tishaturk: (pen)
[personal profile] tishaturk
Back when I first started writing in this LJ, I mentioned that I was interested in vids not only as a narrative theorist and rhetorical theorist but as a teacher and scholar of writing. Most of my posts so far have focused on narrative; in the next few posts, I want to write about what I see as the points of connection between vidding (and vidwatching) and composition studies.

Here's an excerpt from one of the grant proposals I wrote recently:
If a vid is a visual essay, it differs in significant ways from the argumentative essays ground out for composition classes. Student essays are produced under compulsion, in response to a prompt, for the teacher's evaluation; a vid is produced voluntarily, in response to something of interest to the creator, for a community in which the creator participates. The process of vidding often involves generating multiple drafts, seeking feedback from peers, and revising based on that feedback--the very activities that composition students are encouraged to undertake but often resist. In addition, many vidders write extensively about their own processes; in doing so, they assert their right to contribute to the fan community's collective knowledge about vidding, whereas student writers seldom contribute to the academic community's collective knowledge about writing.

These differences raise several questions relevant to our attempts to teach a generation of students increasingly immersed in new media. What motivates vidders to draft and revise? To what extent do the composing and revising processes of vidders differ from those of student writers? What can scholars in composition studies learn from the processes and strategies of vidders? How do vids, vidders, and fan-developed theories of vidding echo, extend, or complicate existing academic theories about writing processes, authority, audience, and the collaborative construction of meaning? My hope is that if we understand what motivates people to generate, revise, and discuss texts outside the classroom, we can more effectively approximate those circumstances inside the classroom.

Vidders really like to talk about process. Vidders and vidwatchers also talk about product, obviously--end results, technical tricks--but LJ in particular facilitates individual vidders talking and commiserating about process. One of the things I'd love to study is whether and how and in what ways vidders' accounts of their processes do and don't map onto Flower & Hayes' theories about the writing process and Nancy Sommers' claims about the differences between the processes of student writers vs. experienced writers. I'm particularly interested in thinking about the ways in which vidders might blur the distinction Sommers makes between experienced and inexperienced writers; the experienced writers she discusses are mostly professionals, often trained professionals, whereas vidders are almost all amateurs who are often (even if they have backgrounds in art) self-taught when it comes to vidding--or if they learned, they learned from other amateurs rather than from professionals. The institutional ways of measuring "experience" simply won't work when thinking about vidding.

Certain elements of the vidmaking process have been elucidated more than others. Inspiration, for example, has been much discussed, as has song choice. Editing to lyrics vs to the beat. Handling various technical issues. [livejournal.com profile] sockkpuppett's Life Cycle of Vid and Vidder encapsulates (hilariously) a lot of what I'm thinking about here.

One of the things that I love about vids is that they're always responses to something that the vidder cares about, whether that something is a show or a character or an actor or an idea or a narrative problem or a personal frustration with one of those things. This is what writing should be, too, although student writing seldom is (for a variety of reasons, including the nature of many classroom assignments). So I'm wondering whether examining vidders' processes could offer insights into how the creative/communicative process works: there's a text that prompts response, and a community that contextualizes and supports (at least in the abstract) that response, and then there's a kickoff event (such as finding the song) and in most cases it's not until all those elements are in play that the specific composition can begin; there may be ideas, but there's no spark.

Most of the vidders I've seen write about their processes have suggested that the song is the catalyst for the vid as a whole, the thing that snaps a vid idea into focus: there's a sort of free-floating desire to vid a particular show or character or relationship or idea, and then wham, Perfect Song, Must Vid! But I know I've also seen vidders write about coming up with an idea and looking for a song to fit that idea--I'm pretty sure [livejournal.com profile] obsessive24 has written about this somewhere, although I can't find the link--and that approach would be a really important contrast to discuss, since I absolutely don't want to homogenize vidders' processes; I'm interested in finding and examining patterns, but not at the expense of complexity and variety.

Date: 2009-02-05 10:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] par-avion.livejournal.com
I know I've also seen vidders write about coming up with an idea and looking for a song to make it work

Barkley has written about this for her FNL vid -- she loaded up her ipod with a particular genre of music to sort thru, and Laura searched a lot of jpop for her Heroes vid.

ETA: Aaand I totally fail at finding links too. There have been some comm discussions, either at mac_vidding_101 or vidding about this, so I wonder if that is what I'm remembering.
Edited Date: 2009-02-05 11:14 pm (UTC)

Date: 2009-02-06 11:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tishaturk.livejournal.com
Yeah, I'm wondering if what I remember are comments on someone else's meta posts somewhere.

This is actually good for me to think about; one of my goals is to have a fairly comprehensively tagged list of vid meta (though the tags might not be of much use to anyone not me!), and now I'm having to think about tagging comments to posts--which LJ makes relatively easy, actually, since it's possible to tag a thread separately from the original post.

Date: 2009-02-05 11:09 pm (UTC)
ext_8855: (Default)
From: [identity profile] halcyon-shift.livejournal.com
Hi :) I seem to have a couple cents, so. *cough*

I don't tend to write about my vidding process (mostly in case it notices I'm paying attention), but most of the time I have the concept and then have to look for the song ... but the vids I make easiest (though possibly not best *g*) are the ones where the song has generated the concept.

Also, about a year after I started vidding I did this (http://halcyon-shift.livejournal.com/46032.html) which, possibly exaggerated a teensy bit, but not entirely inaccurate.

Date: 2009-02-06 11:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tishaturk.livejournal.com
I hadn't seen that post; it's brilliant! (Amazing how many accounts of the vidding process eventually mention self-inflicted violence of some kind...)

It's good to learn about more instances of vidders looking for songs to go with particular concepts, and especially to hear from someone who's vidded both ways! I don't want to poke your process with a stick or anything, but (if you're willing) I would love to hear more about why the process is easier when the song has generated the concept. Is it choosing the clips that's easier, or figuring out a structure for the vid, or...?

Date: 2009-02-06 11:53 pm (UTC)
ext_8855: (999 Vidder Down)
From: [identity profile] halcyon-shift.livejournal.com
I think, for me, the difference between concept-to-song and song-to-concept tends to be the difference between painting a picture and painting by numbers. The first, you're creating the outline as well as putting in the pretty shading and nuances of colour, the second the outline is provided for you, even if you then go on to do a few more lines of your own.

I run into problems when I'm trying to fit a song to a concept because the concepts I have tend to be complex and that almost invariably leads to having to compromise on what was intended. In my case, that makes the vids on the schizophrenic side as I'm able to draw out some of what I was trying to say but can't develop on it or make the connections I'm trying to make. More often than not, it ends up in scribbles that, if I'm lucky, turn out to be abstract art and if I'm not, turns out to be something you really wish your mom would take off the refrigerator door and I think this may be a point of critical metaphor failure o_0

When a song itself generates the vid, I usually have the outline playing in my head before I go anywhere near clipping and then it's just a case of providing the visuals that illustrate that. Then maybe it springboards in new and interesting ways, which is fun.

I have no idea if that makes any sense at all, there's a reason I don't vid meta as a rule *g*


Date: 2009-02-07 12:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tishaturk.livejournal.com
This actually makes a lot of sense to me, and the paint-by-numbers analogy is very useful. It's occurred to me before that one of the reasons so many vidders get started with 'shipper vids is that the vast, vast majority of pop songs are in fact love songs of one kind or another, which can be limiting, to say the least. Obviously it's not impossible to move beyond that, especially for people with eclectic tastes, but even songs covering different subject matter are at some point going to be bounded by the limits of the form. I should think it would be frustrating indeed to come up with an idea whose outlines are more complex than the simple paint-by-numbers silhouettes of existing songs.

Have you ever thought about trying to create (or edit or otherwise stitch together) a different kind of soundtrack to better fit your vision of a vid?

Date: 2009-02-05 11:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aycheb.livejournal.com
All my early vids were song inspired but more recently not so much. My most recent completed vid was one where I had a sequence I'd set to another song but then realised didn't belong there so went and looked for a song that it could use. The vid I'm currently about to work on was similar (but different). I had an idea and looked for a song but having found the song the idea has changed quite a lot and will probably change some more when I actually start clipping.

Date: 2009-02-06 11:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tishaturk.livejournal.com
Oh, this is all very interesting!

All my early vids were song inspired but more recently not so much.

Do you have a sense of what brought about the change? Is is that you're working with different kinds of ideas, or different source?

I had an idea and looked for a song but having found the song the idea has changed quite a lot and will probably change some more when I actually start clipping.

I will quite understand if you don't want to talk publically about a vid-in-progress, but I would love to hear more about this. What was it that drew you to this song for this idea, and what elements of the song--the music? the lyrics?--changed the original idea? Or do you mean that the idea changed independently of the song?

Date: 2009-02-07 11:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aycheb.livejournal.com
Do you have a sense of what brought about the change? Is it that you're working with different kinds of ideas, or different source?

It may be stochastic (my sample size is small) but I think it has to do with reaching a kind of critical mass in vid ideas. I used to have one idea at a time and take it through to completion but now I have maybe one main idea but other secondary ones, plus all the bits and pieces of past vids that didn’t make it to the final cut. So the ideas begin to talk to one another and the ideas that come out of that already have some music attached to them so I have at least some concept of what sort of song will work.

Hmm, maybe it’s simply that with experience I have a clearer idea of what kind of music might work for a given vid. So in the past actively looking for a song would have meant screening through every single piece of music I’d ever heard and there just isn’t the time. Now I can (sometimes) narrow it down to a small enough subgenre that screening is feasible.


What was it that drew you to this song for this idea, and what elements of the song--the music? the lyrics?--changed the original idea?

The starter idea was really rather naff. I wanted to make a Weaver (from T:SCC) vid to a Garbage song. Originally I wanted it to focus on her relationships with Ellison and John Henry as a sort of unholy family. I found a track that had the feel I wanted for Weaver and a lyric I thought I could use but when I started to listen to the song as a whole (music and lyrics) it began to sound as if it were telling a story about a journey and in my unholy family the character who does that would be Ellison not Weaver. So the vid still contains the original elements but they’re no longer the primary focus.

Date: 2009-02-05 11:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taragel.livejournal.com
I mostly start with a song, but on one vid (http://taragel.livejournal.com/16094.html), I had the concept first, a very generic desire to vid a pairing of characters whose friendship is a minor theme in the show. Currently I'm working on a vidding project where I'm going to be producing quite a few vids and vidlets in the month of February and producing long process notes for each one (more info here (http://taragel.livejournal.com/32747.html)) and one of the upcoming ones I have a very distinct story idea/message that I want to get across (not just a general character vid) and I'm having a lot of trouble finding a song that would tie into it.
Edited Date: 2009-02-05 11:53 pm (UTC)

Date: 2009-02-06 11:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tishaturk.livejournal.com
I'm so glad you made a Starbuck and Helo buddy vid; they absolutely deserve one. The dynamic between them on the show is great.

I didn't know about the Insane February Vidding Project, but wow, I am impressed by your list of things to work on. It looks like a really interesting mix of creative and technical goals. And I love the idea of doing it as a group; what a great support network to have!

I have a very distinct story idea/message that I want to get across (not just a general character vid) and I'm having a lot of trouble finding a song that would tie into it.

This is part of why I'm fascinated by the idea of choosing a song to fit a pre-existing idea; it seems like it would be really difficult. And yet at the same time there's something really appealing about imagining a vid that's not locked into or determined by an existing song. Can I ask how you're going about looking for the song? Are you just going through your own music collection, or asking friends for suggestions? Is it a particular sound you're looking for (like you were with the BSG vid), or is it a matter of finding the right kind of lyrics?

Date: 2009-02-07 12:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taragel.livejournal.com
I didn't know about the Insane February Vidding Project, but wow, I am impressed by your list of things to work on. It looks like a really interesting mix of creative and technical goals. And I love the idea of doing it as a group; what a great support network to have!

True to its name, the IFVP's been insanely great so far. For me having specific goals in mind rather than just saying I want to vid about this character or use this song, has been really creativity inducing. I've made some very different pieces tonally than what I've done before and I think created some of the best stuff I've ever done for this (not the Lee Adama crack!vid currently up on my site, but the one before it about religion in BSG and one coming up that I'm posting this weekend). And the community sense of it is great. We send a lot of emails back and forth and try to share knowledge and feedback.

This is part of why I'm fascinated by the idea of choosing a song to fit a pre-existing idea; it seems like it would be really difficult. And yet at the same time there's something really appealing about imagining a vid that's not locked into or determined by an existing song. Can I ask how you're going about looking for the song? Are you just going through your own music collection, or asking friends for suggestions? Is it a particular sound you're looking for (like you were with the BSG vid), or is it a matter of finding the right kind of lyrics?

For the Kara/Helo one I did it was pretty easy, because I knew the song had to be about having friendship and I knew I wanted something very fast like a punk/ska cover. From there it was pretty easy to search online and find a ska version of James Taylor's song.

For the one upcoming, I'm having a much harder time. I want to make a very specific point with the vid (the idea stemmed out of discussion of [livejournal.com profile] beccatoria's most recent Adama vid) about how Bill treats his model ship vs. his Galactica ship. I've been googling lyrics for terms like ship, father, children, etc. but not having a whole heck of a lot of luck. I've found a few songs where I really liked the lyrics but didn't like the way the song was sung/think it was the right vibe for a BSG vid. I've asked a few people for suggestions but I might post to a comm asking for more.

Date: 2009-02-07 12:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tishaturk.livejournal.com
I've been googling lyrics for terms like ship, father, children, etc. but not having a whole heck of a lot of luck. I've found a few songs where I really liked the lyrics but didn't like the way the song was sung/think it was the right vibe for a BSG vid. I've asked a few people for suggestions but I might post to a comm asking for more.

I just love that you're doing research to find the right kind of song. (I'm a teacher, what can I say.) But yeah, I can see how googling lyrics could be frustrating if you find the right kind of words and then the music doesn't fit the show itself. I hope other people have useful suggestions!

Date: 2009-02-07 12:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taragel.livejournal.com
Hee. I'm a former english major/magazine journalist so I'm a nerd at heart. Google owns my soul.

I may be being too literal in my search terms (perhaps I should try ideas like blindness and protection). I might attempt stringing the clips together in the narrative I want and THEN looking for a song, but that's really hard to do without any musical cues. Or I suppose I could try an instrumental song--don't have a lot of knowledge of instrumental music though... ah the possibilities are endless.

Date: 2009-02-07 12:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tishaturk.livejournal.com
The idea of looking for different kinds of metaphors seems really promising! ...speaking as one English major to another. :)

And instrumentals would certainly be worth exploring, especially because you could ask around on music comms as well as vidding comms, right? "I'm looking for something with X kind of mood..." Although, uh, maybe not sounding quite so much like a personals ad. ::headdesk::

Date: 2009-02-07 04:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jackiekjono.livejournal.com
Have you considered Beethoven? Many Beethoven pieces contrast something very quiet with something very loud. Quiet/loud could work as a metaphor for small ship/big ship. Or maybe a one instrument/large orchestra sort of contrast?

Date: 2009-02-07 01:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] taragel.livejournal.com
Oh nice. That's a really interesting idea of contrasting the quiet/loud. I'm woefully ignorant of classical music but I could look into some Beethoven. Thanks for the suggestion!
Edited Date: 2009-02-07 01:18 pm (UTC)

Date: 2009-02-06 01:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] anoel.livejournal.com
I feel like the difference between the two processes is that vidding doesn't just focus on describing an argument but on using art and narrative to show the argument actually happening. For instance when writing an essay, there's less of a focus in making the essay itself a creative writing story and/or focusing on the way words sound and/or are arranged that would further the argument. The lack of music is an important component as well more in the emotional quality it brings to vids making it more motivating to pursue that medium in terms of essays.

Date: 2009-02-06 11:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tishaturk.livejournal.com
Well, see, this is one of the things that interests me: professional writers often do think of their writing very much in terms of art and narrative, finding the right words or metaphors or analogies to make a point. And students often don't think of writing in this way at all. So your comment suggests to me that one of the ways teachers need to rethink the teaching of analytical writing is to emphasize the ways in which it is creative rather than insisting that writing an essay is completely different from telling a story.

Your point about music makes a lot of sense to me; the music means that there's almost automatically an emotional quality to making a vid, whereas in an essay the emotional component is only there if the writer brings it herself.

Date: 2009-02-06 04:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] morgandawn.livejournal.com
most of my vids start with a fandom and then a song. but my Due South vid Flying Home started with neither a fandom nor a song. just a feeling I wanted to capture. and when I couldn't find a song, I cobbled one together.

I mused about this after Vividcon last year.
http://morgandawn.livejournal.com/899089.html

Date: 2009-02-07 12:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tishaturk.livejournal.com
That is a terrific story; I love the image of you in a Cessna flying around San Francisco, experiencing the world in three dimensions. (Also, I've never been up in a small plane, and now I really, really want to.)

I said something like this to [livejournal.com profile] halcyon_shift upthread: I wonder if one of the frontiers of vidding is doing more of the cobbling-together of audio that you did for "Flying Home." Obviously many vidders and vidwatchers are perfectly happy with vids that are strongly grounded in particular existing songs, but for vidders who want to do something different (whether all the time or just occasionally), having to map ideas onto an existing song seems to be potentially very limiting. Working with instrumentals is certainly one way around that, and "Flying Home" takes the idea a step further.

Date: 2009-02-06 03:24 pm (UTC)
luminosity: (VID-Purveyor TEXT)
From: [personal profile] luminosity
I still want to talk about my process, but at this point I feel tongue tied. I tend to obsess about a certain situation/character/character trait--how it feels or even (weirdly) *sounds* in my head. Then I start the music search. This process has a few inherent problems, though. While I'm looking for music to back up my idea, I will run across music that inspires other ideas, and then I either lose track of what I was doing in the first place, or the idea mutates into something else. That could be good or bad or worse.

See what I mean? Tongue tied.

And I wasn't kidding about a trip-hop intervention. :)

Date: 2009-02-07 12:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tishaturk.livejournal.com
What you're describing seems to me to fit the model that I've seen most often (allowing for individual vidders' particular obsessions, of course!): there's a sort of general something that wants to be vidded, and every song the vidder listens to gets tested for whether it fits that particular something. And then once there's a general match that the vidder finds satisfying or inspiring (...which apparently for some people is now All Trip-Hop All The Time), the song starts to affect the original idea so that they sort of grow around each other.

But I so, so hear you on getting distracted by one idea when you're intending to work on something else. Yeah.

You know what I think would be absolutely fasinating? To do a speak-aloud protocol on a working vidder. It's this thing that composition studies scholars used to do with writers in the '70s and '80s: stick a tape recorder in a room with a writer and ask her to verbalize as much as she can of what she's thinking as she composes or revises. Obviously it's not a perfect movie of the creator's mind--the results are inevitably skewed by self-consciousness and self-censoring--but the practice yielded up just astonishing quantities of interesting writing-related data to pick through and hypothesize about, and I bet it could do the same thing with vidding. Especially if this could be done in conjunction with some sort of automated screen capture... Oh my gosh, that could be EXTREMELY cool.

Date: 2009-02-06 07:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jackiekjono.livejournal.com
There is the song, the source, and the idea. The spark for the vid can come from any of them.

I like to notice irony so that will usually be what sucks me into a character, a relationship, a song, etc. Fraser on Due South is the epitome of everything decent and polite but, his relationship with Deifenbaker is very snarky and they are always giving each other crap. That observation is thrown into the fannish attic with old copies of Dr. Who Monthly and piles of Star Wars action figures while life goes on. Sometime later, I may come across a song that I really like that also has an ironic contrast to it. It's about partners who clearly care about each other but, are constantly criticizing each other in an attempt to challenge the other to be better. I think "Hmmm. This is interesting. Where have I seen this before?"

I then dig through my fannish attic to find the right relationship. I trip over Sam and Gene from Life on Mars on my way up the stairs and land in a very dusty pile of Starsky and Hutch before sifting through a pile of X-Files trivia books to find Fraser and Deif. That's why I hung on to them. I knew they would come in handy one of these days.

Other times, I will notice the song first. I had gotten an Aretha Franklin album and had been listening to "I Never Loved A Man" quite a bit. It made me think of my parents and the way my mother put up with my father for 20 years in spite of having absolutely no illusions about just what a shitheel he was and about how hard it was to rip herself away from that because she really did love him. This was an issue I was thinking through when the tail end of Dr. Who - Season 3 aired. While watching the Doctor hold the Master in his arms, I suddenly realized that they were actually my parents and that this vid had to be made. Thankfully, I was able to convince Eunice to make it for me.

Date: 2009-02-06 07:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jackiekjono.livejournal.com
And after rambling incoherently forever I think I failed to actually make my point which is that a show or a character or a relationship or a song may strike us because we have some idea that we are trying to work through for some other reason and we will recognize that theme in other places.

It's like when couples are going through infertility treatments and everywhere they go they see babies or you just broke up with your SO and everywhere you go you see happy couples and every song on the radio seems to be mocking you.

Date: 2009-02-07 01:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tishaturk.livejournal.com
a show or a character or a relationship or a song may strike us because we have some idea that we are trying to work through for some other reason and we will recognize that theme in other places.

Yes, absolutely--this makes complete sense to me, and I think it's part of why vidders will voluntarily undertake difficult and time-consuming processes when vids that students often avoid when writing: vids allow vidders to work through their own stuff; vids are responses to what the vidder thinks is important, whether that's the show itself, directly, or an element of the show that's a touchstone for something more personal and internal. Writing, even academic writing, can work that way too, but as teachers I think we often don't let our students in on that, or we assign writing that doesn't encourage that kind of connection.

Date: 2009-02-07 02:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jackiekjono.livejournal.com
And as a solid b minus student, i can tell you that the few academic projects I did well on were the ones I was able to relate back to something else that I already found interesting.

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Tisha Turk

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