Drones are kind of a big deal now. Just look at TIME Magazine's new cover.
TIME Magazine has always lead the way with creative cover art, but this one really takes the cake. For its latest issue about the prevalence of drones in today's culture, TIME partnered with Intel’s Drone Light Show team, Astraeus Aerial Cinema Systems and L.A. Drones to create a hovering formation of 958 Shooting Star drones measuring 100 meters tall that mimicked the border and logo of the iconic magazine, resulting in not only TIME's first drone-captured cover but also "one of the biggest drone shows ever produced in the U.S."
So, how does one organize, design, and then execute the formation of nearly a thousand drones? To answer that question, TIME shot a behind-the-scenes video that shows you how the project came together, from how Intel's Animation Lead, Tim Heath, worked out the physical design to how Astraeus Aerial Lead Pilot, Corey Gineris, managed to keep all 958 drones in the air.
Now that you know how the cover was done, this quick 13-second video of a drone flying through the formation shows you how the actual cover image was captured. I won't leave you in suspense: it was with another drone—a drone capturing an image of drones for a TIME special report about drones.
So, what is it about this image that's got the whole internet in a tizzy? Afterall, it's just an image of the TIME logo and border; it's not even comparable aesthetically to the incredible drone light shows that we saw at Coachella or the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. I think TIME Magazine's Creative Director, D.W. Pine, explains it perfectly.
I've always been amazed at how different an image looks when you put it inside the red border of TIME. What's interesting about this is that the image is actually the border of TIME. I've looked at that border and logo every single day on a flatscreen monitor, and to see it up in the sky at 400 feet in the air...was very moving for me. Just to see it flying above you was really special.
Head on over to TIME if you're interested in reading more about the cover project, as well as the special report, which explores how drones are used in the U.S. to do everything from capture breath-taking photographs and videos to monitor the U.S.-Mexico border.