I am not there. I do not sleep. (secretlytodream) wrote in spnroundtable,
I am not there. I do not sleep.

Workshop: I Make Images Move With The Music

Hi! My name is Maria, but you can also know me as Loki, and I'm your workshop host this month. And what else could I choose?.. :D I

This workshop provides an overview of vidding, including its categories, genres, editing styles, methodologies and more. In some ways, these are only my thoughts; in other ways, I hope you’ll find something new and interesting for yourselves. If you’re already a vidder, please come play and join in on the viding discussion :) If you’re not a vidder yet, I invite you to read, learn, contemplate, and if you have any questions, just ask. And then go forth and start making your own videos ;)

Before I start though, I would really like to mention one thing. I can’t say I’m an amazing vidder because there are dozens of people who are much better than me. Yes, I, too, am a fangirl. Also, I can’t say that I’m an expert in everything as I’m still learning myself. I’m still discovering new things that make me go all "WOAH" in 0.3 seconds. But it’s all part of the vidding experience and I’d like to share it with you guys.

I will try to cover all aspects of viding process, from scratch to the finished product. How do I start? What do I do first? Where can I find sources? How do I finish a vid? I will try to answer all these questions and more in this workshop.


As obsessive24 said, "I guess you can say that, instead of having a fandom for which I vid for, *vidding* is my fandom." I couldn’t have said it better.

I’ve been a vidder for more than two years now, and I think that I can talk about the subject now, even though I still have a lot of questions and things to learn myself. But I guess asking is the best way to find the answers, right? ;)

My background is with the SPN fandom, meaning that the majority of vids I make and watch are SPN videos. I have come to my own conclusions based on my own thoughts and experiences; everything that you’ll read next is absolutely nothing more than my own musings, which I’m always happy to talk about it.

So, what is it that we’re going to talk about? Vidding.
It’s "the fan labor practice in media fandom of creating music videos from the footage of one or more visual media sources, thereby commenting on the source text(s)." [ Wikipedia ]

I won’t cover much about the history of vidding because there are a lot of articles which cover this topic far better than I could. For example, here or here. And yay – we’re already creating history, people! \o/

From my personal experience of watching and making videos, I came to conclusion, that there is a little bit of "everything". We’ll look in the heart of it in this article.

Part One: Getting Started

So, how does this whole thing even work?

The most important thing is to have patience. Just as you need patience to write a fanfic or create a piece of art, the same thing applies to vidding.

I’m sure all of you like music and you have your favorite types, genres, bands, singers, etc. It may not seem like it, but this is the first step to starting a vid. Let’s say, you have your favorite song and you think that the lyrics would be amazing to describe Sam’s character in the show. Or, let’s say, you want to describe Dean’s struggle of losing his brother and making a deal. Perfect, you have a song and you have an idea.

Before we get to the most interesting stuff, I think it’d be better if we start at the beginning – how this "interesting stuff" is actually made. You can say that this is the educational part of this whole article.

So, you found a song and you know what you want to vid. Now it’s time to start composing your video. The best way to do it, in my own opinion, is to make a storyboard. It can be in different formats, but the purpose of it is the same – to layout the structure of your video and to make everything clear not only for you but also for your viewers.

Take for example you want to make a vid about Sam’s character in the show. Let’s not forget that not everyone has seen Supernatural and not everyone, sadly, is a fan of the show. Not all of your audience may know that Sam has a lot of layers in his characterization and a lot of sides to his storyline such as his relationship with Dean, him leaving for Stanford, him wishing to be normal, his demon powers and blood, his relationship with demons, etc. It’s very hard to try to incorporate everything into one video, especially if it’s your first one. So for your first attempt, try to concentrate on just one side. The more videos you make, the more experience you’ll have and after awhile it’ll be much easier for you to tackle complex character studies.

Now you have a song, a character and an idea of what you want to show in your video. It’s time to try to lay the story over the song and the lyrics.

Since English isn’t my native language, I always have to have the lyrics right in front of me so it’s easier for me to see some words/lines/sentences and then think about certain scenes. Even if English is your native language, don’t be lazy and take the time to google the lyrics and really listen to the song again (or 20 times more). It always helps me to concentrate on scenes and not accidentally use something twice. Also, you can see your whole song on one page and it’s much easier to see the big picture before you start trying to single out the details.

So you’ve looked through the lyrics and even have a few ideas about particular lines/scenes/beats. It’s time for a storyboard.

Part 2: Structure

There’s a few ways to structure your video using a storyboard. I’ve tried a few of them, finding the one that I like the most and that’s the easiest for me to work with.

The first way is to actually write your story down on paper. It’s pretty easy and interesting and you can create a map of your whole video.

Below there are a few examples of my own storyboards.

This was made for my Sam character study video I’m Becoming Untouchable:
1 | 2 | 3

As you can see, these are three pages of a storyboard in which I wrote down clips and scenes for each line of the song, including the musical cues. It’s very helpful and important because once you have a storyboard, you can see your whole video in front of your eyes and it’s much easier for you to find ups and downs of your narrative and concentrate on clip choice and scenes.

Write down everything that will help you understand your own ideas later. My notes may not make sense to others, but to me it’s a clear story and I know exactly what I wanted to put here and there. Don’t be afraid to write all the nonsense you can think of, just so long as you can understand it yourself.

This is one I made for my AU video On The Darkest Side Of The Sun:
1 | 2

I personally think that if you’re making an AU video you definitely need a storyboard no matter how good you know the source material and scenes. Your story needs a structure, because you have to lead your characters from point A to point B and you need to make it as clear as possible so the viewer will understand and see what you want to show and say with your video.

The other way of making a storyboard is to write down your ideas in a Word document. Lately, I’ve became a lot more lazy *coughs* so I stopped making handwritten storyboards and just copy/paste song lyrics into Word documents and write down all the clips/scenes for each line. Basically it’s the same, just without a pen and paper.

This is an example of my storyboard for my The Chain video:

And if you don't love me now – Sam uses his powers, Dean sees it – 404, 407
You will never love me again – Sam’s close up
I can still hear you saying you would never break the chain – 403 Dean’s profile;
And if you don't love me now – 4th season brothers argue (404 close ups)
You will never love me again – 409 (flash backs)
I can still hear you saying you would never break the chain – s2,3 the deal, the hellhounds – flashbacks, close ups

Again, this probably won’t make much sense to a person who doesn’t know what I’m talking about, but for a vidder it’s a pretty clear story. Sometimes when I start the actual editing I may change a few clips, but the basic idea stays the same. If I wanted to use close ups for a certain line, I will do it, but I can always change which one.

This is a slightly different example of a storyboard for another AU video, Roads:

Music – Dean and Bella and hell, Alastair makes Dean torture her, then Castiel raises Dean from Hell, Bella stays there.

And this is where we came to the subject of AU videos.

Part 3: Examples of Genre

The example above - Roads - is a pure AU video, because the canon relationship of Dean and Bela is completely different.

As you can see, I just put a number of scenes for the musical cues. I used outside footage to create the mood of the story, and to help viewers to see what I wanted to show them.

Outside footage can be pretty important if you make an AU video because more times than not it can help differentiate the world you’re building from the canon storyline of the show. For example, you want to make an SPN video about hell. Well, we haven’t seen Hell in the show, just a glimpse of it and characters’ descriptions of it. So, how do you get around this? Go and cut clips from movies, different TV shows, or wherever you find what you like.

So, you found a song and you want to make an AU video, let’s say about Dean and Jo or Sam and Ruby. Or more challenging still – Dean and Ruby or Sam and Jo.

In canon, there were a number of scenes where they were together in a scene, but it’s definitely not enough to make a whole video. However, the actors did a number of other shows and movies, music videos or commercials maybe that you can draw upon.

In my "Roads" video I didn’t have to look for much of Bela/Lauren footage, mostly I just needed to create the mood. But if you want to make, let’s say, a "happily ever after" video, or a very disturbing and dark video, you probably would have to look for outside footage. It may take you some time to find and watch the movies or TV shows containing the actor/actresses, but I can assure you it’s worth it in the end because the outside footage will definitely help you to create the story and the mood. This advice isn’t necessarily limited to AU videos, but applies to all kinds of videos. Together with a song, you can make a masterpiece and convince all the viewers that Sam did love Jo or Ruby was a good character on the show.

When you structure your AU video, the thing that you have to pay attention to the most is the narrative. Only you know what will happen in your video and you have to convey it to the viewers. Keep in mind the scenes that you want to use/make/manip and the plan to get from point A to point B.

We’ve covered two genres – AU videos and character study. But of course there are a lot more genres, such as episodic, general/themed montage videos, crack/humor videos, slash, etc. I put together a list of vid recs, divided into categories here, so you can have an idea ;)

Now you have a song, a completed storyboard, and some source material. What’s next?

Part 4: Editing.

Open a new project in your video editing program and let’s get started!

There’s a lot of video programs to choose from. I’m sure you all know that, if you don’t have your favorite already :) Nowadays, many vidders use Sony Vegas, which I use as well. dazzelbug made a very nice tutorial on how to start working in this program [ here ] It helped me a lot when I took my first baby steps into the scary vidding world. So, if you want to start working in Sony Vegas, I really recommend you to look through this tutorial first. Also, there’s a very good community over LJ – vidding, where they give tips about lots of different programs for both PC and Mac.

Now let’s move on to the actual editing process: techniques, styles, beats, flow, colors, voiceovers, etc.

Before I start editing, I usually listen to the song like 20+ times. This helps me to feel the mood of the music and to hear and catch all the beats/effects, which will later help me to decide on the editing style.

I like to vid different kinds of songs. I like rock music with guitars and drums, but also I like electronic music with more experimental sounds. If I use a rock song, my editing usually stays pretty clear without a lot of effects, and if I use something instrumental or electronic, I try to "color" my videos as much as I can.

First thing that I think we should talk about is beat use. It’s not necessary to make an accent (switch from clip to clip or have action within a clip) on every beat. In fact, it’d be better if you chose just the main beats and made cuts or flashes or transitions on them. Try not to use flashes too often; most of the time it’ll just irritate the viewer because of the "brightness" of the video. Besides, it’s kind of hard to watch a story if there’s an excess of flashes.

It’s better if you choose the "key" beats, the loudest, the repeated (not too often) ones. The same goes with other different effects – blur, wipes, slow motion, motion blur, fades, manips, etc. Try not to put everything you can think of in one video. Choose what’s better for your video, your story and the mood of the video. For example, blur or motion blur can help you create dream like effect, to create this easy light feeling. It’s good for making happy or feel good videos. But at the same time blur effect can help you to create a different atmosphere – something mysterious. Look for yourself and you’ll see that each effect creates some kind of a mood, and just choose the one you need for your video.

I usually try to fit effects to the song. For example, if I vid some electronic song, I use a lot of blur, motion blur, pixilate effect. If I vid something slow and beautiful, I try to use gussian blur with light colors. If I want to make a dark video, I use horizontal blur to create this creepy mood. But there are times when I don’t want to use any effects at all. So it depends.

The other thing that I pay a lot of attention to is colors. For a very long time I thought that if you’re a vidder and you’re making a video, you at least have to change the source material somehow (i.e. change the colors). I tried a lot of coloring chains/color effects, textures, but in the end I came to the conclusion that you absolutely don’t need to change colors to make a good video. In fact, vidders can go too far with coloring effects and then it’d be almost impossible to watch a video and see the details. It happens quite often, sadly.

Also, the voiceovers can add your video something unique. It always help to tell the story you want to show in your video, using the line or two from a dialogue. or example, if you want to make a vid about Sam losing his brother, one of the dialogues from 3x16 "No Rest For The Wicked" episode would work great. Just try to remember that voiceovers shouldn't be too loud or too quiet. Watch your video yourself and think if you can hear the words clearly and easily - if not, try to fix it: maybe you used a lot of echo effect, or made the voiceover too quiet.

The other thing that I discovered while being a vidder and a viewer myself, that there are different Editing Styles.

There is no better or worse approach, it’s just the way vidders make their videos, each and every one of them with their own unique and recognizable style.

You can concentrate on effects, making your video colorful and full of visually interesting stuff. It’ll make the viewers’ jaws drop, for sure, but try not to forget that somewhere in your video you should actually tell a story. Try not to let the effects overshadow your characters and your narrative.

Another editing approach is, what I call a "clear" style. Some vidders prefer a minimum of effects and coloring in their videos so they concentrate on the story and internal movement, meaning that they still manage to create an amazing video but without all the fancy stuff. I actually adore vidders who can do it, because for me it’s the hardest. Not sure why, but it is. So if you don’t know how or don’t like using effects, don’t think that people won’t like your videos ;)

Finally, here’s a few tips on creating videos. At the links below you’ll find helpful advice on the art of video editing:
Sony Vegas 101: A Beginner’s Guide
AP's Beginners' Guide To Sony Vegas
AP’s guide to making a great video
Scene maniping: Making the cut
How To Make a Gut-Wrenching Video In Five Easy Steps or Less...
The Language of Vidding

So you have finished your video and maybe you’re not so sure about some scenes or clips. This is where your beta enters the scene.

Whether you’re a writer, a fan artist or a vidder, it’s always better if you have someone who watches your creation before you post it. I know how twitchy you can get when you finish a video – you can’t wait till you post it, but don’t rush it. You may think that everything in your video is logical and clear, but there may be parts that actually confuse the viewer.

It’s better if your beta is a vidder too, because he/she can give you advice not only on narrative, but also on the technical side of the process. Sometimes the beta process can take one evening and sometimes it can take the whole week. I don’t always work with beta, and I think this is my bad side. *coughs* However, I do advise you to find your own beta, one who knows you as a vidder and is familiar with your style.

And that is basically it.

I hope this was helpful for the newbies and for those who already are accomplished vidders *winks*
Huge thanks to my lovelies - maichan, giandujakiss and deirdre_c for help ♥

If you have any questions/tips/suggestions, fire away :) I’ll gladly talk with you guys!

Don’t forget that I’ve also created a huge vid rec post with the videos divided into categories, so if you’re interested, please check it out here. The post turned out to be too huge to include it here O.O
Tags: workshop
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