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28 November 2010 @ 12:59 pm
Creative issues: less is more  
Just writing my way through some creative issues... may not be of interest to anyone but me. So lately I find myself being given the same feedback in both my vidding and my dance. This does not surprise me since I have felt a strong connection between the two over the last year. The message I'm being given at the moment in both instances is essentially to try and say more with less, to 'tone back' my presentation and thereby allow the audience 'in' more.

In the case of dance, the issues are:
- too exaggerated facial expressions (this plays an important part in the Indian fusion dance I do)
- too abrupt movements
- transitions being too marked.

In the case of vidding, the issues are:
- too many clips (classic sign of my insecurity as a vidder)
- connecting movement between clips (I am getting better at this but it's something it's taken me two and a half years to work out since it was first pointed out to me as an issue)
- potentially too many close ups (so parallel there with the too much facial expression in dance)
- over-reliance on hard cuts and inability to use transitions/fades (this last one is one *I* perceive as a limiting factor on my vidding, though my betas have not mentioned it).

From the inside perspective it is very interesting because in both cases I don't feel like I'm doing too much until it's pointed out to me, but then I quickly connect the moments pointed out to me to feelings of anxiety about how my message is going to translate to the audience and (most keenly of all) massive lack of self-belief... essentially I don't have faith that what I'm doing alone is enough--and so I really exaggerate things to see if I can at least reach the audience that way. The feedback is definitely correct. The question is how to spot it myself and how to find that middle ground... because whenever I try out what they are saying, it always feels like I am doing 'nothing'.

For instance, there is a position in my dance where we have to be on the balls of our feet. But not all the way up on tippy toes, which is where I instinctively 'jump' to (i.e. fully extended as high as I can go). It's supposed to be a kind of halfway tippy toe and it feels ridiculously subtle to me--I feel like the movement will get lost on stage and I personally find it really hard to hold or even find the position and then when I *am* in it I doubt that it is right.

In a very similar manner, I often receive beta feedback that my clips are too fast to really see what is happening, yet when I use less clips I feel incredibly nervous and exposed and it feels 'not enough' to me when I watch it. I don't understand that the audience will really see anything of interest at all in just one long shot, and I also don't have an inner barometer to tell how short is too short.

While clearly I need to work on gaining feedback in both cases--whether it's watching myself in the mirror, or trial-and-erroring vid drafts with people, I find that there's a deeper underlying issue in both cases. Essentially: lack of belief in myself and the creative project. Both dance and vidding feels very exposing to me, and part of me would rather run and hide. I love, love, love the experience of both from the inside but the part where I actually have to show it to other people? Scary as hell. Which makes it pretty weird that I've chosen to do such demonstrative things.

There are plenty of good reasons why I lack faith in myself in these fields, starting with the fact that both are very late-in-life pursuits. I had no natural inclination towards ANY form of visual art as a child, or to music in any way, so vidding is a very peculiar choice for me. I was always a words kid and everyone thought I would be a writer. I lived in my head and books, not in the visual world at all. I still don't really, but I am fascinated by it nonetheless. Dance is a little different in that I did have an early inclination towards it but it was squashed very firmly and it has taken me years to work up courage to revisit it. In both cases there are going to be massive limitations to what I can ever achieve. It is a lot harder learning something as an adult than if I had absorbed some of the fundamentals or even just felt comfortable in the environment as a child. I often forget that though and judge myself against people who have been practising in some form since they were children. I am as yet unable to stop myself doing that.

Furthermore in both cases I'm at a stage where I notice errors more than I ever did as a beginner. People more skilled than me have started to be kind enough to point them out and I realise with embarrassment that I've been entirely unaware of them--not only in my own work but in others' work as well. I'm literally blind to some things, as I learnt recently when [personal profile] kuwdora showed me two versions of the same vid and she felt one was clearly of higher quality than the other and I seriously could discern no difference whatsoever. In vidding, the stuff I don't see is things like interlacing problems, pixellation, blurriness, off aspect ratio, dropped frames, even logos sometimes! I know: to lots of vidders this stuff is like a HORROR MOVIE. How can I not notice it?! It gives them the shudders and throws them instantly out of vids. I understand this intellectually and yet I often, OFTEN have to have someone else actually point the thing out to me before I can 'see' it myself. For me, I'm far more likely to disconnect from a vid if the vidder's take on a character is unreconcilable with my own or if I feel the meta's shaky or I don't connect with the emotional content. The other stuff is completely irrelevant to my experience of the vid and that hasn't changed as I've grown to be a more experienced vid viewer. I now definitely DO appreciate many more things in vidding (such as use of colour, high quality footage, effects and so on) but that core blindness and my core priorities have not changed.

So I'm really really trying to concentrate my eye and fix things that may not bother me but do bother other people... so for instance colour. I am trying really hard to make my current vid the best work I've ever done in terms of colour. And yet all I can see is how far away I am from other vidders in this regard. It's like starting in kindergarten all over again, surrounded by people in college. The same goes in dance--by trying to improve on something (e.g. facial expressions) that my role model (my teacher) is exceptionally good at, I just feel oppressed by the awareness that I will never be able to control it the way she does. Perhaps I need to find role models closer to my own level? Or is it just a matter of being more forgiving of myself? I'm not good at that! I can't find the place that is 'good enough' in either case. At what stage do I give myself a pass?! I honestly could keep tweaking this vid (or any vid I tried to work on in as much depth as this) forever...

My dance teacher said 'you don't have trouble expressing yourself, so see if you can take it back down a notch or two and it will actually seem more natural and be more powerful to the audience'. I feel the same way in my vidding. It's not subtle. I admire subtelty in the work of others but really struggle with it in my own--often because I'm too insecure to believe that it will translate to others as I have so little in my repertoire. Unlike others I can't use transitions, colour, layering images over one another, stills, external footage or even very much in the way of external motion. I'm reliant on one thing--the basic editing and clip choices--and I'm painfully aware of that shortfall. Sure, there's a lot you can do with that. Believe me, I know! But it doesn't stop me thinking every time how much 'more' a vid concept could be in the hands of someone with these skills.

So I overcompensate. I see that. It's pretty embarrassing really. At the same time, I am kind of wryly amused at how spot on my teacher is about me. To be meta about my whole life, yeah, my problem is not conveying my emotions--I do that all too well and all too often, they bleed out all over the place, crassly. It's doing so subtly enough that others aren't alienated by them. It's learning how to do so sympathetically. She doesn't know I actually have to take drugs to restrain my emotions in everyday life! LOL.

Another issue that has arisen in both arenas is the subtle ways I undermine my message because I'm self-conscious. And if I am being painfully truthful in both fields I have a resistance towards practising those things that would benefit me most. My reason for the resistance is because it is painful to dwell on the things I am worst at--but of course this only means I never improve at them so it is really incredibly immature of me.

Right now it's really HARD but I have to remind myself that the hardness means I'm learning and growing, which is what I want to do. I feel instinctively that if I can strike some balance between expressiveness/exaggeration and subtelty, it will be good for me. Of course there is another extreme out there--the 'so subtle no one can really see that you are doing anything' extreme and weirdly I fear that that is sometimes the case with me. So it is useful that the feedback I am getting on that front is a resounding: NO, LOL you are not subtle! Perhaps I can hang on to that and trust myself to make some gentler choices.

This entry was originally posted at http://bop-radar.dreamwidth.org/229555.html. comment count unavailable comments Comment here or there, as you will.
Current Location: sofa of comfiness
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
(no subject) - amnisias on November 28th, 2010 11:28 am (UTC) (Expand)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Aishwarya lanternbop_radar on November 28th, 2010 11:34 pm (UTC)
Alas I have found that I do not grow at all, I just wallow around, if I don't push myself! ;) I am very lazy at heart. :) I really like your advice about tackling the inner problem not the outward expression though! I should say that my dance teacher and my betas are very gentle with me--it's less that they are saying I'm doing it wrong and more that they're letting me know what the impact for the audience is and then I'm deciding I don't want that impact, that I would rather it was softer (because I honestly didn't know).

I think overall I'm probably still going to be mainly drawn to non-subtle subject matter... and for that my natural style is probably going to be ok. But I do have this longing to explore this other kind of side or style as well... I need to find a way to do that without my self-esteem taking such a beating. It is in a pretty poor state at the moment and I can't remember how I used to shore myself up! I know some of this is just the natural cycle of despair and exhaustion I feel at the end of a big project, but some of it is deeper than that. It is a puzzle! (And thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts--it is a comfort!)
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K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: TSCC Derekbop_radar on November 28th, 2010 11:56 pm (UTC)
Mmm, perhaps I did not express this well enough in my post. I don't find my blindness to be a hindrance as a viewer. In fact, I am grateful for it as it allows me to enjoy things I wouldn't otherwise. However, I do think that it is a handicap as vidder not to be able to see things that will alienate some of my audience. If it was a matter of me being able to see them but actively deciding not to care about them I would feel differently. I've done that in some cases (e.g. decided not to wait for DVD source material) and I feel fine about it. I know I may lose a small fraction of the audience but I don't care. I would like to be in control of those decisions though. Does that make sense? So rather than just having shitty colour by default, i'd like to decide whether a vid project is worth me spending time on colour correction or not. And if it is, being able to do it competently.

Haha, you fade everything! I envy you so! Can I ask you a couple of questions about that? Do you use mainly 'cross dissolve' or do you use other things? When you are checking to see if a fade works what do you look for? How do you know how long to make the fades--just trial and error? Is there anything you adjust to make them look better?

Sometimes seeing exactly what's going on in the clip *isn't* the point, you know?
Yeah. Sometimes it isn't. And sometimes it is arguably the most crucial meta point in the whole vid and your beta didn't even see it the first 50 times she watched. ;p (Which is the case in point!) In this case, it's a problem. It's definitely not always a problem though, no.

I agree though that it can be stifling to worry about all possibilities... I don't think that's what I'm doing here. It's more that I'm wanting to build up self-awareness about how things translate to my audience. And I'm the one wanting to push myself in this more subtle direction. Apart from the very clear 'fix this for I do not understand it / it is tonally incorrect' type beta feedback, it's me far far more than anyone else that is dissatisfied with the lack of subtlety in the end result. I don't actually think anyone else really cares (those glaring mistakes aside). :p But I care. Mostly because I have things I'd love to make that I don't feel able to make with my current style/abilities. Does that make sense?
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K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Deborah Morganbop_radar on November 29th, 2010 01:26 am (UTC)
Anything is helpful!! I have been dying to coax people into explaining fades to me but have yet to work out a way... I do have a thing called 'additive dissolve' in FCP as well as 'cross dissolve' but I could never work out what it did. Maybe a regular fade is 'crossdissolve' in FCP?

just, the feel of the thing and the music and what I want to be visible for how long, depending on how soft and dreamy I want it to feel, or how long I want them to overlap and how connected I want the two clips to seem
Yeah, ok... It's hard for me to understand because I have sort of played with that and mostly I just adjust things and stare at them and then do something different and stare at it again and it all looks much of a muchness to me. But from what you say it sounds like I need to just carry on with that and train my eye more. It's definitely one of those things where I find it hard to tell what is better. I render something and then I think 'huh, well this is different, but is it better?' Very much need of trial and error I think!
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K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lois no morningsbop_radar on November 29th, 2010 02:18 am (UTC)
Don't get too excited! We don't have anything just called 'fade' so I am pretty sure it's just the FCP name for a basic transition. ;)

I pretty much can only think of one, maybe two transitions I've ever been happy with so I don't know... I still feel like I'm doing something wrong. This is backed up by the fact that I often get beta feedback that is basically 'everything looks fine except the transitions look clunky, why don't you just remove them?!' and then I think 'waaaah yes I thought they looked ugly too but I am TRYING damn it!' and delete them. Maybe I am innately drawn to shots that do not want to mesh together?! LOL! And I like other people's fades in their vids lots so I don't think it's that I just don't like fades. It is so baffling! I think I'll have to put it in the 'all too hard' basket for another year. :( Waah! How many years before I can use these buggers?
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K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Kalindabop_radar on November 29th, 2010 03:18 am (UTC)
I shall cling to this song choice idea! It's true I like strong fast beats (my dance teacher laughs and is bewildered by the fact that put anything Punjabi on and I pick up the choreo waaaaay faster than for anything slow). As she puts it: 'it's what inspires you'. She is so kind! LOL. A more unkind person would just say I'm the most unsubtle person of all time. :p

especially if you use a lot of internal motion
I would say that is the ONLY thing I do as a vidder. I have recently started adding external motion but I really mostly don't like it. Even in other people's vids I can often find it very distancing (though there are some very notable exceptions). That's one aesthetic preference I am quite comfortable living with and not changing--it is just a preference, not something I think I need to improve, but I only felt sure of that once I was technically able to add external motion and then could freely decide not to. :D
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Ameliebop_radar on December 4th, 2010 08:56 am (UTC)
ADDITIVE DISSOLVE! \o/ It's cool! I like it! You made me brave enough to try it! I have no idea if it's appropriate or not for my source but I am very much enjoying playing with it and in my current vid project I have transitions!!! BREAKTHROUGH! Am deliberately not worrying about whether other people think they look rubbish or not yet. I think they look cool. :D Or at least new! :D
Becka: crossbonesbeccatoria on November 29th, 2010 10:01 pm (UTC)
First off, I'm glad that you seem to be approaching this from an attitude of wanting to be able to make your own choices about what to do or not do rather than an attitude of needing to do this in order to be a "proper" vidder. But, screw it, I'm going to spam you anyway. Basically to say stuff like, "your vidding is fine, don't sweat it," and "I didn't learn any of that stuff except by accident anyway and if I'd tried to, I think I'd've hated it and failed..." ;) HERE I GO:

It's probably worth noting that we're all different and so probably care about different things in our end results, but if it's helpful to you, technically I know how to do a fair number of the things you mentioned that you have difficulty with (some colour correction, overlays, some transitions though honestly I think most non-cut or fade transitions look terrible in all but a few contexts and have only ever made one vid doing anything else, external motion (though I dislike it), aspect ratios, etc), and I still mostly choose not to bother doing them. And I think that's okay and I don't think my vids are particularly better or worse for that choice.

So while I appreciate and unquestioningly support your desire to educate yourself and learn to do things you currently feel you can't do but would like to be able to, I don't think you have to be able to do them in order to validly make the decision not to.

Using these observations as a tool in your wider life for understanding more of your attitudes to the world and your interactions with it (your self-declared lack of subtlety! I have empathy: I bleed emotions everywhere too...) then I do think that it's an interesting set of commonalities, and I hope the extra understanding helps you in useful ways.

But don't go feeling it makes your vidding style suddenly solely a function of this new observation, or, more specifically, solely a negative function.

I guess my point is, if learning this stuff is making vidding not fun for you, consider what would make vidding fun for you again. Based on some of the stuff I've seen you post (and again I hope I'm not being presumptuous as I haven't been around on your LJ for all that long), you love vidding for yourself, but a lot of the thoughts in this post seem to be about the audience, or in life terms, the rest of the world. About others' perceptions of you. Certainly, sadly, we don't live in a world where all personality types are equally respected, but in terms of a fannish activity, like vidding, which is essentially a creative gift culture - a hobby (although I do not mean that to sound dismissive) - I think it's more important you're having a good time than your audience.

So again we get back to the idea that if you can do both things - be comfortable yourself and learn techniques you feel will make your vids more accessible or enjoyable to more people - fantastic. But if you can't...prioritise your own fulfillment. Don't lose vidding as a creative outlet just because you don't think you're doing it "right" or developing "enough". <3
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Skins Cassiebop_radar on December 4th, 2010 08:47 am (UTC)
I must first apologise for the delay replying! I went away for a few days and have just got back. I read this before I left and I must thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to write it. It means a lot and there is a lot in here that I want to hang on to.

external motion (though I dislike it)
Haha, yay! Me too. :) I mean I say that even though I *have* clearly used it in a few instances and sometimes it really has a purpose. But I am not very drawn to it in general.

I don't think you have to be able to do them in order to validly make the decision not to.
This is quite the radical idea for me! And yet so obvious. :D

I do think I was constructing things in an overly negative way initially with these insights. They didn't feel useful so much as crushing, even though I was trying to see their use and find a positive spin for them.

a lot of the thoughts in this post seem to be about the audience, or in life terms, the rest of the world. About others' perceptions of you
You're right and I'm glad you called that out because it helped me take a step back and think 'wait a moment... I don't really care how big an audience my vid has so why am I so anxious about it?' I know I do fear rejection as a result of this vid but that's a product of my warped psychology more than anything that is actually likely to happen!

Luckily my trip away was to an academic conference on remix cultures of many sorts, including vidding, and it put heaps of things in perspective for me. It was very interesting to see trends across different disciplines and one of the the themes that came out was pleasure, and particularly the idea of the creator as the ideal viewer ... or creating for yourself and for your pleasure in the process. Which is totally what you suggest here too and which I completely subscribe to philosophically and yet seem to keep falling into holes in my own creative practice in regards to it!

I do think I'm on the edge of freeing myself up to be a bit more experimental in terms of style and technique but I was going about it the wrong way--beating myself with a stick instead of saying to myself 'hey why don't you play with this idea and see what happens, and let yourself "fail" if need be, but that has value too'.