help create a good local drone light show. Some large shows like Olympics, mall openings and others can make use of 5,000 drones or even more.
How much will a drone light show cost?
The cost of drone light shows starts from $10,000 and can go up depending on the complexity of the show and the number of drones to be used.
Jon is a passionate photographer and videographer who has been flying DJI drones for over 5 years. He loves the freedom and creativity that comes with capturing aerial footage and the unique perspective it provides. Jon is always on the lookout for new locations to explore and capture with his DJI drones. His favorite DJI drone is the Mavic 2 Pro, which he uses to capture stunning 4K footage with its Hasselblad camera. Jon is always eager to share his knowledge and experience with other drone enthusiasts and is a member of several online drone communities. When he’s not flying his DJI drone, Jon enjoys hiking, camping, and spending time with his family.