Shanghai Drone Display New Years Eve 2019

Shanghai New Year’s drone display was pre-recorded

The footage was on every news outlet; on New Year’s Eve, Shanghai created a spectacular drone display for their new year celebrations. The footage broadcast shows 2,000 drones taking off against the dramatic skyline of Shanghai’s Pudong district. The drones illuminated

the river in a display to welcome in the New Year, forming patterns ranging from the earth to a dragon and then forming the Chinese characters of “Zhui Meng,” meaning Dream Pursuit.

However, it has emerged that the drone display didn’t actually happen on New Year’s Eve

The facts

China’s state-run media released the footage of over 2,000 drones illuminating the river in Shanghai on the 31st of December. It was then shared across worldwide news outlets, but It has now emerged that the display didn’t take place on New Year’s Eve. The company behind the display confirmed to the BBC that the footage broadcast around the world was actually from a practice run held on the 28th of December.

The video was picked up by media outlets across the globe who hailed it as futuristic and a low pollution alternative to the traditional fireworks.

No praise from residents of Shanghai

People who were at the event on New Year’s Eve said they never saw anything in the sky that night. Citizen’s of Shanghai complained after seeing the news of a drone display become international because they never saw any show on New Year’s Eve.

Twitter user Patrick Cox said: “This blows my mind, we stood outside last night for a show that never happened.”

The local English news website, The Shanghaiist, reported that people who were watching from the riverside area, the Bund, said they never saw a thing, no drones, nothing.”

It has also come to light that local authorities in Shanghai had also posted on their social media accounts dated the 30th of December, that there would be ‘no New Year’s Eve celebrations on the Bund this year.’


We can only speculate why the New Year’s Eve display was pre-recorded, but it does provide a safety net in case something goes wrong. People have defended the move by the Chinese CCTV news agency, comments on their youtube channel say that it did not matter when it took place as it was still an impressive show.

Pre-recording choreographed drone is not entirely new; in 2018, TV viewers of the Winter Olympics ceremony in South Korea were shown a ‘secretly pre-recorded’ drone display.

Pro’s and Con’s

There are many benefits to live videos, but pre-recorded ones can add a planning element, which gives more control and greater opportunity for correction. Live videos, however, boost audience engagement, because no one knows what’s coming, everyone is more excited! Also, many more platforms label broadcasts as live and prioritise them, they also stand out and can attract more user attention.

Live videos allow you to share content in real-time; many people and organisations have taken advantage of the free-flowing nature of the medium to create experiences that wouldn’t work anywhere else.