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Disambiguation: This article is about the fan activity. For the 2008 short documentary series, see Vidding (2008).

Related terms: fanvid or vid, songvid, Songtape Collection
See also: contapes, Songtape Collection, vidshows, vid awards, vid contests, AMV, MAD, machinima, animatic, fan films
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Vidding is the act or process of creating a fan-oriented video or "fanvid" using live-action TV or movie footage set to music (or other audio). The people who make these vids are called vidders.

Vids often tell some sort of story, and often highlight one reading, sometimes subversive, of the canon.

Fan-video makers in anime fandoms create anime music videos, and are known as AMV editors.

See Also

History of Vidding: In the Beginning

The Slideshow Era

The first fanvids were made in 1975 by Kandy Fong using a slide projector and a cassette tape player. These were played at cons and were very popular.

In recent years, digital slideshows have made a comeback as fans new to video editing try their hands using screencaps or in case of comic vids panel scans instead of moving footage.

See Slideshows for more.

The VCR Era

With the exception of Star Trek, where Gene Roddenberry's Lincoln Enterprises actually sold film clips, slides and other materials, very few fans had access to these. While the Sony Portapak, the first portable and affordable half-inch video recording device, became available in 1968 and was used by counterculture artists to create alternative video productions outside the "big three" network channels[1], vidding in terms of media fandom didn't really open up until the invention and commercial availability of the VCR[2], which gave fans a way to copy their source material from television, and a way for them to linearly edit their source to create music videos. That said, the technology was expensive, and as a result it became common for groups of fans to share technology and access to source materials (in particular, hard-to-find TV shows). Vidding was occasionally done at conventions as fun group behavior, as a way to teach new vidders, and probably a bit as a way to show off.

Still photo from a VCR movie, showing an actor's head. While the photo is in full, true color, patches of the actor's face and hair are discolored yellow-ish or pink-ish due to "rainbow noise".
the discoloration over the actor's face is an example of "rainbow noise", a visual artifact left behind when editing videotape on VCRs without a flying erase-head

In spite of the huge number of fanzines being published at that time, Vidders had a difficult time communicating with each other. In the early 1990s, Tashery Shannon started a letterzine for vidders named Rainbow Noise, but the difficulty of explaining in text issues that were happening on video may have doomed it. Even after web pages and email made stories easier to pass back and forth, vids were still very rare on the web. Digital recording made the creation and sharing of these loving amateur productions much easier, and they are common today.

Early Songvids

Picture of four Beauty and the Beast fanvid videocassettes. Three are in protective packaging (which includes labels that list the included fanvids), while one is on display.
Beauty and the Beast fanvids on videocassette, originally sold to raise funds for a charity
Early handwritten fanvid production notes - Katharine Scarritt Papers - 1988

While vidding started in Star Trek fandom, some fans believe that the first non-slideshow vids were produced in Starsky & Hutch fandom.[3] These first songvids were very simple. There is an early Starsky & Hutch vid by Kendra Hunter and Diana Barbour that is nothing more than a still frame of Hutch's face behind an entire song. Many others were only two or three clips set to music. See Starsky & Hutch Vidding Booklets by Flamingo for more information.

This isn't to say they were necessarily easy to make. Fans learned a great deal about film editing in creating these videos. You had to find a clip that was emotionally correct for the point you were trying to make, but that also had movements and actions on all of the important beats of a minute-long piece of music. Then you had to insert the clip at exactly the place in that music to make those actions and beats line up. [4] One example of such a vid is Barbour and Hunter's vid The Rose, which sets an entire scene from Starsky & Hutch to the song of the same name. Despite the limited technology of the time, the scene matches each line of the lyrics to an eerie degree, and the vid still works well today. [5]

As the quality of commercial VCRs improved, so did the complexity of fan vids. By the end of the VCR era, most of the vidding vocabulary we use today had already been explored. Vidders such as Tashery Shannon (known for her use of unconventional music and command of the color palette), Deejay (known for her cutting precision, and willingness to step outside the clips available in a show to make a point), and many others were turning out amazingly tight and complex vids back in the early '90s.

Printed flyer advertising a songtape, which lists the price, formatting detail, included fanvids, and purchasing instructions.
Songtape flyer from the mid-1990s

Vids were watched either at convention vidshows or bought/traded on tape collections (which were often contapes, collections of vids shown at a specific convention). In the VCR era, clips were dubbed down sometimes four or five times from the original videotaped episode until the time it was copied to a contape master, and then to each person's individual purchased copy. Even with the best original-quality source, songtapes from this era were always a little fuzzy.

Digital Vidding

The first digital or computer video in media fandom was a Star Trek/Blake's 7 vid set to In the Air Tonight by T'Rhys and shown at Virgule convention (2?) in 1994?. Considering the technical limitations, it was amazingly ambitious, including matte work that made it look like the Enterprise crew could see the Liberator (the space ship in Blake's 7) on their view screen. The following year T'Rhys submitted a Jurassic Park/Blake's 7 constructed reality vid which morphed the face of the villain Servalan into a velocoraptor. However the next digital vid did not appear until Escapade 1998 with Cultural Revolution's Sleep To Dream, a La Femme Nikita vid.

The ability to do non-linear editing and the end of dubbing quality loss were powerful incentives to go digital. With the bundling of basic video editing software such as Microsoft Windows Movie Maker and iMovie on new computers, the trickle of Digital Vidding became a torrent. In 2002, a computer vidder submitting to Escapade or Vividcon would have copied her vid from digital to a VHS or Beta tape to submit it to the convention. Then the convention transferred the tape back to the convention master DVD to show at the vid show. Then they would have made VHS copies of the show to sell to the congoers. Only in 2003 did broadband become common enough for vidders to start to upload digital copies of their vids directly to conventions.

Digital Vid Aesthetics: Feral Vidders, Vividcon and AMV

With vidding software easily available and source video now coming out in droves on near-flawless commercial DVDs, vidding changed again. While there had always been fans who came up independently with the idea to make music videos -- having seen movie trailers, MTV, or indie films -- and had taught themselves to do it, fan vidding had largely evolved under the supervision and control of gatekeepers. This is described in Rachael Sabotini's The Genealogy of Vidding. The new technology allowed many more fans to experiment with video creation outside the box. They were sometimes called feral vidders -- with more or less affection by the old guard.

As web hosting space became cheap enough to make it possible to post vids to the web, media vidders and AMV vidders (who refer to themselves as editors) have had a chance to see and be influenced by each others' work. Vidding was growing exponentially, while editing cohesion and stylistic norms seemed to be disappearing, although there were attempts to collectively improve basic and advanced vidding skills, for example the vidding bootcamp at We Band of Buggered. Into this potential chaos came Vividcon (VVC), a convention just for vidders and fans of vids, held in Chicago each year.

Vidding as a Fandom of Its Own

I've been in media and slash fandom for twenty years. I've seen slash go from being one aspect of the fandom of a show ("I'm a Pros fan, and I read both slash and straight"; "I'm a Robin of Sherwood fan, but I only like gen") to being a fandom in its own right. (This has also happened, more recently, with vids. Watching and making vids used to be a way one expressed fannishness for a particular show; now vidding is a fandom in itself. I wonder what the next offshoot will be?) [6]

Modern Vidding Genres

Vids may be described as belonging to the fannish genres gen, het or slash; however, beyond shipper vids, there are many subgenres specific to vidding.

Song Choice and Re-use

See Song Choice.

Controversies and Challenges


Visibility Concerns

Traditionally, because of fears of copyright infringement for both our music and video, most vidders have preferred to stay out of the press or Hollywood eye, but this has begun to shift with the recognition that the sheer numbers of fanvids and the cultural shift to remixing or re-appropriating and transforming popular culture has made vidding more visible and more socially acceptable. Recently, Luminosity's vids were showcased in New York Magazine[7], and Reason Magazine published an article on vidding as well[8].

In early November 2008, the OTW released[9] Vidding (2008), a series of short documentaries on vidding for MIT's New Media Literacy project[10]. Made by Francesca Coppa and Laura Shapiro, the videos feature interviews with many prominent vidders on subjects ranging from their personal motivation to vid, to the hardware and software they use, to the vidding communities they belong to. Excerpts from several well-known vids are also included.

In February, 2009, National Public Radio's Neda Ulabi did a segment on vidding for All Things Considered called Vidders Talk Back To Their Pop-Culture Muses. Vidders Rachael Sabotini and Lim were interviewed, as were OTW board members Francesca Coppa and Rebecca Tushnet.

Differing Cultures

Vidding is a multicultural art form, with vidders from all over the world able to post their work - unlike many archives, YouTube caters for a global auidence.

Non-English Speaking Vidders


Vidders often struggle with visibility on YouTube. To combat this, vidders Ilovehertjes and stillhotterthanyours developed the #fanvidfeed hashtag in February 2018.[11] As of January 28th, 2023, the hashtag has been used in over 139,000 videos and by over 12,000 channels.[12]



Accessibility and Audience

From a fan in 2007:

I hate having to ask for passwords to vid sites, but I do understand some of the reasons behind it.

For some vidders, it's a way to try to cut down on people taking their vids and reposting them elsewhere, for instance to Youtube, without permission (and often with the vidder's credits chopped off, so they go up anonymously as though the person who put it up had made the vid). Several vidders I know of specifically ask people to send them a statement promising not to repost or republish the vids anywhere after downloading. In my experience, this is ultimately the most common reason -- just to make people stop and think for a second before they download the vids.

Even that isn't enough to stop some people, sadly; recently, one prolific, fantastic vidder had her work grabbed and put up on Youtube and passed around the net so often, even after she password-protected everything and put up specific requests asking people not to upload her vids, that she finally just gave up and yanked every one of her vids off the web, to fandom's detriment.

Relatedly, there's also the fact that vidders are potentially exposed to much higher legal risk than fanfic writers, not only from the show's copyright holders but from the RIAA, which is just a rat bastard about going after people. Putting password protection on helps to remind people that this particular vidder, at least, is trying to stay under the radar as much as possible, to limit her exposure.

Less direly, password requests provide feedback of a sort; vid feedback is often much rarer than fic feedback, and download stats are sometimes the only way a vidder has of knowing that anyone's even seen her vids. At least if people are asking for passwords she knows that they're interested to some degree.

Password requests are also a way to keep a mental tally of their probable bandwidth usage -- 1 password request in a month implies much different bandwidth than 21 password requests.

And I'm sure other vidders have other reasons. *g* [13]

Warnings and Labels on Vids

From a fan in 1995:

Someone showed a vid Saturday that threw some of us off at first because we assumed it was slash when it wasn't. Someone in the audience recommended that the vidder put GEN in the title of the vid, or in some way warn the audience, and I *vehemently* disagreed, feeling that it could have and *should* have made that clear *in the vid* in the first few clips. I don't want to make it sound like I think liner notes should be used to let vidders get lazy and not carry the point of the vid _in the vid_ [14]

Further Reading: Warnings and Labels on Vids

Vidding Awards

See Category:Vidding Awards

Meta About Vidding

See Timeline of Vidding Meta.

Mainstream Articles



  1. ^ Aniko Bodroghkozy, The Groove Tube: 60s Television and the Youth Rebellion. Duke University, 2001.
  2. ^ The first home VCRs appeared in 1972 and began to gain popularity in 1975. 1976 saw the introduction of the VHS format.
  3. ^ The SHareCon 2010 panel on vidding history advanced this view, for example.
  4. ^ See Fan History Vid Panel 2008, Vividcon, a pdf copy of the panel notes can be found here [1].
  5. ^ For another example of perfectly timed clip editing, see Nerd Fest UK's Old Movie Stars Dance to 'Uptown Funk'.
  6. ^ Sexuality and slash fandom (2007 post), shoshanna (2007)
  7. ^ New York Magazine
  8. ^ Remixing Television: Francesca Coppa on the vidding underground. Reason Magazine, August/September 2008
  9. ^ Organisation for Transformative Works, November 2008 Newsletter, vol. 21
  10. ^ OTW videos at MIT TechTV
  11. ^ #fanvidfeed by SunnyVids
  12. ^ #fanvidfeed hashtag page (Accessed Jaunary 28th, 2023)
  13. ^ comments by Margie at Prospect-L, quoted with permission (January 26, 2007)
  14. ^ comments by Sandy Herrold, at ...and sealing wax..., quoted with permission (October 29, 1995)