Here at Holler, we love a challenge. We love it when clients come to us with big, complex video production projects, as it is a chance to show them our best work. We thrive in dynamic, fast-paced filming environments to ensure clients video production really sing.

So, when the Royal Navy wanted us to film their exercise where a company of Royal Marines would assault a beach with the help of unmanned surveillance systems, we couldn’t wait to get started.

Filming on the shores of the Cornish south coast, in high winds and horizontal rain, the Holler crew filmed this “ground-breaking” and complex military exercise to produce a dramatic and engaging film to be shown at a NATO Naval Conference.

Here are just some of the key elements of the production;

  • Four camera teams – each filming high frame rate 4K
  • A two operator drone team (Pilot and Camera operator)
  • A stills photographer
  • ~25 Royal Marine Commandos
  • ~10 Surveillance drones: Aerial, Land, Sea (surface and underwater)
  • Colour grading to achieve a “Day for Night” final look.

We’ve got a lot of experience working on these sorts of video production projects, having worked with the MoD and various defence sector organisations for well over 5 years. Whether it’s a month-long Army exercise on Salisbury Plain or a chance to capture NATO efforts in missile defence systems we have established a reputation of meticulous planning and creative execution of these projects. We take big complicated stories, distil them to the key messages and create video content that is engaging and impactful.

Exercise Commando Warrior, was no different.


The operation was a classic example of what the Royal Marines were created to undertake.  A company of Commandos from 40 Commando Battalion were to conduct a tactical raid on a shoreline enemy position, assaulting from, and then escaping to the sea. All the while they would be using various autonomous systems to aide in their tactical decision making.

The main purpose of the exercise was to test how to connect all these autonomous systems so that troop commanders on the ground could take more precise and less risky action. It would also mean that senior commanders not on the ground would be able to observe these various feeds from anywhere in the world.

The aim of our production was to tell the story of the exercise and show the potential in a short impactful film.

Filming military exercises of this nature can seem daunting, just like capturing any event, there are a lot of moving parts. Often you will have very little control over what is going to happen and when. The key is good communication in the run-up and at the event itself.  Throughout the production, we had regular catchups with the various military and defence sector stakeholders. We came up with a solid shooting plan that would give us the opportunities to capture shots we needed to tell our story, whilst maintaining safety and ensuring we didn’t affect the smooth running of the exercise.



In order to be able to keep up with the exercise and ensure our camera ops were in the right place at the right time. We established a 4 camera team approach would be the most effective makeup, with a director communicating with them over radios to coordinate their movements with the Commandos.

At the same time as our ground camera teams were testing their fitness keeping up with the Marines on foot, our top-flight drone team we’re capturing some really magic shots from overhead. Whether it was the troops swiftly gliding in on the water or abseiling down a cliff during their extraction, our crew captured angles that are completely unique and really add to the epic nature of the actions undertaken by the Marines.

Once the exercise was complete, it was time for the next exciting step in the production, editing.

In the earlier stages of production, another key consideration was presented to us by the Royal Marines. Given they would normally conduct these raids in the dead of night, we were asked how we could convey this despite shooting in the day time.



For this, we used a colour grading technique commonly used in Hollywood films to deal with this production constraint, known as ‘Day for Night’ grading. The technique involves treating the footage shot in the daytime specifically to give it a ‘night-time’ look. Typically, this involves; lowering the brightest areas of the image, adding contrast and a blue tone for a ‘moonlit’ feel. One recent use of the technique was in the film Mad Max: Fury Road where a lot of the scenes set at night were filmed in the day-time and adjusted in post-production.

With our creative direction and edit plan in place, we got to cutting the huge amount of footage down to only the best shots that were essential to the story. With a stirring music track and sound design, the film was completed and delivered to the client to show at a NATO Conference where the response couldn’t have been better.


“At a NATO conference in Lisbon with ~100 naval officers where your film has just been shown to thunderous applause. Thanks again you all nailed it!”

Client – Senior Officer in the Royal Navy

This sort of reaction from our client makes all the hard work worthwhile. We’re very proud of the team who braved icy wind and horizontal rain to capture this amazing event and we are thoroughly looking forward to our next adventure in bringing our clients amazing stories to life.


Article Topics:
Video Production