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Dazzling drone show transforms Picton night sky

Story and photos by Sharon Harrison
Imagine a fireworks display, minus the pretty explosions and loud bangs, and then imagine a similar illuminating effect – but more refined, yet almost silent, and more intentional. Add instrumental music to the synchronicity, and you have the impressive unique qualities of a professional drone light show.

Touted as the “largest swarm drone entertainment show to ever take place in Canada”, some 200 drones transformed the sky over Base31 venue on Friday evening as Prince Edward County became the launch County for Illumin Drone Shows.

The exclusive, invitation-only audience, many of whom travelled from the Toronto area, experienced a sneak peek of an extraordinary new, cutting-edge, advanced technology by the “the first drone entertainment company in Canada to use the most advanced drone technology available today”.

Christian Ilumin

The creation and brainchild of CEO and founder Christian Ilumin, Christian has over 20 years’ experience in the aviation industry, managing commercial operations, regulatory affairs and commercial real estate. The drone show was produced by his Toronto-based Illumin Drone Show Company Inc.

At dusk, with the sun setting on an extraordinarily balmy and humid mid-April day, excitement and anticipation mounting as the imminent darkening sky meant something special was about to occur.

As show time was announced, the invited guests, many seated, many more standing, gathered on the runway of the airfield, where silence fell under the darkness of the night, and a countdown began, as if a space mission were readying for an important rocket launch.

While the audience was asked to refrain from shouting or screaming their joy and surprise during the show (so it and the accompanying music could be fully enjoyed), there were quiet oohs, aahs and wows, although many appeared to be silenced by the visions.

Whether a geometric shape, a figure outline, or an object more familiar, an amazing spinning globe, a dove with out-stretched wings for example, the created interpretations seamlessly hovered and moved about the sky, all the while changing colour and direction, in seamless unison.

The nine-minute display seemed short, but was memorable, and a show most wished could have lasted longer as viewers were entranced and mesmerized by what had just unfolded before them.

The individual capsules of light, as if stars but much brighter and larger than what’s usually observed in the night sky, penetrated the darkness, painting the sky in three-dimensional magical animation, all timed and choreographed to music, and all on a gigantic scale.

The playground of dancing lights overhead, all 200 of them, expertly co-ordinated by Illumin’s team of aviation experts, prepared to thrill.

Simply put, the drone light shows are a “group of illuminated synchronized drone choreographed to arrange themselves in formation in the sky”, yet the breathtaking experience offers so much more bringing an unforgettable and awe-inspiring experience for those observing the spectacular performance.

Tim Jones (Base31 CEO), Christian Ilumin (Illumin founder), Robert Cheek (UVify COO) and Gary Ogden (emcee).

Christian Ilumin welcomed Tim Jones, Base31 CEO and Rechie Valdez, Mississauga-Streetsville MP to the official launch of Illumin Drone Shows.

“What a journey this has been, but this journey would not have been possible without the support of several very important people, many who are here today,” said Ilumin.

Also welcomed was Ilumin’s business partner and good friend, Carlos Dominguez, who travelled from Mexico with his wife and children for the occasion, as well as Robert Cheek (UVify COO) and Hyon Lim, Ilumin’s partners and drone supplier from UVify, who came all the way from South Korea.

Ilumin also thanked his family, his wife and his daughters for putting up with the long hours and crazy schedules over the past 18 months, and his flight crew “who have never let me down and continue to work their butts off”.

“I’d like to thank my father for believing in me and providing me with so much encouragement and inspiration along the way,” he added.

Valdez spoke to entrepreneurship, and the many different challenges and hardships faced by every entrepreneur.

“Christian has gone through it all. He didn’t let those obstacles stop him, he decided to push through and he learned from his experiences and he actually put this whole entire vision to life,” said Valdez. “What he wanted to do with his company, along with his amazing team, they dreamt really big.”

She suggested, as folks watched the skies, to keep an open mind.

“Keep an open mind as far as the beautiful creative experiences that you are going to see that is pushing the boundaries of our artistic creativity; be open minded to what is going to share whether you are a creative, whether you’re a corporate bank, whether you’re a parent, you are pushing the boundaries.”

Illumin group’s Gary Ogden, the evening’s emcee, described Ilumin, someone he has worked with in the airline industry for years, as a “serial entrepreneur”.

“I really do admire his stones for doing the things he does: he’s out there, he’s living on the edge, he is living the latest and greatest technology, he keeps some pretty cool friends as well,” Ogden said.

He also spoke briefly to safe audience experiences, the long and pioneering regulatory road travelled, and how the whole drone concept is subject to stringent safety and regulatory elements through Transport Canada.

He said Illumin wouldn’t be regulated by Transport Canada, or the first to do many things with Transport Canada, without the team and the crew if they “weren’t the safest out there, and we are very proud of our doing it the right way”.

“Christian and I have been in airline and aviation business and that’s what we did, we have been part of that regulated environment for many years, so doing a safe and secure operation like this takes time, and it takes commitment to safety.”

Magnificent in its delivery, the dazzling drone light show offered a gentle form of entertainment, thought-provoking as well as inspiring and wondrous, emotional too, but mostly this sneak peek provided a few precious moments showcasing and demonstrating the expertise and skill of how drone operators and programmers can deliver a unique form of entertainment in the night sky by bringing the drones to life.

With the set-up just a short distance away from the viewing audience, it was hard to tell the impressive light show consisted of drones at all as the combination of light, sound, movement and choreography melded for an impressive overall effect, one that was pretty much out of this world.

“We have a concept here which is green, which is quiet, which is sustainable, which is very, very modern,” added Ogden. “We are not creating any smoke, we are not scaring anybody’s dog or cat, it is a low-stress, low-anxiety, multi-media customer experience.”

Food and drink stations were set up on the airfield before and after the show, along with a DJ, and the bar remained open after the display, as guests were welcome to linger a while longer and even dance to the music under the night sky on an unusually warm spring evening.

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  1. Dawn macDonald says:

    Excellent to this type of venue in my home town. Hopefully they will be extending future shows to include locals and their families.

  2. David Thomas says:

    Wow, that looked amazing. I suspect pyrotechnics firework displays have seen their best days.

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