Re: Do you test like this?
David - sorry about the thread drift. I don't think that a short video of a person doing aikido suggests any kind of trend or even really shows what that person's aikido is like in general.
Back to the point of the thread - I tested shodan in front of a board of three senior folks. They were not from my dojo, but I knew them all well, and had taken classes with them over many years. The next two tests were in front of Ikeda Sensei. In all cases everybody was polite, but I got definite comments each time about things they liked as well as problem areas. To me the whole point of preparing for and taking rank tests is to gain a clearer idea of the road forward. That process must of necessity involve my teachers and sempai.
I would find testing in front of a board of seated, suited people like that very off putting. I agree that the spirit of teacher/student is valuable and pretty much absent from that setting. I would do it if there was some compelling reason (can't teach without it, etc.) but it would not seem special. The gym itself doesn't bother me - I've spent many years training in university dojos, which are generally quite industrial looking. If my teacher is there, and there is a connection, then everything is fine.