The Future of Vidding (1995)

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Title: The Future of Vidding (1995)
Creator: Lynn C.
Date(s): Feb 15, 1995
Medium: online
Fandom: Vidding
External Links:
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In 1995, some of the members of the Virgule-L mailing list discussed the future of vidding and how technology might change how fan vids were made. At the time, there were few digital (or computer) vids. Vids were made linearally (one clip inserted after another), with no ability to edit or shift clips around after they were recorded to tape. All source was analog (video cassette tapes) and with each copy, the vid quality degraded. As a result, vidding as an art form was hampered by the limits of these tools.

Lynn C. posted the following series of questions to the mailing list. It is included here with permission.

"I was just talking to some industry people who are interested in fan video stuff (they had read Jenkins' book already). One of them asked me a thought-provoking question. What if fans had access to equipment that would make vid-making a lot faster, say by a factor of 8 (where a fast vid took 8 hours to make, it would now take 1 hour). How would this change vidmaking, the phenomenon of vids in fandom, the use of vids at cons, etc? (Imagine this equipment costs between $1000 and $3000 to buy.)

I said, off the top of my head, that fans would get much more critical of quality, if everyone were producing vids at that rate. But then I got cynical and wondered if I would just get *tired* of a zillion vids for my favorite show with the same slashy scenes over and over and over... Is there an upper limit to the number of vids that can be made about a show, before viewer burnout sets in and the emotional impact is lost? I know how sick I am of the final shooting scene in B7, after too many vid viewings of it. I imagine people would get more experimental if they had access to fast, good equipment. We might see more AU vids ("constructed reality," for those who believe in Jenkins' label), and more things like DeeJay's Pros titles vid or Gayle's "Orinocco Flow."

Related to other questions they asked me... how many people in fandom are actually producing vids? Is there any way to estimate this? I keep wondering about pockets of media fans producing them who we don't see within slash fandom. They wondered about Dr. Who fans (do they make vids), and also asked me about this mythical "California Crew" group. Do these types of people show up at MediaWest and show off their non-slash vids? Do they even exist? Last time I asked about CC on the list no one had any clues about them.

(Hee hee, when the industry woman asked about Dr. Who, she got it wrong at first and asked me if there were any "Dr. No" vids. I didn't click to what she was after for a minute or two.)

Another question they asked was whether people would buy equipment to share, if it were slightly out of their price range (say $4000 or $5000). I speculated that this would only happen in a few cases, probably (with paired fan vid makers). Maybe the Media Cannibals folks? Do you guys share machines?"


Interestingly, the post inspired little follow-on discussion. It may have been because so few vidders had had any exposure to digital vidding, so they could not imagine how the new technology might impact the approach to fanvids. In the intervening years, several things have proven to be true: the quantity of fanvids and the number of fan vidders increased exponentially. Fan vidders grew more creative with the use and placement of clips. And constructed reality vids became easier to make.

The essay also shows that prior to the introduction of Yotube, there was some industry interest in creating tools for the amateur video editor and that they were aware of fan vidding as an art form.

The other question, about the number of fan vidders who existed at the time was harder to answer as prior to the Internet fans were less visible to one another and the only way to see vids was to travel to conventions or to order them by mail. Rough estimates place the number of fan vidders in the United States in the hundreds, as the equipment was expensive and fans had to train one another in how to use it to make vids. That all was swept away when digital fan vidding took over and more and more fans had access to video editing software, computer equipment and the Internet as a method of distribution.

Morgan Dawn, a fan vidder, was a member of Virgule-L at the time and remembers the post:

"I remember thinking that this was all too ...hypothetical for me at the time. In Feb of 1995, I had just completed my first vid and still was "apprenticing" with other vidders to learn how to edit using two VCR machines, a TV and a stack of video cassettes. I do remember that there was one fan who was computer vidding at the time (T'Rhys) and her big limitation was not the amount of time to edit the vid, but the amount of time it took to compile the digital source (hours, if I recall correctly, for a single 15 second clip). I do know that when I stated vidding digitally on a computer it was an eye opening experience - I could edit on the fly, swap clips, delete and add all without destroying the source or the tape. Forget about the special effects - the ability to edit digitally was like being able to write a novel on a word processor where you had been only able to carve each letter into stone, one by one. It was like living in a two dimensional world, and suddenly realizing there were three dimensions and that you could fly."[1]


  1. ^ Morgan Dawn's personal notes, accessed Dec 21, 2014, quoted with permission.