Elon Musk’s brother, Kimbal Musk, has acquired more than 9,000 drones from Intel to form a new drone light show company, Nova Sky Stories. While the terms of the acquisition have not been disclosed by either party, the chipmaker has confirmed that it will no longer run the Intel Drone Light Shows unit.
Musk, who also sits on the boards of Tesla and SpaceX, says he founded Nova Sky Stories to “bring art to the skies of every city and town in the world.” The plan is to partner with renowned digital artists and producers, equip them with the best drone hardware and software, and bring their creative vision to life.
Intel’s drones have bedazzled some of the world’s largest stages including the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Coachella, and the Super Bowl. But Musk’s inspiration to form his own drone show company comes from the 2021 Free Burn “event” that brought thousands of long-time “Burners” together in the Nevada desert after the official Burning Man was canceled due to COVID-19.
There, the community put together an impromptu drone light show showcasing the titular “Man” because there was no wooden effigy to burn. “We all cried tears of joy, sadness, and everything in between,” Musk says, recalling the event in a Medium post.
You can watch the Free Burn 2021 drone light show in the YouTube video below, but as attendees point out in comments, the vibe of the crowd isn’t captured here. “People were yelling and screaming and crying hysterically at the sheer awesomeness of this!”
The producer behind the Free Burn 2021 drone show is Studio Drift’s Ralph Nauta, whose core forte is experimental installations and performances. The Dutch artist joins Lucas Van Oostrum of Drone Stories and light drones pioneer Daniel Gurdan in Musk’s quest to give people “a feeling of togetherness, community, and joy” through drone shows. Some former Intel employees are also joining Musk’s team.
I am proud of the team that has come around us to make Nova Sky Stories a reality. Daniel Gurdan will lead the hardware team with a group of brilliant engineers and fantastic pilots. Tobias Gurdan will lead the software team that will allow artists from all over the world to create sky stories. Together they will keep pushing the boundaries of what is possible today. Ralph Nauta will help build and train our Artist Collective. Lucas Van Oostrum will build and train our Producer Collective.