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Drone pilot for viral Glensheen Mansion video highlights state's historic architectural treasures

"I really hope stuff like this really helps remind them that we have a special place here," Jay Christensen said.

MINNEAPOLIS — If you’re up to date about drones, you might have a list of questions about that viral drone video of Glensheen Mansion in Duluth.

There's one guy who can answer that: Jay Christensen of JayByrdFilms. He was the drone pilot.

That single shot fly through of Duluth’s historic Minnesota landmark begs so many questions for the viewer who knows little about the drone industry.

"It’s got to be a start to finish one take shot or else it’s not genuine," Christensen said.

Like, this must’ve taken a million takes, right?

"We ended up doing I think it was a 6 ‘o clock call time and we finished at 7:30," Christensen said. Impressive. But he did say it took all day to prep for the shoot.

But how do the actors know when to turn around at the right moment, when the drone is coming in from a blind spot?

"We also had Anthony Jaska, he’s been coming to help me with these films and he’ll be able to direct actions," Christensen said. Jaska is the director and co-founder of Rally Studios. Rally Studios is a full-service creative studio that includes Christensen's company, he said.

What about this question: How many times did the drone go down for this shoot?

"That was actually the first shoot that I hadn’t had at least one minor crash," Christensen said. He said the dicey part was the carriage shot at the beginning of the video. That had to be timed out perfectly as the drone moved between two actors holding hands.  

"These smaller FPV drones really have that way of telling a story that’s more dynamic," he said. FPV, as in Flying First Person View. That’s why Christensen uses goggles, so he knows exactly where he’s headed.  

He said safety is always top of mind, but because drones are smaller now, you can zip them right by someone and move them through very tight spaces while not damaging anything, like a historic mansion. He said if he crashed, he could likely get right back up and keep going. 

All the sounds are all done post-production.

Christensen said he has a deep fondness for the Glensheen Mansion. He went to the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

"It was a place that I had probably flown my drone for the first time seven years ago," he said. "I wanted to bring the premise of like, let’s actually learn a bit about Glensheen because whether or not you’ve been to it I think it’s one of the most iconic pieces of architecture we have in this state."

A state with so many historic architectural treasures, and Christensen never gets bored of it. He grew up in the Twin Cities and even though his drone work now takes him to places around the world, including a movie set currently in a southern state, he plans to keep it his home base forever.  

"Anytime somebody says, ‘Oh I’m leaving Minnesota' or 'It’s too cold' here I really hope stuff like this really helps remind them that we have a special place here," Christensen said.

RELATED: Creators of viral Bryant Lake Bowl drone video take flight through Glensheen Mansion

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