Disclaimer: These interviews are not associated with A-M-V.org or its administration. The Lip Flapper does not condone the use of avisynth as a viable tax program. There are really awesome people that do that sort of stuff for you.
Welcome to the Lip Flapper! Each week, we delve deep into the community and get a look into both individual members as well as group discussions on various issues that surround our hobby.
This Week in "The Lip Flapper"
Comic courtesy of Summer, AKA GuntherAMVs.
l33tmeatwad is known widely for being an editor that works with avisynth to edit with, and is known wide for the effective use of text in his amvs. You may know his previous works with Shinji Does Not Mean Business, What The Hell, Requiem of the Endless Eight, and Lum's New Love Song.
Q: Thanks for joining me today! Care to take a moment to introduce yourself and let us know a little bit about yourself?
Well, I was born and raised in southern Virginia (go Hokies!), I have a college degree focused on graphic design, and enjoy watching anime and making AMVs. I'm a bit of a tech geek and enjoy buying new devices to mess around with or tweak for fun. Sadly, I usually don't end up using them for what they were designed to do, haha... Aside from that, my life is pretty normal and there isn't much more to say.
Q: Well thanks again for joining me today l33tmeatwad (l33t). Let's start off with the typical question and ask how you got started in AMVs?
Well, I suppose I'll start with my first video. Back in 2005 a friend of mine showed me a few AMVs and mentioned that he was going to Katsucon. After seeing a few I thought of a funny idea, made it that afternoon and sent it in. I never really looked up or watched AMVs on my own, so once that was done I really didn't think twice about AMVs until I saw one that someone shared with me in the fall of 2009. Seeing that video reminded me of my previous AMV and so I decided I would try and make another one. I actually wanted to make upbeat AMVs, but I got sidetracked with a comedy idea, and things just continued from there.
Q: You seem to edit a wide variety of videos. Where does your inspiration come from, and what gets the "AMV Train" off the station?
When it comes to concepts for AMVs, I sometimes get in a certain mood where every time I hear a song I try to think of an anime that would best fit that song. I tend to joke a lot so funny ideas come out more often than other types of concepts. Once I have a list of potential videos, I tend to pick out one that either bugs me until I make it, or one that I think people will enjoy watching the most. For me, AMV making is all about sharing things you love with others, so I like to focus on making AMVs that I think others will enjoy.
Q: So walk us through your editing process. How you get started, how you edit and finishing up/publishing.
Once I decided on a certain concept, I simply just rip the VOBs and get started. Being that I work in AviSynth for my rough cuts, I don't need to spend time converting and I simply work directly from the VOB files. With Blu-ray I will usually convert to a lower resolution video to work with, then swap out the footage for the output. After I complete the rough cut, if I am doing effects in the video, I will dump out certain clips/segments and add the effects with After Effects. Depending on the effects that I use, I will clean up the footage before the After Effects step, although if I am working directly in AviSynth for everything the cleanup is handled in post-production.
Q: Any videos coming up that we should be excited about seeing from you?
I feel like my Otakon entry from this year is on par with that of “Shinji does (Not) Mean Business” that I submitted last year. I won’t share anything about it right now, but I will say that I haven’t laughed that hard while editing since the video mentioned above.
Q: I'm going to get the elephant out of the room. You have edited entire videos in avisynth, correct? Considering that there are much easier ways to edit videos, what is it about this method that made you want to use it? At the same time, what are the benefits/constraints of editing in such a way?
I used to study and learn a lot about encoding, so I was very familiar with AviSynth when I got into editing AMVs. When I decided to make a quick video back at the end of 2009, I started using Avisynth’s trim function and thought it would make a good way to record where the clips came from for future reference. In the process of doing this I decided it might be easier just to output all the clips together, and if any transitions were needed I could make longer clip to lay over the segment in proper editing software. What ended up happening was I creating the entire video inside of AviSynth, and since it was a basic comedy video, I really didn't feel the need to do many additional effects and transitions once the video was completed. The more I worked with AviSynth, the more comfortable I got with it, and from there I tried learning what could be done before exporting a video to be tweaked in other editing software.
Last year I decided it might be fun to try and edit an entire video only using free software, and the result was my video "Clubbin' with Lupin" which was created entirely with AviSynth, VirtualDub, Advance SubStation Alpha, and little bit of help on the side from GIMP. Since then I've created "Requiem of the Endless Eight" and "Lum's New Love Song" using AviSynth almost exclusively for the majority of those projects. I still continue to do all my rough cuts in AviSynth, but I'm working After Effects and other Adobe software into the mix as well.
When it comes to advantages of using AviSynth to edit, it saves you a step of cleaning up multiple episodes to work with and/or converting clips before trying them out. It is very easy to toss together a rough cut and see if the clips flow well together when working directly in AviSynth. I also find it easier to time things such as lip-sync by selecting frames manually and piecing them together. It is also makes it easy to bait and switch video sources at different resolutions when using AviSnyth, but your framerate will have to remain consistent since you are restricted to trimming by frame numbers instead of timecodes. Another advantage I have found is the complete frame accuracy when handling the video in AviSynth. I've had some issues with After Effects reading footage as 23.98fps when the clip is clearly 23.976, which in some instances can completely throw off the effects key frames during the rendering process.
Obviously there are some disadvantages to use it as well, mainly the lack of features and the inability to do some effects easily. Doing things such as masking is technically possible with the aid of photo editing software, but is completely ridiculous to execute for a video. Running out of memory is also an issue since most of the good filters are exclusive to 32-bit AviSynth and the more you stack in the script the more memory is needed. Another issue with using AviSynth to edit is keeping up with the frame count and editing linearly. If you put in buffer space to edit something later in the song, you have to pay close attention to the total frame count to make sure you don't throw off the sync when changing something at the beginning of the video. There is also the issue of code errors nested in the script somewhere, so much like programing you may have to hunt for a scripting issue to resolve before proceeding, which cuts into editing time. To counter this I work directly off of dropbox with my scripts so I can restore previous versions of the script if needed.
Overall I find AviSynth to be one of the most powerful tools for handling video. While you may not use it for editing an entire video, using it to swap out one scene in a completed render so that you don't have to re-render the entire video to fix one small mistake can save you hours of render time. I definitely think that all editors should be more familiar with this software to save them both time and effort when it comes to handling videos in any step of the AMV process.
Q: You're in Pixel Blended Studios! Care to give us a little insight into the studio and what the members work/strive for?
PixelBlended Studios was started by snapxynith and myself in Februrary of 2011. We became acquainted with one another through a mutual friend and immediately started talking to each other about AMVs and giving each other feedback and encouragement. We started the studio with the idea to have a group of editors who are on the same level of skill that could work together to help each other improve and hopefully expand their area of expertise by working together. When finding new members I looked for those along the same level of skill who worked with different kinds of videos, typically creating videos in categories I am not skilled in and often do not make videos for. The goal when starting was not to have some set of rules, or mandatory MEPs and so forth, but to learn and grow together as editors. I actually spend a lot of time on Skype with other editors larger than just my studio doing exactly what I designed the studio for.
Q: Your videos have a consistent feature that I personally love, which is the use of fonts in an effective/unique/entertaining manner. Care to share with us your ancient art of font workings?
Some of this stems back to my college degree that was focused on print graphic design. Understanding how type functions, especially for print, will go a long way in understanding how it could also be implemented as an element in a video. Text is art to work with, and needs to be treated accordingly. Most people try to pick a font they think is cool or awesome and just throw it into the video, but the key is to match the style of the original artwork with a font that compliments it. It's possible to pick the font and work the video around it, but then you need to pick an art style that will complement the font. One thing to keep in mind when working with fonts is, if you don't know what you are doing then the more basic font you choose the better off you will be. When I say basic I don't mean "Times New Roman," because that font itself is actually rather stylish. Going with basic bold fonts like Impact can give you more benefit then picking a font that SCREAMS "LOOK AT ME, AREN'T I SO COOL!" Remembering the focus of the video isn't the text is one of the most important things to keep in mind. The main goal of using text should be to create a fusion of the video content and the text so they feel as if they belong together.
Q: Something I've noticed is that you seem to enter into a LOT of contests throughout the country. What's your motivation in entering these contests, and is it something that you'd recommend that editors do at some point in their life?
Having grown up playing a lot of sports, competition has always been something I have enjoyed, so naturally that is one of the things that attracts me to AMV contests. When it comes to contest, my main focus is usually on the larger convention contests, however some of the smaller convention contests with good coordinators tend to attract solid editors, so those usually get my attention as well. When I first started entering contests I wanted to avoid being a contest troll so I mainly focused on sending to larger conventions, conventions I had been to before, and conventions that I planned to attend. After seeing thread after thread from small conventions begging for videos because of the lack of entries, I came to the realization that if everyone only focused on the larger conventions to send videos to, the smaller convention contests wouldn't have enough quality videos to entertain their crowds (Having been to a very bad AMV contest showing before, I know I wouldn't wish that on anyone). Since my main focus is to make videos for others to enjoy, I decided that I would send videos to multiple conventions while still allowing the video to premiere at the contest in which I intended to send the video to. My goal isn't to win at all the conventions I send to and troll for prizes, what I really want to help the smaller contests have a larger selection of videos to pick from in which they can entertain the crowd. While the larger contests may seem like they would be more important places to win at, I am honored to win at any convention no matter what the size of it is.
Q: Well, that's all for this week! Care to give any final words to the AMV audience? Advice, commands, adoration or just general stuff?
My main advice is to study up on the technical side of AMV creation. While it may be painful to learn at first, your videos will greatly benefit from it and you will be able to look back on past videos with more favor. Another thing that is important for everyone to keep in mind is that learning how to take feedback is the best way in which you can improve as an editor. There are a lot of editors that put in a lot of hard work but then fail to listen and take feedback seriously, which hinders them from improving. As for those that might get discouraged by not doing well in contests, don't give up and keep making videos that you enjoy and want to share with others! Just remember, even if you don't win or don't even make finals, at the end of the day if people enjoy your video you've still accomplished something great.
Next week on "The Lip Flapper"
This Friday (on the main thread only) we introduce a new segment that will be added to the end of future interviews. It's known only as "Tea With: A quack, two ladies, a chibi, an angry cat and the sun god." It's... Unique?
Next week, we talk with MiMs, a member of the French community.