I’ve had a number of people ask if they could get a tape or DVD of a seminar at the Woodsmith Store. I’m sure they notice the camera is there and filming during the seminars. (Actually, the purpose of the camera is so the audience in attendance can see what’s going on better.)
We originally planned on taping the seminars and selling the tapes. As a matter of fact, back in 2004, we had two, three, or even four cameras running to "capture all the action." After we had quite a few filmed, we sat back and studied what we had done. We even got together some focus groups and had them review some tapes and give us their feedback. Here’s what we learned:
1. There are two very different audiences: Those attending the seminar and those viewing on a DVD at home. If the speaker tries to direct his comments to the live audience (good eye contact, answers questions as they come up, passes around props, etc.), the home audience feels left out and may not even hear the questions asked. On the other hand if the speaker talks only to the home audience (i.e. addresses only to the camera) the seminar attendees feel left out (and you pay good money to see the seminars). We actually tried filming segments both ways and these feelings were expressed to us in focus groups.
2. When filming with just one camera, close-up shots and some angles just plain get left out. And when we started adding cameras and cameramen, there were a couple problems: First, the audience members started complaining that they couldn’t see the presenter around all the cameramen and cords. And, second, editing the film together became very time consuming and consequently expensive.
3. And, to be honest, when filming a "live show," speakers can occasionally misspeak, make mistakes, have a board kick back, forget their safety glasses, etc. We don’t want those problems on tapes to be available to the general public around the country. We don’t think it is a typical reflection of the type of quality we strive for at The Woodsmith Store or August Home Publishing Company.
4. Finally, I have very little doubt that we could maybe sell 10-12 copies of a seminar tape to attendees. But the labor/materials cost of producing such small numbers of tapes would be high. It only becomes worth our time and resources if we can sell larger numbers to a wider audience. (Hey, after all, we’re running a business here!!)
Okay, Doug, so what’s this all mean? What we’ve decided to do is take some of our most popular topics from the seminars and "re-package" them in a different way. During the week when seminars are not going on in the Seminar Room we have been re-shooting different topics under very tightly controlled conditions. The camera angles, light, and scripts will allow the viewer to see and hear EVERY step of the process. The speaker has all of his props and tools right at hand and set up ready to go. We shoot quite a number of "takes" until we feel that it shows the process the best we can. Then we take the time to go into the editing suite and bring it all together. We can edit out the 3-4 minutes to change blades so you don’t have to sit at home and watch that. We also can add graphics and animations that show the "inside of joints," for example. Or slow motion.
The bottom line is the end product will be a lot better. For some topics we will even be adding a "step-by-step" book to accompany the video.
What does all this mean to you? A much better product. But the downside is that you must be more patient. As someone said "Good things take time." Joel has been heading up the first book/DVD on Mortise and Tenon Joinery and reports that it should be ready in the late summer or fall. Once we’ve got one under our belt and find out how well it sells nationwide and your reactions to it, we can move ahead with others fairly quickly.
As always, your comments are appreciated!