The art of creative storytelling
As most people are aware, SKYMAGIC have one of the most advanced swarm drone systems in the global entertainment market, however the technology and the system can only reach its full potential when driven by world-class creative..
Before venturing into the uncharted waters of the swarm drone market, many of the team, myself included, were at the forefront of global ceremony and entertainment design. We have been responsible for helping to tell some of the world’s biggest and most important stories and it is this craft and skill set that we now also bring to the sky.
I am always searching for new ways to tell stories and new platforms with which to do so, but even after 15 years of designing I still believe that the sky is the perfect canvas. From a single performer flying through the sky to it being filled with our drone fleet, it is the biggest stage and deserving of the most creative of executions.
At the outset of the creative process to design a show I always start with pen and paper. It is really important for me to sketch through ideas, work through the brief with the client and visually depict how I see the shapes forming, moving and transitioning. I think this is a vital part of the process before we then move in to pre-visualisation and trajectory planning.
When designing a show, we treat every story as a unique work. We are often asked for “STOCK” shows, “what have you done before”, “can we have the show you did in XX”, all in a drive to lower the budget. However, whilst from a business point of view this might be the easiest option, it is not what SKYMAGIC is about and not what I want to creatively deliver. It is a huge privilege to perform in iconic locations around the world and the sky is such an amazing canvas to work with, why would you tell someone else’s story?
When we perform to small or large audiences, the connection and the understanding of the show’s narrative is key. Over the years we have really mastered this craft. When the audience sees images, icons or shapes that they connect with, they really let you know with cheers and clapping that can be heard for miles around. They take a sense of ownership of the performance; it is a show that they feel proud of and feel compelled to share. That is when I know we have got it right and we have done justice to our client’s story.
Like every story, there is always a beginning, middle and end and these principles stand for our drone performances. Personally, I always love a big reveal for the opening moment, this can be approached in a number of ways with a short build or one big moment. Currently, the global drone market is still quite a new affair with much of the world’s population having never seen anything like it before. As show designers, we have that rare opportunity to reveal something in those opening few seconds that will genuinely take your breath away and that is how I like to start a show. Even after 4 years of delivering shows, when the drones first light up I still get goose bumps and it makes me feel proud of our global team and what we have achieved through the many years of hard work and development. How we then go on to define the middle and the end of the show will vary every time and it is something I still continue to change, adapt and refine today.
Bigger, bigger, bigger, is something we often get asked for when designing performances, everyone wants more drones, to be the biggest and to break a record. However, I don’t always agree that this is the right approach. Sometimes less is more, again it all depends on the story you want to tell. A single flickering drone in the sky can do the same job as 2,000 drones and I think it is important that this approach is considered in every show. Just because you have booked 200 drones does not mean we need to show them all of the time throughout the whole performance; by comparison when you go to the theatre not every actor is on stage for the whole time. The drones are our actors, they take on a personality when they perform, they are coming together on the world’s biggest stage and connecting with our audience and as a result we must approach our craft with the same principles as a Director would their actors!
There are still many more stories that we want to tell in destinations all around the world. Whilst the world is now in hibernation, new stories are being written and created and soon these will need to be told.
— Written by
May 4, 2020