Pages of the Sea - Remembrance Sunday

We’re honoured to be working on the 2018 Remembrance Sunday event taking place across the country. The project is being produced by Danny Boyle. On selected beaches around the UK, over the course of several hours, a portrait of an individual from the First World War will emerge from the sand. And then, as the tide rises, be washed away as we take a moment to say a collective goodbye. We will be filming the event in Swansea Bay with the image of Dorothy Mary Watson being created in the sand.

Ok, here’s an update after the event.

It was a 5am alarm call and a 200 mile road trip battling floods and gales down the M4 to Swansea Bay but we got there in one piece. Standing on the promenade near the Swansea Civic Centre the wind almost blew us off our feet while tumultuous grey clouds surged across the sky towards the mountainous Welsh interior. How the heck were we going to fly our drone in these conditions when gusts were hitting us at 35-40mph. Time for coffee and reflection on what lay ahead. On the beach an army of high vis jackets could be seen staggering against the wind as they marked out an area of 40m x 40m, this was where the portrait image was going to be created. Over the next five hours a battle between the elements and human perseverance took place as the vast image slowly emerged from the sand. Periodically the sun appeared and lengthening shadows stretched across the beach before they were chased away by darkening skies. Buffeted by the onshore winds these were far from ideal conditions to stand still, let alone fly a drone and film the evolution of this young woman’s image. The last time she would have walked along the bay was 100 years ago and the world was at war. She was working in the munitions factory at Llanelli when she was killed by an explosion at the age of eighteen. This would be the only occasion when her image would return to her homeland. With our marshals in place and the sun going down we decided to test the stability of our drone as the gusting wind gradually reduced in speed. With the sun nearing the horizon with every minute it was now or never as we launched the Inspire 2 against the prevailing wind. With a good GPS lock and a beach just about clear of people I flew the drone out over the water and then further along the beach, testing its manoeuvrability and gimbal compensation. All looked good on our monitors, the beach was clearing and so we pressed ‘record’. By this time of the day the shot brief had gone out of the window and so we made the best of the remaining light and conditions but always aware of the challenges presented by flying our drones within the CAA regulations in such an open public space. Within the hour we had our shots, the sun was setting, it was time to land, retreat from the windswept beach and pack before the rain set in again. A retreat to a local pub for refreshments and upload all the footage to a production agency in London and then just a 200 mile drive home.

Tim Kahane