Tim Hunkin is something of a legend.
I could crap on about why I think he's a legend, but you'd do better to look at his site, and The Rudiments of Wisdom, which is unquestionably the finest collection of pictorially presented facts ever assembled by a man who can't actually draw worth beans.
I bought the book.
In conjunction with Sheddi Knight Rex Garrod (the uk.rec.sheds FAQ spells neither Rex's name nor, I suspect, his title correctly; they're not really into spelling), Hunkin produced a series of documentaries called The Secret Life Of Machines (SLOM). There were two six-episode series of SLOM, followed by a six-episode series called The Secret Life of the Office. Hunkin's own site for the series, with accompanying, um, documentation, is here.
The SLO-whatever documentaries were all made pretty much when Tim and Rex had a spare moment and shot on small format film with few to no re-takes, so they look a lot older than they are. They also contain some of the ropiest animation ever committed to film, and large chunks of archival footage that I fervently hope Tim got for free. Parts of them are also a bit outdated now, but never mind; the innards of VCRs are still interesting.
All three series are, if you're any kind of self-respecting nerd, completely fascinating.
I would go so far as to say delightful.
Why are old washing machines so heavy? What the hell actually happens in a sewing machine, anyway? Can you really record sound using sticky tape and rust? What happens if you stand on a car's accelerator and brake at the same time? Will either Tim or Rex survive the demonstrations they do in the "Electric Light" episode?
All this and more, as they say.
All three series are now available on DVD, from Team Video Pacific, who used to sell them only on
sticky tape and rust VHS.
Back then, I pitched in with some friends and bought the first two series.
We all needed to pitch in, because Team Video charge through the freakin' nose. The two-series set cost $AU236.25, ex postage.
You got six tapes with two episodes per tape, but the episodes are only 25 minutes each. The high tape count is because Team Video expect to be selling to schools, who don't like to put all of their video eggs in one basket.
The price I paid then is the same as the price you'll pay today for the DVD version of those same first two series. You're looking at another $AU198.45 for the third series. The whole lot together, including shipping, will cost an American buyer more than $US400.
You could get seven LOTR boxed sets for that kind of money.
And yet my friends and I still bought the first couple of series. One of us even made DVDs out of 'em.
SLOM is that good, or we are that mad. Take your pick.
Anyway, if you read the pages I linked to above, you'll have noticed that Tim is not exactly clamouring for people to pay the hefty Team Video prices.
In fact, he's openly inviting anybody who's interested to download his work for free.
He provides handy-dandy BitTorrent links for that purpose.
So, you know what? Go ahead and do that, with Tim's blessing and with mine.
The rips in the downloadable versions are not great. Video and audio glitches, aspect ratio problems (so you'll want to use a player like Media Player Classic or VLC that lets you fix that), and one of the filenames invents a thing called the "Internal Bustion Engine".
But they are free. And the guy who made them wants them to be free. And they are totally excellent. And if you do not like them, then I do not like you.
Go to it, people. I'll help seed, and I wanna see those "Peer" numbers rise.
Those download links again: