- Member: CrackTheSky
- Title: ECS.01: Metropolis
- Premiered: 2017-10-04
- Gidge Lit
Over the last few years I've been deeply enamored with the work of Tatsuyuki Tanaka, a Japanese artist who has been involved in one way or another in several anime (Akira is the most famous, but the most reminiscient of his style would probably be the fourth short in Genius Party Beyond). I learned about him at all by coming across his art book, Cannabis Works at a con one year. I remember looking at it and thinking, "Oh MAN this is cool...but it's $40...I think I'll pass" and then regretting it for literally the entire next year until I went back to the same con and bought it immediately on entering the Dealer's Room. Just recently I picked up his sequel to that book, Cannabis Works 2, and have been absolutely in love with the worlds and environments he builds into his drawings.
I've also been deeply inspired by a couple key AMVs that get close to this same aesthetic -- namely Sega Sunset and 555-5555 by MetaCitizen. I love the dark, grungy futuristic urban underground that's on display in videos like these, along with the slow, deliberate pacing that complements them. Few editors make these kinds of AMVs.
Part of what makes these two videos so appealing to me is the music, if I'm being honest, but the editing style in them is also quite a bit different than what you're likely to see in your standard, modern AMV. It's slow, not synced in any obvious pattern, without much narrative and no conclusions to speak of. The approach is distinctly anti-mainstream, whether intentionally or not -- this is ironic to say given that both of these videos have racked up millions of views on YouTube. But the fact is that I simply don't see videos being made like this these days. The only editor who does would probably be Elcalavero, and then with significantly less recognition.
To be fair, a big part of this is probably that the choice of music that accompanies these kinds of videos -- dark, ambient techno -- is pretty niche already, so on that basis alone there's simply not a lot of volume for them. Techno can also be a really hard genre to edit to, in all its forms -- the relentless 4/4 beat often causes the editor to become overwhelmed, and feel like every sound has to be synced to. It takes a lot of restraint to let scenes carry on for more than a second or two in videos like these.
To that end, I was greatly inspired stylistically by several other videos as well; Artofeel's Oneness, chibidani's Miyazaki At Night, and exkcal's Spanish Sahara (among others) have acted as templates for me to follow for this video.
As a result, this video is very different from anything I've ever made before. This was intentional; besides wanting to emulate the style I've seen in a few niche videos like those I've listed, I also wanted to force myself out of a stylistic corner I feel I've edited myself into over the last few years. I think at this point, it's pretty simple to spot my videos in a lineup -- I've begun to get comfortable with a few key simple techniques and editing tricks that now permeate my work, and while I think the videos I've been releasing are good, they're all a bit...same-y, predictable. This video is an attempt to break out of the mold that I've set myself into, and it was definitely weird to edit. This is a bare-bones simple video. There is all of one barely-perceptable Ken Burns-style zoom that I introduced into one of the scenes, the rest are otherwise completely untouched except for speed changes and fades. This is my preference anyway, but I especially wanted to leave the source as undefiled as possible.
Metropolis is a good movie, but it's not as good as I was hoping -- part of that, though, might be because I've seen so many AMVs that use it that none of the big story points were real surprises to me, and so there wasn't the emotional impact it probably would have had otherwise. What struck me most, though, was how many scenes I saw in this movie that never made it to an AMV, or at least not one that I've seen. Every Metropolis video, pretty much, just re-tells the central story about the relationship between Kenichi and Tima. None of them show off the absolute beauty of the movie. I was seriously blown away by the settings, the detail, and the use of color throughout the movie -- it was almost unlike anything I've ever seen, and could go down as one of the most visually satisfying animes I've ever watched. It's not "pretty" in the same way as something like Makoto Shinkai's work, but the attention to detail was second to none, and the set pieces and locales that the movie takes place in were incredibly immersive. What's more is that it's about as close as I've come to the aesthetic that defines Tatsuyuki Tanaka's work. The grungy backallies, the claustrophibic streets, the piping and wiring that's everywhere...oh man, it was so spot-on with what I was looking for.
If you can't tell, the main draw for me to this movie was the setting, and this is something I wish was explored more in modern anime, and in AMVs. For good reason, AMVs usually focus on characters and relationships and stuff like that, but I often find myself getting captivated more by the set pieces and backgrounds in media -- shows, movies, video games, whatever. An immersive setting can make all the difference in a story. To that end, this is what I decided to focus on in this video. In fact, this is the first video in a series of videos (the amount is currently indeterminate) that I'll be making in this vein, which will put the focus on the setting rather than the characters.
This video is, as a result, very atmospheric. It's slow, it's deliberately not synced in any kind of consistent way, and there's no narrative. The purpose of this video is to show off the city of Metropolis in all its dirty, techno-urban splendor. Although showing various characters from the movie was pretty much unavoidable, I purposely tried to avoid making any kind of story. I wanted to make the viewer feel as if they were going through a tour of Metropolis, seeing snapshots of people's lives, whether they were just walking along the street to work or embroiled in something big and menacing. This video doesn't seek to explain what's going on in all the dark alleys and sewers of the city, but asks the viewer to be a passive observer instead.
I really enjoyed making this, not just because it was fun but because it's essentially helping to fill a void. I wish there were more videos like this; even though there's little to no obvious demand, I love it when editors are able to do really loose, slow videos like these in order to highlight an aesthetic or create a specific mood. I hope you enjoy, but I realize this will not be to everyone's tastes.
This entire video, from watching the movie to cutting the clips to completion, was done in just over a 24-hour period. The editing portion took probably 5-6 hours, all done in Sony Vegas 8.0.