11.17.2020 | Making Magic! The Video Review Process – Part 2

Yesterday we talked about the process leading up to filming our reviews, and today I want to talk about the reviews themselves…


“Welcome back to the Red Bench, it’s time for another Red Bench Review…” I start every video with these magic words because it triggers my mind and locks me into the video mode. Before I say those magical words my head is turned to the side, and I am staring out our sliding glass door, looking out at the desert waiting for Tania to count off… 3,2,1 – Action!

I turn my head, look straight into the camera, and utter my magic words. In that moment I’m thinking of my friends who’ll be watching this video. I’m not looking at a camera, I’m looking at you, my friends. This isn’t just another video review, this is time I’m spending talking to my friends… and that gives me a big surge of energy every single time!

I’d love to be able to say that I nail it on the first take every time, but I don’t. I often need to warm up, despite all the pre-filming vocal exercises. Some weeks it all seems to flow effortlessly, and some weeks I take a while to warm up – like a handful of takes. Needless to say, we have a lot of material for a blooper reel down the road!

For those interested in the technical side of the filming process – we use a Canon M-50 and an iPhone 11 for our filming. The Canon M-50 is one of the most popular cameras for vlogging, and we use it for the main shots – and we use the iPhone for the close-ups.

I can’t say enough good things about the M-50 – it’s very popular for good reason. We filmed our first few videos using another camera, a Canon T6, but that camera didn’t have a way to add an external mic – a must have if you want good sound. We added a Rode VideoMicro microphone to the M-50 to improve the sound quality, and it was a big step up from the camera’s built-in mic.

The M-50 not only upgraded the sound, but the picture quality improved, the focus improved… everything improved! Filming the videos is so easy with this camera. For lighting we use lamps from around the cabin and one circular LED lamp we bought just for filming the close-ups. That’s about as technical as we get during filming.

The Pattern

Filming a review follows a loosely set pattern we laid out during our first few reviews, and it goes something like this…

Introduction – During this segment I want to welcome my friends to the Red Bench, introduce the strain we’re looking at this week and give a few details about the herb.

Unboxing – Now we move in for close-ups of the packaging, rotate it around and look at it from all sides before we open the jar, bag or box. Here I’m interested in how well it’s packaged and then what it smells like when I open it and pour the nugs out on the tray.

Film Break – Close Up – We take a break, weigh the herb and take close-up photos of one of the best nugs.

Cutting The Bud – This is where I get a feel for the cure of the herb. I pick out one of the nugs from the eighth and cut it up, getting it ready to load in the bong. I use trimming scissors to cut up the nug to fully appreciate how well-cured the buds are…

Bong Hit #1 – Now the best part begins – smoking the herb and getting to the effects! I dwell for a moment on the flavor while the first effects start to move in…

Bong Hit #2 – Another chance to mull over the flavor and feel the first effects. Usually something is happening by the second hit unless it’s a long creeper…

Film Break – We take a break from filming while the effects fully kick in. During the break I usually take a couple more hits and fill out my sesh information form detailing the look, the smell, the taste and the effects of the herb.

Ten Minutes Later – After the break I’m back with my report. This part, like the rest of the review, is completely spontaneous, and often, very stoned. My focus at this point is how the effects hit me.

Last Bong Rip – This is the gratuitous bong toke, which I take because I can! This gives me a chance for any last minute observations about the herb.

Thank You – This is the wrap up – my chance to thank everyone for taking the time to watch our video… “Thank you for being here, and please subscribe to our YouTube channel… until next week, best of health.”

Post Production

Every time we finish a video review a surge of excitement runs through me. This is all still so new that I haven’t gotten used to the process yet… every video is such a unique filming experience. But then it’s suddenly over – that’s a wrap! Time to move on to post-production – but first a beer break… Tania and I both love IPAs, so the wrap-up includes having a cold one…

After having a break we usually check out the rushes – all the video footage – and make editing notes. Tania is the one who makes all the editing decisions and I do the editing work, so we spend a good amount of time watching the footage and making notes so I can get the edits right.

I use Adobe Premiere Pro to edit our videos and, of course, I do all our graphics and photos in Photoshop. My computer is a Windows machine that’s over four years old. It struggles, but it gets the job done – every week. Everything takes longer than it should, so our next big investment for this project is going to be a new Apple computer – at least that’s the plan!

Editing the videos usually takes a whole evening. First I have to prepare all the graphics for the video and make a rough edit – and then Tania makes a list of all changes she would like to see. I apply all the changes Tania listed and I do another edit. Usually we need to do a few more tweaks after that.

By this time it’s typically around 1:30 in the morning when I’m doing a final render of the video. My plan is to do all this on Monday night, but all too often, I find myself editing late into Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning… but that’s not it, there’s still more work to do!

Prepping For New Review Wednesday

Now that I have the video review finished, rendered and uploading to YouTube, it’s time to write the written review. This requires me to get myself nice and stoned on whatever herb I’m going to review. Writing while stoned is not a problem for me, it’s actually something I enjoy doing, immensely. I wrote my second novel, Moving At The Speed Of Time, while completely stoned – I bought an ounce of herb specifically to write the book, and finished the novel the same day I finished the ounce.

While Tania edits my written review I get started putting together the web page for the review on redbenchreviews.com. The web page takes about a half hour to build, from start to finish. By this time Tania has edited the review, and I’ve filled out the online form that builds The Lowdown section of the review – which includes all the details about the herb. All the pieces of New Review Wednesday have fallen into place by this point…

Of course, I still have to write Jon’s Daily Sesh for Wednesday and prepare the social media posts for Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometime after noon on Wednesday the whole process comes to a conclusion. Emails have been sent out to our subscribers. Socials have been posted. Exhausted but happy, I watch the numbers on the stats from the socials and on our website climb – satisfaction knowing that people are enjoying this week’s review!

And on Saturday or Sunday the process starts once again! 🙂

We’re always looking for ways to improve our reviews… do you have any suggestions, ideas, thoughts, or comments? Send them our way! And until later, best of health.

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