New Video Project – Record Racks

Regular readers of this blog already know that I’ve been trying my hand at making videos. I’ve published ten of them on YouTube so far. All but one of them have been autocross recordings using a GoPro as an in-car camera. The other one was a time-lapse session of the gang raising our car port so that we could park The Ritz under it. That video is the only one so far that’s gotten more than a hundred views because it appeals to a broader audience. (If you’re curious you can view them here.)

I’ve finally come up with a story line that I can use to make my first video in earnest. It happens to involve two of my other interests; music and woodworking. My video will be ‘how-to’ on making some record racks (yes Virginia, they still make records).

To give you some background, I a fair sized record collection. I bought my first album when I was in high school and I’ve been adding to it ever since. I started storing them in a neat system designed by Per Madsen that he sold as part of his RACKIT system. His clever designs efficiently solved media storage while fitting together to make an attractive media center which put our stacked cinder-block shelves to shame. As I collected more records, I’d just order another rack and add it to the pile.

Per Madsen facks loaded with records.
The Per Madsen style racks store up to a hundred records neatly. Yes, they are in alphabetical order.

Out of the blue one day, I got an email from him saying that he was going to retire. He said that he wasn’t going to make any new units and that all of existing stock was on close out. I bought up all that I could use and then they were gone; that was over a decade ago. In our old home, I bought some IKEA shelves that worked, but those didn’t fit in our new home.

We’ve been in this house over a year now and Queen Anne has harped about the two unpacked boxes of records still in the dining room. After staring at my media center one evening, I decided that if I couldn’t add more storage horizontally, I needed to stack them higher and decided to make my version of the Madsen racks. I have enough woodworking equipment to replicate everything but his joints. I believe he used hidden glued dowels, but I can get around that with another type of joint that’s at least as strong. Another big advantage in making my own is that I don’t have to use red oak. I can use any hardwood that I want.

There are abundant videos on YouTube featuring craftsmen far more capable than I. It amazes me how some of these guys (and women) produce intricate wood pieces, sometimes without seemingly measuring. I guess that comes with experience. So, my video will be how a journeyman goes about making multiple pieces of furniture that have to precisely fit together.

Per Madsen's rack design.
The rack design is two strong rectangular ends connected by rails along the bottom and back.

The first step in this project will be measuring and dissecting Per Madsen’s design and make some working drawings. Then I’ll need to come up with an outline of the steps. Finally I will lay out a storyboard of the shots before I actually do any filming. I’m guessing that it will take a month to shoot but then there’s post processing, so give me till summer before I post it on YouTube. My goal is to have a video that gets more than a thousand views. I’ll update the blog with progress.

Till then . . . jw

Learning Video

Yesterday, I posted a new video on YouTube. In August 2015, I bought Adobe’s Premiere Pro, a video editing software, and since then, I’ve been trying to learn how to use it. A lot of photographers complain about how complex Adobe’s Photoshop is, but Premiere Pro is way more challenging.

This is my tenth post on YouTube and the first since April. All but one of them is about the amateur car racing that I do. It’s a natural subject for movies. Besides, I can rationalize making the films as a tool to improve my driving skills.

One of the cameras that I own, the Sony A7r, shoots video in ultra high-definition, that’s the format on newer TVs now. So, last season, Jeff (who was co-driving my car at the time) and I bolted it to the passenger side headrest. I made a clunky bracket out of wood that held the camera securely; although there’s still some vibration. We filmed several events with mixed results and gave up on the Sony because we couldn’t get the metering or microphone to work correctly. Instead, I picked up a used GoPro off eBay. It’s a small video camera made for shooting action videos. The focus is set, there are very little other adjustments, and at one tenth the weight of the Sony, the camera mount is now overkill.

Shooting in-car video is very common on YouTube. Mostly, they’re a record of the driver’s best run. They have a beginning title, and the film clip . . . that’s it. They’re of little interest to anyone except the small community of autocrossers.

Because I was learning film making techniques, I wanted to go beyond documenting a single run. I tried to make simple stories out of my videos. With each new video, I added new refinements. I learned how to do fade, cross fades, titles, end slides, and as hokey as it sounds, I worked on creating my brand . . . a simplified interpretation of the MGM lion, as it were.

For this video, I made off-screen commentaries to help make the story-line clearer. To do that, I wrote little scripts and then recorded them using an audio program. After editing the snippets, I inserted them into the video at the proper places. As a result, I see improvement although there is a lot more work to do. If you care to see my new video, here’s the link:

I welcome any comment you have . . . it is a learning experience after all.

Till later . . . jw