Twice a night throughout CES, Intel has been putting on a light show over the fountains of the Bellagio. Typically when we think of light shows, we think of lasers. In this case, it’s drones. Intel calls it the Shooting Star Light Show and it’s pretty amazing to watch as 250 drones fly in formations to animate a scene to music.
“All of these drones, whether it be 10 or 100 or even 500 or more, they’re all controlled by one pilot,” said Natalie Cheung, GM of Intel Drone Light Shows, in an interview with CNET.
The drones used have no cameras or sensors and only weigh 330 grams. Each craft is fitted with an array of LEDs capable of producing four billion color combinations. When programmed, the drones can fly precise patterns to create stunning animations.
Before shows, an animation team will listen to a song and come up with a storyboard. After they have a theme, they use a custom animation tool that allows them to simulate and view the drones from every angle. The crew spends a lot of time ensuring the show looks good from every perspective.
The drones are made from lightweight plastic and foam for safety. The props are fully enclosed in cages as well. Another safety precaution is a crew of observers who can give the command to pull down the entire fleet in the event of an approaching aircraft.
Intel’s Shooting Star drones also made an appearance at last year’s Super Bowl.
It is pretty amazing to see something like this. Parts of the show reminded me of fireworks in slow motion.