Vidding Guy of Gisborne

[There were three things I could have written about today and I was torn. One of the great aspects of blogging is being able to turn things over in your head in different ways — such a pleasure. That’s why I’m not writing about Eric Vespe today, though of course I’m thrilled, too. I know that’s what everyone wants to chat about at the moment, but I’ve never been especially timely. I have something to say, though, and it’s coming later in the week, but I want the pleasure of turning it over in my mind.]

Guy of Gisborne: so gorgeous he just begs to be vidded. There’s something so 1980s about him — and that was when music videos became mainstream enough that even I became aware of them. Richard Armitage in a publicity photo for the first series of Robin Hood. Source:

Since I finished the Thanksgiving vid I’ve been playing around with a Guy of Gisborne vid that’s about half done now. Doing it well seems to involve a fairly significant investment of time (like I’ve never spent less than twelve hours on one, even a clip collection, I think), energy, and potentially money (computer, software, media files), but you really learn a lot, vidding. I can’t imagine that I’ll ever use this skill for anything else but it’s been so instructive.

Stuff I’ve learned:

About Armitage as Guy of Gisborne. Just some stuff about his acting in this role that I’ve noticed while watching some of these clips over and over again.

First, timing Guy of Gisborne with an uptempo song is an interesting exercise. In the song I’m working with now I need some repeated percussive effects and have been looking for stuff like that in Armitage’s gestural repertoire for Guy of Gisborne. You’d think there’d be a lot of it, because it’s a relatively violent series with a lot of striking and slogging, and I can find that stuff easily if I’m willing to go with a swordfight, but it’s a bit more challenging if I am looking for a different kind of explosion. Looking over a lot of clips, I’ve come to notice that Armitage’s acting mode in Robin Hood was styled in such a way that his own personal explosions often can’t be easily visually anticipated except by a gathering sort of smooth tension in his stance. Case in point, above: Robin Hood 1.7, the scene where Guy rediscovers the necklace that he’s stolen from the peasant girl and given to Marian has reappeared on the peasant girl’s neck. The summit of this scene, where Guy rips the necklace from her neck, is one of the most violent single gestures by any character in the entire series, not least because we see directly the girl’s response to it. I had this scene as very violent in memory, but look at it with me again. What’s interesting here is the relative calm with which he begins the scene. At 0:16 we see him grasp the girl’s necklace, but it’s the music much more than his own gesture that creates the intensity here — the music wants us to see this as a vicious moment, but it’s still extremely controlled, and after that he actually backs off and the viewer ends up focused on his eyebrows (corrugator supercilii motion). At 0:27 we see that very slight side motion of the jaw — this is a self-calming move throughout all of Armitage’s roles, but it’s very subtle here, and seen from the side it’s almost not there. A tighter grasp on the necklace 0:30, but his face is still calm, and it’s not till 0:37 that the snapping of the wrist occurs. By 0:38 all the motion is done and by 0:39 he’s breathing out the tension — it’s just a split second of percussive motion (and the actress’ reaction to it) that create the impression of extreme violence. Armitage creates the percussive effect here by isolating it extremely in a sea of rather calm, smooth tension.

Second, a really interesting and frequent move by Armitage when he’s Guy: the assertion of authority under attack by the shifting of weight on the feet. He does this more frequently than just with Guy, and I’ll write more about that some day, but it’s interesting to me that when Guy does it, the movement is usually very subdued but no less assertive for all of its near invisibility. Also it’s interesting to watch how Mr. Armitage creates the atmosphere of subtle threat by just a very brief resettling motion that seems to sort of vibrate up into his shoulder from his hips. One thing that’s interesting about this motion is that it’s a body language that we might be inclined to read as a sign of insecurity (shifting the feet), but the shoulder and jaw motion make it read as the exact opposite. Case in point: Robin Hood 3.10, the episode where Guy and Robin discover they share a half-brother, the scene where Robin’s father urges them to work together and Robin asserts that he’ll never be able to forgive Guy. Robin accuses Guy of lacking remorse for Marian’s murder; you still see the slightly bowed head in acknowledgement, but also in the shake of refusal of this reading of the situation at 0:06, but at 0:09 although the head is raised and the implied crossed-arm position still defensive, we see that Guy is not having it anymore. At 0:11 we see the beginning of the atmosphere of response / threat, as the movement of the feet begins to generate a leaning-in of the upper body. At 0:14 he plants his left foot and at 0:16, his right. And the replanting of the feet is also the explicit answer to Robin’s question — it asserts simultaneously that Guy has murdered the Sheriff. Masterful.

Third, despite the often complex play of microexpressions over his features, it’s visually interesting how often Armitage successfully distills something he’s trying to indicate down to a single moment. Above, from Robin Hood 2.10, the episode where Nottingham Castle is nearly lost, the scene where Guy is preparing for his death and makes one last marriage proposal to Marian. Note here the attentive position of the body toward the viewer during the proposal; all his mention attention is toward Marian as his physical attention is directed to the outside word, but then the very quick shift — indicated physically by the sudden twist of the head at 0:12 and the very subtle widening of the left eye beginning at 0:13. The percussive motion here is again the head jerk, but it’s preceded only by the smooth tension of his upper body as he speaks to Marian. And the segment proceeds in a very clear gestural language that manages to surmount successfully the complexity of what’s happening in the scene — note only the subtle moue of disappointment that he’s not going to get what he wants from Marian at 0:10. A lot to manage into a few seconds.

Finally, the combination of these things in one of the most tense scenes of series 2 of Robin Hood: 2.11, when Guy learns that Marian is the Nightwatchman. Here we see the scene where he comes back to verify his discover, and we see all of these things at work together: the planting of the feet to assert authority at 0:03 and 0:29; the smooth, calm walk in both directions that precedes a percussive, but deliberate motion in the pointing of his finger — he’s actually got his body completely under control in the walk both toward and away from her that frames the aggressive pointing that is the only real physical indication of his anger — the distilling of that piece of his response to this revelation into the single, speaking gesture that outlines all of the expressions running across his face from 0:22-0:44. The calmness of the walk is only belied by the blinking of his eyes, a bit less than calm but still under control.

In short, watching Guy in order to vidding provides a detailed lesson not only into Armitage’s emotional construction of the character, but also into the physical pieces that work into that emotional construction.


Now since this is “me + richard armitage,” it wouldn’t be fair to deprive you of things I’ve learned about myself from vidding. Observations about myself:

First, I didn’t think of myself as a visual person until Richard Armitage. Isn’t that weird? My ex-SO would contest this statement, perhaps, because as long as he’s known me I’ve been interested in art and architecture, and I’ve certainly always noticed people’s body language, but we used to have these discussions when we’d go to conferences together and meet someone and he’d say, “that was the woman with the brown hair and the stylish suit” and I’d be like, “who?” For me it would be “that’s the woman who studies topic x and was so friendly.” It’s funny, because it’s definitely not the case that I don’t notice how people look, and I’m always complimenting people I see on how they’re dressed. It’s still clear to me after reading her blog that I don’t think visually in the way that someone like bccmee does at all. It’s somehow different for me. There’s a way in which watching Armitage has opened up my senses and made me different as a visual thinker than I used to be. And now I want to look all the time.

But, second, and OMG, I am just as much a perfectionist about vidding as about writing. It’s a poor personality trait of mine — I don’t want to do things unless I believe that I can do them well or will eventually be able to do them reasonably well. With a very few exceptions, I try to avoid doing things I think I will never be good at. I think this is because I notice every little detail of things I don’t like. This is part of the problem that makes grading such torture for me and why being a student of mine can be a double-edged experience. You get a lot of careful attention. Then again, you get a lot of careful attention you may not want.

Third, as a music listener, I am more sensitive to rhythms that I realized initially. I am starting to understand how to put together a vid with a very distinctive rhythmic pattern — making the pictures respond to the beat — but I still have no idea how I’d do a truly down-tempo vid.

Finally, and perhaps most obviously, Armitage makes it hard to concentrate on the vidding part very efficiently. You watch a section of your vid and see something you want to correct, try to correct it, and the play the vid again to see if you’ve succeeded, but you end up just mesmerized by watching him, so you end up watching the vid about twelve times as many times as you need to in order to make the corrections. Which just underlines an important principle of fanvidding which is to pick a song that you really, really, like — because you’ll listen to it about a thousand times before you’re done.


It’s that time of year again: a point at which we think about the needs of others in the midst of gratitude for the gifts we have received. Here’s a link to Mr. Armitage’s recommended charities at JustGiving and a link to Act!onAid, a child sponsorship organization for which he recorded a voiceover in December 2010. In 2011, Mr. Armitage also participated in fundraising efforts for Christchurch Earthquake Appeal. You can also generate a donation by doing any or Book Depository shopping that you do for the holidays via, or or shopping via, as these fansites both donate earned commission to charities that Armitage has endorsed. Fans have also donated in honor of Armitage to Oxfam International.

~ by Servetus on November 29, 2011.

17 Responses to “Vidding Guy of Gisborne”

  1. The slideshow vids don’t take nearly as much time, but you’d still better like the song a lot, I have found 😀 The clip with Marian revealing the truth about the NIghtwatchman is one of my all-time favorite scenes from RH. He always amazes me with his ability to produce so much from a small scene.

    And you can never go wrong as far as I am concerned with some Guy. As a matter of fact, he is standing here with that maddeningly smug smile and one eyebrow lifted. “So—she’s postponing talking about Forest Boy’s relative, Thorin, to write about–ME.”


    • There’s so much that has to be said about Guy that it’s often hard to write about him — I was thinking while I wrote this that it’s almost all about stances and motions and nothing about delivery or microexpressions — there’s just so much going on with Guy, you almost have to go scene by scene to discuss what Armitage is going.

      There’s the added factor that Thornton and Guy are the chaRActers that I identify the most with personally. Some of these Guy scenes I feel like I am watching myself.

      Glad Guy was happy. Thorin, tomorrow — I think. I’ve got something else cool to publish now, too, that I think will interest everyone a heck of a lot …


      • Well, you just know he WOULD, Cindy. This is the great I Am we are talking about. 😀


      • Guy is a much more complex a character than one might initially think. Richard definitely took him well beyond the one-dimensional evil henchman in a kiddie show. As we’ve discussed, it is not just what he is doing when he is central to a scene; it’s what he is doing, how he is standing, lounging, the expressions on his face and so on when he is in the background.

        There’s so much I didn’t notice the first time I watched a lot of RH, especially in the first series where he was still a bit “robotic” as I think he put it, and yet there were those little nuances even then.

        I think I have mentioned this before, but there are elements of Guy’s personality and character that remind me of my own late father. I won’t go into detail, just say that it is more than Guy’s considerable hotness and the fact that was the first role I saw RA in that makes me adore him so. It’s part of the reason I am also so protective of him in Sloth Fiction.

        NOW you have really piqued our interest, dear Servetus!! Do tell!!:D


        • Angie, last night I watched the RH “casino” episode (again!) It’s a prime example of what you wrote about in your first paragraph. I couldn’t tell you what the other characters are doing, my eyes are always on Guy…his smirking, lip curling, eye rolling, brow raising. RH may as well be called GoG for me, I just watch the scenes he’s in! 😉


          • Hey, I got tthrough the first half of S3 of RH extremely quickly by using the Fast=Forward-Through-Any-Guyless-Scenes Method. The fact Richard was absent from two eps meant it went even faster. I had no desire to revisit Ruthless Rufus and whatever the other ep was about, I forget now.

            I love that casino ep. Guy is at his smirking, sneering, supercilious best. Not to mention how handsome he looks in his formal leather. 😉 And I get a really naughty thrill when he throws the dice and says, “Fetch” to Marian. The things I would find objectionable in Real Life that somehow only increase my fascination with my Hot Velvet Henchman. 😀


    • Oh Angie, LOL!!!


  2. Servetus, I find your attention to detail amazing (my motives for vidding are shallow indeed!) and it makes for fascinating reading.

    I had to smile when I read your last paragraph on the subject. I’m still working on my first one, a very basic, practice run, and the intial problem I encountered was not anything tecchy, but trying to choose screencaps of Guy. Oh what a tough job that is!! 😉 Where the heck does one start?!! I ended up wasting a whole hour just gazing at one screencap after another of His Gorgeousness. In the end, I chose twenty or so at random, figuring I can add/delete further down the track!

    BTW I’ve taken the plunge, one that I thought I would never ever take, and that is to write to RA. I’ve done it through making a donation to Oxfam Unwrapped and I’ve included a note in the card they provide. Not sure how I’m feeling about that at the moment…a little weird perhaps…


    • Good going, Mezz! I took part in Calexora’s birthday book project for Richard’s 40th and that’s the closest I have gotten to writing Richard. And you’re doing good by supporting a charity, something which Richard would heartily approve of.

      I make vids because it’s fun (and with my vids, often funny, or at least I like to think so) — I get to look upon Richard Armitage’s image, pick a song that fits what i am trying to do, and come up with captions. If it entertains others, well–my job is done. 😀 As for Guy, oh, well, what wealth is there. He’s the gift that keeps on giving. 😉


      • Thankyou angie. 🙂 I missed the birthday book project, and would’ve been content with a contribution to that. I haven’t written to a “crush” in all of my fifty-five years, never felt the need to, but it’s different with Richard.


        • Amen. Richard IS different. Hey, I can’t see myself writing tens of thousands of words of fanfic and making all those fanvids (or spending much time on fanblogs and sites, for that matter) due to any other celebrity.

          Although I don’t even like to use that word in connection with him. It’s used so loosely these days.

          Richard is a great talent, and, I think, a great role model. He’s hard working, a true professional, generous, gentlemanly, modest, with a good sense of humor–he takes his craft seriously, himself, not so much.

          I am 51, and I certainly have not had such a huge crush on any famous person, not even back in my teen days. But Richard–ah, yes, he is a magnificent stallion of a different color! 😉


          • First it was my compulsion to write to Richard, and now it looks like making vids of him and the chaRActers is becoming another compulsion for me!! The man is certainly working his magic!! 😉


            • As I say in one of my vids, “He’s a magic man, mama, oh–he’s a magic man.” He’s ignited plenty of compulsions, obsessions, manias, frenzies . . . and if we told him that, oh, how his sculpted cheeks would redden, those amazing blue eyes flickering down to gaze upon his big, beautiful feet as a shy, sweet smile crossed that face. Richard . . . we can’t help it. You just have that kind of effect on us.


    • good for you, Mezz, and thanks from me for making a donation to Oxfam in his honor.


      • Thankyou servetus. The need to write has been ongoing and I was encouraged by your response to a comment I made in a previous post, re contacting RA, so I decided it was now or never!
        Christmas and a “gift” from Oxfam Unwrapped was the ideal opportunity. 🙂


  3. I’m glad you’re finding your vidding voice. I loved your “Blue Lips” one from last yearish. I have to say though, that the fedora wearing guy in that episode? Of all the goofy anachronisms in that series THAT was the one that made me roll my eyes so hard I nearly snapped a nerve.


    • Thanks for the kind words.

      Everyone has her triggers, no? For me it’s things that have to do with religion or manuscripts 🙂


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