Innovating in Videography and Woodworking

Eloise, Videographer at Woodworking Masterclasses

Hello Woodworking Masterclasses subscribers,

As many of you will have noticed, we have been making (more than usual) significant changes to our presenting, filming and editing process. This has been particularly evident on our longer projects, but will be seen across all of our content. I thought it might be useful to provide some insight into the thought processes that have been going on behind the scenes here at Woodworking Masterclasses.

Phil assists with woodworking classes

We aim to continually improve the quality of our woodworking instruction without losing the core focus of equipping people to craft beautiful, functional furniture with a limited set of hand tools and accessible methods.

There have been a few areas where we are looking to put this into action:

  • Continue to create essential instructional videos to provide a more complete foundation in woodworking, as a possible stepping stone to more advanced projects.
  • Test out new and different forms of video production that might improve the quality and clarity of our content, as well as engaging a greater variety of people.
  • Present larger projects that include all the necessary details, without unnecessary repetition, while still showing succession of work. We want to avoid excessively long series and episodes that are over detailed and unsuitable for the majority of people.

Eloise, Videographer at Woodworking Masterclasses

With those aspects in mind, we recently employed Eloise as a videographer, who has taken over the technical side of the filming process, as well as editing of all the videos. She has also taken the lead on the production of certain projects such as the Fibonacci Spiral Shaving, which was developed from Paul’s idea into one of our most popular YouTube videos.

This has freed me up to work on the production and directing of the Woodworking Masterclasses videos with Joseph, in order to produce what we believe to be more succinct, engaging and complete instruction. This in turn affects all the content that we produce. As far as timescale is concerned, any change that we make can take anything from a few days, to a few months in the case of the premium projects, to come to fruition. So keep an eye out for upcoming content.

Eloise, Videographer at Woodworking Masterclasses

We are very grateful for all of your constructive, critical and encouraging feedback. We do take it all into consideration and it helps to steer our content to hopefully meet the needs of all of you. We are hoping to continue the discussion of content and video production techniques away from individual project videos, so we can keep those for project specific woodworking questions. Please do feel free to comment in the comments section below, or email us through the ‘Contact’ link above if you have suggestions or comments to share on this topic.

Phil, Manager of Woodworking Masterclasses

Many thanks from the whole team,

Phil Adams

Manager of Woodworking Masterclasses

38 comments on “Innovating in Videography and Woodworking

  1. Thank you for posting this. I am impressed by your commitment to better video making without the gimmicks. I noticed the third camera angle from the tool-cabinet video series. That third angle was really helpful for the large size of the cabinet and the various details that were necessary to be captured. I have also noticed better sound quality from the videos lately—the ambient noises (rain, etc.) in the new workshop are well isolated, and the knife and chisel falls into the knife-walls with a firmer click.

  2. Thank you for posting this. I am impressed by the quality of videos. I noticed the third camera angle in the tool-cabinet videos. It was a welcome addition to capture the various details of the large sized project. The multi-cam editing is seamless with helps with the clarity of content. I am also impressed by the sound-design of recent videos. The changes are subtle but noticeable—ambient sounds of the new workshop such as rain, etc. are well isolated, the knife and chisel fall into a knife-wall with a more definite click.

  3. I always look forward to Wednesday afternoons when the latest masterclasses episode arrived. Very professionally done. I have looked at other offerings on Youtube and elsewhere, but yours is the best!

    Brings back happy memories of my attendance on a 9-day course with Paul and Phil in November 2014 in Bangor.

    Keep ’em coming!

  4. The videos are great, in my opinion. They focus on your skills and your instructions and not a “presentation”. Being across the pond, I’ll probably never get to see you in person so these videos are “gold” for me. Keep up the great work, all of you!

  5. I’ve loved these videos and Paul’s instructions from day one. I have notice the changes to the format and it’s all good. But don’t try to make it too profesional and take out all the boo-boos. When ever you hear Paul say Oops, because something unexpected happens it lets me now there is a human on the end of that chisel or saw. (I say Oops a lot in my shop).

    Keep up the great work!

  6. I appreciate the extra camera angles that we have seen over the last few projects. I don’t think any of us care about what is to the side or the back / foreground. I think it would be a lot easier on Paul if it was the camera that moved to show detail rather than Paul struggle with awkward positions and other handness, so he does not get in the way. It shows what a Master he is that he can do this.
    I know that the majority of us work alone in our shed and Paul emulates this with the manhandling like this last project of the chest of draws, but also why not give him a hand in these few instances where a two person lift would make it all the easier. A big thanks for all the effort that is put in.

  7. Dear Phil and Joseph,
    Is a demonstration without instructions actually a class or should it perhaps be looked upon as more of a screen show to be enjoyed and, dutifully, impressed by mr P. Sellers’ skills?

    The model outlined appears to put the project in centre. The making of specific items to be the core, as opposed to the instructions and demonstrations of techniques being key, and the piece serving as an example for the teaching. The former concept seems to assume that there is a wide spread interest in making those items being shown, which, given the variations in taste, materials, and styles of woodworking products, probably is a quite strong assumption.

    Realising that there is scant hope for a return of a project and presentation style that characterised, e.g., the tool box and tool chest projects, the instruction videos will hopefully be equally enjoyable, thus compensating for the project series drifting away towards entertainment. The instruction videos could for instance teach on how to best apply the varying techniques on wood less agreeable than perfectly straight grained, knot free, quarter sawn oak. The use of a piece of support to straighten cupped stuff when cutting dove tails in the tool chest project, addresses what must be a very common issue: wide boards rarely remain flat. The addition of specific camera angles (birds eye), graphics, and slow motion can hopefully also be introduced. Then, of course, there are a great number of techniques yet to be demonstrated: veneering, wood threading, fully blind dovetails, and all the rest.

    What could benefit the project series are accounts on design, history, choices of materials, and so on. That would give perspective and better understanding on how to design one’s own projects: what decides the widths of the runners in the “Chest of Drawers” project, thickness of materials, or the relatively narrow choices of wood?

    Finally, if time lapses – for whatever reason – are to be there: please, can they whenever possible be at the end of the videos.

    All in all, WWMC could continue to be good.

    Cheers
    /soj

  8. I can’t think of a single thing that I could suggest as an improvement, you guys do teriffic work and I’m so grateful, I’ve learn’t so much since discovering Pauls work. I live on the other side of the planet (Oz) and would never have the opportunity to learn from Paul and co’. Of coarse the content is what makes these videos but the videography lets us comprehend, I guess when we don’t notice the videography you’ve done your job well.
    With much grattitude
    jcat

  9. It has been for awhile now a true pleasure to watch and learn from Mr. Sellers. I to have noticed the changes in the videos. I have no complaints nor suggestions other than it is my hope that the core principles of the Master Woodworking Series doesn’t change. To help people build fully functional and beautiful furniture with a minimum of hand tools. Whilst at the same time introducing different tools and techniques used to perform the same function.
    The videos are very well done and if you want to put a time lapse in the middle of the video that’s just fine by me. I’ve enjoyed every aspect of my Woodworking Masterclass experience. Keep up the good work and “don’t give up”.

  10. I love the instruction and appreciate that your changing things up a bit to make it a bit less predictable.
    I’m currently watching the dresser series while building along with the Jointers toolbox. It is exceptionally valuable to be able to go back and rewatch prior episodes as I build.
    Love the new format with less repetition. Keep changing, growing, and evolving guys! It keeps us engaged!

  11. These instructional videos are the best value I have ever found regarding woodworking. It is as close as I will ever get to working with a journeyman as an apprentice. In all your changes, please do not loose sight of the original intent of providing world class instructions/information using common material and limited hand tools. This is what attracted me in the first place.

    I do think it would be beneficial to be able to observe Paul Sellers working undisturbed in some of the video so we can pick up on some of the nuances that are part of his routine.

    Keep up the good work.

  12. I agree with Sandy: leave in the “oops” when they occur. I particularly appreciate Paul’s explanations of how to make adjustments and correct an “oops” when it happens. I’ve learned an immense amount from WWMC. In particular I’ve enjoyed embracing the idea that it’s not so much what you make as how you make it. Thank you.

    • I definitely agree with the sentiment here.

      I have learned so much from a straightforward demonstration and explanation technique that Paul uses. I have also used his video as an example for colleague teachers in medical education.

      The realism, the thorough explanation, the “oops” moments and the re-emphasis of key principles all make my learning so enjoyable.

      I don’t want slick and polished film shows, the content is more important than the gloss.

  13. I love the filming changes, the projects, the detail Paul goes into and the new way of reducing valuable film time. However, the time lapse you show let’s viewers see the development of the entire project and see the entire process. Wednesday is my favorite day when a new video is released. Keep up the good work. I am self taught and Paul’s methods has completely changed the way I do woodworking and significantly reduced the noise and dust in my shop. I hope he continues until he is 100 and then let Joeseph take over.

  14. Your instructional videos are excellent and while you always strive for improvement I couldn’t suggest a thing to make them better. I have watched a great number of “How To” woodworking videos and none come close to the quality of yours. Yes, some are quite long, but a novice like myself needs the detail instruction to give me confidence I need to move forward. I recently completed a rocking chair following your video step by step. It turned out great and I am quite proud considering I had never chopped a mortise or cut a tenon before this project. I would not have even started without the clear detailed instruction. Keep up the great work.

  15. Any of us that have tried to do videos ourselves realize the complexity therein and that appreciate the time and skill the videographers on Paul Sellers site possess.
    I recall a comment by Jay Bates on his site about a six minute YouTube video he produced that took him six hours to edit, yikes.
    Not to mention the YouTubers that just have a camera on a tripod 10 feet away and try to bring us something interesting that you can understand and visualize, painful.
    So hats off to the Sellers production team for a job well done and much appreciated!

  16. The innate reason that I (and assume, we) enjoy Paul Sellers over all the other teachers out there is that technique and precision is front and center in Mr. Sellers work – not only for him, but for his students (us), as well.
    To move, ever so slightly, towards a project/production-based could run the danger of focusing more on watching the entertainment of producing a project rather than the learning and ‘distance mentorship’ that brought us under the tutelage of Mr Sellers in the first place.

    In light of that concern, I am very glad to hear that you’ve clearly defined your goals of instruction, detail, and succession of work. While I am hesitant to be completely on-board with the ‘greater variety of people’ involved – after all, I (and I assume, we) gladly give hard-earned money to learn from Mr Sellers – there is nothing innately wrong with a guest ‘professor’ from time to time – it could, if done correctly, provide a freshness to the coursework. I know that Joseph’s instruction on sharpening card scrapers was invaluable.

    Once again, thank you to the entire team for striving to provide high quality, highly informative courses on working wood. There is nothing else out there like it!

    Spencer

  17. Hi Paul and team
    I love all of your videos I have learned so much. I wanted to know when you are cutting a dovetail could you zoom in as close as possible so we could see where you start your saw and how far you hold it from the line. I think this would go a long way in learning how to saw the right way.
    thank all of you for helping all of us

  18. I do occasionally find myself wishing for a close-up or even a macro shot of the action area. For example, when Paul talks about having the chisel some distance from the knife wall, to avoid having the chisel crush the wood, it would be great to have a view that fills a significant fraction of the screen.

    Similarly, having an alternate view, say a Go-Pro reverse angle or side angle, would clarify some of the operations.

    Tom

  19. One feature that I really appreciate about your videos is that the whole process is shown and very little is edited out. Many other online instructional videos are heavily edited, and it makes me wonder if there is stuff I’m missing, or are they just presenting the easiest to film/explain segments.

    Showing *all* the detail also makes me far more likely to actually attempt a project, as having the whole process laid out makes it seem far more attainable than just showing snippets of joinery being cut.

    I would appreciate more metadata around individual project episodes. If I need to make a drawer for a project, for example, being able to find all the videos of Paul making drawers would be excellent. Same could go for other kinds of joinery, carving, etc.

  20. I’ve been member of WWMC for a while now…
    I think I saw all Paul’s published videos, and yes it is getting better and better…
    you all are great, there is nothing to suggest…

    I got nothing to do with woodworking, I’m a musician trying to put my home workshop together, and I’m really enjoying the process… all credits goes to you people, you’re wonderful!

    Thou, my skills are not really great 🙂 but I’m confident 🙂 and I have quite a few projects to catch up, I think that it would be amazing to see a father and a son building together an instrument (acoustics guitar or something)… I think Paul’s ways of using tools with Joseph’s guidance would be fun to watch for all of us (even if we don’t get square drawers every time 😉

  21. Hello:

    As a woodworker and a vivid tv watcher I continue to see changes, in technical abilities, but when I watch the old movies I long for those days because I believe the content and understanding is far better than what we see and hear today.

    Paul is a wonderful teacher in so many ways and nothing you can do will change what he does. Afterall he is presenting techniques and a talent that has been on display for hundreds of years and it is going to continue for hundreds more.

    So, just as I am sure the tv feels so proud of the changes I would argue that in the most important areas they have made very little improvements. I would argue that also applies to what you are trying to do on the technical side when it is only the techniques and methods that Paul presents that are really important.

    Having been an instructor for many years I truly appreciate the kindness and complete control of the subject matter that Paul presents. What he does and can teach is what the concentration should be on, in my humble opinion.

    In Christ,

    Tom

  22. I have always been very impressed with the quality of the videos which so clearly show Paul’s great demonstrations. Really looking forward to seeing what comes next!

    Thanks for all the great work that goes on behind the scenes to make the Woodworking Masterclassses by far my favourite teaching series on the net: I have learned so much from them and love watching and learning in this way.

    Mark

  23. Thanks for your efforts to improve the product and good luck with the “devil in the details” that seems to accompany every such endeavor.

    Just last week I composed a post titled:

    Q. How do you eat an elephant?
    A. One bite at a time.

    Q. So what prompted this exhibition of my profound grasp of the obvious?
    A. My customary method of using the site and the changes that would make it user-friendlier.

    My Usage. I don’t normally build a project during the weeks in which the installments are being sequentially delivered, so the whole enchilada is available when I finally get off my arse and make something.

    I greatly enjoy viewing entire episodes of Paul’s teaching, and will on occasion watch more than one if nobody is around to redirect my activities.

    When I started watching Paul’s videos long before the Masterclass site was available, I mistakenly thought I could watch the tape, make a few notes, buy the wood, turn on the music and build one like he did.

    This “big picture” approach didn’t work and I quickly learned that having the laptop at the bench for immediate reference and instant replay was instrumental in achieving the desired result. I also discovered that the workbench environment can be a health hazard for an ipad, but that’s a different story. I’ve also found your site to be a valuable resource for technique and process issues that arise when building projects that didn’t originate on your site, like a wooden drawer slide and runner puzzle I was trying to solve.

    My suggestions.

    1. Table of contents indexed by task and elapsed time. Your introductory summary for each episode provides an excellent overview of tasks and techniques. I would use the summary to create a table of contents link of these tasks accompanied by the time of occurrence. A listing of the windowed dimensions and other bullet points that appear on the video would be helpful as well, but not essential since the information is available when viewing each episode or section thereof.

    2. Index and tag/search. I relish the search function on Fine Woodworking
    and other pubs to help find specific references to past articles or subjects. Your site is chock-full of excellent teaching (none better IMO) that I think would be of even more value to your subscribers if it were easier to unearth at a later time.

    Experienced flight instructors (raises hand) know that the best pilots aren’t always the best teachers, but those who can talk their way through each maneuver while simultaneously flying the plane to demonstrate the techniques are the most effective. I’m guessing that most woodworkers watch and compare numerous other sites as well, and your success indicates that they like what you’re selling. Paul is clearly the master of this method, so don’t fix what ain’t broke.

  24. My monthly payment is just a token of my full support for the value which Paul and team offer to all who may seek it.

    I applaud the improvements you have brought to your work, and presume many others are invisible. This growth suggests to me that you are succeeding in a new, healthy lifestyle enterprise for yourselves – which is firmly rooted in an old, healthy one. This is very exciting and encouraging to watch.

    Pail and I are the same age. I marvel at his energy. I appreciate certain subtleties in his style and humor. His discipline and outlook are fine models for us all. His knowledge and skills in woodworking are consummate – but that should be true of all of us, after fifty years’ of pursuit and learning. Its rarity today is a lesson Paul teaches by contrast, by being himself. However, very few of us, even with top skills in lifetime disciplines, can ever hope to teach so well as Paul.

    I still regret (but only selfishly) my decision in the early 1970s to leave pattern making, once I finally discovered how little I could expect to earn (back then wage information was strictly forbidden to speak of; it took long to deduce). With a growing family, there was no regret about pursuing a night degree, then a better-paid career in computing. Even software/system designer/builders can learn from designing and building in wood. The joy when hard, careful work pays off in elegant structure and perfect function is very much the same. Physical feedbacks – the benefits and harmonies of the tools – were dearly missed though.

    My return to woodworking in retirement has been inspired and encouraged by Paul et al. An old man’s self-fulfillment is of some value, but engaging young people is worth a lot more. Keep thinking about the young among your potential audience, and try out all good ideas which might specifically encourage them.

    Thank you!

    Bill Boland

  25. The teaching techniques are fantastic, allowing my imagination to start planning a project. Ultimately, the techniques have been used when executing a project. This is awesome, as I employ imagination, planning and building without a detailed plan. More techniques keep driving imagination and innovation. I am able to approach a project with a new found confidence. The oops along the way are teaching moments for myself.

    I would like to see some episode with inlay. The star episode mention it as a future video. I hope to see something on inlay soon.

  26. Hello all and many thanks for all your feedback.

    We are collating all the suggestions at the moment and will take them into consideration as we plan forwards. We greatly appreciate it.

    We plan on doing the occasional video in a more filmic style, such as the Fibonacci spiral. However, the majority of our focus will still be on producing clear, real-time, instructional videos. I hope that will help us to continue to build an archive of future relevant content.

    I am hoping that during the course of the next year we can structure, organise and interlink our video library to make them more accessible.

    Thanks again and all the best with your woodworking.
    Phil

  27. The library is increasingly impressive as “you” WM, paulsellers.com, etc. evolve and grow. Perhaps something to consider to combine previous and new, a “show notes” style link, page at pdf to reference back or notate so as to not sound like a car salesman in the new content. Not that you have so far 🙂

    All the best and continued good fortune. I love my membership!

    Best,

    Ed

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