While it might not have attracted Hollywood's red carpet-treading "A-listers," Rockler's
first annual NORDYS Video Contest, built around the theme of "woodworking's version of the Oscars," was a swimming success, according to Nathan Ensminger, one of Rockler's web specialists and administrator of the event.
The contest, which was open to all woodworkers, challenged participants to enter a two-minute video expressing what inspires them to do woodworking. Contestants had from January 8 through February 22 of this year to upload their video to YouTube first, then fill out an online application on Rockler's Facebook page. Aside from the potential accolades of fellow woodworkers who could then view the contest videos and vote for a "People's Choice" winner, there were big prizes at stake: a $500 Rockler gift certificate for the "Academy Choice" winner and a $250 gift certificate for the People's Choice favorite.
Ensminger says NORDYS Video Contest, named after Nordy Rockler, who founded the company 59 years ago, isn't the first contest of this sort Rockler has hosted for woodworking videophiles. "Back in 2010, we did a Bench Cookie Video Challenge, where customers could submit a video showing alternative applications for their Bench Cookies." That contest wasn't for prizes; winners were chosen at random, but its lively response was an encouraging sign. The general nature of the videos submitted was comedic and entertaining.
It also proved that video skills and woodworking aptitude sometimes go together for Rockler customers. So, at a recent Rockler board of director's meeting, a member suggested that the company host a second video contest, this time for prizes. Both Nordy and Ann Rockler, company CEO, immediately loved the idea, Ensminger says. Then, a collaborative process ensued within the company to determine the theme, judging and prizes.
And, once the contest was made public on Rocker's Facebook page, entries began to pour in. In all, 31 videos were considered finalists for the contest. Nathan admits that several more also were entered, but they exceeded the two-minute eligibility requirement. "But, for everyone that really wanted to qualify, I reached out and contacted those individuals personally so they could make adjustments to their videos." Most of that work involved editing material down to an acceptable length, not changing the nature of the message they wanted to share.
During the January-February entry period, viewers could go to Rockler's Facebook page and place their vote for a "People's Choice" winner. The two most popular video entries received nearly 1,000 votes each by the time the voting period closed. Then, a panel of 14 judges from various departments at Rockler's Medina, Minnesota, headquarters were selected to make the "Academy" vote for best video.
In the end, two popular woodworking bloggers edged out the competition and took top honors and the prize purses. The Academy Choice winner, known on the web as "Stumpy Nubs," stole the show for his woodworking music video titled "Rappin' Roy." Laney Shaughnessy nabbed the popular vote for his heartfelt video that focused on how woodworking builds community and brings out the best in people.
To see the winning videos as well as the honorable mentions, click here. An equally entertaining compilation/highlight video is also available. Click here to view it.
Ensminger says there were many rays of afterglow to this inaugural contest. "The biggest surprise to me was the variety of reasons why people are inspired to woodwork: volunteering, disability, family, wood itself, making gifts for others, relationships created in the woodworking community, tradition and creating works of pure art."
He admits it was also fun to work directly with the contestants and hear even more about their individual stories. And, at Rockler's recent quarterly meeting for employees, the compilation video was shown, to rave reviews. "It was very fun to feel connected to customers this way. I think our Rockler staff ended up getting as much fun out of it as our contestants and online viewers did."
And what about the Oscar winners and their prizes? Shaughnessy has his eye on a JET 10-in. x 14-in. Variable Speed Indexing Mini Lathe that he hopes to purchase soon with his gift card. He plans to begin turning as a benefit to his online audience. Stumpy Nubs has already spent his prize money on a bounty of woodworking products: a Stanley low-angle jack plane, an INCRA miter system and hinge-making kit, a panel-raising router bit and some of Rockler's Dust Right® products. He plans to share several of them with his web audience.
Going forward, these NORDYS video contest videos will continue to be accessible on YouTube. And, Ensminger hopes that next year's video contest will have an even easier entry process for those who might feel intimidated about editing their videos and uploading content. But, Nate reminded that Rockler conducts ongoing contests that only require a photo submission and description, for those that would prefer another opportunity to share their projects and skills in a contest setting.
Based on the positive response of these first "Oscar" winning woodworker videos, be sure to keep your video camera handy out in the shop, and look forward to another NORDYS Video Contest to return again in early 2014 for another opportunity to get involved.