What is Celestial Live?

Celestial Live is a project that will enable the creation of new drone light shows that astound and amaze audiences. As opposed to current pre-recorded drone animation Celestial Live will have drones that respond to performers in real-time enabling the expression of their music or dance through an immersive fusion of colour, scale and movement. 

The project builds upon Celestial’s success in staging impactful drone light shows flying hundreds of drones in formation. Celestial has won several awards including “The Best Integrated Drone Show” in 2020. Their shows incorporate music and imagery to create an unparalleled audiovisual experience and our high-profile clients include Greenpeace, Coventry City of Culture, Adelaide Fringe Festival and the City of Melbourne. 

This project addresses a global need to create new and more engaging formats of drone show experiences. The concept of analysing music and movement will enable Celestial to create artistic drone formations with increased sophistication allowing audiences to receive a more intense feeling of immersion. The link between seeing a show and seeing a performer manipulate the show will heighten the senses of the viewer, increasing the ‘magic’ of the performance. 

An insight into Celestial

Formed in 2020, Celestial has grown from a small start-up to a thriving company with partners in several countries. At the beginning, the company owned just 20 drones, which they used to develop their craft, but after attracting investment over the last two years have increased their drone fleet to over 1000 which have been deployed to live shows in the UK, Australia.  

Having started in the beginning of the pandemic, Celestial’s first success was to create a drone show film for Edinburgh Hogmanay in late 2020. At a time when the public was not allowed to gather in public spaces, the company made the bold decision to release a film of a live drone show filmed in the Scottish Highlands superimposed onto filmed sequences of the Edinburgh landscape. The result was a film mixed with Scottish talent providing music, poetry and voiceover. Released on the internet in the days leading up to New Years Eve the film went viral gaining millions of views on social media platforms in the first few weeks. 

From that start, the company hasn’t looked back. After a year of making drone show films for organisations such as Greenpeace and Amnesty International (all under pandemic restrictions), October 2021 saw its first drone show in the Somerset town of Frome where the company is based. Just months later, Celestial was launching an Australia office and put on two ambitious residency shows in Melbourne and Adelaide. These shows saw Celestial innovating within the field of drone light shows, creating new formations and show formats combining high quality projection with a staggered show concept.  

Now, in late 2022, the company has continued to create ambitious shows and develop new technologies. It is opening an office in the United States to expand into this market. The company has recently expanded its office, recruited new staff and upgraded its testing facility. 

The Celestial Live project helps Celestial move into new territories for innovation and bring the stars to life. It will enhance the company’s offer to inspire audiences and touch their hearts, keeping Celestial at the pinnacle of drone show technology

More about the collaboration

For this project, Celestial will work with Paul Jebanasam and Emeritus Professor Joseph Hyde at Bath Spa University. Hyde and Jebanasam lead the Sonic Art and Visual Music research group at the University, which is world-leading in researching audiovisual practice. This is reflected through historical and theoretical writing, the hosting of world-leading events (in particular the Seeing Sound visual music symposium, which has run at the University since 2009), and their own work, which includes cutting-edge arts/science collaborations, immersive installations and performances at high-profile international music festivals. This experience will be invaluable in helping Celestial develop the performative aspect of their shows in this project. Bath Spa University will also host two events to share their findings and invite input from the broader research community they have developed over the last decade. 

This collaborative project will yield a prototype live control drone system which extracts live audio and motion information from a musician’s performance and translates it into a drone light show which constantly evolves to reflect the performance. To demonstrate their innovation they aim to host a showcase event at the end of the project with a small fleet of drones dancing in real-time alongside a live musical performance.