Org user illninofan recently PM'd me a question that I figured I'd answer publicly in case anybody else was interested.
illninofan wrote:how do YOU go through the AMV making process?
My thought is it goes something like, Start off in vegas gathering clips, timing it to the song, adding effects there ---> over to photoshop and AE for the finishing touches.
In full disclosure, I should state for anybody that doesn't know me well, I don't really make AMVs anymore. Or rather, I haven't made one for 4+ years. That being said, I can still answer based on how I would make one today if I were so inclined. Unfortunately though, the answer is entirely dependent on the TYPE of video I plan on making. If I had an idea that seemed like the proper solution was to just choose clips that fit my story and straight cut them to the song, than that's what I would do. If your video doesn't require effects, why use them?
However, the question was what is MY process like, and in most cases, I more than likely WOULD take it into AE for certain things, or just make the entire video in AE. I just wanted to get that first answer in there to drive home the idea that no video should be beholden to any set of rules. Do what makes the video match the vision in your head as best as you can.
So I can point to a few examples where I've used AE to plus up certain things. First let's look at my collaboration with Liz, in .
(I tried to do a video embed of the Org preview version, but unfortunately the preview is actually gone for some reason. Server issues? If you'd like to watch a streaming version, go here)
Now, the vast majority of the video was done with just simple edits in Adobe Premiere. The text in the video was done in After Effects. Premiere (as does Vegas, I'm assuming) does have it's own built-in titling features, but I'm just far more familiar with AE's. So for the clips that needed text, I exported a lossless video of just those sections, imported them into AE, added what I needed to add, exported that out to lossless, then brought that back into Premiere. Now, back then we were using Premiere 6.5, so before Premiere Pro. If I were to do it now, I could just right-click the clip and open it up in After Effects using Dynamic Link. It would make an AE comp the same size, duration and frame rate of the clip I want to affect, I could do my work, save it, close AE, go back to Premiere and the effects would be applied without having to render out anything. Pretty damn cool feature (and a strong selling point for Premiere vs. Vegas, but that's a whole other discussion).
But, text is a fairly obvious effect. What about the more subtle things that you wouldn't really know were affected? Well in the same video at around 2:00, you'll see the sunset in the background. Now, this does exist in the footage, but I really wanted this moment in the video to feel extra dramatic. The "Hold on" text punches hard and I wanted the footage to feel even more vibrant than it already did. So, I added a Knoll Light Factory lens flare on top of the sun, and slowly ramped up the brightness, with a quick crescendo leading into the next shot. It's subtle and 99% of viewers wouldn't be able to tell you did anything to it, but that's kind of the point. It didn't matter to me that people saw it as a "ooo cool effect." What mattered to me is that people were moved by that scene. Obviously it's purely subjective whether it worked or not, but it's what I was going for.
Let's look at some other examples of "invisible" effects that plus up a video for the sake of dramatic effect and storytelling. This time in Liz's solo video, (again, preview version isn't working. Streaming version here). There are roughly a dozen affected shots throughout this video, but I'm going to touch on 3 specifically.
Leading up to 00:25, we see the male character (Chiaki, but, not important to get the story) react to hearing the female character (Nodame) playing piano. He goes up to the door of the room she's playing in, we see her through the window, then the opposite view, where he smiles. Now, watching the video, it all makes sense and it moves the story along. This sequence of events, while it does technically happen in the anime, is not visually shown the way it's shown here. We don't actually see Nodame through the window and we don't see Shinichi on the other side reacting. But it was important to the story of the AMV to see this happen. So, I composited these elements together myself. Not terribly difficult, but it makes a world of difference.
At 02:24 we get to the emotional climax of the song and story. The big heartfelt touching moment that is supposed to make you smile. We see Nodame dancing happily with the male character who has been shown to be very serious and kinda grumpy throughout. Finally it's bright, colorful and smiley. Well, unfortunately in the show, this doesn't happen. Nodame kind of forces herself onto Chiaki and he reacts with a face of dread, and the lighting is murky and disparaging. So, I took a single frame of this shot, completely replaced his face with a version that I painted in with him smiling with his eyes closed, and light the scene to reflect the happy nature we're trying to convey. Then I just masked out the face and tracked it onto his. All of a sudden the shot works.
Finally, at 03:28. The last shot of the video. Our characters are in a loving embrace, everything is beautiful and there's one final piano hit that just begged to have something move with it (not to mention, the name of the video is Sunset, and it felt only appropriate to end on an actual sunset). So showing a camera move up to the sky on that piano hit felt very good. One problem. It's 2 completely separate shots. In the show, the camera is locked off on the embrace, then it cuts to the sky. So, in AE, I combined the 2 shots together into one tall comp, put that into a normal sized comp, and animated the camera moving on my own. I also added a bit of color correction to happily tie it all together.
Now, please don't think that I'm trying to tell you that THIS is the only good way to use effects in your video. If you're making an AMV that really benefits from in your face, bad ass, motion graphic'y goodness, dude, go for it! But what I AM saying, is really THINK about what it is you're trying to get across. Many many people that want to learn AE (or VFX in general) get way too caught up in the "how?" and don't spend enough time considering the "why?"
So I hope that that answered your question. If you have any more, please please use this thread to ask away. And if anybody else has thoughts about this topic, please contribute.