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15 November 2008 @ 09:42 pm
Vid chat: betaing  
Hi all! I have been slacking with the vid chats in the last couple of weeks. But I'm determined to get back on track.

For reference, here are the previous discussion posts:
- Planning vids
- First vids
- Defining vid genres and narrative styles
- Lyrics and literalism

This week the topic up for discussion is betaing. Not everyone gets their vids betaed, and I'm not going to say that people should or shouldn't. I think lots of things contribute to whether we do or don't including access to someone willing to do so. It can be pretty hard starting out to know where to find a beta and then what to do with them when you have one!

I think experiences of betaing vary considerably, so that's one reason I'm really curious to hear what people have to say on this subject. For the purposes of my own little discussion I've used the terms 'betaing' and 'audiencing' to distinguish between getting concrit and getting an initial emotional feedback/response. I'm not sure if that's exactly how other people use them, but in my mind that distinction is important. I quite frequently get several people to watch a vid before I post it but usually only one or two are giving really indepth concrit. From the others I'm looking for a quick 'did this work for you?' response or checking whether it makes sense to someone who knows or doesn't know canon. This audiencing can also sometimes be the 'cheerleader' role--one that is very important! Betaing is great but when you are in the doldrums of existential creative angst, sometimes what you really need to hear is 'omg, I love this vid so much you MUST finish it' before you hear the 'ok, the ending really does not work' kind of feedback. ;)

I started out betaing before I made vids myself. And before that I had betaed fic. And before that I was a book editor. Betaing seemed so unstructured to me when I first started. In fic it could mean anything from checking spelling to confirming canon to discussing characterisation or structure. And often it wasn't clear what the writer was looking for immediately. So my first (personal) golden rule of vidding is: ask them what they want. Do they want you to spot timing issues? Do they want you to tell them if the narrative is clear or not? Are they worried about the overall emotional (lack of) impact? If they're not sure, then getting a feel for how they are feeling about the vid can also be helpful. You approach a beta differently if you know the vidder is tearing their hair out about something or you know they're feeling really good about it. It's important to pitch the beta to the vidder.

I also find the advice in this post to be spot on.

As a vidder, I have gone through an evolution in what I look for in a beta. At first, I was so nervous that I needed hand-holding and reassurance and some very gentle tips for improvement. And some squee to keep me going! Then I started to apply those tips on other vids and I found myself itching to improve, so I came to value my friend supacat's intolerance of poorly timed edits. I also found that with specific vids I needed specific things. With a vid that was intended to promote a show, I needed to know how it worked for someone that had never seen it. For a character-centric vid I needed feedback from someone I knew knew the character well. And so, I have roamed all over and had all sorts of different beta experiences.

Without a doubt the worst was getting three conflicting sets of advice on a vid that I was already very nervous and insecure about. In this case I was not confident enough with my own vision for the vid to know who to heed. I waivered and fretted. So my advice is: be very clear with what you want from each person who views the vid. Be prepared to trust your gut over a beta's advice if you think it is in the best interests of the vid. That can be so hard because typically the point where I get a vid betaed is also the point where I've lost objective sight of the vid myself. That's where having a beta you really trust is very important.

What about other people? What have your experiences been in getting vids betaed or betaing?

As vidders:
- Do you get your vids betaed?
- What 'sort' of beta do you ask for?
- What has been the hardest thing in getting a vid betaed and how did you handle it?
- Have you ever ignored beta advice?
- What is the best piece of beta feedback you've ever received?
- Do you have one regular beta or do you use lots of different people?
- At what point do you get your vid betaed? Do you go through many drafts with your beta?
- Have you ever substantially revised a vid based on beta?

As betas:
- What sort of beta are you good at?
- Do you find you beta differently for different people?
- What are the biggest challenges with betaing and how do you handle them?
- What do you enjoy most about betaing?
- What is the most satisfying project you have betaed?
- Am I the only one that hangs around the comment pages of things I beta, smiling proudly? :)

Feel free to chat about anything else beta-related as well. One of the things I like most is laughing later about the feedback. I have had some classics. My favourite is probably 'too many sunflowers' (re. Paranoid Android--trust me, they went on FOREVER in an early version). For the same vid, 'it's all fine apart from this passage at XXX which is tonally completely wrong'. That was funny only because I'd just finished three hours of work on said passage and was absolutely delighted with it. I checked and immediately saw that they were dead right. Just recently, my beta notes for Clint Eastwood read 'ditch basestar, less New Caprica, more crazy, more leaning, more Russ, give Centurion his own space, pare back the ending A LOT'. Bless betas!
 
 
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The sanest lunatic you've ever met: buffy: viddingsdwolfpup on November 15th, 2008 02:35 pm (UTC)
- Do you get your vids betaed?

Yes, definitely. My first four or five vids I didn't, and then I asked for help on the Buffy vid list and fer1213 responded. Not only did she vid for me, we because very good friends. It was a good deal. :)

- What 'sort' of beta do you ask for?
Everything I can get. I want to know if the idea makes sense, if the mood is working, if the timing feels right, whatever items might stick out to the beta. I do tend to be most concerned about coherency and sense-making when I send a vid out, but I want responses on whatever they've got.

- What has been the hardest thing in getting a vid betaed and how did you handle it?
When my beta(s) don't like a part I love. I learned the hard way not to ignore my beta's good advice if I don't have a good reason to. I did a couple of times in the early days, and when I re-watch those vids, those are always the parts that make me cringe. Nowadays, I try not to respond to my beta's thoughts for a couple of days, unless I'm emotionally ready to make changes.

- Have you ever ignored beta advice?
Heh, see above!

- What is the best piece of beta feedback you've ever received?
Hmm. I would have to say the couple of times I've been fortunate to snag renenet in chat and have a running commentary with her. She is awesome at that.

- Do you have one regular beta or do you use lots of different people?
I started with a regular beta, but I use lots of different people now. Honestly, I was happier with a regular beta, because I could always go to her when I needed help on the smallest parts, or to kick ideas around. She was always enthusiastic and supportive at every step. I miss having that go-to person for vidding angst. (Fer, come back! Hee.) I do like having more than one person seeing the vid before I publish it, though.

- At what point do you get your vid betaed? Do you go through many drafts with your beta?
Depends. Typically I put together one draft before sending it out to get beta'd, but if I'm having a really tough time of it, I'll send it out when I get stuck to just get some enthusiasm back or to see if the direction I'm heading makes any sense at all. The vid itself dictates how many drafts I have to go through. Sometimes I get everything nailed down pretty well on the first draft and the changes are minimal. Sometimes a vid needs lots of help. Sometimes I'll actually do two or three full drafts before I send it out for beta.

- Have you ever substantially revised a vid based on beta?
Yes, although not often. "Woman King" went through the most serious revisions of any vid I've made to date. The first draft I sent out (which was incomplete) was, if I recall, entirely changed based on beta feedback. And it was better for it.

Thank god for betas, I say! I love and adore them, and my vids are always better for what they have to say. Always.
Call Me OneTrack: daviscallmeonetrack on November 15th, 2008 03:58 pm (UTC)
I've had three of my four vids beta'd. Being new to any kind of video editing, I felt it would be really necessary and instrumental because I had no idea what I was doing. But, at the same time, I don't really like doing revisions of things (professional writing, fic, vids, etc.). I'm impatient and love immediate gratificaiton so I always want to post it as soon as I'm done slapping the credits on (which is always last for me).

I do however love getting constructive critcism. It's great to hear the squee, but so much more useful to hear what doesn't work. As a former magazine and book editor, I really value pointed, incisive criticism.

I find usually that my betas (all different people) are good at pointing out/catching parts that I already knew deep down didn't work but was lazy about changing. So as soon as I hear that I buckle down and fix those parts. I haven't ever had someone be really insistent that a part was awful and not working at all. Most critiquers tend to be pretty diplomatic.

When I get conflicting info it's a litttle difficult. I've taken parts out based on one beta's advice and put it back based on another's that nailed why I was using that sequence. So overall, I tend to mostly rely on the beta comments that jive with my own opinions both good and bad.

I like to use different betas for different reasons, one person might really know a character, another a pairing, a third a style of vidding that i'm trying on (like crack!vids or atmospheric vids). I like to spread it around so poeple don't get bored with me and my requests! (Although I do have one lj friend, who usually wants to see everything.)

The last vid I just completed a couple days ago I did not have beta'd. I was going to have my constant beta look at it, but she was a little swamped and had an idea for something similar so didn't want to be influenced. And I felt pretty good with it overall. Plus, I finished my second or third draft of it myself and just decided, you know, I'm done. I don't feel like making anymore changes. And I think that's ok. It's fandom, there's no rules. Ironically, I felt like I got my best comments on this one too, so go figure.

So I think betas can be enormously helpful, but really trusting your own instincts is key as well.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Aishwarya Raibop_radar on November 15th, 2008 11:58 pm (UTC)
And I think that's ok. It's fandom, there's no rules.
Absolutely! I get my 'big' vids betaed but I have also made smaller projects that I threw together quickly and got to a point where I felt it was complete and put it up. And like you I've had good feedback on them--which I think can be a reassuring thing to hear too. Betas are fabulous but it's also good to know that your work is not shit without them. ;)

So I think betas can be enormously helpful, but really trusting your own instincts is key as well.
Same. As I hinted in my post, the time things went 'most' wrong for me was when I became more worried about conflicting beta feedback than my own instincts. I completely lost all connection to my instincts and was more like an automaton doing what I was told. :( that was no fun and I plan not to repeat that!
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Ameliebop_radar on November 15th, 2008 11:55 pm (UTC)
I try not to respond to my beta's thoughts for a couple of days, unless I'm emotionally ready to make changes.
Oh, interesting. That seems like good advice--don't react too quickly and let the advice settle with you. I like that.

Often I find that what a beta says is what I already know at some level. Sometimes their reactions surprise me though, and that can definitely take longer to work through.
daybreak777daybreak777 on November 15th, 2008 04:35 pm (UTC)
It's interesting that you want someone to 'audience' your vids who don't know its canon. I watch lots of vids from shows/movies I've never seen. (Vids often get me to go watch them!) I never comment because I feel I'm missing so much context. But you want this feedback for your early baby vids. Interesting. (There are vids out there just to 'promote' a show? Like that's the vid's focus?)

when you are in the doldrums of existential creative angst, sometimes what you really need to hear is 'omg, I love this vid so much you MUST finish it' before you hear the 'ok, the ending really does not work' kind of feedback. ;)
So much WORD to this. I should copy this for my vid/fic betas in future. And for myself as a beta. Not that technical assistance is not needed, but little fic/vid babies need encouragement!

As a person who made a couple of vids:
So far, the hardest thing in getting anything betaed is when someone suggests you change something and you simply don't know how. You've made it that way for a reason, you didn't know a different way. And deep down, you know if their advice is right or not. They might say, "Yeah, you need to find a scene where x happens with x." And you think, 'there is no such scene. I know you're right but I was up until 3 in the morning combing through eps and it doesn't exist. Which is why I put this!' And the beta can say, "well, good luck, you'll figure it out!" or "well, maybe it's not a big deal". And you know it is a big deal, at least for you. But the twisty, mind-bendy things you have to do to fix it, tha't the work and genesis of the vid or fic. No one can tell you sometimes what to do. It's one of the best and hardest things about creating. But oh, the feeling when you get it right! And thank goodness for the beta who provided the feedback that helped you get there. :-)

On the other hand, I ignore beta advice sometimes. Not usually anything major or something that really pings for me as right. My betas are uncanny too. It's like they read my BRAIN. :-) I can't ignore those instances. But little things that I like or that I'll only see, sure, I'll skip it.

I find it's best to give a whole draft of a vid. Fic is different, because fic itself can be so short. But a vid, it's hard to get feedback saying, "you need this," when you know you are already planning to put that.

As beta:
Me? I'm good with character stuff. I can say whether someone feels off or not if I know the canon. I am also good with narrative or what I call, "Finding the Theme." It's fun for me, to do as AD said, really delve into, 'what is the vidder/writer wanting to say?' Much more fun than me putting in what I'd say. And I so want to see their unique take.

The only pitfall I see in my betaing which hasn't become a problem yet, is sometimes I'm too excited about the project. I want to make suggestions, not necessarily that I'd do, but what I'd dearly love to see. But I remember advising on the first vid I ever betaed, that the vidder chop my very favorite character out. It was a lovely sequence too, one I still think about, and that's lost with the wind. But although we both mourned it, it didn't belong in that vid. I was sad to see it go, though.

I am very proud of the first vid I betaed. I think I've lost the early objectivity I had with it and just love it totally and completely now. And yes, I visit those comment pages! They got it, they really got it! And watching the writer or vidder . . . grow is truly a joy. Her baby is all grown up!

The funniest comment I remember lately was from me as a fic beta, I said to a writer: "Needs more kissing!" Hee! Well, it did! She surprised me by putting that in her author's note, but it was fun to read feedback on how much people enjoyed the, uh, added kissing. :-D

I love great beta memories and have so missed vids chats. Welcome back!
deathisyourart: SPN - Shhhhdeathisyourart on November 15th, 2008 06:20 pm (UTC)
"Yeah, you need to find a scene where x happens with x." And you think, 'there is no such scene. I know you're right but I was up until 3 in the morning combing through eps and it doesn't exist. Which is why I put this!'

In this instance what you need is something that metaphorically represents where x happens with x, and an extra someone who is willing to help you brain storm how you will do that/find that.
daybreak777: sunrisedaybreak777 on November 15th, 2008 06:33 pm (UTC)
That's exactly right! Metaphorically. I think I've done that, maybe not. But I do eventually figure it out somehow, just in that initial moment, I get all stumped.

Yes, having a few betas is a good thing. I usually show vids to at least two or three different people.

Thanks! When I get back to that moment in vidding again (and I'm sure I will), I'll think of this comment. :-)
Call Me OneTrackcallmeonetrack on November 15th, 2008 10:20 pm (UTC)
I tend to have a very good memory for what scenes happened in each BSG episode (if they involve Kara in any way--not so good with the cylons.) So feel free to ask me if you're looking for something particular.

And yeah, my fic totally needed more kissing. It was a good note. I was letting words get in the way.
daybreak777: karasunshinedaybreak777 on November 16th, 2008 03:33 pm (UTC)
Thanks Tara.:-) I have a great memory for anything Kara myself. But Baltar and Gaeta posed a challenge. Particularly Baltar. I knew him, but not as well. And with an AU vid, I had to use scnes that had double meanings, literal and then not literal. I had to really make up a story with romantic footage, not actually there. I will be doing this again, since many of my vid ideas are non-canon.

And yeah, my fic totally needed more kissing. It was a good note. I was letting words get in the way.
Hee! Sometimes the characters like to keep talking! It's fun to be the author and ruler of their world and say, "Get on with it, folks!" And it's fun for me to watch you be that ruler. I smile just remembering your fics and vids. :-)


Edited at 2008-11-16 03:34 pm (UTC)
Call Me OneTrackcallmeonetrack on November 16th, 2008 09:31 pm (UTC)
This is a bit of a cheat but I think slow motion (or in WMM parlance "Slow down, Half") and grayscale/sepia and fading are really your friends when you're trying to make non-shippy footage seem shippy. :)

My characters love to keep talking. It's like they're all refugees from the set of Dawson's Creek.
daybreak777: sunrisedaybreak777 on November 16th, 2008 03:44 pm (UTC)
I keep having more to say on this subject. :-) I guess betaing and being new to vidding and vid betaing, I'm still finding my way with it all.

What’s hard to express here is the relationship you have with your betas. There are so many different kinds of beta relationships! Sometimes, there is the last-minute beta, “Look this over quickly, please-thank-you-by-tomorrow?” Then there is the beta you don’t want to bug too much and that you only send your most polished pieces. Still yet, is the beta who knows nothing about vids or fic or even fandom much, the one who is your ‘clean’ slate. The 'audiencer' as Bop calls them. Each one these pre-completed-vid viewers has a role. Each is important. I don’t think you have to have special knowledge to watch a vid for someone. Do you like it, is my first question to anyone who looks at my vids. Why or why not, is the next. As I grow as a vidder, sure I want to learn more technical stuff, but I want the viewer to like the vid too. I need to like it too.

I kinda fell into vidding this summer and I don’t know how it’s really supposed to be. A friend and I were learning together and we helped each other with our first vids. Even now, our betaing/discussions differ from than those first questions like, “Does this have a point?” to us now talking about internal and external motion. Which I probably learned about in these vids chats. Sure, we talked about them then, but we were just having fun. We didn’t know terminology or anything.

A beta sees your work not at its best. They see you at your lowest. Open, and not at always at most confident. They encourage and they give feedback. They give it to you how you can hear it. Some need to hear it straight; sometimes that same vidder needs to hear criticism with lots of encouragement. Some betas become your friends. Dear friends too. People who have been honest with you about something precious--your fan work--that you work hard on and care much about and they care about it too. I am proud to see my friends’ fic or vids come to fruition. That scene that was never quite right even after five painstaking renderings and uploads, the hard drive that crashed and burned to the vidder’s tearful distress, the beginning first fledgling vid nearing completion until, yay! Final vid!

I was lucky enough to go through an informal, very fun, co-self-taught, co-named Vidding 101 with Chaila, and to take some ‘electives’ with other vidders. So much fun! I have also had a very special beta hold my hand through Fanfic 101 when I was as new and as scared about posting fic as I am about vidding now. And I’m proud of us, because we each get through our challenges together. I don’t know. Maybe it’s wrong. Maybe I’m supposed to be objective. I am when I first see the vid. I have no problem simply saying, “I don’t get it.” But by the end, after the vidder’s own sweat and tears, I usually end up loving that vid. It’s not mine, but I love seeing the vidder beat his/her own demons and win. This is what I like about vidding, every finished vid is a win! And it’s so fun to be behind the scenes and watch that happen.

I don’t know if becoming friends with your beta is wrong. Maybe betaing is more formal? Maybe vidding is more formal? It’s so hard to know what’s right. Right now we just keep on playing. :-)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Clark basketballbop_radar on November 16th, 2008 08:56 pm (UTC)
Awww, this is such a lovely comment! Like you I have many different betas in many different circumstances, and what I need from them or share with them varies according to the vid in question. I certainly agree that betas often become good friends if they are not already because there is so much trust involved in showing your project to someone else at an early stage.

Maybe betaing is more formal?
Not in my experience. Besides, there are no rules for this stuff. I've found the best betaing gets done informally--it happens when the beta and vidder are in a really trusting place with each other, and in my case often with a bit of a sense of humour to break any possible tension arising from the beta saying the previous vid ain't working. ;)

I'd find it hard to deal with a beta process that was very formal and only critical. I guess that's where my own limitations as a beta or vidder come in--that would NOT suit me at ALL. I don't honestly think I'd find that useful because I don't think I'd feel like the beta had really got on board with my whole idea, and if I don't think they've got the best interests of my vid at heart than I would be skeptical about their feedback. It might be the right feedback for them, but not necessarily for me.

I also think that it's absolutely appropriate to pitch the beta to the level of the vidder. I don't drown a new vidder in tech feedback before they're ready, for instance.

Oh! Look, I seem to have more to say on this subject too! Hee!

Anyway, thanks for piping up again and sharing how special the beta relationship is for you.
(Deleted comment)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Ameliebop_radar on November 17th, 2008 12:56 am (UTC)
I think this would suck all the fun out of vidding for me.
Same, and some of the vids I've MOST in need of informality and laughter on are the serious meta-y ones where I'm tearing my hair out! It can be such a relief to have spent hours trying to work some bit out and then have someone fresh come in and sum up the problem really neatly or make me giggle at how seriously I've been taking it all. 'Too many sunflowers' was a good example of it. LOTS. of Very Earnest Sunflowers! *lol*

Keeping it fun seems like good advice to me! While I'm sure different styles work for different people, I think I create best when I keep it lighthearted because I am inclined to be overly reflective, analytical and self-critical, to the detriment of my creative process.
daybreak777: laura says hellodaybreak777 on November 17th, 2008 07:06 am (UTC)
Hee! Porn! What are people going to think? I see porn in a political vid and ask for more kissing in fics! Well, at least I'm direct! I'm a romantic, sue me!

Seriously, it's fun to get a sense of where the vidder or writer wants to go. Where they hope they have went. They are so hoping it works. Some themes are so elusive. Even vidding or writing, I find it slipping through my fingers. But the best is when the intended audience just gets it.

We had so much fun with your Not So Serious Political vid before it was even done! Just concept! I've had serious betaing relationships too. Not in vidding, but sometimes when a beta says it's great, but you know it's just not finished yet. Always trust your instincts.

I hope you make more funny or cracky vids. It's hard to do something different. Be outside the box. Much easier with giggles. ;-)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Clois runbop_radar on November 16th, 2008 12:05 am (UTC)
It's interesting that you want someone to 'audience' your vids who don't know its canon.
Not for all of them. It depends who I want my audience to be. If I want it to be people who haven't seen the show yet as well as people who have, then yes, I really deliberately look for that. I did so with Southside, for instance, which I think is a good show-promoter because it's fast and action-based and fun.

There are vids out there just to 'promote' a show? Like that's the vid's focus?
Yes, there are, though I think they usually have another raison d'etre as well. But there are definitely vids whose goal is to 'showcase' a source.

'what is the vidder/writer wanting to say?' Much more fun than me putting in what I'd say. And I so want to see their unique take.
Yes, I can see that this would be your strength. You are VERY good at listening to other people's voices!

sometimes I'm too excited about the project
Hahahaha, dude. SAME! Although not necessarily the same way. Sometimes I get carried away telling people the vid is great and not giving enough concrit. Sometimes I'm better at fangirling, it turns out! ;)
(Deleted comment)
daybreak777: sunrisedaybreak777 on November 15th, 2008 04:41 pm (UTC)
One more vid beta memory because I'm feeling all warm and viddy now. On a unfinished draft of my second vid of a non-canon pairing, I asked my friend (and later beta) for feedback on whether it seemed like these two really had had a romantic relationship. I'll never forget her response:

"I feel like they broke up on New Caprica."

Awww! That was sweet because there is no canonical evidence these two were ever together on New Caprica. I mean, I believe it, but the point was now she believed it too! And she sounded so sad about it too. So \o/ for me!

Thanks for letting me share that. I hope others share some of memorable vid betaing moments too. :-)

Edited at 2008-11-15 04:42 pm (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
daybreak777: GaetaBaltardaybreak777 on November 16th, 2008 03:25 pm (UTC)
:-) Warm fuzzies for the win! And vidding is very awesome. And so are betas!
deathisyourart: SPN - Shhhhdeathisyourart on November 15th, 2008 07:08 pm (UTC)
What sort of beta are you good at?
I check for everything, I don't know how to check for only one thing, but I know that I am no good to a literal vidder. I LOVE and ADORE metaphor, so I will push for it.

Do you find you beta differently for different people?
This kind of goes with the question below, but in addition to that, I think thta you have to beta differently for different people unless they have VERY similar styles. one vidder might make vids that are suppose to draw an emotional response from the viewer but the structure is not a typical beginning, middle, and end narrative; whereas, others will use a structure that is based on parallels, and symbolism. Different vids require different strategies, and different vidders require different levels of communication or number of betas/draft revisions.

What are the biggest challenges with betaing and how do you handle them?
The biggest is working with a vidder I haven't worked with before, because even after asking them what they want from me, it is hard to gage how forceful I can fight for the vid -- and the changes it needs -- without upsetting the vidder. I have a regular vidder that I work with that is able to handle very blunt critique, so I get used to a style and find it hard to break out of that at times.

What do you enjoy most about betaing?
EVERYTHING! I enjoy seeing several versions of the vid, getting to see it first, understanding what the vid is trying to say, the vidders enthusiasm for the project, the anticipation of everyones reaction to the final vid, and seeing a small change make ALL THE DIFFERENCE!

I also have always loved a good mystery, so breaking something down into its pieces and seeing how things do or can connect to one another is A LOT of fun for me!

What is the most satisfying project you have betaed?
I think that would have to be halcyon_shift's Big City life, though I work with her a lot and enjoy it every time.

Am I the only one that hangs around the comment pages of things I beta, smiling proudly? :)
No, I do that as well. I read one beta speaking of doing this but I felt that they thought of the vid as their baby vid too, and was taking the praise it received as their own.... I don't do that! I want to see the comments the vidder gets because I know how much work they put into it, and I believe they deserve the praise; I like to see good work get the recognition it deserves. My job as a beta is something I find easy and the only person that I expect to appreciate that is the vidder themselves.


Also, I just wanted to add for anyone still looking for a beta: Find someone who will tell you EVERYTHING that is wrong with your vid. Yes, it will hurt like hell at first, but if your beta noticed it then other people will too; your beta does not have X-ray vision. You wouldn't ask someone to only mention every 5th spelling mistake when beta-ing fiction, so you should never expect a vid beta to only do a half-ass job to spare your feelings either. You don't have to listen to everything they say (if you have a strong reason not to), but hearing all of it is always helpful, even if all it does is make you rewatch that section of your vid and justify to yourself why that section is the way it is.

What is important is finding someone who you can work with, who can give you the time commitment and amount of communication or assistance that you require. Also, someone who can calm you down, and tell you that the internet will not die in the next 30 seconds if the vid doesn't go out NOW - vidders are an impatient lot! A good match is someone who won't overstep and give you suggestions you didn't ask for, someone who you can say "no" to, and who you feel comfortable hearing a "no" from.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Audrey Tautoubop_radar on November 16th, 2008 12:16 am (UTC)
I am no good to a literal vidder. I LOVE and ADORE metaphor, so I will push for it.
Oh you sound like my kind of beta! :) I love metaphor too and I feel I can be unduly strict on some of the people I beta for in coaxing them out of their literalism. ;)

The biggest is working with a vidder I haven't worked with before
Yes, I agree. That is really hard because people can be SO different. I work with people that need a lot of encouragement and gentleness and also people that like decisive blunt feedback. Working with someone new is hard. I am very cautious until I can feel my way with them.

Ohh, 'Big City Life'!! That is one of my top ten favourite vids of all time! Awesome!

I want to see the comments the vidder gets because I know how much work they put into it, and I believe they deserve the praise
Definitely for that reason, yes! Like you I don't find betaing hard, I find it a lot of fun, so all the work is the vidder's and seeing someone go through that, you really want to see them get the feedback at the end.

Also, someone who can calm you down, and tell you that the internet will not die in the next 30 seconds if the vid doesn't go out NOW
*lol* So true.

someone who you can say "no" to, and who you feel comfortable hearing a "no" from.
That's very true and it can take a long time to find that person. Especially if you're a panicky insecure new vidder, as I was! I think if someone had told me everything that was wrong with my first vid I would have had a meltdown and never vidded again. But nowadays I do agree with your advice and finding someone that will be that comprehensive sounds wonderful.
deathisyourart: SPN - Shhhhdeathisyourart on November 16th, 2008 03:37 am (UTC)
Ohh, 'Big City Life'!! That is one of my top ten favourite vids of all time! Awesome!
The first draft I received of that vid it was 17 seconds long. I saw more drafts of that vid than any other halcyon_shift vid, and I think that is why it is still the most rewarding; I was able to be more present in its growth.

Especially if you're a panicky insecure new vidder, as I was! I think if someone had told me everything that was wrong with my first vid I would have had a meltdown and never vidded again.

I think a lot of people would be less insecure about having a beta if they realized that having a non-vidder can be just as valuable as having a vidder as your beta. A majority of your audience (give or take) will be non-vidders, and you don't have to worry about your beta knowing more tricks than you, or pushing their own way of doing things on you. Look at me, I'm not a vidder.... though halcyon_shift says that I need to change that... SO pushy!
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Ameliebop_radar on November 16th, 2008 08:51 am (UTC)
I think a lot of people would be less insecure about having a beta if they realized that having a non-vidder can be just as valuable as having a vidder as your beta.
Maybe... I am not sure that would have made me less insecure to be honest, but I do agree that non-vidders can be valuable as betas.
Nickyobsessive24 on November 15th, 2008 08:32 pm (UTC)
Do you get your vids betaed?
I get my big concept-based vids betaed, but not my fun weekend projects where I just want to throw stuff on the timeline.

What 'sort' of beta do you ask for?
Primarily what I need from the beta is for coherence, i.e. whether the concept that I'm driving at is actually coming through, or if it's going to only make sense in my own head. A second eye on technical editing is also important, but it's ancillary because I'm more comfortable with that aspect.

What has been the hardest thing in getting a vid betaed and how did you handle it?
When a beta completely misses my point in the vid and essentially wants me to change everything that that I intentionally put in. My fix is to have only a handful of betas who I am comfortable talking to, and whose "reading levels" are somewhat similar to mine.

Have you ever ignored beta advice?
Only when - as above - it completely goes against what I intended. With my handful of trusted betas, I always try and implement what they suggest because I trust that they can see certain things that I can't with my vidder blind spot.

What is the best piece of beta feedback you've ever received?
laurashapiro did a fantastic job with New Dawn Fades. But most of the time all my beta thanks go to bradcpu, who keeps helping me out in difficult conceptual vids such as Jesus for the Jugular or Change.

Do you have one regular beta or do you use lots of different people?
My primarily go-to guy is always bradcpu, simply because we're so in sync with what we intend to do. However, I will also take on a second beta in cases where he is not familiar with the fandom.

At what point do you get your vid betaed? Do you go through many drafts with your beta?
After I've got a full timeline that is structured to a certain degree, but where I'm not yet so attached to it that I can't rip up huge chunks of the timeline if my beta told me to. I think the most drafts that we've gone through is 5 or 6.

Have you ever substantially revised a vid based on beta?
Definitely. Huge chunks were ripped up from (for example) Change and New Dawn Fades before the vid was finalisd.


What sort of beta are you good at?
In-depth ones that focus on concept coherence, with an ancillary focus on technique/technical issues. (Basically the same that I ask of my own betas.) I am quite harsh with my beta work so I tend throw out a ton of caveat emptors before I commit to working with someone I haven't worked with before.

Do you find you beta differently for different people?
Not really. I tell them coming in what to expect, so they either run away screaming or they don't.

What are the biggest challenges with betaing and how do you handle them?
When the vidder agrees with what I say on principle, but doesn't change the vid because they think what they've got is sufficient, even though I had enough problems with it to highlight it as such. I'll keep pushing at that point if I feel about it strongly enough. I guess this is also a good gauge for who I can have a successful beta relationship with, and who I can't. I can't see a point of being a beta for someone who doesn't take your advice seriously - if you always think your own opinion is more valid than your beta's, then why do you want a beta in the first place? I don't get people who ask for betas just for a sense of validation and not actual work.

What do you enjoy most about betaing?
Helping vidders channel their ideas into something that is more easily accessible on a visual level.

What is the most satisfying project you have betaed?
Probably bradcpu's Tear You Apart and Song of Truth. Both were difficult processes with a lot of teeth-grinding on the way, but the end results make them worth it. These vids really make me feel that I've made a contribution as a beta.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Aishwarya Raibop_radar on November 16th, 2008 12:28 am (UTC)
not my fun weekend projects where I just want to throw stuff on the timeline.
That's cool to hear because I have those too. :)

where I'm not yet so attached to it that I can't rip up huge chunks of the timeline if my beta told me to.
Oh, excellent advice! I agree that that is the point at which to catch the vid for beta.

I tell them coming in what to expect, so they either run away screaming or they don't.
Hahaha! That's another way to approach it. :) I'm a flexible beta--I beta fic for my best friend and I can pretty much be as blunt as 'dude, this bit sucks' with her--but in a lot of other circumstances I'm more the nurturing kind of beta. Either way honesty is very important.

if you always think your own opinion is more valid than your beta's, then why do you want a beta in the first place?
I think it's really about finding someone you trust will see the vid as clearly as you need them to. I've had situations where the beta of a vid has not necessarily been on board with the whole idea in the first place--either because the song choice was offputting to them or because they just didn't care much for the subject matter--and in those instances their advice can be a bit 'off'.

I'm very much someone that believes in respecting the author's voice and that comes from my work as an editor. It's not my place to make a vid be something the author did not intend it to be. If you find the right beta, then yes, listen to everything they say, but there are times when betas can force their own view of things too much and distort an otherwise successful vid or fic or whatever.

I don't get people who ask for betas just for a sense of validation and not actual work.
That's why, for myself, I distinguished 'audiencing' from betaing. To me, betaing is about doing work, but audiencing is for when you just need a bit of reassurance or a reality check. And as someone with low self-esteem, I do need that, and I think that's entirely valid sometimes, just as posting without a beta is fine sometimes. I wouldn't rely on audiencing alone for a big vid, but sometimes it can be the difference between me posting or not posting a small one.

I am sure you would be an awesome (if terrifying) beta! ;)
(Deleted comment)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Boppybop_radar on November 16th, 2008 12:31 am (UTC)
My vidding is kind of instinctual and thus I am kind of at a loss in trying to help other people do it.
I know what you mean. I hit a wall with that sometimes. And I definitely hit it when I am betaing for someone who I think of as 'above' my level of vidding. I can feel sometimes when my knowledge hits a wall and I can't articulate what I need to with them. That's difficult.
kiki_miserychickiki_miserychic on November 16th, 2008 06:08 pm (UTC)
For a very long time I didn't use a beta. I still don't sometimes. At first didn't know there was such a thing as a beta for vidding the way there is one for writing fic.

After a while I noticed that most other people were having their vids beta-ed, so I started getting my beta-ed as well because I am a sheep. :) It felt weird to see all the vids posted with betas listed while mine never had betas. I can't remember the first vid I had beta-ed off the top of my head, but it was this year.

I don't send my weird, more cerebral vids to a beta because it doesn't feel right to have someone do it. With some of my vids I make them and that's it. There's no going back to change things. When it's done, it's done and it's what I wanted. I once sent one of my weird pet projects to a beta and I realized it was only for validation. I wasn't actually looking for a beta, I merely wanted someone to look at it and say it was crazyawesome. So I stopped sending the weird stuff out for a beta because it was selfish. There are times when I've sent a vid out for a beta and really just wanted a push to keep going. I usually ask if I'm headed in the right direction or if it makes sense because, for me, those are the two most important questions. Sometimes I'll send it off for beta to make sure I haven't gone too far. I tend to do that. I've never really ignored beta advice, but sometimes what they say will spark something in my brain that leads somewhere else. All beta advice is good advice because it can go into newer and better things. A beta suggestion about timing a certain section could cause the vidder to realize the motion of next section is off. Or a beta idea about a way to clarify POV could lead to another way the vidder thinks about the opening sequence.

That and I'm impatient. I usually get a vid done and want to post it right then. With cons and things lately I've been holding vids back, so that's not an issue anymore. I don't have very many close internet relationships, but there are a handful of people I regularly bug to be my betas. I quite enjoy beta-ing. I love being able to watch something and try to help the vidder evolve it into something closer to what they want.

When I beta I feel like I'm too mean sometimes. I used to tear people's creative writings apart in high school English to the point where people would only ask me to do it when they really wanted it. I never intend to be mean, but I'd finish and there'd be arrows and slashes all over their drafts. It's one person's opinion, but I'd feel like an asshole. I'm truthful when I beta, but I'm sure to understand what they want before I start making my "arrows" and "slashes".

I usually get a beta when I'm stuck on something or when I'm done and I need advice on tinkering. To my own detriment, I don't use a beta as often as I should. I always have con vid beta-ed though. That's a must for me.

I love the beta relationship I have going with kuwdora. We use each other as sounding boards and to think things through. Writing out an e-mail to her is great because it helps me orgainze my ideas and work out my concepts. Explaining what I'm going for usually helps me to understand how I need to go about that.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Clex fascinated with youbop_radar on November 16th, 2008 09:03 pm (UTC)
Oh, how interesting! Thanks for sharing how you came to betaing. And I find it oddly heartening that you don't send your pet projects out. Also, I totally understand the impatience!

There are times when I've sent a vid out for a beta and really just wanted a push to keep going. I usually ask if I'm headed in the right direction or if it makes sense because, for me, those are the two most important questions.
That's true for me too. I must admit that I often send things out at the point where I feel I've hit a wall with a vid myself--I can't see it objectively, I know something's 'up' still and if I was on my own I'd just give it up. But a beta spots something specific and off you go again... because as you say, beta feedback can spark new ideas.

Explaining what I'm going for usually helps me to understand how I need to go about that.
Oh, good point! I find that too. I'm lucky to be able to talk through many of my vids in person with a close friend, but I've also found emailing with people helps, or chat. And in some cases, a vid wouldn't have come together the way it did if not for multiple long conversations with people.
daybreak777: daybreak mountains-no namedaybreak777 on November 17th, 2008 07:35 am (UTC)
I am so glad you expressed when you don't need betaing. That's good to know in one's fan work too. I recently wrote some fics that I just needed to write and post. I'm not skilled enough to make vids that quickly. Yet. :-) But when it's for you and personal, no, you don't need a beta. It's so your baby, there isn't any feedback you want prior to posting. And maybe only you can see this unique vision. At least that's how I felt. And if you're going out on a limb, it becomes like you said, just a request for validation. I know that feeling. Not, what do you think of this vid, but what do you think of me doing this unusual thing altogether? Is that okay? Should I be even posting this stuff? And those were questions for myself, not a beta in my case.

Leap! That's one thing my friend and vid beta said recently. "Just post it." She's right. Your instincts will rarely, if ever, fail you. Like with other things, one shouldn't use a beta because they feel they should. Bop was right. The fun thing about vidding? There are no rules! You can make it up!

It is a brave thing to vid, to create at all. Even braver to leap with no clue what the world might think of your creation and a tiny part of your not caring. That's how I felt. Bold, confident, a little scared. You can learn so much about yourself with this stuff.

I prattle on. :-) Vid as metaphor for life! But I saw bravery in your comment, and as a newbie, that's inspiring. To know you could just . . . leap, no net and . . . fly. Thanks for your comment. :-)
here's luck: brave little teapotheresluck on November 17th, 2008 12:20 am (UTC)
I do get all my vids betaed now; I didn't for my first five or six, and wow, it showed. What sort of beta I ask for depends on the vid and on what I'm struggling with. I've asked for help clarifying a narrative or argument, brainstorming a better ending or beginning, deciding whether I've captured a character accurately, gauging whether I got across the mood or emotion I was going for, checking whether the pacing seems okay, getting the timing right... big conceptual stuff, picky details, you name it, I've probably asked for help with it at some point.

Probably the hardest beta experiences I ever had were with "Superstar" and "Window of Opportunity." In both cases I sort of secretly thought the vid was done, or at least basically done, and when renenet looked at the draft her reaction was "oh, honey, not even close." My reaction was basically to throw a temper tantrum, sulk for a few days, realize she was right (she's always right, dammit), and grudgingly go about fixing the problems she had identified (which in the latter case involved deleting the entire last third of the vid and starting over). So, yeah, I routinely do massive revisions based on beta feedback -- as far as I'm concerned, that's what beta feedback is FOR.

renenet has betaed all my vids (except the one that was a secret present for her), although in recent years I have often asked other people for additional feedback, especially if renenet doesn't know the show very well. I typically ask for beta once I have a full draft of the vid completed (although I sometimes export snippets before then to show people, especially if I'm getting frustrated and need my enthusiasm boosted), and I usually go through at least two drafts (and sometimes many more), although there have been exceptions; sometimes the vids just aren't complex enough to bother, and sometimes I do a lot of revisions on my own but don't necessarily check back with the beta(s) multiple times.

I've ignored beta advice, but not often -- usually only when I've asked a couple of different people for beta and gotten contradictory responses, at which point I have to ignore somebody.

The best piece of beta feedback I've ever received... well, the aforementioned advice from renenet was absolutely critical to getting the vids right, even though it made me cranky. 12_12_12 completely saved me when I was struggling to finish "People Get Ready" on a deadline -- she identified potential themes in several sections of the vid that made me completely reconceptualize what I was doing and are the only reason the vid came together at all.

I am not, myself, a terrific beta (although I can be an excellent cheerleader); I'm too likely to do what absolutedestiny warns about in the post you linked to and suggest doing something the way *I* would do it. I do best when my job is to help with something really specific and picky, like getting the timing exactly right for specific clips, or else with something really broad and conceptual where the vidder needs to talk through what she wants to do or how she wants to do it and we're not really looking at specific clips.

Ultimately, for me, the biggest challenge as a beta is letting go and letting the vidder make her own decisions and do her own thing; I am kind of a control freak, which is great for me as a vidder because it's the only reason I don't suck, but it's terrible for me as a beta because if I suggest something and the vidder doesn't take my advice I can find myself fuming about it if I'm not careful.

A good beta is really a pearl beyond price, and I feel tremendously lucky that some of the most amazing, smart, insightful vidwatchers I've ever known have been willing to beta my vids.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Blair yelloqbop_radar on November 17th, 2008 01:24 am (UTC)
My reaction was basically to throw a temper tantrum, sulk for a few days, realize she was right (she's always right, dammit), and grudgingly go about fixing the problems she had identified (which in the latter case involved deleting the entire last third of the vid and starting over).
Eep! Isn't it funny how we can think a vid is so 'finished' and then be told it's not!? Sometimes I know in advance that's something is 'off' but other times I do not. I definitely think a good beta relationship has to withstand the vidder's initial crankiness at being told to revise whole swathes: and it sounds like you've got that with your beta!

usually only when I've asked a couple of different people for beta and gotten contradictory responses, at which point I have to ignore somebody.
Yeah... I find that tough because ideally I'd like to respond to everyone's concerns, but thankfully it doesn't happen too often.

the biggest challenge as a beta is letting go and letting the vidder make her own decisions and do her own thing
Hee! I probably err too much the other way sometimes, and maybe could provide more structure for some people I beta for--I often tend to assume they'll be able to work things out themselves if I give them basic feedback, but sometimes it takes more than that, a more collaborative approach.
HOT NEW ORC FORTRESSunlovablehands on November 17th, 2008 09:07 pm (UTC)
I'm usually more of a "cheerleader" than a "beta," but I've helped with picking out scenes sometimes, and pointing out motion things. I also usually am good at telling someone what kind of impression I got from a vid, or if I'm confused, which usually means I get into a conversation about what the vidder is aiming at and what things in the vid made that meaning confusing for me. I'm not so good with technical stuff, or pointing out "this particular scene is wrong wrong wrong," but I like to help sometimes. I'm still learning the whole vidding thing, so I'm probably not a very good beta, but it's fun, and I like to watch the comments page and be all "I HELPED! :D :D :D" too.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Clois runbop_radar on November 18th, 2008 10:24 pm (UTC)
Cheerleaders are underrated! :) I think sometimes everyone thinks betas are where it all happens, and definitely betas are helpful but I personally need a balance between both, and if I have a cheerleader who is interested enough in the vid to act as a sounding board throughout the process, then I find they can add a lot to the process, even if in a less direct way than a beta.
Kass: veronica and wallacekassrachel on November 17th, 2008 09:17 pm (UTC)
I like your distinction between beta-ing and audiencing a vid. For the vidding I've done to date (one completed vid; one almost-completed) I've been blessed with at least one serious beta for each vid -- one person who knows the canon well who's willing/able to offer concrit as well as squee. I've also looked for one viewer outside the fandom (to get a sense for how/whether the vid works for people who don't know the show) and I've looked for a small handful of folks who can audience the vid and offer general reactions and/or squee, because sometimes that's really what one needs! :-)

I've been writing fic for years, so I came to vidding with the presumption that pretty much everything I create ought to be beta'd. (Sometimes really short ficlets, commentfic and suchlike, don't go before anyone else's eyes before they go live. But anything longer than 1000 words definitely does. And having a good beta or three makes such a difference for me, creatively; I love working with other fans, being a sounding board for them and then asking them to do the same for me. I haven't done much vid beta work, though now that I'm starting to vid myself, I feel like I might be able to offer better feedback than before.

(And I totally hang around the comment pages of things I beta, smiling proudly! You bet! :-)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Ericabop_radar on November 18th, 2008 10:16 pm (UTC)
I've also looked for one viewer outside the fandom (to get a sense for how/whether the vid works for people who don't know the show) and I've looked for a small handful of folks who can audience the vid and offer general reactions and/or squee, because sometimes that's really what one needs! :-)
Yup, that's what I find too! :) Creating doesn't come naturally to me and maybe that's why I need a little cheersquad--or maybe not--but it's also interesting what comments people make even when they're not formally betaing--getting a sense of where the casual viewer's focus is can be really valuable feedback.

I love working with other fans, being a sounding board
Same! It's great fun. And I love betaing vids too--I think anyone with a real interest in watching vids can bring something to the beta process.
Becka: crossbonesbeccatoria on November 20th, 2008 03:02 pm (UTC)
OH YAY! These things have started again, and per usual, I'm very late to the party, but this has been a fascinating read.

To jump in and answer the questions, I didn't get my vids betad at first because, you know, I wasn't a real vidder and I didn't know anyone who'd do it and I had no idea what I was doing anyway and it's not like I was ever going to make another of these things...blah blah blah, denialcakes!

The first vid I got betad was when I made a vid for this really weird, tiny, largely unheard of British mini series - Neverwhere - and realised I had a friend who loved vids who'd seen it, when I didn't know anyone I could ask for a beta in my usual vidding fandom (BSG). It may have been my most challenging piece of vid feedback. Not because it upset me but because I had no idea how to fix it for a long time and it made me feel sort of hopeless. But I did fix it and LO it was better.

Then I went back to vidding BSG without a beta because I didn't know anyone who'd seen the episodes who I felt I knew well enough to ask/didn't want a random stranger whose opinions I didn't know if I'd agree with. And I remember in one vid, there was a comment about one of my clip choices and I was like, damn I wish someone had said that to me before I posted cus it's true. At which point I started considering that a beta would be a good thing to have.

As of this year I usually get my stuff betad by cyborganize and sometimes I'll send it out to one or two other friends if I'm really uncertain/want another opinion. I'm very lucky in my relationship with my beta because she was basically responsible for my insane vidding resurgence starting in April this year (and still ongoing) because we started working on an extended joint vidding project so we ended up developing an understanding of each others' desires and vidding preferences, so when I asked her to start betaing my videos it was from a solid foundation, and I was already used to hearing her opinions and fighting with her about it when I wanted to hold my ground.

I definitely like having a regular beta, though I thoroughly expect that in the future if I vid either a show she doesn't watch or a character she's disinterested in, that I'll have to get an additional/another beta. But at this point, I definitely think that I would get a beta. Basically because the worst option is I find I disagree with them and disregard the advice and the best option is a wonderful vid-improving exchange?

You know, I kind of disagree with the post you linked to with advice on betaing. I mean, it's a great idea - I love the phrasing - but while I do was my beta to try and understand my vid from my perspective and what I'm trying to achieve, I also want them to tell me what they'd do if they were driving. Because sometimes that's where awesome ideas come from. And if not...I also want a beta who's comfortable with me sometimes ignoring them.

But again, this perspective may be skewed because of the collaborative nature of my relationship with my beta?

The best beta feedback I ever got was definitely, "The old woman in the second track is the hybrid talking." Because that saved a structurally incomplete vidlet and turned it into the best vid I've ever made. It's probably also the only time I've completely restructured a vid based on feedback. That vid being, "there's a war going on for your mind, laura."

I generally send vids off to be betad once I've finished my first draft. How many drafts after that depends on the needs of the vid, but is usually between one and three additional drafts, though by the later stages I'm usually just swapping out a clip or two.

And um, there we go!

I've only three times been in the position of giving beta advice and in two of those instances it was being asked for a third/fourth opinion on a late version of the vid after the beta/vidder were kind of mostly done with it, but it's a really interesting experience and definitely requires a different skill-set to vidding. It's certainly something I'd like to become good at; we'll see if I get that opportunity.

Edited at 2008-11-20 03:06 pm (UTC)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Karabop_radar on November 20th, 2008 10:56 pm (UTC)
I also want them to tell me what they'd do if they were driving
Really?! Fascinating! I was kind of waiting for someone to disagree with that advice, because everyone's different. It sums up MY feelings about betaing well, but I know lots of people think of the process differently or want different things from it.

Because sometimes that's where awesome ideas come from. And if not...I also want a beta who's comfortable with me sometimes ignoring them.
Ahh, I like that too. I guess I can be a bit timid both about knocking back advice and about making suggestions I think people won't actually take. I think this discussion keeps coming back to finding someone who you really click with--after that, anything's possible in the beta relationship because you have that trust there.

It's cool to hear different perspectives--thanks for joining in!