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Behind the Scenes of TIME Magazine’s Drone Cover and Intel’s 958 Drones

Time magazine drone cover
Source: TIME/Youtube


Behind the Scenes of TIME Magazine’s Drone Cover and Intel’s 958 Drones


The world renowned magazine, Time, has launched a special issue focusing on unmanned aerial vehicles and to celebrate the burgeoning world of drones have reproduced the magazine’s iconic cover in the air using 958 drones.

To create this world-first, spectacular magazine cover, Time’s creative team worked with the Intel Shooting Star drone team, who have previously conducted drone light shows at CES2018 and for the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Creative Director of Time Magazine D.W. Pine explained the thoughts that inspired the cover.

“Not only did we want the border and logo made out of thousands of drones but we also wanted to shoot that cover photo with a drone. In the history of Time, 95 years, we’ve never had a cover image that was shot by a drone camera,” he said.

Although this especially created light show didn’t beat Intel’s previous record of 1,200 drones, executing the simultaneous flight of almost 1,000 Shooting Star drones was still pretty impressive.

And while the shooting of the Time drone magazine cover was done with amazing precision, it was not without it’s challenge.

As Intel’s Animation Lead, Time Heath explained, “The major challenge of this particular animation is the height at which we have to fly and getting the resolution that we want in the the time that we want. This animation is 100 m tall, our ceiling  is 400 feet and we have to stay within that space.”

So normally we like to keep the drones about 3 m apart from another. This time we were a bit limited on space so we had to confine that down to 1.5 m”

With space at a premium, the risks of the drones colliding with one another was increased should a gust of wind appear, Intel’s Show Controller Madeleine Ong explained.

“My responsibility is to monitor the health of the fleet of the drones both while they’re on the ground and also while they’re in the air. While they’re actually in flight I work with Clay who is our pilot in command for the show, in order to coordinate the commands that we send to the drones and make sure we’re safe from an aviation perspective,” she said.

But when you fly right at sunset or at sunrise, that’s exactly when the wind is picking up and slowing down and we’re flying up to 400 feet so there’s definitely a lot of turbulence up there that the drones are dealing with.”

Intel are expected to follow the spectacular drone light show this summer when they celebrate their 50th anniversary by breaking the current record of 1374 drones flown simultaneously (they were knocked off by EHANG earlier this year) by flying 1500 drones at once.

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Cite this article as: Sarah Whittaker, "Behind the Scenes of TIME Magazine’s Drone Cover and Intel’s 958 Drones," in, June 5, 2018,

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