Video Information


  • Member: gambitt
  • Title: The Otakon 2008 AMV Contest Intro
  • Premiered: 2008-08-08
  • Categories:
  • Song:
    • Electric Light Orchestra Twilight
  • Anime:
  • Participation:

    Vicbond007 first approached me to make an AMV contest opening video in 2005 for AnimeUSA. The finished product worked rather well but wasn't constructed well enough to be used in the following years and went on for a little too long without any real interesting parts to it other than the flashy graphics. He asked for another video a year later but I didn't have the time to provide the goods.

    Having friends in high places works incredibly well, especially when your friend becomes the new AMV coordinator at Otakon and asks you for another chance at making a captivating opening video to the AMV contest. Wow him, he says, and I get a free badge. Make him orgasm and I get a free room. I was given six months and 100% creative freedom. No restrictions on content, length or work habits, the only rules I had to follow were simple:

    1. Make a video that opens the Otakon AMV contest.
    2. Make it suitable for drop-in/drop-out items. In other words, make it easy to edit for next year's contest.
    3. Make it awesome.


    The idea
    My love of Daicon IV has been apparent for years. I have been a Gainax fanboy ever since I first identified as an otaku after watching Evangelion in 1999. I had been looking for the perfect opportunity to re-do or parody Daicon IV for YEARS and had actually attempted a version of this video for AWA 10. The idea wasn't there and the technology wasn't either for such an ambitious project, so I had to leave it alone. By the time Vic asked me to do the project I was more on the way out of doing AMVs entirely but took this project on because I knew if I could flesh out my idea more it would be the project of a lifetime.

    I had to use the original song, Electric Light Orchestra's "Twilight" because of a lot of reasons. For one, the lyrics were perfect for what I wanted to show. Not using it wouldn't have made it a great parody. Lastly, Daicon IV is made by a bunch of fans who wanted to make something amazing for their convention. I didn't see how my scenario was any different.

    The Concept
    My AMVs have tried to include a story no matter how flashy the effects. To attempt a story-based contest intro, however, you have to break apart what an editor goes through when they make an AMV. The verse part of this intro is just that. Music is incredibly visual if you think that way, and watching anime is why we're here. The lyrics of the song were a perfect fit for this idea. When the music and video escape through the window they merge to become an AMV and their smoke is the various tools from editing programs, tying in the idea that it's all about the process. When con time rolls around, however, the Baltimore Convention Center blows the roof off, clearing away the editing tools and beckoning the AMVs to enter it. Have I made your eyes glaze over?

    The Production
    This is another scenario where I've had to practice what I preach. I've been tutoring in computers for years and have always chided my students to practice an organized hard drive and workflow. For this intro, because it was meant to be used in future contests, it had to be organized perfectly so I could go back in a year later and just edit the easy bits out. While that was being accomplished, I was spending most of the time coming up with the look of the video. What do bars of music look like? What does film look like? What do AMVs look like and what happens when they all merge together? A little Illustrator and Photoshop here and there and the look of the film was done in two months.

    The After Effects portion, or the animating and fleshing out of the piece was the hardest amount of work but the most rewarding. There's so much particle work that it's hard to imagine what a final count would be. Not to mention the masking on some scenes, the color correction of the original Daicon footage (which is included because nothing is better animated than those few scenes), and the jumping back-and-forth from other particle programs. With help from Trapcode plugins Shine and Starglow the whole thing became practical.

    Some scenes had to be constructed entirely from bits and pieces. The one scene with the number of finalists included bits from Google Earth, google image search and text effects. The best part of the production was getting the Earth to move however I wanted it to. This is a combination of a brilliant screen-capturing program on the Mac called Snapz Pro X and Google Earth. To get the perfect zoom on the Earth it took a lot of patience and redo's. The smoothness of the zooming is because I was holding down the mouse button for ten minutes as Snapz Pro was capturing away at 10 frames a second to save from RAM skips. When popped into After Effects, given a little frame blending, it achieves that smooth look that works so well on a projected screen.

    I also practice a handy technique of rendering out to an image sequence. The rendering process of this video was indeed a nightmare. It had to be done over many times because of one or two things looking off in some way. The best thing about the image sequence rendering was being able to go back in, make changes, an then re-render only a couple frames rather than the whole project. If it weren't for that, this video would never have finished on time. The actual render time on my 17" MacBook Pro was 11 hours. The project files themselves, footage included, is 18 GB.

    Anyway, if you want to catch this video in its natural element, come to Otakon. The most important thing about this video is that it should encourage you to make the best AMV you can because that's what I set out to do and I feel I was able to accomplish that.

    Special Thanks:
    Vicbond007 for the incredible opportunity to work with and for Otakon.
    My family, my girlfriend and Mike and Meri for moral support.
    DWChang, Waldo, dji, Brakus, Ashyakun, dokidoki, AtomX, cyannas, scintilla and just about everyone else on my LJ for their contributions and moral support.
    The Creatives at the Apple Store in Freehold for beta testing this video and its production techniques.

Opinions (4)

  • Orig
  • Visual
  • Sound
  • Synch
  • Lip
  • Effects
  • Effort
  • Re-View
  • Overall
  • 9.75
  • 9.75
  • 9.75
  • 10.00
  • 10.00
  • 9.75
  • 9.75
  • 10.00