Disclaimer: These interviews are not associated with A-M-V.org or its administration. New Lip Flapper is New.
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, we're with Otohiko, long time member, site moderator, college instructor and naturally an AMV Editor who's made some interesting things.
Q: Thanks for joining me today! Let's start things off and ask for some introductions. So let us know who you are, what you do and just a little bit about yourself in general!
Hi and thanks for having me! My name is George, better known to most of you as Otohiko. In the AMV world, I am an a-m-v.org moderator, occasional video editor, contest judge, member of CDVV studios, and (for the moment) the most active poster on the .org forums. In real life, I am a 28-year-old college teacher and language specialist, originally from Russia, but living and working in Canada. Teaching, counseling and fixing communication problems between people are my real passions in life. AMVs, meanwhile, are one item in a long list of nerdy hobbies and interests of mine which have nothing to do with my professional life or education, but eat up vast amounts of my time and energy (others include playing and modding hardcore simulation games, creative writing and drawing, and listening to an obscene amount of weird music while trying to learn guitar). I guess that’s just how I roll.
Q: Again, thanks for joining me today. So what got you involved in the world of AMVs, and a-m-v.org in general?
A: Long story! The short version of it is that in the early 2000s I was a huge fan of many things, anime and progressive rock music being among them (and I’m still a big fan of both); and what’s more, I was always big into visualizing music and stories in my head. Because anime was such a visual influence on me, I think I saw AMVs in my head before I ever saw them on a screen. The first “AMVs” that I was into were actually clips of anime openings that I would track down and watch obsessively on the pre-youtube, pre-broadband internet. But when I bumped into actual AMVs, they started making me angry because I would find a billion DBZ+Linkin Park videos, and precisely zero videos for progressive music artists that I considered important. I had a very pretentious attitude about “good art” etc. at the time, so that made me really angry, and one day I came on the .org forums proclaiming that I hated the AMV community for making so much crappy work while ignoring “great art” – and, I kid you not, I literally gave the AMV community a deadline of 3 days to impress me, or I swore that I would leave the forums and never bother again…
…well, here I am 9.5 years later, so you can probably guess what happened from there!
To be perfectly honest, the thing that really drew me in was the community. I discovered that people making AMVs were incredibly interesting and that there were some very smart and creative minds in this community specifically. Not to mention silly internet shenanigans, which later turned into even sillier real-life shenanigans. AMVs made me come to the .org, but it was the forums (and later the IRC, and later cons and other real-life AMVer gatherings) that made me stay. I may be interested in AMVs and editing, but the community that surrounds AMVs is what I am really passionate about.
Q: From the green of your name, many here know you as a moderator for the a-m-v.org forums. Care to let us know your favorite thing about the job? The least favorite? The one thing you’d LOVE to tell people that might make your job easier?
A: Haha, well, to be honest my own job as moderator isn’t incredibly important – I have far less of a role than many other members of the site administration (most of whom work a lot harder than I do), mostly because I’m so over-committed elsewhere.
95% of what I do here is basically janitorial work on the forums: banning spambots (which regular members will almost never even see and that makes us moderators proud!), renaming threads, moving posts, replying to requests for site help from newbies, etc. etc. This might sound like a lot of work, but it’s not. It’s just a regular chore that works into my .org-browsing routine pretty easily.
4% of my work is essentially as community mediator. This means that I talk to members and to other moderators when problems, disagreements and misunderstandings pop up in the community. Not every problem can be solved with an insta-ban, and sometimes shutting down a thread and pretending it didn’t happen is the worst thing a moderator can do. I’m very conscious of that, and I basically try to set myself up as the .org’s “social mod” and go-to guy when it comes to community/member issues. Being able to deal with problems, trolls and forum drama considerately isn’t always possible, but when I manage to help with that, it’s definitely my favourite part of this job.
Then about 1% of what I do is things to do with the video catalogue, the site’s database, administration meetings and site policy decisions. Since I have very little technical knowledge about designing websites and maintaining databases, and not much in the way of management, legal or event-organizing know-how, I usually have little involvement in this. So I guess these things are sort of my least favourite by default – but I’m glad to say that these are usually in the hands of people more capable and competent than I.
As for what I’d LOVE to tell people to make my job easier – well, to be 100% honest, my job isn’t very hard to begin with! The biggest recurring source of headache is newbies who don’t know the forum rules or etiquette when they post something – so I guess being quick and helpful in telling newbies what they’re doing wrong is something that can really help moderators. The other thing is for people to be generally mindful of the forum’s purpose. Look, I know some people want to just have fun with spam, pranks and randomness, but the .org is primarily a website dedicated to creating a welcoming, supportive and inclusive environment for everything to do with AMVs. The forums have to serve this goal. You always have to assume that a new member or lurker might wander into the forums, and if all they see are video announcement threads and supposedly-serious discussions that look like some of 4chan’s less-reputable boards… well, that’s not really a good way to be welcoming and inclusive, is it? I’m all in favour of fun, but remember that the forum serves a social purpose beyond being the regular members’ playground. If you keep that in mind, you’re making things easier for everyone here. Being reasonable about forum rules is a two-way street.
Q: Another frequent job you seem to have around these parts is acting as a judge for online AMV contests, and are often requested for. What is the makings of a fair/balanced judge in the world of AMVs, and how does one go about critiquing works for contests?
Well, to be perfectly honest, I don’t find judging videos for contests very difficult either. One thing that really helps me is my training and experience as a teacher. Judging videos is a lot like grading student papers, if you think about it. What’s even more important, though, is the fact that I enjoy watching a lot of AMVs. Thanks largely to my involvement with contests, I’ve lost count of how many AMVs I watch in a year – it’s definitely well over 1000, and I’m not even close to tired of them. I think before anything else, a good contest judge has to love watching AMVs – if they don’t, there’s no way they can be fair and balanced. I know this sounds silly, but you’d be surprised how often some contests – even serious ones – involve people on the panel who hate most of what they see. That always makes me sad. Cynicism, jadedness, extreme bias, incompetence or elitism – those things seriously help nobody.
I fell into this role kind of accidentally, and the late godix is at least partially responsible for this, because he invited me to judge several Iron Chef-type things and JCAs a few years ago, and we had a lot of conversations about judging AMVs and establishing criteria, which I really enjoyed. Godix, despite his public trolling persona, was one of the best, most thoughtful, constructive and compassionate AMV critics ever, and I learned a lot from my discussions with him about what makes good videos and good criteria for judging them. My personal judging style is nothing like godix’s, but I think our view of criteria is basically the same. Criteria are not gold standards. Criteria are an organizational heuristic that allows you to take a video, consider your response to it, then split up your response into different categories, give a subjective mark on each, then put it back together and see what else might be missing. If the judging criteria are balanced and well thought out – that is, if the contest judges are asked to look at both the creative and technical, the good and the bad, the idea and the execution – in a way that makes sense and is easy to follow, then there is no problem.
The biggest point on fair and balanced judging for contests is that you need to immediately let go of “standards” and “levels” of editing. At the risk of sounding arrogant, I think those ideas are the product of an immature, elitist, poorly-elaborated creative philosophy that some people in the community hold. It should never be the job of a judge to enforce standards. As soon as you stop judging videos by a gold standard, your job suddenly becomes easier – and all the more because in any contest, you aren’t judging videos against every video ever, but against a (usually) small group of other videos. Then criteria become your biggest helpers – you can look how well videos do at individual little things, then see which of the videos did better at more things than others, or did so mind-blowingly well at one thing that they deserve special credit for it.
I already said this, but again: I don’t think a judge can be completely objective when it comes to anything creative. That’s literally impossible, and if you try, all you come back to are boring technical criteria (that you can measure) and non-existent creative “gold standards”. And you know what, there is nothing wrong about being subjective, as long as you are aware of it, and as long as you keep yourself in check, firstly through clear judging criteria, and secondly through always trying to put yourself in the shoes of other possible viewers – well, there is really no problem. One of the best people to work with on AMV showings and contests is Vlad – precisely because he has his own ideas about what makes “good videos”, but he’s also keenly aware of what general AMV audiences – people who aren’t necessarily editors themselves, but are anime fans first and foremost - like to see. And he knows that those are two different things. He’s great at striking a balance between showing videos that he likes, and videos that he doesn’t really like but understands the audience appeal of.
So, clear criteria, understanding of the context, trust towards your own intuitions, and the ability to put yourself in other people’s shoes – those things all make judging contests a lot easier, more fair and more enjoyable. I’m very happy that these are the things that have got me through a lot of contests now, and look forward to many more.
Q: Sticking with the forums for a bit, you’ve been here for a number of years. What’s the forum like today as compared to when you first began, and what do you think of the community in general?
The first 6 months that I was on the forums (May-December 2003), they were extremely different from how they’ve been ever since. There was a very large and very active set of “Off Topic” boards at the bottom of the forum, and it attracted quite a crowd. There were a lot of forum regulars who only had very marginal (if any) interest in AMVs, but were a big part of the community. For some reason, I feel like those forums attracted some real… characters. People with a lot of creative wit as posters, people who posted under the guise of a fictional persona, or just people who seemed to have mental issues or something. The old OT forums were a weird, chaotic, but also a very interesting and very active place to be and I miss them. When the .org administration made the (IMHO, very poor) choice to just shut down the Off Topic forums, the .org community lost a lot of these characters for good. Yes, there were a lot of issues that needed to be dealt with to make the forums more manageable and representative of the AMV community, but the way these problems were dealt with (i.e. nuking them) hurt the community more than anything. But I guess that’s water under the bridge, something that’s a whole 9 years in the past now. That’s like 2.3 billion in internet years, right?
That said, unlike some people, I really don’t think the AMV community died, and every time that I’d become disappointed and bored here, I would always end up finding (or getting found by) people who would pull me right back in. It never failed. I must’ve made what I thought was might be my “last AMV” at least five times now, and every time someone would get me excited about participating more in this community again.
Although I used to be a skeptic when it came to finding real friends online, the AMV community changed a lot of my views. I’ve been part of the AMV community for the last 9.5 years, but it’s the last 4 years or so that have affected my social life most drastically. I’ve made a lot of close personal friends and have spent a lot of time hanging out (in real life) with people from this community, and I have to say that they’re officially the best, coolest, and most interesting people that I’ve ever met. AMVers are, by and large, incredibly social and creative people with whom I usually have a lot more in common than interest in cutting up anime and music (but, of course, whenever there’s an awkward silence, you can always be like “So… how ‘bout those AMVs?”). Forums and videos and all that are great, but there’s real people behind these things, too, who are worth getting to know. That by itself is, for me, a good enough reason to care about this community for as long as it exists.
As for things today, well, I honestly don’t see why some people are so gloomy about it. The .org forums are not as active as they might be. There is a lot of work to do. But I’m also seeing increases in activity when it’s well-organized – Project Editor and The Quickening alone have attracted quite a crowd; I think the General Discussion forum is getting better by the day; and I think that we’re drawing in more and more new faces from the youtube AMVing community and from non-English AMVing communities. The .org needs to do a better job of supporting these people and catering to their needs, expectations, and social tendencies. I hope that re-designing the site will help with this in the long run. I’m also starting to see signs of what I might call a “new generation” of AMVers slowly taking hold on a-m-v.org. What I mean by that it’s my impression that the .org is no longer dominated by people who joined before the “great OT crash of 2003”, or around 2004-2008 (as most members of my studio CDVV for example). I have no problem with this, since there are a lot of recent regulars on the .org who I think are really good editors and cool people, and I hope that we – all of us here – do our best to keep them around the .org.
Q: From your posts in the General Discussion section and on your profile, you’re PhD student! What’s it like to move that far in the world of academia for those of us that might be interested in such a path? Have any interesting stories/experiences? The good? The bad?
Haha, well… I might not be the best person to ask, since actually my experience in academia has been sort of difficult over the last few years, and still often I wonder if this whole thing’s been worth it. I got into academia because I’ve always loved teaching. My degree is in English, but not literature or anything like that – I specialize in linguistics, writing studies and rhetoric – all of which I’m into because they are very directly related to my interest in helping people become more effective communicators, critical thinkers, problem-solvers. But to my surprise discovered that academia is actually something that’s very much about publications, politics and money – and while I’m a pretty good researcher, I have been very disillusioned by how universities today operate as money-and-reputation-making businesses, more interested in churning out massive numbers of student diplomas and academic articles, than making a real social difference. I still hope to find a place for myself eventually. Technically speaking, I’m not a student at all anymore – I will never again have to take any courses or do exams, so I’m a PhD candidate who “only” needs to write a dissertation to finish. That may take me a bit of time.
But well, let’s put it this way: grad studies ain’t easy. Even a Master’s degree requires a bit of a mental adjustment, and PhD is a whole world of its own. That said, if you’re a college graduate and ever find yourself thinking “maybe I should do a Masters…”, that means you should just go in and do it. The sooner, the better. It’s a bit of work, sure, but it’s something that anyone can do with effort, and usually pays off in terms of knowledge and credentials gained. It certainly varies from discipline to discipline, but what I’ve heard from grad students in the sciences, engineering, and even business has been very similar. A PhD, though, is something to think long and hard about. It is a massive commitment of time and energy, and you have to be ready for it to become the most important thing in your life for 4, 5, 6 or more years. You really need to be sure of what you’re getting into. I wasn’t, and that made things very difficult. The worst thing about it is the social isolation it can lead to – when you’re so immersed in something, especially when it doesn’t fit with what other students and professors are working on, you often become trapped in your own head. No matter how hard you try, your family and friends will not actually understand what the hell you’re doing, even if they’re extremely smart and sympathetic towards you. And you always risk either becoming jaded, or suddenly realizing that you actually know absolutely nothing, or just going a little crazy. I have to say that my friends from the AMV community have actually been a huge help in keeping me mostly sane over the years! Heck, it even says so in the acknowledgements to my Master’s thesis…
On the good side, the opportunity to teach – which I’ve had for the last 6 years as a grad student – has always been incredibly rewarding. It’s always weird to have students who aren’t that much younger calling you “professor”, but that moment when you realize “wait a second… I actually legitimately can be called that!” is kinda cool. “Trolling” my students with references they would recognize, especially internet memes, is always incredibly hilarious. And on the research side, I’ve also had some really awesome experiences – when, as a communications researcher, I actually helped create something that doctors and patients could make use of in a real clinic, I was very proud. Or when I went to an AI (that is, Artificial Intelligence) conference, and had top computer science experts from places like Microsoft and Google come up to talk to me about my work in studying language, and actually get what I’m doing and immediately recognize the practical value in it – man, that was also just really cool.
Lastly, if you want to know more about life as a PhD student, go read PhD Comics. They are the most truthful thing you will ever read about this subject. I’m not kidding. So hilariously true that I’ve actually cried reading them a few times!
Q: Back in the world of AMVs, what's your general strategy/process for editing AMVs?
The way I approach AMVs has always been simple and intuitive. It’s not like a formal philosophy or strategy or anything. Like I mentioned earlier, I’m a huge music listener, and I was into visualizing music long before I was into AMVs. Music, for me, is something that naturally goes along with films and stories – every time I hear a song, I get all sorts of visual stuff going on in my head. And because anime is such a big artistic influence on me, well… AMVs naturally come to mind. I figured, why not try to get them out and share them with other people? That’s where the problems start, though!
When I joined the .org, the very first post I made on the forums was asking how long editing actually took. You see, I’m a busy person. It might sound strange for someone who’s so into the community, but AMVs are really not my biggest hobby. In fact, they’re not even my 2nd or 3rd biggest hobby. What’s more, from very beginning I knew that I had no real interest in video editing technology, or in winning prizes for being the best at editing, or changing the world of AMVs or anything like that. All I wanted was to get the pictures out of my head when the right moment came. Mind you, I have a lot of respect for the truly ambitious and technical minds, and many of my AMVing friends are really knowledgeable and competitive people, and I think that’s cool. It’s just not for me. I do have the occasional “ooh, that’s really cool!” moment when I get some kind of technical problem solved, but 99% of the technical side of editing for me is boredom and drudgery. I could care less about getting that perfect AVS filter chain. I could care less about making the most epic roto-driven multi-source mashup. I could care less about having a million youtube views, or getting played at every con. I could care less about winning the Masters jacket or AKROSS or the VCAs. Like, seriously, those things mean almost nothing to me – again, I think it’s cool that other people have the energy and drive to go after these, and I’m glad not everyone is like me, or this community would be boring! (Un)fortunately, though, the pictures in my head won’t let me rest and nerd out over other things for too long.
I always have ideas for AMVs in my head. Always. The bigger problem is convincing myself that something is so good that it needs to be done now. Once that happens, I edit obsessively until it’s done. I’ve never spent more than 2 weeks on any editing project (except some MEP tracks), and usually my AMVs are done after 3-5 days of work. I know that if I don’t get a video done while I’m in the right mood for it, it’ll either not get done or become a big source of stress and distraction when I’d rather be doing other things – i.e., not fun anymore. At the same time, I’m not actually a lazy editor at all. Several of my projects took 50+ hours of editing; a couple were over 80 hours of work.
My ideas usually start with music. I will always “try on” a music track before committing to it – that is, I’ll play the song and play clips from the anime in the background just to see if the mood, atmosphere and key scenes seem right. Mood sync is always the most central thing in my videos. I always have an AMV mostly planned out in my head before I start putting down clips – that plan changes as the AMV is edited, but I never rush in blindly just to see what happens. I always edit linearly (that is, I start at the beginning of the song and work my way through the timeline to the end – and only then go back and start revising). Unlike some more creative editors, I’m always interested in the simplest and least noticeable way of finding the right match for what’s in my head. If a scene I need doesn’t exist, I’ll just find something else in the anime that seems to fit; I’ll never go crazy and try to roto or draw my own. That’s too much work – I’d rather get the AMV done sooner so I can see the whole thing playing on a screen, be happy, then move on to other things. I generally believe that anime footage is pretty and interesting enough in its own right to (usually) not need anything else on top of it, which is why I don’t typically use “effects”. At the same time, though, I often spend an obscene amount of time fine-tuning my footage – if you look at all my individual videos since about 2006-2007, there is a TON of color-correction, keyframed filters, motion, subtle grain, etc. etc. People don’t usually notice these, and I guess it’s supposed to be that way – most of them are there to make individual scenes stand out less, not more, in order to match the overall mood. I treat all of my AMVs as little films – which means they’re usually not about the anime source, or about the lyrics – they just borrow a little from both, but stay their own thing. Most of them are little action films, or little dramas, or little avant-garde absurdist films. Though I edit them linearly, most of them don’t actually tell linear stories. That may have to do with my influences in film – I don’t watch a lot of Hollywood movies and I don’t watch TV shows at all (which tend to be more flashy and tell linear stories), while I worship European art-house and old Soviet films (which are usually artsy and non-linear). I think it’s a cool way of working, dunno what other people think. I like internal sync and I like both big patterns and little sounds, which usually gives me lots to work with in terms of timing. I’ve never made a “normal” comedy or romance video, or a trailer, or a dance video. I think they might be cool to try, but they’re also kind of outside my current interests. I can see myself making any kind of video in the future – including really complicated technical stuff – if the right idea and right motivation hits me one day.
Otherwise, I just kind of go with my impulses and go with the flow. I don’t ask other people when I’m starting a video whether they think it’s a good idea, but I’ll always run my videos by at least 3 beta-testers before I release them. I hate the technical process of editing, but I love the creative side, and am always excited to get to the results so I can finally sit back and watch my own video. I only make videos every once in a while, but it seems like it always works out and I keep coming back. I don’t think it’s possible for me to ever actually get bored of AMVs – even if I’m completely inactive in editing for a year or more, I’ve been in this long enough to know that somewhere down the road, the right idea will hit me in the face and make me edit like crazy. I guess that’s all I can say about my editing process!
Q: As someone of many hobbies and activities, do you think that AMV experience can crossover into other creative realms?
As I mentioned, AMVs are far from my only hobby, and aren’t directly related to a lot of other things that I do in life, but it is kind of weird how things that I learned through AMVs indirectly end up influencing me. For example, I spend a lot of my time playing simulation games (stuff about submarines, tanks, airplanes – I’m a “pilot” for a “virtual airline” these days and a moderator on a major naval simulation forum, for example). That has nothing to do with anime or AMVs, but the creative remixing mindset that I got from AMVs has readily translated into how I approach games. Not only have I made videos with game footage, but I’ve been involved in a whole bunch of “modding” projects for several simulation games in the last few years. It’s something that shares that DIY, remix-culture approach that I first got into with AMVs. And my attitude towards game modding is much the same as AMVs – hate the technical side, love the results. That’s only reinforced my creative philosophy.
Even more surprisingly, while I’m not a professional video editor, I’ve actually ended up editing for money last year, when my boss at a job I had at the time needed someone to put together a software demo video for clients. I volunteered, and ended up making several hundred dollars off it, while making my boss and our clients very happy. Never know when AMVing skills might come in handy for!
Finally, I’m also a big fan of the idea that AMVers – creative people that they are – shouldn’t restrict their creativity to just AMVs. If that’s what you’re really into, though, cool! Keep making videos! Don’t retire! We need you! But I think many people we have here also have talents far beyond the scope of fanwork, and I think it’s really awesome if they take it to the next level. For example the recently-interviewed ZephyrStar is working on his own anime film, which I’m following with a lot of enthusiasm. Qwaqa has recently retired from AMVs to work on original animation (though let’s face it… his later videos were already most of the way there!) Castor Troy has thrown in the towel after finally winning his well-deserved con prizes (how’s that Asuka?) to concentrate on his web series. Beowulf has been sharpening up a film script for a couple of years now. And there’s many other examples.
Well, I myself have actually jumped that fence as well. One reason I haven’t released any videos lately is because for the last 3 months, I’ve been working on a Visual Novel – yeah, I’m talking about one of those anime-style interactive fiction games. It’s a conspiracy drama/slice of life/romance story set a few decades ago, about a group of young people involved in underground culture in the USSR (let the “Soviet Russia” jokes begin). Although the subject matter is probably a bit foreign for most people here, I’m actually writing it mostly for Western, English-speaking audiences who are familiar with VNs and anime. And I think it’s very relevant here and now. I mean, doesn’t “underground culture” remind you of a certain not-completely-legal community? Eh? It’s very intentionally meant to be a DIY, non-commercial sort of project and a way for me to see what I can really do. It’s already been a real creative stretch– in just a few weeks, I’ve written somewhere in the neighbourhood of 100,000 words’ worth of preliminary work, gone through thousands of pages of research, learned to draw and paint with a tablet (almost from scratch), and got a head start on learning Python. It’s nowhere close to a release (we’re probably talking at least a year before I can present anything publically), so I’ll quit the hyping here. But mark my words, you will be hearing more about it from me!
(oh, and if you’re an artist who for some reason wants to try their hand at drawing other people’s characters, let’s chat maybe? >__>)
Q: Your latest video (aptly named New Video), was an interesting take on the world of Haurhi Suzumiya utilizing infinite universes to show us a very unique concept. What brought about the idea for this video, and what made you want to create a serious/thoughtful Haurhi video?
Haha, well, I hate to ruin that impression, but the story behind this video is hopelessly simple. Back in March this year, I was looking forward to a new album by a favourite Russian music artist of mine. As preview for the album, this track was released – and when I listened to it, I was like “holy crap, was this guy watching Haruhi when he wrote this song?” Seriously. It is eerie how the song essentially matches the key themes and even visuals of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t seen the series, but the lyrics are line-for-line a description of the main theme behind Haruhi.
Otherwise, ignoring the song, I’ve always been a big fan of the series – and while I like the silly and nonsensical stuff in it, I think it’s an anime with a totally legitimate serious side to it, which is what really drew me in. I love the time-loop and psychological stuff. I love the more serious side to some of the characters. I love Disappearance (the movie), because it focuses on all of those things so well. It was only natural that I would make a video about that, and totally inevitable once the Most Eerily Fitting Song For The Serious Side Of Haruhi Suzumiya (tm) came along, as it did in my case.
All that said, it’s one of those videos that pretty much requires a viewer who is already a fan of the series and knows it well. For an .org release, it also has the unfortunate trait of being lyric-synched to a non-English song. So that’s okay if it wasn’t most people’s cup of tea. It was the first video that I made specifically for a Russian-speaking audience, and arguably the first video that I made for fans of a specific series rather than a general AMV audience. I also had the goal of making it to coincide with the release of the album which the song is on (and succeeded, beating the album release by 2 days). Didn’t expect much otherwise.
To my pleasant surprise, the video received an overwhelmingly good response, and taught me a lot about AMVs outside a-m-v.org. It got a great reception at amvnews.ru, and thanks to a gracious plug from Russia’s biggest Haruhi fansite, got an even bigger response on youtube. I still get comments on it daily, and it’s become the most popular video I’ve ever made. I think that’s awesome, and speaks volumes about all the tools available to AMVers today to get videos – even simple, non-English ones aimed at a pretty niche fandom – to a wide audience.
Q: An older video of yours that I also enjoyed was "Sheep go to Heaven", which was a more slapstick take on the misadventures of time travel. What brought about the creation of this video, and what made you want to edit in such a manner?
You know, I sort of remember how that video happened, but I still can’t quite figure out why. Maybe that’s a good thing.
Basically, back in 2007 when this movie (The Girl That Leapt Through Time) first became popular, there was a big influx of new videos for it – most of them really serious, dramatic and sad (mind you, a lot of them were also really good!) The only one that kind of broke that pattern was shaister’s The Peach Cobbler, which was a little different. But in all the videos to this movie, I would see all these silly comedic things cropping up, and I was like “hmm, something is not right – this movie can’t possibly be THAT serious!” And then I watched it and was totally right. It certainly has its dramatic message, but the vast majority of the movie, along with its main character, is really pretty silly. I like silly things. I like making trouble. I had an idea for a video.
Of course, I couldn’t just make a comedy video like a normal person. I don’t do comedy videos, but I certainly do “fun/other” videos. I’m a big fan of Russian and Eastern European rock and folk music in general, and at the time I was in “exploration mode” musically, checking out lots of artists. I had this idea of doing something that subtly ridiculed the main character of the movie. Like calling her a horse or something. Then on one compilation album, I came across this song by a well-known Moldovan folk-punk band, about sheep. Then the rest is history…
It was one of those rare videos that I had a lot of fun actually editing, technically speaking, because once I figured out how to do it, it all just started synching really well and pretty effortlessly. I would get these really silly moments of sync, and then just sit there giggling at how clever/evil/retarded I was to put that there – really satisfying feeling, as an editor. The only trick I needed to do it was to speed everything up. Every clip in that video is sped up individually to sync up internally, but the average speed of it is about 300%. With a song that fast, and content that silly, it actually was exactly what was required.
It’s a video I never took seriously, but it did surprisingly well. I guess I was onto something good. It won the grand prize at my local convention at the time, and got the “best timing” award at AWA Expo that year. So I’m pretty happy with it.
And oh, don’t ask me about that ending.
Q: Thank you so much for joining me today Otohiko! Let's end things off here. Any last minute comments/suggestions/advice for the AMV world?
A tl;dr summary for everyone:
-I’m Oto and I like the community
-moderating forums is not that hard
-judging contests is not that hard
-disregard “standards”, acquire ability to put yourself in other people’s shoes
-being a PhD student is hard
-editing as much or as little as you want is not that hard
-getting attention for even niche videos is not that hard
-not being serious about videos is not that hard
-going from AMVs to other creative endeavours is not that hard
-disregard practical concerns, acquire trust in creative impulses
-stop devil worship