Vid Review

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Synonyms: vidshow review, vid show review
See also: vidshow; vids, review
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Vid review refers to the act of reviewing or providing critique of a fanvid. It can also refer to a vid review panel at a fan run convention (as is "I went to the Vid Review" or "As I said in vid review").

Early forms of vid review

In the pre-digital viding days, there were few opportunities to showcase your vids and even fewer opportunities for those vids to be reviewed. Unlike fanzines which could be printed and sold to anyone who could read, VCR vids had less accessible distribution channels - videotapes were expensive and not all fans had access to VCRs. Vid shows at fan conventions were the main method of watching and obtaining vids and few, if any conventions held panels in the 1970s and 1980s discussing, let alone reviewing, vids. Fans could still send written LoCs to the vidders, and certainly with the advent of email, sending that feedback became easier. However, even early mailing lists like Virgule-L in the mid-1990s spent more time talking about zines and fan fiction than reviewing vids. The notable exception was Sandy Herrold and the members of the Media Cannibals who began vidding at the the same time Virgule-L was founded. The Media Cannibals would, on occasion, post reviews of songtapes. And, as Virgule-L members attended conventions with vidshow, they too posted more vidshow reviews to the mailing list.

The Escapade vid review panels

It became clear, however, that one of the biggest barriers to offering more vid reviews was not lack of venues or communication mediums, but a lack of vocabulary to describe and discuss vids. Certainly vidders developed their own language when discussing the technicalities of making a fan vid ("rainbow noise", "frame roll-back" and "jump cuts"), but when trying to discuss the creative process and helping each other evaluate the respond to vids, fans lacked a common reference point. What did it mean when a vid was too "slow." Too "fast"? Why did the same vid make one fan laugh and another cry (when the vidder intended neither)? How did the choice of music impact a vid's reception? Could vids have a POV? As one fan later said: it was like trying to discuss poetry without a common understanding of grammar or spelling.

Some vid review began at Escapade in 1995, when Deejay and Kandy Fong hosted a Sunday morning "Video Workshop" in which "video makers & watchers discuss the art." (see Escapade/Escapade_1995) Two years later, in 1997, Sandy Herrold and Tashery Shannon held a Sunday morning "Songvid Critique" panel ("An exploration of different elements of media vids, with an emphasis on aesthetics. We'll look at segments of different songs to see how the images were used in conjunction with the varied rhythms of the music, and to enhance the mood.") The next year, the Sunday morning panel was billed as a "Music Video Show Review," using that word "review" for the first time; the panel was held in two parts and was led by Gayle F and Sandy. In 1999, it was billed as "Sunday Morning Vid Review," and was led by Jessica aka tzikeh and Sandy. In 2000, it was framed as "Songvid Appreciation 101" which explicitly claimed to be using the vids from the previous night's show to illustrate these ideas in a vid. In 2001, Sandy and Rache hosted together: "Songvid Appreciaton" "Escapade style".)

The initial idea for Vid Review was simple: on Sunday morning, after the Saturday evening vid show, fans would gather to discuss each vid one by one. The focus would be on what fans liked, what fans didn't like and why. Eventually over time, a vocabulary emerged to describe why viewer reactions varied so widely. The vidding community gained a greater understanding that the vid audience was not only made up of fans from different fandoms, but fans of different types of music, along with fans who watch TV and movies in different ways. Some fans absorb meaning from music, others seek visual meaning. A fan who is being exposed to fanvids for the first time will have difficulty understanding a context based fan vid (a vid that relies on the content of the clip to underscore its meaning). Fans new to vids might gravitate towards more literal pairings of song lyrics with images ("If the singer says: "My heart is on fire," there'd better be flames" is how one vidder described it). Fans who are deeply into one show and have memorized the episodes can pick up subtler nuances and ironic juxtapositions. As rache explained; some viewers 'read' fanvids at the kindergarten level and some read fans vids at a college level.

Other aspects of fan vids came into focus: the difference between a con vid and a living room vid, how the choice of color could influence mood, and how pacing and variation in cuts either build or lose tension. Vidders were asked to pay attention to a song's "stress points" and to match the action in the vid to those stress points (track either the climactic music or the quieter moments). More and more vidders began talking about "cutting on the beat" which in turn helped viewers understand why a vid worked for them when it did just that. There was greater attention on establishing a POV early on in the vid (when the singer says "I" or "me" the clip should focus on the character who is the POV character or the one telling the story). Changing POV multiple times could be confusing and could mean losing viewers. The Law of the Diminishing Audiences was more openly discussed: "With every vid, you start with an unlimited potential vidding audience. With every vidding choice you peel away viewers. You decide to do an X-Files vid and you lose 20% of the audience who has never watched X-Files and never will. You then choose to create a Mulder/Scully het vid - whoops, there goes another 25% of your audience who is only there to see [[slash] vids. Now you're down to 50%. You pick a country western song and suddenly you're down to the last 5%. And that is before you've even made a single edit. Once you understand, as a vidder, that each decision leads you down the path to a different audience, you can understand why *this* audience didn't "grok" your vid. Or why *that* audience began wildly cheering and dancing in the aisles. It is not you. It is not them. It is not the vid. It is the meeting of all three - or, as in some cases, the missing of all three that explains a vid's overall reception. [1]

Reviews on the Vidder mailing list

Vividcon's vid review

Online vid review - types, communities


  1. ^ Morgan Dawn's personal notes, accessed April 4, 2012.