The zen master looked on the AMV community and said, “So much potential. But even more wasted potential.” From what I understand AMVs started when people would throw multiple episodes on a VHS tape for fan-sub trading and there would invariably be 5 to 15 minutes of empty tape. To make use of that tape, and make their tapes more viable for trading, they would throw on an AMV or two. Eventually, people began to really like the AMVs, as more that just tape filler, and they became as popular as the shows people were trading for. What does it say that AMV artists back then could put in more effort for something to fill up a fan-sub tape than someone making an AMV today?
A chain of things have led to this blog. The first was the Answerman’s column where he talked about AMVs. That led to two podcasts about AMVs on the Ninja Consultants responding to his column. That then led to Narutaki and I looking up stuff on AMV.org. After all of that, we came to several conclusions: one, the signal to noise ratio of AMVs is quite high; two, there are a whole bunch of really good songs it seems nobody uses; and three, leaving subtitles in your video is more rampant that it should be.
I really enjoy AMVs, I think they are a fun way of expressing your fandom. In recent years, it has become increasingly easy to make such tributes. Of course, along with that you get more and more junk and it becomes harder to sift through it all. We were randomly looking up songs that we thought would make good music video and noticed so many that weren’t there! Something about there being 1000 videos using the same song drives me crazy, when there are tons of songs out there.
I remember a long time ago, Ask John had a column about AMVs. He speculated that, where as the Japanese express their love of an anime with doujinshi, Americans use AMVs. That was interesting enough to stick with me years later. I will point out one thing that was wrong with the article. The Japanese make AMVs but they tend to call them MAD movies. They also tend to include more visuals from Eroge games than in the U.S. Surprise surprise.
I guess that makes sense, I mean we know how huge the doujin community in Japan is. I look forward to an American doujin community growing to such numbers. They are completely different ways of showing fandom though. One is continuing the story or a fantasy about what could have happened, where MADs/AMVs are using what has happened and reflecting upon it. And of course, the Japanese community didn’t have the tape trading aspect that really created the AMV.
IMHO, MADs show a cross pollination of fandom between the East and the West. We borrow and adapt from each other all them time. How long before we have our own doujinshi conventions? How long I ask you?
It has become really easy to make an AMV. That means any punk can do it now. It used to take a large amount of technical skills, time, and effort to make AMVs. Now that you can get video digitally and edit video digitally, it opens the floodgates of who can make AMVs. This is good because it lets anyone make AMVs, so artistic people who might have been thrown off by the large amount of audio/visual knowledge required to make old style AMVs.
I HATE HATE HATE people who use video with subtitles for their AMVs. It’s super lazy and it usually means your whole collection is made up of fan-subs. If you own the DVD, it is a simple matter of not having subtitles on your AMV. If you only have fan-subs, or it is a show that can only be found fan-subbed, then someone had to have the raws to make that fan-sub. All you have to do is a little searching to find the raws. And if for some reason you can’t, you can still edit out the subtitles. All in all it’s just plain laziness that makes people leave in subtitles. Either do it right or don’t do it at all.
Well, you do have to rip your DVDs on to the computer so that is kind of a pain. But I agree that do it right, at least technically right, or don’t bother. But why should you? You can just slap together your Nate video, put it up on YouTube, get 7354628 hits, and all your friends will tell you how amazing it was. I think most people aren’t trying to be awarding winning, they are trying to be internet popular.
I hate you internet.
But what I think makes a music video memorable is pacing and movement. Everything else is just technical skill, which you need to have, but if you don’t know how to tell a story then I don’t think it has any power. Matching the timing, speed, and pace of a song to a show creates a sense of unity, like you can’t imagine that song without the video afterwards. Songs and movies both have a beginning, a climax, and a resolve; I want to see that in an AMV. And movement within the picture, how do I explain myself. How a character moves or the camera moves should be reflected in the music, as if to say what is going on in the video has created the sound. I don’t know if that made sense.
I remember my first anime convention, and subsequently, my first taste of AMVs. It is a fond memory and I saw a video I will never forget. West Side Bebop. If it isn’t obvious, it is Cowboy Bebop set to West Side Story, with really great lip-syncing and perfect comedic timing. This was shown at the only Anime Expo NY and won Best of Show and Best Comedy. I have never found it to watch it again. It is listed on AMV .Org but it is not available to watch. Other than that I don’t really have a list of AMVs that I love other than Hold Me, Princess Tutu and Ordinary Day, Escaflowne. I have a bad memory but this has spurned me on to start saving the ones I loved.
I can’t remember what the first AMV I ever saw was. I’m pretty sure it was something Mr. McGraw (one of our frequent readers) showed me, but for the life of me I can’t remember what it was. I do remember being impressed with the AMVs at Anime Boston 2004, the only time I went. In particular this one. They were really good. I hear that Anime Weekend Atlanta is where you go to see all the really impressive AMVs because that is where all the masters go to thrown down.
The AMV Hell series I really love for one reason: it protects us from jokes going on too long and therefore no longer being funny. They are usually on the screen just long enough to be funny and not wear out their welcome (with a few exceptions).
I think the one AMV we saw at Otakon this year sums it up best. Someone tried to do Gangster’s Paradise to Cromartie High School. When we saw it on the list everyone who went to Otakon was giddy with anticipation for how it would turn out. The problem was it seemed like a great idea but in execution it was just boring. Maybe if someone else had done the video it could have been hilarious, but I think it would have worked in the AMV hell format. Just play the song long enough to make sure people realize it’s Ganster’s Paradise and that the show is Cromartie get your laugh and move on to the next joke.
I have seen a lot of people use the opening song of the series for a music video. What? Doesn’t that seem like a total cop out? Clearly that song already goes with the theme of the show (unless you are like Berserk or NaruTaru. ) So exactly what kind of thought went into that choice? In fact, it seems like many people don’t think about song and show, they think I like this song and I like this show but not the two together. I think you see this a lot with romantic pairing videos.
Well every review of NaruTaru always mentions that the super cute happy opening totally does not let you know what a messed up show that is. Test Tubes. ;_;
GAH! DON’T SAY IT! IT STILL HAUNTS MY DREAMS!
BTW – the best romantic pairing videos are of pairings that don’t exist in any way what so every, except in the person who made the AMVs mind. I’m not talking about ones done for comedic effect. I’m talking about videos made to show that clearly Yomi has an undying love for Osaka (and your an idiot if you don’t see it too).
Or random yaoi pairings that you see only in fan-art and dojinishi but someone thinks it would be good to make a video about those characters. Even though they clearly have no interaction like that in the show at all. So they just keep showing moments of them talking.
I would really like to see more videos using older songs. Maybe it is just the age of people making them but I’m not old or anything. I think there are lots of songs that would make amazingly funny AMV’s. I mostly think in terms of comedy ones. I’m not really sure why that is, perhaps it is just easier to come up with a funny song pairing than try to make a very serious one that doesn’t come off as lame. I would also love to see more musicals/Broadway songs used but that requires great lip syncing abilities.
Your statement seems right on target about people not using older songs. Fandom has become increasingly younger so that probably means that as long as that trend continues the trend of not using older songs will continue as well. One of the main problems is any community is usually going to have certain common musical preferences. This does not mean everyone in the anime community listens to the same music. Far from it. But I’m sure if you could somehow read every anime fan’s Myspace page I’m sure some artists would appear ad nauseum. That is why you see a million Linkin Park and Weird Al videos. Oh and if I understand correctly, there is some very good software that greatly aids in any lip syncing efforts. It would take more work than others songs but I think it would easily be worth the effort.
Deadman’s Curve by Jan&Dean for Initial D would just crack me up. A lot of people probably don’t know this song. It is from the early 60’s and it’s about street racing, but it has such a wholesome bouncy sound. Most Initial D videos I see use some euro-beat song and really that isn’t making an Initial D video. It’s not that they aren’t good, but the show itself is one giant euro-beat music video so it doesn’t seem to require much effort. My Boyfriend’s Back by The Angels for tons and various shows all mashed up together. When I thought of using this song, I thought that surely someone already had! It is the perfect song for some hilarious butt-kicking wish fulfillment. Lots of characters popping up from all kinds of shows with choruses of girls singing. Summer of ’69 by Bryan Adams or Juke Box Hero by Foreigner for BECK Mongolian Chop Squad. The story doesn’t quite fit but I think it has the spirit and someone could make it work.
I think Who Could It Be Now? by Men at Work would make an awesome Welcome to the NHK video.
I think I may try my hand at an AMV one of these days. The power of a good AMV is to ellicit an immediate reaction whether it be joy, laughter, sadness, suspense. They can convey the feelings of a show in a compressed version which can feel overwhelming. What a show takes to give you a feeling, maybe 26 episodes or whatnot, someone is trying to give you one or all of those emotions in a matter of minutes. Or they are trying to make you laugh, and I love to laugh. There is nothing better! So if an AMV can accomplish one of these two things, then I can appreciate it.
I will be rooting for you but I know I don’t have the patients to do something like that.