Monday, December 10, 2012
[Review] Shopclass on Demand Streaming Videos
A large focus of this blog has been to explore the possibilities of learning woodworking alone. Fueled mostly by The Joiners Apprentice (which just today has been made available as an audiobook), I have also read many other books and viewed a number of videos.
Nothing changes the fact that woodworking must be learned by doing. A private lecture with the greatest woodworking instructor possible will still not get you there until you make the cuts on your own. A great teacher, however, will encourage, inspire and inform you, and videos can provide much of this. As one woodworking instructor told me, a main task of a teacher is to give the student permission to teach themselves.
And so, I was glad to review the Popular Woodworking service "Shop Class on Demand", which allows one to few hundreds of hours of content over the internet. This is essentiaally Netflix for woodworkers, and given the lack of woodworking content on Netflix, this is a great thing.
Full disclosure: I was given a 6-month media pass to review this service at no cost. I therefore cannot honestly assay the "value" as if the payment had come from my own wallet. I do believe I can effectively convey my impressions of the service, though.
Once an account is created, it is painless to load and view the videos. The audio and video quality are on par with any other major streaming service. My only technical complaint has been that if a video is paused for a length of time (say, overnight) it can be difficult to resume.
The videos themselves run a huge gamut from power tool techniques to several seasons of The Woodwrights Shop. Several (if not all) of Christopher Schwarz's videos are also available.
Many of the technique-based videos are the type which you may want to view over and over, perhaps even playing in your shop. In cases like this, you might want to actually own a copy of the content. This service, in that case, comes into usefulness as a way to preview these DVDs before commiting to purchase. You may opt to watch a single video for a few dollars before paying full price for the DVD.
If you plan to do a great deal of viewing, the unlimited plans make a lot of sense. With busy family and shop life, I do not have much time for viewing, but did stay up late a few times to get a sense of the type of material available through this service.
All in all, I give the service a thumbs up. I am not sure I agree with the pricing structure, but media is always a tricky game and as mentioned I did not actually pay for this service. Given my limited time for viewing, and limited interest in watching videos to begin with, I would say this service is not for me, but it very well might be for you. I would certainly love to have access to the several decades of The Woodwright's Shop, but no idea when I would get around to watching them.
I am grateful that Popular Woodworking is attempting to get with the times and explore modern media, and hope that this service is a success. Check it out here: Shop Class on Demand