This blog post is talking about my latest work. If you have not seen it, go do so now or else the following will make little sense.

Another AB, another video submission. Ultimately this entry, along with the other one I submitted (which I will speak of later), was not accepted into the finals (sort of). This is the fourth time I have submitted to the contest. Overall, I stand at two accepted to the finals out of six submissions. Technically, this was shown at the finals, it was just under "Exhibition" and not eligible for any awards so I will not count it. Usually, I do a bit of a textual commentary on specific scenes in the final product, but I experimented with doing that via the medium of video. This was a fun diversion as I was joined by longtime friend of the show (and a man familiar with the visual arts) Patrick Skehill. We were able to cover a lot of ground and go into more detail than a normal blog post would cover. I will however reiterate some of that content in this post.

From a high level perspective I am satisfied with the end product. I had this idea (along with my other submission) last year and I mentioned it in my yearly review. At the time I said the following:

"I have some ideas which are a bit out there as far as my next AMVs go. I am not sure how that will help me win any more awards, but they should be different from the usual fare if nothing else."

That prediction turned out to be pretty spot on. From a production standpoint, this was my most ambitious and labor intensive project yet. I took the initial nebulous idea and made a write-up of all the live action shots I wanted on 7/27. Using this list we did the live action filming on 8/25. We stuck mostly to the shot list, but we had a couple diversions (mainly the meeting room scene). Thanks again to Mr. Skehill for providing the filming equipment, working the camera, and his acting skills. Following that I spent the next month (September) getting the live action cut plus the music in order and ready for me to put the anime in.

For editing, I switched to using Adobe Premiere from Sony Vegas (which I have done all my other projects on), partly to experiment with other editing tools and partly to be in the Adobe family for better integration with Adobe After Effects. Ultimately, I like Vegas more, but Premiere has a number of features that helped for this specific project. Editing was pretty straightforward except every live action shot had to be color corrected. We filmed "flat" so we could have flexibility to set the time of day by altering the coloring. There are other reasons, but I forgot what they were as this is not an area I know much about. That said, it was particularly useful for the scenes that are supposed to be at night (which were all filmed during the day). Additionally, I ended up with a lot of extra live action footage. It was a good problem to have as it gave me flexibility in the edit, but It is a shame some cool stuff got dropped.

The anime cutting process started 8/14 (I know this because we put the first anime clip, the Gundam in the background, in that night before watching the Patriots beat the Chiefs) and ran right up until I submitted the final project on 2/21. Progress was slow and remained slow for the entire five months. It turns out cutting clips of anime out of a myriad of different sources is very time consuming, let alone the endless time spent trying to find good clips (plus the time lost actually watching anime when I was supposed to be looking for something to cut out). I would estimate I spent about 10-15 hours a week on this, with only occasional bouts of self doubt delaying me.

Using a good quality source with a clear distinction between the background and the thing I was trying to cut out I could get a good clip (say 1/4 to 1/2 a second of runtime) in under half an hour. If the clip needs to be longer, or the quality of the source is poor, or the thing being cut is indistinct from the background then it would take more time. The most time intensive clips would be Priss in the garage from Bubblegum Crisis and Heintz walking around the stand in Magnetic Rose. Both took about six to eight hours. Given there are 100+ unique anime cutouts, you can do the math. I used the After Effects rotoscoping tool to accomplish this. This tool is helpful, but it can have a bit of a mind of its own. In many ways I still do not quite get this tool or its settings, but I can use it.

Ultimately this was not selected as a finalist. I did try to stay within the rules, but I think what most likely fouled me up was this rule:

" 75% of the footage in an entry must be from anime or Japanese-origin video games "

I do contend (and I have the data to prove it) that I have more total anime footage than live action, but I do respect that this sort of entry was just too far outside the bounds of the contest. I do however very much appreciate that it was shown as an Exhibition piece. It is a consolation prize to be sure, but I suppose I should care more about people seeing what I do then just the accumulation (or chance thereof) of prizes.

Generally, I am happy with how this turned out and I am pleased a lot of people saw it and liked it. It was strange to be recognized at the convention, despite my best efforts, but fun. I do think my next project will be more traditional though, if only to save my sanity.