Drones in the Wild
As amazing as Onekotan was - we lost gear and (more tragically) footage
What's becoming quite obvious is how, constantly close to the edge, we are of losing the technology we depend on to not only document #FromKurilsWithLove, but also to share the story as it unfolds with the world. The dependency is as tangible as its nerve wrecking. Being on a boat and near water almost constantly, while pushing the limits of the technology that is being used - even the smallest mistake can mean loss of production gear, which is replaceable, but what's worse: losing an important part of the story.
Yesterday the team was in a constant state of awe for the beauty that presented itself before them - Onekotan showed off, and we were there to capture it, and it put the drones to the test... first casualty came early in the morning under relatively non-dramatic circumstances.
The second one added some drama:
...standing at the rim next to the Krenitsena volcano, we lost contact with one of the drones, with a memory card full of epic footage. This part of the caldera is covered in almost impenetrable waist-high bush, losing contact with a drone that is 1500m away from your position, as the darkness sets in, is literally like finding a needle in a haystack. Renan, Chris, Ryan and Ted spent hours looking for it, before finally realizing that it had dropped beyond the rim, several hundred meters below their location.
Attempting to reach it was not only risky in itself, adding the isolation of these islands would mean official rescue would not be an option, if something were to go wrong. These are the options that need to be weighed into every decision, even if every instinct tells you to retrieve - and in this case it meant we lost a valuable piece of storytelling equipment.