franzeska: (Default)
franzeska ([personal profile] franzeska) wrote2013-03-04 12:31 pm
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Escapade Con Report Pt. 1 - So You Want To Be A Vidder

Escapade rocked! I'm sorry about the demise of the Bay Area's local slash con (BASCon) and YaoiCon's move (sellouts!), but Escapade is totally awesome and fans in the Bay Area should seriously consider making the trek next year. In fact, there was a suggestion that we have a "party bus" next time since such a large number of us come down from the same area. I think that's a great idea and would be happy to organize it.* I'm also wondering how many Bay Area fans are aware of this East Bay meetup group and this yahoo group. The group is where I met several of this year's Escapade newbies. We've mostly met at coffee shops in downtown Berkeley so far, plus a smattering of people's own houses. It's sort of vaguely a slash meetup, but only in the sense that you shouldn't bother coming if you don't want to hear people talk about m/m slash. If you primarily like yuri or vidding or whatever, don't be shy! The yahoo group has more people in the South Bay and a little more of a classic Media Fandom vibe on average with more fans who've gone to Escapade and BASCon for years. A whole roomful of us raised our hands at Escapade and said we were from the Bay Area, so I know there are a ton of you who either don't know these groups exist or who hate happiness and puppies. Get your butts signed up. I expect to see you at my place next time I invite people over.

I did a bunch of interviews again this Escapade (yay), had some vids in the vid show (yay) and agreed to run a bunch of panels (oops). Naturally, my life was exploding in the week before the con, so I had no handouts and had not actually prepared, but things went pretty well, I thought. My panels were The Art of the Pimp Vid and Vidding Aesthetics (both of which were roundtable discussions with limited windbaggery from yours truly), OTW - The First Five Years (I blathered and then we talked about the DMCA exemption), and So You Want to Be a Vidder. This last one was something that didn't get as many votes as my other proposed vidding panels but made the schedule anyway, either because of the track or because the concom wanted to support it. I was really glad it did make it and even gladder that some people who needed it showed up. I was worried it would be nothing but experienced vidders there to help, but we got a couple of non-vidders and a couple of VCR vidders who haven't (yet) made the jump to computer vidding. It was wonderful to see them there; I know Escapade circles are full of classic vidders who've been out of the game for a while, and that always makes me sad because I suspect a lot of people would like to still be vidding but are too intimidated and feel like they've been left behind, and that's an even crappier feeling than being an intimidated newbie getting into vidding for the first time.

The internet is full of great tutorials on every program out there, advanced tutorials on the finer points of vidding tech, meta on vidding aesthetics, and the "basic" tutorials I taught myself from. In my opinion, all of these, including the "basic" ones, are not actually newbie-friendly. I intended the panel as a true vidding 101 that would work for even the most hopelessly lost, no matter what computer and vidding software they had. It seemed like it went pretty well, but it would really have been better if I'd prepared a handout instead of writing things on the big pad of paper and making people take notes from my messy handwriting. I've also been meaning to write up a super-duper basic vidding 101 tutorial online and also some meta on taste, insecurity, and vidding fandom, so what better time than while doing my panel write up?

Vidding for Dummies like me

I am a new-ish vidder. I started in 2010 on free software and am both extremely lazy about craft and prefer a style with few effects and lots of straight cuts. A BNF vidder this does not make me; someone who can do an actual 101 tutorial, however... Well, I guess we'll see. Below are the basic conceptual steps of making a vid on a computer, as divorced from tech babble as I can make them.

1. Get footage
2. Prepare footage for your video editing program (changing formats, making/selecting smaller pieces)
3. Edit your vid (the artistic part)
4. Export your finished vid and prepare it for upload

Seriously, that's it. If you can download a few programs and muddle through some tutorials, you can be a vidder just like anyone who can hold a pencil can be a writer. Maybe you'll find out you have great natural talent. Maybe you'll suck. Maybe you'll work really hard on craft and maybe you won't. But anybody can vid.

Getting footage: The common ways of getting footage are to rip DVDs, to download paid copies (e.g. from Amazon or iTunes), or to download pirated copies (torrents, etc.). In the panel I focused on ripping DVDs. If you want to vid anything older that has a legitimate DVD release, I recommend this because it leads to consistent results: the quality is consistent, and mysterious tech problems are fewer. Certain newer DVDs (like all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe ones) and most legit downloads will have copy protection. This can be a nuisance to remove. The newer and more popular the movie/show, the more heinous the copy protection. Pirated downloads can be encoded in surprising and unhelpful ways, and they are usually of lower quality than DVDs or legit downloads. Mixing multiple pirated downloads, multiple movies/shows, or different seasons of a single show where something about the filming or about the DVD sets changed dramatically can lead to mysterious inconsistencies (things look wrong and/or programs crash). Using low-quality source material can make your final vid unsuitable for showing at a con.

First project recommendation: Rip a single DVD or use a single downloaded file so that all of your source starts with the same settings.

OSX: Mac the Ripper (shareware, free version works), DVD Ripper Pro ($25), Handbrake (free)
Windows: ?? [I can't remember what people suggested during the panel. Doh.]
Linux: ??

I prefer Mac the Ripper. It will work with any region encoding and can remove most older copy protection. If one program isn't working for you, try another: there are plenty.

Preparing footage: How you prepare your footage depends on which program you will be using in step 3. Most vidders need to make clips (i.e. shorter pieces of footage) to import into their video editing program. Ripping a DVD gives .VOB files, which many video editing programs either won't accept or won't handle consistently; each program has certain types of file it works best with, so you'll be converting to that type of file at the same time you make your shorter clips. If you vid the same thing a lot, are vidding a single movie, or use certain programs, you may prefer to work from the entire source either in .VOB or in some large, high-quality format. If you have limited space, are using the video editing software that came free with your computer, and this is your first project, don't worry about that: you'll be making clips.

OSX: MPEG Streamclip (free), Handbrake (free)
Windows: MPEG Streamclip
Linux: ??

MPEG Streamclip is 1. free 2. awesome and 3. used by shitloads of vidders who can answer questions about it. Download it now. It does require the MPEG-2 Playback Component to read .VOB files ($20). If you're using Mountain Lion, you'll need to force install this; there's an explanation on the MPEG Streamclip website.

Editing: Editing is mostly a matter of aesthetics. I recommend heart wipes. If you can figure out how to import clips and music, put them on the timeline, and change their endpoints, you're set.

OSX: iMovie (free with your computer), Final Cut Express (discontinued, formerly $200, now cheap on eBay), Final Cut Pro (discontinued, >$1k), Final Cut Pro X ($300), Adobe Premiere Elements ($100), Adobe Premiere Pro (~$700)
Windows: Windows Movie Maker (free with your computer), Sony Vegas Movie Studio ($100), Sony Vegas Pro ($600), Adobe Premiere Elements ($100), Adobe Premiere Pro (~$700)
Linux: Cinelerra (free), Blender (free and confusing as shit; also available for OSX and Windows)

If you bought a computer in the last decade, it came with video editing software unless you're a Linux special snowflake. Both iMovie and WMM are fine tools for first vids, and many vidders stick with them. If you're transitioning from VCR vidding, both are more than sufficient, and you'll appreciate the easier learning curve. Conventional wisdom is that iMovie is much better than WMM and iMovie HD 6 (the 2006 version) is better than the newer ones; I've only actually vidded on iMovie HD 6, so I can't say for sure. The disadvantage of these programs is that they make it more irritating to vid out of order (i.e. making the end of the vid before the middle) and some effects are completely impossible. I hear WMM also has problems with precision, so very fast cutting on a fast beat suddenly doesn't match up in your final export. If you use a slower song, are uploading to a streaming site that might also subtly affect timing, or aren't very sensitive/picky, you may not even notice. What effects iMovie and WMM do include are usually tacky.

If you have a taste for large numbers of subtle effects, you love split screens or replacing what's on the characters' computer monitor in your source material with something else, you want to change the colors of one part of the picture but not another, you work completely out of order and want to keep multiple drafts of the vid available at all times, you want to do massive multi-fandom projects that would require a lot of organizing of clips, you're very easily frustrated, or you're already ready to blow some money on vidding, I suggest upgrading to another program. If none of that sounds like you, don't bother: iMovie and WMM work fine.

Lots of vidders use something they have access to through school/work or something easy to pirate. Free programs are usually more confusing or lack helpful manuals. Most commercial programs come in a "pro" version and a dumbed down version. In the case of Final Cut, Pro was really expensive, Express is freakin' awesome with nearly every advanced capability you could ever want, and Pro X is a controversial redesign that people are still adjusting to. I don't know how the other pro/lite versions compare. The significant difference between all of these and iMovie/WMM, aside from complexity, is the ability to have lots of tracks. Multiple tracks means being able to have multiple videos going at the same time (e.g. for split screens or changing what's going on outside of the window/on a computer or tv monitor in a scene). Another big difference is greater control over how/where an effect happens. (Like if you want something to rotate, does it rotate around the center point or some other spot. Does it rotate the same way the whole time, or does it start out rotating around a center point and then switch to rotating around another point.) Effects like making everything sepia-toned or speeding/slowing clips usually look better or have downloadable/buyable plugin versions that look better in these fancy programs, but many of them are also possible in iMovie/WMM.

Exporting and uploading:

Once you're done editing, you need to get your vid somewhere that people can see it. For anyone reading this online, that probably means Youtube. For people in the panel, it's also likely to mean Escapade or another con. The best export formats/sizes will depend on what the file is for.

Once again, I recommend MPEG Streamclip, but your video editing program can probably also export something web-ready, and preparing files for conventions like VividCon requires a few extra steps. Currently, I embed my vids at AO3 and am not greatly concerned with which video hosting I use since I expect it to change in the future. Youtube is far and away the most popular choice. Vimeo is the current popular choice for people who want something password protected, especially if they're willing to pay for an account, but there used to be other sites that were more popular, and new video hosting options spring up all the time. My best advice is to expect to lose your hosting; keep copies of your vids, and get your comments on your journal or AO3 or something.

Look at me: incurably tl;dr, as usual. I hope that the new and former vidders who attended the panel are inspired to make something, and I hope that the wall of text above helps somebody who has no idea where to start. Once you know what you want, there are thousands of tutorials more expert than mine on how to choose each of these programs and how to use the one you've chosen, but the first step is just orienting yourself.


Here are a few more comments on various aspects of vidding:

Space requirements: How much space things take up in the short term and what you save in the long term depends on taste and which programs you are using, but for reference, when I rip a DVD, I typically get a folder that's around 3-8GB; I delete these once I'm done making clips. I make big clips and use DV because I vid in Final Cut Express; I also re-clip for each vid. My projects tend to be around 5-12GB (clips plus music files, text files with notes, art/text/effects stuff not done by Final Cut Express, etc. and the Final Cut Express file itself which records editing choices but requires the clips/music/art in order to be usable). If I export in full quality, I usually get a file that's around 2GB. (In other words, if my final vid is 3 minutes long, all of my clips together add up to more like 20 minutes.) Some vidders would save the 2GB version, but I prefer to save the complete project files in case I want to tweak something later. When I run out of space, I will buy more external drives. If you make a vid from comics panels or you use low-quality downloaded source, you won't need anything like this much space. If you plan better than I do and have fewer extraneous minutes of footage in your project, you won't need as much space. If you only save your web upload copy and delete your high-quality files, you won't need as much space. Some high-quality files take less space than DV. It's quite variable.

Linux vidding: Yes, Linux users vid too. As usual, you have fewer program options and you'll probably have to do more research and put up with a steeper learning curve than with the newbie-friendly options available on Mac or Windows. Check out beccatoria's comments on Linux vidding.

Vidding nonlinearly in iMovie/WMM: Vidders usually call more advanced programs "non-linear" and iMovie/WMM "linear". Technically, any computer vidding is non-linear and non-destructive (the editor can access the source footage without scrolling through from the beginning, and editing does not require changing the source material as when physically cutting film), but vidding out of order is certainly easier in some programs than others. In iMovie, I used to work on my vids in sections. When I got a section how I liked it, I would place a bookmark on the timeline at the start of the first clip in that section. Any time the section got accidentally moved around, I would move it back to the bookmark. There was also a way to create black clips as filler that kept my timeline from getting messed up as often. I'm sure WMM and other versions of iMovie have similar workarounds if you want to finish the end of the vid before the middle. They just take a little more time and annoyance than in a fancier program.

Music: Video editing programs let you do limited sound editing, and iMovie will import nicely from iTunes. Often, however, you need a high-quality audio format or to edit a song to make it shorter/delete unwanted lyrics/get rid of those 30 extra repeats of the chorus at the end/etc. Audacity is a free audio editing program that works on Mac/Windows/Linux/etc. It's quite powerful with many options (read "confusing"), but it's also widely used by vidders and others, so it's easy to find someone to help you. Export settings will depend on which video editing program you use and what kind of sound files it likes.

Other tutorials: I taught myself from the Foolish Passion 101 tutorials. They're pretty basic and have some screen shots. They're also out of date, but if you have a crummy old computer like what I was starting on, you'll be using older software anyway, and most of the free programs still look the same.

Creative Cow was mentioned in the panel as a good source of tutorials and discussions. I've used it a few times for answers to very specific questions about a piece of software, but most of it is too high-level for me.

Youtube has many tutorials of the "Click on this menu and scroll to here, dumbass!" variety. I use those more often.

cupidsbow has a nice post on choosing an editing program in Windows.

* I don't think I'd make it a literal party bus though: things rented under the name 'party bus' typically have limo seating, no bathroom, and high prices. They're intended for tooling around town for a couple of hours, not transporting a bunch of people to SoCal. Charter buses with bathrooms and normal bus seating fit more people too. I need to investigate pricing, but I could see this being pretty awesome. The ride is only 5-6 hours if you drive straight through.
coinin: Gold rabbit on a black ground, looking up at the moon. (Default)

[personal profile] coinin 2013-03-04 09:14 pm (UTC)(link)
Wow, I have just fallen completely out of the con scene since I graduated. I wasn't even remotely aware that Yaoi Con had moved.

Your second link is bringing me back to the my reading page, but I joined the Meetup group! \o/
shayheyred: (Default)

[personal profile] shayheyred 2013-03-05 03:09 am (UTC)(link)
Cut tag, yes?
amalthia: (Default)

[personal profile] amalthia 2013-03-05 05:28 am (UTC)(link)
Loved your intro to vidding. :)
nikibee: (Default)

[personal profile] nikibee 2013-03-05 05:49 am (UTC)(link)
Awesome, I'm bookmarking this JUST IN CASE I ever decide to take up vidding. It still all seems like a big and scary wrold though.

I was also looking at charter buses and agree that a party bus is not the way to go. Knowing our population, I would say that a charter bus with wifi would be the best bet. If there's a tv on board, we could play fannish movies or shows as we drive down. I would definitely take the bus if it was available.

Also, since Ventura isn't close to LAX at all, maybe fans who are flying in anyway would want to fly in to SFO or OAK and bus down with us. I mean, if the options are Plane+Expensive Solitary Bus Ride or Plane+Longer Bus Ride With Friends and Fandom Discussions and Fannish Show Viewings... I know I would choose the second option.

cellia: (Default)

[personal profile] cellia 2013-03-07 07:09 am (UTC)(link)
The bus is a great idea and you're awesome for stepping up to organize it! Meanwhile this is a handy page if I ever do decide to make a vid.

Oh and thanks for pimping the meetup and yahoo groups! Meeting people IRL is much cooler than I thought it would be!
Edited 2013-03-07 07:10 (UTC)
promethia_tenk: (tv girl)

[personal profile] promethia_tenk 2013-03-16 01:04 pm (UTC)(link)
I stumbled over this back when you posted it while browsing through my network and, as I'd been toying with the idea of getting into vidding for awhile, I'm finding it an excellent jumping off point. Thanks so much!

[personal profile] dorothy_notgale 2013-07-02 01:13 am (UTC)(link)
*waves* Sorry for the random stupid comment on a 4-month-old post, but thank you for this.

I finally hit on that song/movie combination that gnaws at the back of the brain and won't unclench its snaggly fangs until it has become a reality, and this is really helpful so far. For one thing, Blender actually appears much easier to use than the other free things I was trying, and for another, I didn't even know that one of my big isssues was that I needed something like Streamclip.

(We shall see how it goes from here on in.)
nikibee: (Default)

[personal profile] nikibee 2013-10-19 02:42 am (UTC)(link)
I notice you didn't mention The Best Part of the weekend - TEEN WOLF MARATHON WOOOO!!

Bookmarking just in case I ever want to get into vidding, which, let's be honest, is getting more and more likely when I'm forced to watch vids for hours on end by my so called "friends." :)

Eta: apparently I've already been here AND bookmarked this for the exact same reason. My mind is a sieve, I swear.
Edited 2013-10-19 02:44 (UTC)