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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 with lots of disk space. I recommend that you have a PC running Windows XP or later. You can you definitely make AMVs on a Mac or on Linux as well, 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. Also, 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. We will be using lossless video codecs, which use 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 just 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. 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. Unfortunately, because of the severe limitations imposed by WMM, this guide honestly wont be of much help to WMM users. If you become even remotely serious about creating AMVs, you will definately want a better NLE. A good step up from WMM is Sony Vegas Movie Studio. This editor is fairly cheap, and offers a lot of functionality. There are a ton of other NLEs out there that you could try, but Vegas seems to be the most popular one these days. 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.

How to use this guide

In order to use this guide effectively, you must be willing to read it all the way through and follow directions in their entirity. 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. Seriously--I rarely spend more than a few minutes preparing my footage.

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. 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!

September 2010