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?
- 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?
- 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!