Rick Boss is the leader of Sky Elements Drones, the leading provider of drone light shows around the U.S. He recently invited me behind-the-scenes of his company’s Star Wars drone light show at the Oakland Coliseum as part of the team’s Star Wars Night.
I’ve got a big recap of the event here, including tons of photos, which you can read and view here. There’s also a video on my YouTube channel featuring some of the highlights, right below:
But while that video has a few snippets of our Q&A, it doesn’t include all of it. Thus, I’ve decided to share our full Q&A in text form. In our behind-the-scenes interview, he shares how they manage to travel with all those drones, what the setup entails and more. So without further adieu, here’s that interview with Rick Boss!
Drone Girl: What are we looking at behind us?
Rick Boss: Tonight we’re looking at 500 drones for a show that’s going to be Star Wars themed. What’s going on right now is the crew is setting up all the drones, calibrating the drones, and making sure we’re ready to go for tonight.
DG: And there’s actually a pretty decently sized crew. How many people do you have putting on this whole endeavor?
RB: Typically for a show the size we have about 15 to 18 people to get all the drones set up, but just one person flying the show.
DG: So these folks have been doing a lot of work calibrating the drones. Tell me, what all goes into the setup ahead of time?
RB: A lot of the work, well, most of the work, happens beforehand. So our creative team has spent probably about a hundred and fifty hours of programming just for this show. So much work goes on ahead of the show, and tonight it’s just setting up the drones to make sure everything works well today.
DG: As far as programming, what are we going to see?
RB: You’re going to see a lot of Star Wars.
DG: Do you think we’ll see Baby Yoda?
RB: There’s a good chance that Grogu is up there.
DG: Yes! Amazing! And so you do a bunch of these shows. Just before this you were at the Dodger’s Game. I hear you also did the Serena Williams baby gender reveal show.
RB: We did. We did the Serena Williams baby gender. We also did the Dodger’s show, which was 1,000 drones. For context, we’re doing 500 tonight. We have another Star Wars show coming up for FC Dallas with 1,000 drones.
DG: Oh my gosh, so you’re busy! How many shows are you doing each month or each week?
RB: We fly 5-6 shows every week, all over the country. So yes, we’re pretty busy. From Key West to Seattle, Washington to the Caribbean as well as Hawaii. We’re everywhere.
DG: So do you have a truck? How do you get drones to all these places?
RB: So right behind me is a truck trailer there. The trailer is the most common way we transport our drones. The primary reason for that is because of all those lithium batteries. It is otherwise just a pain to fly twitch them all over the country.
RB: It’s especially tough when your shows are big.
DG: So on that note, how does the size of this show compare to most drone light shows?
RB: This is a medium-to-large show. Our average drone is about 300 drones. With 500 drones, that’s a nice sized show.
DG: How do I get my own personal drone light show, like what Serena got?
RB: *Laughs* You can call us, or visit our website at SkyElementsDrones.com, hit the request button and we’ll get you a quote.
DG: And I probably need to win the lottery to get some money to do that?
RB: The cost of a drone show is expensive still. It’s more than fireworks, that’s for sure. That said, the prices are always getting better. I mean, the price right now is half what it was a year and a half ago.
DG: It’s becoming more affordable, and it’s also more environmentally friendly — which I do like that aspect as well.
RB: No doubt about it. Particularly in some states where there is fire danger, that is a great benefit. There’s the fact that these are low noise. We’re not impacting the neighbors, we’re not impacting the pets, and it’s certainly we’re leaving no debris behind.
DG: And, we get far more custom, exact designs. I’m personally excited to see Baby Grogu tonight.
And just like that, you can watch their timelapsed version of the show right here:
You met Rick Boss, but one of the other geniuses powering Sky Elements is Preston Ward, who serves as the company’s chief pilot. Come back to The Drone Girl next week to read a similar Q&A, but with Preston!