If you’re looking for some truly unique DIY projects on YouTube, head over to Inspire to Make. We caught up with the creator behind all of these high quality, well-produced videos, Igor Vichikov, to find out how and why he creates.
Inspire to Make
Video Views: 12,234,045
Channel Type: Howto
Created: Jan. 13, 2014
So you’re browsing YouTube’s vast collection of DIY project videos, looking for a home project. Your eye is drawn to a video that demonstrates how to make your own Bluetooth speakers. The picture looks kind of cool and retro, so you click.
The video that you’re treated to is very well produced, first showing images of the parts you’ll need with a stylish rack focus. The lighting is great with beautiful depth of field in the shots. Wait, what’s that? A cinder block? The video goes through the steps to placing speakers inside of the cement block and covering it with wood. There’s no narration here, only a haunting melody with images that cut to the beat. As you get drawn in, you’re thinking this does look pretty easy! You think, “I could make that!” This is clearly not your average DIY project video — poorly produced, badly narrated, somewhat confusing and could be used to lull children back to sleep after a thunderstorm. This is a highly polished production showcasing a unique project in an approachable way.
The “DIY Bluetooth Speaker” video is one project on the Inspire to Make channel. You’ll also find “DIY Headphones,” which shows how to make earbuds with used bullet casings. There’s “DIY Mini Sword” that shows how to transform nails into something that resembles Excalibur. The channel features dozens of project videos that are stylish and well-produced — they’re what their creator calls “oddly satisfying DIY videos.”
We caught up with Russian born, now Toronto transplant Igor Vichikov to find out how he produces these stunning visuals. We also asked him about his inspiration and production workflow and got his advice for aspiring YouTube creators who want to break into the DIY space.
The Back Story
Igor started as a production designer at a studio in Moscow. “I started doing animation and post-production for title sequences and screenshots for commercials,” he says with a touch of a Russian accent. “Then I went to work as a broadcast designer at MTV after that.” This would lead to an offer from Canadian 3388 Films, where he’s a producer. The company doesn’t do DIY projects, but instead produces commercials, documentaries and other award-winning productions.
Unsurprisingly, Igor says that he began creating DIY videos because he likes to make stuff: “I was always tinkering with stuff and always watching YouTube videos that inspired me. I was exploring different materials, different techniques, following a bunch of other DIY creators. I saw this niche was underserved with quality production. They had some very interesting ideas but the execution was poorly made.”
He shuns the term craftsman because he does not have the years of expertise it takes to be an artisan. “It’s looks intricate because of the way it’s filmed,’ Igor explains, “I’m just trying to experiment with different techniques or different ideas of making stuff. Most of the stuff is very simple.” One of his first uploads is a leather wallet set to classical music. It appears as if you’re watching a master leather worker in a car commercial, but it’s just Igor “tinkering.”
Igor has no crew; he does it all himself with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III.
Scanning the list of projects, you’ll find a few more leather goods, but projects run the gamut from metal working to electronics. Where does he get his inspiration? Igor says that’s hard to say: “I can find something on the street that bugs my mind and I think, ‘Oh! I can modify this into something else’. Or I see pictures online or just random ideas that I got in my mind.”
Sometimes the inspiration is based on the material itself, like with the BlueTooth speaker. “Just the shape of the cinder block, in my mind I thought, ‘Oh, I can fit speakers inside.’ The form factor of that object just speaks for itself.” Igor says, “Really, it’s always different.”
After the inspiration comes the workflow. Igor says that often his first step is to jump on YouTube to see if anyone else has made something similar. He then gathers the parts, from Amazon or his local hardware store, along with tools in his rented workshop. The process frequently takes a week for a single video. “I usually make a prototype, then I make it on camera, and usually it takes me like a couple of days just to find music that I’m satisfied with.” The music clearly defines the pace of the editing in each video.
Igor has no crew; he does it all himself using a Canon EOS 5D Mark III and a variety of different lenses. His go-to lens are a 24–305mm zoom plus a macro lens for the really tight stuff. For lighting: “I’m using a very thin LED panel that I got on eBay. The set up is, like, super simple. Usually it’s just one or two lights. I’m trying to bounce the light off the object. So the light is on the side of the camera or in front of the camera where you can’t see it in the frame. So you have this beautiful reflection.” He was using a slider for movement, but currently likes to do everything handheld or add movement in post using Premier Pro.
A week per video is fairly typical but, “For some projects I have laying around for like 2 months until I’m really ready. For some projects it took me like one weekend to execute.” He tells us that his drill powered, electric skateboard project took him just a weekend during the winter to construct, but he waited until summer for the demonstration shots. Skateboards don’t do too well on sidewalks in the Toronto winter.
The Challenges of Bringing in an Audience
Although the Inspire to Make channel has over 200,000 subscribers and two videos have over a million hits, Igor says it’s a difficult to increase his traffic. “Making high quality content is not that sustainable at all.” He tells us that the revenue he generates doesn’t even cover the cost of renting a workshop. He would certainly like to see his channel become more self-sustaining in the near future.
“Right now, I’m experiencing a down time. My views are not that exciting any more. Usually its like 20 thousand to 40 thousand views on average for a video. That’s not as exciting as like a million. When you get to the point where you see like 20 thousand views you think, ‘meh, not very exciting any more.’”
Igor recently went to VidoCon in Anaheim, and he’s rethinking his approach. “There they taught me a good thing. The quantity is the quality. If you can sustain making stuff on a regular basis and you can produce like three videos a day that’s awesome. YouTube will love you for that!” In other words, a lot of activity on the channel will drive more views, but to create quality videos, it takes more time. “Sponsors love my stuff, but sponsors love numbers as well. I’m kind of a weird thing to them right now.”
So for the future, Vichikov says, “I’m trying to come up with a more sustainable content. I’m experiencing that and trying to research new stuff and a new approach to my content right now. Yes, I want to make these beautiful videos, but I need other things to keep it up.”
He says it’s also important to spread the word about your videos. “I share my videos everywhere. I put articles on Instructables.com. That’s a very popular web site. I try to contact different blogs for them to share my stuff. I post on Reddit.com and different sites with similar topics.” Igor says that sometimes marketing the videos can take as much time as producing them, but it is very important.