Kevin Thull's unique contribution to Drupal

Kevin Thull has recorded and published more than 1,000 Drupal Camp presentations to spread knowledge, awareness and broader understanding of the Drupal project.

If you've ever watched a Drupal Camp video to learn a new Drupal skill, technique or hack, you most likely have Kevin Thull to thank. To date, Kevin has traveled to more than 30 Drupal Camps, recorded more than 1,000 presentations, and has shared them all on YouTube for thousands of people to watch. By recording and posting hundreds of Drupal Camp presentations online, Kevin has has spread knowledge, awareness and a broader understanding of the Drupal project.

I recently attended a conference in Chicago, Kevin's hometown. I had the chance to meet with him, and to learn more about the evolution of his Drupal contributions. I was struck by his story, and decided to write it up on my blog, as I believe it could inspire others around the world.

Kevin began recording sessions during the first community events he helped organize: DrupalCamp Fox Valley in 2013 and MidCamp in 2014. At first, recording and publishing Drupal Camp sessions was an arduous process; Kevin had to oversee dozens of laptops, converters, splitters, camcorders, and trips to Fedex.

After these initial attempts, Kevin sought a different approach for recording sessions. He ended up developing a recording kit, which is a bundle of the equipment and technology needed to record a presentation. After researching various options, he discovered a lightweight, low cost and foolproof solution. Kevin continued to improve this process after he tweeted that if you sponsored his travel, he would record Drupal Camp sessions. It's no surprise that numerous camps took Kevin up on his offer. With more road experience, Kevin has consolidated the recording kits to include just a screen recorder, audio recorder and corresponding cables. With this approach, the kit records a compressed mp4 file that can be uploaded directly to YouTube. In fact, Kevin often finishes uploading all presentation videos to YouTube before the camp is over!

Kevin Thull recording kit
This is one of Kevin Thull's recording kits used to record hundreds of Drupal presentations around the world. Each kit runs at about $450 on Amazon.

Most recently, Kevin has been buying and building more recording kits thanks to financial contributions from various Drupal Camps. He has started to send recording kits and documentation around the world for local camp organizers to use. Not only has Kevin recorded hundreds of sessions himself, he is now sharing his expertise and teaching others how to record and share sessions.

What is exciting about Kevin's contribution is that it reinforces what originally attracted him to Drupal. Kevin ultimately chose to work with Drupal after watching online video tutorials and listening to podcasts created by the community. Today, a majority of people prefer to learn development through video tutorials. I can only imagine how many people have joined and started to contribute to Drupal after they have watched one of the many videos that Kevin has helped to publish.

Kevin's story is a great example of how everyone in the Drupal community has something to contribute, and how contributing back to the Drupal project is not exclusive to code.

This year, the Drupal community celebrated Kevin by honoring him with the 2018 Aaron Winborn Award. The Aaron Winborn award is presented annually to an individual who demonstrates personal integrity, kindness, and above-and-beyond commitment to the Drupal community. It's named after a long-time Drupal contributor Aaron Winborn, who lost his battle with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in early 2015. Congratulations Kevin, and thank you for your incredible contribution to the Drupal community!