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Title: Pressure
Creator: Sterling Eidolan and The Odd Woman Out
Date: ~ 1990
Format: VCR Vidding
Music: "Pressure" by Billy Joel
Genre: vid, metavid
Fandom: meta
URL: see notes

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Pressure is an early and rare metavid by Sterling Eidolan and The Odd Woman Out, who were part of the larger California Crew.

The vid, which is composed of original footage, depicts the vidders getting together to make a Quantum Leap VCR vid over the course of a single weekend (a highly stressful event, hence the vid's title.)

Pressure is thus a rare artifact in that it documents the complexities of making of a VCR vid. The vidders time the song with a stopwatch, mark out the beats, watch, select, and measure all their clips in advance. The vidders work most of the vid out on yellow legal pads with calculators before actually assembling the clips on tape, laying them down in order. The audio track was imported last.

The vid also documents other aspects of fannish subculture circa 1990: in the frame we see numerous cases of VHS cassettes and piles of fan fiction zines, as well as a cat who has to be moved so the vidders can get at the tapes. In doing so, it uses several clever methods to illustrate the passage of time while editing the vid:
I love the use of mounting piles of Diet Pepsi cans as one of the ways to show the passage of time, along with the one gal working her way through a stack of zines, and of course the literal digital clock showing not only the time but the day. Really, really clever.[1]

While the vid has been recognized as an important piece of fan art and video that deserves historical and critical attention, there are also concerns about it being distributed broadly online as it was never intended for a mass audience.

Reactions and Reviews

Vidding is a form of grass-roots filmmaking in which footage, most frequently from television shows or movies, is edited to music. The resulting vids comment on, critique, or otherwise interpret the filmic source. An art form practiced primarily by women, vidding long predates today’s YouTube culture; Kandy Fong made vids with slides in the late 1970s, and until quite recently, vids were made using two VCRs, one for playing footage and one for recording it. This process was quite arduous: the song was timed with a stopwatch (as a VCR’s counter rarely corresponded either to actual time or to any particular position of the footage), clips were selected and measured in advance, and then the clips were played on one VCR and recorded on the other in exact order. Only once all the clips were recorded was the audio track finally laid down, so a vidder who wanted to edit to the beat or have internal motion synchronized with music had to be extremely meticulous: talk about pressure! Because of these difficulties, and because VCRs were expensive, VCR vidders tended to work in collectives, which served as sites of technical and aesthetic mentoring. This 1990 vid by "Sterling Eidolan" and "Odd Woman Out" of the larger "California Crew" humorously documents the particular pressures of making a VCR vid. But "Pressure" not only demonstrates the technical prowess and creativity of this female filmmaking community, it also gives us an affectionate insider look at a whole range of community practices and pleasures. Note how the vidders get gleefully distracted by the show while looking for clips; note their friend happily making her way through a towering pile of fan fiction zines. A vid that comments on itself is known as a metavid, and vidding’s tradition of self-reflexive commentary, as well as its forty-year canon and communal articulation of aesthetics, marks it as an advanced and sophisticated art form. [2]
OK, that is AMAZING! And you’re amazing for bringing it to this here internet. It’s remarkable to see images of vidders themselves in a metavid — I can think of only one or two examples nowadays that use that device, and then in more attenuated forms. It does raise the question of what the limits are of “fanvid” as a genre/form, though. I imagine the uninitiated would be far more willing to see this (versus your typical vid) as filmmaking proper. [3]
I didn't start vidding until the mid-1990s and first started by working with other vidders before going out on my own and buying the (then) very expensive video editing VCR. But this vid perfectly captures the insane process VCR vidders went through - although in my case my VCR had reliable counters and I didn't have to use a stop watch to time the clips. But the entire vid had to be planned in advanced and then each clip was put down in sequence, with no ability to edit or change. And because we were working with tape, the constant stop and start would cause the tape to heat and stretch and break, so you never knew when your next edit would be your last and the end of the vid. And if your VCR had a variable rollback it would cut off frames from the end of the last clip and then sometimes the audio would drop out and..... So every time I curse the difficulties with digital vidding - this vid reminds me it was never that easy."[4]
And I was happy to see that people [attendees at REVELcon] loved "Pressure," the vid about vidmaking. The cat who has to be lifted out of the video cabinet at the beginning won several "Awww's" and the enjoyment kept going on from there. One viewer was concerned about one of the ways in which the vid shows the passage of time, namely, the way that one fan is reading a stack of zines while the other two work out which clips to use: "Uh-oh--she's gonna finish those zines before they're done!" [5]


Further Reading

For more analysis of Pressure, see Francesca Coppa, "Women, Star Trek, and the early development of fannish vidding." Transformative Works and Cultures, Issue 1, 2008.

A similar vid, 24 Hrs (The Making of A Vid) was made by Chris & Christina in the 2000s.


  1. Private post by Amedia dated Feb 9, 2017, quoted with permission.
  2. "Pressure” - a metavid by the California Crew, Archived version, comment to the post by cyborganize dated Feb 2, 2008.
  3. "Pressure” - a metavid by the California Crew, Archived version, comment to the post by cyborganize dated Feb 2, 2008.
  4. Vidding: Why In The Old Days We Used Bearskins and Stone Knives!, Archived version
  5. REVELcon 2017: Supplemental Vid Report,