In this episode of The 2pt5 innovator podcast my guest is Lauri Vuohensilta, a creative experimenter from Finland.
We are talking about his creative process, his best way of finding new & crazy ideas, about planning for creativity and having fun when doing experiments. Lauri is collaborating with his wife Anni on his projects using a particle accelerator, a hydraulic press, the “Smashinator 5 000 000” and frozen lakes amongst many things.
Lauri and Anni Vuohensilta are creative experimenters from Finland. He calls themselves “professional YouTubers/mad scientists”. They do “crazy stuff” on their channels which are followed by millions of people. Many of their videos have gone viral. They also do social media advisory.
“I like the contrast (…) we can have like half a million EUR worth of cameras, like high speed cameras. And then we might film shooting sausages out of an air canon. (…) I really like the mismatch there.“Lauri Vuohensilta
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Connect & find out more
- Youtube Hydraulic Press Channel
- Youtube Beyond the Press Channel
Mentioned in the episode & additional
And now what?
Check out some of these experiments:
“never stop the madness”Lauri Vuohensilta
This transcript was manually created.
Klaus Reichert: Hello and welcome to The 2.5 – Conversations Connecting Innovators. My name is Klaus. My guest today is Lauri, he’s from Finland and he’s a creative experimenter. Welcome, Lauri. Sorry for not mentioning your last name. I practised it but I can’t pronounce it.
Lauri Vuohensilta: Yeah, it’s Vuohensilta. It’s pretty hard. But you managed well with Lauri. Even that’s usually pretty hard. Yeah, if I’m in, like, the US or somewhere that they have Starbucks, there is the process that you will tell your name, then they write it on the paper, and then somebody else is going to read it out loud that your coffee is ready. And I never say Lauri to do that. I say that I’m Mike or something. [laughter] So it’s easier for them. Finnish names are not, like, designed to be read in English.
Klaus: [laughter] Mhm. Yes, you have a very special way, I think, to pronounce your words. I have been to Finland before, I’ve enjoyed a lot of architecture, by Alvar Aalto, for example, so I’m familiar with that. And I really like your country. I think it’s a very special place.
Lauri: Yeah, it’s different. It has its pluses and minuses. But generally, I really like it. There isn’t like… the stuff I don’t like is, like, really minor. They have really well… or things that really matter are really well here.
Klaus: We wanted to talk about everything related on being creative and getting good ideas today. And you have a lot of good ideas; you have translated a lot of good ideas in lots of cool stuff. And I think we have to talk about what you do first, because else, people wouldn’t understand what we’re talking about right now. You said you take risks, all in the name of science, in one of your videos.[laughter] And there’s so much more to quote you. But I wanted… What do you do?
Lauri: Yeah, I think that I do quite a lot of things that are not so visible to people, as my work is, but my work, the thing that people are most familiar with, I’m a professional YouTuber, as, like, a mad scientist. We have a couple of YouTube channels. The Hydraulic Press Channel is the first and the main thing. And that’s like, my hobby… not hobby, that’s my work, it pays the bills. And then I have more like a hobby type of channel, Beyond the Press that is like… I tend to call it… it’s like Mythbusters but like crushing style, like, a bit less budget and, like, more stupid ideas and less poorly styled. But then it’s like, we don’t have any… cause the Mythbusters had to have like a myth, that something happens when you do something. We don’t have any of that. I just come up with the craziest ideas possible and then we just do them, just because we can. And on the Press Channel, we just crush things, and try to make things, there’s materials to almost anything that you’re going to use a hydraulic press for. And I have done every Saturday, videos for seven years straight. So you have to be pretty creative to get so many use cases for simply messing like the press.
Klaus: We will provide links to your channels in the show notes. But let’s sort of recap what you do. Because it’s sort of a crazy thing, I think, because it’s… well, it’s not that usual to do. And when I saw it first I was really, really, really amazed by it: you have some sort of workshop, you have a big hydraulic press thing, it’s like a big metal thing that comes down from above, with a lot of pressure, and it squeezes something, for example.
Lauri: Yeah, that’s pretty much that, right. And then you’re going to add that to different things. There’s like a big bar that comes down with lots of force. And then you can add whatever you want to build to that. So that you can add lots by different adaptments there. So you can add two linters and things can have holes and stuff like that. So it’s more about… and then we have four sensors so you can test how strong things are. So it started as I just, like, put something there and squeezed it. But now it’s like… I would say that’s about half of the content and then the other half is like everything else that you’re going to use the messing for.
Klaus: Yes. And we need to talk about also how that evolved and how you added stuff to that basic idea, but actually, it’s a very, very simple thing that you started here. It seems simple, at least for… then you start to add all these extra tools and extra… you machine, also, special things to get a better effect, for example, or test another hypothesis. And that is a very weird thing to watch when something is getting squeezed, for example. Do you have any recollection of how you had the… what was the first…? Not the first thing you squeezed, but how did you come up to use that thing that is used in a workshop for metal works and stuff like that, for fun stuff?
Lauri: It’s actually… I think… I like the story. It’s a good story, how I got the idea for that, for the YouTube channel. Me and my wife, we have had always, like, crazy ideas. [laughter] But most of them are just some small stupid thing that nobody else understands and we think that is like the best thing ever. And then we make it and put it out and nobody cares. That was, like, our typical key. But I think we had, like, too small audience because we tend to do… Before this, we always did everything in Finnish and Finland is so small country. And we had… we didn’t have a large voice enough, so there wasn’t like any… there was so small amount of people reach about that the ideas were too weird and only like 100 people liked it, and you would get it out for like 10,000 and 100 people likes, that’s not enough. But when you get it out to, like, 3 billion and like 5 million likes, then it’s like… that’s pretty cool. So the one thing that sets this apart from the rest was the fact that we decided to do it in English and go international from day one. And I got the idea to do the English YouTube channel from watching YouTube. I used to… I still watch a lot of YouTube, I don’t watch TV at all. It has been like, probably like 12 years or something like that, I mainly watch YouTube. And first my dream was to have like a powerlifting channel. But I realised that my English skills, especially back in the day, they weren’t good enough for that… [laughter]
Klaus: [laughter] Okay.
Lauri: …so that’s like out of the window. And then I stumbled on videos where a guy had like a red hot nickel ball, and he just heats up the nickel ball, red hot, and places it on top of some item, like ice cube or cellphone or something like that. And the videos were really popular. I really liked them because it’s also captivating, like my videos, you start to think what would happen when the ball falls on top of that. And then you have the idea in your head, that this is probably going to happen and I am right or not, and you have to watch it. And I got the feeling that this video type is really interesting to watch. And also the fact that the guy used like 15 minutes per video as it carries through the fall. So it’s like easy to do. And I thought that there is no reason why I wouldn’t be able to make something similar. Because we have to work with a lot of different tools and machines and stuff. So there has to be something that I can use to make a similar video format. And then I thought like milling machine, and then I thought like it’s not going to work, like you’re gonna die, that’s, like, banana did it likewise or something like that. It doesn’t work for most of the items. And then I thought like melting stuff with, like a torch or something like that, and I also thought it’s not good that I can make five videos and that’s about it. And then I realised with the press, you just place something there, pull from the lever, and something happens, that’s for sure. With every item, something’s got to happen, and probably is going to be also interesting. And then I went to YouTube, because every time, when you get a good idea, my first thought is “This is too good idea. Somebody has already done this”, but this time nobody hasn’t done that before. There wasn’t any videos of people crushing stuff with the presses. And then I realised “Yes, this is really good.” And all this happened with my wife. I started to talk about these red hot nickel balls. We were walking outside in the forest, and I said that I have seen these videos and we should do something similar. And my wife was also excited about this idea of, again, having some stupid idea. And then I checked that fact in the forest, from my cell phone, that there isn’t any videos like this. And then we, we decided that the channel name would be Hydraulic Press Channel, like how stupid idea is that there’s a channel for hydraulic presses. That sounds like really stupid. And then we thought that we should have like professional intro and outro and do it like it looks like a real thing, and it would be so stupid and fun. And then we started to talk about what we should crush first, and we had ideas like golf balls and like regular stuff that we did, as in the first videos. And then I got the idea that we should try, can you fold paper more than seven times with the press? Because the folding is hard, but with a press, you have unlimited force. So it should work and I realized that that’s like the best idea ever. It’s so interesting, because you’ll think about it and think “Yes, surely you can.” But then you think more and then you will realize there has to be some problem there that you just don’t know yet, before you try. And I realized that that idea is so good that we can do it like, as in the first video, we have to get five videos out and then do that. And then the paper video goes viral and… ta-da!, we have a YouTube channel. And then we filmed like five videos and then the paper video, and it was 2015. And we were so excited about the idea that we didn’t do like any research on how YouTube really works, so we thought that you just put stuff out there and then you’ll get the views. But it doesn’t work like that. You have to promote it somewhere and get it, like, rolling. So we didn’t get any views at the end of 2015, when we started. But then in the start of 2016, somebody did the work for us that we should do by ourselves, by getting the ball rolling by posting the paper folding video on Reddit. And then it got a lot of viewers and traffic from there. And then it just started to go crazy. We got like 2 million viewers on the first day. And then we just started to film a lot of videos and never stopped after that.
Klaus: You say yourself it’s a crazy idea. You use the word “stupid” and stuff like that, or words like that. And actually, it’s kind of crazy and stupid, or whatever you could call it, right? It’s something so special. There is no category for it, basically. But it’s not crazy, it’s not stupid, because you put lots of effort in all this. You have like a scientific approach also whenever you do a new video. This is what I think is very fascinating, right? It’s not just the big work that you need to do with the preparation, but you also have like predictions in the beginning, you sort of experiment with these materials and build on other experiments that you have done before. And I think that’s so fascinating in that mix of so many areas, which are partly contradictory to each other.
Lauri: Yeah, I like the contrast between things like… I think the contrast that I really like is more on the press and that we can have like half a million euro worth of cameras, like high speed cameras. And then we might film like shooting sausages out from like an air cannon or something like really stupid. But there is like this high end University tech type of stuff and then we have something really stupid that like 10 year old kids would like find funny. And I really like the mismatch there. And I think also with the actual channel name, the concept of having like a channel where you just crush stuff, it sounds like it’s from some movie, like… do you know the movie Idiocracy, where every people are like, really, really dumb, like, it’s in future and everybody has turned really dumb? And I think on that university, there should be like a hydraulic press centre type of stuff going on TV and people just watch things going like crush it. It’s like very simple. Simple entertainment will form and then it’s like fun to see how far you can push it in with getting like high tech stuff and gone complex questions there.
Klaus: If you have a close look and you show all these things also, you need a lot of protection because these things tend to explode or fly around in your workshop. There is… unexpected results: sometimes things fly across you into the window and destroy that, for example. And then… so you need the protection thing. You probably experimented a lot to get the right thing there. The cameras, you mentioned that, your machining, special tools and tubes to sort of get special effects like stuff with holes where you squeeze candles that make long, long spaghetti-like things in the air, and stuff like that, right? So it’s a lot of preparation that goes into that. And a lot of… yeah, basically, machining, tooling, preparing and so on. What I also think is interesting is that you always make a prediction together with your wife, or you make a bet on how the experiment turns out. That’s kind of funny, because you sort of don’t know how it turns out but you do sort of make it fun, also, on that side. And you laugh when you were wrong, for example.
Lauri: Usually something like that, I’m like predicting what’s going to happen. And on most of the stuff you just could calculate what’s going to happen. But I think that’s like boring. So I don’t… I only calculate things that affect safety, I never calculate like… more than that. So it’s like, whatever happens is going to be a surprise also for me.
Klaus: So it’s something that sometimes you know what’s going to happen and sometimes you don’t but you have ideas. So it’s sort of an experiment. And you learn from that, because you also measure? We always see how much tons of pressure, for example, you apply. And then you compare it, for example, to an older video. And then you sort of base your next video, maybe some videos down the line, based on these experiments, also. So that’s a very, very scientific approach, also.
Lauri: Yeah, and it’s also like the most typical video series is that type of video series where I do something and it turns out it’s slightly dangerous. And then people say that you also do this even more dangerous thing. And then I do that, and then you can see that you can make it like even more stupid. And then I end up also doing that. I think that’s the easiest way to get popular video ideas is to think of something that sounds really dangerous, and then try to do that in a safe way. That’s the easiest way to do viral videos.
Klaus: [laughter] So you basically set out to do viral videos. So that’s always… is it like always a goal or…?
Lauri: Yeah. You’re gonna like all of us to aim for that because it takes a lot to do a viral video. So I tend to have like different kinds of periods on the channel. For example, during the summer, people don’t watch so much, so I do videos that I think are not so popular, or videos that are so weird that they might be popular or might be really bad. So I just like go a bit easier with videos in the summer. And then this time of the year, it’s like people watch a lot. I think it’s because of the winter, like bad weather and stuff like that. And also the ad revenue is better during the end of the year, because there’s Black Friday and Christmas and everything coming. So I pile up all the best ideas for the end of the year. And now I try to make a viral video with every video that I do. Of course, you don’t get it every time. But for my channel, a regular good video is like 200,000 views, and then the viral videos 10 million views. So 10 million is 50 times more than 200,000. So if you get one viral video, that same thing as you do, like a basic good video for the whole year every Saturday. So aiming for the viral videos, I think, is like the easiest way to make a living, a living from this type of content.
Klaus: We have to say that your channel has currently about 706 million views, approximately. So that’s a lot.
Klaus: And you’ve been doing that for seven years approximately, doing a video basically every week. That is lots of hard work. So it’s not just about always having the best idea but aiming for the best idea for you. And then just doing the work also.
Lauri: Yeah, and YouTube is only like one part of that thing. Then we have… we do like shorter videos on TikTok and Instagram. And also we started to post them on YouTube and started off the next year when they finally monetized YouTube sorts. But, for example, on TikTok I think last year, we made 1.5 billion views. So that’s like stupid amount of like, like… like a former life wasted on watching stuff get crushed.
Klaus: [laughter] So you have to say it’s really, really satisfying to watch stuff getting crushed. And that basically makes you probably the two most well known Finns in the world.
Lauri: Yeah, I think it’s like… I think like most of this… like the viewers that watch only TikTok or Facebook or stuff like that, they don’t probably know that we are from Finland, because even on Facebook we have only like three-minute long videos, usually. And on TikTok it’s like 15 seconds, and we don’t talk anything. So I think our, like, digital footprint is probably on the top end of the Finns. I think we are not… probably most of our viewers don’t know that we are from Finland, so…
Klaus: What I can hear when you do the videos on YouTube -I’m not following TikTok, so I can’t say anything about that- is you do a lot of planning, you do a lot of work, you put in lots of effort and a lot of time to prepare, but also to clean up afterwards, I suppose. But in the videos, it shows that you two have a lot of fun and appreciation if something goes to plan or even better than planned, or maybe if there are surprising results. You really like that and it’s fun for you to experience all these things. So it looks like the actual moment of the pressing is something that is really, really a happy time for you.
Lauri: Yeah, I think it’s a bit similar to… I would describe the feeling as the same when you are fishing, and you will feel that there’s something at the end of the line. And then you reel it in, and then if it’s like a small fish, you’re like, “yeah, I got a fish.” But then if it’s like really a giant fish, then you’re like, “Yes, this is great.” And I think if we are crushing something, and then there’s like a huge explosion or something that we didn’t expect, I think that’s the exciting moment, to see the piston go down and that’s going to happen. And then if something really great and surprising happens, then it’s like… you are surprised of the reaction and also it feels like you have accomplished something, like a really big thing, because you know what it’s like, people are going to like this. There’s like a mix of just seeing the reaction from the thing and knowing that this is like creating content.
Klaus: How do you know that?
Lauri: Usually if it’s like… if you’ve got a bit scared, it’s like… [laughter] usually the best things are like scary. It’s like a really loud bang, and then you just check like, “yeah, all the cameras are okay”, and everything’s okay, then. And then it’s like “yes, this is going to be great” because if I got scared, then the viewers are going to definitely like this. Or if it… actually it doesn’t have to be like scary. If you’ve got any big emotion, it’s like really surprising or really funny or anything like a strong feeling from the reaction and then you will know that the viewers are going to have the same feeling and like that. Videos that make you feel something, they are… usually they work really well.
Klaus: You gauge that prediction of success, also, on your first impression, on your first own emotion. And you have learned that, over time, that is sort of a gauge for how successful that video can be, because other people would feel surprised or scared or…
Lauri: Yeah. Sometimes it’s like a bit… I think it’s like that. I know a thing about YouTube, or social media in general, but especially for YouTube, that it you can have the greatest, and the most surprising or funniest thing ever, but if you cannot explain it in the title and the thumbnail for the people, then they’re not going to see it because you have to sell all the ideas on YouTube with the titles and thumbnails. So you have to get content that really generates emotions from viewers and then you have to be able to describe how great the video is going to be in like… with a couple of words and one small picture.
Klaus: Mhm… Okay. And you always get the idea also to sort of describe that, I mean, you have made hundreds of videos (thousands? Sorry, I didn’t check, I didn’t check the number) but every time you have to come up with a new name, new picture, besides all the ideas for squeezing, pressing, and rolling, and pressuring, and so on and so forth. So do you do that yourself along with your wife? Or do you have some support here?
Lauri: Yeah, usually, for you to usually like the video idea and the general idea for the title and thumbnail, they come, like, together. The first thing about a video that I plan is the title and thumbnail, because… I think quite many people do it in the wrong order: they film something and then they start to think what is the title and thumbnail and then you have to form the title and the thumbnail of the video. But I do first the title and thumbnail, like “this is the title and thumbnail that are going to work” and then I’m going to fit the video to them. And not the other way around. And sometimes there’s like… usually, it’s like, I have a great idea, but I cannot describe that in the title and thumbnail. And that type of stuff ends up being in the summer, because I think people are going to enjoy it. But it’s not going to reach huge audiences. So some ideas are good, but they just don’t work on YouTube because you cannot get people to click them.
Klaus: Mhm. But that means that you have a sort of… like a good place to collect your ideas, so you sort of plan the episodes, let’s put it that way. You need to draft it or at least keep the ideas somewhere, do you have like a Notes App or something that you’re using for that?
Lauri: Yeah, I have like an Excel sheet for the ideas. There is like… I write the ideas on how difficult they are to make…
Lauri: …how much they are going to make views and how sure I am about the views. So then I can rate them, like I want something that is going to make a lot of views with really high certainty but it’s, like, hard to make those I’m working on now. And now it’s, like, worth the effort to put lots of work there this time of the year. And then in summer I can do videos that might get lots of views but they’re quite easy to do. But also there’s a high chance that nobody cares. [laughter] And then when I.. I usually start to work on the videos about like one month before publishing. Then I have… I think it’s called Tick Tick (I think it’s called that). It’s a mobile app that you can have like “to do” lists. So I put the video idea out there and then I list all the things that I have to have to be able to make the video and then I start to build things and order stuff well ahead so I get everything there that I need. And then I also like to plan similar types of videos to get there, for example, if I’m… for example on this or next week I’m going to fill them with liquid nitrogen so I want to get like three videos that need liquid nitrogen and then I filmed them all in one day.
Klaus: Because it’s so much preparation and you need special equipment and stuff like that.
Lauri: Yeah, yeah.
Klaus: Okay, I see. So you are curious about things, you are aiming for special things, let’s say, also on YouTube or special effects because you know that they are going to be popular as a video and you have like a scientific approach where you experiment a lot. You base one video, also, on the success of the other, earlier ones. You’re very organized, you have some sort of tools that you use to collect your ideas. Do you have a special place where you get.. or time where you are creative, where you get these ideas?
Lauri: Yeah, it’s like… I’m not sure. Am I, like, weird in that sense? Or like, innovation consult’s wrong, usually, because when talking about getting ideas, everybody tells you that you have to be, like, a real accident, don’t push it, and stuff like that. But they have to have the opposite view. [laughter] I have like… I can put on my calendar, like, for example, next Monday, get five ideas. And then I just force it. I might just go through YouTube for example. One thing that I do quite often is to watch channels where people shoot coins against different objects, get ideas there, would that work on the press or not? Or then I just like… I have this, like, really thick physics book I just created, found different reactions that materials can have and think about different ways to generate the explosions or turn some material into some else. Or then I just drive to hardware stores and walk around the stores and take the items in my hand, and feel them, and wonder what’s going to happen, and would this be interesting? Or go through all my old videos and think like, “yeah, this was popular, this type of video. Could I use some other material or item and with similar tools? Or can I redo this really popular video with some new twist to it?” Like, for example, if I have crushed hammers, and that was really popular, then I can do a new video where I soak the hammers in liquid nitrogen to make them more brittle and then crush them again. So I just book time on my calendar and then just, like, try to get video ideas. I think that the most important thing is to get a lot of, like, outside things into your brain. I think it’s hard for me to get ideas without any stimulus. So I need to see a lot of items or watch videos or, like, study physics or something like that, to get something into my brain. And then sometimes it’s hard for me to get good ideas, because I know too much. It’s similar if you are like an expert in some field and you have been really, really familiar with how work is done in that field. So that starts to limit your thinking when you know too much. But then with my wife, she doesn’t know almost anything about mechanics and physics and stuff like that. So she might have, like, totally, totally… ideas that could never work, but they sound really cool, but it just wouldn’t work. But that’s like a good starting point for something that could work. If I only get an idea that’s really good but doesn’t work, then I start to work from something that works but it’s not so cool and try to find something from p2p. This is a bit like this idea that doesn’t work but sounds really good and this really boring one that works. So it’s like… I think it’s important to have people on your team that don’t know too much about the thing.
Lauri: People that know very little, they know some words that you are using in your work and they, like, have seen it but they don’t really know how it works.
Klaus: Yeah. And then you can combine that with that expert knowledge of whatever you need to do with the metal or whatever to make it really explode in a way that is attention grabbing, for example.
Klaus: Ok. Do you need several experiments also for one video, for example? I mean, you do… every pressing thing is sort of an experiment and sometimes they go wrong and don’t really explode, for example, sometimes it’s been spent only, for example. But do you also do stuff that you film and don’t show because it’s just not spectacular enough, for example?
Lauri: On the Press Channel, I tend to show everything, because I want to, I want to keep the channel as an evolving story. So I show like everything, of course, if there is like… if I have really good streaks, my five last videos are excellent and everything is going up. And I have a video that it’s like… didn’t really deliver on the promise. I just save it for later and do some other thing now. But then, on The Press Channel, if we have like… we want to get some reaction, usually I do like a small scale test first. “Will it work at all?” And then if I feel that it’s going to work, then I do the big scale thing after that.
Klaus: I mean, especially if you have to build some sort of tool, I just remember that cutting thing that cuts playing cards into half, so they fly away, for example, that is something that you had to build before and probably test also.
Lauri: Yeah, and usually I tend to, like, have… I want to do this thing on the video. But then if that doesn’t work, I have this and this, as a backup thing. Or then I have some, like, plan. If, for example, something doesn’t work on the first try, then I have a plan how to make it work. Maybe a bit like, more boring way, but still works somehow. So it’s like… It depends on the video quite much.
Klaus: Okay, you have a workshop where you can do all these things, so I suppose there is… it’s kind of okay with the neighbours when there is sound, louder sound. But sometimes, you do explode things. Also, oh, you have the Smashinator 5 000 000 or something that makes a lot of noise. Is that something important for you to be sort of outside, away from everybody, somewhere in the forest, far away from everybody to create that noise? Or does it help you also to be, for example, more creative, to be outside, away from everybody?
Lauri: We have done something in the works of yard, things that are noisy, but not dangerous. And I think it’s limiting, slightly, because sometimes there’s like kids from the neighbourhood, they pile up to watch things and you have to think also of other things than just the video. But if you are in the middle of the forest, then you know that you don’t have to worry about anybody else, you can just focus on the video that you’re doing. And then there is like… when we have some really stupid things like exploding Tesla or something like that [laughter] it’s just like, necessary for the safety to be really far away from everything.
Klaus: I’ve seen that video and we are going to add a link to the show notes to that video because that was something really special. I think you said something like, “This is really stupid. Don’t try this at home” or “doing things you shouldn’t do at home, but it’s powered by science, technology and madness.” And actually it’s not madness. It’s sort of just… it seems mad what you do once in a while.
Lauri: Yeah. My favourite phrase -I think we had a teaser on some point about it- my favourite thing to say is that “don’t try this at home. We are professionals because we get paid to do this.” [laughter] So it sounds like “yeah they are professionals” but then I ruin it by saying the fact that we are professionals only because we get paid…
Klaus: [laughter] Yes.
Lauri: …that being professional doesn’t say anything about your qualifications. It just means that you are getting paid.
Klaus: Also when you say something like “let’s create a mess.” I mean it’s… that’s basically everything you need to know what is happening afterwards in the video. And “pretty good” is something that you like also, or something like, “Oh, that was interesting.” So, it’s very mixed the audio that you give with the video, it’s always surprising, I think. But it’s always you are involved in the whole thing. It seems very personal, once in a while.
Lauri: And then sometimes, for example, next Saturday, we are releasing an explosion video. And the pressure away from the explosion was like a bit more than we thought… [laughter] There is some damage to the buildings. [laughter] And then I go into our small, small building that we have next to that site, then I started to, like, swear in Finish. And I think I know that people are going to really like that even if they have no idea what I’m talking about, but the fact that I’m like, so surprised that I switched from English to Finish. That’s like, I think people are going to like that a lot.
Klaus: Yes, I guess. And sometimes it’s just obvious what you’re saying, right? Even if you don’t understand it when it’s in Finnish.
Lauri: Yeah. And one, actually, I got like… when we were talking about emotions and how you should be able to tell people that it’s going to be great and surprising or something, I think the exploding the Tesla car, that’s the perfect video. Because just the fact that people read that somebody exploded a Tesla Model S, even the fact that you hear somebody did something like that, I knew that really many people are going to get really angry. And then really many people I got like, “yeah, get that, you green hippies” for electric cars and stuff like that. I knew that there’s like, there’s like everybody’s going to have some kind of strong opinion about that about the video. And the funniest thing is that, like people, I think that the first reaction is that we are like hillbillies and drive pickup trucks and stuff like that. But I drive a Tesla myself, so it’s like a good feast on the video.
Klaus: [laughter] Yeah, it’s not… it’s oftentimes not what you actually expect, right? Also, the outcome is always… there’s always a twist, or oftentimes a twist to it. For example, you do a variance on pressure, right? It’s not just the press, for example. You also have that tube where you simulate two-miles-under-the-ocean pressure in water, and you squeeze things basically underwater, in two miles below the surface. And when you crush, for example, potato chips in, in a bag, I was thinking that the bag would explode or something. But it didn’t. It stayed closed, for example. And stuff like that makes it also really interesting. And I myself, when I watch it, I make my own predictions about the outcome. And I’m really happy if things turn out to be completely different than predicted. How important is boredom for you to get a new idea? I mean, Finland can be very vast in winter time. It can be very dark, for example. You could get bored easily, I suppose. Is that important for you to come up with new ideas?
Lauri: Not really. I think if I’m bored… I tend not to get ideas when I’m bored. I have to be stimulated to some amount. But in general, I’m a guy that doesn’t tolerate boredom really well. I tend to have a really busy life, even outside of the work. So I think it’s really easy to get bored in Finland, especially… actually the winter is not bad because you have snow and everything related to that, but like this time of the year, the length of the day is like eight hours, there isn’t snow, it’s like zero degrees Celsius, and it rains all the time. So you cannot do almost anything on the outside. And it’s dark when you go to work and it’s dark when you come out from work so it’s like… I think this is the most boring time of the year. But then when you get some snow it’s like much more life because snow is white and then you can do like all the winter stuff, so it gets better when the winter comes.
Klaus: So once fall is over, basically and everything is snowy. It’s also beautiful because everything’s white and frozen. Okay. I see.
Lauri: Yeah, yeah.
Klaus: Aha. I understand. What I’m trying to recap some of the things you said is, you have always a clear aim before you shoot your videos, you prepare that thoroughly, you sometimes need to have special equipment that you have to produce, you have a lot of technical stuff, like the slow motion cameras are very expensive and special, it’s not just a GoPro, that you aim at something. Then you also have high production value, because you have several camera angles, for example. You need to have some security safety stuff to not get hurt yourself, for example. You need to have the press, right? Or extra extra things that you need. You start with the thumbnail, which I think is an interesting start, because it’s sort of a pitch. It’s just a two word, two sentence thing that you can… like an elevator pitch, right? You can communicate really easily to somebody else.
Lauri: Yeah. Yeah. It’s like the ultimate elevator pitch. It’s like one sentence and picture.
Klaus: Yeah, yeah. Right. And, that way, it’s also very easy for you to make you understand to yourself or to your wife, or maybe to some collaborator that that needs to be part of that also. And it builds positive emotion. If you think of, “oh, I’m going to smash X” and then you’re sort of looking forward to the next Saturday when you’re actually starting to film the whole thing. Okay, but you’re also trying to not get bored, because you need the stimulus, you’re looking actually, for stimuli (is that the right word? I don’t know) to get new ideas, and you walk around, you base it on data, also, on data you get from YouTube, for example, on stuff that was popular before. So you have a very wide selection of things you base, you start your creativity on. And what I also think is very interesting is that you have a very good sense of presentation, right? I mean, you are in a workshop, you do all these different camera angles, and actually, we are talking about only a fraction of a second, that is the, let’s say, the important thing of the video, right? Something is exploding, squeezed or whatever. It’s not a long time, but it’s always a 10 minute video, for example. So it takes a lot of special presentation skills to put that together and make it interesting.
Lauri: Yeah, and using lots of cameras, that’s one way to make it more interesting. Because in earlier videos, I tended to crush something and then I just held it on my hand and explained what happened to this piece. But that’s not interesting enough. So by having like… nowadays usually I have two cameras running 100 frames per second, 4k cameras, if I don’t have a real high speed camera, but even from those, I can first show it from straight ahead, then I can show it… slow it down from up here and then slow it down and maybe zoom it in from the front and then maybe 1000 frames or more for a high speed camera and then I can, like, pile up all those replays on top of my explanation of what happens and therefore I can have 20 seconds of happening but the video is 10 minutes because I can slow it down, show it four times and then talk through the results while doing that, so… And I actually just today -because it seems like the competition is harder every year- and just today I made some plans for future videos, how to get average views longer. And my reasoning is the fact that if you should have the press moving almost through the whole video…
Lauri: …so I plan, when I start to explain what’s happening, now I plan to start showing the actual crushing, like too way above that item being crushed, and the time that it takes to come down is the time where I explain what’s going to happen.
Klaus: And you can slow it down, also, to…
Lauri: Yeah, yeah. I can slow it down and stuff like that, so people are like… I think it’s like a perfect YouTube video. There’s like constantly interesting things happening and also, there has to be lots of explanations because most of the videos, if you just saw what happens, then people do not understand the whole scope of the thing and it’s not so interesting. So you have to be able to explain things, but also keep stuff happening all the time. And it’s gonna take, okay, more work on filming and more work on editing, but…
Klaus: I see. What I see also, what I hear, is that you’re constantly learning, constantly observing, improving, working on whatever you are creating new. You might repeat, maybe, an old idea, or maybe it may get even more fancy, but you sort of also use new techniques, you look at things, you have a special aim, for example, to make things more interesting so people watch longer, and stuff like that, are better entertained. Is that something that bothers you that you have to improve all the time? Because you have to, not just because the outside is forcing you, but it seems like that’s something that you want to do.
Lauri: Yeah, I think the whole improving thing is like… I have used a lot of time to think about that lately. Because I’m also like… how you would say… that the monetary value, or the revenue that the whole thing generates, that’s also quite a big motivator for me, and I want to improve also on that side. And I have been improving 20% every year. And it’s started to come really hard at this point, especially when we had like… usually there is a pretty reasonable amount of crazy happenings each year, like good luck events. But I feel that I had really, really good luck last year. And now I realize that it’s not probably the case this year, that I have even better luck. So I’m not probably going to be able to keep my constant growing revenue this year and that’s one thing that pushes me to do all things, like make more entertaining videos and use more time on anything and stuff like that, to improve the revenue that the company makes, but it also… I feel that it’s like impossible to keep that going on forever so I have to come up with the terms that there is like some level that I can reach and there’s probably some maximum for that. But I’m also a guy that likes the grind and competition against all the channels and myself, like last year’s channel and… [laughter] I already forgot the question. Yeah… but yeah.
Klaus: The question was… I think you helped a lot or you answered a lot of my question. The question for me was, is there something that sort of drives you to be better all the time? Because that can be a pain in the you-know-what once in a while, right? But sometimes it’s just a thing that you have, or yet that you feel inside that is… that can be something better out there.
Lauri: Yeah, yeah. The revenue part is quite a big part of it. But there are… then I have also this, like… I think some channels don’t have any pride in the work that they do. They have like… they clearly lie about things that are on the videos, that they claim, for example, that we are going to explore the safety of a hand grenade, and then they clearly don’t explore it, the real hand grenade, they use something else. So I have also pride in my work. I want to keep everything real and then I don’t want to… I try to always give more than I take from the viewers. That’s the, like… I want to be able to improve the revenue but also always give more than I take from the viewers. That’s one thing. So if I know that I have the sponsorship coming and they pay X amount for that, then I want to be sure to deliver a really good video that people are not disappointed on that I watch this ad here and then the video was really poor. I want to always do my best also for the viewers. And then if I have a really good video, then I feel that this is probably going to be probably watched by like 5 million people, like 5 million people are going to use five minutes of their day. And then I feel like that’s my duty to be sure that there isn’t, for example, one clip where the sound is too loud and then the 5 million people are going to go “Aw, that was too loud.” And that’s like a lot of suffering for a small mistake on my end. Sometimes I really, really start to think about things like that.
Klaus: Okay, I see. You just mentioned advertising and I think you have a very sensible way to do advertising. At least I remember some where you, for example, show the security of a VPN thingy by sort of squeezing or pressing some tool that you have sort of semi-destroyed first to show how bad things can be and then you have like a wrench, an Allen wrench, you show the original and you say, “Okay, if it’s good, then it’s that way,” for example. And even that the advertisement is entertaining at that moment.
Lauri: Yeah, and then I have like, also… because I’m doing, we are doing like, quite well, in terms of revenue. So, for example, I don’t advertise any mobile games, or like any product that I wouldn’t use myself, I also want to be honest, in that way, that I don’t promote any stuff that I wouldn’t use myself. I think quite many channels don’t… they don’t have a strict policy like that, even if they make way more money than I am making. So I want to also have some like… some, like…
Klaus: Mhm. Yeah. You have like your own policy to sort of stay true to yourself and…
Klaus: …be also more not effective, but convincing that way, I think, yeah. Okay. But what I also think is really interesting is that you are, I think, very good at branding things. For example, the Smashinator 5 000 000 is a tool that you created to pressure things, for smashing stuff, and I saw a video where you transformed the Smashinator 5 000 000 to the Lake Smasher 10 000 000, because it was such a good thing to do, right? It would be so good.
KLaus: And, and it’s funny. But it also shows that there’s some sort of branding thing in you, branding experience, maybe also fun in making up things and words.
Lauri: Yeah, it’s actually… I’m not sure if too many people realize it, or not, but I have like… I’m quite well educated. I have done like… I’m not sure how they translate the Finnish school system, so they have like… is it like college? It’s probably that school. And then I have gone… I went to a school that was a combination of trade school and college. So I’m like a mechanic from that, so I can build things. And then I went to the University of Technology and I have studied automation hydraulics, and marketing, machine safety, and production planning. I have only my master’s thesis to pay on. And then I would be my… is it like a Master of Technology… or Master of Science is the right word. I think I might do my master thesis on some day…
Klaus: You should!
Lauri: But it’s not important for me. I don’t need it for anything. But I have studied a lot all things related to business. And also like that whole university physics, so I know how well it works. And it helps a lot to get ideas. I think some other channels, they end up copying my videos because they don’t kind of get the ideas because… Usually, if you watch some new tool or thing to be done, I have the first video and then all of their press channels do the same after they see that I have done it. Very rarely anybody else gets the idea first.
Klaus: Well, it’s good to know. And you’re saying you know about these things, you know about the physics behind that. And I don’t know who said that, but I remember from my own studies, I studied architecture, and building history, for example, was very important. And it said something like “you only see what you know about,” right, when you have studied why things are constructed a certain way you see that, actually, in the real world out there and I suppose it’s very similar here too.
Lauri: Yeah, it’s when you know a lot of physics it’s like you can see it. In a way it’s a bit boring if you really know your physics. For example, somebody else can just look at “what a beautiful sunset” as it is. But then I started to think “yeah, the light like this wavelength reflex from this like this,” and everything comes like… it, like, kind of removes the beauty and magic from the world when you know how it works.
Klaus: [laughter] Okay. So you have to surprise yourself once in a while also.
Lauri: Yeah, yeah.
Klaus: Okay. But you sort of didn’t learn how to do, for example, film videos and stuff. What was…? That was sort of a journey, also. If you look at the videos, you see all the progress and there’s lots of equipment adding all the time to whatever you do. Do you have like a special…? Did you have a special aha moment? For example, when you started out and discovered that the second view, for example, was simpler, or was a good addition to what you needed, was that, like, hard for you to learn the video stuff?
Lauri: I think it was pretty easy because the type of filming that I do is, it’s more like… it’s a technical thing. You try to get the maximum amount of data about things that are happening, you just have to document everything really well on the camera. So it becomes like a technical task, how I can see everything in great detail. And I’m good at solving technical things, because I’m an engineer. But then I think now I have started thinking to make it also more cool in terms like artistic way. I think it’s happening, like, last year, I have started to think more about how it’s going to look? Does the light move off the picture? Or does it work with the feeling that I want to reach here? Stuff like that. So I try to, now, not just capture the maximum amount of data but also think about the feeling that I want to get on the video and make the cameras and stuff like that support the feeling.
Lauri: But, for example, on dangerous stuff it’s really cool to place a GoPro near the action, and in a way that this is going to, like, shake and fly away with the explosion. It’s like… you could have a really solid camera setup far away, with a perfect picture, but it doesn’t describe the feeling so well, because it’s, like, too perfect. You have to capture the feeling of the mayhem happening there. That’s the, like…
Klaus: Yes. And so what you do is actually… or what you want to create is that the camera is closed, it shows the initial whatever, then you see dust and then the whole thing is possibly lifted up and it’s smashed against something and that footage is something that you’re also aiming for.
Klaus: Okay. Yeah, I see. And it doesn’t matter if the camera gets destroyed or something, or you could replace the lens later on. It’s just a good piece of film that you created.
Lauri: Yeah. Usually, if something gets destroyed… usually the fact that something got destroyed, that’s so good for the story.
Lauri: That it’s usually a good thing when you break something because it’s like, “look how dangerous this was. We broke the window or camera or whatever.” [laughter] Usually it means like you are going to… the video is going to be so much better that you get like… you can find a new camera, or lens, or something like that.
Klaus: Mhm. I see what you mean. What we just talked about was also based on an evolution like making a video or several videos every week. But it sounds like it’s quite a complex operation now that you, your wife, and maybe some collaborators are running right now. It sounds simple right now, but it’s not because it’s so… it’s such a mixture of so many things. And I think that’s what fascinates me right now. You have learned a lot on the job but you have also a very, very strong sense of aims and things that you go for and that you’re trying to realize with your videos and you probably sometimes you have this moment where you don’t get it so you try again and stay with it and do another experiment that probably works better in the way you intended to. So I think that’s a very important part of what you’re doing, you keep doing it and keep building on what you have done before.
Lauri: An interesting thing because whenever I talk about how I do something, for me, it feels like I’m doing, like, a bare minimum and I use very simple and few tools, but then I talk to somebody that this is how I planned this, and then they go, “oh, you are so organized.” And I think I’m organized.
Lauri: But it’s surprising how, when you use so much time on one thing, it becomes so easy and simple for you because you are doing it so much.
Lauri: And then now I have… I do, for example, some social media consulting for companies, and marketing agencies, and stuff like that. And I’m really surprised that there’s like… I thought that I’m like… because I haven’t done any… I haven’t gone into real film school or… I’m just doing this with my wife. We are not like some fancy big marketing agency in a big glass house in the centre of the city with real adults doing adult stuff there. [laughter] But now it’s surprising, it’s really surprising how good tools and methods we have. And it feels really weird why these adult people they’re all doing like they don’t understand these simple things, but I think they are. They just feel simple… for me, for some reason, but it’s like… Yeah, I think I got a bit carried away there. But I think my main point is that most stuff are surprisingly simple. It just feels really complicated outside. For example, we visited one company that built hydraulic walls when I was in university, and the first thing that they said on the company was “don’t tell anybody that tutorial X is so simple.” They wouldn’t pay so much for us if they knew that this is so simple. I think it’s true for most of the things that are really simple. They’re just more complicated for outsiders.
Klaus: If you know what you’re doing, it’s not difficult at all right? The things that you do, yeah.
Lauri: Yeah. Yeah.
Klaus: So where I come from, there’s a saying about that in a dialect -I couldn’t pronounce it or say it right now, nobody would understand it- but it’s a very profound knowledge, a very profound thing, to understand that, I think, because then you have the… the next step is to sort of package that in a way that it creates some results. And it’s packaged as a product, for example, if you’re talking about expertise and knowledge that you are going to provide to the market, sell as a product, for example, as a consultant, as a coach, as whatever, right? It’s something that is a non tangible product. I think it’s based on these things that we were just talking about. Okay, I see. Well, that was very interesting. I think we have gotten a good glimpse in your sort of process in the way you sort of handle things and approach things. In the end, it’s always a mixture of, let’s put it that way, genius on one side, special personality, stimulus, experience, data, fun, that creates… and experimentation, that creates results, results such as yours over a long time, because it takes the time and the grind to do things also.
Klaus: Did I miss something in my list just now?
Lauri: I think that was pretty well developed there. And then it also takes like… because it also takes a lot of tries to get the right idea and the concepts. But the important thing is the fact that all the other ideas that me and my wife got we didn’t get stuck on any bad idea, we didn’t use too much time on any of the things that didn’t work. But then we maybe used a little bit too little work on this one. So you have to have, like… if you want to get a great idea, you have to use the right amount of effort on each idea to figure out “does it work?” Because if you use too little, then you might miss it, and if you use too much, then you don’t test enough ideas and don’t have time to get the right one.
Klaus: And you get frustrated, also, if you take too long on a bad idea, for example.
Lauri: Yeah, but then also I think that’s also important that you don’t get frustrated because like, 80% of the videos that we do, they lose money. It’s like, almost everything that I do fails. And only 20% is a success in terms of revenue, and a good business idea. So also, it’s like… if you want to be, like, this type of person, or this type of business, you have to be good at failing and don’t get like stressed out if you haven’t had any viral videos in half a year, just like, keep making, keep making stuff and hope that something works.
Klaus: I really like how this turned out right now. Right? We started talking about crazy things on video. And we sort of ended up in the real world of business ideas and statistics, in a way, and I like that circle. That is not surprising to me but it’s good that we have come to that point in our conversation. Great! Great! Lauri, you have new ideas coming up. We don’t need to talk about the new ideas because whenever somebody listens to this podcast, the videos will be out already. But do you have… could you say how long your horizon is, how long your list of ideas is, for future videos? Is it, like, four weeks or more? Ten weeks? Two years?
Lauri: Now I have video ideas for about two months, titles and thumbnail ideas for two months. And then I have rough video concepts, like new video formats planned for next year. So I have like a rough idea that I can get 50 more ideas. I have to come up with some new directions to take things. I have thoughts but I haven’t planned any actual videos. I just have ideas for new tools and things to test.
Klaus: What I also understand is you have sort of a long term horizon for let’s say 50 videos, but if you discover on the way when doing the videos, that something is for example, very interesting, very funny, very special, very successful, then you will sort of postpone some of these ideas and focus on the ones that work well.
Lauri: Yeah, and also it has to be like… I have to be interested in the thing that I’m filming. So I don’t have on my calendar that I film this video on this day. I have to, like, wake up in the morning and feel that “hey, now I want to film this video.” And then… because it’s important for me to be like in a good mood on the video and interested of the thing. I think that comes through the video, if I’m not interested in the things that I’m doing. So I always just have a big pile of videos for YouTube and then I pick up the one that feels right for the moment. And then I have also, like, a business plan for about two years. Maybe I have like… for example now I know that YouTube is going to monetize the source and start at the end next year and I’m planning to get… I’m planning but… should I do that, I’m ready for that opportunity. And then if I feel that I have time for some new business thing, then I start to wonder like, would this platform be a good business opportunity or what I should do with this time? I try to plan for that also, like, for a couple of years.
Klaus: Lauri, I’m very thankful to have met with you, a creative, very creative entrepreneur that is doing fun stuff, surprising, sometimes scary, stuff, with physics, in a way unlike any other, let’s put it that way, physics channel, that is working hard, along with a very special collaborator, your wife, right, that’s an important part of what you’re doing. And I think that was a very, very special conversation and thank you very much for taking the time today for our talk.
Lauri: I also always end up talking about things like process and everything. And it’s funny, even if you are doing it all the time, I think it’s like… when you are like… I think you can use the term “walk of war,” you are like inside of the trenches and doing the stuff. It’s hard to see the whole big picture. So it’s cool to talk everything through like this now and then and then you’ll get like a good picture about what you are actually doing when you take a couple steps away and look at it from, like, outside. So it’s always fun to talk about this.
Klaus: Thank you very much that you did today.
Lauri: Yeah. Thanks.
“I tend not to get ideas when I’m bored. I have to be stimulated to some amount.”Lauri