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06 October 2004 @ 03:07 pm
Rant: The Vid Bitch Cometh  
I've been many things in my time: a fan fic bitch, a word bitch, an obsessive bitch. And now, having been converted to the wonderful world of fan vids, I'm preparing to be a vid bitch. (No, actually, I don't think I ever am something other than a bitch of some sort. It's a gift. Of a kind.)

But first let me explain how I, the Least Visual Person Who Still Has the Use of Both Her Eyes, got into vids. No, no. Let me start by casting blame, pointing fingers, and naming names, because that's just way more fun than rational explanations. So. It was lierdumoa's fault, and then it was gwyn_r's fault. And then Laura Shapiro batted cleanup, and I was - you know, that analogy isn't going anywhere good, so I'll just say I blame them all equally, and if I wasn't so desperately hoping they'd make more vids, I'd, you know, put out a contract on their internet connections or something.

And now let me explain my Principles of Vidding from the Perspective of Someone Who Doesn't Vid and Never Will. (You may be wondering why you should listen to me if I'm a novice watcher and a never vidder. Well, one line of thought would suggest that you shouldn't, and that's the one I'd go with. Really, do you think I'd write stuff like this if I listened to what I was saying? On the other hand, it's an opportunity to look into the mind of your average viewer, so you could view this as free but irritating market research, here.)
  1. Show Me. If we can't see your vid, it doesn't matter how good it is. So, first, try to make it available in a couple of formats, please, because we don't all have every single program and codec out there, and Mutant Software Interactions can happen to the best of us. And try to make your vid watchable – not so dark that vampire dogs can't see it, for example, and not so pixilated that Tron begins looking frighteningly high-tech in comparison. If you have to choose between file size and vid clarity, go for the latter; these are the days of relatively roomy hard drives, and if we don't have space we can delete or store or whatever.

  2. Be Yourself (But Be Original), Part 1. If you don't have something original to say, shut down your computer and think about it for a while. In other words, folks, as much delightful fun as it is to see your favorite clips from a given movie or show, well, we have the DVDs, too, or we know how to steal their content. We aren't watching your vid to see your personal Greatest Rewind Moments; we're watching to see you do something new with the canon, something that the creators didn't. And just setting the canon to Evanescence does not count, because sometimes there's a good reason why the creators didn't do it.

  3. Choose Songs Wisely. That mention of Evanescence brings up a painful topic, so stay with me while I whine about the importance of song choice. See, I totally understand that you and I don't have the same musical taste, if I'm allowed to use the term "taste" to describe my admittedly plebian listening preferences. That isn't a problem. I can watch and enjoy a vid set to a song I hate ("I Love L.A." by Luminosity and Kamil springs to mind as an example). I can watch a vid set to a song I've never heard before, and often do; usually this results in me loving the song to an unhealthy degree, and unhealthy love is what fandom is all about, so that's to the good. But I don't want to watch a vid for a song that's already been used in at least eight vids in every single fandom, including Final Fantasy III ("The Angsty Dance of the Pixilated Computer Sprites," set to "Bring Me to Life") and Operation Petticoat ("The Captain, the Thief, the Cook-Prisoner, and Their Mad Mad Three-Way Love," set to "Bring Me to Life")1. You probably like songs that were not being played hourly on your local Clear Channel subsidiary two years ago. Pick one of those, I'm begging you.

  4. Be Yourself (But Be Original), Part 2. Yes, I'm talking about originality again, because it's a point that needs belaboring. In this case, it's originality of material. See, some shots are used over and over and over and over and - I really can't emphasize this enough - over. Other shots are not used at all. What makes "Whatever" by Luminosity and Sisabet so scarily good? Well, the obvious brilliant insanity of its makers, yes, but also that they used clips you just don't see in vids in that fandom, and there are loads of vids in that fandom. I am totally sure that you have your favorite moments in your canon of choice, and if you're going to slave over the hot vidding programs for hours on end, you might as well use bits you don't mind seeing a million times. It's just that – well, look. Watch at least three vids in your fandom before you get started. For the love of god, don't use any shot that appears in all three, and try to avoid shots that appear in two. And if you've watched two dozen vids and not seen that one perfect shot you've been dreaming of using? Start your vidding, lady, and let me know when it's ready.

  5. Coherence Is Key. By this I mean that random fast edits are no more appealing in vids than they are in, for example, movies. If the pictures don't tell some kind of story or make some kind of point, it's sort of hard to get into it, and by that I mean "as hard to get into it as it is to get into your Great Aunt Matilda's slides of her vacation in Des Moines." Because when there's no coherence, the vid pretty much ends up being a slideshow, albeit a very rhythmic one. I wasn't entranced by my pathology professor's musical slideshows or my radiology professor's musical PowerPoint presentations. (Yes, animated x-rays danced to music in one of my classes. Yes, we did consider swearing out a warrant for the professor's arrest on mass torture charges.) I probably won't be by yours, either, even if it doesn't involve detailed footage of humans who died a long time ago and didn't keep walking.

  6. Canon Knowledge Varies. See, not all of your viewers will be familiar with your canon, and many of them won't be as familiar with your canon as you are. So if, to get your vid, I need to be able to recap the entire canon in play-by-play style using only my canon-retentive personality, my memory, and the screencaps already on my hard drive, say so up front. There's a place for vids like that, especially in the larger fandoms. But that's not the vid you want most of your viewers to start with, because odds are good they'll completely fail to get it, and they won't bother to download any of your other vids, and you made these things to be watched, yes? Here's my suggestion, and I know it's a radical one: beta-viewers. Beta-viewers with varying levels of canon knowledge. Let them tell you if it's for Canon Knowlesspersons2, Novices3, Initiates4, or Grand Master Fangirls5. And then you tell us, so we don't watch the wrong thing.

  7. Show and Tell. Don't just share the vid, share the knowledge; give us credits and summaries, people. You know who wrote and performed the song you used. You know who you are. There's no reason to treat this like classified information. You can tell us; we promise not to reveal it to anyone who doesn't know the Secret Vidshake. Hey, you can even put this stuff right in the vid! And summaries (like "It's another Angel angst-o-rama!" or "Getting funky with Funkmaster Spock." or "Mr. Humphries brings new meaning to 'Are you being served?'") make the angels sing. Or, at any rate, they make the fangirls more likely to download, which makes them more likely to hum along with your vid, which is - sort of like angels singing. Only, you know, way more interested in smut and details and complaining, so not so angelic after all.
There you have it: vidding advice from, well, someone who shouldn't be giving anything of the sort. This also serves as fair warning that I'm going to be recommending the occasional vid, folks. Brace yourselves.

-The Vids-

If you're wondering why I didn't provide direct links to the vids mentioned in the text, it's because vidders hate hate hate direct-linking, and most of them have specific preferences about how they'd like their vids rec'd (or not).

But I do want you to watch these, so here's how to get them. In all cases, you should off-click to save the vid to your hard drive rather than watching it on the vidder's bandwidth, because if you don't, the Vengeful Goddess of Vids will come for you. With an axe.

lierdumoa's Pretty When You Cry is easily available at this link; just follow the directions. But be warned, for this is the Vid None Can Resist. At least, I couldn't; it got me started with Oz and with vids, so it's pretty much the Vid of Ultimate Evil, really.

Gwyneth's vids are available at her vid website. You'll need to email her for the password. I recommend "Santa Monica," which is not only good but also a fairly upbeat Spike/Angel vid. Wouldn't have thought it possible, would you? And this song is a surprisingly perfect choice for late-season BtVS and AtS Spike; it's actually the sheer appropriateness of the song that got me loving this.

Laura Shapiro has some great vids, including the remarkably fun "Wouldn't It Be Nice" (multifandom fluff) and a great trio of due South vids: "If You Knew" (Frannie and Fraser), "Lord I Have Made You a Place in My Heart" (mostly Fraser/Vecchio), and "Wonder of Birds" (Fraser/Kowalski), and Morgan Dawn was a co-vidder on that last one. To get access to Laura's stuff, you'll need to email her; the link is for that.

Luminosity's vids (and the vids she's made with her demented friends) can be found at her website. There's lots of great stuff here, but you absolutely must not miss "Whatever," by Luminosity and Sisabet. This is a vid for vid haters and Angel for Angel haters and lovers alike. Seriously. You cannot go wrong with this vid. (Don't worry about the giant lead-in time; it'll come up eventually, and you'll find it worth the wait.) You can also find "I Love L.A." here, in case Angel-themed vids set to Randy Newman songs have been missing from your life thus far. Also notable: "Evil Angel," which is gorgeous, and actually more about Darla, and "Prophecy," which is all about the Connor unpleasantness, so Connor haters be warned. (And you might want to downsize that window when "Prophecy" opens.)

Shalott and Melina's "The Mountain" can be found at Shalott's vid website. This is a LotR vid, and it's gen, and that's all I'm going to tell you about the content except that it is so, so good. I love this song; it's tough to find one that works with this fandom, but "The Mountain" is perfect. And if you've ever wondered whether DivX is worth the bother, well, one look at the clarity and technical wondrousness of this vid will have you sold. (My advice on DivX: download the free version, which appears to be spyware-free these days, and then use your firewall to keep it from accessing the internet, just in case.)


1 Actually, the truth is I'd pay money to watch either of these vids, but especially the latter, no matter what they were set to. It's more of a problem in the larger fandoms, where I sometimes find myself wondering if a given vid is the "Bring Me to Life" Spike/Buffy vid that has that weird initial edit, or if it's the "Bring Me to Life" Spike/Buffy vid that uses all the AtS footage. After a while, they all tend to become the "Bring Me to Life" Spike/Buffy vids that I'm deleting to make space for the Spike/Buffy vid set to "Johnny Are You Queer."

2Example: lierdumoa's “Pretty When You Cry," which has been known to drag people into the Oz fandom so fast you can actually hear the popping of displaced air, followed by lots of screaming. And squeeing. But mostly screaming.

3 Example: Laura Shapiro's "Wonder of Birds," which made me all bright and shiny with joy even though it increased my total minutes of canon seen from zero to four. To get this one, I only had to be able to recognize the main characters, which I did. Mostly it was along the lines of "The guy in the Mountie suit is Fraser, and the guy with the spikes is Kowalski, and - do they not have personal space where these guys come from? You couldn't fit a credit card between the two of them in most of these shots!" Point is, I knew who was who, and that was it.

4 Example: "The Mountain," by Melina and Shalott; I'm almost embarrassingly familiar with the canon from whence this comes. (Lord of the Rings, for the record.) Which, given that this is fandom, means I've almost watched it until my eyes bleed, but I couldn't pass an essay exam on the DVD special features without a night to study.

5 I'd give an example for this one, except that I'm not a Grand Master Fangirl in any fandom. I'm not even a Good Master Fangirl, sad to say, but I'm hoping to be promoted to Acceptable Fangirl sometime next spring.
Tags: [rant], vids
And The Clocks Were Striking Thirteen: Diva (By Foxglove_Icons)_redpanda_ on October 6th, 2004 04:04 pm (UTC)

I admit I've seen ONE vid done astoundingly well to "Bring Me To Life" -- in fact, it made me desperately want to see the canon anime, which then in turn disappointed me by SUCKING. Argh.

...well, okay, not sucking per se, but their choice of music was...urgh. Goofy where it should have been dramatic, y'know? I blame Cowboy Bebop.

ANYWAY. Thank you for the recs, whee!
tried to eat the safe banana: glorious freakishness - MMWDthefourthvine on October 7th, 2004 03:47 am (UTC)
I just have to say, first, that your icon is freaking me out. What is that?

And, yeah. Actually, I picked "Bring Me to Life" as my mocking song because I expected to see a lot more of those than I did - I didn't want to use the actual songs I've seen the most of, 'cause, you know, didn't want to seem like I was criticizing specific people. The frustrating thing is that a vid set to an overused song can be good, which means I can't even skip downloading those ones, even though I know I'll be all, "geez, original song choice there" when I watch it.
(no subject) - flyingtapes on October 7th, 2004 03:50 am (UTC) (Expand)
for you I'd bleed myself dry: pretentious qualityboniblithe on October 6th, 2004 04:57 pm (UTC)
If you have to choose between file size and vid clarity, go for the latter;

File size and clarity are usually interrelated: the more frames-per-second and higher resoultion you save at, the larger file size you end up with. Even compressing nicely with the fancy schmancy DiVX codecs can only get your file so small. With animation file sizes are larger because quality is easy to lose very quickly if you overcompress or try to scrunch the pictures too much. Live action is more forgiving.

So as a *general* rule better quality = somewhat larger size. Where this becomes an issue for people is with paying for hosting bandwidth (my site uses on average 25 GB of bandwidth a month, with a surge up to as much as 40GB when a new vid is uploaded) ... obviously smaller files wind up resulting in less cost. And for people not on high-speed connections, downloading a larger file is an exercise in either frustration or impossibility. A vidder has to weigh a choice between larger file size and better quality against the potential loss of a significant portion of the viewing audience who can't download the vid. I made a vid size of 45 MB once and my email box was filled with complaints about the file size (so I put up a 10 MB smaller version alongside).

So ... online vids have their niche, but the only true way to get the best quality and most reliable accessibility is to see if the vidder can send you a tape or DVD. Barring that, with online vids, you get what you can get :)
for you I'd bleed myself dry: pretentious qualityboniblithe on October 6th, 2004 05:03 pm (UTC)
Shalott and Melina's "The Mountain" can be found at Shalott's vid website.

Also, I wanted to say, this may be my favorite vid EVER.
(no subject) - thefourthvine on October 7th, 2004 05:21 am (UTC) (Expand)
kassrachel on October 6th, 2004 05:56 pm (UTC)
Brava. Well-said.

I've been sliding down the slippery slope of vid fannishness for the last few years; going to Vividcon this year finally clinched it.

Mmm. Vids. :-)
tried to eat the safe banana: namastethefourthvine on October 7th, 2004 05:25 am (UTC)
Um. Actually, I think going to Vividcon counts more as "coming out of the viddish closet, loud, proud, and dancing." Because if you go to that? I'd say you've already been a confirmed vidfan for quite some time.

Love that icon, btw. It's what I love about fandom, right there.
the obvious childdylant on October 6th, 2004 06:51 pm (UTC)
DivX for one who is entirely computer illiterate is a tricky business... and then use your firewall to keep it from accessing the internet, just in case.) How do I do this? ::cringes::
tried to eat the safe banana: hand clasp touch - runpunkrun basethefourthvine on October 7th, 2004 05:36 am (UTC)
Do not fear the DivX. I'll be happy to talk you through the process, if you like. Just email me (deepbluesea at postmark dot net). Be sure to say what type of computer and firewall you're using, and if you're on a company or school computer, anything like that. You too can triumph over computer fear!
(Deleted comment)
mary margrave: sleepy now [hazelnotes]danibennett on October 7th, 2004 12:16 am (UTC)
This is all your fault.

And I accuse only out of deep love and respect, really. The vid was gorgeous. I just can't get Oz-fandom's claws off me now.

(no subject) - thefourthvine on October 7th, 2004 05:56 am (UTC) (Expand)
Very inconvenient, as now I have no shaving-glassdzurlady on October 6th, 2004 08:10 pm (UTC)
Heh. This is uncannily timely, since I have only recently stumbled into the wounderful world of vids myself. Unfortunately, finding vids seems to be like finding the Holy Grail - it takes as long, and there is much rejoicing when I manage. I will download almost anything (thank god for broadband), mostly without having a clue what it's about or sometimes even who's in it. I agree wholeheartedly with your post!
Anyway... *looks hopeful* Does this mean you'll be reccing vids now? Because that would make finding them so much easier! (Actually, if anyone reading this knows how to find vids, let me know and I will fangirl you totally. Please?)
*Goes off to look at shiney new vid recs*
taverymate on October 7th, 2004 05:15 am (UTC)
Finding vids
I just sent off a long email with a ton of vid info & URLs to the email address on your LJ user page - the email at MSN.com

If that isn't a good email for you, let me know & I can resend it. Hope the info is useful.
Re: Finding vids - taverymate on October 7th, 2004 05:39 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Finding vids - thefourthvine on October 7th, 2004 06:34 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Finding vids - taverymate on October 7th, 2004 10:36 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Finding vids - afearfulthing on August 20th, 2005 01:11 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Finding vids - thefourthvine on August 20th, 2005 04:07 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Finding vids - taverymate on August 20th, 2005 08:04 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Finding vids - thefourthvine on August 20th, 2005 08:54 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Finding vids - taverymate on August 20th, 2005 09:43 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Finding vids - taverymate on August 20th, 2005 08:17 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Finding vids - dzurlady on October 9th, 2004 11:23 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Finding vids - taverymate on October 10th, 2004 02:12 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on October 7th, 2004 06:32 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - laughingacademy on October 7th, 2004 07:10 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - dzurlady on October 7th, 2004 11:48 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Teresa: christiansimonesa on October 6th, 2004 11:39 pm (UTC)
Hi, I'm Teresa and I'm a vidaholic
Your advice is so ON! I am the same as you. I have never vidded in my life, so I am reluctant to bitch. But, I watch so many vids that I have become an armchair critic. The bit about "size and vid clarity" was so on the money I had to send out a cheer.

BTW, I highly rec Oz vids by frelling_tralk.

(Right click and save target as)
Most Especially Tainted Love;
Maybe the most awesome vid ever made.

But also Poisen,
which is pretty damn good as well.

If you liked those, try this one I Hate Everything About You.

If you like Smallville or just want to watch the pretty, my fav is Toxic.
tried to eat the safe banana: universal language - MMWDthefourthvine on October 7th, 2004 07:42 am (UTC)
Re: Hi, I'm Teresa and I'm a vidaholic
You're right. Those Oz vids were good. And I want the remake of "Tainted Love" that she used for the vid.

*worriedly eyes Smallville vid*

I don't do SV; well, only a minute amount. Do I want to watch the vid?

*continues eyeing vid*

Hell. Might as well go bravely into that good fandom, yeah?

(Thanks for the recs! And if you have any more...)
SV is only good in small amounts - simonesa on October 7th, 2004 03:00 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: SV is only good in small amounts - dzurlady on October 7th, 2004 11:59 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: SV is only good in small amounts - simonesa on October 8th, 2004 12:31 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: SV is only good in small amounts - dzurlady on October 8th, 2004 12:36 am (UTC) (Expand)
flyingtapes: dick by minim_calibreflyingtapes on October 7th, 2004 03:49 am (UTC)
Huh. I was just, actually, thinking about you and vids. Because I remembered what you'd said about not being into television, and I wondered if that extended to vids, which are kind of like compressed, visual fanfic. How interesting that you just answered my question. :)

Want some recs?
tried to eat the safe banana: Wolverine claws - wanderlustloverthefourthvine on October 7th, 2004 06:41 am (UTC)
Yup, yup, yup! I do, I do want some recs!

(And I'm enjoying the vids even though, really, I wouldn't have thought they were my thing. But I've found that, as with other visual forms of entertainment, it helps to have my Best Beloved watch the vid, too, and point out all the parts I was supposed to be getting that I missed. Like, you know, that that was Sean Bean in all those shots in "No Fear No Hate No Pain." But I think the fanfic aspect outweighs the visual aspect for me with vids.)
(no subject) - flyingtapes on October 7th, 2004 11:58 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on October 7th, 2004 03:05 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - flyingtapes on October 8th, 2004 08:35 am (UTC) (Expand)
RECS!! - sockkpuppett on October 7th, 2004 06:14 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on October 7th, 2004 03:32 pm (UTC) (Expand)
sockkpuppett on October 7th, 2004 09:31 am (UTC)
Thank you very much for mentioning my vids. This URL is second only to my own LJ for downloads so far this month. :)

Nice essay, too. I agree with every part of it, especially your words about song choice and clip originality. Brava!
tried to eat the safe banana: namastethefourthvine on October 7th, 2004 05:11 pm (UTC)
You're very welcome. Thanks for making 'em; your vids are great.

And since you agreed with me about clip originality, let me just mention the most irritating thing of all about that. It's when you're watching a vid, and you see a clip, and you realize it had to come from another vid you've also seen. Because the original vidder changed something about the clip to make it fit in her vid - the speed, the color, the textures, whatever - and the clip still has all those aspects. Totally unchanged. And it doesn't fit as well in the second vid as in the first.

Hate that. It always leaves me cross and wondering if the vidder got permission to do that and why didn't she just point me to the original vid if she liked it that much?

Yes, I have a lot of bitchery stored up inside.
(no subject) - sockkpuppett on October 7th, 2004 05:42 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thefourthvine on October 7th, 2004 06:31 pm (UTC) (Expand)
gwynethgwyn_r on October 7th, 2004 09:37 am (UTC)
I am immensely flattered and surprised that you included me in your downfall. ;-) Coming so late to the 'net party and being an old skool VCR vidder until just last year, it would never have occurred to me that someone could discover the joy of vids with my help, in the slightest. So thank you very much for that, and for including me in such great company.

Especially because I think I broke all your rules! My files are only in QuickTime because that was the only compression available to me; I have a program now that is supposed to help smallify the files in better quality, but I'm incredibly disappointed in the results. I'm going to experiment with WM but... I am worried as a Mac user becuase Microsoft isn't providing codecs for Macs. So there's a lot to take into consideration. i'd love to be able to offer both types of files, but I do not have enough money to buy more space, and as it is, I have room for one more vid before I'm going to have to start taking things off. It's really difficult, especially when you're unemployed!

And I just realized now that I failed to send you the address of where to send for the DVDs. Cripes, what a maroon. I will go do that now, if you're still interested.
Morgan Dawnmorgandawn on October 7th, 2004 08:37 pm (UTC)
The only new thought to add: some vids are made with poor source or were made pre-computer. Encoding quality and visability may vary (ex. I cannot capture the VHS versions of older vids to my computer so I can add titles/ do nifty encoding. I am able to cpature them to a stand alone DVD recorder and then rip that file and compress).

I like DivX and have been re-encoding some of my web vids full screen using the codec. Very nice.

laurashapiro on October 16th, 2004 10:16 pm (UTC)
I can't believe it took me so long to see this post.
Thank you so much for your kind words about my vids, and for spreading the vidlove among all and sundry. (: Your essay is well-reasoned and wonderful. I love hearing this stuff from viewers -- viewers who are really *thinking* about what vidders do, who can tell good stuff from bad and can *talk* about it.

I am so very pleased.