LynnC's 2001 Vidding Process

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Title: LynnC's 2001 Vidding Process
Creator: LynnC
Date(s): 2001
Medium: vidding
Fandom: multifandom
External Links:
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LynnC's 2001 Vidding Process is a meta post about vidding, originally posted on vidder list in 2001. It is reposted here with permission.[1]

My vid process has changed a bit since starting to do it by computer. I feel like I finally have a chance to do the sort of experimentation and massive revision that gives me a chance of doing a good job intentionally rather than accidentally :-) I've been thinking about this a lot because of the vidding workshops at Escapade; I'm thinking about putting up some web pages (it feels safer to have an alien opinion on a web site, maybe because of the rant page tradition).

Assuming I have source tapes for the fandom I want to vid in, here's how I do it, at a fairly tool independent level (though not completely):

  1. Think of a song, reject it.
  2. Think of a song, reject it.
  3. Think of a song, reject it. (Continue 1 through 3 for months, usually. Buy more CDs, sometimes. Scan the radio, enlist ex-boyfriend, etc.)
  4. Remember some song I always wanted to vid to, but never used because the right fandom hadn't come along. Decide to use it now.
  5. Copy out the lyrics, annotate to show musical sections, leaving room for notes on the printout. Send to friends to see if they agree it's a good idea. Sometimes qualms from people who vid in the same fandom can save me a lot of pain by helping me reject a bad idea. On the other hand, if I thought it through enough to have good arguments for concerns they express, I can sometimes convince them it's a good idea. This is a review phase not to miss, IMO. Changing my mind before I start on a difficult vid is a lot easier. I've been talked out of a bunch.
  6. Take clip notes on the series: I may have done this already, but often I'm looking for different things by the time I pick a song. This is the most tedious part of vidding, but all the best vids use footage the casual viewer has forgotten about. In practice, I often don't go through the series again if I've done good notetaking before. I'll usually do this in the middle of a vid I can't seem to find the right footage for, despite existing notes. Film editors say their best insights come from reviewing the source, not relying on notes, though they have those too.
  7. Convert/import my music into [Adobe] Premiere. Edit it or fade the end or whatever is necessary. I usually try to keep it four minutes or under. I have spectacularly failed to notice how long some songs are, though. I consider length beyond the necessary to be a major mistake, because it's so hard to do interesting editing even for a short song. This is another point where I might possibly back out, if I can't cut something down and don't think I have the footage to sustain it.
  8. Mark the key points on the timeline to help me orient myself in the waveform. Carol said she marks every lyric; I just indicate verses and music sections (i.e., the first mark is where the singing starts after the intro music).
  9. Capture some key clips for key points in the lyrics.
  10. Pick some major lyrics and do some rough assembly. I don't put isolated clips in here and there without building context -- I can't judge anything when I see individual clips surrounded by black. I know a bunch of vidders who build with black, but I can't do it. I need to see editing and juxtaposition quite soon, or I'll never be able to figure out how I'm going to cut to the beat in this song. Or how long my clips should be for the song's timing.
  11. Look at what the mediocrity of what I've done and become overwhelmed by a sense of despair, because boyhowdy vidding is hard. Go do something else, and ease back into it by staring at the lyrics and taking more notes on scenes I might use.
  12. Repeat 10 and 11, working on lyrics. I leave the bridge and other musical stuff to the end, because I don't want to burn important character clips on them, and I don't want to do the music until I know how it needs to be different, editing-style-wise and content-wise, from the lyrics sections.
  13. Do the music. Try to make it contrast visually somehow, try to do structural things and changes like POV changes in the music if the lyrics don't support it. Often the music sections are my chance to set up overarching structure. I did the opening music for "In Your Eyes" last (which Sandy was kind enough to show at the [2012: Escapade?] vid postmortem). It took me a little while to realize the main thing I needed here (aside from some shots of Jack and Daniel, especially Daniel with guns :-) was the gate dialing, ending with the gate whoosh effect, right before the lyrics start. This is because throughout the rest of the vid I used gate travel effects at various points in the music, and overall the vid is about the guys traveling through the universe together.
  14. I do these reviews regularly, but I get more and more strenuous about them as I get closer to done:
    • POV check: are the right pronouns on the right faces. Does it get sloppy anywhere that might threaten viewer comprehension?
    • Cutting to the beat/lyric: is the timing crisp? I usually go through the entire vid tweaking my edit points by a frame or two before I declare a final draft.
    • Are there any clips that are too long -- if they're long, does the emotion or action sustain them? Are they surrounded by short clips to make them less monotonous?
    • Are the edits sensible -- do adjacent clips look like they came from the same scene when they shouldn't, do I mix up longshots with close-ups and mid range shots, active with talking heads or reaction shots, etc. I love the editing part, and I never stop learning how to do it better.
    • Did I get too lazy and use internal scene edits when I could have recut the scene myself and made it more interesting, with better timing. Almost always YES.
    • Did I use really trite visuals. If I use scenes that will appear in every vid in this fandom, I'm probably handicapping myself. I try to wonder if on the 100th viewing, or after a hundred others in the same fandom, it will still look good. This is really hard. This is why I keep going back to the source material. Even taking a scene were shot out of context can help raise the interest level, although I always run the risk of fans getting upset because it's not faithful to the source in mood or meaning. I know, because I used to be one of those fans. I'm also reluctant to use the exact same scenes in two vids of my own. I can avoid this most of the time because I vid in multiple fandoms and produce very few vids. (I'm not criticizing anyone else for this.)
    • Was I really good to the music? If there's a sudden little piano tinkle in the middle of drum and guitar, did I do something visual with that? If I didn't, I feel like I was lazy.
  15. Look at it on a big TV. It can really change how I see it and make it fresh.
  16. Play a draft for hard audiences. Don't wear them out with too many drafts. I've come to think this is more and more valuable. The immediate reaction is really really important, especially for something I think should play well as a con video. I try not to do too much second-guessing of their response, but if I have major doubts and Kathy says, after a long pause, "I like what you've added. A lot." then I know I have work to do. I also think it's valuable to show it to people inside and outside the fandom. I personally think a good video works for multiple audiences at multiple levels. If I've done a really complex living room vid that's just boring head shots that puts everyone to sleep, I think it's a pretty mediocre vid, no matter how intellectually complex my story is. Good editing can save it, and maybe I need to put in more explosions or something. I'm kidding, but not totally.
  17. Let it sit. Watch it again days later. Anything to get distance and a fresh eye. Sometimes this makes me like it better, which is good.
  18. Revise based on middle of the night inspirations or new clips I've found or whatever ideas friends had for scenes. Friends can be great clip sources. Kathy thought of the eye ending for my SG vid, though I added the fade to Daniel.
  19. Give up. Save on CD, backup, save on tape, move on. Sometimes this means erasing my source clips, because I don't have room to keep them around. There really is a point of doneness, even on computer. Sometimes I have to declare done even when I've never resolved my personal ambivalence, because I could never figure out what was wrong.

And that's what I do. I never had any great interest in feedback with analog, because I just couldn't incorporate it the same way.

If I had to argue any plus for computer editing, it would be the better opportunity for revision, not the cool fx. It's typewriter vs. word processor, as someone else pointed out.


  1. ^ Lynn C 16:35, 6 May 2012 (UTC): MorganDawn suggested I post this!