The ruins of Whitby Abbey in North Yorkshire, England, completed by drone lighting.

Last night Paul J Sweeney, Labour & Co-op MSP for Glasgow, tweeted an image of a drone light show which – asking Glaswegians which buildings they would like to see reconstructed using light and the power of modern technology.

Paul J Sweeney MSP (@PaulJSweeney) posed the question by retweeting an image of Whitby Abbey posted by Chris Dancy (@Chris Dancy) – a seventh century monastery which lies in a state of ruin, but had been restored using the power of drone light shows.

How do drone light shows work?
While the legitimacy of the picture has been called into question, it is possible that this could be done. Drone light shows are often used for just that – hundreds of synchronized and choreographed drones coming together in aerial formations to illustrate images, people, and concepts.

Almost any image can be recreated in the sky by a computer program that turns graphics into flight commands and communicates them to the drones.

Drone light shows were innovated by the Head of Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania in 2012. Vijay Kumar was one of the first to demonstrate such a concept was possible on a much larger and more public scale than previous experiments with drones.

In the last ten years, drone techonology has continued to advance and become more popular – with flying drone shows at massive events like the Super Bowl halftime show and the Winter Olympics.

The process for orchestrating hundreds of drones is surprisingly straightforward – first, the design team creates a storyboard timeline showing the desired images and effects.

These looks are then animated in a specialized piece of software that translates them into synchronized flight paths for each drone – for building reconstructions they would need to hover stationary, greatly simplifying the process.

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