LA Media was thrilled to be asked once again by MTP, one of Scotland’s leading commercial production companies, to come out and do some exciting drone filming. We were asked to film the aerials for a new action adventure promotion for bottled water brand Highland Spring.

This involved us flying two drones simultaneously in the air. One drone was to be chasing a fearless stuntman over lumpy and treacherous terrain while the other drone was busy catching the train in motion as it crossed the famous and historical Glenfinnan viaduct at the same time. No small feat!

We also worked with the London’s agency’s visual effects people to achieve a shot from above where the stuntman leapt from a great height onto a green screen inflatable landing area.

This shot would eventually composite to make it look as if the stuntman had jumped onto the moving train we had filmed earlier. Milk Tray Man eat yer heart out!

This shoot was all about timing. We had a narrow window of weather, train availability and non-gusting winds in which to achieve a series of complex shots.


Drone screen grab from Highland Spring Ad

Image by LA Media  ‘Drone Filming at Glenfinnan Via Duct’

The Challenges: Two Drones One Train!

On this shoot, the challenges were that we had to fly two drones in the same airspace at the same time without the pilot having a line of sight to each other. So we could see the drones but the two pilots couldn’t see each other. You see how that was a problem. We just had to be extra careful and put more control measures in place.

Getting to the location where they wanted us to fly from was no picnic either. We started on a road below the viaduct and climbed a meandering rough path (over water at times) to reach a sort of base camp.

From this base camp, we went on further up the hills to various locations traveling over bumpy, muddy, boggy ridden terrain. It was no fun believe us.

At one point Justin vanished up to his knees in sinking cold bog and had to be rescued by his fellow team members, no easy task! We could have used a few Sherpas and donkeys.

However, the production company we worked with were truly amazing. They did the bulk of the carrying and were helpful in kept us going. The rain was persistent, the wind was billowing and the train was on a schedule with narrow windows of one hour time for its availability.


Drone screen grab from Highland Spring Ad in Glenfinnan

Image by LA Media ‘Drone Filming at Glenfinnan’ 

Get that Drone a Sweater!

You may not know this about drone batteries but they don’t like the cold and it was freezing. This meant shorter flight times and more battery changes, which ultimately meant more stress for everyone! Oh, the glamour of show biz!

Despite the weather, the location and the batteries having a hissy fit we nailed the shots and the production were delighted with the final product.


Fourth Time’s the Charm!

So before we rocked up on location three other drone companies had tried and failed (melted their drones) by attempting to fly through the steam of the train! It was -as they say – Scorchio!

Armed with this knowledge of previous attempts we selected our flight path very carefully through the steam. However, it was still a hair-raising experience but luckily our drone survived.


Drone screen grab from Highland Spring Ad Glenfinnan Steam Train

Image by LA Media ‘Drone Filming at Glenfinnan Via Duct’

It’s Going to be a Bumpy Ride…

Owing to the terrain we couldn’t land the Inspire 1 on the ground. The Vulcan Raven was OK because it had its own landing platform wherever it went. But with the Inspire 1, we resorted to hand launch and hand recovery.

Here’s a handy tip, when recovering by hand make sure you don’t cover up the landing sensors which lower the landing gears. If you do happen to do this you run the risk of having your finger crushed by the landing gear winding mechanism.

Justin found this little handy tip out the hard way and nearly lost his thumb in the process.



Client: Highland Spring

Agency: Whitespace

Production: MTP

Director: James Brown

Creative: Neil Walker

Drone Pilot: Peter Maughan

Gimbal operators: Justin Adams / Iain White

Location: Glenfinnan Viaduct

Big Star: The Steam Train


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