Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl halftime show kicked off with the singer standing atop the NRG Stadium, singing ‘God Bless America’ while a fleet of drones flew in formation behind her, combining to create the American flag. It was an incredibly impressive feat, but the drone’s creators Intel have revealed information that has taken some of the magic away from the moment.
300 of Intel’s Shooting Star drones were used for the visual, with the company’s dedicated team of drone operators being fresh off a three-week run of performances at Disney World, along with a record-breaking show in Germany in which 500 of the synchronized drones flew alongside each other. The Super Bowl halftime show was business as usual for Intel, then, only with the addition of Lady Gaga and an audience of 112 million people.
— Tamara McCleary (@TamaraMcCleary) February 6, 2017
However, the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) strict guidelines when it comes to the public use of drones ensured that the drones wouldn’t be able to be flown live during the Super Bowl, with the government’s rules dictating that the unmanned aerial vehicles cannot legally fly within 34.5 miles of Houston’s stadium. This meant that Lady Gaga performed in front of a pre-recorded drone performance, which was taped earlier last week.
According to Wired, preparations for the drone show took place last December, with Intel also recording the halftime ad displaying the Pepsi logo ahead of schedule.
— Intel (@intel) February 6, 2017
Intel created the Shooting Star drones specifically for the entertainment industry, with each foot-long quadcopter equipped with onboard LEDs that allow them to light up in different color combinations. In a statement, Intel’s New Technology Group senior vice president Josh Walden said: “The potential for these light show drones is endless and we hope this experience inspires other creatives, artists and innovators to really think about how they can incorporate drone technology in new ways that have yet to even be thought of.”
The Shooting Star drones are still mightily impressive, then, but we’re still a little bummed out to discover that their performance wasn’t live. Still, it was probably best for Lady Gaga’s safety that it wasn’t — we can’t imagine that she would have been cool with jumping from the top of the stadium with 300 UAVs circling her.