Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Frag Video

Ah yes. One of the reasons for many hours of staring at screens in either bewildered amazement or tedious boredom would be because of the 'Frag Video'. I quite like them. Well, the good ones that is. I have much respect for skilled gamers and well edited footage. I have often considered making one myself but have never really dedicated both the playing time and editing time to make anything noteworthy. The only heavy editing videos I have done in recent years were the two short WoW machinima vids which are becoming quite dated at the moment. There is also the fact that I am in dire need of updating my editing tools. Photoshop CS 2, After Effects 2 and Premiere 2, while fantastic products just don't cut it when comparing it to the quality of videos coming out nowadays.

The good videos that is. You will often wade through many a terrible 'frag' video on Youtube until you stumble across one that is worthy of attention. While there is nothing wrong with making a short video for you and your friends to reminisce about, avidly advertising something online for people to download and watch on a registered video site can be a deathwish if your video is crap. I can understand many people don't have the time/resources to make great videos, but as long as you understand that the general viewer wont find your 'amazing skills' that interesting to watch, you will save yourself a lot of disappointment.

So, what is a frag video? There are many answers for that question, but in my opinion (and I consider this a subjective topic) a frag video is a short to medium length video showcasing two things in particular: The skills of the player/s in the video and (to a lesser extent) the skills of the video editor. The video editing component is not entirely necessary, but generally speaking the quality of a frag video will be higher if the video editing is more polished. However, it should be noted that video editing in itself is not (and never was) difficult. There is skill in creativity, but not skill in execution. Given time, a decent video editor can make any piece of footage look amazing.

So with that out of the way, what makes a good frag video? For me (again subjective) the answer is quite simple. Pace. Sure, a video can present the amazing skills of some random dudes, and the editing may be pretty and top notch, but if it doesn't fit the pace of the footage or the chosen music it accompanies ... it becomes incredibly boring. A boring video ceases to be an entertaining one and, in my opinion, ceases to be an effective frag video.

Here are some examples of great frag videos. I would highly recommend watching them on Youtube themselves (double click videos) and watching them in HD if possible.

Quake 3 frag videos are not hard to come by. The pace of the game itself and the amazing shit you can do in it pretty much begs users to make frag videos. In Mecurial we have a fast paced edit with a likewise techno/acid music theme that, in the world of Quaking, fits very well. Shaolin Productions editing is suitable and more importantly, incredibly well synced to the visuals and audio track. Did this video take time to make? Most certainly. Was it worth it? Certainly most.

What's this!? A WoW frag video!!?? Preposterous, how can this be possible? Easily. WoW is a slow game. A very, very slow game, in all considerable aspects. If you want to make a frag video, why not just speed it up? Easy! In Boneshock's first video he did just that, synced it to an ... interesting metal track and did a fine job on the editing. Depending on your taste, this can be entertaining enough, if you are not the kind of person that requires looking at health bars and spell casts to understand what is going on. Unfortunately, this type of video is NOT the type of video you will frequently find on Most of those videos are lame and uninspired footage of someone doing the same thing the last guy did, but with different music. Most of these videos are Arena videos, and they are usually horribly boring. I can understand someone's joy in making a video about something they consider amazing, but again, advertising it for the world the see and expecting gold is ludicrous.

TF2 is a fantastic looking game for frag videos, and this video shows it quite well. Again it is synced well and has the same qualities of those before it, if a bit more on a dramatic and epic 'theme'. Unfortunately, these sort of frags come all too infrequently in a game like TF2 which may make these frags seem godlike in the eyes of someone who doesn't know any better. As many of these frags are the result of flukes or luck rather than true skill one can be fooled into thinking TF2 is as fast paced and 'bouncy' as a game like Quake 3. It aint. However this should not detract from the fact that the video and the frags it contains are really quite entertaining.

It is difficult to make a Frag video of a fighting game. Most of them turn out to be combo videos, which while impressive, don't really fall into the same category (at least in my opinion). The above video is about the best example I can find of someone creatively trying to make a video using fighting game footage for the sole purpose of entertaining the viewer. For a veteran player, most of the moves will be simplistic, but for a newbie I imagine the video would look more like a trailer if anything. That is not a bad thing by any means and I personally salute this editor's effort at exploring the possibilities of footage editing for a still relatively new game.

There are many more examples I can display of great frag videos, but I believe that will do for the moment. Also, I do not really enjoy being a critic :S.

No comments: