When I started on this project I had an idea that our audience wanted a complete video series that explains, from start to finish, how every part of a car works. There are literally thousands of videos on Youtube about everything on a car but there’s no structure and the production quality is all over the place.
So the plan is for us to take a car. Dismantle it into all its individual parts, and then rebuild the whole thing, explaining every part as we go. It’s quite an undertaking. A few weeks ago I put up a pre-orders page and you people actually started pre-ordering so now we have to make this a reality!
So the last couple of weeks have seen good progress:
We need kickass 3D models that we can superimpose over the video to show how things work internally. It’s all fine to see parts on a bench, but I think we can do much better. So I’ve built a new video editing and rendering computer rig which is ready to put to work. Rendering on my existing iMac would have taken 24 minutes per second of video footage, which is definitely not sustainable when we’re aiming for 20 hours of footage. The new rig cuts this down to about 4 minutes per second, which is more manageable.
Having a powerful rendering system is great, but we need somewhere to put it…
The garage studio
I spent hours looking at some existing videos on how cars work and realised that a spacious, specially build studio is essential for what we want to do. It needs to be big enough to film in, with a high enough ceiling for a two-post lift, and clean and uncluttered.
We want the car to take center stage, so the last thing we need is a garage full of other cars, rusty parts, and old machinery. We’re going minimalist and clinical on the studio, so you can see exactly what’s going on.
We found a great garage right here in Budapest and renovations are fully underway. The first task is to build an office for production and video editing. The garage has ramped floors at the moment and so we’ve had to create a stepped layout in order to give flat spaces. The floors are done, with the exception of the workshop area where we need to pour a concrete foundation for the two-post lift. Hopefully we can get the concrete poured new week.
As of today, the office floor is finished, the partition walls are framed and half drywalled, and the suspended ceiling is dropped and levelled ready for the drywall. Insulation is important because last week it was -10C in Budapest, and also we need to soundproof this place from the neighbours for recording voiceovers. Tomorrow there will be a delivery of drywall and insulation.
I’ve done all the building work on my own so far. Lately I’ve decided to just accept that I’m more productive, albeit slower, when working alone on building projects. I’ll call in some help for drywalling the ceiling this week.
By the end of next week the office will be completed, and the garage floor will be prepared for concrete.
I’ve chosen a Mazda MX5 Miata for this video. It’s a common car, with lots of character, and which has classic automotive engineering under the hood - a front-mounted straight four petrol engine and rear wheel drive. It’s also light and small. The only disadvantage is that the engine bay might be a little tight to work in. We also have to work out what to call this thing: Mazda called this car the Mazda MX5 in Europe, the Mazda Miata in the US, and the Eunos Roadster in Japan!
I’ve commissioned a mechanic in Budapest to source us a great example. It will almost certainly come from Germany, where cars are 30-40% cheaper than in Hungary. The car will be with us by the end of February.
I’ve done some work behind the scenes on the website this week and remastered the illustrations into higher quality. There’s nothing to see at the moment, but next week I’m hoping to get these live. I’ll also be adding a page for updates on the video course which is where you’ll find this! The last thing for this week is to create a system for users to sign into How a Car Works, so that you can access the video course that you bought and do various other exciting things.
Each week I’ll finish the update with a to-do list for the next week:
Finish building the office area
Set up the video editing suite
Make preparations for pouring a concrete foundation for the garage
Make high resolution illustrations live on the website
Create a user login system
Edit and upload a trailer for the video series.
It’s going to be a busy one! Thanks again to everyone who preordered this week - I’m sure you can see that I am right on top of it.
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!