One of many things we’re missing during quarantine has been the kind high-profile, high-budget music video release we’ve come to expect from our pop stars in the 21st century. Sure, Cardi B brought out a live tiger and Kylie Jenner for her “WAP” music video in August, but social distancing requirements — and the threat of transmitting a hyper-contagious, airborne virus — have largely made it so that the music videos released in 2020 have necessarily been more subdued affairs.
The solution, apparently, is to dispatch with the humans and animals entirely and just film everything with drones, and on that front, we have Hobbes to thank. The Detroit, Michigan-based animation studio teamed up with Firefly Drone Shows to produce the latest music video from VWLS, “High in Heaven,” which is performed and shot entirely by a fleet of 200 remote-controlled flying devices.
The video features the drones taking the form of a 300-foot-tall realistic face that lip syncs along to vocals performed by by Josh Epstein and Louie Louie.
Using real-time face capture technology, Hobbes and Firefly Drone Shows were able to more accurately capture a real human likeness, dialing in the “energetic” takes when the music swells and the “stoic” expressions when the face “needed to be more monolithic or observant.”
“As the sole focus of the video, it was crucial to hit the right balance of likeness and abstraction for the look we wanted,” Hobbes said in a statement. “The portrait is defined by confident line work, which lends itself to the drone format, and is reminiscent of stone carving features, contributing to its monolithic quality.”
In addition to being able to record all facial details remotely by sending tracking data via email, Hobbes said that using Firefly’s private test field to film drone flights naturally accommodated social distancing requirements, since, after all, “we need 500 feet of clearance to fly any show.”