Singapore welcomed 2020 with an army of synchronized drones [Update: It was filmed days in advance]

Fireworks are a New Year’s Eve tradition the world over. But there are only so many new tricks event organisers can pull off to make a fireworks display stand out. This year, Singapore opted for a ‘2020’ spin on the traditional New Year’s Eve spectacle.
Night view of Marina Bay, Singapore
Marina Bay holds an impressive New Year’s Eve fireworks display every year. Photo: Mac Qin via Flickr

Singapore is known for being a high-tech city. In fact, by many measures it is the world’s ‘smartest’ city.

There are many ways a city can be classified as ‘smart’, from having a smart public transport system to smart energy infrastructure.

But the core characteristic of a smart city is its use of technology to make life better for residents.

As described by Cisco, “a smart city uses digital technology to connect, protect, and enhance the lives of citizens.”

Singapore’s commitment to technology and forward-thinking design is epitomized by Changi Airport, which has been ranked the best airport in the world every year since 2013.

Last night’s Marina Bay fireworks display was another example of just how seriously Singapore takes technology.

Singapore Skyline: Marina Bay Garden, Marina Bay Sands, and Raffles Place
Singapore is regarded as the world’s ‘smartest’ city. Photo: Nicolas Lannuzel via Flickr

Synchronized drones

Singapore’s unique twist on the New Year’ Eve fireworks show came in the form of 500 drones, each performing together as part of a synchronized team.

At 10:50pm the swarm of drones took to the skies above Singapore’s famous Marina Bay to perform what must be one of the most remarkable New Year’s Eve performances ever.

Working in unison, the drones performed a strictly-choreographed routine which played out in six chapters. Each equipped with multi-coloured lights, they lit up the night’s sky in number of impressive moving formations, appearing as a whale, jellyfish, a running man a rotating diamond and more.

According to reports by the Straits Times, a year of planning went in to the drone display, from conceptualization to the final performance.

The event was organized by Japanese company Avex, which has decades of experience designing and executing major event performances for J-Pop bands, music festivals and the like.

You can watch the remarkable drone performance in the video below.

The reaction to Singapore’s New Year’s Eve drones

The organizers of Singapore’s Marina Bay New Year’s Eve celebrations took a risk when they opted for such an ambitious display.

But judging by the response from attendees, the gamble seems to have paid off.

Among the more than 100,000 attendees, Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister, Heng Swee Keat watched the Marina Bay New Year’s Eve celebrations.

The Straits Times interviewed a number of attendees, many of whom were very impressed by the drone performance in particular.

35-year-old Malaysian Tourist, Ms Mary Chen, said: “The drones were amazing, we loved the performance and the storyline.”

Meanwhile, Gary Fong, a 55-year-old part-time tutor, praised Avex’s event. “The fireworks (show) from Japan was more vibrant and colourful, much better than the normal fireworks,” he said.

Considering how well the Marina Bay display was received by those in attendance, we may well be seeing drones at many more New Year’s Eve celebrations as we welcome 2021 next year.

[Update: It has come to light that the actual drone footage was captured days in advance during a successful test flight on the 28th December. The footage is sped up to simulate faster flying but in reality, the drones fly at much shorter speeds.]
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