Drone light shows have been all the rage, especially this year. Then there’s other forms of using drones for entertainment, like the folks at Cirque du Soleil who put lampshades around drones and made them dance in a magical arrangement.
The folks at SPH Engineering are on a quest to find the absolute best of all drone entertainment, which is why they’re putting on their 4th International Drone Show Competition. The annual competition is now open for participants from all over the world, including drone show providers, tech teams, designers, vendors, event and marketing agencies, light and integrated show organizers, and drone show fans.
And among the team of judges is, yes, yours truly, The Drone Girl (yes, that’s me, Sally French!). It’s no secret that I’ve been pretty obsessed with drone shows.
To enter, you’ll typically have to upload a video of your drone show, which must fit certain requirements including certain time limits (generally videos cannot be longer than five minutes). Entrants are judged within a handful of categories, such as Storytelling, Animation, Marketing, and small fleet shows (up to 100 drones).
And don’t delay. The entry window closes on Oct. 30, 2023 — marking a generous extension from the former Oct. 13 deadline.
So what’s up for grabs if you win? There’s the obvious — bragging rights. But there’s also prizes including the opportunity to showcase their animations at Drone Show Festival 2024. Other prizes include gear from GetFPV, tickets to prestigious international festivals like Cannes Lions 2024, as well as other useful items for drone show providers.
A deep dive into the SPH Engineering International Drone Show Competition
The 2023 edition of the International Drone Show Competition is its fourth year, having launched in 2020. Since then, the competition has judged 469 participants who stem from over 104 countries. Of those 469 entries, 31 have been recognized as outstanding creators of drone entertainment.
Potential competitors can get the full, detailed rules and application deadlines by visiting the official competition website. Participants can submit one application for each nomination.
This year’s competition will be judged by a panel of nine judges, including yours truly. The judges for the 4th International Drone Show Competition are:
- Alex Levandovskiy, Head of Drone Show Technologies at SPH Engineering
- Armands Blumbergs, Expert in drone show choreography / 3D animation, Executive Producer at Base Motion
- Ernest Biosca, Artistic Department Manager of Flock Drone Art and Co Director of the International Drone Festival
- Fran Arnau, CEO at Flock Drone Art and director of the International Drone Festival
- Michael S. Eddy, Editor of Projection, Lights & Staging News (PLSN) Magazine
- Paul New, Co-Founder and Director of The Institute for Drone Technology
- Pedro Rosário, CEO & Pathfinder at Drone Show Animations
- Sally French, Founder of The Drone Girl
- Vincent Bauer, The Artistic Director and Co-Founder of Diffuse, France
The competition primarily focuses on the following leading nominations:
- Drone Show Animation (300 drones)
- Drone Show at the Event
- Drone Show Storytelling
- Drone Show as a Marketing Tool
- Drone Show for Raising Social Awareness
Participants can submit their entries for any of these categories, and the winners will be chosen from these leading nominations.
However, there’s also an exciting opportunity here. If your entry from leading nominations aligns with the criteria for the Special Awards like “Drone Show with a Small Fleet,” “Collaborative Drone Show,” or “Rising Star Drone Show,” you not only have a chance to win in your nominated category but also to receive special recognition in these additional nominations.
And even if you’ve entered in the past, you’re not completely excluded from entering again. Drone shows submitted in previous years are eligible for resubmission — with a catch: the competition requires that “significant, unique, and innovative improvements” must have been made.
The entry window closes pretty quick — that’s Oct. 13, 2023.
Past winners have included established leaders in drone shows, as well as individual freelancers. They include Portugal’s D.S.A. – Drone Show Animations, as well as Diffuse x Titouan Malivoir from France. There’s also Sky Elements, which famously put on the drone light show for Serena Williams’ gender reveal party and set a Guinness World Record by producing 40 drone shows over the holiday weekend!
Check out this recap video of what last year’s winners entered:
I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for entries — after all, I am a judge. But you won’t have to wait until the winning entries are announced before you’ll be able to see the top drone show talent. You can follow along with the hashtag #droneshowcompetition on social media, including SPH Engineering’s YouTube and Instagram page to ensure you don’t miss a beat.