This post is long overdue, especially considering that the video has been live for a couple of weeks. That said, I finally finished the second installment of the "Wood + Wires" series. This time I profiled Bottlehead Corp, a company that makes tube amp kits. This posed a unique challenge; how do I successfully profile a company whose product is a box of parts? The only thing that seemed to make sense was to show a kit being assembled, starting with Bottlehead packing a box then transitioning to "someone" putting the kit together. The more I thought about it the more it became apparent that I would have to build a kit myself. I am not especially fond of being on camera, that was never the point of MKHmfg. I have long criticized how YouTube has become "me roll”, people producing content simply to be on camera. I was reluctant, both because I am not fond of being on camera and because I have very limited experience doing any sort of electrical work. I chose the Reduction phono pre-amp for the build, simply because I wanted to upgrade my personal solid-state amp to a tube amp (the finished product sounds amazing... but I am getting ahead of myself). I wasn't excited by the idea of having to spend hours editing video of myself.
Luckily working with Dan and Eileen Schmalle of Bottlehead was remarkably easy. I spent two days at their facility on Bainbridge Island. They were very accommodating, and Dan was a very easy interview. I ended up with over an hour of usable interview footage. I shot with both my Panasonic GH4 and GH5. I also moved both cameras a little bit mid interview and then proceeded to revisit a couple of questions. This way I had 4 angles on some of Dan's key answers. For B roll I shot Eileen compiling and boxing my kit. Dan was a little more difficult, I didn't get a whole lot of video of him working. I had to be creative to fill in the gaps
Using a slower, more deliberate process made for better shots, but took a very long time. A kit that would typically take a builder a few days to a week to complete took me three or four weeks, with me shooting an hour or two every night or two after work. Eventually I rented a Rhino Evo slider for a weekend and knocked out a ton of the kit. This worked extremely well, as the added movement made for much more interesting shots. Finally, I spent a Saturday lighting my living room for the final set up video. Bonnie (dog) made an unexpected cameo. She is the ultimate "beer hound" she can be seen trying to steal my celebratory beer near the end of the final video. Darlene was also kind enough to help with the camera move of me coming up the stairs.
In the end I made some mistakes with the build. I couldn't get the correct impedance readings on my amp. I turned at first the to the Bottlehead forum, then to Bottlehead tech Paul Birkeland. Paul sorted out all my many mistakes in shockingly little time. Without his help I would have been working on this for much longer.
An old friend then stepped in to provide the last missing piece of the puzzle for this project. I've known Aaron "Coleslaw" Taylor for a very long time. He played guitar and sang as Darlene and I walked down the aisle at our wedding (the Nada Surf song "Blonde on Blonde"), he's a dear friend and an all-around stand up dude. He volunteered to provide music for this project. In total he recorded over 15 unique pieces of music for me to choose from. Without his help this project would not have worked. Music is a huge part of this series, it would make no sense otherwise, and Aaron made it so easy. I can't thank him enough.
After I finished the project Dan approached me for a teaser video to be featured on the Bottlehead web site (below). I was able to cut a 30 second spot for him and now my mug is featured on the front page of www.bottlehead.com. I went from a very reluctant subject of my own video, to the face of kit building somehow. Don't count on this to happen in the future. I plan to plant myself firmly behind the camera from here on.
Very strange side note. So far, I have produced two episodes of "Wood + Wires" and both times the subject of my video moved their operations around the time that I finished the video. Clark Blumenstein moved from Tacoma to Seattle... and now Bottlehead has relocated to Poulsbo. Is this a coincidence or some sort of curse? I guess time will tell
Until next time... oh and by the way...I have no clue what "next time" will entail. If you have an idea for part 3 of this series, please let me know... Anyone making unique audio gear of any kind is welcome. Let me know if you have an idea. Cheers - Ben
Ben Rupp, film maker, rocker, skater.
Middle Aged Shred
"YOU DIDN'T QUIT SKATEBOARDING BECAUSE YOU GOT OLD, YOU GOT OLD BECAUSE YOU QUIT SKATEBOARDING" - JAY ADAMS
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