I plan to post chat posts weekly, usually Sunday mornings my time, which means Saturday afternoon in the US. But I'm popping this one up a bit early.
Ok, boring things first. In participating in these chats, please bear the following in mind:
1. No strings! Please feel free to drop in without friending my journal. I'll tag all Chat posts as vidding_chats so you can find them easily.
2. Wherever you are is perfect: there's no prerequisite experience for talking about this stuff. While some topics (like this week's) will be more geared towards people making vids, others will be more geared towards vid watchers. Either way, anyone is welcome to share their thoughts, ask questions or otherwise participate.
3. Respect other chatters: I encourage you to comment to each other (not just me! I'm not that big an egotist, really!) in the comments, but please, please bear #2 in mind when doing so and respect that while some chatters may have made more vids than others, for the purposes of these conversations we are all created equally. I am sure we will all find them a lot more comfortable if we adopt this attitude.
4. It goes without saying that any actual attacks or flaming of others in the discussion will not be tolerated.
I picked this as the first week's topic, in part because of this exchange with chaila (I hope she does not mind me spotlighting her!). It seemed to me to sum up one of my goals--to reach other vidders and make them feel less alone or ashamed of their own methods.
My second reason for picking it is pure curiosity on my part. I want to know how other vidders plan their vids! So this week I'm inviting vidders to tell us a bit more about how you plan. How do you get from the idea phase of vidding to the laying-down-clips-in-the-timeline phase?
If you aren't sure where to start in describing how you plan, consider these questions:
- How long do you think about a vid before beginning it?
- How long does it take you from idea to finished vid?
- Do you 'picture' your vid in your head? All of it, or just some of it?
- What is the very first action you take in making a vid (before you even lay down a clip)?
- Do you use a physical medium (e.g. pen/paper or a notebook) to plan your vid and if so, what form does that planning take?
- The term 'storyboarding' gets used a lot when discussing vid planning: does anyone actually draw a 'storyboard' with boxes?
- What other ways of 'storyboarding' are there?
- Do you use the same method of planning for every vid?
- What do you think about first: how to use the lyrics? how to create a mood? how to develop a theme? or something else?
- What keeps you on track and motivated as you plan a vid?
- Do you wait until you have a full 'storyboard' or can visualise the whole thing in your head before starting?
- When do you know you've 'got it' and feel confident enough to start?
- What have you learnt about planning?
- What do you like/dislike about it?
Some questions specifically for those that don't formally 'storyboard':
- How do you remember what goes where if you don't write it down?
- Have you ever in the middle of vidding, decided to write things down?
I'm also really curious about how the planning phase translates into the construction of the vid. What happens once you've got a plan (either in your mind, on paper or in some other form)?
- Do you ever find that once you start vidding you stray from the 'plan'?
- What keeps you on track? What can lead you in other directions?
- Have you ever started vidding and realised that your plan didn't work? How did you handle it? Did you have to formally go back to planning, or did you vid your way through it?
- Have you ever felt your vid was too scattered or not saying what you wanted? What did you do then?
- Have you ever made a vid following your plan to the letter but felt dissatisfied with how it ended up looking/feeling? Have you changed your planning process at all as a result?
My planning process
I've seen the term 'storyboarding' thrown around a lot, but I'm never honestly sure what it means. As a self-taught vidder with no natural background in technology, or visual media, all I had 'going in' to vidding was an idea, a strong inner vision of what I wanted to make. I've varied my method of planning only slightly through 12 vids. All I know is, it works for me.
There are six stages:
It usually creeps semi-formed into my subconscious accompanied by a few images and then I listen to the song obsessively again and again as the idea grows. In some lucky cases (e.g. Southside), this has been 90% of my planning process. I find walking or bike riding while listening to the track very useful. While I do sometimes think consciously about specific lyrics or musical moments in the track during this phase, more commonly I find that images or ideas arise naturally.
2. Gestation period.
For a lot of vids, I find that I do have to let them kind of 'percolate' in my brain for a while before I begin them. For one thing, I want to be sure that they are worth the time and effort! So I'll think about it a bit while driving to work or before going to sleep, and then I'll store the idea away again. I'll 'pull it out' every so often in my mind, take another look at it, maybe listen to the track again and kind of 'toss it around' in my head to see what sorts of ideas and associations arise, what pros and cons I can see for the idea. Generally I'll want to feel some kind of progress being made--more ideas or images arising naturally, excitement growing, the vid idea starting to feel like a 'whole', not just a couple of cool lyrics linked to a dramatic image. This phase has been known to last for over a year. ;)
3. Writing/lyrics check
An entirely optional phase for me, but I do often grab a copy of the lyrics of the song and sometimes, maybe in about a quarter of cases, I jot down ideas around them. For some very lyric-driven vids (e.g. Like a friend) this has felt necessary in order to move forward to vidding. I find it quite torturous though, because I can get 'stuck' easily. Generally some lyrics or parts of the vid are a lot easier to visualise than others and I can get very trapped in feeling like a failure for not having the whole vid laid out yet.
4. Clip the bejesus out of the source.
Yeah, I'm a clip whore. Clipping makes me feel in control. I grab everything even remotely applicable to the vid, and I generally do a LOT of my brainstorming while clipping. I scroll through the source with the sound down and think about the ways I can use the visuals. I reconnect with the source this way and it helps me know that I'll be able to do what I want to... if I don't find the clips I was hoping for I either let the vid go in another direction or I rethink the whole thing. Either way, I usually find this phase very productive.
5. Define the concept.
It may seem odd that this comes so late, but I find the idea has to gestate first. It's amazing to me how hard it is to define some vid ideas--so many of them begin as 'awesome song that makes me think of XXX'. A lot of hard thinky work is done in exploring exactly why and finding out how deep the connection lies. The more complex the vid, the harder this is, but if I skip it I get into trouble. It was very important, for instance, with Middleman to remind myself constantly that what I was vidding was the many ways in which the character was internally and externally torn between conflicting interests/ideals/agendas. The concept gives me a way to constantly check the vid in progress: does this clip support my overall concept? does this sequence support it? does the whole do justice to it?
6. Continual planning.
Um. This is where I confess the truth. I don't really ever stop planning. I am a very, VERY organic vidder. I rarely (*cough* never) have a complete 'map' or 'storyboard' (even in my head) before beginning. I have found I am far more confident in my vidding if I don't. It is very hard to describe how it works, but I sort of feel like I 'listen' to the vid as I'm vidding and I try to find the truth in it, I try to find the form that it wants to take and I follow it... that sounds very mystical! The nuts and bolts of it is that I try a lot of stuff out (and consequently vid very slowly). Generally I vid the big moments I feel sure of first and I build everything else around it. For instance, if I know what I want to do with Verse 1 and Verse 2 but not the chorus, I'll vid the verses first and then play them back and think about what I need to transition between the two, what I haven't covered, and how this could possibly be incorporated in the chorus... While that may sound hopelessly fuzzy, I have never really found that it's failed me. As long as I've done steps 1-5 first and got a solid concept then something will arise! So you see, I never really stop planning.
While I'm a little awe-struck by people that are super-organised in their vid-planning, I actually like my own process a lot and have no desire to change it. I love the discoveries I make along the way--my vids would be way WAY less interesting if I had to construct them only out of what I had in my head when I first thought of them. I love the continual questioning and perfecting, I love the flexibility, I love it when it comes together despite the odds, and I love the results.
I am, however, insatiably curious about how other vidders do things. So... share? :)