The Woodworking Channel

Do you like to watch woodworking shows on your television?

How about on your computer?

Now you can do both. And I’m not talking about the “the Green Button.” I’m talking about internet television at the “The Woodworking Channel,” an online web site billing itself as The World’s Workshop.

Currently featuring shows that we’re all familiar with, like Scott Phillips’, “The American Woodshop” and the Rosendahl’s “Router Workshop,” the Woodworking Channel has a regular schedule, just like broadcast television. But what makes it different is that it’s all woodworking, all the time. Other current program listings include: “The Great British Workshop,” “Woodworking at Home” magazine, “American Association of Woodturners,” “The Woodworkers Edge with Glenn Huey,” “Turning Point Studios: A Woodworking Experience with Sam Maloof,” and “Lie-Nielsen Toolworks, Inc.”

A quick look through the program guide shows a new program typically starting every half-hour. And since most programs produced for commercial television are actually only 22 minutes long (to allow for commercials), they fill out the half hour with short snippets of video from other sources. A few of the shows though are longer than 1/2 hour.

According to the folks at the Woodworking Channel, that’s what’s so great about having a channel on the internet. They’re able to focus on the process rather than the payoff when it comes to new production. Another great thing about internet television is how quickly they can develop new shows. Instead of waiting for the next season to produce a new show, they claim they‘re able to shoot, edit, and get it playing on the channel immediately.

As you may have guessed, only a couple of the Woodworking Channel’s online content is derived from an actual TV show. Most of the programming is high quality, especially a short program about Gary Lacey, a bamboo fly rod builder, but some of it looks pretty fuzzy. Several of the short segments used as filler between shows are video snippets taken at a turning convention. It’s not well lit, the focus is bad, and it’s kind of irritating the way they cut to and away from these segments without any warning.

All in all, if you like the woodworking shows you see on television, you’ll like those found on the Woodworking Channel. I do have a few complaints though. First of all, you need high-speed internet access to take full advantage of the streaming video. Which is fine. I understand the limitations and can live with them. But there are a lot of us who have dial-up at home and DSL at work. I don’t know about you, but my bosses probably would frown on me watching TV while I’m supposed to be working!

Another drawback is the viewer used to show the streaming video. Since they don’t have commercials per se, the Woodworking Channel depends on sponsorship and flash ads that run next to the viewer. Again, I understand the reasoning for this and can live with it, except that it limits the convenience of using it. I tried to resize the viewer and ended up with a rather large rectangular screen that included the ads. And as far as I could tell, there is no way to create a default setting so that the viewer is “always on top.” This would make it possible to drag the viewer to a corner of the desktop, allowing me to work on other programs while watching if I wanted to. Plus, there are forward, reverse, and stop or pause toggles below the viewer that don’t seem to control anything, so I’m not sure why they’re there.

The site does include a separate navigation toolbar that actually allows you to surf other web sites while watching if you want to. Finally, if you’re able to visit the Woodworking Channel, and have a broadband or DSL connection, make sure you start your viewer several minutes before the program starts, because it does take a while to fully buffer the feed and avoid video streaming stoppages.

Joel

6 Responses to “The Woodworking Channel”

Joel Hess said,

Reed Smith is a co-founder of The Woodworking Channel. I sent him a comment at his site yesterday after posting this article. He offers this update on changes in store at The Woodworking Channel:

Joel

Thank you for you kind note. It has been a challenge and at the same time very fun. We were on the road last week filming some new pieces that will be on the air as soon as we can get them edited for broadcast.

I saw your article. Many of the things you reference are in the process of development or just a necessity of a continuous stream. Here are a couple of updates for you and your readers.

* We are working on implementing an On Demand section which should help the dial-up users.

* As we develop more content, we will be able to add more short segments that will improve the offerings between shows.

* For example, we covered the Woodcraft Vendor Trade show and The Furniture Society conference and did some interviews with Brian Boggs, Gary Knox Bennett, Marc Adams, David Marks and some others. When we get the source tapes this week we will start the process of editing them for broadcast next week. As soon as get them done we will get them up on the channel. Probably within the month.

* The Gary Lacey video you mentioned is actually smoky in the original version. That was the style they chose for the piece. It is actually nominated for a regional Emmy award. If it wins, I only wish it was our own production and not someone else’s.

* The rub with 24-hour streaming is high speed. Since the video segments do not start and stop like clips on other networks you need high speed for the optimal experience. We hope On Demand helps solve this problem.

* The size of the viewer was chosen to optimize the most systems out there right now. We could send over a more dense stream but there are not enough computers out there yet that can process a 27/7 stream that dense. Some people would love it and others would have a lot of starting and stopping. As high speed quality improves then the pictures will be clearer and even high speed users will have a better experience. I have a direct high speed at the office and my viewer is crystal clear. At home I have a DSL connection and when there are a lot of computers and TV’s going my picture is not quite as clear.

* The short clips are from the American Association of Woodturners member’s galleries. There is not much 2 minute content available so we have to work with what we can find.

* A portable viewer is possible and we have the capability to do it but are not ready to introduce it. We want to stage the growth slowly and in a manageable timeframe so as to not give you too much at one time. But, it will be coming.

* The schedule synchronizes to your home time zone settings in your computer so you can see schedule that does not force you to convert between time zones.

I hope this helps. We appreciate your thoughtful and complete assessment of what we have now and I wanted to let you know about a few things that will be coming. In the future I can be reached directly at reedsmith@thewoodworkingchannel.com.

Thanks again,

Reed Smith
The Woodworking Channel
http://www.woodworkingchannel.com

Dennis O'Leary said,

Hey guys – I really like what you’re doing. I caught the end of the Sam Maloof TurningPoint lecture. Could you please tell me
a)will this be screeneing again
b)Am I able to get e DVD of it – the sound quality was not good

Regards Dennis

Joel Hess said,

Hi Dennis,

Thanks for posting on WoodworkingONLINE.com. I’ve forwarded a link to your comment to them, hopefully you’ll be hearing from them soon. Or, if you prefer, you can contact them yourself by clicking on the Feedback tab on their web site (www.woodworkingchannel.com) or email your questions direct to contactus@thewoodworkingchannel.com.

Joel

Reed Smith said,

Dennis,

We are working on having the audio remastered. After that is done we will rebroadcast the Maloof weekend. Although we expected some complaints about the audio in advance, we thought the benefit of airing it again in its current condition certainly outweighed the complaints.

When we get done we will put together a DVD of the weekend which will be audible as well as run segments again and make sure the mailing list knows it.

Also, look for some new content from Woodcraft’s Vendor Trade Show, The furniture Society, The AAW Symposium, Lie-Nielsen’s 25th Anniversary, An interview with Thomas Moser and more to start airing this month.

Thanks,
Reed

Dennis said,

Did you guys ever get around to doing the Maloof weekend DVD?

I would like to get a hold of one.

Regards from Tasmania

Dennis O’Leary

Joel Hess said,

Dennis,

You’ll want to check out the Woodworking Channel for updated program info. WoodworkingOnline is not affiliated with their website or the programming. I did pass your question onto Reed Smith though.

Be safe and good woodworking,

Joel Hess