Author Archive: Will

[No longer needed!] Please help me render faster

Edit: After many months of leaving a couple of videos cards rendering full time (plus some help from some of you!) I now have more points than I will need for the foreseeable future. Thanks!!

I’m deep into the next video and I’m at the stage where I am doing the animation renders. These are very slow and can run for hours or days for several seconds of footage.

I’m using a free render farm service called Sheep It, which is a distributed render service where you run a client and render other people’s frames and gain points for doing so, then you can spend those points getting your renders done much faster later.

You can help by running a client but using my render key so I collect the points.

You can download the client here for Windows, Mac and Linux:

When you launch the client use these credentials:

username: machinethinking

password: Nshg0797ql6VCsQ4v40mdlRX37wD10oi7zjTDhHj

The password isn’t exactly a password, but it will mean that credit you earn will go to me so I can speed up my renders. As a bonus, if I start rendering a job while your client is running, it will render just my frames which will make my render faster no matter where I am in the queue!

Even a few hours here and there will help, thanks!

Expert Reviewers needed

As always, I’m working on the research on many different future videos. The fact checking is always a very slow part and easy to get wrong unless I find people with the right expertise to help. I have a researcher I’m working with for the heavy lifting, but if you have reasonable expert knowledge in any of the below fields I’d love to send you a review link when the video is partially done for your review and commentary. This will help ensure the videos are as accurate and fair as possible.

If you think you can help, please use the Contact link at the top of the page to get in touch with me. Please let me know your area of expertise and I’ll be in touch shortly.

Any of these subjects roughly 0 AD to the present. This list is not complete – anything similar please email.


Military history

Greco-Roman period

Arab scientific and engineering contributions


Capitalism (including historic Trade)

Religion, particularly Christianity through Vatican II



City history (primarily US and European, including Istanbul)

Engineering (especially Mechanical, but optics and others very welcome)


French Revolution




Not dead yet

It’s pretty sad but it seems about half of the comments on my videos lately are asking if I’m ok and checking in that I’m still in good health. The answer is thankfully yes, though Life things have come up and I did end up spending a lot of time this last year not working directly on videos for several unrelated but important reasons.

I am happy to say, I ALSO spent a lot of time working on videos. Several in fact. Three of them were derailed by the weird state of the world, but others are moving ahead.

However, these videos take a *tremendous* amount of time to research and make. Way more than I ever imagined and while it’s truly a joy to do and the biggest reason why I do it, I still have a different full time job so I only get to spend a few hours most days working on my videos. I often find I spend an entire evening researching one sentence I’m going to write to try and figure out what is ‘fair’ to say as I have to check many sources and try and decide which ones are ‘most’ correct (as often there are contradictions), or, as the video below says, try and find an expert to talk to which is a whole other rabbit hole. It’s really that slow.

When this video came out today, which is not mine but CGP Grey’s, the first six minutes (though I do recommend the whole thing as it later touches on other important points) sum up extremely well what the process is and all of the pitfalls. I highly recommend you check out at least that much to understand what goes on behind the scenes as it is laughably similar to what I’ve gone through. Each topic does indeed become a fractal that goes ever deeper and it’s also true the moment you publish a video every expert imaginable turns up. Still worth it though.

The latest video I’m working on has now actually split into 4 videos because there is just that much material to cover, and ever more the more I research. I’m in the final script stages now of a video that can’t be screwed up by the state of the world and other ones to follow so I hope you have something to enjoy quite soon!

And I hope you are healthy and doing well, too!

The Story of Iron

This video is “unlisted” on YouTube in that it does not show up on my channel. However, I’ve had many requests for it so I’m posting it publicly here. It does contain some very regrettable errors so please read the comments before posting your own correction. I’ve had too many teachers tell me they’ve used my videos in educational contexts to leave it on YouTube.

It was meant to be a follow up to the previous video, Iron from Sand which showed the process of making Iron from magnetite rich sand using mostly very early smelting techniques as done by the crew at The Crucible in Oakland, California. However, I didn’t want the follow up video to just be about the firepit they built from the iron they made but also to include, as I saw it, the real story of the creation of iron in massive stars. It blows my mind that every bit of iron we have was made this way, even useless bits of iron we throw away.

It was a lot of effort but unfortunately I couldn’t live with the errors being up so I pulled it. Rather than correct it I’ve decided for now to move on to other projects and I’m happy to say yes, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything but I have videos in the pipeline and I hope to have something out soon. Life sometimes gets in the way a bit but making videos, doing all the research and making relevant objects is still something I passionately love.

Shop Finally moved!

I’ve spent most of the last two months moving my shop. It was a huge effort and everything (except for a couple of motorcycles I still need to move) is at the new location. Of course the new location is highly disorganized and I need to get power to my machines but the hard work is done and I should be making chips again soon.

The new shop is much cleaner and nicer plus heated! Also, I won’t have other noisy shop neighbors so I can use more actual machine sounds in videos. Often they were playing music and it meant I couldn’t use the audio or I would get dinged for copyright.

Thank you all for your patience as I get all of this taken care of. More content on the way!

Below is a photo of the old shop. Viewers who watched closely might have recognized that my lathe was under where the two horizontal 2x4s are.


From January into the end of May I filmed 6 bloomery smelts at The Crucible in Oakland, California. Iron oxide is extracted from sand and then put into a charcoal burning furnace which has a reduction atmosphere. Here the iron get separated from the oxygen and combines into a bloom – a blob of iron ready for further processing by the blacksmiths. The iron was used in an art piece which will be featured in the next video.