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Manhattan man’s job keeps his eyes on sky

By Kristina Jackson

With new technology, we can get a bird’s-eye view of places we thought we knew, and a local man is using this ability to explore.

Kyle Griffith has always been interested in using technology to capture parts of the world. In learning to make a career out of using drones to record people, places and events, Griffith has found a way to show familiar sights in a new way. A Manhattan native, Griffith said he enjoys the ability to capture his hometown from the sky.

“I like being able to get places and see things from another point of view,” Griffith said.

Griffith said he remembers watching a documentary on Puritans as a kid, and the filmmakers used a remote-controlled car to navigate an airshaft on a ship. The image stuck with Griffith.

“I liked the idea that I can go places I otherwise wouldn’t go to,” he said.

Griffith has been interested in filmmaking since he was a child but only started using the drone about a year ago. He started off with a basic machine and practiced the flying skills with help from YouTube to learn some of the concepts.

Griffith said one of the biggest challenges of working with a drone was learning the legal side of things. There are safety regulations for when and where a drone can be used. There is a maximum altitude, and operators are not allowed to fly them within five miles of an airport or over a crowd. You also cannot fly 30 minutes before sunrise or sunset.

Because he wanted to use a drone professionally, Griffith took classes at K-State Polytechnic and got his license last fall. He and his friend Brian Isern started a business, My Forever Films, that shoots weddings and other events with traditional cameras, but it also utilizes the drone. Griffith and Isern, who also have a hobby page called “Dad’s Eye View,” started creating videos for small businesses and have since expanded to covering many types of events, including parades and, most recently, the Festival of Lights at Blue Earth Plaza.

For weddings, they use the drone to get aerial film of the event space and have even used it to take portraits of the bridal party.

“As the technology gets better, we’ll use it during the ceremony,” Isern said. “But right now, they still sound like weed eaters.”

The friends met while Isern was living in Manhattan, and Isern said it was fun for them to go into this challenge together.

“There are things I thought I knew that he has helped me improve greatly,” Isern said. “The way we shoot together really does pop out the best material possible.”

In his spare time, Griffith loves to shoot views around Manhattan. He’s filmed Anderson Hall, Bluemont Hill and KS Hill in town as well as Lake Wabaunsee. He posts the videos online and said he enjoys hearing from former residents who thank him for allowing them to still see the sights. As a Manhattan native, he said it means a lot to him to be able to capture his home.

“I love Manhattan,” Griffith said. “It is my purpose to show that there’s a lot to do here. It means the world to me.”

Now, Griffith’s career allows him to combine his love of place with his love of technology.

“I love flying drones,” Griffith said. “If I can get paid to do what I love, there’s no reason to do anything else.”

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