flummery (flummery) wrote,

VVC 2007: Disc Zero - at the con (1/5)

(crossposted to the Vidder mailing list)

*points to icon* This is Margie. :)

I meant to have all of this done weeks ago, but hey, better late than never.

Mostly this con report is a review of the vids that made it onto the VVC 2007 DVD set (four discs, omg), but I also wanted to touch on a few things from the con as well -- thus, "disc zero".

I was hoping to talk more about general panels and some of the specific vidshows, but it's three months after Vividcon already, and I wanted to at least get this posted while it's still 2007. (ahem.) But there are three things in particular I really wanted to get out there: Genealogy of Vidding, Vividsection, and the Town Hall on Vidding and Visibility.

First, though: the master list of links to playlists and panel notes from various attendees is here: http://community.livejournal.com/vidding/1168820.html

Okay, onward.

Geneaology of Vidding
VJ/moderator: rache
playlist with links (if available): http://community.livejournal.com/vidding/1178706.html

In the Town Hall meeting that was held later during the weekend, Ian mentioned how difficult it is to tap into the history of vidding because it's an oral tradition; you can't just go look it up somewhere. Which is true, and frustrating.

But what's also true is that Vividcon is the first place (that I know of, at least) to ever make a point of deliberately repeating that oral history in different ways, year after year, and deliberately doing so with nothing set against it, so a huge proportion of the con attendees go to listen every year, including plenty who've never heard the history before.

For decades it was a one-on-one history, that you'd learn from a mentor or friend, maybe -- or maybe not at all. But Vividcon is reclaiming it for everyone, every year, making sure that the knowledge doesn't die out. Which is *so cool*. (Related to that, a few people are planning on doing an actual history -- I don't remember whether it's going to be oral (or video) recordings or written histories -- to preserve the stories as first-hand as possible, hopefully at next year's Vividcon.)

This year, instead of the Wayback/Retrospective, we had Genealogy. This show was an admittedly biased one -- rache has developed a "genealogy" based on what she knows about fannish vidding, so this is her personal take on how vidding changed over the years, using "houses" or styles of vidding that developed in specific areas or around specific cons. Not everyone is going to agree with her terminology or her view of events/timeline; still, this seems to be a pretty solid starting point.

She picks up after the proto-vidding years of slideshows (started by Kandy Fong in 1975) and the very earliest vids, starting in with vids from the mid- to late 1980s. (The vids in the show aren't in chronological order, but rather primarily in "style" order to give a sense of how things were changing, which happened at different times in different places as various aesthetics evolved.)

And of course, the best way to talk about that is by showing vids:

Oh Boy
vidders: California Crew
fandom: Quantum Leap

VJ summary: Mediawest aesthetic. Mediawest was all about accessibility of the vid to the audience. Target reading level K-3.

I've seen this vid once or twice before, and was really happy to see it show up here as the first vid of the show. It's light and fun, a great example of an accessible vid that appeals to a broad audience, with a clear, clever hook: every time the song says, "oh, boy", so does Sam Beckett, in whatever new situation it is he's found himself in. There's lots of motion and costumes and making out, keeping things interesting to look at, so you don't get bored if you're watching the whole thing, but the total lack of narrative means that you can come in at any point and still instantly get the joke and enjoy the vid.

Nobody's Side
vidder: Judy Chien
fandom: Wiseguy

VJ summary: A "feral vidder" of the era, showing at Mediawest. Long clips per the era, character focus in song choice, tight POV.

The character focus in the song choice here leads to a character-study vid (as opposed to Oh Boy, which was technically about Sam but didn't tell you anything about him other than that he wound up in a lot of interesting situations and said "oh, boy" a lot, in a fun way). That also makes it more context-dependent, which again makes for an interesting contrast with Oh Boy. Poor Roger.

Polka Party
vidder: Waldo
fandom: multi

VJ summary: Modern, multimedia version of a Mediawest vid.

We skipped this one (and a few others) for lack of time, which is a pity; it's a lot of fun, and very accessible.

Temper of Revenge
vidder: Mary Van Deusen
fandom: Miami Vice

VJ summary: MVD taught character focus including song choice, narrative story, and cutting to the beat. Limited number of living-room vids. May be the originator of the three- to four-minute vid guideline.

The song choice here is a little OTT, but I don't care; it provides a tremendously clear narrative that makes me care about two secondary characters from Miami Vice I don't even remember on my own. I love this vid. (Someone at a panel once pointed out that this is one of the first uses of vidder-introduced manipulation of a clip beyond just cutting -- there's a pan up a body that pauses just briefly so the full shot matches the music like MVD wanted it to. Tough to do with VCRs without jittering your source!)

Too Long a Soldier
vidder: DeeJay
fandom: Professionals

VJ summary: Taught by MVD. Character-focused, but the vidder also took a chance by incorporating outside footage to tell the story.

I've seen this one a couple times, and every time, the external footage catches me by surprise. It works well enough in context that I find myself trying to remember where we got footage like that in Pros. *g* Really nicely done, and it puts some weight into Bodie's background that we never quite got in canon.

vidders: Jill and Kay
fandom: Highlander

VJ summary: San Francisco aesthetic: character focus, song choice, context dependence, use of theme, color palette.

This vid is ten years old now, and it still looks completely fresh to my eyes. It blew me away the first time I saw it, and I've never gotten tired of it. The cutting, the motion, the color, the emotion... wow. I love this vid so much.

So Pure
vidders: Katharine and Pam
fandom: Homicide: LotS

VJ summary: Very influential in defining the Escapade aesthetic. Note the rare use of second-person POV in the vid, and the extended dance metaphor. Accessible, yet meta.

I remember seeing this when it premiered, and sitting there with my jaw on the floor. It's a perfect look at Frank through Tim's eyes, and the dance metaphor, my God. It's not as accessible as something like Oh Boy (and I'm not sure if you need show context to get it, since I have that context), but it's still really clear. Just wow. Frankentim! I adore this.

vidders: Media Cannibals
fandom: multi

VJ summary: VCR-era version of an Escapade multimedia vid, with commentary about fandom incorporated in the vid.

This one also got skipped for lack of time, unfortunately. Another terrifically fun multimedia vid, made during a period where long-haired BSOs were very beloved indeed.

vidder: Morgan Dawn
fandom: Dr Who (2005)

VJ summary: Modern version of the San Francisco aesthetic, by way of Escapade. Pay particular attention to the use of color to support multiple levels of meaning.

The final vid to be skipped for lack of time, and now I'm going to have to go find my copy so I can pay attention to the use of color. *kof*

vidder: Carol S
fandom: Stargate SG-1

VJ summary: Technological advances and the birth of WOAD -- playing with the tech and creating acceptance of tech.

I saw this when it premiered at Escapade several years ago, where I thought it was a cool experiment that didn't quite work for me. The song choice was perfect for the show and pairing (it's a Jack/Daniel vid), but the effects were a little overwhelming for me at the time, making it hard to see what was really being shown. I've clearly gotten better at parsing effects, because watching it in the Genealogy show everything was very clear to me, and even the overlaid scrolling text wasn't an issue. Very cool vid.

Dante's Prayer
vidder: Killa
fandom: Star Trek: TOS

VJ summary: Melding music, character, color, and tech, plus commentary on fandom - all accessible to a wide audience.

*flails* I have no idea how to do justice to this vid for anyone who hasn't seen it. Everyone should see it. It's *perfect*.

I love watching this in a fannish audience, because you can feel everyone tensing up toward the end, hoping desperately that it will all be okay (even those of us who've seen the vid many, many times), and then that moment when it all *is* okay, and you can feel the release as everyone tears up... wow. This vid is fricking amazing.

moderator: Killa

Vividsection is basically a big group-beta session, where a vidder offers up a vid that she thinks needs help, and everyone in the room hashes it out.

It takes a brave person to stand up there and watch 20-30 people talk about what didn't work for them in your vid, and I've got nothing but respect for the vidders who chance it in order to get honest feedback. I thought the first Vividsection a couple of years ago went really well, and this one definitely lived up to that earlier example.

Killalla was the vidder who brought a vid to be poked at, and she deserves huge props both for being willing to offer up her vid and for being such a tremendously good sport about the ensuing discussion. She's relatively new to vidding and hadn't had much contact with vidders before this, and asked for basically any feedback people were willing to give.

The vidders and non-vidding betas in the room covered a pretty decent range of styles and experience, which I think worked out perfectly, giving her a lot of different reactions and approaches to choose from in some places. What tickled me most, though, were the places where everyone in the room was in total agreement about something, regardless of their style or experience -- it made for terrific affirmation that we all use the same "language" of similar visual cues for similar reasons, no matter *how* we choose to use them.

The first example of that was when people were talking about ways to more clearly indicate that the character in the vid was on a journey, and someone asked if Killalla had a clip of him walking along a road, or something similar; Killalla responded that she didn't have precisely that, but there was a scene that was sort of related, of him traveling in a carriage... and the entire room shouted "USE THAT!" in near-unison.

I'm sure that was startling to hear, but it amused the hell out of me, as did the time when the entire room had a spontaneous moment of "fire good!" to encourage her to use a fire scene to boost the action more.

While the primary purpose of Vividsection is to help out the vidder who offered up her work, I think it's a great thing for everyone there; betaing out loud, hearing other people beta out loud, is a fantastic way to learn more about vids and vidding, no matter how much you already know. Hearing how other people find entry points into vids both as betas and as vidders (e.g., through the song, or color, or motion, or by finding the story first and building around it, etc.) helps to broaden everyone's knowledge.

There was a real sense of working together on this -- almost everyone who spoke up started by saying, "to add to what So-and-so was saying about X, I think..." even as we covered a wide variety of approaches and specific points pertinent to the vid at hand. It's just incredibly cool, being part of something like that.

And finally, props not only to Killalla, but to Killa as well, for moderating with her usual skill. Everything kept moving, and everything stayed helpful and supportive.

Town Hall on Vidding and Visibility
moderator: Cesperanza

NB: I didn't take any notes at this panel, so a lot of what I'm writing here is my interpretation and extrapolation of my memory of what got said. Corrections are very welcome!

For more precise notes, go here: http://community.livejournal.com/vividcon/119137.html That's the most complete writeup I've heard of so far (with additional info in the comments); it's still a little scattershot, because the panel moved *really* fast, but par_avion took notes on pretty much everything.

I'm really glad that this was a panel this year, and I think a lot of other people were, too -- the room was pretty packed, and a good number of the people there had something to contribute to what turned into a fast-moving, passionate, constructive discussion. Obviously nothing was "solved"; the whole question of should vidding be more or less visible, and how do we control it, assuming we can or should control it, is much too complex to be sorted out in one 45-minute panel (which lasted closer to an hour, because no one wanted to stop).

But there's no denying that vidding is out there now; people are finding us whether we want to be found or not, and they're finding us in their own ways and on their own terms, and sometimes by way of newer fans who have no idea that vidding was ever underground or why it ever would be (never mind that it's been around for decades, not just since Youtube started up), and we need to be aware of that, and need to start thinking about how we're going to deal with that, both as a community and as individuals.

The general consensus was that there are two basic choices: accept that vidding is more public and deal with it, or go back underground. But the fact is that at this point, going back underground would actually mean that some isolated sections of vid fandom would vanish, while a main body would just keep happily posting their vids publicly and never even notice that there had been a fuss. The second option isn't an option for *fandom*, just for individual fans who choose to vanish.

That said, the tradition of secrecy exists for a reason; a lot of fans *can't* be public about what they do. For fans and fandom to take some control over how we're found/observed/perceived, there needs to be a layer of people who are willing to be public in one way or another, while those who can't or won't risk it are still (relatively) safely protected.

No one is suggesting outing anyone, or forcing anyone to out themselves; the idea is that those who can afford to be public about their involvement in vidding, *and who are willing to take that step*, should do what they can to be a normalizing presence in the world, whether that be publishing academically, or talking about one's vids at work or at home, or whatever else people might be comfortable doing. Those who can't afford to be public can be supportive in other ways.

It's the normalizing that matters, both to give us a voice/name as artists (so our art is both acknowledged as existing and at the same time isn't shunted off into a "craft" where creator doesn't matter, only the [quaint] collective product*) and to give us a name/face that non-fans can relate to.

MaryJo Smith in the next cubicle over who spots you for a soda at lunch when you're short, who also just happens to make videos on her computer as a hobby, is inherently less freaky and threatening (and less likely to be automatically assumed to be a no-good criminal) than some faceless "screenname" from the Internet (everyone knows that people on the Internet are nothing but pedophiles and axe murderers).

As part of that, a few people spoke up about what they were doing to be more public, including giving academic talks/papers (and encouraging other academics to improve their scholarship by acknowledging the existence and history of vidding when talking about other forms, such as machinima), or setting up vidding tracks/panels/shows at SFF cons, such as Wiscon (a feminist SF con), etc. Others are telling family/friends/co-workers what they do.

Part of the academic stuff was to make sure that people within the community were adding to the academic discussion, because outsiders can (and often do) so easily get it wrong. There was also a push to continue to connect live-action vidding communities with other fanvid-making communities (machinima, anime, etc.).

Overall, it was a really interesting, energizing discussion, and it's one that's going to be going on for a while to come.

*Two stories that drive home the need for this, which were each repeated and clarified during this panel:

- In 2003, Luminosity and Sisabet presented a vidshow at Slayage (an academic conference centered around Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and at the panel that followed they got condescension ("your little movies") from the men and, from a woman, an inquiry about where the male vidders were (with the implication that if men weren't doing it, it could only be a hobby, not Art. Which, wtf.).

- In 2005, at the academic Signal to Noise Conference at the Berkman Center at Harvard, a machinima paper was presented. The presenters showed a SIMs video and said that fans have been doing this (i.e., making videos) since 1996. (Some vidders were present at the time, and have since been starting to push to get live-action vidding and its 30-year history recognized, at least as a footnote, so we don't get written out of history the way the original female inventors of the novel were written out of history for a hundred years.)


Still to come: discs one through four.

ETA - complete con report/vid reviews:

Disc Zero (at the con - Geneaology of Vidding, Vividsection, Town Hall on Vidding and Visibility)

Disc One (Premieres part 1; also premiering)

Disc Two (Premieres part 2; also premiering)

Disc Three (Club Vivid part 1)

Disc Four (Club Vivid part 2; Challenge Show)
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