It might surprise some to learn that vidding is actually a pretty old fandom activity that dates back to the 1970s. Despite the digital era making this practice much more affordable and accessible, many vidding forum and communities haven’t been updated in a long time.
We have done plenty of research and added our own experience as vidders to create this super guide to get youstarted in this wonderful fan activity. This tutorial will help both beginners with no notions of vidding and pro vidders who are looking for some complementary tips and resources. This guide is divided into three sections:
Vidding is not necessarily a hard skill to learn, but it takes time, dedication and LOTS of patience to get really good at it, especially if you’re a newbie. While people who lean more towards communications, technology, visual arts and film studies might find it easier and even be able to skip some of these steps, everything you need to start vidding is passion. If you love watching other people’s fanvids and wishing you could create something similar, you’re already on the right path. These are the basic things you should know:
>Video theory. Believe it or not, everyone who watches television shows and/or movies on a regular basis already has a good understanding of visual language. And, since you’ll be working with footage that has already been shot and edited, you should be fine when it comes to avoiding mistakes like crossing the line. Furthermore, making a slow video with few cuts doesn’t require as much knowledge as editing a video using a dubstep track that requires many crazy transitions and effects. Our advice would be to start with something simple. On a more technical note, you will have to learn about things like aspect ratio, frame rates or the differences between NTSC and PAL. These are a couple useful links to learn these concepts (they’re easier than it seems!): Video Basics and Digital Video Theory.
>Color theory. Learning the basics of color theory is quite simple and shouldn’t give you many problems once you get to editing. Fundamentally, coloring video works in a similar way to using PSD files for static images. However, video requires a little more attention to detail due to the colors and lightning being subject to change with the animation. What might work for one scene, might not work for another scene from the same movie. Just spend some time playing around with Saturation, Color Balance or Gradient Map, and you will find that you probably already knew a lot of this stuff. It’s pretty intuitive. Here are a few useful links in case you want to learn more about coloring: ColorMatters | TigerColor | RGB and CMYK Color Systems
>Video formats and codecs. This is where it gets a little more tedious and techy. Believe it or not, choosing a good video format is actually one of the most important aspects of fanvidding. If you’re planning on uploading your video on Youtube (more on that later), HERE are the supported formats for that platform. Make sure all your footage is in the same format, quality and aspect ratio, otherwise the result will be quite inconsistent and messy. Lastly, HERE‘s a nice, brief explanation on what encoding is with some more useful links.
>Copyright. Know the law! Youtube is located in the USA and it follows the legal doctrine of Fair Use, which talks about the rights to reuse copyright-protected material under certain circumstances without having to ask the copyright owner for permission. The trickiest part when it comes to avoiding copyright infringment is the audio (meaning, the music you choose). More on Fair Use: 1 – 2 – 3.
>Video software tutorials. We will talk about video software tutorials later. There are countless editing software. Whichever you end up using, finding tutorials for it on Google or Youtube is fairly simple. This playlist is great for Sony Vegas tutorials, for example.
Keep in mind that, as any other thing in life, you never really stop learning. You probably won’t like your first video and maybe you will be even too scared to upload it anywhere. That’s completely normal. I started vidding when I was 13 when I started messing around with Windows Movie Maker and I would only show the results to my closest friends. More than 10 years later, I still get frustrated when any of my videos isn’t quite right, no matter how much I have improved over the years. If you fail to understand something or are stuck in a project, don’t worry – vidder’s block is also a thing (sadly). Just go for a walk, look up other people’s videos for inspiration, check some tutorials or try a different approach.
>PC requirements. There are 3 key aspects to be able to edit and render videos smoothly (please, check compatibility with your motherboard before making any changes!):
- CPU. The CPU is the Central Processing Unit. The faster, the better. Your CPU should at least be 2GHz and Dual Core, but multicore or multiprocessor is encouraged and recommended for HD and stereoscopic 3D. Make sure you have a CPU fan to prevent overheating and keep everything surrounding your computer case clean! What I use: Intel Dual Core, 2.9GHz.
- GPU. If you’re a gamer, chances are you’re already very familiarized with GPU or have a very good one, as they are often the most important aspect (and source of headaches) when getting new games. If you’re not a gamer, but you still one to get a new GPU, whether you choose AMD or NVIDIA (it’s better if it’s GTX), make sure it’s at least 512MB (1GB for 4K). What I use is pretty poor right now because I haven’t changed mine in a while, but I’m planning on getting this one.
- RAM. Random-Access Memory stores data temporarily so that can it be accessed randomly by the computer’s processor when needed. It’s said that it’s like a computer’s short-term memory. Therefore, the more RAM you have, the smoothest your computer will run. For vidding, I recommend using 8GB of RAM, while 16GB is left for professionals or for vidding in 4K. Make sure you check whether your computer uses DDR2 or DDR3! What I use: 8GB.
>Video editing software. This is a VERY important step and it depends on the previous one for the most part, or viceversa. You can either get a basic software to run on a slower computer or upgrade your computer to use more professional program. It all depends on your budget and how serious you are about vidding. As the per the software, I personally jumped from Windows Movie Maker to Sony Vegas and have stuck to that one ever since. There are other very popular software like Adobe Premiere, Adobe After Effects or Final Cut (MAC only). These are all also useful if you’re actually planning on starting a carrer in professional video editing. HERE‘s the latest review/comparison table for many different programs (2016). If you have a slow computer and can’t afford to upgrade it, it’s better to go with older versions. For example, you could pick Sony Vegas Movie Studio instead of Sony Vegas Pro 13. You can also download free trials to test different versions. Whichever you end up choosing, have fun doing trial and error! Once you can work your way around the interfaces, you will realize most of them are quite similar to use.
>Converting software. We previously talked about video formats and codecs, and we’re re-taking the subject now to check a few programs that can help you with that. AnyVideoConverter is one of the most frequently used programs for converting video formats. HandBrake is also quite popular. We also recommend getting the K-Lite Coding Pack to help your computer decode less-common video codecs.
>A good pair of headphones. From my personal experience, I have always preferred vidding with headphones on. These are the ones I just bought. I like them because they’re foldable, noise-cancelling and still pretty economic, but feel free to look around depending on your needs/budget. We recommend ones that are noise-cancelling, especially if you work in a noisy place. Vidding with headphones on is not only better for immersion and concentration, but you will also find it much easier when it comes to cutting to the beat. Needless to say, if you plan on editing the audio, then headphones are an absolute must!
>Video Footage. Let’s address the elephant in the room now: where should you get the footage from? Ripping from a DVD and Blu-Ray would be ideal, but you can also get TV episodes from other services like Amazon Prime. By using legal ways to get episodes you will not only be supporting the source material, but you will also get the best quality available. If you can’t afford that (which we totally understand), then… I guess you know where to go for other options! 😉
>Music. Getting copyright-free music is, for some reason, harder than getting video. Some ways to avoid copyright are editing the song to change the pitch or tempo, or using unofficial versions like covers or live performances. You will find that the vidding process is not always the same: sometimes you’ll hear a song and go “this TOTALLY fits X aspect from X show!” (the ideal scenario) and, sometimes, you will want to vid a particular show, but you will struggle to find a good song for it. If the latter happens, you can use sites like 8tracks for mood/theme playlists or Music-Map to get a map for similar music artists.
>Vidding resources. If you already know the basics of importing video, cutting scenes, etc. you might want to take a look at some useful resources to make your video even cooler. Yes, we are talking about transitions, coloring, overlays, textures, fonts and effect packs. You can find many of these on Google or Youtube (there are many vidders giving away effect packs for their subscribers). Keep in mind that many of these resources might change depending on the footage. You don’t apply the same type of coloring or exposure when you edit a live-action movie, a videogame or an anime (speaking of anime, check out this forum for AMV guidance). We also recommend you keep all your packs and files organized. Create a folder for all your vidding project files and a separate one for footage, another one for transitions, etc.
>Where to post? This is a part that is often overlooked. You should consider where you want to upload your video before you render it. Most vidders just use Youtube, but others use Vimeo or even Vine. Make sure you choose the video platform beforehand to check that you are using the same settings (eg: Youtube only accepts 16:9 aspect ratio, so use that one for your video or you might end up seeing those annoying black bars!).
Whether you are a very social person who loves engaging in communities or you’re the introvert type who prefers flying solo, knowing a bit about the vidding community can be useful regardless.
>Follow the vidding community. You can follow vidding-related blogs and social media accounts to keep up with latest news and tricks. We recommend viddertips and fanvidbasics on Tumblr, and vidding on livejournal. You can also subscribe to the vidding subreddit (it’s not very active, but users share vids every now and then), and, of course, don’t forget to follow everything related to VidCon!
>Feedback. Just as with any other fan activity, feedback is very important to the artist. You can encourage viewers to leave constructive feedback in your video description and engage with them in the comment section. Telling viewers about your inspiration and the creating process helps create a loyal audience and you might even start getting requests. This goes sideways: it’s also important to help build the vidding community by leaving feedback on other vidder’s work. Livejournal user sdwolfpup gave some feedback guidance here.
>Collaborations. They exist here too! You might be more familiar with fanfic or fan art collaborations, but you can also work on your projects with other vidders. Collaborating with other vidders is something we really recommend because you don’t only get to meet other fans who share the same passion, but you can also learn a lot from each other. Where to find collaborating partners? You can start by checking out forums and blogs dedicated to vidding, like the ones we mentioned in one of the previous points.
>Take challenges. Nothing will help you improve your skills more than getting out of your comfort zone to take new challenges. HERE‘s a fun list of challenges for you to try. A theme that has become quite popular in recent years, mainly for its complexity, is vidding dubstep. Check out these awesome dubstep vids for some inspiration: X – X – X.
>Being a beta. Being a beta is a very fun and worthwhile experience, whether you are a vidder or just someone who enjoys watching fanvids. It’s not as easy as it sounds, though! Coming up wiht constructive criticism and guiding someone else through the vidding person can be a bit intimidating at first. Here are some excellent tips on how to approach another vidder’s work.
With all of this, you already have 90% of the things you need to get started in vidding. The rest is your own effort and dedication. It might seem like a lot at first, but trust us, it’s far more simple (and fun!) than what it seems at first.