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Love & Pop

absolutedestiny in vidding

Further "vidding" vs "amv-ing" musings.

It's a steep learning curve this one. Thanks to some recommendations and ideas suggested by many of you over the last few days I've been thinking more about the major differences between these two things with regards to my own editing style.

When it comes to amvs, I think I have a very typical style of video making with regards to western amvs. A lot of my work is very narrated very literal and very precise in a harsh sort of way. Let me take some examples:

I Wish I Was A Lesbian:
I'll talk about this one first as it's the one the vidding community is most familiar with. This is a video with a series of mini narratives, the first being the storyteller who introduces the topic, then the characters one by one who wish they "were". The opening pays particular attention to visual narrative as it attempts to depict an American sit-com environment. The opening shot is the exterior of a homely building like you'd have at the opening of US sitcoms from the last 20 years from Cheers to Friends. We then have the guy telling the story which unfolds into a family environment over dinner with startled and amused reactions from family members who are eating and so on. It's a generic opening that has been constructed as an introduction to a comic series of vignettes and it comes full circle at the end when we return to our storyteller in the last shot.

This is a very literal and linear video. As with many of my videos, you don't have to think too hard to work out what's going on - it's all presented as clear as day. Lip synch and beat matching is precise and jokes are measured to (hopefully) not outstay their welcome. Slapstick is applied with a mallet. Instead of the free-form nature of many multi-source videos the video uses distinct sections to maintain the narrative.

Shameless Rock Video: You'd think that this would be the least narrative of my works given that the focus is on music matching and slapstick but again the same narrative and generic principles: Boy hit by guitar-weilding woman goes on a rebellious trip of temptation which influences those around them until they finally come down from it all. Genre is relied upon again, focusing on 70s themes of sex drugs and rock n roll, using as many retro cliches as possible.

Aim For Victory!:
This is a useful example because it's entirely instrumental. The goal with this one was the ability to depict a long narrative without the need for lyrical clues. Again, it's very literal and linear. The opening, again, is generic - space epic. The destruction of a spaceship whilst a father looks fatefully and longingly at the photo of his daughter. Flight through time and space. A sad young girl has memories of her father which become inspirational. Training montage - becoming a pilot - again generic, focusing on the "Rocky" themes. Going into space. Finding loneliness. etc etc. Literal and linear with visual cues keeping strictly to the beat as the story is developed and using the highs and lows of the music to move things along.

Although these are only a few examples the technique is pretty clear. I have a narrative idea that I want to express and I manipulate the footage in order to achieve that whilst using generic forms to assist the audience in their acceptance and enjoyment of the video.

As for vidding, as permetaform instantly noticed, I don't have much experience - not even of other people's videos. Hence, the videos I've attempted using live action footage have come from the same methodology. With Burn this wasn't such a bad thing - the video was presented as a series of visually interesting narratives that matched the theme and mood of the music. Of course it was much much more free-form than any of my amvs and the net result was a visually appealing but fairly shallow video. A similar strategy was employed for my last video Realise where everything was literal narrative. Two men meet each other, remember their childhood, remember things they've lost, realise they want to regain some of those, have fun and games at their old school, playing with children, etc etc. Same principle yet again. There's nothing particularly wrong with this, of course, but following the same techniques that I use for amvs in vidding reveals what I think might well be the source of my problems:

Anime taken out of context is very regularly unexpressive so you have to force it back into a context with harsh literal associations of music and narrative in order to create things with it. Anime videos done 'softly' or haphazardly are generally dull.

Live Action, in contrast, is naturally expressive. Actors faces tell a thousand words, cinematography develops clear moods, movement of people, objects and perspective evoke emotions. These expressions are then weaved together by vidders in order to conflate with each other and the music into whatever it is the vidder wants you to feel. The expression in the footage is built upon rather than in amvs where it often has to be constructed from the ground up.

Sure there are examples of very expressive scenes in anime, but they are much fewer generally due to the limited produciton values of anime. Scenes that do match live action levels of expression tend to quickly become overused in amvs (think of scenes form the Utena Movie, Ghibli films etc etc). AMVs often compensate by using sharp cuts, visual effects and rotoscoping in order to add more expression to the 2d form. My Memories of Love and Conflict video is a prime example as the anime in question is one of the most static things ever so a lot of rotation, zooms and diffuse glow is employed in order to create a sentimental mood.

permetaform recommended that I watch Cat Scan Hist'ry by heresluck and I did. I noticed straight away that there was narrative but it was much more symbolic and free form. Where I'd normally edit something as A > B > C > D, this video sort of meanders from A to D picking up all kinds of tributary streams along the way building force. Scene choices are much more symbolic than literal and often a scene will be chosen simply because the content has the ability to match the emotion and music.

After watching the video for the first time I knew I liked it but I didn't know *why* I liked it. It took me a while to fully comprehend why a sequence of girls dancing, followed by donnie kneeling, followed by a car reversing and pulling away would a) still make sense and b) be effective. The reason was that there was a unity of expression in the images irrespective of the literal, which is something which is very hard to do with anime videos. Especially for me.

I then came to conclusion that the difference between my amv works and the kind of video I saw with Cat Scan Hist'ry was like different kinds of performances. My amvs are poetry readings, bedtime stories, acting - I open up the book, I read, I retell. Cat Scan Hist'ry is a dance. The music begins, the dancer moves, reaches the point of exhillarated expression in the music, fades, takes a bow. Of course, the different performance types each have their own place and likewise certain styles of editing also have their own place.

I think I understand, now, some of the main differences but being able to change styles is something that will be very difficult for me to do, if it is possible at all.

Comments

No, you recommended the right vid. It's not like I now want to make all my videos to be like Cat Scan Hist'ry. The point was to illustrate the different approach, and that vid illustrated that just fine.
Permetaform, I didn't know you'd recced the vid for this purpose -- thank you so much!

...Cat Scan Hist'ry is pretty near the absolute opposite of linear narrative...

Well, it certainly felt that way while making it. Drove me nuts.

"Cat Scan Hist'ry" was a big stylistic change for me; all my previous vids but one had been very very VERY heavily based on chronological narrative. The vid immediately preceding "Cat Scan" ended up being much less narrative, though not intentionally; it was just what I ended up with. With "Cat Scan," I made a conscious decision to let go of linear narrative, because I didn't think I *could* make a coherent linear narrative out of that movie and still preserve what made the movie interesting.

So the vid was very much an experiment, and for a long time it was a stalled or failed experiment because I had no idea how to make a non-linear vid. I mean, I knew what I wanted the vid to do and what I wanted it to look like, but I didn't know how to make something non-linear feel coherent.

absolut wrote: ...there was a unity of expression in the images irrespective of the literal...

...which is a lovely description of what I was trying to do, expressed much more eloquently than I ever did. One way I tried to achieve that "unity of expression" was through motion -- both internal and external. A lot of the clips are linked by motion (particularly in that Donnie kneeling/kids dancing/car pulling out sequence); my hope was that the eye would perceive and the brain would process a *visual* relationship between clips even though there's not necessarily much relationship in terms of content. I think this worked, even for people who didn't *notice* the motion.

One thing that made this strategy possible, though, is that Donnie Darko isn't just live action but a live action *movie*; the average movie can have a lot more visual interest (of various kinds) than the average TV show. So I get what you mean about anime being a lot harder to work with in this way; the visual interest in anime seems to be of a different kind, so it makes sense that one might need to develop quite different strategies for vidding that source.

Also, I'm very pleased that you both liked the vid. *g* Absolut, I saw your "I Wish I Was A Lesbian" at VividCon and thought it was hilarious, and brilliantly put together. (I can only imagine how much funnier it would be if I knew anything about any of the source!) I especially liked the strategy (which you mentioned in the original post) of setting up lots of little separate sections; I thought it really helped the vid keep up with the song's fast pace.
I can't resist. I have to take this opportunity to congratulate you on some very excellent and thought provoking videos. I mostly don't watch videos that originate from a specific fandom because I'm generally clueless about the fandoms in question. I'm finding your videos to have delights that go far beyond that, so it's been a lot of fun watching them. I guess that's the sign of good vid work, right there.

my hope was that the eye would perceive and the brain would process a *visual* relationship between clips even though there's not necessarily much relationship in terms of content. I think this worked, even for people who didn't *notice* the motion.

It did work - like I said, I knew I liked the video but I couldn't put my finger on it... there wasn't a specific thing. It wasnt a story video, it wasnt delving deep into a specific emotion... but it was evocative. I did finally work out how the video was creating its effect. Good job - I can imagine that being a painful process with a lot of trial and error.

In short, thanks for the great videos, they've been in equal parts entertaining and educational :)
I mostly don't watch videos that originate from a specific fandom because I'm generally clueless about the fandoms in question.

I get this. Compared to most vidders I know, I don't watch a lot of TV or movies, so I am usually clueless about vids that aren't based on Buffy, X-Files, or Firefly.

I'm finding your videos to have delights that go far beyond that, so it's been a lot of fun watching them.

That's one of the nicest compliments I can imagine. Thank you.

I can imagine that being a painful process with a lot of trial and error.

It really was; my LJ was full of whining for months. But I don't think I could have learned it any other way. It did help to have models to work from; I was trying very hard to channel Luminosity sockkpuppett, whose vids are some of the best I've ever seen. I admire her tremendously. We think and work in very different ways, so it was a neat challenge to try to find my own way of doing something that she does so well. If you haven't seen her work, I recommend it; her site is here: http://kamil.slashcity.com/eyecandy/ I don't know if you've seen the movie "Kill Bill," but she did a *really* interesting vid for it, using some techniques that I associate with anime (though take that with a grain of salt, since I'm far from knowledgeable about anime).
charmax 2

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