Videomaker Block theme targets filmmakers and video makers – WP Tavern
Automattic’s latest Blockbase child theme landed in the WordPress.org directory today. Videomaker is aimed at video makers and creators. I put him to the test last week while he waited for the approval of the review system.
At first glance, there isn’t much that separates Videomaker from any other simple block theme. Aside from a different color scheme, it looks and looks like its parent, Blockbase. You have to dig to understand what this theme brings to the table. Once you find its block designs, it’s obvious that it would work well for independent filmmakers.
WordPress block themes have a template discovery issue. I’ve noticed this for a while. So many things often seem dull until you start tinkering with their designs, applying them to the pages, and seeing what you can build. Custom templates are where block themes will shine the most, and these should be in the foreground when a user activates one.
The easiest solution is for themes to bundle a custom homepage template out of the box, giving users a little taste of the included templates. Starter content might help as well, but the ticket to make it compatible with block themes is still open.
I almost bypassed Videomaker because I didn’t see its potential. After awhile with it, I appreciated the thoughtfulness the design team gave to their models. While the theme can be used for anything, its block patterns are specifically aimed at directors and creators of the indie space.
The theme focuses on two areas. The first is the creator. It includes a few layouts that allow the site owner to show who they are, like the About template:
The second area of interest is art itself. There’s a full-width homepage to showcase a trailer or movie, and there are templates for movie description, credits, and more.
One of my favorite designs was that of a movie poster. This one particularly stood out because I could have used it at university when I was in my filmmaking phase – no, don’t ask to see my half-finished budget 0 vampire pic. I built my movie posters in Photoshop at the time via computers on campus. It would have been fun to edit them visually in WordPress.
The theme never complicates matters. It offers a variety of 16 templates to quickly create a movie related website.
I especially like the addition of the seemingly minor sections. For example, the Awards template is a simple column layout that allows users to showcase their movie’s awards:
There is nothing particularly revolutionary about this model. It’s just a cover, columns, images, and paragraphs. To create something like this in classical times would have been too complex. Users probably should have entered a shortcode with no chance of seeing it live, at least until they previewed the page. Or, it would have existed as a customization option and limited where the theme allowed.
Looking back, it’s crazy how something so simple was so complicated in the past. With patterns, theme designers can have fun adding those little touches to their themes, and users reap the benefits.
One area that could be improved would be the addition of featured media. Creators shouldn’t have to manually edit their video list as shown in the following template every time they have an update. It should just automatically display their latest video messages.
WordPress has allowed featured images for years, but video and audio are prohibited. I have a bookmarked post that proposes to expand to “featured media” from 2020. There has been no movement towards a solution. Turns out, Automattic’s themes team commented on the need for featured videos when they started working on Videomaker.
This is not a problem that is best solved through the theme. While it was easier to do with classic PHP-based theme projects, WordPress should provide the capability out of the box.
I only found one major issue with the theme. Its default page template currently displays both the post date and featured image. I risk assuming this was an unintentional copy-paste error during development. Typically, these elements are not desirable on pages. One of the best things about block themes is that users can fix these issues – intentionally or not – through the site editor. Don’t want the post date and image featured on the pages? Just delete them.
Apart from that, I like to see the continuous experimentation of the Automattic thematic team. I am waiting to see what they will discuss next.