The Super Bowl halftime show drones weren't flying live

Intel

Drones were a big part of this year’s Super Bowl halftime show for the first time ever. Hundreds of the devices helped this year’s performer, Lady Gaga, kick her show off, presenting a colorful, swirling backdrop as she stood on the roof of Houston’s NRG Stadium. But as Gaga herself seemed to leap from the roof, dropping down to the stadium to start her show proper, her army of drones didn’t follow.

That’s because the drone shows were actually filmed earlier this week, as Intel confirmed to The Verge. That includes Gaga’s intro sequence, which saw her dancing in front of an American flag, and a later 10-second spot that featured the drones as they changed from the Pepsi to Intel logos. Restrictions placed on the area by the Federal Aviation Administration forbid drones from flying within a 34.5-mile radius of the NRG Stadium, in addition to other rules that bar drones from hovering too high, or from doing acrobatic maneuvers directly above hundreds of thousands of people.

Those rules would normally preclude a potentially dangerous drone show from taking place on the roof of a multi-billion-dollar building, but this is the Super Bowl, and the FAA was apparently willing to grant special dispensation for Lady Gaga. From there, it was up to the performer and Intel — who supplied 300 of its Shooting Star drones — to work out how to choreograph the show.

A behind-the-scenes video posted in November shows off the drones that Intel provided for the performance:

Intel first showed off its Shooting Star drones last year, revealing quadcopter devices about a foot or so long, and outfitted with LED lights that can shine in one of 4 billion colors. Each drone weighs about 280 grams, and can fly for up to 20 minutes. Unlike regular drones, Shooting Star swarms can be controlled by a single operator, making complicated aerial moves much easier than they would otherwise be for multiple pilots.

The company used 500 Shooting Stars to break the world record for the most drones operating by a single user last year, and has held synchronized shows at Disney World over the past few months, but Lady Gaga’s performance marked the first time that they have been used in a televised event.


Lady Gaga’s halftime performance

Comments

I’m going to go on a limb and say having them flying a preprogrammed path in terms of avoiding errors was probably the best way to go about it anyways.

Yeah, especially with thousands of people underneath!

They’re saying they weren’t filmed the night of the superbowl. It was earlier in the week.

I sometimes question whether people read the articles or just have incredibly poor reading comprehension.

Seeing that Andrew Liptak co-wrote the article. I’ll assume he read it.

The issue here is likely a confusion in what is being meant by live. I could be wrong, but I assume not being flown live, in this case, means that these weren’t being manually controlled at the time but by a pre-choreographed computer program.

That’s because the drone shows were actually filmed earlier this week,

Then I have no idea why that line is in the article.

In your defense, that line confused me as well, but then it mentions the FAA giving an exemption so I assumed by filmed they meant flight recorded.

In both of your defense, I’m confused by the whole article.

In everyone’s defense, the article seems like it was written when the coffee machine broke down.

"Drones were a big part of this year’s Super Bowl Half Time Show. . ."
But they actually weren’t, were they?

"Hundreds of the devices helped this year’s performer — Lady Gaga — kick her show off, "
But didn’t actually, did they?

Each drone weighs about 28 grams
What?

"but Lady Gaga’s performance marked the first time that they have been used in a televised event."
Does a recording of a bunch of drones count as being used in the actual event?

Why is there no talk at all about the absence of the actual drones at the event, and subsequently any bewildered reactions of people who were expecting a record-breaking drone show, not a video recording?

So where did people actually see the drones? Not in the sky it seems. So on some screen apparently. So, no contextual visual of what that might have looked like from an audience’s perspective? Supremely disappointing, I would imagine.

"Alternative Events"

I’m guessing even after FAA’s permission, the organizers wanted to play it safe and pre-filmed it.

That’s because the drone shows were actually filmed earlier this week, as Intel confirmed to The Verge. That includes Gaga’s intro sequence, which saw her dancing in front of an American flag, and a later 10-second spot that featured the drones as they changed from the Pepsi to Intel logos.

If so, the people at the stadium didn’t see it happen, right? Aren’t there tweets or social media mentions about this?

Did you know they were made my Intel? /S

28 grams? Sounds light? 280 more likely? A Mavic is close to a kilogram….

I knew that when Gaga leaped it looked like a strange cut.

Your comment helped me figure out what this article is trying to say. The entire intro from before she falls from the ceiling was recorded before the actual live event. Gaga’s live performance doesn’t begin until she lands on the platform.

if they were just going to use a recording, it simply boggles the mind why they even bothered with using real drones, likely expensive custom software, and acquiring tricky and also likely expensive permissions to fly the damn things.

A halfway decent animator would whip up a similar video in about a day (probably less if they were using Cinema 4D, which is built for this kind of stuff), and do it for a fraction of the cost.

Then again, that would have made too much sense, and they would have lost the "wow factor" of not actually having drones at the show.

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