My experience fanvidding – a reflection

Looking back at my video editing career, it’s easy to point out when I fell in and out of love with the craft, and the times I had a very healthy relationship with editing, as well as the times I didn’t.

If you don’t know: fanvids have a long history, with the first modern fanvids coming about in the 1970s. They were created using a slide projector and a cassette tape player, and each scene had to be painstakingly recorded in order. It was a laborious process, but it was a labour of love—and fans in the Star Trek fandom paved the way for generations of talent. Fanvidding itself is the process of creating a fan-made video using footage from television/movies/manga/comics/etc., usually set to music.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to go through this process. I started editing in late 2014 using my father’s old Vaio laptop and Windows Live Movie Maker after coming across this Animated Music Video (AMV) and the creator’s other videos. What started as a curiosity quickly morphed into something more when, after finishing my first edit, my brain was immediately turned on to the potential. Not only could I splice RWBY footage and tell the narratives I wanted to tell, but I could use songs! I could create music videos with my favourite characters! And as somebody who had already been obsessed with associating songs and characters, I thought it was the perfect medium for me to explore.

I uploaded my first ever AMV to YouTube on January 1, 2015. It was quite literally a new year, and it was the start of what would be a very new me. Over the year, I jumped from Windows Movie Maker to iMovie. I was obsessed with the process of splicing clips and coming up with stories set to my favourite music. And when I got involved with the community, and as the people I looked up to became friends, I knew I’d be editing forever. In 2016, I broke through the beginner programs and began my journey with professional programs like Final Cut Pro, Sony Vegas, and of course, Adobe After Effects. I joined YouTube studios and participated in Multi-Editor Projects, and life became deadline after deadline.

In media class, I made movies; after school, or any chance I’d get, I made AMVs. At one point in high school, I was putting in hundreds of hours every month into editing. It was heaven—and it was hell.

The truth is, I didn’t have a very happy adolescence. Between classes, extracurriculars, and editing, I existed in a volatile environment that was exacerbated by stress and what my therapist would later go on to describe as “disordered eating, not otherwise specified.” I made mistakes, I had the craziest of times, I lost friends, and I got new ones. Editing became a crutch; an addiction, or a habit I couldn’t kick. When I got stressed, I made a fanvid. I was on auto-pilot and balls off the wall emotionally unstable. By the time I graduated high school, fanvidding wasn’t fun, and I wasn’t telling stories that I wanted to tell—I was just stressed out.

Fast forward to January 2019. It’d been four years since I published my first ever AMV. At that point, I was still stressed, and I’d just begun the second semester of my first year in university. In one night, while I was watching the Matrix with a friend, my self-esteem, confidence, and mental health plummetted drastically, and I lost another friend at the hands of someone I used to look up to. I almost quit editing, right then and there—if my imposter syndrome had been bad enough throughout high school, this situation made it even worse.

But I went back to it. And I did better.

The thing about losing those friends and waking up to a vicious reality check: you gain some serious perspective about your priorities.

While I still fiddled around on After Effects, I detached myself enough to see it more as what it is—a tool for creativity, not a coping method, or a place to dump all my feelings. In doing so, I’ve spent the last few years improving and experimenting. It’s fun again. It’s a nice distraction when things get rough. It’s a reminder of all my regrets.

Maybe it’s the maturity that comes with getting older, or maybe it’s a sign of personal growth, but I’ve made peace with my mistakes and all the drama. Things happened. My attitude towards editing changed accordingly. C’est la vie.

There’s no real moral or end to the story here—after all, I’m still editing fanvids! However, if there’s one cheesy takeaway, it’s that the things in life that you love will always come back to you, one way or another. There are days where I still feel like a fraud, of course, but there are also days where I feel like I’m back in 2014, discovering the magic of fanvidding for the first time. Nothing more, and nothing less.

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