I present to you my very first Anime Music Video.
I know what most of you are probably thinking when you read those words. Something like a facepalm, or an ‘oh boy here we go’. I know that feeling all to well, but I don’t think this particular AMV should be dismissed so easily. I’ll be detailing a bit of a history of how this video came to be in this post, to provide a bit of insight into the process.
Firstly, this isn’t my first video on youtube. I’ve been making silly videos for youtube for many years now, having gone through multiple video editing software (Windows Movie Maker to Ulead Videostudio, finally to Sony Vegas) and gaining many skills and experience along the way. I’ve done things that can be compared to AMVs, but this is still the first Anime Music Video I’ve created. Most of the videos I’ve made up to this point are either parodies or ‘Youtube Poops’, though I stopped using that title a long time ago.
Jump to Manifest (an Australian anime convention) in 2010. I decided to give the AMV sessions a bit of a serious look, out of curiousity. What I found was really enlightening and inspiring. I’d finally realized that not all AMVs are poorly thrown together clips of Naruto with My Chemical Romance music blaring over the top. There’s some real creativity and competition in this craze. Some of the AMVs I saw were really amazing, and my heart really went out to them. It was at this point that I realized “I want to make something as great as this.”
This developed over time. I thought over why I would want to create an AMV, and the answer I came to was to ‘express my love for Anime in a more tangible form’. To show people what I love, and hopefully express how and why I love it as well. That was my motivation. Next was finding music that I could do an AMV to. About six or so months ago I happened upon a remix of ‘worldenddominator’, the track for the Umineko BGM by zts. This was a remix from the Vague in Winter 3 album, namely worldenddominator (VW3 the Ending Edit) by Taishi. This was a piece of music I fell deeply in love with, and after getting goosebumps listening to it the third time, I knew that I’d found the music I could make an AMV with. I could even picture it in my head at the time. Many may think that a 12 minute song is a bit of an odd choice of music for an AMV, but that length matched the image of grandeur I wanted to achieve with this AMV. It was going to be something amazing, an application of all my video-editing skills into creating something unlike anything I’ve made before. And so, the project began.
I did a couple of tests, but first I needed to acquire software and hardware. It took me a while but eventually I was able to, ahem, acquire Sony Vegas Pro 10. Then the problem was that when working with full HD footage (even though I was resizing it), it was much more convenient to use a full HD monitor. So I invested in a 1080p TV to connect my laptop to. I also needed a new laptop, because my old one was really becoming incompetent. These were both purchases I was going to make anyway, but they were necessary to create the AMV as well. During this period of several months of planning, I also had to familiarize myself with the software I was going to use. I taught myself from the ground up how to use Sony Vegas properly, still learning things all throughout the process. The other side was collecting and preparing footage for the AMV. I ended up using approximately 43 different sources for my AMV, and of those sources many contained a multitude of different episodes to sort through. 95% of the process was just collecting the sources and converting them, so I had to familiarize myself with avidemux to convert them and prepare them (resizing, cropping, etc). This involved going through every episode of many different anime (some of which didn’t even make it into the final video at all) and picking out which episodes had valuable footage I could use. It was a huge effort, felt like it would take years while I was doing it. In total I ended up with, off the top of my head, probably near 250 .avi clips to use for my AMV. I didn’t nearly end up using all of them though. I also happened upon a few other pieces of software that I learned the basics of, invluding virtualdub and avisynth. In short I learned a ton of information and skills just through creating this single AMV, it was quite an experience.
Then it got to a week left until the deadline for submission for Manifest 2011, and I’d just about finished gathering all of the footage I wanted. It was time to make something amazing. I did a bit each day, and after a few days I’d hit 40-50% completion, everything was looking good. I took a screenshot around this time just to show off here, have a look below.
As you can see, the first 6 minutes look done, and after that it’s just a clusterf*** of different clips lying around waiting for me to chop them up further and put them together.
After that I started getting a bit preoccupied and got stuck for a few days, running low on energy. Then before I knew it only a few days were left and I would quite literally have to work around the clock for the remaining days to get it done. I had to isolate myself from my social life just to have a chance, and well I made it, but not without asking for an extension to the deadline, haha.
The last moments of creating the AMV were probably the most painful. Codec problems. You see, for some reason Sony Vegas doesn’t seem to like editing videos using the xvid codec, resulting in pixelisation when rendering. xvid happens to be what I rendered all my footage in. If only I’d known that earlier… I spent at least 24 hours constantly trying new methods to create a render that didn’t contain any pixelisation. I ended up conceding midway, submitting a video for the competition which only contained a small percentage of pixelisation, but I think it was tolerable. Determined to better myself though, I kept working at it even after submission, and I was finally able to create a render without pixelisation by using a lossless codec. It ended up about 10gb large. So what I did there, after a bit of thinking (and affirmation from a friend) was to then compress that 10gb avi to a more managable 500mb. The result is what you see above. Of cource it won’t look as good on Youtube as it does on my computer, so you can also download the avi file from here. It’s not a significant improvement, but I think it’s slightly better than viewing it on youtube.
And so, my thoughts on the final result.
The variety of sources was pretty great I feel, but I didn’t include anything that I felt was unfitting. One thing I noticed about the sources was that every single one comes from something I love. So basically, if you see it in my AMV is has my personal recommendation! So much amazing anime and games in the AMV, I think it really is fitting as an expression of my love for Otakuism. And so, the name! Ai no Kakera, or Fragments of Love. I wanted to draw back the allusion to kakera, as it’s kinda become a staple of my online identity now, and the significance of the word ‘love’ is in the meaning behind my creating it. The video is an expression of my love, and a lot of love went into making it. Ai no Kakera, a culmination of fragments that I love, sewn together through love. Since I’ve watched over it so many times and in such rigorous detail, I’m beginning to see some things I could have done better, but when I look at Ai no Kakera as a whole, I am very pleased to call it my finest video to date. It is my masterpiece.
But for the process of productive self-criticism, I must suggest a couple of things to my future self if I’m ever to make another AMV.
1) Higher resolution. 720×480 allows for a broader variety of anime to be used, but 1080×720 looks a hundred times better.
2) Don’t limit yourself by resizing all your footage to the output resolution. By using higher resolution footage than necessary, you can use pan and zoom effects, something which I neglected in this particular video. On that note, more creative use of filters could be something to do.
3) Never use xvid codec for your source material ever again, EVER. Use m-jpeg as an alternative.
4) Aim for more precise timing with the music. It may not appear like much to the untrained eye, but precisely and consistently following the rhythm of the song makes a world of difference for an AMV.
5) Don’t forget the heart.
It was a really great experience making this. Somewhat traumatic toward the end, but overall it was really rewarding, and I learned a lot from it too. If you haven’t already, please check out the video! I’d really appreciate the support, who knows, I might just make another one some time 🙂
Thanks for watching!