OTW Guest Post: Briony

From time to time, the OTW will be hosting guest posts on our OTW News accounts. These guests will be providing an outside perspective on the OTW or aspects of fandom where our projects may have a presence. The posts express each author’s personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy. We welcome suggestions from fans for future guest posts, which can be left as a comment here or by contacting us directly.

Briony is a vidder from the UK who has been editing fanvids for more than 12 years. Her work can be found on YouTube. Today, Briony talks about her experience creating fanworks.

How did you first find out about fandom and fanworks?

Like many, I have always been very fannish for as long as I can remember. As a child I committed intensely and wholeheartedly to any given media text that captured my attention. I was also very creative and would often create de facto fanart. It wasn’t until I was in my early teens that I serendipitously discovered Real Fandom. I was trying to find a scene from Titanic (one of the first texts I engaged with in an intensely fannish way as a child) on YouTube and I was instead presented with a fanvid.

I was completely enthralled. I loved the synthesis between image and sound and the way that the vidder had reworked the footage to highlight salient aspects of the text. The creator of the vid mentioned a popular Titanic fansite in their description that hosted a range of clips available for download. I soon headed to the fansite, downloaded all the footage I could find on there, and almost immediately began editing what would become my first ever fanvid. This soon introduced me to the world of fan forums, fan sites, mailing lists, and the like.

As an avid reader of young adult fiction, I quickly sought out other fans of the Twilight Saga. This was my mainstay for a good year or so before I moved onto the Supernatural fandom and beyond. Over the years I created and contributed to a range of fansites, and at one point even hosted a Ning for my community of fanvidders who primarily shared our work on YouTube. I remember trying to access fan communities on LiveJournal during my early days in fandom, but as I entered fandom without the support of a mentor or gatekeeper I struggled to gain access to the locked fan communities there and soon gave up. I was aware of a range of fanworks from my time browsing a host of forums and fansites, but it wasn’t until I joined Tumblr in 2010 that all of my fannish interests were finally unified under one platform.

What led you to vidding, and how does the process work for you?

As I previously explained, I came to vidding serendipitously without any support or guidance from a gatekeeper. This meant that I rather haphazardly stumbled into the practice. I soon found my footing and established a circle of vidding friends — many of whom remain close friends today. I initially started vidding in Windows Movie Maker as it was readily available on my home computer. Once I’d figured out how to access better video editing software, I soon transitioned over to Sony Vegas, which I still use to this day. Over the years I’ve shared my vids on many different hosting sites, including YouTube, Vimeo, Imeem, Ning, and Tumblr.

When I first became a vidder, vidding tutorial videos weren’t nearly as common as they are today, so I was, for the most-part, almost entirely self-taught. I initially started out editing fanvids from live-action films I was fond of, as I felt more comfortable working within the confines of 90 – 120 fixed minutes of footage. As my confidence grew I began to workwith live-action television shows.

Over the past few years, I have almost exclusively vidded television shows. These have included the likes of Game of Thrones, Outlander, Skam, Supernatural, Skins, Killing Eve, Stranger Things, True Blood, and most recently His Dark Materials. I love the breadth of material a television show gives me to work with, and I think the long-form format allows for a much more nuanced examination of the source text through my video editing. Many of my vids are character studies or ship vids, but I have made a few general ensemble vids over the years.

I’m a rather prolific creator of fanmixes, and I have created more than 50 fanmixes inspired by my fandoms. These mixes are usually the first place I go when I’m looking for inspiration for vidding. When I watch a show or film I usually know almost immediately if I’d like to vid it, and then I turn to my fanmixes to find the song that sparks my inspiration. Once I’ve found the right song for the vid, my process of editing a vid always begins with mapping out the key features of the song (including the lyrics, key beats, instrumental bridges, etc.) within Sony Vegas using the marker tool. I also use the marker tool to make notes on my plan for the overall narrative of the vid.

I’m usually pretty organised in terms of creating markers within the footage itself, which makes the process of sifting through footage to add clips to the vid much quicker. As I make progress on editing the vid, I remove the markers as I go so that when I take a glance at my video editing software I can tell how much progress I’m making. For example, here’s a screenshot of my progress half way through editing my recent Anne With an E vid.

I usually prioritise several aspects of each vid throughout the editing process: storytelling, emotional resonance, lyrical interpretation, and a cohesive aesthetic. My editing technique and overall vidding style often heavily relies on highlighting parallels and thus my use of footage from the source text often follows an A-B-A-B-A-B or A-B-C-A-B-C pattern.You can see this at work in my recentVillanelle/Eve “Version of Me” vid.

I also enjoy figuring out new ways of highlighting important aspects of the narrative of the text without explicitly visually alluding to them. I’m a sucker for visual metaphors. For example, if I’m editing a ship vid, I like to figure out ways of alluding to the significance of the relationship between the characters without necessarily depicting the characters in every single clip that I use. Instead, I’ll use establishing shots of significant locations for the ship, or use a range of clips of objects of importance to the ship. My Outlander “Signs” vid is a good example of this. I like the way that this adds another level of depth for both myself and the viewer to interpret the story I’m trying to tell. It also lets me explore the finer details of a narrative and highlight aspects of the text that some viewers may not have considered in great depth.

As I am working on my fanvids I will often share excerpts of my works in progress with my vidding friends to beta watch and offer further guidance or feedback. Many of my vidding friends expect the same of me in turn, and I am always happy to deliver! It’s all part of the process of belonging to a community of vidders.
More broadly, I find that much of the process of crafting a fanvid is intuitive. There are vids of mine that I spent weeks or even months painstakingly planning and creating (such as my Sansa Stark “No Hope In The Air” vid), whereas there are others which I completed in less than a day without giving the editing process much pause for thought (such as my Isak/Even “Alternate World” vid). The experience of creating every single vid is always distinct, and each new vid presents new creative problems and possibilities.

What about your work do you most wish you could change, and what do you feel the most pleased about?

I have always really admired vidders who can craft multifandom or multiship vids without losing any of the nuance of the individual texts. I struggle to edit vids with an ensemble of characters from one fandom, let alone working across multiple media at once. Additionally, my vids almost always work within the boundaries of the canonical narrative set out in a text, and I have a lot of respect and admiration for vidders who edit crossovers, AUs, book or fic trailers, and original stories. I’d love to be able to comfortably and confidently work outside of the canon when creating my vids.

I’m also not very ambitious when it comes to my use of audio within my vids. I rarely use voiceovers, let alone any of the diegetic sound from the footage I’m working with. I usually work around the song I’m using and leave it at that. There are still many aspects of vidding I am yet to fully explore!

Despite this, in recent years, I have felt increasingly confident with my editing style and I feel that I’m at a point in my vidding where I my editing has a really clear and cohesive style and aesthetic. I am able to trust my intuition more than ever while creating my vids, which generally makes for a very rewarding and fulfilling vidding experience.

Beyond this, the most fulfilling aspect of vidding over the years, without doubt, is the community I have found there. Vidding introduced me to many of my closest friends, and the incredibly rich and varied community of fans it led me to have massively shaped who I am today.

How did you hear about the OTW and what do you see its role as?

While I had known of AO3 for a while beforehand, I didn’t properly hear about the Organisation for Transformative Works until my first year at university when I was introduced to the journal Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC) by a lecturer affiliated with the Fan Studies Network. Now, almost a decade later, I use the OTW’s projects (including Fanlore and TWC) on a weekly basis and have contributed to several of the organisation’s projects myself.

I think the OTW plays various different roles within fandom, all of which are of great importance. For me, advocacy lies at the core of the organisation’s mission, whether in a legal capacity on matters of copyright and commercial exploitation, or in a guardianship capacity as the preserver of the history of transformative fandom and fanwork.

What fandom things have inspired you the most?

I feel I am in the minority of much transformative media fandom in that I seldom engage with fic. I am very visually-oriented, so lots of the fanworks that really capture me are primarily visual in nature. Vidding will always be the biggest inspiration for me within fandom and beyond, but I’m also very fond of fanart and have in recent years become increasingly interested in fannish fibre arts, too.

As an extension of vidding, I really enjoy consuming and creating fanmixes (potential vidding inspiration!!), and I cannot listen to music without envisioning some sort of fanvid within my mind’s eye. I’m also a big fan of the very Tumblr-esque trend of creating picspam aesthetics for my fandoms.

Vidding remains my primary tie to fandom, and over the years I have come to see it as a fandom in and of itself. It is my first fandom and it will be my last. Having started my journey in vidding well over a decade ago, I now have much less time to dedicate to vidding due to my commitments to working and studying. Nevertheless, I still manage to edit a few fanvids a year and stay up-to-date with the vids being created by my favourite vidders. Vidding has fundamentally changed my relationship to media texts, introduced me to many of my closest friends, and introduced me to the vast and expansive world of media fandom. For that I will be forever inspired and forever grateful!

Catch up on earlier guest posts

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