Sunday, October 09, 2016

Is video really a good thing?

A few weeks ago, I spotted a tutorial on YouTube covering making model roads. It was well filmed and the end results looks impressive, but I was struck by the duration - 17 minutes.

As a well known writer of how-to articles in the model railway press, I pondered how I would have covered it on the page, and concluded that there were 6 or 7 steps. In other words, I've have had to do the job is just over half a page. Even with a little generous stretching and a big final photo, I'd not have extracted more than a double page spread out of the job.

More recently, I've been pondering how to reduce the wind noise when recording video on my G12 camera. The solution seems to be a furry muff (stop sniggering at the back) fitted over the microphones.

Price for the ready to stick version is around £14, which seems a lot for a bit of teddy bear fur and some Velcro. It's not like it's even a custom job, you have to crop the Velcro to fit the camera.

I was right. There is an Instructables that covers making a wind muff. They do it in one step and on a pretty short web page. Reading time 2 minutes.

If I prefer, I can watch a video for the same job. Duration of the films is anything from 4.5 to nearly 8 minutes. Most of this is watching someone use scissors to cut Velcro or showing off teddy bear fur fabric. Some show the results of fitting the muff, but mostly it's handycraft.

My feeling is that if you want to follow the process, static works best. Video is for those who just want to be entertained, or at least sit slack-jawed while pictures move on a screen in front of them.

Now you might cry "hypocrisy" as I also film material for magazine DVDs and you might have a point. I often wonder what the point is myself.

With every film I'm trying to use the medium to give something that the printed page can't. There are times when watching a live demonstration can make a difference. Some things are easier to understand when you watch, but my feeling is that there are less of these than people think.

You can also say that it doesn't matter. The job is to entertain people. Nothing wrong with that - it's the business we are in after all. When the viewer is happy then nothing else matters.

Maybe it does, but I do worry when people tell me that they only watch videos and refuse to read or even look at the pictures. Perhaps I'm just being grumpy and old fashioned. Perhaps I just need to get over the idea that anyone does things for themselves now and that for most people vicarious modelling is the future. As one who can be on the screen, I ought to be glad that there is a small demand for my services.

What do you think? Should I ditch words for moving pictures? 


Chris Carrdus said...

Kathy Millatt's "how-to" series on scenery techniques is the best use of video I've seen. She's a good explainer with a pleasant voice. She makes excellent use of cutaway closeups and speeded-up motion. Watch her latest one of producing weathered paint effects at I find it hard to imagine a page, or even two pages of type and illustrations that could do a better job of encouraging me to try this fairly advanced technique myself.

Nick Brad said...

I think it's also partly to do with the 3 identified learning styles, some people do learn more from actually watching someone else go through all the steps, whereas for others it probably feels to dumbed down and a simple pictures and words suffice. I am happy with both personally, although if I never see another bit for Woodland Scenics products it will be too soon. They really do feel like adverts and nothing more ;)

Andy in Germany said...

It depends. For example, I learned to sharpen a chisel using a video by Paul Sellers on Youtube and never looked back: The subtelties and hand positions are easy to grasp when demonstrated but would have been near impossible to get across using text descriptions.

In the same way, now I teach the same method to others and I always denonstrate it for exactly the same reason.

On the other hand when I want to learn other things I prefer a text description, ofr example with furniture I know most methods but want to apply them to making something new and need a few ideas how to apply the skills I already have.

So perhaps formeit is a case of using video basically as a substitute for learning from someone in a workshop, and then applications of that learned skill by books.

Jeffrey Showell said...

Multiple platforms for presenting information or demonstrating techniques is not a bad thing. Those who want to be entertained by watching someone else do something get the advantage of actually seeing someone create something. Maybe they'll think "that doesn't look as hard as I thought," and will be inspired to have a go. I think that's a primary point of video.
Those who want a printed step-by-step guide can take their hobby magazine to their work bench, get out their tools and kit and get to work.

Kelly Harding said...

Like anything it is about choosing the right tool for the job and then planning.

For me tutorial videos work well for things like learning new software (blender or templot perhaps). For other things, a few steps on a page, with maybe a small visual is sufficient.

There is also the fact that everyone has their own way of being able to learn better. For some, they need video in a clear and simple way, other people might need it in longer detail. And others might prefer to be shown by someone (like Missenden) and Thrn try themselves.

Video has its place if used right. Using it because the camera is new and 'hey, look what I can do! ' is not the right reason.

I have mixed feelings about the magazine dvds you mention as some have worked well, and others have felt like a gimmick really and more effort could have been put elsewhere instead of into making a dvd.

Michael Campbell said...

I prefer pictures and text to video. I can scan to find the information I need and go back to it when I need it, so it's usually faster and more detailed. I do admit some techniques benefit from demonstration, but most don't need to be dumbed down and drawn out.

It doesn't help that much if my web browsing is done in my lunch break at work, or while watching TV with my wife in the evening. In both cases watching a video is a little antisocial!