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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.