Although I had become really interested in anime in 1996, it wasn't until I moved from Austin Texas to Plano Texas in 1998 that my fandom became creative rather than mere viewership. In March of 1998, I joined the channel #sailormoon on undernet. It went through a civil war of sorts, and half the people left. Several of the individuals who left set up #fanfics, a channel that I am still an active part in, and can be found on irc.sorcery.net, in case anyone is interested. Not long after I found the Fanfiction Mailing List, and the ffirc, #fanfic, on irc.nabiki.net. I can already hear people asking what this has to do with AMVs... two of the people who were regulars on the ffirc included Quu
. I believe Jingoro
also stopped in, and perhaps even Waldo
(though I am not entirely sure about that). I also got my first computer the previous october, it was a Sony VAIO 333mhz Celeron with 64MBs of RAMM and- most importantly- a TV capture card and a DVD-ROM drive. I also had Ulead Media Studio, which I immediately started playing around with. These experiments would eventually be turned into my first video, which was not released to the internet until 2001. I saw my first AMVs, all DBZ to Metal videos this year. I was not impressed. It did not inspire me to take my experiments further. I then moved to Frisco, TX. I also discovered Kimagure Orange Road. Nuff said.
One of my best friends at the time, Jason Thode, was an intern for the local television station. One day in mid-1999, he asked me if I would mind filling in for a job he had could not do because of some emergency. All I had to do was hold a camera on the City Council and start racking up the hourly rate. I said yes, and that changed my life forever. It was the launching of AMVs, but it was also what would become for me, a lifelong love of journalism, documentary, and politics. I make AMVs largely because of that experience, and because of the head of the station, Phil Rogers. Over the summer months I learned how to use cameras, tripods, SVHS decks, TelePrompTers, manual A/B roll devices, and an assortment of connectors, jacks, and cords. The bug was there. By the end of the summer, it seemed like my entire group was involved, and I wasn't the only one thinking of how we could have fun with this. The Powers That Be were also watching us.
We learned at the start of the school year that, in addition to being head of station, Phil would become the new Radio Television Film teacher in a new vocational experiment that would help high schoolers learn skills they could use immediately after graduating, or set a good footing for entrance into college. A good character of people, he immediately set us to work in a very democratic structure. The class was to consist of elected directors, positions created by the class, and nominations and elections were voted on by the class. Phil was more like a cabinet advisor than a teacher! To my shame, I only remember three of the positions, although there were as many as six or seven. Editor in Chief was held in 1999 by Clint Watson and in 2000 by Kent Gillenwater, I held the most political of the positions for both years, the School District Liaison. The others, I believe, were like any newsroom, so entertainment, sports, weather, etc... Each position had equal votes, although the Editor in Chief was considered discussion moderator and the First Among Equals. All positions were expected to come up with story ideas, put together a team from the non-director students, and produce the final product. My job specifically was to deal with the political aspects of making sure that what we produced didn't get censored, informing students of undesirable activity by the district, producing programs the district wanted produced, and, of course, budgetary and equipment requests. I was a two way road, informing students of what the district expected, and pressuring the school district to meet the requirements of the students. As you can well imagine, it prepared me well for both the intraoffice politics of the newsroom as well as politics in general.
The first year we didn't even have a classroom. The school was only half built, and although a broadcast room was to be built, they hadn't even finished the foundations for the new wing yet. So, instead, a full class of students, racks of decks, green screen, news desk, two NT based editors and a Play Trinity the size of a refrigerator (that's a massive editing computer, it's literally is the size of a refrigerator, the tower alone is a giant cube about the size of a small end table) were shoved into a MAINTENANCE CLOSET.
I continued writing fanfiction, watching DBZ AMVs, and generally being very weeaboo at this time. 1999 was my first Akon, and my first AWA. I saw my first AMV contests, and was rather more impressed with what I saw. I also got a newer computer for my birthday, and the files from the VAIO were transfered over. I continued to experiment. Especially now that I had access to the equipment at school... and I nice new software package: Adobe Premiere 5.
This is the year where it all really started coming together. I was involved in an award winning production called Shattered Dreams which ended up being recognized on Good Morning America, I had made it through to the final round of entrance interviews for the Naval Academy (although this was not to be), and I did several conventions that year. By the close of the school year, we still didn't have a classroom, the west wing of the building was still under construction. Writing and editing had become like breathing to me. In the summer, I started working for AMC Theatres, and was very interested in filmmaking and cinematography. I watched every movie I could. Clint and Kent also worked for the theatre. Although Kent did not last very long (and frankly did not need to), Clint and I would put in several years for the company, on and off. I last worked for AMC in late 2007, even though it was a second job I did mostly for fun.
After school began again, I started discussing AMVs, in the context of visual fanfiction, with the ffirc. This included ffirc regulars, like Quu and Phade. Phade eventually let everyone know he was working on a repository for AMVs. In the early days, of course, it was incredibly difficult to find AMVs, and often you didn't really know what you were downloading until you had it. Programs like napster, kazaa, morpheus, as well as personal sites, of course, were really all you could hope for. Most of the known circulating videos were DBZ to LimpBizkit, it seemed. Phade knew there had to be another way. Despite being a regular in #fanfics on sorcery, I was only an occasional visitor to the ffirc, usually during the sunday review sessions (which in form and content, really do resemble #amv-review sessions, only about fanfics instead of AMVs). So although the site was set up in and apparently started registering real members (instead of just Phade's dummy test accounts), I was not aware of this.
The experiment changed when RRomig
became part of the broadcast class when he transfered into Frisco High School. He took editing even more seriously than I did and really threw himself into it. Together we discovered a whole host of other videos, videos that really inspired us, videos that made me want to go back to the Utena vid I had been tooling around with since 1998. Editing really began in earnest. By the end of 2000, I was solidly hooked.
I was working on Utena (Story of a Girl)
alone, and collaborating with RRomig on Heero's a Mess
. I continued to write fanficition although not quite as much as I had, I was in a long distance relationship, and spent a lot of my time on alt.fan.sailor-moon and alt.fan.utena, where my girlfriend was a regular. I did watch the development of the org, but it didn't actually occur to me to register until rromig and I had finished our videos. On Friday, March 2, 2001 at 10:13 PM, I became the 615th account on the org. Many of the accounts are dummy test accounts, so I don't know what my "real" number is, but it's quite a bit lower, I guess.
I had a website at the now defunct wox.org, and so I placed both Heero's a Mess and Utena (Story of a Girl) up on that server and shared the links with the ffirc, alt.fan.sailor-moon, and alt.fan.utena. It did not take long for them to migrate the the file sharing programs mentioned earlier. I have met several people who tell me Utena (Story of a Girl) was the first AMV they ever saw, and for several more, it was their first Utena or non-DBZ video. Since MaisonOtaku's Utena video to Natalie Imbruglia's Torn had been my first non-DBZ video, this is something that really made me feel good. I still have people tell me this today.
Although I was pretty down to find out that I had not been accepted into the Naval Academy (some screw up with my ACT scores), I had been accepted to my back up school, Stephen F. Austin State University (yeah, I know, g'job, Kio, with making the final round of the USNA, I probably could have had a much better back up school... stupid teen confidence...) I worked over the summer at the movie theatre again, but my focus was pretty much on AMVs. In June, I put out Arima to Miyazawa
, which remains a personal favorite of mine. I think it pretty much sums up my view of and style of amv creation. It's a romance to a popular song of the time (I was the one to place Lifehouse in the catalogue), very simple, just fades and cuts. Focus was telling the story, showing how I viewed AMVs in the context of a narrative. It used SVHS source.
I went to ten conventions in 2001, becoming heavily involved in the AMV scene at each convention. I met several of the people who would become life long AMV friends at the conventions. Including MexicanJunior
, as well as people in other fandoms, especially at AWA.
Generally regarded as my best of the 2001 videos by others, my next video was Sakura's The Girl I've Been Telling You About
. It was my first attempt at using stock effects that came in premiere. It was also made on my brand new laptop, another sony vaio. This laptop would eventually get stolen. Sad days. I used a Dazzle 80 to capture footage to MPEG-1 and then Premiere 6.0 to edit with. It took me a few weeks to make. The stock effects looked cheesy then, but look even cheesier now. This is MexicanJunior's favorite video, and the dazzle 80 used to make it was given to him so he could make Service with a Smile
. Again, this was the first entry to use Blessed Union of Souls.
Self Induced Danger Zone
was my last video of 2001, and was frankly total crap. It seemed like a cute idea at the time, but really didn't work out that way.
I had entered college as a music major, and when 2002 started, I found out quickly I really didn't have room to do anything else but practice, play, rehearse, studio, theory, piano, piano, piano, dear God make it stop. I essentially burned myself out during the latter end of 2001 and most of 2002. I did go to a few cons which were near places I went to visit family at, but overall, most of 2002 was devoted to music education. I worked briefly for the school newspaper, but even that was sacrificed to the God of Music. By the end of 2002, I hated music. Two years had been too much for me. I had other interests, and music was killing them all.
I was still trying to edit, but in fits and starts that honestly produced a bunch of nothing. I met Carl Macek at Anime Mid Atlantic and began work on Minmay's A Bitch. The I broke my computer and that was the end of that for 2002.
Produced Minmay's a Bitch 1.0
, it was far too ambitious for my skills at the time. On May 9th, I joined the United States Navy as a midshipman and transfered to the University of Texas. This would, with the sole exception of showing Sakura's The Girl I've Been Telling You About and hosting a Beginner's Panel at Ushicon 1, see a hiatus stretching until mid 2005.
In 2003 I had planned Some Other Beginning's End
, my Kimagure Orange Road video, but it wasn't until 2005 when the DVDs came out that I was able to actually edit it. Of all of my videos, SOBE means the most to me. I wanted to tell the story of how the triangle ended, and although it is clear that few people understood the narrative behind the editing, I really didn't much care. The effects were present, but sedate, and tied strongly to Kyosuke's interest in photography, and his later job as a combat photographic journalist. After the pretty much nothingness of 2002, 2003, and 2004, even with attending cons, 2005 saw a resurgence of my interest in the community I had become a part of very early. That December, I resigned from the Navy over policy disagreements, and began work on my next project, Popularity, which sprung from my mind having to listen to the song Popular from Wicked everyday at my job, where it was included on a loop over, and over, and over. SOBE was supposed to have been in AWA Pro that year, but the file was somehow misplaced.
I worked very heavily on Popularity
over the holiday season, completing a large chunk of the work. I continued to peck at it during my last semester of college. I graduated with a degree in English, with an emphasis on Journalism/Public Relations.
I moved to Atlanta to work for in GA politics. However, working in politics during a campaign year meant that I could not continue working on Popularity during many of the summer months. I had no real regret, working for Greg Hecht provided everyone on the org with a lot of entertainment value, with FC even making a Greg Hecht AMV. When my candidate lost his primary, and before I had another job, I spent nearly every waking hour finishing it up. I would wake up, spend the "work day" searching for a job, spend the rest of my time editing Popularity, go to sleep, and do it again. I also worked on Iron Chef Idol 3
during this period. Despite how long I had been around, it was my first MEP. I also wrote the So You Want To Be An Anime Music Video Editor sticky, and began work on my Mac research.
I started work for the Democratic National Committee, which put me at ease, and allowed me to continue working on Popularity and attend AWA without worrying about where my next meal was coming from. Popularity was shown in Pro, SOBE was supposed to be in Expo, but someone lost the damn file again. There was no crowd reaction to Popularity, none. That disturbed me, and was largely a jolt that restarted the level of editing I hadn't seen since 2001. Like my videos or dislike my videos, but please, don't ignore them.
Politics is a harsh mistress. If I had to describe 2007 and what I learned from it, that would be it. By February 2007, with Congress safely in Democratic hands, and the presidential race far from anyone's minds, fundraising for the DNC pretty much dried up, and with it, my paychecks. Eventually I couldn't pay rent, I couldn't pay my car payments, I couldn't eat. I knew the cycle, my job would be lucrative again, but not until fall. Not until people started talking about the primaries. I couldn't stay in Atlanta, I didn't have the time or the money. I moved back home with my parents. After having lived alone since 2001, this hurt
. I went to work for Macy's in Frisco, but living with my parents was just too much to deal with. By mid-summer, I had gone insane. I moved in with my old friend RRomig and paid half the rent. Editing became pretty much my only refuge. I worked, I edited, I slept, I ate, I edited some more. This produced my second Iron Chef, The Ninja Has A Mastertape
, which played at SacAnime and made it to the finals in Connecticon that year. Amore et Da Capo
, my first instrumental video, followed not long after on 07-07-07. It was dedicated to my music mentors, even though I never finished my music education degree. What was to become my favorite AMV, and generally regarded as my best overall, Countdown
, was started July of 2007 when I borrowed RRomig's copy of Hoshi no Koe.
Eventually I asked for and supposedly received a transfer to a Macy's store in Atlanta. When I arrived I found out I was now in Atlanta, and the position I had? No, the Atlanta store had decided they didn't actually need me. I went back to work for the Democratic Party of Georgia and then the Democratic National Committee, but things still hadn't cranked up enough. There was just enough money to cover my rent and keep me in Atlanta, but there wasn't really enough to pay much of anything else.
I was offered my job back in Dallas, and was seriously considering taking it, when one of my coworkers mentioned she had just come back from teaching English in Korea. She had enjoyed it, and had made quite a bit of money there. I already had experience teaching, and I had a passion for the English language that seemed to be able to translate, so she said I should try it. I did my research and applied. I was accepted for a position in Ilsan, a rich suburb north of Seoul, and after wrangling over vacation days to be in compliance with Korean labour law, I began the visa process. I attended AWA, but did not have enough time previous to that with all that was going to actually make a Pro entry. I did have time to remaster Arima to Miyazawa. I was disappointed I had nothing for AWA, but had bigger things on my mind. The visa finally came through on November 29th, and by December 2nd, I stepped off a plane in Seoul.
From the get go I really didn't like Korea. I didn't speak the language, I didn't know anything about the customs, and the other foreigners in Korea did not seem to have a lot in common with me. All the research I did was wholly inadequate. I mostly spent December in my apartment working on Countdown.
On New Year's Day, I released Countdown. This was intentional, not only for the reference of the New Year's countdown itself, but also because Countdown represented for me a new productivity. It was a New Year's resolution. A resolution to do more. Do more with my editing, and do more with my life. I didn't like Korea, and I didn't like my job, and I didn't like how I was so alone. I knew I could not leave my job before my contract allowed, which was six months, and I also knew I didn't yet have enough experience to go back and teach in America. I needed to hold on until I could be reasonably certain if I left Korea, I would have another job. And that meant doing something, anything, to make the days go faster. For me, that meant becoming a lot more active in a community I was supposedly already an elder statesman for. Seemed odd to me, I hadn't done that much, but I embraced it as a means to keep me from going insane.
In February of 2008, I competed in another Iron Chef against MD, and produced Golden
, which was heavily inspired byC-Ko's "Fields of Gold." A classic amv that for the time period it was produced, it was absolutely amazing. I have a few Miyazaki films ripped to my hard drive in case inspiration strikes. Luckily, Nausicaa was one of those when MD challenged me to an Iron Chef. It was dedicated to the older editors I watched and learned from in the late 90s and early 2000s.
In March, I competed in another Iron Chef and produced Main de Dieu
, which is my third Utena video, and is just a fun little action video. Nothing special behind it, but it is a cute, as AquaSky calls it. I began work on several highly technical videos, including Lucky Charms (known affectionately by my betatesters as Lucky Shit) and Strawberries. I also continued work on Minmay's a Bitch 2.0, which had originally started in 2003, and been worked on every few months for years. This set the stage for techniques that would be used in Obamanation
. Private Papers
was also started during this time. It remains unreleased; I am not satisfied with its current "completed" state.
In April, I realised I was only a month from where I could legally break my contract with my Korean employer and leave. It was time to start looking for a job. The won was suffering badly, and flying back to the United States, even if I could get a job there, was not an option. It would take too much money. I could take another contract in Korea, hopefully a better one, but that would not solve the issues of isolation I felt. Yet perhaps there was an option, I hadn't considered in years, not since I had graduated from college: what about Japan? The money, I had heard, was about the same, the visa belonged to you not your employer, so you could not be locked into a contract like in Korea, I knew a lot about the culture, and I spoke the language conversationally already... I was sure I would be much happier in Japan, so I looked into the feasibility of moving. Unfortunately, It is always best to apply before April, since April is when the school year starts. I was offered two positions immediately that I had to turn down because the start date was long before I could leave Korea. I was very clear with several job offers that I had to remain in Korea until May 9th in order to be legally protected (as well as receive my last paycheck). This meant turning down more job offers, and being rejected for others. Rather than alarm me, this gave me confidence. I was not being turned down because of qualifications; I just could not get to Japan soon enough. Eventually, enough time passed that I did find a position that could deal with my time requirement. In fact, I found two. I took the job closest to Kyoto, and about a week later, arrived in Japan.
I now teach English on a block schedule, half of my days spent at Toei Junior High School, and the others at Oe Junior High School. I love my job, and my students rock. In some ways, my editing has dropped off in the second part of the year as opposed to the first half, this reflects how much I love Japan. I don't sit around the apartment very much anymore. I travel a lot. I take a lot of pictures. I go to all the events my students hold. I go in early, and I come home late. Indeed, although I have worked on Minmay's a Bitch 2.0 a lot since coming to Japan, and have also worked on Strawberries, Monday, and Boy at the Piano, how much I love my job and care about my students can be seen in my main project of 2008, Obamanation. The idea was germinated when I really just wanted to make something that my kids would find hilarious. They were all curious about the fact their AET makes "M@Ds" but it is hard for them to watch my character profiles and romance videos because they are too lyric dependent. Sure, there are political jokes and Editor references in Obamanation, but those are side things I added for the English speaking adults, be they other editors or my political contacts I have shared the video with. All I really wanted was for my kids to laugh at the German sputtering Hidamari characters and the dancing Obama.
I am currently remastering Tom the Fish's Top of the Rain, and plan to finish Boy at the Piano before the year is out. Expect Strawberries, Lucky Shit, Monday, and Minmay 2.0 to be worked on throughout the holiday season, but don't expect them to be finished.
It's been a wild 10 years.
2009 and Beyond
Do expect a lot more MEP participation, a lot more holiday shorts, a lot more Iron Chefs, a lot more con entries, and mostly, start expecting a lot more experimental stuff from me. I am really, really proud of the reactions that Obamanation received, positive and negative, and I see 2009 as a year of rebirth. A year that resembles 2001 more than any year in my history. A year where I edit in ways that only I can edit in, using resources only I have access to. A lot of people will hate it, and a lot of people will love it, and a lot of other people will wonder what the hell kind of crack I was smoking to produce it. I resolve to challenge myself and challenge the community. I plan to integrate a lot more live action footage, as an example. I live in Japan, and I really think that integrating what's around me with the animation that depicts what is around me will produce some amazing visuals. I am happy here, and Japan has me feeling the way I haven't felt in several years: that anything is possible.