Frank Howarth makes some great woodworking videos. Even if you don’t care much about woodworking, you’ll probably like some of these. Many include stop motion scenes where tools and wood seem to do things by themselves. The whimsical ease is twice as wonderful if you have recently tried making somthing yourself, but they’re fun no matter what. Here’s an example, “The Self-Assembling Table Saw:”

And here’s a look behind the scenes at what went into that video: ingenuity + time, but also ingenuity about ingenuity and time.

Obviously Frank has a unique style, at least in the woodworking video genre. Second, he’s making some clever gadgets that improve the creative flow of his videos… like a long-armed turret for smooth stop-motion panning. Finally, this lets him spend more time on the parts that really need his attention, like photographic composition, building up sound effects, and figuring out how scenes should go.

I’ve noticed for a while that these three things seem to be common to pretty much any person making something great. Very often, art is not that esoteric. What makes it tough is kind of the slog. People making great stuff seem to be good at finding ways to transfer time, energy, and attention to the phases of the creative process that need it as much as possible.

The mental space cleared, by making a simple tool or writing a good enough outline, translates into better work.