After much effort I have completed a second AMV which can be seen here. I am very happy with how it turned out as it was accepted as a finalist at Anime Boston 2017 in the other category. This is the most success any of my video projects have had. Just like those two other projects I want to give a brief overview of why I used the anime and music I did along with a couple comments on particular scenes.
I found the music first. During the time between Christmas and New Years I worked from home for a week and I was listening to a bunch of music. I started listening to The DoubleClicks as I had head them at Pax East 2016. When I heard the song I ended up using: Can't You See the World is Ending, I knew right away this was going to work with an actiony anime. At first I thought I might make another Legend of the Galactic Heroes (LOGH) AMV like I did with my first one. Reinhard would be the focus and there would be a lot more action. I scrapped that idea because this song has more of a high school/young adult vibe and as much as I want LOGH to become more popular, I am not sure I alone can carry that torch. Then I thought of using Nadesico since that has more of a lighter vibe benefiting this song and I want more people to watch this show too. I was not sold on the idea though and I did a brief search to see if another anime fit the bill better. Then I remembered Saikano and it just fit right away. It was just a nice bonus that the show is not in vogue anymore.
Before I started editing I had a lot of difficulty getting quality source material. Saikano has never had a blu-ray release and the actual animation quality is just ok. That did not stop me from spending a lot of time with conversion tools (mostly handbrake) trying to get the best I could. The end result is functional, but certainly not as good as I would like. A big take away for me in the future is to secure better source material before becoming married to an idea.
For the editing process I used Sony Vegas. Here is what the finished project looks like:
When I start I lay the music track down first, then I put notes (those orange flags) around lyrics I want to get specific clips for. For example when the song reaches "try to stop the bombs" I want to put a clip of bombs falling. It is pretty basic, but it helps me keep things organized. Then I have a couple video tracks. 1. The main "AMV" track which will be the final video 2. A track above that for "Clips" so I can easily swap clips in and out that I want to try. You can think of this as alternative cuts. 3. A number of "Effect" tracks which holds things like text I want to overlay. I had a lot of more of these effects than any video I have done before. I am sure there is a more clever of way instead of using multiple tracks, but this is easy to do and what I was doing was not super complicated so I ran with it.
Once that is all setup I just trolled through the episodes to find clips I wanted to use. I would bring the whole episode into Vegas and I would scan it quickly (say 2x-3x speed). I had a good sense of what I wanted to see, so when I saw a clip I liked I would cut it from the episode and place it roughly where I wanted. I did this with all 13 episodes (ignoring the OVAs). After I went through all the episodes I had a lot of clips in rough position. I refined things from there, going back to get more clips when I needed. After that I added a few effects with some text and I was finished.
To render I create a new template with the technical specifications Anime Boston wants and I make an RC or release candidate. From there I send the video out to a select review group for comments (Mr. Skehill of the inimitable Quixotic United and my sister). I get comments from them and make various RCs until I am happy. That final RC becomes a release and I submit that video. This is a rough imitation of the software release life cycle.
I have a couple comments on various parts of the AMV . You can think of this as a textual director's commentary.
00:00-00:08: This is the part of the AMV I am least happy about. I was never sure what to put here and this just ends up feeling like wasted space. Originally I had put a bunch of establishing shots of buildings and countryside, but that was pretty boring. At least opening with a bunch of crying shots gets your attention.
00:17-00:00:20: These are flashbacks in the anime so they have a hazy border. It has the effect of making the animation quality look even worse, but I really wanted to use these scenes so I figured it was worth it.
00:26: It took me forever to find a clip that worked here.
00:32-00:34: I like the dichotomy of these two clips a lot and that vibe is what I try to hit throughout the AMV. The main drive of the song is everyone is acting normal in an abnormal situation so I wanted to highlight that wherever I could. The one drawback here is it spoils a bit of the surprise later on when we see her with the Gatling gun (0:53).
0:53-0:55: I think this scene works particularly well. It lines up with the song, it is pretty snappy with all the cuts, and the contrast between the destruction in the background and her being the hero is just right.
0:55-0:56: There is actually not a lot of action scenes in this series, with most of them coming from episode 1. Lucky there are enough clips for this AMV, but most of the actiony shots come from this episode and episode 13.
1:00: I went back and forth on actually showing people eating food when the song mentions it. I did not have anything better to use, but I wish I did. Mostly it just seems lazy to show food when the song mentions it.
1:06. This is the first effect I used. It is just text, but I had to cover up what is actually shown on the pager with a block of color. It is basic, but it gets the message across. Looking at it now, I think the text should be more digital.
1:15-1:16: Best part of the AMV in my opinion. Happy trumpets with a sad violent clip.
1:29-1:30: This is a subtle effect. Chise (the standing character) actually talks in this scene, but it was distracting to see. I effectively froze part of this clip so we could see the animation around the exclamation points, but not her talking.
1:42-1:43: Those familiar with the series will see Chise shopping here which is not congruent with the song. In the song Chise is effectively the singer so she would not be shopping, but her friends would be. That said it goes by quick so I do not think it would upset many people. There was also no other shopping clip to use.
1:56: I do not know what the Japanese says here.
2:01-2:02: The most complicated part of the AMV. Basically I repeated the effect from 1:06, but I had to animate both the text and the color block to move with the pager. It took a long time, but I think it syncs up quite well. I also like the humor of mentioning the AMV title here. Interestingly, I came up with this hashtag first and then I liked it so much I used it as the title.
2:25- 2:26: Ok, this might be more complicated than before. Effectively, I had to cut out part of the clip with the TV, and then overlay the hamster dance video where the cut out is. The tricky part is a character is moving right next to the TV so with each movement I had to change the part I cut out (the mask) so it would look consistent. On close inspection it does not look amazing, but perfect is the enemy of good so I moved on.
2:33: This is the second part of the scene from 1:15.
2:49-2:50: I actually uploaded the clip I wanted to show here to youtube and then screen recorded it to get the youtube controls. I then inserted that clip on top of a TV from the anime. The effect is nice and it is a bit of an inside joke if you can see the title and are familiar with the anime. On reflection I think I should have filled the screen with the youtube clip and not bothered putting it on a TV.
3:00-3:04: Originally I had a clip where Shuji (the guy at 0:09) was crushed by a giant wave, but I got feedback that a scene like this would work better and I agreed.
Overall, I like how things turned out, but there are a few scenes I would tweak. Big picture, I think this AMV was hobbled by the source quality. I should be a bit more sure about what I have available to work with before I get too involved. Interestingly, the next project I am working on I have just about absolute control over. Look for that around July when Connecticon happens.