Tutorials and Questions

Welcome to my new page for tutorials and hints and tips about vidding. Some of the content here used to live on the right hand side of the main page, but there are new faqs at the end (including a link to a tutorial).



How do you embed your videos?

I encode them as FLV files and use the SWFObject player and code fragments.

My computer plays streamed vids, but doesn't recognise FLVs when I download them. What can I use to play it?

VLC Player plays them, among other players, but I particularly suggest VLC because it's free, has a small footprint on your system, and is extremely versatile.

Do you cut your music? How?

Yes, but I try to keep the cuts to a minimum. I like the illusion of a complete song. I prefer to cut repeated choruses and melodies rather than verses. As a result I will have many small cuts rather than one large - for instance, This Is How A Heart Breaks has eight. I use Audacity.

How do you colour match for manipulated footage?

I try the fast colour corrector first, followed by the colour balancer, and occasionally channel blur. Sometimes I use them in combinations.

How do you compress for download?

At present I use Premiere's presets for FLV output, but I recently did a bulk conversion to lower quality with Prism Video File Format Converter and was very happy with that (you do need to tweak the settings, though). I aim to keep videos under 100MB where possible for HQ, and under 30MB for LQ and for my YouTube channel. Not everyone has high download limits on their internet plan, but equally, those who do, like to see videos at their best. I'm trying to keep the best of both worlds. In the past I've used XVid and DIVX MKVs.

How do you choose your subjects?

The song comes to me first. It will suggest a connection with a storyline and it goes from there. They are not always songs I like - I didn't like Heavy In Your Arms as a song, but the lyric connections worked. Funnily enough, I love the song now, because I connect it with the characters.

Do you only vid couples you ship?

No. For instance, I don't actively ship TSCC's Sarah and Charley (although I don't actively dislike the pairing either). For me, Ordinary Girl is really about Charley's "everyman" POV of the Terminator universe - but Sarah is necessarily part of that. However, I do find it hard to vid subjects I actively dislike - I did a Mulder/Scully romance vid in memory of a MSR fan who had died, and I don't like MSR at all. I found that very difficult.

In your X Files days you were very anti-Mulder/Scully, but you work with more mainstream ships now. How did that happen?

I didn't dislike MSR because it was obvious, I disliked it because I thought both characters became less appealing people as a result of their relationship, and that disappointed me. I don't have a problem with obvious pairings in and of themselves.

How do you capture your source footage?

My preferred tool for dvd source is Audials/Tunebite. It's about $50, but worth every cent. It's incredibly versatile - you have a lot of control over the output specs and you can save presets. I have separate presets for vidding, iPad, iPod, extracting audio, and other purposes. I use DVD Fab for blu-ray source. The only thing that stops it being perfect is that it can't convert to FLV.

What are your PC specs for vidding?

I couldn't vid for a long time because my PC wasn't up to it. I had constant crashes and slow processing. I really missed it, so when I upgraded, I knew I needed a vidding-friendly build. I rebuilt from scratch. My processor is an overclocked Intel i7 quad core 3.4GHz. I have 8G RAM and run Windows 7 x64. My graphics card is a Radeon 4350 with 1G of dedicated RAM (note, however, that Premiere does not use the GPU except for a very small number of graphics cards). I also run a SATA external drive bay for quick backups.

What is your position on people reformatting your vids to watch on their portable media players? Some vidders are against any manipulation of their work.

I have no problem with people reformatting my vids to view in whatever way is convenient for them. As long as it remains the basic work I intended and keeps my name on it, people can do what they like.

What do people mean when they talk about clip theft? Why is it a problem?

Clip theft means taking clips from other people's vids to make your own. The problem with clip theft is, what you see in a vid may have been significantly manipulated by the vidder (ie, it is no longer just the original source work, which means you're stepping on another fan's toes if you use it in a work you claim as your own). Vidders slow down, speed up, crop, zoom, colour match, alter the order of frames and segments to suggest meaningful looks or scenes that didn't really happen - all sorts of things. So it's not as simple as being a shortcut to getting source material.

Back in the nineties, when I started vidding, clip theft was at least understandable - you needed a very high standard of hardware and expensive capture devices to get source, and even then the source wasn't very good. I, for one, turned a blind eye to it at that time, for that reason. But it is now quite simple to get grabs from your dvd collection - use a tool like DVDx or Audials. There is no reason in the world to use other people's vids for source anymore.

As for the argument that you're just doing what the original vidder did - ie, creating a derivative work of your vid just as you did the fandom source - the difference is, we credit our fandom. Whereas clip thieves do not usually credit their sources.

How does copyright fit into fanvidding?

Most jurisdictions have "fair use" provisions that give exemptions for derivative works that are parodies, interpretive, commentaries, etc. The rules vary from place to place, but basically there has to be a fair bit of alteration of the source work so that something new is created. That sounds like vidding to me. It's not been tested legally as far as I know, but I believe my work is within the spirit, and probably the letter, of copyright law in my jurisdiction. This is a whole area of work of its own - some fans have gotten together to form the Organisation for Transformative Works, and they have achieved some good things in the legal space. They have far better commentary on this topic than I could give here.

At the risk of being high-falutin', it's really important to remember that artwork lives on well after the creator is gone, and for that reason, copyright is a time-limited thing. It's so the creator can benefit from the work during his or her own life, without depriving our culture of the benefit of that art permanently. Without time-limited copyright, Shakespeare's works would probably have been lost to us long ago. Fan artists (of all kinds) do not get profit from their works, nor do they say it's their own source material, nor do they copy it. They develop it, comment on it, focus on particular aspects of it. Which is exactly what we're supposed to do with literature, and media-based fandoms are a significant literary medium of our age. We are not harming copyright holders by creating derivative and transformative works - the works only make sense seen in light of the context of the show or movie that inspired it. People have been drawn into watching the copyright holder's material by stumbling across fan works. For my part, I have also listened to many new songs in fanvids that I would not otherwise have heard, and have gone on to buy the artists' CDs.

How do you make your vids stay up on YouTube? Some of mine get taken down.

The trick is to speed up the whole vid to 106%, or occasionally 107%, while maintaining the original audio pitch. (This is done in Speed/Duration in Premiere). This is only noticeable in very fast vids like This Is How A Heart Breaks. More about this at Fun With YouTube's Audio Content ID System.

How did you mask out Rachel in the Luce/Rachel Imagine Me And You scene, to make the Derek/Sarah manipulation in Heavy In Your Arms?

Because Rachel/Piper Perabo is female with light coloured, flowing hair, it wasn't as simple as just using shadows. The shape of her hair gave away that she wasn't a man and wasn't Derek. I would do this quite differently now.

However, how I did it is this. I created two new sequences. One had the IMAY scene at the bottom and a black and white matte on top. I attached a luma mask to the black and white matte so only the black showed, and I used key frames to move the mask around. The outcome was Luce/Lena with a black blob masking Rachel/Piper. I copied that sequence to the second sequence, so I had Luce/Lena with the black blob, and a heavily blurred version of the whole scene underneath. Then I used the luma mask again to make Luce/Lena's black blob invisible, revealing the heavily blurred Rach/Piper beneath. The blurring was such that once this sequence was mixed with Derek and Jesse, Derek's details covered what was left of Rach/Piper.

As for how I'd do it now - I'd layer a straight and blurred version of the same clip in a new sequence, then use the 16-point garbage matte tool to select just Piper on the blurred layer, and use the ultimate keying tool to clean it up. I'd adjust position through the clip manually using the keyframes on the blurred layer.

How did you achieve the decorative frame in the framed version of Disarm?

See the Tutorial.

Where did you get the rare clips from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, used in Won't Give In?

The longer shot of Harry and Snape looking intently from one another, and Molly cradling Fred, were both pulled from the Maximum Movie Mode on the Blu Ray edition. (They needed substantial editing because they were shown at an angle in the background, and had film crews visible). Ginny and Harry holding hand was a deleted scene, as was Remus embracing Tonks. That also needed careful clipping and slowing, because in the deleted scene, Tonks is joyful in a way which is out of place. (I presume this is why the scene was deleted). I swapped the views around and eliminated her smiling.

Ginny and Harry kissing is manipulated, too. As is widely accepted in Harry Potter fandom, Harry and Ginny as played by Daniel and Bonnie just don't have much chemistry. (I'm sure some will disagree, but I don't know anyone myself who would!) However, I wanted to honour the pairing because this particular vid aims to be very faithful to established canon. So, I did some editing to increase the chemistry. I removed the segment of them talking to Neville in the middle, leaving Ginny running up the stairs and cutting to the move around them. Then I sped up the pulling together into the kiss, to give more of a desperate-survival feel to it, and made sure it ended just as their lips parted, to give a gasping-up-for-air feel. It's not perfect, but it's better than what we had onscreen.

How did you do the faked Sarah/Derek "I love you but I don't like secrets" scene in Bed of Lies?

The opening scene has a number of elements. These are - the audio "I want this," which is in fact a sinister line from Impact Point, a movie where Brian Austin Green plays a creepy obsessed stalker. The audio "I love you but I don't like secrets" is a combination of two separate lines in Sarah's opening scene with Charley in the TSCC pilot. (The secret was, Charley got John to help him choose the engagement ring). Sarah is also zoomed to focus on fences and exclude greenery, to match the end. The "Oh...I'm sorry, uh..." part is part of the Brian Austin Green visual, which comes from a scene in Smallville where Lois lets him down gently. The gentle chime of music that marks the transition to the song is also part of the scene. The visual of Sarah is from her sad scene in the yard with Charley in Dungeons and Dragons, with her mouth movements matched to the end of "I don't like secrets." (This is much easier to achieve than matching the whole phrase). Then there's a layer of stock audio of traffic sounds on loop in the background to tie it all together, obscure the joins, and connect it to the matching scene at the end.

The scene at the end actually uses different footage (you'll notice on close inspection that the clothes don't match). Sarah, in Heavy Metal, was turning around in a warehouse parking lot, distraught because John had run off to save the world without getting a permission note from her. Derek, in To The Lighthouse, was distraught outside the storage locker after learning about Jesse's baby. Both scenes were cropped so they could have been in the same industrial area suggested by the matching opening scene, and the same traffic audio and pink tint was used to connect them up. The final, telephone reconciliation scene was constructed in much the same manner as the first two faked scenes.

How and why do you adjust your page for screen resolutions and quality settings?

Rather embarrassingly, I assumed because I had a large display (1920x1080) that the world had moved on such that few people had 800-1200 screens anymore. Then I bought a new laptop - and couldn't see my own website properly. I'm very good, usually, about adaptive design, but this had just sort of happened by accident over time, by making wider and wider videos and adding them to the page until the page was stretched. As a result, my vids had gotten bigger and bigger in filesize, too. I'd wanted to fix this for a while but I knew I would need to do some programming to make it work.

Anyway, I finally sat down and did it. It's done with a mix of Javascript and PHP. Javascript is used to detect the screen size and set a cookie with the resolution. Everything else is done in PHP. PHP sets another cookie for the desired quality setting, then reads both cookies to decide what the maximum video width and quality should be with a series of IF statements. Based on that, it cycles through the list of requested videos (using FOREACH) and reads their individual variables (using SWITCH) - including the ones that vary depending on maximum video width (this includes a calculation to apply the same ratio to the video height). Then each of the videos is formatted for output. Easy...after 24 hours of legwork!


Quick Find

Harry Potter

Karaoke Soul ***** - Movies, Harry Potter, Second War, 2013
The World Is Not Enough **** - Movies, Harry Potter, Bellatrix/Voldemort 2013
I Am A Rock **** - Movies, Harry Potter, Voldemort Character Study, 2013
Skyfall ***** - Movies, Harry Potter, Malfoys, Final Battle, 2012
All That I Am **** - Movies, Harry Potter, Lucius Malfoy/Narcissa Malfoy, 2012
Happy Home *** - Movies, Harry Potter, Narcissa Malfoy/Severus Snape, 2012
It's All Over But The Crying ***** - Movies, Harry Potter, Lucius/Narcissa Malfoy, 2012
Won't Give In - The Finn Brothers **** - Movie, Harry Potter DH Part 2, Ensemble, 2011
Unwell - Matchbox Twenty ***** - Movie, Harry Potter 5, Harry, 2007/2011
Black is the Colour - The Corrs ***** - Movies, Harry Potter (DH2 spoilers), Hermione and Snape, 2011
Disarm - Smashing Pumpkins **** - Movies, Harry Potter (DH2 spoilers), Snape/Lily, 2011

Haven

Mr Tugboat Hello - Sophie B Hawkins *** - TV, Haven, Duke/Audrey, 2011
Trouble - John Farnham *** - TV, Haven, General/Ensemble, 2011

Terminator/Sarah Connor Chronicles

In The End - Linkin Park **** - Movies, Terminator, John Connor, 2003/2013
Bed of Lies - Matchbox Twenty **** - TV, Sarah Connor Chronicles, Sarah/Derek, 2011
Carry You Home - James Blunt *** - TV, Sarah Connor Chronicles, John/Riley, 2011
Where Did You Sleep - Texas **** - TV, Sarah Connor Chronicles, Sarah/Derek/Jesse triangle, 2010
Ordinary Girl - Alison Moyet *** - TV, Sarah Connor Chronicles, Charley and Sarah, 2010
This Is How A Heart Breaks - Rob Thomas ***** - TV, Sarah Connor Chronicles, Derek, 2010
Nation - Big Pig ** - TV, Sarah Connor Chronicles, Ensemble, 2010
Heavy In Your Arms - Florence and the Machine ***** - TV, Sarah Connor Chronicles, Sarah/Derek, 2010
Year of the Cat - Al Stewart *** - TV, Sarah Connor Chronicles, Sarah/Derek, 2010

Movies/Mini-Series

Shake It Out - Florence and the Machine *** - Mini-Series, And Then There Were None, Vera Claythorne, 2016
Sorrento Moon - Tina Arena *** - Movie, Imagine Me And You, Rachel/Luce, 2010
Return to Innocence - Enigma *** - Movie, Brides of Christ, Josephine, 2002

Buffy

Mary - Patti Griffin ***** - TV, Buffy, Drusilla, 2003/2011

X Files

Hero - Chad Kroeger **** - TV, X Files, Krycek, 2003
Eyes of Truth - Enigma (XFVCU) **** - TV, X Files, Virtual Series Ad, 2003
Gravity of Love - Enigma ***** - TV, X Files, Krycek/Marita, 2003
Eyes of Truth - Enigma *** - TV, X Files, Website Ad (challenge vid) 2003
Toy Soldiers - Martika *** - TV, X Files, Krycek/Marita, 2002
This is Where I Belong - Mario Millo ** - TV, X Files, Reyes, 2002
Pray - Tina Cousins **** - TV, X Files, Krycek/Marita, 2002
Stay - Anthony Stewart Head *** - TV, X Files, Krycek/Marita, 2002
Devil With The Green Eyes - Matthew Sweet **** - TV, X Files, Mulder/Diana, 2002
Love Will Keep Me Alive - Wendy Matthews *** - TV, X Files, Mulder/Scully, 2001
Did We Not Choose Each Other - Sophie B Hawkins **** - TV, X Files, Reyes/Doggett, 2001
Particle - Better Than Ezra *** - TV, X Files, Krycek/Marita, 2001
Against All Odds - Mariah Carey *** - TV, X Files/Lone Gunmen, Byers/Suzanne, 2001
Forgiven Not Forgotten - The Corrs ** - TV, X Files, Krycek/Marita, 2000
Last Thing On My Mind - Steps ** - TV, X Files, Krycek/Marita, 2000
Closer - The Corrs ** - TV, X Files, Skinner/Kim, 2001
Never Forget You - Mariah Carey *** - TV, X Files, Scully and Emily, 2000


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