Ever since I started to watch videos on YouTube, I have been fascinated by the multitude of fan made videos on the site. As with most media, there are good fanvids and bad fanvids. But the best fan vidoes, I think, involve a certain level of artistry; the fan editors superbly edit and manipulate the images and choose appropriate audio to express their views on the work. While some may see fan videos as a waste of time, I think that the best ones can clue in their viewers on thematic links that they may not have made on their own. When done well, fan videos are simply another way of commenting on a work.
General Tributes: These videos are a montage of clips from the work edited to music. Rather than telling a story, these videos usually relate to the theme of the subject work, and often, the editors will choose songs whose lyrics fit with the images. The video contains major spoilers for the Harry Potter series.
Set to OneRepublic’s “Marchin On,” this video encompasses everything about the Harry Potter series and is quite possibly one of the greatest fan videos on YouTube. Its use of clips spanning all seven years of the series makes it undeniably nostalgic, and this is why it works so well. It also includes not only the trio of Harry, Ron, and Hermione but also Neville, Ginny, Luna, Fred, and George. It pays tribute to the hard times while still maintaining an optimistic and uplifting message of perseverance, just like the Harry Potter books and movies themselves.
Fan Made Trailers: Sometimes, a trailer doesn’t do a movie justice, and a fan will step in to create a trailer that better reflects the movie. Oftentimes, these trailers are even better than the ones the studios churn out. The video is for Gone with the Wind, and since it’s a trailer, it contains no major spoilers.
Although this focuses more on the first half of Gone with the Wind, it is still delightful to watch. I don’t know the piece of music used at the beginning, but around 0:55, it becomes Steve Jablonsky’s “My Name is Lincoln” from the score of The Island, perhaps one of my favorite pieces of music. Trailers like this weren’t made in 1939, and that’s why this video is so refreshing to watch. Epic in scope, it captures the scale of Gone with the Wind. If only it could’ve plugged Olivia de Havilland, Leslie Howard, and Hattie McDaniel in addition to Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable – but that’s only a minor gripe.
Character Studies: These videos attempt to capture the essence of a character through the music and images. The video and my discussion contain major spoilers for the fifth season of Lost.
After she falls down the shaft, Juliet reflects on all the hardship she has undergone in her life, especially on the Island. This video is somewhat unique in that it doesn’t use a song with lyrics to explain the images; rather, the music is Juliet’s theme, “Ocean’s Apart” by Michael Giacchino from the Lost: Season 3 soundtrack. Through this video, the editor argues that Juliet’s struggles on the Island prompted her to want to detonate Jughead and erase the time line.
Shipping: Sometimes, I feel that the majority of fanvids out there are shipping videos, which support a romantic relationship. These videos either tell the story of the couple thematically or linearly. The video contains major spoilers for the first season of Downton Abbey.
One of my absolute favorite fan videos on YouTube, this one perfectly captures Mary’s relationship with Matthew. The way the editor uses the song “Hardest of Hearts” by Florence + The Machine makes it seem as though the song were actually written to fit into Downton Abbey. Downton viewers either love or loathe Mary, and this video analyzes her character in a way that the show cannot. The voiceovers and use of black-and-white make it particularly effective. The only criticism I have is that it ends too abruptly, but before then, it is the perfect shipping video.
Imagining Back Story: Some of the most creative fan videos I’ve seen fall into the category of imagining back story for a certain work. These videos will use clips from other works to tell a story not shown within the subject work. The video is for the Harry Potter series yet contains no spoilers.
This was the first back story fan video I ever saw, and it truly blew my mind the first time I saw it. Oftentimes, the success of these videos depends upon how good the editor is at casting the characters. Using clips from King Arthur, Pride and Prejudice, and Tristan and Isolde, this editor deftly tells the story of the Four Founders of Hogwarts. The music used – “The Wardrobe” from the score of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by Harry Gregson-Williams – encapsulates the wonder of the creation for the school and sets the stage for Part Two of the video.
Just for Fun: This broad category covers a huge range of types of fan videos, but the majority are mashups of different works. However, I’d like to spotlight an entirely different video. The video is for Lost, but it actually contains no major spoilers for the series.
Poking fun at the ever-confusing Lost, this video hilariously reflects what the show was all about. The editor went through the transcripts to isolate every time the characters said, “What?” and put it together in a surprisingly catchy rhythm. This is perhaps one of the cleverest ideas for a video on YouTube.
These examples hardly scratch the surface of the great fan videos on YouTube. Do you have any favorites?