Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

I Had the Cutting Board Blues

The 7-minute video below presents two ways to address kitchen knives that seem to dull too quickly – the Epicurean Cutting Board and the Edge-Mag knife sheath. They are both very good products that are worth their price – except that the Edge-Mag needs an easy mod before it should be put into service. As-is, I can’t recommend it. Modded, it’s a definite winner.

The presentation itself is not a winner, there being two strikes against it. I’ll mention my end of the difficulties below, and save the hardware geekoid aspect for another post. The non-geekoid aspect of the geekoid aspect is simply the toll that age and heavy use take on electronic gizmos. Much like myself, they get cranky and obstinate. They develop quirks. Thus in this video, you’ll notice audio volume changes, tiny pieces of the video missing, and audio going out of sync. I’m working on exploring the issue and getting the bugs out of the process, but whether I will succeed or not is unknown at this point.

The other strike is that I do not particularly enjoy being in front of the camera in the few videos that I create, for reasons that become obvious once you take in the footage. But some presentations for topics become more communicative when a human being is there, yapping at you. It looks more like an honest word-of-mouth recommendation than some kind of paid viral product sales job. I enjoy the creative process of making videos, but I do not enjoy being in them.

From the start, I wondered “Why bother with a video with its setup, capture and editing, when I could just take a few snaps and write that I like these two products?” After all, a writeup is so much easier. And then people will never discover that I pause and say “Umm” a lot when I try to speak while I’m waiting for the next thought to rattle down the pipe. “Why bother” is that video is a realm that I’ve done a few times out of necessity. You’d think that if you can capture stuff in photographs passably well, then capturing them in video surely can’t be much of a difference, right? Nope. There is remarkably little similarity, other than looking through a viewfinder and pressing a button. If you want to get past the home movie stage, it’s a lot more complex and more involved. A really good video never reminds you that it’s a video about something, drawing attention to itself. It just presents its topic, and that’s what you dwell on. I don’t know how easily this skill comes to some people, but as for me, no, I can tell it doesn’t. It requires a different way of thinking and approaching that I’m simply not used to. It also requires a lot more energy and effort, start to finish. But, since I find it interesting and mysterious, thus you are made to suffer for my art, my learning process. I certainly prefer that to my having to suffer for it. So, out they come one by one, here and there. Fortunately for you, you can let them pass by unwatched, and no one’s the wiser. Win/win!

I’ll insert here a loose quote from Martin Scorsese, the noted film director, who I guess has either semi-retired or has a lot of nervous energy. He’s running ads promoting his new course on film directing. I’ve seen it here and there on the Internet. In it, he notes something in his fast, clipped tone, something a lot like, “When you’re starting out at this and have gotten a chance to take on a project, if you watch that day’s footage and don’t become physically ill – and I mean physically ill – then you’re doing something wrong.”

Well, I’ve done some event coverage videos in my former life that I thought were okay for what they were, at the time. Car shows, gymkhanas, road races, mud bogs. Many were merely photo stills with Ken Burns slow-zoom effects and soundtracks, and some were real action videos. Some were a mix of the two. I posted them, proud and happy. Event coverage means that they must be done and posted in a very timely way, so they don’t need to be filmmaking epics. Then on a passing whim, if I watched any one of the “real videos” a few months later, it became obvious that it had problems. I can’t specifically identify a fix to a lot of those problems, but they are certainly there. I can smell the faint stink wandering between capture limitations, editing issues, and sound. Rewatch the same video a year or two later, and it’s an embarrassment. The raw footage is okay – you can only get certain set vantage points at an event with one guy and one camera, after all – but the editing, the way the final presentation comes across, is head-in-hands awful. It’s not that I had learned a lot in the interim, but that I’d finally been able to separate myself from the work enough to be objective.

The difference between me, a guy just goofing around with a camera, and a trained and skilled pro, is that he can see his mistakes the first time he looks at just the raw captures of the day. Me, I’m glad to have gotten anything at all, so my disappointment usually takes months or years after the project has been completed and posted. I may not know how to do a certain part of it better, but I do come to know that something is seriously wrong…eventually. The pieces do not fit, or do not work together to do what I was assuming they did. If nothing else, I want to move that sense of disgust much further forward. Thankfully, I have never recognized enough at any one viewing to become physically ill, despite the stakes being personally quite high for me at the time. But, I do recognize – with considerable delay – that the bulk of video work that I post is at kindergarten level. That’s humiliating of course, but it also makes me want to be able to sense what’s wrong during the process, and see some options on how to address it. These days, I can only do so much with the equipment I have, the energy and time periods that I have available, and the simple types of pieces that I want to do. I don’t even need to get good. I just want to get to that point where I can look at it later with the same viewpoint I had when when I first completed it.

The video above? Well, it’s horrid too, but at least it’s obvious what’s wrong, and what would be needed to fix it: raw footage without glitches in it, more aggressive editing to shorten it up and give it a sense of direction, and certain casting/personnel changes. I’m doing what I can to see what can be done about them, although there aren’t a lot of options for problem #3. Still, as far as I’m concerned, this is progress already – I’m recognizing specific problems during the editing process. Oddly, the whole goal is not to get to where you the viewer enjoy watching any videos that I may churn out while I continue to fumble around with this new-to-me format. That is of course important to me, but when push comes to shove, the absolute priority is that I progress enough in the process such that I’m satisfied with the end product. Unless I like it first, I can’t really hear whatever you might have to say about the effectiveness of the presentation (not the topic itself). Are we having fun yet?

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4 thoughts on “I Had the Cutting Board Blues

  1. Rod Duell on said:

    Great video, really enjoyed your slightly sardonic presentation style. More please!

  2. Dennis Szczesniak on said:

    Thanks for the video Douglas!

  3. That’s a good sized write up for a cutting board..or was it for a video…or was it about kitchen knives that dull too quickly?

    I’ve not good enough bandwidth here to watch videos….

    I’ve been using the “Smith’s JIFF-S 10-Second Knife and Scissors Sharpener” (it’s on Amazon) for some time now, cheaper than buying good knives & it will help with those cheap kitchen scissors we use too.

    • BZZZT! I’m sorry, it was about…uh…I’m not certain what this post is about myself. It may be about how I find making videos interesting, but don’t do it all that well and hope to learn and gain competence. It includes a sample video about two products which, thankfully, you have been spared from watching. Don’t be misled by a title, as those are sometimes merely there as placeholders.

      I’m far too cheap to be a cutlery snob. The only “good” knife I have is an orphan from a 3-knife kitchen set that I bought in the early 1970s, a plain carbon steel carving knife made in the USA. I really liked them all, and suspect that the disappearance of the other two may have been the result of certain unauthorized persons making decisions at a level which exceeded their authority. Anyway, much of the rest of what I own for the kitchen are thrift shop fare. I use a belt-driven gizmo from Drill Doctor that a demo guy at an outdoors show used to keen up my pocket knife with. I’d been looking for a way to get everything from Xacto blades to axes and lawnmower blades touched up w/o horsing around, as the quicky sharpeners I had weren’t holding edges for long, and whetstones turned the process into a major hobby. Glad you found something affordable that works for you, Rob.

      I’d do a video about the Drill Doctor thing that you also wouldn’t be able to watch, but I don’t think its a good value if all one needs it for is knives only. Their drill bit sharpeners are something else entirely, if much of one’s work is with metal.

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