500 drones all set for New Year's Eve aerial acrobatics

Performance a highlight of show that also features fireworks, live acts

Star Island team members preparing the drones before a scheduled rehearsal at The Float @ Marina Bay last night. The aerial performance is backed by a 30-strong drone team, which includes 10 specialist pilots and engineers.
Star Island team members preparing the drones before a scheduled rehearsal at The Float @ Marina Bay last night. The aerial performance is backed by a 30-strong drone team, which includes 10 specialist pilots and engineers. ST PHOTOS: JASON QUAH
Star Island team members preparing the drones before a scheduled rehearsal at The Float @ Marina Bay last night. The aerial performance is backed by a 30-strong drone team, which includes 10 specialist pilots and engineers.
Star Island team members preparing the drones before a scheduled rehearsal at The Float @ Marina Bay last night. The aerial performance is backed by a 30-strong drone team, which includes 10 specialist pilots and engineers.ST PHOTOS: JASON QUAH
Star Island team members preparing the drones before a scheduled rehearsal at The Float @ Marina Bay last night. The aerial performance is backed by a 30-strong drone team, which includes 10 specialist pilots and engineers.
Star Island team members preparing the drones before a scheduled rehearsal at The Float @ Marina Bay last night. The aerial performance is backed by a 30-strong drone team, which includes 10 specialist pilots and engineers.ST PHOTOS: JASON QUAH

For the first time, revellers ushering in the new year will be able to see 500 drones fly in tandem at The Float @ Marina Bay on New Year's Eve for the second annual Star Island Singapore Countdown Edition, which will also feature fireworks, music and live performances.

The drone performance is the brainchild of Star Island's technical director Yoshida Takumi.

Managing a large number of drones for a performance is not new to Mr Takumi, who has organised a 500-drone display at the Tokyo Motor Show.

"While the drones are a highlight of the show, an important feature is how they complement the show's story to present a seamless symphony," said Mr Takumi, who heads the 30-strong drone team, which includes 10 specialist pilots and engineers.

"The performance flow is very intricate and extreme care was put into making sure (the drone component) was done right."

The drones, each about the size of an outstretched palm, will be flying in pre-programmed formations, with the drones manoeuvring as close as 1m from each other. They are operated via a GPS flight system.

Getting the drones to synchronise with the show's other components was no easy task, said Ms Teng Mun Kit, a senior manager from event organiser Avex Asia.

"It's a very tedious process. Even before we decide on which formation would be good for the drones, we have to take into account first the music and the fireworks," added Ms Teng.

Organising the Star Island show has taken the event team about a year of preparation, from conceptualising ideas to settling on the final execution.

 

  • STAR ISLAND

    WHEN: Dec 31. The doors open at 5pm and the show starts at 10.40pm.

    WHERE: The Float @ Marina Bay

    WHAT: A musical extravaganza which also features a family-friendly entertainment zone and a food village.

    TICKETS: From $88

    INFORMATION: https://star-island.sg/

The theme for this year's show is 2019: A Space Odyssey, with the performance unfolding in six chapters.

Audience members will be able to put on LED wrist bands, which light up in sync with what is happening in the show. Other performance elements include unicyclists, fire acts and ballet dancers, culminating in an eight-minute fireworks display at midnight.

The 90-minute fireworks musical is one of many performances at the 15th edition of Singapore's biggest countdown event - the Marina Bay Singapore Countdown 2020.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 29, 2019, with the headline '500 drones all set for New Year's Eve aerial acrobatics'. Subscribe