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May 08, 2001

Anime Music Videos

Anime Music Videos are one of those instances of cultural fusion which result when two popular cultures collide. Briefly, a fan of Japanese animated programs will select a song, often American, and one or more anime. He or she will then edit the video sequences such that the overlaid music will meld with the images to produce a new work of art. Objectives may be humor, the invocation of a particular emotion (wistful sadness seems popular) or even just technical razzle-dazzle.

Over the years I've seen a lot of these 'AMV's, and not through any effort of my own. But if you go to conventions, or attend a club, you will eventually see many of them.. While I've seen a few which I really appreciated, I've mostly found the art form unimpressive. It is a way for fans to participate in the genre without taking the particularly difficult route of becoming an animator (difficult more due to poor pay than skills required, though those are there as well).

This weekend's NOVA meeting introduced me to two more examples. Three members of our club have been creating AMV's using fairly expensive setups--laptop computers, iMovie or Premiere, AfterEffects, totalling in the thousands of dollars. I won't discuss the actual contents of either of these videos, as they'll both most likely be submitted in the Anime Expo 2001 AMV contest. Sure, very few people read this weblog, but I want to respect the authors by embargoing the actual works until after the Con.

But I will name names, keeping to first names only. Terry and Dan have put together a traditional AMV, albeit with high-end home equipment. It is a fine example of the genre, demonstrating flawless techical virtuosity and capturing a mood extremely well. But. It is of the genre, rather than above the genre. It could very well win an award at Expo, as a superior example of a typical AMV. And that's all.

Eric, who's about as self-effacing as anybody I've ever met, is also using high-end home equipment to create his AMV. The difference is that it does more than most AMVs. It tells an original story, seemlessly blending scenes from two anime series such that what we have is a new show. The choice of music is perfect, the blending of scenes is wildly creative and the video effects only serve to move forward the story and the mood, which is anarchy! Once I saw it I knew I would do everything within my power to be there in the audience at Expo when this video had its premiere. I wanna see the applause, and maybe the standing ovation. The folks sitting on the throne of AMV producer had better feel nervous.

Asked how long it took him, Eric replied in his halting quiet voice, "about two months. That's two hours every night and ten hours a day on weekends." By my estimates that's over 200 hours of work that went into this 5 minute AMV! It's possible to fritter away that effort and produce crap, but it makes it easier to grasp the quality inherent in this video. I plan to ask Eric if I can 'interview' him and include his AMV in a review of AMV's post-Expo. Hopefully Terry and Dan will agree as well.

Posted by dpwakefield at May 8, 2001 01:50 PM