Getting Enough Thorin


thorin[click to enlarge for a sweet screencap :D]

With the advent of Thorin Oakenshield, there are some new Richard Armitage fans. Ohmygosh. I’ve had email and messages aplenty of people looking for his works. They are smitten, and of course I can empathize. After five years of being a fan and three years of blogging about the man, I am still smitten by something about him, and the Why Richard? question is continually near my lips when I encounter new fans. But lately I’ve been asking the question of those fans who have been around awhile, so recently, I asked Heather and love her response:

His face tells a story, and I respect that he applies artistry to achieve this. As someone who makes it a business to convey messages with pictures, I was immediately drawn to that, and it’s such a pleasure to highlight it and in some ways make it richer in a fan video.

If you have not seen Heather’s videos, you need to do yourself a favor and check them out. As for me, I am so glad she chose that medium for expressing her infatuation of Richard Armitage’s talent, since that’s how I even came to know anything about him, and many others have found him the same way. Her videos have become so notable that they have been mentioned a few times in articles about him, but ironically, her most notable fan video is one of her least favorite. It was done as a joke, but she never thought the joke would be on Richard Armitage, who has been teased about it on occasion, most recently in a Glamour UK article, which I had to razz her about. She was mortified too, and said, “Oh God! If I could, I would say to Richard Armitage, ‘I’m so sorry! I was just kidding, but I never meant to embarrass you!'” Oh yeah, right, I know you’re really on his payroll, Heather. ;-)

And I absolutely have to do this whether anyone ever sees it or not ’cause I’m still not going to write a real letter to Richard Armitage LOL!

Dear Richard:

When I read the Glamour article, I wanted to scream what I’m about to say, but I’ve subdued myself. It’s taken me all these months to do so, but I think I’m finally ready to say this to you in a normal tone. Ahem.

You said you weren’t sure what to call those people. They’re called PR people. :D Yep, and the best kind of PR people because they want nothing from you when they express their fan love, if you will.

And I hope you know that Heather has many more videos besides Sexy Back, which is not even close to her best. Maybe you’ll check them all out sometime. In the meantime, a treat:

And if you can’t see this where you are, go here.

One of your crazy fans who hopes you are glad for the opportunity to blush and be mortified. :D

Since the video is so big, please let the video load completely before playing, or you will probably have it stopping and starting. It also helps if your flash player is up-to-date, and for the one on my site, you should hav Quicktime up-to-date.

note: I’m counting this post as an April A to Z post even though I skipped B through F. So yeah, this is G as well as another post in the Why Richard? series. Man, I love killing two birds. :D

Screencap courtesy of my stash, and making screencaps has never been so sweet with blu ray.

Vidders to Watch

Richard Armitage is now a channel on YouTube and boasting a few thousand videos. I was scanning the ones at the top, and there are a lot of great ones in the popular category; however, there are some you may not see unless you go through all 3,000+. I’m here to help. :D With this post I’m beginning a series called “Vidders to Watch”. It will be a periodic feature of videographers who often stand out either with their vision of a video, pushing the envelope with a technique, clean and sharp editing, or all of these. The series was born out of fans’ requests for lists of the best vidders. I’ve emailed lists numerous times and love doing it, but these posts will be for those who wonder yet never ask.

When I was deciding to run this series, one of the first vidders who came to mind was JulietD001. Her videos are usually clean and highly stylized. She also takes chances and is not afraid to provoke and possibly offend. One of her videos is on my Top 10. It’s in color, but I’ve become partial to her black and white pieces. Enjoy!

Be sure to check out her Robin Hood videos and all the others as well, and for more information about her, see Maria Grazia’s blog, Fly High.

I have more of these posts planned, but feel free to make suggestions.

The Vidding Empire

This post gets the public service tag. :D

If you’ve read this blog for more than a few pieces, you know how rabid I am about fan videos, which I’m defining as videos set to music and starring the object of a fan’s attention — someone or something. They got me started on Richard Armitage, and my love for them has become so intense that I’m wondering when these things will gain much more notoriety than they currently enjoy. For now they are not really acknowledged much by the mainstream media, and a good part of the reason is the history of their illicit nature. In my search on the web, I found one piece from a mainstream media source discussing the significance of fan videos, and that was from 2007. Maybe there are a few more, but the key word would be few. However, at some point soon I think fan videos will have more formal recognition. So far for most people who don’t peruse videos sites and are over the age of 25, there has been no awareness these things exist, but that’s changing as more and more people (even your grandmother) are starting to surf YouTube.

Heck, SO’s almost 80 year old parents get on YouTube regularly, and my mother, who by the way, is considerably younger :D, also gets on YouTube. So if you’re 60 and you don’t ever get on YouTube? What planet are you on? ;-)

Actually, I’m assuming most reading this are the choir. So why did I even say that? Maybe there is one out there among you who has not ventured onto a video site for fear it’s just stuff like this:

and you got your fill of this kind of thing on “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” Oh, you’ve never seen that show? LUCKY YOU. Really wrestling here with the temptation to go on a rant about why I hated that show when it was on, but one rant a week is enough. The show is still on?! God help us.

Of course this is a cute video, and it’s understandable why it’s in the top ten all-time watched videos on YouTube, but c’mon, after you’ve watched it 300 times, you would think it would get old. FYI: a few weeks ago this video passed its four year anniversary, and I can see its lasting effect with the eventual publication of How to Pay For College: The Advantages of Being a Mischievous Teether in the Digital Age by Charles Davies-Carr. ;-)

Okay, where was I? Oh, yeah, fan videos. Well, if you’re new to them, and I’m assuming you’re a Richard Armitage fan since you’re reading this blog, there is only one place to go, and my friends, it’s not YouTube. No, it’s a little place on the web hosted by one of the most intriguing fans, Elvira Sweeney. Here are some things I know about Elvira. She is artistic, prolific, a bit perfectionistic, and definitely industrious. Oh, and she likes RA. :D He was the inspiration for what I now think of as the RA Fan Video Empire, or just The Empire. So what is this place? It’s called RAfanvids, and if you have never been there, oh my are you in for a treat. Now the only proviso I will give you is that you must prep the storage on your computer so you can download to your heart’s content when you get there. You’re not sure about this downloading? No, you’ve got to change that notion. You can’t really enjoy some of these videos without watching a download. YouTube, Vimeo, et al will not give you the quality of a 1080 vid. You can only get the real impact of it by downloading and watching on your system or possibly your tv monitor.

Take this video for example:

You can watch it and love the music and the clips, but you can’t get the full effect of this unless you download and watch. It’s the eyes. You almost fall into them. Can’t get that from watching on YouTube — even in full screen mode. Oh, it’s better than the little window, but not nearly as good as watching your own copy.

Or consider this one:

Want to really feel like that leather is within arm’s reach, download! And of course the eyes are also compelling. By the way this video was done as part of Elvira’s “Vidding on the Cheap” series for all those people who think making videos with an old Mac isn’t possible. Guess again.

This is one of my favorite montage videos, and for good reason. I really feel I’m in the room with RA and he’s looking at me when I watch the download:

This was the video that convinced me I needed to watch everything I could from a download copy. Once I got this one on my computer and started watching, I realized that I had missed so much on YouTube, and if a video is not in a large format, putting the player in full screen doesn’t really cut it either. So I downloaded this one and was blown away. I also realized something about Elvira. She can read people. Anyone who puts as much emphasis on people’s eyes and expressions is focused on reading them. I would love to know what she really thinks of RA other than just liking him so damn much. LOL!

And the next two you haven’t really seen unless you’ve watched a download and especially in 1080. You watch these like that, and you will never be satisified with them on YouTube again.

If you still don’t want to download, you can just watch the videos on that site, and there are quite a few that are not on YouTube. So check it out.

One more thing. If you go over to RAfanvids, you may notice something is absent. But no worries, ’cause Elvira’s got it covered over here. :D (note: the link is an archive page and not all pages linked within it are available).

Candid shot from, uh, I’m not sayin’.

Yorkshire Wench

NOTE: if you’re looking for Yorkshire Wench’s videos, they are no longer accessible online. Go here for more information.

Man, that name conjures all sorts of things. Of course John Thornton and his proximity to Yorkshire, and as a good little RA fan I know RA has ties to Yorkshire as well, and not only due to his interest in Richard III. Then there is my own experience with the place. I was simply overwhelmed by Yorkshire and really bummed I didn’t get to spend more time there. I love history and having read about the War of the Roses, I really wanted to see Yorkshire as I got to see Lancashire. Plus, my camera was having a problem when I drove through there, so I didn’t get one picture! Perhaps this means I have to go back to the U.K. and rectify that? Oh yeah, that’s what it means. LOL!

I wanted to embed this wonderful picture of the Yorkshire Dales, but WP is being a bully, so I’ve uploaded it, Do me a favor and click on the photo to see its original, and hey, you should probably vote for this picture on that site as well.

But all of that is not what this post is about. This is about someone who has supplied many RA fans with countless hours of pleasure in viewing videos and screencaps. YorkshireWench was one of the first to make fanvideos of RA’s works, and I have several. They are some of the first RA videos I obtained, and I still have them in online storage and some on my iPod. I think I’ve thanked her for those on LiveJournal on several occasions (but not as RAFrenzy). However, I’m going to thank her again because she’s shutting down her website, and I’m taking the occasion to tell her again how grateful I am for her work, which is really all I know of her except that I think her name is Claire and she’s a Pisces like me.

If you’re new to RA, then you have probably never seen these videos, since they are not on YouTube. Here is the link to her website [link disabled; see edit below] where you can get links to her videos on Vimeo. You will have to get the links on her site since all of these videos are private and therefore will not come up in search results on Vimeo. To access them you will need a password, which is listed on the homepage of her site. You can also download the videos in various formats. I recommend downloading because the quality is so much better than Vimeo.

Some of my favorites:

Any Other Name (Robin Hood)

Requiem for a Dream (Robin Hood)

Upside Down (The Impressionists)

Adagio for Strings (North and South)

What If (North and South)

Enough about that; go take a look, and if you’re offended by some slash, you might not want to look. I’ll tell you plainly that I’m not a fan of slash, but there are plenty of others to like, and I do. Just so you know, “Any Other Name” is one of my all time favorite Guy videos, I just couldn’t upload it or easily link to it for my top ten fanvids.

edit: since I wrote this piece, Yorkshire Wench has shut down her site, but I have obtained links to all of her Richard Armitage videos on Vimeo, which you can find here. If you want links to all of her videos, you can find them here. But if you go directly to Vimeo, the password is butterfly.

The Big Kahuna

For a while now I’ve wanted to get inside the head of someone in particular. No, it’s not Richard Armitage. Heck, I’m trying to stay out of his head. But it’s someone whose influence on his fans (especially in America) is untold in my opinion, and the effect on me personally has been, well, this blog wouldn’t exist without it. For over three years her creations have given me countless hours of pleasure, and there’s an energy that comes with them that’s had me often wondering about their creator. Her name is Heather. Some of you know her as Heathra or Heathdances from YouTube. I think of her as The Big Kahuna, and I’m honored to be the first to interview her.

Heather, I guess you know by now you’re responsible for introducing me to Richard Armitage, and of course all that’s ensued. What I’ve wanted to know for a long time, and perhaps have missed in everything I’ve read, is how you were introduced to him and did you become an instant fan or did that take awhile to build?

That is great! I love to hear the fact that I am partly responsible for someone else’s RA addiction! LOL Me getting introduced to RA? It’s actually probably similar to a lot of people. I have been and still am a huge fan of Pride & Prejudice and as I was looking on Amazon, it recommended North & South, probably because I liked Pride & Prejudice. ;-) I read the reviews and everyone was saying how much they loved it and if you like P&P, you will love this, so I took a chance and bought it. This was probably back around April 2006. About two days later I got it and because it was 4 hours I thought I would watch the first half that night and then the second half the next night, since I started watching it at 10pm. LOL Well, let’s just say I stayed up until 2am because after the first half I couldn’t leave it there! Then I watched the kissing scene at the end about 10 times before going to bed! ha ha ha! I was hooked! I think I watched it almost everyday for about two weeks. I pretty much became an instant fan. I was making fan videos of P&P at the time, and then I made my first fan video of N&S and it got me even more into Richard. Then kept doing more videos! LOL Someone asked if they could share my N&S “How To Save a Life” video on C19, and I thought what is that? So I told her she could, and then I joined because I was curious and noticed all these people who were just as curious about Richard as I was! I wanted to watch everything this man was in! I joined when Robin Hood Season 1 came out and Vicar of Dibley, and I was in absolute heaven after that and could not get enough. LOL!

I’ve often said there should be a warning label on that movie, but maybe your videos also need a warning label! They are highly addictive. I’ve enjoyed them as much or more than some movies or tv shows. Never knew I could get that much out of a 3-5 minute video. Maybe this could be chalked up to simple synergy that almost always occurs when visuals and music are combined. But hey, there are lots of fan videos on YouTube within the RA fandom that have good visuals and good music yet don’t capture my imagination as yours have. So I am very curious how you create these videos. Would you share how you conceive a video and bring it to completion?

You want me to reveal my secrets??! ha ha Only kidding! It really isn’t a huge secret, and I am sure many others do the same thing I do when it comes to making a video. It really all starts with a song. Every time I listen to a song on the radio or YouTube or my iPod my brain seems to go into video mode where clips start flashing in my mind if the song I am listening to gives me an idea for a video. So for me it starts with the song, and then I visualize the video in my head and what fandom I want to vid to. A lot of the time I will write down my ideas. I had to do storyboards in art school; it’s the same thing. Usually the video is something RA has done whether it be North & South, Robin Hood, or something else. He has definitely been my muse the last 4 years, but I do want to try and branch out to other fandoms. Although my mind keeps wanting to vid to something RA related for some reason! LOL

Once I get an idea in my head and start working on the video I go into what I call “video mode” where you won’t hear or see me for a few days. I get started and just can’t stop until it is done! My videos seem to take longer these days, because I think they seem to get more detailed than they used to be. I started out vidding with Windows Movie Maker, and then I used Ulead Video Studio for videos like Sexy Back (the first one). I felt limited after awhile so I started using Adobe Premiere Pro and used that for about two years. I recently got an iMac, which I have been wanting to get for FOREVER, and being a Graphic Designer I have always wanted a Mac but could never afford it while I was in college. I got my iMac back in October 2009, and then switched to Final Cut Pro for my video editing. Which is what I currently use. My last two videos were made in Final Cut Pro, and I took a huge step in my video editing since I started using it. I feel there are no limits to what I am able to do with it!

I usually start by setting markers where I want my transitions or switching of my clips to be to the beat of the music. Sometimes though it is just to give me a general idea at first of where the beats are. A lot of the time I can’t hit the mouse fast enough to set the marker! LOL But sometimes it is to the lyrics. I like to switch it up because I don’t want to hit EVERY beat. That can get repetitive, and you lose the emotion in the video. I am also really particular in selecting my clips. I try to match the lyrics to the song, and I love showing clips with a lot of emotion. I think showing the emotion in the clips is really important, and the audience can feel more connected to the video when there is an emotional connection. That is part of the reason why I am very picky when it comes to which clips to use, and I try not to over-do the effects in the video. When you have so many effects, you cannot tell what is going on in the video, and you lose the emotional connection. So I think the effects should help get the story or idea across and add or enhance the video not just be thrown in because it looks cool. I hope I am making sense here! LOL

Making total sense.

So the emotion in a video is one of the most important things I try to achieve. I want the viewer to feel happy, or laugh, or be sad, or even cry when watching one of my videos. I hope I have succeeded in doing that with some viewers. :-) That’s part of the reason I love making videos with Richard in them. He is so emotional and the expression and look in his eyes tells so much. He is a great actor, and I love making videos about him because he conveys so much depth. There is just something about him. I don’t think I will ever get tired of making videos of him. ha ha I hope I am not rambling too much or boring you! LOL

NOPE, not boring me at all.

Sometimes when I have finished a video and watch it all the way through, I have cried. I feel very emotionally involved in my videos. I am pouring out my heart and soul and putting it out there for everyone to see. My videos are a part of me and who I am, and I am an emotional, caring and sensitive person who wears her heart on her sleeve. I think I show a lot of that in my videos. “Fix You” is one of my videos that is really special to me for various reasons. It was a time in my life that I was going through that was really hard for me and I was deeply depressed. It was my therapy video. It is probably my favorite video to this day.

I’m fascinated by what you’ve done. I’m so glad you’ve been willing to put yourself out there. Just like RA is willing to put himself out there to meticulously convey the passion and emotions of a character, you’ve done that with these videos, and it’s produced something wonderful that continues to resonate. And that limitless feel is becoming more and more obvious in your videos. By the way “Fix You” is my favorite video of yours, and I intentionally kept it from my top ten fanvids so I could highlight it here. Now I know why.

Would you tell us about some other videos you really enjoy? Are you inspired by any videos?

If they are really well done, I enjoy any fandom of videos. I have to admit I can’t watch Anime. It just isn’t my cup of tea, and I don’t feel the emotional connection with it. I like connecting with real people in a video. Those are the ones that affect me emotionally and I enjoy the most. They don’t have to be these super fast edited videos or the ones with a thousand effects. If it is a beautiful video that tells a beautiful story and makes me feel something for it, then I can watch it over and over again.

I think I was one of the few first vidders on YouTube, but there were a few Pride & Prejudice fan videos that inspired me and made me want to see if I could make one myself. It really all started with my inspiration of Pride & Prejudice. One vidder who inspired me to make my own was darcywil. She was one of the first P&P vidders, and she did one of the first North & South videos I saw too. Elvira also inspires me in a lot of her videos. She isn’t afraid to be different and her uniqueness is what makes her stand out to me from other vidders, and I love her “arty” videos.

Oh, I love Elvira too. I’ll be getting around to her. :D I have to laugh about darcywil because her My Confession video is the first one I ever downloaded. Love it! and love her detailed explanation of it. Wonder how many people she’s inspired. If we include you and all the people you have inspired, the number must be enormous. Do you have any advice for others who may want to make fan videos?

Hmm… It is a very addicting hobby! LOL I would say experiment around. Don’t do what everyone else is doing just because it is “cool” and make videos for yourself first and foremost. Make what you want to make and use songs you enjoy because part of the enjoyment of making a video is because YOU enjoy it. That is sooooo important!

Great advice for a lot of life!

One last thing. I’ve said a time or two how much you’ve done to promote Richard Armitage’s work, and obviously, I‘m thankful. But I have to ask you: are you sure you don’t work for him? ;-)

Thank you! I am happy to promote Richard and he deserves it. It’s really lovely to know that my videos have helped do that!

LOLOL!! I WISH I worked for him! Although I wouldn’t get much done if I did work for him because I would want to stare at him all day long and try and flirt with him. LOL! Hey, can you blame me? I am thirty and flirty!

Puddle of Goo or Don’t Tell Me the Moon is Shining…

Wow, so many fan videos and not enough time. I would say that chocolate has been replaced, but I’m not a chocolate lover. Maybe now I know what all of you chocolate lovers get out of it. I know I get a bit of a high watching these things. Is that how it works with chocolate? If so, then I’m sorry I missed out all these years.

Getting inebriated does reduce me to a puddle of goo — inside. On the outside no one would ever know. I’ve managed to keep the addiction tamped down enough that no one knows except all of you. :D

But onto more lofty matters. Why does it reduce me to a puddle of goo? That’s the question I haven’t wanted to answer but have been desperate to answer. I am normally very, very sane. I can give you sane 6 days a week and a double dose on Sunday. Many people who know me actually depend on me being the most sane one in the room. So is it sanity to like fan videos this much? And in particular RA’s fan videos?

Initial rationalization:

The videos appeal to the artist in me. I love all things aesthetic. Truly. So I adore the artistry of the “vidders.” Well, they’re not all equal vidders; some are more equal than others. But even the ones that have the strict norms of aspect ratio fouled up (SNARFU), I love as well. I get it. I get their intent, and even if it’s not their intent, there’s enough there for me to perceive my own. Isn’t that what art is about? Perceiving intent and/or imbuing it with our own? Whatever the case, the intent comes through clear and loud (if no one else is at home with me). I can suspend my normally hyper-sensitive eyes to appreciate that “Guy” or “Lucas” or “John” is on the job — swaggering for my edification. Oh, wait, this was supposed to be a rationalization.

I really do appreciate the artistry of those vidders who have an eye for detail. Chief among those in my mind is someone named Angela. If you have not been around the RA Fandom for very long, you might not know who she is. Hang around for a bit and you’ll find out and will be better for it.

She is an artist. Bold as that statement is, I mean it. I’ve wondered many times what she does for a living. If it’s not something to do with art, what a shame. Some of her attention to detail is stunning, and I appreciate it no matter who is in the video. That’s when I knew she was an artist — I could disregard that RA was the object. That’s saying something since it’s obviously very hard for me to disregard RA as the object. LOL! But seriously, she does show the glint on the glass.

I didn’t intend this post as a paean to Angela’s ability, but I’m running with it and she deserves it. So maybe I’m not rationalizing?

And since I’m talking about her work, here’s one of her little masterpieces (SPOILERS IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN Robin Hood Season 3):