Rayonier Drone pilot program

Spirit Vision Films produces various videos and films, but occasionally is asked to assist in different aspects of our trade, including providing footage, editing, or doing interviews.

In this case, Rayonier the national timber company, hired Spirit Vision Films to conduct an interview with a Forks based forester who is also working with drones to help him with his work.

Kyle and Chris of 20twentycreative, based in Florida, had already interviewed their east coast pilots and needed this interview with some B roll to complete their production on Rayonier’s drone pilots.

Below is the video they produced and the interview of Neris Biciunas of Forks was included. The article featured in Forestry is also provided. Good reading!~

Good on you Rayonier! Using drones in your forestry work shows forward thinking and will pay off in safety and reduced hours needed in getting into those hard to reach areas!

Flying Foresters: Meet Rayonier’s Drone Pilots

featured in Forestry

For years, Resource Land Manager II Neris Biciunas puzzled over how to get rid of an invasive plant that was harming trees on Rayonier’s Washington land. Called Scotch Broom, it is difficult to spot and nearly invisible from the air, except for a small window of time each year when it blooms with bright yellow flowers. 

Then Neris, who’s based in Forks, Washington, became one of Rayonier’s drone pilots. He flew his drone as soon as the Scotch Broom plants bloomed, collecting aerial photos so he could develop a precise map of the plant locations across miles of forestland. Once the plants were located, his team was able to develop a treatment plan to get rid of them.

There are countless success stories like this that show how drone flights are impacting Rayonier for the better. They’re used to take a quick initial look at a stand of trees, to monitor a contractor’s work, to more safely assess the devastation during and after a forest fire, and even to create 3-D images. 

After a preliminary “pilot” team tested how the company could use drones in 2017, Rayonier saw the potential and launched the program nationwide, encouraging at least one forester in every U.S. location to get their FAA drone pilot’s license. 

A New Perspective

“A drone allows us to see something we wouldn’t have been able to see any other way. It’s a tool that gives us a whole new perspective,” says Technical Analyst II Sara Bellchamber, a self-described gamer who organized the program.

Based in Wildlight, Florida, Sara says one way she uses her drone is to help Rayonier’s land resources team measure the depth of fill dirt pits using a program called Drone Deploy. The software uses images taken in a grid pattern and stitches them together into a 3-D image.

Sara says she has seen drones save costs, increase safety and save time throughout Rayonier’s ownership. In the South, for example, they minimize the gap in time between the harvest of a forest and the preparation of that forest for replanting during Florida’s hot summers.

“After a harvest, you’d normally have to fly a plane to estimate what it will take to prep the site [for replanting],” she explains. “In high summer, there’s a haze in the sky and planes can’t take clear photos through it. But drones can fly below the haze, getting us the imagery we need much sooner.”

While planes are still the preferred option for imagery collection, work doesn’t have to grind to a halt if a plane is not an option.

Working with Drones in the Forest

Blake McMichael and Dan Hildebrand, both Resource Land Manager IIs based in Jesup, Georgia, use their drones when they’re in the field assessing forests.

“One of the best uses I’ve found is for site-specific management,” says Blake. “It helps me delineate where treatments are needed and where they’re not. It’s not replacing boots on the ground, it’s giving us a birds-eye view we’ve never had before.”

For Dan, who’s been a Rayonier forester for more than 30 years, his drone eliminates hours of work tromping through the forest to locate pre-commercial thinning candidates, trees with flaws such as forking that should be removed to make room for the optimal trees to grow.

When he first became a forester, “it used to be all boots on the ground,” Dan says. “But I’ve always been open to new possibilities.”

In hazardous conditions such as difficult terrain, drones can make a task much safer. Neris, the forester in Forks, used his drone to save himself from a long, cold walk to determine whether snowy roads would be drivable or not after a heavy snowstorm (they weren’t). 

“It took me 10 minutes to do with a drone what would have taken me 2 hours to do on foot,” Neris says.

Using Drones to Prepare for the Future

The drone pilots share files and tips with each other and come together for a regular cross-country phone call, hearing new ways fellow foresters have discovered to use their drones in the field and helping each other expand their skills. The team is continuously trying to prepare for what’s next: several of the pilots are even part of a Rayonier “super users group” tasked with staying on top of any future technological advances that could benefit the company.

Neris gives Rayonier leadership credit for supporting the program from the start.

“They were receptive, asked hard questions, listened thoughtfully, and let us check it out,” he says. 

The result is a program that not only benefits Rayonier now (one forester said the information gleaned in a single flight saved more money than the cost of his drone), but it’s also positioning Rayonier for the future.

“Having a team of drone pilots, the infrastructure for the program, the experience and understanding how to use the data we’re collecting puts us in a very strong position for when the next development rolls along,” Neris says. “We’ll be ready.”

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roll inn manufactured home community

It has been a busy spring for Spirit Vision Films.

Bexco Capital of Bellevue, Washington hired us to create a video of a property they are offering to investors here in Clallam County, on the east end of Port Angeles – the Roll Inn Manufactured Home Community.

The video highlights the park, the surrounding areas and distance to them, all in a one-minute, 20-second video.

Thank you for your business Bexco Capital! We hope this video will help the owner quickly sell their business to a future owner. The community of manufactured homes is close to everything in Port Angeles!

Ward Bridge restoration project update

Spirit Vision Films will begin filming and documenting the progress of the Ward Bridge Restoration project by local contractor Bruch and Bruch Construction of Port Angeles, Washington, starting on June 17th, 2019. They will be working for the Clallam County Road Department to restore this county bridge.

The contractor has asked that the road closure be pushed up to June 17th because of the time element involved in setting up the project’s in-water work and fish window permit that starts on July 15th through August 15th. This is a very short 30-day period to complete the repair of the supports that span the Dungeness River.

They will begin creating access roads on either side of bridge prior to doing the in-water work in July, giving them a head start when the fish window appears.

Spirit Vision Films will be on hand documenting the closure of the bridge through the opening of the repaired bridge, that will include fresh asphalt paving in late September.

We will give video updates throughout the repair as we did with the reconstruction of the McDonald Creek Bridge last year. You can see that project here https://vimeo.com/270272547.

Stay tuned!

The Legacy project update

Spirit Vision Films has just completed seven training modules for the Northwest Cooperative Development Center’s Legacy Project based in Olympia, Washington and serves Oregon, Idaho, and Washington. This project was grant-funded by the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development.

We spent four days traveling from Mt. Vernon to Olympia filming conferences presented by Colorado’s Jason Wiener and Linda Phillips of the Colorado Cooperative Developers.

With 65 million baby boomer owned small businesses coming to a place where the owners are considering retiring, selling their business, or just shutting the doors, a cooperative model makes good sense for their employees. It gives the employees a chance to take over a business from the owner and continue bringing jobs and a economic future to communities across the United States.

We here at Spirit Vision Films not only create films and videos, but also learn from the material that we film. We are hopeful that these three hour conferences that we transformed into seven 20 minute training modules will have a nation-wide impact on how we do business going forward. The cooperative model is worth considering.

When the modules are released next month we will post them and if you are one those 65 million small business owners with employees who are retiring soon, this concept may interest you very much. Very good stuff!

Ward Bridge Restoration Project

Spirit Vision Films will once again be working with the Clallam County Road Department to document a bridge restoration project in the Sequim Dungeness Valley.

Beginning in late June, the Ward Bridge (named for its proximity to the Ward road) on Woodcock road where it transverses the Dungeness River, will be closed for repairs to its concrete footings.

Bruch and Bruch Construction will undertake the highly elaborate and delicate repair of the concrete footings in the river. After decades of high-flow winter flooding along the Dungeness, the footings have sustained damage that will be addressed in this repair. Along with the in-water work, the bridge deck will be ground and resurfaced with a hot asphalt mix.

Because of the work done in the river itself, the contractor will have to divert the river and de-water the areas around the three footings that support the bridge.

It has taken nearly three years to acquire the necessary permitting and the in-water work has to be done in a very narrow ‘fish window,’ starting July 15th and ending August 15th.

The late June closure gives the contractor time to build access roads to the river’s edge (but not in the river), so that when the fish window is open they can place ‘super sacks’ in the river to divert the water around the work areas and move the salmon smolts within the work area into the diverted channel that will also allow returning salmon to pass safely through the work area.

The road closure will occur at the intersection of Town and Woodcock roads and at the Ward and Woodcock roads intersection. The project is slated to be completed by September 1st.

Spirit Vision Films will be using time-lapse, ground and aerial videography, as well as still imagery to document this project from closure of the road thru the repair, and eventual re-opening of the bridge. This long-term project will be exciting and we are looking forward to the challenge of capturing the essence of how intricate and detailed projects like this can be.

Stay tuned!

River Overflight.00_04_59_16.Still043

The Ward Bridge

THE LEGACY PROJECT

Spirit Vision Films has just signed a contract with the Northwest Cooperative Development Center in Olympia, Washington to create 8 training video modules for their upcoming Legacy Project.

This project is focused on the baby boom generation that includes at least seven million owners of privately held businesses, many of whom will want to sell or liquidate their businesses in the next two decades.

One succession strategy is for small business owners to sell their businesses to their employees by converting to a worker-cooperative ownership model. This model gives owners a viable exit strategy, offers opportunities for rural workers to retain their jobs, and allows for retention of local ownership.

The modules will give a step by step instruction on how this is accomplished.

The filming starts in the middle of May and the modules should be available by the middle of June. Should be fun!

The NWCDC’s website is http://www.nwcdc.coop for more information and will be the home of their new modules. Check them out.

Legacy Project jpeg

New Addition – DJI Phantom 4 Pro v2.0

Spirit Vision Films welcomes the latest addition to our aerial videography and photography stable – the new DJI Phantom 4 Pro v2.0. – SPIRIT FOUR.

Our latest UAV or drone allows for more time in the air, as well as a quieter presence while flying. It has the ability (like our other Phantom 4 Pro) to film in 4K. This is four times the resolution of full high definition (HD) – 1080p, delivering the highest quality color, sharpness, and clarity to your finished product.

This adds one more tool to our arsenal of professional quality film cameras and flying platforms to give you, our clients, the best quality films and videos, when shopping for aerial or ground-based video production on the North Olympic Peninsula and western Washington.

Christopher Enges, owner and producer of Spirit Vision Films holds a Part 107 FAA commercial UAS remote pilot’s certificate, which is required of all UAV operators who use drones in creating videos and films commercially. Our UAVs and business are fully insured for your protection with a million dollar coverage package.

Some of our recent clients include, the City of Port Angeles, Clallam County DCD, Clallam County Road Dept., the City of Sequim, Peninsula College, Washington Water Trust, Clallam Conservation District, the Jamestown S’Klallam tribe, Kitsap County Public Works, PAPA TV in Port Angeles, along with several real estate firms and private individuals that have used our services.

Give us a call today for your free estimate of our services. We guarantee your satisfaction!

McDonald Creek Bridge Replacement Project

The Old Olympic Highway at the McDonald Creek Bridge was closed on July 10th, 2017 for a complete replacement of the earthquake prone and functionally obsolete bridge built in 1957.

Spirit Vision Films was contracted to document the progress of the bridge deconstruction and the new bridge’s construction by the Orion Marine Group, awarded to them by the Clallam County Road Department.

Whereas, working with the City of Port Angeles, we produced a video for them in 14 days, the Clallam County bridge project lasted nearly 10 month.

The final video is made up of mostly aerial clips that we flew around the project, but we used a time-lapse GoPro, and our Canon cinema camera to capture the progression as well.

But today both the bridge and the video are complete and we at SVF’s could not be happier!

If you have never seen a bridge being constructed, this video is for you! Watch from the very beginning until the bridge’s dedication on April 28th, to the opening three days later on May 1st, 2018.

We hope you enjoy it!

 

Elwha Water Facility Video

I met with Dan McKeen, City Manager of Port Angeles on an urgent request to produce a video highlighting the EWF or Elwha Water Facility that was built to handle the silt that was released by the deconstruction of the Elwha dams. They needed to show the Interior Dept. and National Parks Service visually, how this new 79-million dollar facility would break their budget. As the old water facility only took 60k to maintain. The new one, over 600k …. over ten times the amount! The NPS wanted to turn it over to the city with little financial help on the maintenance side. The city said no.

Time was of the essence. Dan and a delegation from our state were to meet with the players back in Washington DC to try and settle this issue. No one likes lawsuits.

Because of the time issue, Spirit Vision Films contracted with the City of Port Angeles to create a 10-minute video that had to be completed in three weeks time. This was the approximate time that the meeting would take place.

As there was a lot of aerial work to be done in the video, that was one of the first things we did, but the weather was terrible! We even flew in between rain showers and high winds to get our shots. (That DJI Phantom 4 Pro is unbelievable in the wind!)

The city was extremely helpful in getting interviews with the former mayor of Port Angeles, Jim Hallet, who originally negotiated the terms of dam removal with the NPS. We also had to interview Sissy Bruch the current mayor of the city.

Unfortunately, the meeting was pushed up one week in DC. The city knew that three weeks to create a film in the weather conditions we were experiencing, as well as story writing, and all the things that go into a great film was pushing the envelope. So, they did not ask me to complete the work in two weeks. But I volunteered anyway! What was the purpose of the film if it would be too late to view by the folks it was intended for?

Working around the clock, we were able to complete the video and I was able to send the finished work to them at 8 pm the night before the delegation left for DC. Fourteen days flat!

In response to that action, Dan McKeen sent me the nice card below.

As a former US Navy SeaBee, who has worked in harsh environments around the world, our motto (which I shared with Dan) was, “The improbable …. we can do today, the impossible …… takes a little longer!” We take our commitments here at Spirit Visio Films extremely serious. I am glad we were able to help the city with this pressing need!

 

Thank you letter

Best of the Northwest Awards

Unfortunately, I was not able to attend the Alliance for Community Media’s, Best of the Northwest Awards in Portland this weekend.

I had entered three of our films in this year’s festival that represents Alaska, Alberta, Canada, Montana, Utah, Wyoming, Oregon, Idaho and of course Washington. I knew that the competition would be great. And it was.

One of the three films made it to the finalist level …. the On the Road episode, the Olympic Discovery Trail. It was the only one I entered twice. Once in the Documentary and once in the Informative Feature category. I actually did not know which one was accepted as a finalist…. until this weekend. The ODT was accepted in BOTH categories as finalist! We only had one other film to compete against in each category. So, I thought our chances were good to nab at least one of these prestigious awards.

Imagine my shock and surprise when I found out that the Olympic Discovery Trial won BOTH categories in this festival. Best documentary and best informative feature.

To say that we at Spirit Vision Films and PAPA TV in Port Angeles are just a little excited would be an understatement! We are thrilled that this film has won, not only for Spirit Vision Films, but the whole of the North Olympic Peninsula. This film will draw attention to us here. We are very thrilled about this! My narrator, Elaine Cochran had a lot to do with these awards. So, thank you so much Elaine. I couldn’t have done it without you!

I hope you can take some time and check the film out yourself …. especially if you are a hike or biker. Enjoy!

Opener