Thursday, June 13, 2019

How To: Criticize

[Originally published January 2015, brought to the top & mildly updated June 2019 in conjunction with a relevant debate going on at Brickset.]

You probably don't want to read a bunch of extraneous text, so let's get right to the point.  I think criticism is a good thing -- criticism of people, practices, products, companies, you name it. However, there are good & constructive ways to criticize and there are bad & inexcusable ways to criticize.  Here are some analogous examples from each side of the fence. Backstory for this article is shoved down at the end, if you're interested!

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Peace is restored, for now

Last month I declared war against myself and set up some simple rules of engagement.  I would not publish reviews more than 3 days in a row, and I would take a minimum of 1 day off per week from uploading to my main YouTube channel altogether.  I'm happy to report today that I succeeded at those simple (but deceptively extraordinary) goals, and have achieved a state of armistice for the time being.  Let me share with you what I learned and accomplished during this unique & interesting period.

FAQ: Why don't I talk over my Pure Build videos

Q: Can you add narration to your real-time "Pure Builds?"
A: While this sounds like a good idea for people who like the sound of my voice, the reality of such an effort would fall apart almost immediately.  There are only so many ways one can say, "Look how these two pieces go together; isn't that cool?"  Only a tiny percentage of assembly steps in LEGO sets are ever unusual and noteworthy, and it's even more rare to encounter something truly new.  In other words, me narrating LEGO builds in real time would become agonizingly boring and repetitive in the shortest of orders, to viewers and myself alike.  It has been suggested that I fill uninteresting times with small talk, but I hate small talk.  Multiple-hour LEGO builds and me struggling to find entertaining things to say are two things that definitely do not go together.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

It's WAR! LEGO reviews vs. city updates & MOC work

The numbers are clear.  When asked directly, the majority of JANGBRiCKS YouTube channel viewers want to see reviews of current LEGO products more than anything else, by a significant margin.  However!  There some other reliable quantitative measures very strongly disagree.  The situation is just maddening enough to motivate the kickoff of a risky, radical experiment, and it all starts this week.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

A New Personal Record!

Today I filmed, edited, and published a total of 6 hours of content to YouTube:

  • 1 hour 47 minutes of real-time HD Pure Builds
  • 40 minutes of shortened HD time-lapse versions of those builds
  • 19 minutes in a 4K quadruple-review on my Playmobil channel
  • 15 minutes in a 4K set review on the main LEGO focused channel
In all I chewed through 62 gigabytes of raw video footage and uploaded 13 gigabytes of finished product.

Not bad for a day's work?

PS: For MOC fans, the news is that I worked on a custom car for 5 hours the previous night. Didn't get it done, stuck on a perplexing build challenge.  I'll keep working on it and when it's done, it'll be worth about 30 seconds of video viewing time 🤷‍♂️

Saturday, April 13, 2019

I Did It All Wrong (but I'm fixing it)

It's time for me to get very, very candid about some thoughts that have guided my actions, how I made some very serious mistakes in planning New Jang City, and how I've permanently turned a major corner in the course of my involvement in the LEGO hobby on the whole.  Grab a snack or beverage, and let me fully break the situation down for you.

Monday, April 8, 2019

In my LEGO City, the sky is rising

When I first set foot in the second living/family room of this house, I immediately knew this is where I would put the LEGO city, if I got so lucky as to win the bidding war in the cut-throat near-coastal California real estate market.  I thought about how I'd arrange the tables and started to consider options for smoothing out the very uneven background image so viewers could focus on the LEGO, not the fireplace, the wet bar, goings-on in the next room over, etc.  Four years after winning the bidding war, I've taken the next major step in implementing my vision.

How much time goes into one set?

On a whim of curiosity, I tracked the time I invested into one new set, Avengers Compound Battle 76131.  To the public, there was a 23-minute build video and a 19-minute review produced, or a maximum of 42 minutes of total content, out of which the average viewer (per current, real data) will watch 11.5 minutes.  For those fleeting moments of entertainment, check out what transpired behind the scenes.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

I saw the sine

Recently I learned the hard way that surge protectors are a lie.  During an unusually windy storm, there were a couple of power outages back to back that caused power irregularities at their ends that went straight into my main rendering computer and wreaked havoc.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

End of an era

Over a decade ago I purchased my first pair of "softboxes," light bulb receptacles with each a flimsy tent-like pyramidal reflector structure and a translucent sheet of cloth over the big end.  It kicked off the second phase of my quest for an ideal backdrop & lighting setup for YouTube video reviews of radio controlled model cars & trucks.

Today, I disassembled that very piece of equipment, its base yellowed from hundreds of hours of being cooked by storebought household CFLs and LEDs.  I had collected and employed other softboxes over the years, but it's fitting that one of my first to enter service would be the last to be exit.  This strange geeky detail has meaning to me because so much of my work, literally thousands of videos across three main channels and several spin-offs, has been defined by that ever-whiter background and steadily diminishing shadows.

My goal was always to maximize viewers' ability to focus on just the products they came to see with absolutely minimal fluff.  I tried some different options when I ventured into brick-based construction toys, but the lure of the white void was irresistible and viewers all but unanimously applauded its return.  Since then, my methods of achieving the increasingly complete nothingness have evolved significantly, but there'll always be a special place in my memory & heart for those first two, perpetually awkward, always in the way, front- and top-heavy softboxes.  Who knows, maybe they'll get a new lease on life when I start up the inevitable "Studio C."