Camtasia through the eyes of a musician: a customer interview with David Brooks

Guest post by TechSmith Software Engineer Intern (Snagit), Matthew Wein.

David Brooks, Thousand Wires

 

 

I had the pleasure of speaking with David Brooks, a musician and the founder of Thousand Wires, to discuss his projects and experiences using Camtasia Studio. Thousand Wires is an application that “helps you visualize what studio gear, electronic equipment, instruments, and home theater parts you have, and how they connect.” Brooks used Camtasia to demo this application, as well as teach customers how to use it. Eric Stallcup, a TechSmith Software Engineer (Web Presence), also joined the conversation. Together, we got some very interesting insight on who David is, what he does, and how technology helped him get here.

An interview with David

Matt: What inspired you to start developing?

“I loved computers and would always try to make them do things that they probably weren’t supposed to do.”

David: I started when I was a kid. I loved computers and would always try to make them do things that they probably weren’t supposed to do. Growing up with that, I’ve always had a computer to code on and have always been interested in it. Design and web development happened kind of later. I guess general computer stuff is what I’ve always done. I’m also an electronic musician, which is something that comes with that territory, too. You get into stuff like chopping things up, and you eventually have to write code to get it to do what you want.

Eric: What kind of experiences did you have with Camtasia Studio and why did you choose that as your medium to demo Thousand Wires?

“I looked at Camtasia and thought, this makes a lot of sense.”

David: A co-worker recommended it so I checked it out and thought, really, is it this easy? When you sit down and think of all the videos you’ve seen online, it looks like somebody used Grab on a Mac and just took a series of screenshots of a process and pasted them together. I looked at Camtasia and thought, this makes a lot of sense, and ended up using it for the Thousand Wires video. Since I’m a web designer, something I always use Camtasia for is showing my clients how to work their website when I release a site for them. This way they don’t have to call me up every Thursday (laughs). It sure beats a guy holding his iPhone up in front of this computer.

Matt: what products do you use on a semi-daily basis besides Camtasia?

“I also use the Adobe Suite…can’t really go wrong with the Adobe Suite.”

David: Well I’ve been a Final Cut user, which if you ask any of my friends, I’m crazy for because the latest edition was not really up to their standards. So right now as far as my work flow goes I use Camtasia and a little bit of Final Cut. For my music I use Logic, Reason, and a little bit of Live here and there. I use a whole lot of other ones for web, like Transmit by Panic and Textmate. I also use the Adobe Suite…can’t really go wrong with the Adobe Suite.

Eric: what was the main driving force behind Thousand Wires?

“My friends made fun of me because I was always sketching out what my equipment setup looked like in my notes, in class. ”

David: In college I was trying to do some music production on the side. I had everything set up in my dorm room, and when I’d go produce something over in the music building, I’d have to hook it up there and then turn around and come back to my room and re-hook it up. I knew mentally where things were, but if I ever worked with anybody I’d have to explain it to them. It gets super tedious, especially when you’re changing things up every week. My friends made fun of me because I was always sketching out what my equipment setup looked like in my notes, in class. That was the main inspiration for Thousand Wires: piles and piles of hand drawn notes of my different setups.

Matt: what kind of response have you received from customers?

“I guess that’s just part of having a niche application.  You want it to fill a gap and not everybody has that gap in their life.”

David: When I can find people that it makes sense for, the response is always “hey this is cool, I’ve been needing something like this”. But when I approach some people they just look at me like “okay, this is cool, but I would never use this.” I guess that’s just part of having a niche application. You want it to fill a gap, and not everybody has that gap in their life. So it’s perfectly fine. I’ve had no complaints, which is kind of scary in some respects because complaints can often be good things. It could’ve certainly gone worse.

Matt: when I read your blog post about almost quitting producing, I really connected with that.  I was wondering what you were thinking at that time, and what you would’ve done if you didn’t go back into music.

“Music is kind of ethereal, because a lot of people don’t see the intrinsic value of it…”

David: That’s a really good question. I still think about that. What would I have done?  Music is a weird thing, right, it’s like being an artist in a different sort of medium. Nobody ever says to an auto-mechanic, “You need to stop doing that auto-mechanic stuff, it isn’t going to get you anywhere.” You just can’t say that.

Music is kind of ethereal, because a lot of people don’t see the intrinsic value of it; they just see it as some guy’s hobby. I think there are a lot of talented artists out there who don’t have a chance because they aren’t given the right respect. I also think that if I turn music into a job I’m probably going to get tired of it and lose the passion for it. Being a web designer kind of gives me the out of having music there, where I can do music and I can also do web design. Being cross-functional is the way to do it.

Matt: you eventually started a band with your friend Jason called “The Lights in August”.  How was that experience?

“it’s awesome that you brought up kind of the amalgamation of organic instrumentation and digital music production.”

David: The band was a really good experience. Jason would bring his guitar and lyrics—the organic parts—and I would bring my electronic music into the mix and produce. So it was kind of like a big mesh of everything, and I really enjoyed working with him. He’s one of my personal heroes actually, which is really funny to say because he’s a friend of mine. You normally talk about personal heroes as people like Buzz Aldrin (laughs).

Eric: Yeah, and it’s awesome that you brought up kind of the amalgamation of organic instrumentation and digital music production. I’m a pretty avid festival goer, and more so than ever these days I am seeing a lot of bands like STS9, Future Rock, Papadosio, and Thievery Corporation—only to name a few—who are really kind of molding those two styles of music together to create something new, and in that, are transcending the boundaries that once separated those genres of music.

Matt: do you have any new projects you’re working on or gadgets you’re going to use in the future?

“I don’t want to say too much about them, but one is especially good for guitarists.”

David: Right now I have another video that I’m working with for Thousand Wires that will incorporate a bit more real video footage and some work I’ve done with Camtasia. It will be a blend of real video footage and some work I’ve done with Camtasia, which I think is natural when you need to have real people in your videos. I also have a bunch of new features for Thousand Wires. I don’t want to say too much about them, but one is especially good for guitarists. I am really excited about it.

Thousand Wires demo video created using Camtasia Studio:

Can’t see the video? Watch it here.

 

 

Fun facts about Matthew Wein, Software Engineer Intern at TechSmith:

  • Matt was an amateur skateboarder before coming to TechSmith and he can easily talk for hours about skateboarding
  • He plays piano and guitar
  • He goes for runs a few times a week
  • His favorite animal is a chameleon