I've made a handful of vids, but nothing I'd consider "good" by any means. And who am I kidding--I didn't even know (at the time) that I could turn off the DivX logo in my lame, pixelated source. It's not like I'm going to pull a fast one on any of you people by telling you I'm a good vidder. But I'm working hard to improve. I've been researching like it's my job for the last month, and it's left me both smarter and humbled beyond measure. Fine, great. Hopefully my next vid(s) will be better and I'll continue to learn.
The thing is, the standards I have for vids I watch are much higher than for the vids I make. This is partially because I know that if I expect my first vid(s) to be BNV quality, I'm going to psych myself out and never even begin. The best way to learn is to make mistakes, and I've certainly made plenty. Hopefully I'll catch up to the standard I want to be at and impress myself (wouldn't that be lovely). But in the meantime, I'm struggling a bit to get as much out of the vid watching process as I do the vid editing. And obviously what everyone gets out of either process is extremely personal and specific and possibly unable to even put into words, and that's how it should be. I'm not looking for any magical answers here, simply curious for a little discussion.
The first fanvid I saw was in the summer of 2002 (a Farscape vid to "Land of Confusion" done on vcrs, I do believe, don't remember by whom) and, while I'm sure it was a great vid, my only memory of it is thinking "what in the world is this?" Heh. Silly n00b. But that's probably because I'd never seen Farscape and didn't know vids existed. (That's not to say I didn't immediately download the song--which I'd forgotten about since childhood--and listen to it on repeat for a month. Because I so did.) I didn't see another vid until about a year ago when a friend rec'd me to Corn Child's "Must Be Dreaming," which changed my life omfg. (Possibly still my favorite vid to date.) Not only is the vid incredible on so many levels in its own right, it completely shifted--and sculpted--my perception of fanvids. Here in one fell swoop was a) one of my favorite fandoms, b) what quickly became one of my favorite musical artists, c) extremely crisp, clean, high-res source, d) edited at a level beyond anything I could have imagined.
I haven't been the same since.
Now bitten (hard) by the vid bug, I decided to dip my feet into the vidding pool a bit and see what I could find. Mostly bitter and jaded disappointment, turns out. But hey, such is fandom. I know this. (It's also why I only read fic rec'd to me. Same big ocean of crap with so few lighthouses.) After seeing what some of the folks here can do, I can't sit through all the sludge I see in other communities, on YouTube, etc. My eyes! It burns!
My foray into Battlestar Galactica brought on the must...make...vids...NOW virus like a bad hangover I haven't yet recovered from. Since then I've bought a new computer, 300 GB hard drive, and editing software, spit out four crap vids of my own in WMM this past autumn, and then spent the last month reading every single vid meta and tutorial I can get my hands on (my favorites are here). I started downloading vids rec'd/made by the BNVs I kept seeing around (heresluck, sockkpuppett, sisabet, dualbunny, sdwolfpup, laurashapiro, and absolutedestiny, to name a few. And we'll just gloss right over how much I want to shrink myself down to pocket-size so they can all take turns carrying me around with them as I watch them vid and listen to their extremely entertaining conversations. We'll leave that part right out, kthx.) I've read post after post from 2003-2005 and thought to myself, "god, where was I when all this amazing discussion and vidding was going on?" like there was some amazing golden era I've somehow missed out on (which may or may not be true, only time will tell). I've been absolutely blown away by vids like heresluck's "Cat Scan His'try" and "New Frontier," dualbunny's "God is a DJ," f1renze's "Prayer for the Dying," absolutedestiny's "I Wish I Was a Lesbian," butterfly's "The Thunder Rolls," laurashapiro's "Barcelona," charmax's "Candleburn," sisabet's "Without You I'm Nothing," and whereistheluuuv's "Colorblind," to name a few. There's some amazing stuff out there, and I've only just begun to scratch the surface.
But while these vids were great for the visually-inclined (such as myself) on many surface layers (effects, color, motion, etc), I started to feel like I was missing something. I would read some incredibly in-depth analysis comment on a vid I'd just watched, and I'd be impressed by a) how wonderful it was that someone would take the time to offer such extensive feedback to their friend, and b) why in the world it felt like they'd just described a completely different vid than the one I'd just watched. Or I would read a commentary first and then watch the vid, still unable to make the same connections I'd read about. Obviously it's going to take time for me to develop a real "eye" for things such as layers within a narrative and whatnot (and hey, maybe some people have the "eye" and some just don't). At the same time, I couldn't help but wonder if the things I look for in vids are things that other people see/look for as well. I wonder if someone like me is part of a "next generation" of vid audience. I'll honestly be quite disappointed if I am.
I was reading this post about how much vidding has changed from 2000 to 2004, and a lot of the comments and themes in it were resonating heavily with me. Getting back to my earlier comments on the "Must Be Dreaming" vid, I've noticed that I now have a very hard time getting into a vid that has interlacing, pixellation, logos, etc or can't be viewed wider than 400 pixels without looking like crap. It's just too damn distracting for me. You know how sometimes you can be watching a tv show and you're so sucked into it that you forget you're a human being staring at a box, and you're just in it? I can't even start to get there when a vid's got rough source, no matter how great the editing is or how much I love the fandom or song. Let me be clear that I don't like that I have this reaction. There are some fantastic vids out there that don't meet my narrow, petty qualifications, and I've missed out on some good stuff because of it. I know that. A lot of great vids were made when dvd source simply wasn't available. I do try to keep that in mind. And I won't automatically turn off a vid if it's not amazingly gorgeous high-res or a song I instantly like. But honestly, there better be something else that makes me stay.
I think it's a damn shame that this attitude even exists (especially in myself! I'm a dreadfully nice person. Really! Ask anyone.) Maybe I'm just spoiled rotten now that I've seen what's possible. Ignorance is quite a powerful thing. You can't know what you're missing until you see it, and then you can't unsee what you've seen (god help me, I'm channeling Principal Wood). The fact that I'm a classic overachiever and perfectionist by nature isn't doing me any favors. And you know, what's worse is I can't help but feel like if I'd gotten into vidding ten years ago, I might have had the same whine about analog editing now that the spiffy digital revolution has come around. It makes me sick inside. I don't want to be a Judgmental Viewer. I want to be able to just watch vids and enjoy them without automatically going into "what's wrong with this vid" mode. But I can't help it. Sigh. But hey, maybe ten years from now vidders will feel the same way about the technological aspects of my vids. Such is the circle of life. I totally deserve it.
Thinking about this whole quality quandry got me pondering what other aspects of vidding can make or break an experience for someone. That's part of why I posted that Vidding Habits Poll a few weeks ago. Curious if people were watching pretty much anything they came across, or if certain parameters narrowed their search.
For me, it comes down to these variables (in no particular order):
+ song choice
+ quality of source
+ editing technique
+ emotional response / being drawn in
I'll try almost any vid once, but I've got to have at least three of the five, or I've closed the window after 60 seconds and deleted the file from my desktop. And truth be told, I won't even keep a well-constructed vid in my fandom of choice if I hate the song that much. That's probably because I was a musician long before I was a fan, and I approach everything in my life through music, so song choice is the driving factor for me personally as far as my vid enjoyment is concerned. (If I never want to hear that song again, I'm not going to watch your vid again.) At the same time, liking the song doesn't mean I'll keep a vid, either, if it's crappily done. Lordy, I sound like such a pompous jackass. That certainly isn't my intention. I hate that I can't go to VividCon this year (work conflict with the dates) because I want to hug each and every one of you. I love vidders. So much.
Aside from all my technical perfectionistic tendencies, there's my occasional aforementioned trouble getting the big, deep themes out of a vid that so many other vidders seem to grasp so easily. Sometimes it's like I'm staring at those damn hidden picture things in the mall (a la Mallrats). And I know that if I keep watching and reading and rewatching and discussing and learning, I'll get there. I'll see what you see. I will; I believe it. In the meantime, it's mostly "spare frame bad, effect pretty," which unfortunately means I might be discarding some really powerful vids due to technical issues that I can't overcome long enough to give it a chance. And that makes me sad, far more for me than for the vidder who made it. After all, I'm the one missing out on the good thing, here.
Does anyone else feel like this? Is this the attitude of the new generation of vidders? And is this higher standard going to help the community or hurt it? It reminds me of how the special effects in movies from 20 years ago are laughed at now; the mutual push of technology advancing and viewers demanding more and more of it as a result. As the boundaries of vid technology get pushed, are we wanting more and more while (at first) getting less and less out of it? Not to mention that I'm doing jack squat to contribute to the vid pool at large, so who am I to make such high demands? Way to be a walking double standard. Go me!
But you know, I think ultimately what it comes down to is having respect for the vidders that have come before me. And I very, very much do. Just like there will always be people coming after us who will "have it easier," there will always be those who came before who had it harder. The people who paved the way, who learned this stuff on their own from scratch, who worked with the best they had and made the most of it. They've made it look so effortless, it's no wonder so many new vidders come in with a misguided sense of entitlement. Anyone who comes into vidding nowadays can find tutorial websites that all but vid for you, software packages that give you everything you need at once, online communities to swap and discuss with, and an evergrowing supply of amazing vids to watch and learn from, each one pushing the envelope further and further. It's amazing what this fandom has become. I'm thrilled to be a part of it. And hell, maybe it's only fair that we set the bar that much higher for ourselves since we have so much handed to us. I'm on board with that.
Anyway, the entire point of this post is just to see what various people's thoughts are on this topic. I'm curious to know if any other new vidders, having seen some unbelievably incredible things done by our predecessors, have now set that higher standard as the default in their minds. I'm curious to know if the vidders who've been around for awhile have noticed a trend toward what I've described here, and if they feel this mindset is productive or counterproductive to vidding at large. I'll admit I feel a little awkward (not to mention embarrassed and quite intimidated) making this post at all, since I'm not the kind of person who typically comes forward and says "hi! You don't know me, but I'm probably judging the things you do with very high standards that are often shallow and/or hard to explain!" (I swear if you knew me, you'd love me!) But I think there could be some interesting discussion here, and I think that's worth it. [end vulnerable ramble]