So, I would like to ask you to post your 'AMV autobiography' of sorts.
Awesomely enough, Infinity Squared made a post on his livejournal about his videos throughout the years (which is what interested me in making my own and making this post).
InfinitySquared wrote:Ok, current video tally is as follows. There are 35 video projects I have been publicly listed to have participated in, 14 of them were as part of a multi editor project with the rest being solo videos. I’ve been making video introductions for the AMV competition in Manifest since 2005 with I reckon more than half of them able to be considered as full videos in their own right. I’ve also completed 1 backing video and 1 trailer video for Eminence. There’s also half a dozen or so documentary, dedication and live action videos that I’ve compiled over the years. And all of this started with 2 videos, never released, that I experimented with in Windows Movie Maker back in 2004.
Just considering the listed video projects, this equates to roughly one video released every two months, though more realistically, I probably work in spurts rather than regularly, sometimes months passing by without anything done (The Second Raid sat there for near on two years). I guess this is a testament to how much I love this hobby as even after all this time, I don’t foresee myself stopping soon. I’ve probably got at least a year’s worth of ideas which is plenty of time to come up with even more while things are cooking, and sometimes I don’t even bother with ideas and just edit as the need/impulse arises.
So how did this all begin? Romanticising the whole thing, I would say it goes back to those first two experimental videos. The very first one was a mixing of various fansubbed sources to a Nami Tamaki song I was enjoying at the time with various attempts at some sort of beat sync. It came complete with macroblocking, wrong aspect ratios, the opening titles of the actual anime and of course, the subtitles. The next video however was a great deal better than the before. The first one was all about testing the software and tools. The second one is probably the first video I would consider a true AMV. It had a progressing narrative, intentional beat and emotional sync, effects and had full ticks for attempting to eliminate unwanted features (e.g. lip flap, subtitles, orphan frames, etc.). This is the video that really showed me what was possible and there was no turning back from that point onward.
If I were to be pragmatic about this though, it would be Talk To Me that deserves the accolade for propelling me forward. Again, in terms of its technical aspect it wasn’t too bad and though comparatively speaking to my videos today, the transitions weren’t the most polished, the video was definitely not a step back. It’s the joyous melding of the anime and music theme that made this video such fun to make and consequently successful in gaining attention and earned me my very first win at an anime convention. I remember being so ecstatic at two in the morning when I heard of the news and pretty soon, winning felt like a drug that I had to have more of. Internet fame is fleeting and miniscule but it was definitely addictive.
Stand Your Ground and Look To The Stars were the next two that I created to satisfy this addiction. This was during the days when I thought in terms of projects as if I had some purpose, when winning meant I had to form strategies and video combinations. Stand Your Ground was straight up action and it did win once more in conventions in the country and achieved a runner up position in an American one, which gave me the confidence to believe I could do this outside of Australia. Admittedly, whether or not it makes me sound cocky, competition in the country is not really very tough, so getting recognition in an international convention that attracted 3 times at least more attendees than the biggest ones in Australia did was definitely something else. Look To The Stars however never won anything, yet I felt that it was the more ambitious video of the two.
My attempts at conventions slowed down a bit after the “campaign” I put those two through. I slowly got out of the mindset of projects and moved on to just making videos as they come to me, videos with no particular purpose other than to entertain me, much like Talk To Me in the beginning and this is how it has continued on for me till this day. There was also this strange stretch where all the videos I made had drama undertones, culminating in Dedication, which albeit its simplicity had its share of controversy and really gave me the push to really start caring less about what people say as a consequence.
Listen To Your Heart was the first video that was created for a specific convention. There’s a subtle difference between this and Stand Your Ground and Look To The Stars in that, I created those two with the specific goal in mind that should a convention sound appealing to me, I’d have 2 ready made video to dispatch immediately. This however was made for only one convention and though I probably did enter it in one or two others afterwards, it was never something I purposely created to pimp at every opportunity. All of a sudden this meant that I was actually working to a deadline, something I didn’t do before. Dates ever since then has dominated how/when I create things.
Originally perhaps, the motivation for winning was the prizes but as time got on and I was easily more able to purchase the kind of things I actually might win, some other reason which was previously just a secondary thing took main stage. It was fame and prestige. It became a motivation for knowing more people, and specifically, people who were considered top of the game. Dates became more important as conventions was when these people converged. Similarly, convention successes also equated to online presence. This was probably one of the biggest drives for me to have started joining Multi Editor Projects. During this time which started from late 2005 all the way till mid-2007, the ratio was for every solo video, I was part of almost two multi editor projects. Working in such projects as Piyush Juneja, Project Trinity and having some hand in Project Ayumix 2 definitely led to some good interactions with some great editors but none had more impact than Yuri Collections as besides the collaborative side of things, this marked for me the move into more complex editing concepts.
Anime Academy Heroes no doubt made the biggest splash of all the videos I have ever made. It was also a turning point as for the first time ever, I dived into the comedy arena. It had been so different from anything I have ever created and in my opinion, it’s also a part of a breed of videos that you probably wouldn’t immediately think of when you discuss AMVs. My videos prior to this were music plus anime equating to a video with some theme/story; the standard AMV. This story or theme however was really just a product of the combination of audio and video sources and consequently has a somewhat inconsistent form. For example, to a creator, their combination was supposed to show how the characters were misunderstood in the anime and how the song described the effort they made to let others know them, but to the viewer, all they might be seeing was a random action video needing to show how Naruto and Linkin Park are so kick arse. That’s how most AMVs are, they are free floating intangible creations. Anime Academy Heroes on the other hand had a solid story to start with and though the music and anime sources greatly helped to bring that story to life, one could say that I could have used any number of other sources in place of what I used, but so long as I stuck to the core story, the result would been the same.
This is where the “complex editing concepts” movement started for me, albeit this is all in retrospect. I guess with the success that it had, it has raised the bar for me, heightening pressure, but also elevated me to a different kind of thinking. To which we return to Yuri Collections where I delved into yet another not very common AMV style, that being original 3D animation. Admittedly though there was a fair bit of effort put into it, it is by no means a perfect creation. Scales of the models were not consistent and lighting was rudimentary at best, not to mention the shapes were like something you found in late ‘90s video games with sharp edges and unintelligent distribution of polygons, but the fact that it wasn’t something you see everyday in AMVs meant the reviews showed praise for it, and I certainly felt proud of it.
Though I did dabble in the standard AMV many more times since then, my interest in conceptually and technically new or niche styled videos has grown more and more. Echoes of Sanity and to a lesser extent Reaction were examples of these. Echoes of Sanity was random at best, from the source that it used, to the concept, all the way to the ever altering Winamp-visualisation-like editing. If I were asked to nominate just one of my videos to be shown at a museum, this would be it as though it may seem to have some semblance of a plot/direction, at the end of the day each person who has seen it will have a different interpretation of it. Reaction was a test of how technical I can make a video, specifically this was the first time I got into masking. These days, masking is a very prevalent concept, with frame by frame editing becoming something of a badge of honour for those engrossed in the hobby to claim. Once more, this was a way out of the linear editing style and to create something that wasn’t previously there. This is something which is at the core of AMV creation; originality. It’s hard sometimes to associate originality with this art because it’s part of the remix culture phenomenon where the products are derivatives of someone else’s creation. But when asked why an AMV creator made his or her video, their first answer would almost invariably be “because I want to see something I haven’t seen before”.
What followed next is another stretch of drama videos with an ever growing emphasis on high quality footage. With ever growing screen sizes, if your video was not at least in native NTSC resolution, you’re beginning to penalise yourself and the encoding technology was also always improving. To that point, Cherished Memories and M Drive 1.0 broke me into another world that YouTubers will probably never see, and that is Region 2 DVD sources. R2 DVDs themselves don’t mean anything, but it’s the fact that they are as close as you can get to the actual television or cinema release of the anime in Japan that makes this very alluring. It’s basically trying to reach perfection to the Nth degree, which is to say putting a lot of effort to achieve something that people won’t actually notice offhand. In essence, my thinking is, if I could entertain fellow editors, those that would pick out that I used an R2 source, then everything else should fall into place.
The last of these drama pieces was Only Human, which is the only video right now which is planned for a remake, despite it not being all that old. Myself and those who have watched it believe that this video has not reached its full potential. It’s interesting to note that usually, when I’m done with a video, that’s that. I never keep project files for long and once I’ve created some lossless backups, everything else is deleted primarily because as many people might be prone to do, I have the tendency to keep wanting to tweak some things. Sort of similar to this, Anime Academy Heroes – The Second Raid is a sequel to the original and though arrogant it may sound, this may be how hacks like George Lucas think when reviving their old epics in that they’ve already created things which will forever be regarded by people as some of the best, but now all they have left is to best themselves and the only way to do that is show the same thing but aim a little higher. Maybe they’ve just become too good at what they do, essentially.
That’s where AMVs have been for me at this stage. How about you? Why don't you write some overly long account of the hobby you got into. Maybe I'll even read it, but only if you sound pretentious enough.