Hero (Xena vid)

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Title: Hero
Creator: T4 Productions (Angie Nielsen, T4 Productions: Videos by T. and Theresa Pierce)
Date: 2002
Fandom: Xena: Warrior Princess
URL: archived version of the vidding collective's website

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Hero is a Xena vid that premiered at Escapade 2002.

Reactions and Reviews

On August 20, 2002 Sandy Herrold offered extensive commentary on one of the Vividcon 2002 Premiere vid show. She posted the commentary to the Vidder mailing list. It is reprinted here with permission. [1]

I loved and hated this vid. The song was about `reluctant' Heroes, which fit both Gabriele and Xena, so good choice. By using two screens, back and forth, the vidder was able to contrast and compare and illustrate the parallels between them very quickly and effectively, also very cool. And there was so much energy to the whole thing, I couldn't help getting picked and moved by it. Unfortunately, it was eventually so frenetic that it was hard to keep up with. I thought it was very cool when one screen would calm down a little, leaving one side dominant for a while, but when they were both equally active, I couldn't keep up. The vid also used more effects than I felt comfortable with (most notably a beautiful bird shape that I loved, but felt was over used), and too much speeding up of the source. Very interesting and different, but I would love to see this vid again, calmed down a little.

In 2013, a fan looked back and reviewed this vid:

The other seriously experimental vid, "Hero" by T4 Productions (Xena fandom), is also interesting to watch in the wake of my own expanded horizons since I first saw it. I don't think the vid ever made it online, unfortunately -- I found T4 Productions' site on Wayback, but Hero isn't listed. (This is two vidders, but there are very few instances of their names online, so I'm going to err on the side of caution here and just stick to T4.)

Again, this was a period when some folks were experimenting all over the place with what computer vidding could do, but the VVC audience wasn't really used to the idea yet; this was all brand new, and there was still a lot of VCR vidding going on, and I for one had a bit of a purist attitude back then -- the music, visuals, and cutting were what made the vid, not effects. (Except for cross-dissolves. ♥) So from my pov now, major props to vidders back then who were willing to poke at things and see what happened, because hey, some of that stuff is amazing!

That said, this vid was not amazing. But my god, it tried, and looking at it now, with a much better understanding of what went into it, I'm really impressed. The tools back then just weren't all that good, and they used the hell out of what they had. They have split screens, with a textured background to lay them over, so they weren't just floating on black (these days, black seems normal and downright neutral, but we just weren't seeing much split screen then. 24 had just finished its first season, and that was the show that brought split screen into the general toolbox, imo). They had flying-bird masks that she put Xena and Gabrielle's faces into as the flew dreamily around. She even had moving, bird-flapping credits! They used color washes to emphasize things, jagged transitions, light effects, overlays; they sometimes had different things in the split screens and sometimes the same thing (for emphasis), they swoooped her split screens in and out to single full screens... they worked their asses off on this, and tried to make all those effects support the vid.

Unfortunately, they got one thing really wrong, and it undercut the entire vid, all the way through: the split screens were the identical size, sitting side by side. They should have watched 24 more closely: the trick is to let one screen be the focal point, even if you switch back and forth between them. The easiest way is to let one be bigger; you can also change the footage inside so one's closer and one's more of a distance shot. But they not only had identical sizes, the footage in each was usually largely similar -- Xena fighting someone in a middle-distance shot vs. Gabrielle fighting someone in a middle-distance shot. The viewer's eye has no idea where to go. Even when the footage was different (e.g., an arrow shooting straight and steadily across the left-hand box, while Gabrielle fought someone in the right-hand box), it's not clear which is the focus.

Then they go into a more intensive overlay section, which is a little too much -- they did great desaturating the background image to cut down on clashing, but there's too much motion in both layers. I was getting dizzy in my living room watching it.

So I'm pretty sure the vid's message is that Xena and Gabrielle are both hereoes, and they belong together, but I couldn't tell you what that message looks like, because there was too much vying for my attention for most of this.

It's a real pity; I don't think these vidders ever came back to VVC, probably because their vid wasn't well-received. It was an unfortunate collision between vidding cultures, vidding styles, and a failed experiment. People mentioned the identical-size boxes at Vid Review, IIRC, and I would guess that there may have been comments about too many effects, too, because that was such an unusual thing. But I also know that people afterward were wondering how that vid would affect other vidders' work going forward, once they'd seen the possibilities. And I for one was hoping to see what these vidders would do the next year. Ah well.

(Seriously, I'd love to see a remaster/reworking of this vid. I think it could be amazing.)

I wish I'd gone looking for Xena fandom at the time to see if this was the sort of thing going on there in general; Xena was always such a standalone fandom, largely cut off from other fandoms and just doing its own thing, and if this was an example, they were several years ahead of other live-action vidders in their willingness to embrace the shiny. I really wish they'd come back the next year to show us something else new, even if it failed in its execution. [2]


  1. ^ for her other comments, see Vividcon 2002 Premiere Show (Sandy Herrold review)
  2. ^ comment by Arduinna Vividcon 2002 post dated July 2013, Archived version