Sunday, December 02, 2007

Fan Videos, Redux or Three

There's been a sudden spurt of press about fan video creators recently, specifically New York Magazine's profiling of Luminosity, in Online Videos 2007. Henry Jenkins has a short writeup here, suggesting he nominated her work. And here's a coincidentally timed article in the Japan Times on anime fan music video, pointed to by a vidder friend of mine.

While I'm at it, here's a link to my older post about a talk I gave at IBM on fan video creators. LiveJournal is one of the main places they are hanging out now, and in that post and talk I showed some network relations among "vidder" groups on LJ. The anime vid crowd is very distinct from the other TV show vidding crowds. They have an aesthetic and interests that evolved very independently. (As a former fan vidder myself, I don't love LiveJournal and what it's done for and to fandom's communication, but it has certainly been a nice central point for many folks to find each other and also avoid each other if wanted. LiveJournal's prominence in online media fandom is also mentioned frequently in Henry Jenkin's Gender and Fan Culture discussion.)

And speaking of gender and academic studies, I have a minor peeve about the discussion of vidding and Lum's work in that New York mag article, and in Henry's writeup. I suppose this is also one reason I got disillusioned by the academic studies of fandom while I was on their fringes as a fan vidder and grad student. There's a bit too much focus on stuff like "feminist critique" of TV shows and other big concepts that seem to "legitimize" something that to outsiders probably looks goofy and crazy. (Unless they're active in sports fandoms, and even then, that's okay in a way that TV fandom isn't!) The very vids that were picked of Lum's to host on NY mag's site in a postage-stamp-sized, stopmotion playback fashion are kind of off-topic, to me. They aren't the emotional ones about plot and story and character, they're commentary with gorgeous images and effects. I don't mean this in any way to criticize her work, which is excellent as always; but they aren't the ones of hers that are best-loved by the fan consumers. She herself says she goes for the emotional punch; so to me this makes these vids odd choices for the story, perhaps ones that were thought to hold up better to outsiders?

And a few comments on the online video THING that bugs most of the purist vidders. It may mean greater access and easier distrubition being on YouTube or Imeem, but the playback still sucks. Big screen quality of experience, caliber of edits, timing, etc. are all important to fan vidders. These online sites don't support it, and that means a lot of vidders just aren't happy with them as a means of distribution. If you watch vids on YouTube, you aren't seeing the real thing. I'm just saying. It started long before the Internet, and still lives in parallel, despite what people having conferences about online video might say. To illustrate, here is a long list of vids made about the Professionals (a UK tv show), with dates and authors. Look at the dates lower in the list. Those were made on VCRs, the way many of us started.

Relevant other links: DIY video conferenece, covering fan video in part, in February 2008. (They have reviewed submissions for the ones they think are best, by their criteria, not community criteria, again? I know a fan or two is involved, but still, their conference site worries me.) Some friends of mine whom I used to vid with posted a sampler of vids, including one of my co-authored ones, announced here. If you want to see all of Luminosity's fan works in non-postage-stamp jerky playback, her list is here.

11 comments :

Morgan Dawn said...

re the DYI conference - with respect to live action vidding, Laura Shapiro has been seeking a lot of community input in her LJ as well as in the vidding community LJ. Live action vidding will have its own section in the main vid show and also a 1 hr panel (just like all the other forms).

Morgan Dawn said...

I think the main vid show will focus on vids made in the last 2 years (and yes all vids - including live action vids will be selected by the entire group, something which makes sense since the purpose of the main show is to make all forms of vidding accessible to a larger audience). the vidding panel will focus on the history of vidding and I suspect there will be more 'insider' leeway in choices there.

at least this is what I think is happening- you should read her posts/contact laura direct to get her perspective.

Lynn said...

Thanks for the comments -- you're right, I should contact Laura myself. She asked about submitting some of our vids, but I don't know what happened if anything. Honestly, when I read that conf. site I can't figure out who is supposed to be attending. The AE workshop looks fun, but surely it's not aimed at actual vidders. You've got your own, real cons.

Morgan Dawn said...

Laura collected a passle of recommendations from the community and then took them up to the conference for consideration. She's also posted some of the vid other recommendations that she was asked to review (anime, hip hop, political etc) so it has been a very interesting process to watch.

I think the audience will be directed at the outsiders of each community - so the workshops - like the main vid show - is to educate outsiders about the various cultures (how much do we live action vidders know know about hip hop? political vidding? sports vids?) So if I attend, I am going to hit those 'other' workshops first.

Laura Shapiro said...

The vids for the main screening are originally selected by me and then winnowed by the group of curators, to fit the various themes the group wants to explore as well as to fit into the 3-hour runtime. I will admit to selecting vids I judged to be accessible to a wide audience, because the main screening is not going to provide a lot of context. The good news is our 90-minute program on "The Genealogy of Vidding", which Francesca Coppa is presenting. Context, history, VCR vids, various genres, all will be discussed and shown. It's a much more in-depth look at the subject of vidding.

I think DIY is primarily going to attract academics, and secondarily creators from the various video genres represented. All screenings are open to the general public, and I certainly hope we'll see a broad audience there, but I don't know yet how the event is being promoted.

The workshops are, in fact, aimed at actual vidders -- and vloggers, machinima makers, AMV editors, etc. The event organizers feel it's important to provide the creators the opportunity to learn from one another, especially hands-on tools and skills that we can apply to our various crafts. The workshop program was designed specifically with video creators in mind.

Regarding the various JKL vids I've recommended, you should be contacted very soon for the Genealogy screening. They're finalizing the tech issues this week.

Lynn said...

Thanks for posting, Laura. I'm still confused by the conference. It feels a tiny bit patronizing for academic organizers to provide vidders workshops in which to learn from each other, when you've got vividcon and so many other venues, not to mention a couple decades of solid community learning and tradition already. But I haven't looked too hard at it, and it might be handled very well, since actual community members like yourself are involved in keeping it solid. (And I didn't mean to imply any doubts about your role in it, either. I respect you working for the good :-)

Laura Shapiro said...

To clarify: the idea of the workshops isn't that vidders would learn from other vidders, but that vidders would learn from machinima-makers and machinima makers would learn from vloggers and vloggers would learn from documentary-makers, etc. It's cross-pollination, because the conference is bringing creators from all these different genres together. And I see the value in that.

Lynn said...

I agree it's an interesting idea. The goals of each group are very different, however, so apart from technical skills, it may not feel that applicable to many vidders. But it is interesting. Sorry if I was giving you a hard time, I know you've put a lot of work into this!

Laura Shapiro said...

The workshops are all technical for that reason. I think the event organizers realize that the goals of the genres are quite different (though, as I've learned in our meetings, not as different as you might think!).

And you haven't given me a hard time, so no worries there. One of the biggest challenges of my involvement in this event has been trying to be a fair representative of vidding fandom as a whole, including the varying degrees of skepticism vs. enthusiasm about going public with our work. I'm very protective of the community and I try to be responsive to everyone's concerns, hence my continued commenting here.

Lynn said...

I really appreciate it. Say, if Mimi Ito is involved in this (it looks like it from the conf site), tell her I said hi. We were in grad school together!

Laura Shapiro said...

Mimi's the driving force behind the whole thing, actually. I'll convey your greetings the next time we speak.