Autonomous Drones in Syfy’s Hover Image

With the recent technological advancements, drones are becoming more prevalent and popular with an increasing demand. From writer and lead actress Cleopatra Coleman (“The Last Man on Earth”) comes this pertinent technological artificial intelligence film with the rise of self-sustaining drones. The movie revolves in an era where food shortages are widespread, as a result, hi-tech agricultural drones are utilized to maximize the harvest. Two caretakers Claudia (Cleopatra Coleman) and her mentor John (Craig muMs Grant) are called upon as these farmland residents suddenly become severely sick. After John mysteriously dies, questions open up with the correlation between these drones and their clients; Claudia is then provided with a new partner Tania (Fabianne Therese). On Claudia’s pursuit, she comes across two locals Isaiah (Shane Coffey) and Joanna (Beth Grant) who attempt to figure out this technological calamity. Hover is directed by Matt Osterman (Ghost From The Machine).

Director Matt Osterman. Photo credit Matt Osterman. Courtesy of Syfy Films.

“…questions open up with the correlation between these drones and their clients…”

Creating an artificial intelligence drone movie carries its own challenges. Osterman expanded, “It was really difficult because you can’t fly real drones around a bunch of cast members, especially with crowds. We had the camera drones, typical drones with high-end cameras that would get a lot of our aerial coverage. We also had a couple of rigs for our cameras on set where it looked like it was floating and getting that POV, so we can get up right in the grill of some of our talent. When we flipped it around, we wanted to film the drones themselves. We also had a handful of puppet drones that our department created with very simple moves; obviously couldn’t get too complex, just some wire work flying around. On top of that, we had a whole bunch of CGI drones as well to get a little bit more of that complex maneuvering.”

Anything that involves artificial intelligence and flying drones will often require some sort of visual effects. “There are almost 300 visual effects shots in this movie. We split up the two effects categories. There were the drone effects which producer Travis Stevens had built a team that was just focused on all the drone stuff. Then there was another team that did all the world building effects. It was nice we could have both of these teams simultaneously working and I would be leading clear decisions or signing off. It took a total of six to eight months just on the visual effects,” continued the director.

Cleopatra Coleman as Claudia. Photo courtesy of Syfy Films

“…was really difficult because you can’t fly real drones around a bunch of cast members, especially with crowds.”

Osterman concluded, “We’re just in this really interesting phase right now where we are not really sure what’s going to happen in the future because it’s moving so quickly. These drones are becoming really powerful and in the wrong hands, they can be used for pretty nefarious things. As we continue to move into the coming years, people need to be aware of what could be happening and if we don’t set up the parameters early on, this stuff can get out of hand in a hurry. Let’s be vigilant and make sure that we don’t fall into any of these pitfalls.”

Hover experiments with the notion of artificial intelligent autonomous drones in the near future as our technology is rapidly changing.

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