Don't Touch the 3rd Rail! or
"Vidding Suggestions for serious vids":


On Vidder (a mailing list for people who make and enjoy songvids), we've discussed whether vids have a grammar or not; a set of rules that people agree on to make communication easier.  Whoo-boy! Not an easy question, and one that evokes a rather emotional response.

After some conversation, we agreed that there aren't a lot of rules that make sense in vidding. But we were able to compile a list of techniques that in serious vids, tend to be misused more often than not. 

So, vidding techniques to use sparingly, or think seriously before using:

Blooper reel clips in serious vids

But, it can work if it isn't an obviously 'blooperish' clip
or it is the perfect clip
or the serious song has a more humorous section.

Jump cuts

Can work if the show itself has a fairly jerky style
or if you use three or four in a row...

Use of credits

But here's some counter-examples:
   I don't know if any of you have had a chance to see the UK vid ... I *think* it's called "So Long". It's a vid that says goodbye to the characters of Kes from Voyager and Ivanova from B5 that uses the credits to establish the actors/characters - both clips say "Charcter as Actor's Name" and then we get a shot of the character disappearing and then we get credit shots of Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine and Tracy Scoggins as Captain Lochley... introducing the replacement characters. I thought this was an excellent use of credits.
    The Chicago Loop showed a Buffy video recently that used the Buffy credits in an interesting way -- I guess it can be done!

Songs with illegible lyrics

But there are some beautiful vids to instrumentals with no lyrics at all...
    Maybe this one should just say, "if your lyrics can't/don't carry the narrative, you'll have to work harder to make sure the clips do.

Black, or fade to black, within the body of the vid

But black can add drama, and fading to black can end a verse or a chorus, or even change POV if it's done very carefully

Single cuts longer than 8 seconds

Except that once in a while a really long clip is just what you need; what the whole vid has been leading up to. 

Clips (with internal cuts) longer than 15-20 seconds.

Again, there are rare times when letting the scene run (especially if the camera work in the scene is really well shot) can work.

Unusual versions of well-known songs

Many fans will hate a new version of a song, at least until they've heard it a few times; on the other hand, the new version may give you the gender change you need, or speed up the song enough to be useful, or have much clearer lyrics than the better-known version of the song.

POV changes

They can be very powerful -- especially when you're making some sort of compare and contrast of two characters' situation, or their feelings for each other. But, done sloppily or casually, they utterly confuse your audience.

(Personally, I don't think you can change POV in all songs -- you need either a song that has a mood change, or a bridge or in the middle, *or* a song with some strong "I" statements right after the place you want to change, to reorient your audience. Even more personally, I think you only get to change POV once -- or maybe twice, if the music *really* supported you, perhaps in a duet -- and after that, there's almost no chance that the audience will understand what you're trying to say. There are vidders with twice my experience and skill that disagree with me on this one, though.)

These are harder to defend -- can someone find examples of these that work?

Many cuts in a row all the same length
          (i.e., vary your clip length)

Many cuts in a row all of head shots

          (i.e., vary your clip type)

Doing a whole vid to one show, but including just one clip of the actor from a different show.

Freeze frames
Speeding up the clip

And this last one isn't really negotiable:

NEVER, EVER, leave any patches of lost signal or gunk between the clips. To quote Methos, 'Cut clean.'

Thanks to all the people on vidder that I quoted, especially Jill, Jessica and Wayne -- and to all the people who contributed to the conversation and helped me understand what I meant, usually hours after posting it.