A Soaring Flight of the Swans

A Soaring Flight of the Swans

Flight of the Swans is what you might call an out-of-the-box conservation project. The expedition is raising awareness of the declining population of the Bewick’s swan. A team from the Wildfowl Wetlands Trust (WWT) are following the swans on their autumn migration as they travel from their breeding grounds in Arctic Russia, back to the UK for overwintering.

You might think that all sounds pretty normal for a conservation project? What makes it different is that one member of the team is flying the 7,000km journey by paramotor. Sacha Dench, a former professional free diver and now head of media at WWT, is putting herself through this immense personal challenge to help raise awareness for this vulnerable species.

Following her journey is a six-strong media team, covering a range of different mediums to maximise the coverage of this remarkable project. With two cameramen in Matthew Harris and Benjamin Sadd, Samantha Vadas a freelance journalist, Steve Flanagan a 360/timelapse specialist, Ben Cherry an environmental photojournalist and Amber Eames our director/producer. It is pretty clear that WWT means business in communicating this conservation effort to as wide an audience, via as many means, as possible.

In this blog, some of the media members will run through the three different G-Technology drives we have (provided by G-Technology at no cost) and explain their standout feature for their specialism. But first up is Amber Eames to discuss the complex workflow the Flight of The Swans team are having to contend with.

Amber Eames — Workflow

“Deciding on a workflow for a remote filming expedition can be tricky, but Flight of the Swans is pushing the boundaries in every direction and its workflow is no exception. Not only do we need to use a comprehensive workflow for delivering a 6K feature documentary, but this project also requires fast delivery of various streams of content from fast-paced VNR’s for international news to social media feeds as well as offline edits crossing several countries.

The most important issue is always ensuring you have 3 identical copies of your media and for this project we decided on a master and clone copy with a third copy for editing, using a combination of rugged, all terrain G-DRIVE® ev ATC drives, G-DRIVE with Thunderbolt drives and three 18TB G-SPEED® Shuttle XL storage solutions located both in the UK and with the expedition film crew, to ensure both locations have access to the rushes. In the field, the film crew is split into two teams each with very different workflow requirements. The first crew opted for the G-DRIVE ev ATC drives as they require a rugged, all-terrain storage solution for wildlife filming in remote locations on the fly, from the remotest corner of the tundra to swan chasing on a remote Estonian island.

The second crew requires a faster storage solution capable of handling RED Raw 6K media in the field. Editing on the road is always challenging, but the nature of this project requires a seamless workflow between infield assembly edits and offline edits back in the UK for the likes of AutumnWatch and BBC Breakfast news. Fortunately G-Technology’s range of storage has us prepared for every eventuality both on the ground and back in the UK.”

Mathew Harris — G-SPEED Shuttle XL

“The G-SPEED Shuttle XL or ‘towers’ have proved an invaluable asset as part of our workflow on the road. At the end of a long day shooting the idea of offloading and sum-checking the day’s rushes is always a daunting prospect. However, we’re getting nearly 700MB/s read and write speed from the towers meaning we can offload a full 512GB RED mag in less that 15 minutes. Also, having the RED Mag readers in the expansion slots, as well as the ability to put the drives from the bus powered G-DRIVE ev ATC drives from the rest of the team, means less hunting for card readers and fewer cables. Those read/write speeds are enabling us to edit 6K DNG raw footage straight out of the camera and turn around media as we go. The nature of the expedition has showcased the towers’ transportability and ruggedness with their custom Pelican cases, rugged construction, and top handle.”

Steve Flanagan — G-DRIVE with Thunderbolt 3TB.

“Due to the type of multimedia I produce – 360 videos and timelapse content – I’ve been having to create and offload large amounts of data on the road. I’ve found G-Technology’s G-DRIVE 3TB Thunderbolt drives provide me with a combination of reliable storage and fast read and write times. They have been packed and unpacked countless times and I’ve experienced no problems at all. The large storage capacity has been fantastic in reducing the amount of hardware I’m needing to use and the compact size means I’m a fully mobile edit studio from a couple of small bags.”

Ben Cherry — G-DRIVE ev ATC

“For me it is all about accessibility, being able to access my images at any given time, even when I’m out in the field. The nature of my photography and role is that I have to be able to turn content around quickly, no matter where I am. Whether that is to forward something to the press or simply to share content on social media, I need something compact which I can keep in my stills backpack along with my laptop. The G-DRIVE ev ATC drives offer the perfect solution everything from being all in one with an inbuilt USB3 cable, to knowing that they can take a beating as I seek out Bewick’s swans along remote parts of the flyway.

By the same token, the ability to simply put one in my shoulder bag while I’m exploring a city like St Petersburg or Tallinn, means that I can work anywhere with minimal strain carrying around storage. Like right now for instance, I’m writing this sitting in a car, laptop on my lap with a G-DRIVE ev ATC drive attached so I can access my Adobe® Lightroom® library.

The compactness combined with the rugged water protection makes working around wetlands less of a hazard. When carrying backpacks worth thousands, it is relieving at least to know that there is some water protection for my downloaded content to help keep it safe. This is important as I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t taken a tumble in a bog!”


Overall these three types of drives allow our expansive media team to cover Sacha’s incredible journey and also share it with the world via news, TV programs, our website https://www.flightoftheswans.org and our social media channels:

Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as quickly as possible. From 6K RED footage and six camera GoPro 360 rigs, to thousands of images and simply backing up, our workflow is complex but our hardware is more than up for the challenge.


G-Technology, the G-Technology logo, G-DRIVE and G-SPEED are registered trademarks or trademarks of Western Digital Corporation or its affiliates in the U.S. and/or other countries. GoPro is a trademark or registered trademark of GoPro, Inc. Pelican is a registered and/or unregistered trademark of Pelican Products, Inc., its affiliates or subsidiaries. RED is a trademark of Red.com, Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. Adobe and Lightroom® are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated in the United States and/or other countries.

All other marks that may be mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners. As used for storage capacity, one gigabyte (GB) = one billion bytes and one terabyte (TB) = one trillion bytes. Total accessible capacity varies depending on operating environment. Product specifications subject to change without notice. Pictures shown may vary from actual products. Not all products are available in all regions of the world. As used for transfer rate or interface, megabyte per second (MB/s) = one million bytes per second, megabit per second (Mb/s) = one million bits per second, and gigabit per second (Gb/s) = one billion bits per second. Performance will vary depending on your hardware and software components and configurations.


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A Soaring Flight of the Swans