Friday, July 17, 2015

Hey, Mr. DJ…Put a Fanvid On.

TV and movie fandoms express themselves in some of the most creative ways I have ever seen.  Fanction, artwork, message board avatars, even creating recipes based on food from the shows they love.  My favorite medium, however, is a time-consuming one that can be stressful, rewarding, and requires an imagination and muse that work overtime.  The art of fan vidding.

Fan vids take on many variations and forms.  They have their own vernacular, programs, categories, and style.  Machinima (Fanvids for video games,) AMV (Anime vids,) AU (Alternate reality,) Episodic (videos specific to one TV Show episode) Crossovers (mixing TV shows and/or movies,) and the list goes and on.  You can create your own worlds within your fandom and if you have a song that reminds you of a certain character, episode, or their current struggle, your music video can voice it for you.  As you can see, the possibilities are endless.

So are the programs to use and the capacity for huge learning curve.

The first thing I can recommend for starting out in fanvidding is patience.  Lots of it.  Fanvidding is more than throwing a five minute chunk of a show into a video program and putting music over top of it.  Secondly, if you want to do this right, own the song/show/movie that you work with.  Don’t illegally download it.  These are fan projects to support the show/movie/music that you love, so prove that you love them.  Buy their stuff!

You have the box set and you have the music.  Now how do you prep it all?  First you need to get the clips on to your computer.  DVD Shrink is a free program that I recommend d.  It’s a ripping program that can pull your DVDs on to your computer so you can watch them on your system any time without having to carry the DVD’s around.  They upload into segments, so be sure you label them so you don’t get them confused (they upload with the same title for every disc you put in.)  I suggest just making a folder titled Season 1, with sub-folders that say Disc 1, Disc 2, etc. 

DVDs normally rip in a .VOB file format.  Some vid making programs will read .VOB format, but some won’t.  If they don’t you will have to convert the files.  There are many types of conversion programs you can use, but I don’t recommend using online video converters unless you have no other choice; they tend to download all kinds of viruses and overload your cookies.  Your system will thank you for downloading an actual conversion program.  I recommend Any Video Converter.  It gives you all possible file types to convert a video to, plus audio file types as well.  You can’t go wrong.  Plus, like DVD Shrink, it is free.  You can’t get any cheaper than free.

Now your clips are ready.  But how to start?  I have always felt that learning how to edit is the best step, but every fanvidder operates differently.  For learning how to edit, learning how to work with a timeline, coloring, shading, special effects, etc., the best program I have found is Windows Movie Maker.  I can hear the mouse-click of several fanvidders as they close the web browser because I suggested this, but hear me out.  Yes, we agree with Waterboy’s Mama that most Windows standard programs “Is da devil!’  But to walk, you have to crawl first.  This program has basic tools in every sense of the word.  It’s easy to drag/drop clips straight into a timeline.  You can move a clip frame by frame with your arrow key and from there, know just where you want to stop and start a clip so you can learn how to start cutting them down to size.  It is the best editing teacher you can find.  Starting off small helps you get the hang of basics.  From there you can move on to the big league program of your choice.

Always try the free trial version of the major video programs first.  Buying a vid program before 
testing the waters is like brushing your teeth with a mouthful of Oreos; nothing really gets solved and you’ve wasted your time.  If you don’t fancy the format you’re screwed out of money.  Free trial means you’re only out of 30 days of time and you know if the program is a yay or a nay, and most give you all of the available features that the pay program does.  Some have a watermark for project that you make on the trial versions that shows up on your project and some might have minor online services that are not available unless you have the full version.  Those are the only drawbacks.  There are tons to try out in the world:  Sony Vegas, Pinnacle Studios, iMovie HD for Mac users, Adobe Premiere, etc.  From experience I recommend Sony Vegas versions 7 or 8, or Pinnacle Studios, which is what I use.  The controls for both Vegas and Pinnacle are similar and the results are stunning.  You can always find multiple tutorials online for working no only the basics of the programs, but also how to use the more difficult tools, like shading, making your own gradients, and even clip manipulation to make people show up scenes that weren’t even in the show (this is called feathering/masking.)    Some vid makers even have dedicated blogs and/or Youtube pages that are full of nothing but the tutorials that they have made for the programs that you might be using.  Never underestimate the generosity of the vid-making community; we share and share alike! 

Please remember, however, what I said about patience.  You want to simply slap clips together and put them to music?  That’s your thing.  That takes ten minutes and you’re done.  You want a project like these?

These take longer than ten minutes.  A project that you pace yourself on with time and effort, with special effects, watermarking, research to find the exact clips that you need for the right content, learning how to do a certain special effect…those take weeks or longer.  A normal project for me can take two to three months if I want to be sure I have done it right.  The bottom link for the Supernatural/Gilmore Girls spoof?  I researched tons of Supernatural clips to find ones that would match up with mannerisms from the Season 3 Gilmore Girls credits, down to a clip of the two of them sitting in a diner to cap the credits off just like Lorelai/Rory sitting in a diner at the end of the Gilmore Girls credits.  That process itself took one week just to find the clips that I need and write them down to know where to find them later.  During one project my computer wiped all my progress after nearly three months and near completion.  I had to start over; the resulting video took me a total of six months to complete!

I’m not saying this to scare you off.  I say it so you’ll know that this is an art form that is worth it.  I’m proud of the vids I’ve made.  Granted, my early stuff shows that I didn’t have the handle on audio or editing tools that I do now, but I’m redoing those later down the pike to tweak em’.  But once you find the programs you need, take the time to tinker with them and to look for tutorials online.  Look for online vid sites like Vimeo or for communities of vid makers that you can get tips and suggestions from.  They are always willing to help out newcomers with getting familiar with the trade.  Next thing you know your muse will not shut up and you’ll be like me, a woman with a notebook full of fifty-six projects that she has yet to complete, but hopes to someday. 

Did I mention vid-making was an addictive habit?  I didn’t?  Well…too late now…

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