One of the best things about living in Las Vegas is finding hidden gems that we have living among us. We've experienced that time after time, and this month's meeting again proved that some of the most fascinating woodworkers are right here in our town.
I take that back, Boulder City is where this month's meeting found us. Braxton Wirthlin' was kind enough to invite our group to learn about his process of making videos for his YouTube channel. Braxton attended the Art Institute of Las Vegas, studying digital media and video production, so in addition to being a great woodworker, he's also a skilled videographer.
In other words, he's got the whole package going on!
In other words, he's got the whole package going on!
Braxton explained that is approach to videos has three purposes – he wants them to be informative about woodworking events, he wants to share some how-to techniques and information, and he explains details about the various projects that he builds.
For example, he filmed and uploaded videos about the AWFS show in July, and the Lie-Nielsen tool event in October. He even shared with us his 2x4 challenge project - the championship belt shown here.
As the evening progressed, we learned that Braxton does most of his filming with his iPhone, or his iPad. He edits everything using iMovie, and says that it's a pretty great film editing program, and you can't beat the cost - it’s loaded into every Apple computer. He has a great set-up in his shop - he can film and edit right by his tools, so it's easy to tell immediately if he need to re-shoot something.
This ingenious set-up - a camera mounted on top of an IKEA kitchen timer, allows him to film panorama shots. He mounted a 1/4" x 20 bolt to the top of this timer, so that he can attach his camera to it. As it spins, it shoots an amazing slow motion sweeping shot. Brilliant.
This flexible tripod allows his iPhone to be positioned anywhere it is needed. He really proves that keeping it simple is the best solution to filming on the fly.
Here he demonstrates a cut,
and just moments later,
we're all watching it on the overhead monitor. His lighting setup featured a couple of 700 watt Limo Studio lights, which he bought on Amazon. They're inexpensive and do a terrific job! If the lighting needs to be adjusted, it's simply a matter rearranging the light stands to where he needs them.
After his presentation, we peppered him with questions about his films, and he offered some interesting insight about filmmaking, and his audience.
Braxton's main rule is to trust that his audience will understand what's going on in his videos, so that he doesn't have to explain every little thing that he does. I think that's invaluable, as a lot of the videos that I watch contain so much minutia, that I lose interest. So Braxton's assumption that his audience already knows what is going on makes his videos hit the ground running. As he said–you don't need to see every little detail.
He likes to go into his shots late, and leave early, letting the viewers complete those woodworking tasks in their minds. In some cases, he will script out a complex scene and makes story boards for it, to ensure that he captures all of the points that he wants to get across. His methodology is simple and quite effective.
Another important point that he shared with our group is that audio - good audio - is one of the most important aspects of video. He can adjust the audio level of the tools down, so that he can record voiceovers. Right from his iPhone!
It's amazing to think that in such a short time- the iPhone has revolutionized the way amateur filmmakers can create their videos.
Social media plays a huge part in Braxton's woodworking footprint– he has a YouTube channel, and he posts on Instagram and Twitter. These days, he says his life is about 30% woodworking and 70% computer work. He often films his videos several different ways– without lights, from behind the saw or overhead, and then edits everything together using IMovie. One very cool thing that he employes is fast motion in his videos, so that he can show tedious for repetitious techniques in fast motion.
We also discussed monetizing a YouTube channel, and Braxton brought up some interesting points about music that you can or cannot use. He only uses royalty free music, because YouTube will not allow you to post videos using protected soundtracks. Kevin MacLeod is one composer he mentioned who offers royalty free clips - here's a link.
After his video is filmed, narrated, and music has been added - it's time to upload and tag it with links so that people can search for him. Custom thumbnails helps people identify what your video is about, and he often create thumbnails using Photoshop. All in all – it's a completely new age a video production. And Braxton has a thorough understanding of what it takes to create great woodworking media.
After the meeting, a few of us hung out and checked out some of Braxton's work– like the bowls that turns on the lathe.
It's always fascinating to visit another person's woodshop and see the ingenious ways that they set it up. I love his space saving method for storing his lathe tools.
And last but best - his giant Jenga game. Braxton recently participated in the third annual Maker'sFaire in Henderson and this Jenga game was a huge hit!
Congrats to Braxton for creating his own woodworking dynasty down in Boulder City - like I said, he's one of our hidden gems. If you're ever curious about starting your own YouTube channel, or just want to chat with an all round nice guy and talented woodworking dude - you can contact him through his website... here's a link.