On August 14, 2006 I uploaded my first wet shaving video to Youtube. What have I learned about video, wet shaving, and life since then?
A little Background (That You May Know Already )
In 2004 my wife and I were in Las Vegas for our wedding anniversary. One morning my wife asked me not to shave because she has a surprise for me. That afternoon we head to The Art of Shaving store at Mandalay Bay, where she has them give me a barber spa shave as an anniversary gift. It turned out to be a life-changing experience for me.
After we return home I immediately start surfing the internet, trying to learn more about this way of shaving…and discover that there’s little information out there. I eventually discover the (long-since defunct) MSN Wetshavers forum; and I am fortunate to live within driving distance of Austin, TX, where the late Charles Roberts was happy to share with me some of the finer points of traditional shaving (along with his “Method Shaving” style).
In the late spring of 2006 a casual comment in a discussion thread on the Wetshavers forum suggested “someone needs to do a video on how to shave!” The general consensus is that the idea is appealing but probably too difficult to do: the conventional wisdom at the time was that you really need to see lather in three dimensions and be able to feel it to truly understand it, and a lot of the background techniques really need to be shown “in person.” It was also felt that the video technology of the day wasn’t quite up to the quality that was necessary to properly demonstrate shaving.
I have a degree in TV/radio broadcasting (the engineering part, not the production part) and though I have been out of the industry for many years I know the basics of putting together a video and I had just won a camcorder a few months before while a attending an industry conference so I decided to experiment around a little. I put together some test footage and asked the MSN guys to comment. I got some really good feedback and suddenly it didn’t seem so impossible.
I posted my first wet shaving video to Youtube on August 14, 2006:
Like I said earlier, I have a background in broadcast engineering–vintage 1982. Technology changed between the 80’s and the 00’s (and of course continues to change) and I had to catch up. For me the biggest challenges initially were editing and bandwidth.
Back in my day (get off my lawn!) video editing was essentially sequential: put in a source tape, find the segment you want, record it to the work tape; rinse, wipe, repeat. You either had a video transport/switcher setup or–if you were “old school”–you physically spliced a tape.
By the 00’s there were (and are) still both dedicated video editing bays and video editing software you can run on a home computer of sufficient power. These systems are “non linear” in that editors no longer had to work with video that was shot sequentially: multiple feeds can be loaded at the same time and the editor can simply pick and choose what they want.
Some common home video editors include (Amazon links are affiliate):
- Adobe Premiere Elements (PC/Mac)
- Lightworks (PC/Mac/Linux, free and paid versions)
- Vegas Movie Studio [Download] (PC)
- PowerDirector Ultra [Download] (PC)
- Movavi Video Editor [Download] (Mac/PC)
I started with Windows Movie Maker (it used to be included in Windows PC’s but not anymore) then moved to Vegas Movie Studio. From there I eventually settled on the “professional” version of Vegas, as it has a couple features that the lower-end programs don’t (mainly technical functions: Vegas Pro has Vectorscope and Waveform monitor windows. Luckily I know how to use those features).
Twenty yeas ago internet speeds were far slower than they are now so editing online was almost unheard of, and the video resolution of the final product (and what Youtube could support!) was far lower.
Now internet speeds and video resolution are much higher. While I edit “locally” because that’s what I’m used to, now you can edit video online without too much trouble, and get some cool new features to boot:
An online video editor with many features is VEED.
Another online video editor that offers “templates” to give your video a specific look-and-feel, in addition to regular video editing features, is InVideo.
Motionbox is another alternative with many of the same features and also includes an interesting “Podcast to video” feature.
Related post: How To Make A (Better) Shaving Video
Making a decent video takes time. You might be surprised by the effort required. That’s why I haven’t made a whole lot of videos over the past couple of years. While video is my “first love” in a lot of ways, most of my revenue comes from Sharpologist so that’s where I have to spend most of my time.
But I’ve recently gotten better at streamlining my workflow: more robust and automated server hosting with Nexcess, content research and creation with Blogely, and social media posting with SocialBee and (especially) Missinglettr (all those links are affiliate BTW; I get a small rebate if you sign up through those links). That’s beginning to free up my time so I can do other things.
Wet Shaving has also grown and changed in the past 15 years. In the early 2000’s there were far fewer choices available to the wet shaving enthusiast. For new razors there was the Merkur 34C, the Edwin Jagger DE89, and the Weishi. And that was about it (not that you couldn’t find them if you looked hard enough but you get my meaning, eh?).
For creams and soaps there were the British “3T’s” (Trumper, Truefitt, Taylor) and Art Of Shaving at the high-end, Proraso in the middle, and Williams mug soap at the low end. There were a couple hardy artisans (Em’s Place and QED are two who come to mind and are still around) but the bumper crop of soap artisans would not arise for another 10 years.
And you have a much better chance of finding some kind of traditional shaving product locally.
A lot of the “conventional wisdom” of the wet shave process hasn’t changed but a few things have evolved. It used to be de rigueur that you tried the use the hottest water you could tolerate for a shave. Now many understand that, while water is still very important, the temperature of the water is less critical (some have gone to the other extreme with cold water shaving).
And, assuming you could afford it, badger hair shave brushes were the thing to get if you could. If not, you had to settle for a boar hair brush (probably made by Omega/Proraso). Now of course there are many more choices to consider, including the newest generation of synthetic fibers that perform as well as badger hair.
It would be an understatement to say that my life has changed since I started wet shaving and filming YouTube videos. The mundane task of shaving has been transformed into an art form of sorts, and the small, personal niche is now able to market to the masses in a way never before seen.
What’s next? My guess is as good as yours. But it’s been an incredible journey for me that shows no sign of ending. Will I return to doing wet shaving videos regularly? Yes. Yes, I think I will.