4.2k Aerial filming for a Channel 4 documentary Ross-Shire / Sutherland

4.2k Aerial filming for a Channel 4 documentary Ross-Shire / Sutherland

Had an interesting couple of days doing some aerial filming for a Channel 4 documentary based in the Highlands.   

The majority of filming was to be carried out on one day, the shoot involved multiple locations spanning across 90 miles of Ross-Shire.    

There were some major factors to consider especially this time of year including weather, daylight operating time and accessibility due to adverse weather conditions.  I created an itinerary which allowed me to work out drive time to locations, setup / shoot time and battery usage / charge times.  

A few days before the planned shoot i prepared all of the required equipment, checking that the drone and all related equipment firmware's were up to date and carried out and waited for a break in the weather to carry out some tests flights.  Completed all the required paperwork and went through my checklists.  

The day of the shoot went well and covered every location apart from one that was simply inaccessible due to road conditions, we opted for another location that was a secondary location.  There were no unexpected issues, the aircraft flew exactly how it should, the only change in setup was to disable the vision sensors when flying low over water.  

The director decided that they would like more aerial footage and we planned to meet up Stac Pollidah and get some footage of the subject ascending and deciding.  Checking the weather forecast there was a break in the weather over the weekend which was within the safe operating envelope of the aircraft.  I have been up Stac Pollidah a few times with camera gear but have never carried my Inspire 2 and all the accessories up the 600m mountain.  

Keeping heat in the batteries as i walk up the mountain was an instant concern so i opted for moving all my batteries into a tough case, the reason behind this was the backpack is fabric and would not retain the heat as much as a tough case that i would add some heat sachets to.  

Carrying the backpack with the inspire 2 & accessories + batteries was not going to be easy as lets be honest it has been a while since i had climbed Stac Pollidah and it was not  covered in ice and snow so i gave myself an extra hour so i was not rushed.  

Frozen Stac Pollaidh

As i set off in the morning, looking over Assynt i could see that Stac, well i couldn't see Stac Pollidah as there was a snow shower, not looking very promising.  On arrival at the base of the mountain the snow shower had passed, there were a young couple getting ready to walk up, i got all my gear sorted and again going of the checklists to make sure nothing was left behind i set off.  The first thing i noticed was how much of a pain carrying the batteries in one hand and having a backpack on would be and i would be swapping hands a fair bit on the way up.  

(Excuse quality of Smartphone Photos)

Stac Pollaidh

The lower section of the path was not too bad, about 1/2 way up i had to stop to take cover and protect the backpack from the incoming snow shower, the take off mat acts as a good shelter.  As expected the snow was getting thicker and thicker the higher you climbed, i was stopping off a fair bit now to take to slow down as i had plenty of time.  The young couple had just caught me up and was looking at their walking poles with envy, if only i did not need to carry this beeping battery box.  

Stac Pollaidh

As you climb up Stac Pollidah you walk around the and ascend to the north side of the mountain, it was at this point the path started to really disappear, i seen the couple attempting to traverse up the mountain trying to find a way up as they had lost the path as well.  A very dark and ominous cloud was heading for us and things started to get dark very quickly, I found a rock that i could get a little protection from so packed my gear there and waited out the snow shower.  Was good to know you get a good mobile signal from this side of the mountain as there is nothing until you get around the mountain.  After waiting for the snow shower to ease i decided to walk down and see if i could see the path and seen the rest of the film crew heading up.   

Stac Pollaidh
We watched as the young couple gave up trying to reach the summit and they headed back down.  There was a solo walker who who managed to traverse up the summit with walking poles.  We decided to do some of the footage from our location due to safety concerns.  

Stac Pollaidh

Few things learned from my first experience working with a film crew and climbing with a mountain to do aerial filming.  

Batteries, you can never have enough and keeping them warm is an issue, even with me keeping the batteries in a hard plastic case with foam and hand warmer sachets the batteries had to warm up a fair bit.  

Snow and take off mats don't really work as there is nothing to weigh the mat down with the wash of the Inspire 2 its enough to blow the mat about. That being said the take off mat doubled up as a good shelter / waterproof cover.


Company No SC461677


Copyright © 2023 Steven Gourlay Photography Ltd.


+880 322448500 Beverly Boulevard Los Angeles