Vector Visuals: “It’s a bird, no, it’s a plane, no, it’s a UAV”- by Tyler Christianson

From the death of my vehicle to creating Montana history to panic room train shooting to me doing my best Stephen Colbert impression, Vector Visuals first project was a huge success.


Vector Visuals, a newly started media production company, has recently finished filming its first commercial this past weekend with an up and coming made in Montana UAV business known as Skyyfish.  The project all started in 1996 when 5-year-old Tyler ignored property signs and started playing in a big pile of dirt.  Eventually, that pile of dirt would become one of my life long friends house, Austin Schweitzer.  Schweitzer is head of sales and marketing for Skyyfish.  A month ago Schweitzer and I discussed our businesses and how we could collaborate with one another.  Before you know it, I’m skipping my capstone marketing class (which I’m sure was content filled with random facts about Georgians birth cycles and how Google will one-day rule the world), to meet the owner, CEO and rest of the Skyyfish team.  The meeting was at the Mustard Seed.  The Mustard Seed seems like a great place to have a meeting, but the thing is, I’m a picky eater and I’m not a huge fan of chineese food.  I prefer being called selective eater, but whatever!  So I did my best mature adult impression and I tried healthy new goods.  It was delicious.  Between eating peas and sweet shrimp, I conversed with John Livingston the owner and Orest Pilskalns the CEO.  The table was filled with intelligence, including the UAV engineer, Dan Reed.  I was a little overwhelmed, but I kept the eye on the prize and not the alien looking chicken sauce.  After frantic phone calls with one of my cinematographers, Colter Olmstead, I figured out a bargaining zone price to present to John.  I learned about bargaining zones from my Chineese teacher, Fengru Li, and I was first implementing the knowledge in a chineese restaurant.  Funny how life comes full circle and in such an ironic manner.  After the lunch was finished, Skyyfish and Vector Visuals had a tentative plan to film a promotional video with the potential to be the best commercial video to come out of Montana.  Not only that, I had just tried new vegetables.  It was a good day.



As producer, I continued to work with Skyyfish and the rest of the Vector Visuals team to come up with a list of location sites, receive permission to film at the locations, filming dates that work for the entire filing crew, and of course, the weather.  The list of locations was created from both Skyyfish and Vector Visuals.  The teamwork from both sides would even put the San Antonio Spurs in awe.  Everyone did their own work and even helped each other in this long pre production process.  Orest and myself both tackled receiving permission for filming Lady of the Rockies.  At first, I was talking with the Lady of Rockies board of directors to obtain permission, but Orest was the closer in the deal.  Orest had a personal family connection to the Lady of the Rockies because his deceased sister loved the Lady of the Rockies when she was a young girl.  Not go go too much into detail, but when Orest shared that story with me, filming the beauty of the Lady was important to me too.  More about filming the Lady, later.  Receiving permissions to film the other sites was relatively easy, but required time and collaboration between the Skyyfish side and Vector Visuals.  After the Skype calls, board calls, repetitive permission calls, date planning, and weather watching, the pre-production was over.  Now time for the fun part, filming.  Lights, camera, broken car, action.

Lady of the Rockies

IMG_2640I wouldn’t call myself a religious man, but I believe in some type of higher power.  So when my car over heated while I was driving up to one of the most powerful religious statues in the world, I reevaluated my life a little.  By reevaluate, I mean calling my insurance company.  Talk about a godsend!  Orest was nice enough to turn around and drive Colter  and myself up the rest of the way to the Lady of the Rockies.  The Lady is a statue in Butte, MT that was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.  The statue was created by Bob O’Bill after he prayed to God asking to save his wife’s life who had cancer.  O’Bill’s wife survived and O’Bill funded the building of the Lady of the Rockies in 1979 to create the largest statue in America, other than the Statue of Liberty.  So yeah, it’s kind of a big deal.  Being the first filming and UAV organizations to obtain permission to film the Lady is a historic point in time.   Both teams can’t believe how lucky we are to hold this title.  The footage we were able to record is breath taking, so be sure to keep an eye out for it at and  The first shoot took four hours and collaboration from both Vector and Skyyfish was needed in order to create such an accomplishment.  After the Lady, both teams were off to Helena, with a short tow truck pit stop.

Helena Motorcross Track
motobikeThe motocross shoot in Helena was my baby, and I’m not great with babies so I was keeping my fingers crossed! No dead babies on my watch.  Dedicating 3 hours of driving time for one hour of footage was a big deal and I had a lot of anxiety when we were thirty minutes behind schedule to begin with.  Luckily, I have a buddy who is one of the best riders in Montana and he has a buddy who was also very talented, or as riders say, he’s gnarly.  Both riders said the course was really squirrelly to ride, but all I know is the footage we captured was nuts.  Multiple UAV’s from both Big Sky UAV (cooperating UAV provider) and Skyyfish flying at 30 mph over your head and two professional motocross riders riding at 60 mph at sunset was something you don’t easily forget.  Telephone lines limited our shooting abilities, but the shoot was still my personal favorite.  Then again, I wasn’t there for the filming of the train trestle bridge, which was the most hectic five minutes of the shoot.

Marent Train Trestle Bridge

IMG_0666The Lady of the Rockies is 90 feet tall, but the Marent Train Trestle bridge we filmed at is 226 feet.  This filming location was so implausible at first because the odds of obtaining permission to film on private land and time the oncoming train was equal to the odds of me eating vegetables on a daily basis, and you know how much I hate peas.  Incredibly luckily, Orests’ wife, who was driving by the train tracks a couple miles up the road saw the train coming and gave the filming crew a call.  Vector Visuals cinematographer, Zane Clampett, described shooting the train passing by and having to record the whole event as taking the last shot in a basketball game as the buzzer goes off.  The whole filming crew had to be on point to get the footage we wanted, and it turned out we went all Steph Curry on that train.  The UAV had to go almost 300 feet in the air and the crew had to track wherever the UAV went.  The end result turned out to be movie cinematic quality footage that I never thought was possible when first starting this project.  Any commercial businesses wanting to film/or use UAVs needs to look into purchasing through Skyyfish.  Industry leading machines with great operators and impeccable software, but enough plugging from me for now.  Before this project, I never thought waiting on a train could be so much fun.  From the worst of car luck to the best of train luck, we then filmed the UM ultimate Frisbee team.

Ultimate Frisbee

ZANE_FILM_2Filming the UM Ultimate team was great to have in our video because you can actually see human faces/tops of heads in the video.  Sometimes UAVS or drones can have a negative connotation, but these machines are helping make simple and difficult tasks easier for individuals.  They should be looked at and treated as so.  In the video you’ll be able to see some great shots of team huddles and scrimmages from the practice.  Thanks to the UM team for allowing us to film the hard work they put in everyday.  As a producer, I wasn’t sure what I was in store for when starting the shoot.  Let’s just say I turned out to be the Charlie Kelly in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.  Wild Card, b****es!  I helped film, annoyed people to sign release forms, coordinated between the two businesses, created contracts, set up filming sites, help hold filming equipment, held pretty much anything I was told to, interviewed the Skyyfish team, argued, and played the bongos.  When you don’t have one specific talent, you’ll have to learn to be the utility belt of the team.  I loved helping with anything I could because the two teams I worked with were very respectful and worked hard at everything they did.  So after all this rambling, what do I have to show you? Nothing…yet.  Soon, I will be able to show you one of the best business promotional videos you have ever seen from your very own state, Montana.


Follow yours truly @bonestharipper.  You can also add either Skyyfish or Vector Visuals on Facebook.  The video of this trend setting project should come out by mid November.  Tell your friends about it, they won’t want to miss it.

One Reply to “Vector Visuals: “It’s a bird, no, it’s a plane, no, it’s a UAV”- by Tyler Christianson”

Comments are closed.