Title Cards On Vids

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Title: Untitled Blog Post (renamed 'Title Cards On Vids' for the purpose of this entry)
Creator: Sandy Herrold
Date(s): Mar. 14th, 2008
Medium: online (dreamwidth post)
Fandom: vidding, meta
External Links: Sandy's original post in her blog
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Title Cards On Vids is a untitled blog essay written by Sandy Herrold in 2008 in response to two songvids: absolutedestiny's Deep Kick (referred to in discussion by its source: '15') which premiered at Escapade 2008 and sweetestdrain's West of Her Spine which premiered at Vividcon 2007.

example of a 'misleading' title card from the vid West of Her Spine

Both vids provoked significant discussion - both at their respective conventions - as well as afterwards in fannish forums. Deep Kick contained explicit violent subject matter in a fandom unfamiliar to the majority of the audience, while West of Her Spine paired what seemed to be a romantic song with graphic imagery of a serial killer stalking and murdering women pulled from the TV show Dexter. While West of Her Spine did offer a title card, it only showed the name of the song and the artist along with the vidder's name, no fandom information was given and the title card offered no indication that the vid would contain any violent subject matter. Deep Kick offered no credits or title card.

While a large portion of the commentary at the time focused on the warnings debate, Sandy approached the issue more tangentially saying that the vids would have been better received if the vidders had established a context for their vids through the use of "title credits" - text at the beginning of the vid that revealed the song, the fandom, and the vidder. These titles would have given the audience additional information so they could frame their experience:

"So, a perfect title would have been one that attracted them, and provided a "hmm, I'm not sure this is my kind of thing" to others. Credits that made a little more of a deal about the source would, I think, have made the vid less controversial....I admit I don't understand the desire not to use them -- if nothing else, at a show, they provide a second's padding between the vid before you (which may have had a completely different emotional tone than yours)...

In some platonic place, where we are all artists, trying to make the perfect vidding experience, so am I. But what I've seen, more than once, is during the first part of a vid, the audience is still reacting to the last vid -- *and* later, the vidder complains a bit that their brilliant artistry wasn't appreciated. Or, a vid turns out to be a shock to the audience, and instead of talking about the vid, all of the conversation turns out to be about how people weren't ready for what they saw, and the vidder complains that people are just too (fill in the blank) to appreciate their work.

So, if the vidder doesn't complain (and the *friends* of the vidder don't complain) about something that could have been easily fixed by just giving the audience a minute to catch their breath and see what's coming -- I'm fine. When the vidder does complain, I just want to smack 'em, considering there was such an easy fix, that they chose to ignore.

Mind you, this is based on 10+ years of vid shows, so it's had time to build up -- it's not aimed at any one vidder, or any one style of vid."

The discussion that followed wandered back and forth between Warnings and the artistic choice of whether vidders should use a title card on their vids. The comments below focus on the latter topic.

General Commentary

klia wrote:

"I don't particularly like titles; never have, and probably never will. I also don't like the fact that blurbs are required for vids submitted to VVC, which is why I always try to make mine ambiguous. I like seeing a vid for the first time with a completely open mind, and no preconceived ideas whatsoever, except for knowing the fandom (I can't even say "and song" anymore, because some people give their vids other titles so as not to spoil, like Margie & Seah's IBS (Itsy Bitsy Spider), or jessicaflowne's Another Sunday."


"I'm obviously not a vidder -- just a vid-watcher and a fic writer, but I can honestly say that I'm utterly amazed that people object to the idea of giving their work a title. How are you supposed to refer to a vid if it has no title? Calling it something like "Susie's SPN vid, you know, the one with the Wincest and that one closing shot of the Impala? No, the fourth that was shown, not the second one," is unnecessarily confusing. I can understand not wanting to reveal pairing, or possibly even song (if the song/source combination is supposed to be a joke or surprise) but on the fanfic side of the fence, titles are one of the basic elements of a work that no one objects to or argues about (summaries, labels, warning, and all other header information get debated endlessly, but I've yet to see anyone object to titling a fic, beyond the eternal "Damnit, I suck at coming up with titles! Arg!" dilemma)."

Sandy and Morgan Dawn's thread

Morgan Dawn

"[Sandy] you and your Title fetish. this has been going on for years. I think you two should get a room. But seriously.....I think if the vidders intent is to surprise or shock or lead the viewer down a certain path and then do a big reveal, then titles would run counter to that purpose. So what I'd add to your post: Titles can be good. Titles can enhance your vid. Titles can give good head. (oops sorry, wrong Title). But not all Titles are created equal and not every vid needs or is well serviced by one. It all boils down to the vids/vidder's goal...
...also, I never confuse authorial intent with audience reception. How an audience reacts to my vid (or my story) is always out of my control. and just because the audience thinks that my vid is a hilarious parody of the Bush administration (when you really meant it as a paean to the wonders of George W Bush) does not mean I failed. It just means (sniff) my artistry has (yet) to be fully appreciated for the wonder that it is. The reason I bring this up is because I am wondering if people think that because the vid reviews for these two vids focused so much on the audience reaction as opposed to the vid structure = they failed? (note how I leave the 'they' to be vague. ;-))"

Sandy Herrold, in response to Morgan Dawn:

"Interesting point. If it were my vid, and all the audience talked about was how they wished they'd been warned, or how they wished people would quit whining about warnings, I wouldn't be... fulfilled by that. But I don't know what their (the vidders) goals were, and I shouldn't assume.

Morgan Dawn replied:

"I think both vids (West/15) have a broader aspect to them than what we typically see in a fan vid. the same was true of obsessive24's Carnivale vid which brought in war footage/holocaust footage. The majority of fans do not want to be challenged in vids - they want to be moved by and to connect with the source (either happiness or sadness). But horrified, disturbed, challenged, provoked, pushed, hit over the head until you crawl under the chair eyes bleeding - this is not what your average fan wants out of her vids. But to say that these types of vids are 'inappropriate' to the fannish experience or are 'failures' because they do not warn their viewers and then upset them is in of itself a failure of imagination. And perhaps a failure of fannish reinterpreting and re-contextualizing the source.
I also realize that all three vids that I hold up above as examples are vids that (a) use less well known source and (b) source that, when it aired, was itself attempting to shock and horrify and challenge the viewers. So you had an unfamiliar audience being exposed to source that, from its inception, was meant to disturb.
"The only vid that I can think of that repurposed the source with the intent to 'shock' was Killa's 'Closer' (Star Trek). And it took many closed and private viewings before the vidders were comfortable allowing other fans to watch the vid publically. I suspect that they had to work through some of the same concerns being voiced here. And of course, to bring this back to titles, 'Closer' *did* have a title that set the stage for the vid. Which is why the vid worked for a wider audience (IMHO) :-)"

Sandy's comeback:

"Maybe. But if so, West isn't a good example of this -- Dexter is already a fairly well known fannish source, and the level of "disturbing" would have been much lower if the audience had simply known it was a Dexter vid going in. I would argue "But horrified, disturbed, challenged, provoked, pushed, hit over the head until you crawl under the chair eyes bleeding" isn't necessarily hard, once you leave the area of well-known fannish source; there is plenty of disturbing footage out there that can be combined in ways that would make it even more so. If your point is merely to disturb, that seems a little trivial. Shit, let's just make holocaust vids, and be done with it.
Remember Jo's Love Boat vid? It had a point beyond violence. It was aimed at people who had 'tamed' or 'domesticated' OZ by making happy happy joy joy vids of a show that was *much more* than that.
I suspect that the 15 vid, and West and others that have come up, also had goals beyond merely disturbing people. Which is why I said that they may have been failures at some level, since the preponderance of conversation about them is all about the hows and whys of warnings and stuff, instead of the artistic/craft goals of the vids, and how it affected people (other than pissed and icked -- which are valid, but I suspect was only part of their goals).
The majority of fans do not want to be challenged in vids. I mostly agree. I would also say that there are many ways to be challenged -- complexity of story, outsider pov, showing our guys not to be the heroes of their stories, reconceptualizing clips, telling au stories, etc -- that do not include "horrified, disturbed, challenged, provoked, pushed, hit over the head until you crawl under the chair eyes bleeding", and maybe don't need to."

Morgan Dawn tries to get specific:

"For me 'Titles' or "Credits" and 'Warnings" are two seperate issues. While it is true that a Title/Credit can also "Warn" the viewer, the issue of whether vid shows should warn their viewers is something we've hashed out before.
For me - what is unique about this thread (besides the fact that it has Sandy actually posting ;-)) is the emphasis on Titles/Credits and how they can help or hurt your vid.
Sandy (jump in here if I am getting this wrong ) says: Your default position should be to use a Title/Credit. It will give your audience a chance to ground themselves and perhaps even a moment to avert their eyes.
Others says: Titles/Credits at the start distract and detract from what I am hoping to achieve. Ex: a Title at the start of a soft and lyrical vid would pull you out of the mood the vidder was trying to create in the darkness of the theatre. the same is true if I was hoping to scare the pants off of you.
Me, I say: Rather than focusing on prescriptive behavior or trying to make declarative statements of fact, the use of Titles/Credits - just like song selection, how fast/slow you cut, and clip choice are *elements* of style, not the style itself. Saying you should *always* use a Title/Credit is about as silly as saying you should never use one (I love Sandy's ludicrous example of books having no blurbs or covers). Just like people saying you should never switch POV more than 2x in a vid or you should never use jump cuts -- until the vid comes along that uses all of them. and brilliantly.
so..... perhaps we could shift the discussion - give examples of vids that worked well *without* the use of Titles/Credit (and ones that worked *better* because of them.
My example: Killa/TJonsey's vid 'Closer (Star Trek). Subject matter: Spock rapes Capt Kirk - constructed reality/au (vid discussed from memory there are probably a few errors)
The vid opens with NIN style titles in the form of a single sentence: "What if they didn't make it to Vulcan in time."
Effect on a fan familiar with source: positions you in time/place where the story begins. But unless you are a slash fan, you'd still be struggling to figure out who would bear consequences of failing to make it to Vulcan (most likely said fan is thinking woobie thoughts about poor Spock). By the time you get to "fuck you like an animal" the picture becomes more clear just who is going to get.....fucked. But for those first bars, the familiar viewer must repurpose the video source. Then the fan will watch with growing horror and protest/joy and delight as Spock stalks Kirk and rapes him and......the horror the horror/God I love this vidder!
Effect on a fan unfamiliar with source/slightly familiar: OK like Vulcan...wasn't that some alien guy's home? But why did they need to get there 'on time? Wow, that pointy eared guy is pretty wired. OMG he's thinking of fucking the uptight looking guy. and and... he actually does rape that uptight guy!!!! and and and look they even had pron in these old TV shows. WTF I gotta see this/I am never watching this show ever ever ever
end result: both fans end up horrified/fascinated. Fan 1 had an easier go at the start because of the title but then struggled to repurpose the footage. Fan 2 had no clue but once she got started was on board. And of course by the end, she 'gets' why it was so important to get 'there' in time (title gets more clearer on rewatching)
NIN fans who recognized the style of the title credits/opening chords of the song and who were sitting in the back of the room laughed their asses off and text messaged Trent about this amazing fucked up vid he has got to see.
Conclusion: Given that this vid was made for an audience familiar with the Star Trek source, the title was (a) a good choice and (b) enhanced the vid."