Synchronization, or synch, is the idea that in a music video the audio and video should be connected. Synchronization is typically viewed as the most important technical aspect of a video, the medium through with everything else can be conveyed. It is the connection between music and video. Without synch, you have anime, and you have music, but no real connection between them. Synch can be subdivided into musical, lyrical, and mood synch.


    AKA Beat synch. Musical synchronization is the simplest, conceptually speaking. This is the idea that cuts, fades, effects, or just events in the video are timed to match the audio. While sometimes simple to execute, this can get very complicated very rapidly. Many songs will have more than one musical line going at a time, and sounds of varying volume and tone. As an editor, you have to pick what you think is important, and synch to that. Sometimes the music itself presents a clear lead line to work with, but this is frequently not the case. What you show, how strongly you show it, and how you show it are all choices to be made.

For example, A strong guitar riff might be matched with a hard cut, or a snare drum hit with a lens flare. A bass drum hit might be paired with an explosion, particularly if there are a series of bass drum hits in an action video. Long, slow, lilting musical passages may be coupled with equally long and slow crossfades. This can be layered, with certain characters, visual effects, or types effects bound to specific sounds. Perhaps a series of explosions timed to a particularly hard set of guitar riffs.

    Most videos make use of beat synch heavily. To ignore the music itself is generally considered extremely bad form, although there are exceptions. Without extremely good reason, such as comedy, the video ending, etc., missing a significant change in the music is considered a major slip-up on the part of the editor.

Example of Musical Synch: Jasper-Isis and krzT321's "Absolution"


    AKA Literal synch. In short, you match what is being said to what you show. Lyric interpretation need not be literal, however. Symbolism and other less literal representations are not unknown. The connection between what is said and what is shown may be readily obvious, heavily symbolic, or nearly anywhere in between. One type that deserves special mention is the comedic association: an association made specifically to make fun of something or someone, or something absolutely ridiculous. The associations should be ones that the viewer can understand, though. If the associations are so strange or symbolic that the viewer can't understand them, then the editor has likely slipped up. Unless they're trying to make an incomprehensible video, which is also not unknown.

    A second type that deserves special mention is lip-synch. This is where a character (or characters) mouth movements are matched to the lyrics such that the character (or characters) appear to be singing or speaking. It is considered good form to lip synch entire lines at a time, with partial lip synch being somewhat looked down upon.

Example of Lip Synch: istiv's "Shounen Bushido"

    Most non-instrumentals make heavy use of lyrical synch. In fact, the common vein of thought is that ignoring the lyrics makes for a nonsensical video.1 Since the lyrics tend to be the focus of any song where they are comprehensible (songs with completely incomprehensible lyrics can probably be considered instrumentals for all practical purposes), they tend to be the chief route for the viewer to take to understand the video. When you take the lyrics from most songs, the music does not usually convey the story or meaning anywhere near as clearly.

Example of Lyrical Synch: Scintilla's "The NERV Evening News with Dan Rather"


    AKA Conceptual synch. This is more difficult to explain, in part because it is a lesser explored area. The idea here is not to synch to the music or lyrics directly, but rather to the emotions and mood evoked by the music. This is most commonly seen during an instrumental section of a video, where the cuts are timed musically and the scenes thematically.

Example of Mood Synch: pen-pen2002's “Requiem for a Nightmare”

[1]: Kai Stromler adds: Note that this is in explicit contradiction to the prevailing view among directors of band-official music videos which do not rely heavily on performance footage. In this context, it is usual for the video to develop more or less independently of the lyrics; however, this concept has not transferred successfully to the AMV realm. Viewers of AMVs expect something different from a music video than general audiences do; given the anime context, the creator is somewhat expected to tie the finished video back to the source anime in some manner. If this is not done by conceptually following the plotting of the original, it is usually done by literally portraying the lyrics with the visuals.

Back to Table of Contents