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Getting Started

So, you want to create an AMV? Well you've come to the right place, because this guide is going to show you everything that you need to know!

First of all, there are three things that you will need.

  1. A computer. Obviously. But let me flesh it out a bit further. I recommend that you have a PC running Windows XP (or windows 2000) or better. Can you make AMVs on a Mac, or on Linux? You sure can, but this guide focuses on Windows, so if you are using anything else, you won't be able to follow many parts of this guide. Lastly, it is recommended that you have a LOT of free disk space. 20GB MINIMUM, I would say. It's not a bad idea to purchase a 100GB or larger hard disk exclusively for editing. Digital video uses up a lot of space, very quickly. Fortunately, large hard disks are really cheap these days, and even laptops come with pretty large HDs.
  2. AMVapp. The AMVapp is a package of software we have put together that contains many of the programs and utilities mentioned in this guide. Much of this software is absolutely necessary. Of course, if you don't want to install the AMVapp for some reason, you can always try to find and download all of the individual software seperately, though it would just be much easier to get the AMVapp. It doesn't contain any sort of spyware or other nasty stuff, and we try to make it as non-annoying as possible. You can download it here.
  3. A video editing application. Also called an NLE (non-linear editor), this is the program that you will use to actually edit your video. There are a number of good NLEs available, though few are available free of charge. Probably the most widely-used NLE is Windows Movie Maker. This program comes free with Windows XP and Vista, so you probably already have it. Windows Movie Maker is okay if you are just starting out and are trying to see what editing is like, but it is a VERY limited piece of software and doesnt allow you to do much. If you become even remotely serious about creating AMVs, you will definately want a better NLE. A good step up from WMM is Magix. This editor is fairly cheap, and offers a lot of functionality. Better still are Adobe Premiere and Sony Vegas. These two NLEs are both rather expensive, though you can get a good deal on them through a student discount. There are a ton of other NLEs out there that you could try, but these seem to be the most commonly-used. For a list of others, check out this thread.

Once you have everything that you need, you might be wondering about how to actually go about making your AMV. Here are the general steps:

  1. Get the video footage and audio onto your computer. (Usually from DVDs and CDs)
  2. Prepare the video and audio for use in your editing application.
  3. Edit your video.
  4. Export and compress your video.

Now, of these four steps, step #3 is the creative process that everyone wants to get into right away. Steps #1, 2, and 4, however, involve a lot of technical things that can be difficult to learn and understand. I'm not going to lie to you--these steps are not fun. However, they are necessary if you want your video to look nice. The amount of work you put into these technical steps will directly influence the overall visual quality of your video. If you try to take shortcuts, your video may end up looking like crap.

The purpose of this guide is to help you with the technical aspects. You will not find instructions here on how to actually edit your video. For that, you need to read the manual that goes with your NLE. For the most part though, actually editing the video is a piece of cake. Creating a GOOD video, however, is something that takes practice and experience, as with any other art form.

How to use this guide

In order to use this guide effectively, you must be willing to read and follow directions. Many people complain that they don't feel like reading it all, or that it's too complicated. Well, tough! Digital video is complicated, and if you want to learn to do this correctly, you are going to have to make an effort. I do promise though, that its really not all that bad if you at least try! Also, while it can seem like there is a ton of information here, and a lot of the processes described might seem time-consuming at first, once you become familiar with the process and know what you are doing, it can all be very quick.

This guide is split into two main segments: a theory guide, and a practical guide. The theory guide explains the main concepts behind digital video that you need to know. This section of the guide is actually fairly short, but it can be difficult to understand at first. I highly recommend that you read the theory section before you begin creating your video. Even if you don't understand everything it's talking about, it will introduce you to a lot of important concepts and terminology.

The practical guide walks you through the things that you actually need to do. This part of the guide is (necessarily) quite long and complex, with many branching paths. I highly recommend that you follow it from the beginning, rather than trying to just read a single page or two when you get stuck. Much of what is being done later on in the guide is dependent on things that were done earlier in the guide, so if you skip around, you WILL get confused! If you stay on track and follow things correctly though, I don't think you will have much trouble. If something in the guide confuses you, you can always come and ask about it in the forum.

Hopefully, I haven't scared you away by now. If you are ready, let's head back to the index so you can get started!

Zarxrax - May 2009