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Drone show hopes to light up North Hamilton

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A drone light show by Sky Elements (Photograph by Sky Elements)

Karl Outerbridge is hoping to put on the mother of all drone light shows in the week leading up to Cup Match.

If he is successful, 300 tiny aircraft will take to the sky at about 9.30pm on July 29 for a free display above North Hamilton.

The controls will be manned by Sky Elements, “a high-technology aerial entertainment company that tells stories with light and sound, using the sky as our canvas”.

In this instance, the drones will illustrate a Cup Match timeline laid out by local historian Michael Bradshaw.

It is all part of a bigger plan: a family fun day at Bernard Park with Cup Match as the theme. Fish sandwiches and dinners, stalls with Cup Match-branded items, cricket-related games and drone-flying lessons will all be on offer at prices that will not break the bank.

For it all to work, however, Mr Outerbridge needs sponsors.

He is in talks with a “major” backer but would love it if more supporters came on board with his plan to give back to the community.

“The number one reason why I wanted to do this is I wanted to bring a high-end show to the North Hamilton/Pembroke area. Normally when there are firework displays going off, they are usually down by Harbour Road, they’re somewhere off Castle Harbour,” said Mr Outerbridge, a resident of North Hamilton.

“This is the area that normally doesn't have a front-row seat to this type of event. And so for me, this is the opportunity to put such an event right on the doorsteps of people that live in the area.”

A drone light show by Sky Elements (Photograph by Sky Elements)

Mr Outerbridge was discussing ideas for the Court Street Market with Nadine Dillas, one of the organisers, and Gary Augustus, owner of the Soulfood Grill & Cafe, when a drone show promo he had recently watched on YouTube sprang to mind.

He proposed it for the market but soon realised it would not be possible.

“It came down to logistics,” he said. “Originally I thought about flying drones above the City of Hamilton but due to regulations, you can’t fly drones above people.”

Karl Outerbridge (File photograph)

Undeterred, he came up with Marsh Folly.

“And then from there it came to if we’re going to have people watching, we’re going to have to create a whole new event. And so it became creating a whole new festival at Bernard Park,” said Mr Outerbridge, who had never organised anything of that scale before.

He immediately got to work on finding an “appropriate production company” and was thrilled to discover US-based Sky Elements.

“They can take 300 drones. These drones are launched into the sky and they create these very detailed images, and sometimes these images are three-dimensional. And the thing is, it’s all being controlled by one laptop,” Mr Outerbridge explained.

“Sky Elements did a promo for Super Mario Brothers some months ago and actually were able to replicate a Mario brother image in the sky; he’s actually running across the sky. And to think that these are drones, they’re all individual drones that are all moving in sync to make this animation of a person moving in the sky. That’s just mind-blowing to me.”

Sky Elements prepares for a drone display (Photograph by Sky Elements)

The cost and duration of the show is similar to a fireworks display. Mr Outerbridge does not expect to make any money himself.

“As long as the event breaks even, everybody's happy,” he said. “There’s a budget that’s in place; we can’t exceed the budget. So it's not like it's something where I could say hey, I made $20,000 off this event. That would just kill the whole show.

“The way Sky Elements produce their shows, they have a key sponsor or brand and their name or logo becomes a part of the show. And they have two extra drones that fly around the actual exhibit filming everything, plus cameras on the ground that are filming, catching the environment. And they can take that and package it up and turn it into a TV commercial.”

His hope is that it becomes an annual event just before Cup Match.

“During the week or so leading up to Cup Match, as far as I know, there are no real family orientated events that go on. We’ve got the concerts that take place late at night, we’ve got the cricket game, but there's nothing really out there that’s kind of family driven or just a fun event that you can go to. So that's my long-term vision, to create something like that.”

A drone light show by Sky Elements (Photograph by Sky Elements)

Also important to him is that anyone who wants to attend can afford to do so.

“I'm not trying to turn this into some type of a cash cow for myself,” Mr Outerbridge said.

“I want to make sure that any vendor, if they're selling anything from a fish sandwich to a Cup Match-branded T-shirt, that it is as affordable as possible. So [for] a family of four, I want to make sure that they don’t feel like they have to take out a loan from the bank for that weekend. I want to make sure they can buy two fish sandwiches instead of having to split one among four people. I want to make sure that it’s affordable.”

• Potential sponsors or anyone with ideas for Karl Outerbridge’s family fun day should contact him at karl.outerbridge@outlook.com. For more on Sky Elements, visit skyelementsdrones.com/

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Published May 19, 2023 at 8:00 am (Updated May 19, 2023 at 8:06 am)

Drone show hopes to light up North Hamilton

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