One look at Matt's work and you'll get a sense of his warm, captivating style. It's amazing how all this might not have happened if he didn't return that one fateful phone call, all those years ago. But that's history now, this is his story.
How did you come to a career in video?
I got into video through skateboarding. My friends and I would make highlight videos every year – I was editing VCR-to-VCR until I got my first computer in the 2000s and started using Final Cut Pro. I was just doing it for fun and never thought it would lead me into a career in video.
Then one day I get a phone call, totally out of the blue, from a director on a children’s puppet show who desperately needed an editor who could use FCP. He asked me if I could start straight away, and to be honest I said ‘no’, because I would have needed to give my current job two weeks’ notice. After wishing him luck I hung up the phone, and my wife-to-be asked who I was talking to. I told her and she was like, ‘call them back right now, this could be a life-changing opportunity!’. So I did, and ended up working there for six years as their main editor, learning everything there was to know.
Eventually I wanted to move on from that job, but found that all I had to show for myself was the stuff I had edited for work and nothing I had shot. This was around the time DSLR cameras were becoming more accessible, so I got myself one and started filming. Little videos of my dog sleeping, my wife and I at the cabin, a mini-doco of my friend who’s a tattoo artist; these videos got tons of views and attention, which is basically how I got the job at Shopify. It’s crazy what that stuff lead to; it opened so many doors.
What’s it like making videos for Shopify?
It’s been a pretty crazy ride. I started at Shopify when it was just starting to take off; I think I was employee number 102, and now, just over three years later, we’re almost at 700! They’ve done an amazing job of hiring the right people, which I think has a lot to do with their success, and the culture is really special.
For the first couple of years it was just me doing video, which can be challenging. I felt a little out of place, this lone videographer in a sea of developers and web designers. It was hard to get really good feedback, because they would look at it purely from a designer or developer point of view. So I found it hard to grow and get better, because i only had myself to learn from. But Shopify were great, they loved my style of video and encouraged me to follow my instincts and bring that style to Shopify. That can be a little hard when you're doing a product or tutorial video, to give it that sense of style, but I did my best and also started a series called Shopify Stories.
One of the videos I made for Shopify Stories was about this company called 3 Fish Studios; a husband and wife in San Francisco who quit their jobs and opened this cool little art studio. It was one of those days where you finish shooting, get into the car and you just can't wait to back and watch the footage. People working with their hands and making really interesting things always looks so good on video. That video is almost three years old, but it’s still my favorite one.
Now the video team has grown to five people, which is great, and allows me to focus on the filming and post-production parts of the process.
How have tools like Wipster changed your workflow?
Oh man, we can’t say enough good things about Wipster – it’s helped us with feedback so much. I remember the day when one of the guys showed up to work with the Wipster promo video and we were giddy with excitement to try it out. Now we use it for everything.
We used to upload video to dropbox, share it with the team, and wait for the emails to pour in with all these different notes and bullet points… it was a mess. Now the whole feedback loop is sped up, making it so much easier and faster to take the video from rough edit to final version – especially with teams members spread over two cities. It’s funny, because even if I’m sitting next to someone at work, it’s almost easier for them to put the feedback in Wipster then it is to tell me to my face. Wipster puts all the comments in one place, you get real-time notifications popping up, you can check tasks off the automated to-do list, it really does make life so much easier.
Do you have any creative projects outside of work?
It’s good to have a creative outlet outside of work; it’s a great way to stay inspired. It means you are not limiting yourself to the confines of your day job; you’re getting out there and actively trying new things. And when you try new things and gain different skills, that inspiration and experience translates back to your day job and makes you better there as as well. I think it also shows a real passion; if you're going out and doing this on your own time it says a lot about you and your drive.
Where do you go to find inspiration?
I’ve always loved Vimeo, I go there every day for inspiration. I love the clean layout, absence of ads, the aesthetic, and the community. I feel like 5% of the videos on YouTube are watchable, whereas on Vimeo it’s closer to 80%. I don’t know what it is, but it seems like everything on Vimeo is cool. You get really positive and constructive feedback, from this amazingly talented community. You post a video, someone will like it or comment on it, and nine time out of ten if you check out their profile, they’ll have cool videos too!
Vimeo and Wipster have the same kind of feel. Actually, it would be really cool to have Wipster’s feedback functionalities integrated with Vimeo’s publishing platform. That would be super useful.
What’s next for Matt Wiebe?
Next up we are doing a piece on one of our merchants who lives in Alaska, “The Drum Broker”, so we are hopefully heading there in a couple of weeks to hang out with him. I’m super excited about that, he’s such a cool guy and I’ve never been to Alaska so that should be really cool. Other than that, I’ll keep taking photos, making videos for fun, and hanging out with my wife and the dog.
What a great story! Thanks Matt, have fun in Alaska.