It's been far too long since I wrote about the video course production. Purchasers of the course get email updates more frequently that I don't write here, but even then it's been too long. So here's the latest...
Moving the studio
When I started on this, I thought we'd blast over a whole car and cover the important bits. Honestly I didn't know what people would look for from the course, nor how popular it would be. I had no experience in video production, script-writing or anything like that. But we went for it and learned as we progressed. What we found was that people really wanted detail and technical content - in an easy to access style. This is what we've been producing and I'm very happy with it.
But that level of detail comes at a cost - mainly in terms of time. To write an episode, I read everything about that subject, I watch all the existing YouTube videos and I speak to parts manufacturers and sometimes to Mazda themselves. That prep pays off. Then filming and editing take time too - where I expected the engine block to be a 5 minute video, it ended up being 17 minutes. But it's great and people love it!
So, in summary, filming the series takes longer than I thought, but it's also better than I thought. I'd leased a garage for filming the series and equipped it as quickly and cheaply as I could - I didn't want to invest money in it because it belongs to someone else, and the lease was only a short one. Faced with the lease ending in a few months, I had a choice between rushing through the course to finish, or finding somewhere else to continue. I chose to find somewhere else and I bought a place that makes an ideal studio - quieter and perfect for fitting out. And it has character.
So for the last few months I've been moving everything on the 100 mile journey to the new studio, which was at least ten runs in the van plus a whole semi for the car body, lift and parts. The new place is in rough condition - I knew it was a project when I took it on. I've been renovating like crazy - and the end is in site - we began framing out the inside of the studio and installing lighting last week.
I was hoping we'd find time for some videos on building and renovating a garage. We made one about learning to stick weld - I'd never done any stick welding and so it's a long video that follows the whole process, and I go from knowing nothing to knowing 'a bit'. I've got more videos planned on installing a garage door and installing a compressed air system.
Stop motion animation
Last year we made a stop motion video of tearing down the engine from the MX5 Miata - here it is if you didn't see it:
The response to that video blew me away. We really didn't know what we were doing at the time, and although it took about five days of filming to make it I thought we were wasting time. It turned out to be massively popular, and so I've invested in some pretty amazing camera gear that will let us shoot more engine teardowns in the same style. Another benefit of moving the studio is that we now have space for a special studio just for stop motion. And we've got a very special engine in storage ready to go.
I've done a huge amount of prep work on the property. We poured a new concrete floor last week for the workshop. The next big job is a new roof on the studio and then we're ready to get the inside fitted out, install the car lift and move everything in. Then we can continue filming the course at a higher quality and lower cost.
So in summary, far from being abandoned, the video course is more active than ever - it's just that we're investing a lot of time at this stage so that we can do this permanently instead of just a one-off. Stick with me!
I've had quite a few questions from people about why I chose to use an MX5 Miata for the video series. Was it sponsored? Am I an expert with them? Because I love them? The answer is... it just seemed the best choice at the time. Now, with hindsight, I realise it was the best possible choice in the world. Here's the story...
We've been filming and releasing videos every week since getting into the new studio. The course now has 9.5 hours of pro-quality video, fully subtitled and I'm really proud of what we're producing! We're using CGI anywhere it helps understanding, and the general quality and feel of the videos is at an all-time high.
We finished the first episode in the new studio and to celebrate I've put it up on YouTube so you can (hopefully) learn something new and also see the massive improvement in quality that we've made. Also.... shiny new CGI is working!