Paul Geromini

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Saturday 3 August 2019

Stories for a Dark Night AMV

For your pleasure here.

My sixth AMV, submitted to Anime Boston 2019, ConnetiCon 2019, and PopCult Anime Con 2019, but never accepted to the finals. A far more experimental piece than the other ones I have done. I really liked the idea of poems set to anime and music and it is cool to have a bit of a compilation of them in one video. It is kind of like a very quick anthology film. It was an interesting project to work on as I only had the poems to start with and thus a lot of time was spent finding the correct anime and music to go along with them. Originally, I thought to frame the narrative as if it was one long night, but I ended up carrying on into the morning as I did not have enough "night campfire" footage to work with. Overall, I am very happy with the final work, but, as it the norm, I wish more people liked it.

Director's Notes: 00:00: I like starting AMVs out with no music. I think this technique is underutilized. As an overall note, all the sound effects are from outside anime. Mostly stuff I found on Youtube.

00:19: If you have an eagle eye you can see Rin's smile stay in place, but her head turn. She is talking in this scene which wrecked the vibe. I froze the smile, but I did not bother with trying to move it with the face given how hard that would be, compared to how minor the error is.

00:23: I tried putting the poem's title here first, before the actual poem, but I found I liked them better at the end.

00:26: I watched The Rose of Versailles in preparation for this AMV when I found I needed something set in an aristocratic period. Pretty good anime and very forward thinking in some ways.

1:03: Not a huge fan of this clip, but in every AMV you always have a few seconds where you struggle to find something that works. This clip was ok so I went with it.

1:31: I never found music for this poem that I was thrilled about. I tried several songs. What I ended up with was ok, but nothing special.

02:14: The hard cut at the end of this poem arose out of the need to stop the music and get back to camp site. I tried a couple ways to fade it out, but they all sounded very abrupt so I went with a thematic hard cut showing Lain here. It is a neat nod to the show and probably very confusing to those who have not seen it.

02:33: My favorite of the four poems and the easiest one to do. I love the poem and I love the anime (Legend of the Galactic Heroes) so it only took me a few hours to cut this together and it was basically done after that.

03:28-03:32: I love how the white fade out transitions to the sky back at the campsite.

03:47: There is something very pleasing about that woodpecker in the distance right around here.

04:38: I like how 8man looks at the audience at the end and how Rin a few seconds later waves at us.

Martian Successor Nadesico AMV

For your enjoyment here.

My seventh AMV, submitted to Connecticon 2019 and PopCult Anime Con 2019, but it made the finals at neither. A bit disappointing it never got traction as I had hoped to shine some light on an anime that seems sadly forgotten despite it not being that old. For reference the last AMV I could find using this on Youtube was from 5/2017. It is even worse on (9/2013). That said I did operate under the delusion that it was "Martin" Successor Nadesico for quite some time so, perhaps I needed the refresher. Not my greatest work, but I am pretty happy with the end product.

Director's notes: 00:13: I am pretty fond of Yurika's introduction. I think it establishes her character fairly succinctly.

00:14-00:16: Some unavoidable talking here, but it is hard to see on a first viewing.

00:34: This clip is a little awkward. I wanted to show Akito as a mech pilot and tie it back to him meeting Yurika (you will notice he has the same shirt on), but Akito is doing a fair bit of talking here so I had to freeze his face, but keep the background movement. It works, but he has an odd sort of facial impression because of it.

00:47-00:52: I like the music and visuals here. Good lull in the music with a sharp upswing that I think is well complimented by the clips I selected.

01:09: There is more talking in the background here, but I wanted this clip and it is hard to notice.

01:16: I really like the timing of the horns and the lasers hitting the Nadesico here.

02:17: A similar thing is at play here with the drum and the shoulder turn.

02:41-03:04: This is probably the weakest part of the AMV. I needed to play up the relationship of Akito and Megumi in regards to Yurika, but I had a hard time doing that.

03:13: I love this clip of Yurika struggling in zero-g. This episode had a lot of scenes like this.

03:22: This is an AMV primarily about Yurika, but I really wanted as much Yuri as I could get too.

04:11 Not sure about the ending card here. This is the last scene from the show. It might be a bit much, but I kept it.

Friday 17 May 2019

April 15th, A Most Interesting Day

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.

Monday 16 July 2018

Girls' Last Tour AMV (Fifth Overall)

You can watch it here.

This was my second entry to Connecticon 2018, but it was not accepted. A bit of a different take compared to what I normally pursue, this one focused almost exclusively on a single episode of Girls' Last Tour, a fairly recent anime. The episode I used (episode 6) was my favorite of the series and is a great standalone episode even if you have not seen the series before. For the song I used "Fly Away" by John Denver. I am not a country music fan, but I felt this song matches a lot of the themes I was going for both literally (flying away from some place) and metaphorically (escaping).

Scene Breakdown

00:00 - 00:41: I really like the non-musical opening. It sets the stage of the world well (which may not be familiar to some of the audience) and quickly conveys the journey the girls are on. In general I think silence/non-musical scenes are underutilized in AMVs.

00:47: A bit too quick of a cut here, but there was no other way to get around it since the characters start talking right after and I like to avoid seeing that if I can.

01:08: Good sync up with the lyrics and plane image here.

01:12 - 01:13: It is hard to notice, but there is some lip movement here. I tried to avoid it, but it would mess with the story progression too much if I cut it. It is hard to notice so I felt it was ok to keep in.

02:10: More lips flaps here, but the scene was too critical so I kept it.

02:19 - 02:29: I am not sure I was able to convey that the pilot wanted to escape in these few scenes, but it was the best I could do with the limited options available. On the last scene (02:29) I actually froze the clip as they are talking during it.

03:04: I think the animation in the show is average, but I do like the faces they make from time to time.

03:34: I like the sync between the picture and the song a lot here.

03:58: Continuity error here with the propeller starting in the scene before, but being stationary here. I felt it was ok to leave in as most people would not notice and its not really a big deal.


Overall, I am happy it turned out as well as it did and I very much like how this piece is different in structure than what I normally do. That said, I am pretty bummed it was not accepted as I felt it was a strong overall piece, but I cannot say it was better than the actual finalists so I will just have to do better next year.

Bubblegum Crisis AMV (Fourth Overall)

You can watch it here.

This piece was my second entry to Anime Boston 2018 and my first entry Connecticon 2018. It was accepted at neither convention. This AMV is pretty normal given my past work and is indicative of my general style: poppy music, oldish anime, ironic lyrics, boarderline extreme violence. I happen to really like Bubblegum Crisis (the original OVAs, less so for anything after) and MC Frontalot (who is featured in this song, Robot Party by Supercommuter) so it was a natural fit to merge both.

Scene Breakdown

00:00 - 00:14: I like this intro a lot. Not a lot of musical cues and it sets the scene well. Perhaps I could have used some background noise, but I think the silence is cool and unusual.

00:37: There is a weird white flash here that probably works better in the anime than it does in this AMV. I thought about removing it, but it seemed best to leave it in so that scene would not become disjointed and look weird.

00:45 - 00:50: This is one of the first bits I put together and it inspired the rest of the AMV.

00:55: I consider this AMV to be mostly about robots tearing up a city, but it can also be seen as a stealth Knight Sabers AMV as they appear in the background from time to time. Some of the Knight Sabers appear in this scene for the first time in the AMV.

01:00: I thought the biker sliding during a spin out was a clever match to the "rotating" lyric.

01:37 - 01:44: Probably the weakest part of the AMV. I wanted to match the lyrics, but there is nothing available that quite did it so I was left with this.

01:48 - 01:50: I had to slow this clip down a bit so it would fill out the lyric, but it looks a bit weird because of it.

01:56: Another Knight Saber appearance.

02:18: I really like how "dance" and the guy flying line up here.

02:23: This is a Knight Saber "sword" here. Nothing else really matched.

02:45 - 02:52 : Pretty obvious Knight Saber scene here which fans of the show should recognize.

03:45: I considered ending with a tv screen turning off, but it it never worked well enough to use.


I spent a lot of time gestating this one and I like it a lot. I am surprised no one else seems to like it, but that seems to be more an indictment of my taste than others'. Overall I am happy how it turned out.

Sunday 1 April 2018

Space AMV (Third Overall)

You can watch it here.

Another Anime Boston, another AMV submission. Building off my last accepted work. This time I decided my best bet at acceptance into the finals was to be on theme. Given the theme was space I used a lot of modern/sci-fi anime for my first multiple source AMV. Specifically I used: - Planetes - Legend of the Galactic Heroes - Moonlight Mile - Space Battleship Yamato 2199 - Royal Space Force: The Wings of HonnĂȘamise - Freedom Project - Bodacious Space Pirates - Magnetic Rose

For the song I used Melody Sheep's Beyond the Horizon which I edited somewhat to remove a section in the middle that was not fit for my purposes. I would recommend giving him/her/it a subscription as they produce a lot of interesting musical content.

I submitted this to Anime Boston 2018 and it was accepted as a finalist in the "Other"category. It won "Best Concept", my first award ever!

Scene Breakdown

00:00 - 00:04: It just cannot be an AMV without a little Legend of the Galactic Heroes love.

00:05: This scene is unremarkable except that I had major difficulty with it in Sony Vegas. Specifically I had issues with Vegas trying to changes its frame rate. It was very frustrating and it would often render in a stuttering manner until I sorted it out.

00:017: I spent a long time trying to find the right clip for this scene. This was the best I could do.

00:18-00:19: I love this shot. It was one of the first clips I used.

00:39-00:40: Not a fan of this shot, but it had to do.

00:55-00:57: These clips are from Royal Space Force and they look gorgeous. This movie never seemed to got the acclaim it deserves both story wise and animation wise. A big miss with modern CG is organic looking shots like these.

01:04-01:23: I went back and forth a lot on this section between trying to actually find clips of Neptune and just showing planets. I think what I have works, but it lacking. I wish I did have some Neptune shots. I also am not so sure that section in the middle that flashes a bunch of planets (01:13-01:16) works. It just seems choppy.

01:32-01:34: This scene is from Freedom Project and it is one of my favorite shots in the series. The framing of the ship flying over the moon to the earth is this AMV in a nutshell.

01:41-01:42: They say you should avoid flappy lips in AMVs, which I agree with, but I made an exception because if it is just the button press it does not make a whole lot of sense.

02:06-02:08: Kind of a boring shot, but I did not have anything else to use.

02:09: This is where I cut about 30 seconds from the song. Have a listen to those seconds here. Its the only part of the song that would be hard to work with since its a very sudden tonal shift and their is some straight unautotuned voice over. I am pretty happy with my cut as it is unnoticeable to me.

02:27: It is really nice how the Yamato blinks out with the beat. That was a happy little coincidence.

02:34-02:36: This little jump of the spaceship with the beat is about the most clever thing I have ever done. I have a long way to go.

02:43: I went back and forth a lot if I was going to stick to just modern ships or show some futuristic designs like this one from Bodacious Space Pirates. In the end I wanted to show both the past and the future so I ran with it starting with this clip. It is also hard to find anime about the space program or even modern spaceflight. Related to that, I so wanted to include some Nadesico somewhere, but it is in 4:3 and would look weird with all the other widescreen clips. I think Nadesico will be my next project.

02:46: I may have overused the main characters from the Freedom Project.

03:35: The close out with the baby going for the star is great in my opinion and I get more Legend of the Galactic Heroes in.


Overall, the final product is acceptable. Given my previous work (like my Saikano AMV and Ran FMV) this piece lacks a fun juxtaposition of violence and upbeat tunes that I think characterizes my work (and my other, in this author's opinion, better second submission which I will write about latter). That said it is good to have an optimistic video every now and then and I cannot say I am unhappy about taking home an award. It is just weird that I won for a video I was probably the least enthused about.

Saturday 26 August 2017

An Unfortunate Misfire

As faithful blog readers will know I have been creating a number of video projects as of late. During all the copious free time I had while I was unemployed, I spent some of it on this Gundam AMV. I found out I like Gundam a lot and I like the song I used (Mecha Mechanics by Whoremoans) a lot. But this AMV just does not work out. I am not totally sure why, but I have a theory. This video represents the ultimate "literal interpretation" theory of AMV creation. AMVs subscribing to this school of thought try to match the lyrics being spoken as close as possible to clips from the series. That school of thought worked out well for me with the Homeworld and Saikano videos, but I feel I was too slavish to lining clips up and consequently the video lacks a coherent theme. I also just had a hard time finding clips for everything. I spent a lot more time than I have on other videos trying to find things that would work.

I ended up not submitting this to any contests.

Scene Breakdown I have a couple comments on various parts of the FMV. You can think of this as a textual director's commentary.

00:13: Not sure how I feel about this 9/11 reference.

00:19: I really like this short clip and how it times up well with the music.

00:21-00:22: This is what I talked about above. These are clips of Gundams, but it is not the models mentioned in the lyrics.

00:33-00:34: I love this joke

01:31-01:33: These clips do not work that great. I ran the first one in reverse to look like it was going back into the water, but it looks awkward.

01:35: I think the next couple clips with the blue Zaku are the best executed in the AMV.

02:01: I was not sure what to put here and this is the best I could come up with.

Overall, it is a bit disappointing spending a lot of time to produce something that is not that great, but I learned a bit so it was not all a loss.

Monday 3 April 2017

My Second AMV

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.

Music and Anime 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.

Editing 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.

Scene Breakdown 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.

Conclusion 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.

Wednesday 29 July 2015

My First AMV

It is true here it is spoilers and everything: view here, download here.

For a while now I have been thinking of doing one of these and I mentioned it as a goal for this year. I recently finished the main anime adaptation of Legend of the Galactic Heroes and it was very disappointing to me the series has such little visibility amongst English anime viewers. Granted its age and its MIA English localization probably play the largest role in its lack of popularity. That said I wanted to do a little something for a show more people should watch, to that end my first AMV.

For those not familiar with the format, an AMV is a series of anime clips set to music. Sometimes they tell a story, or showcase some action, or are just funny. I wanted to make an AMV that covered roughly the events of the first half of the series (episodes 1 - 53 to be exact). I did not want a flat retelling of events though so I themed it or focused it around the relationship between Reinhard (blonde hair) and Kircheis (red hair). To those not familiar to the series, they are childhood friends who set out to conquer the galaxy.

For the music I wanted something that fit the feel of the series. The show makes extensive use of famous classical music, mostly Beethoven. While not classical I went with Time To Say Goodbye, sung by Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli. I like the mournful nature of the song and the interspaced use of English. I did not want to go with a poppy contemporary piece as it would be jarring with the visuals of the series.

Scene Breakdown

Now that I have given a brief summary I am going to provide some commentary on parts of the AMV.

00:00-00:22, I wanted to start big to give a good scale the series works with. A shot of the galaxy to begin with and with each strum I narrow the shot until we focus on the ship of our two main characters and then the characters themselves. The preceding shots show a vast battle taking place until we fade out to the end result of the battle, lots of ship wreckage. Not a huge fan of the fade, but it does its job. These scenes are mostly from early episodes so we see a very young Admiral Reinhard.

00:25, Shot of the Odin, the capital of the Empire. Its not important that you know that, but series fans probably recognize it.

00:25-00:31, I wanted to establish that Reinhard is important within the Empire, but still not the leader. The scene shows him being honored for the battle we saw in the beginning.

00:32, Start of the flashback. Need to establish the long relationship between Reinhard and Kircheis that started when they were young.

00:38-00:46, This scene with the bully helps establish both Reinhard's aggressive nature and how Kircheis is always there to help Reinhard out. The rock beating scene also nicely matches up with the music. At times I think it is a bit humorous, but I resisted changing it.

00:47-00:58, These are some scenes set after the bully time frame, but still when Reinhard and Kircheis were young. I wanted to convey Reinhard ambitious nature and I like the imagery of the gun shooting into space that fades into his ship in full action. As you can tell I like fades. There is an important subplot to the series involving Reinhard's sister that these scenes are important to, but it is not important for the story I am telling.

00:58-01:12. Easy call here to tie Kircheis's death to the first "Time to Say Goodbye" lyric. It is perhaps a bit quick setup after the flashback, but it is really important that death and lyric are timed up well. This is a pretty big spoiler for people who have not seen the series and arguably the most important event in the entire series.

01:22, I went back and forth on including this somewhat gratuitous death clip. It is a bit jarring, but I think it works. Kind of quick flashback that Reinhard is contemplating.

01:25-01:43, Second flashback showing a bit more of Kircheis interacting with Reinhard and doing his own thing. As a side not we can really see the jump in quality across some of the early episodes in these flashbacks. After the series came out some episodes were remastered so the quality can be all over the place.

01:45, Its debatable if we need this shot of just the gravestone as the earlier scene basically covers what we need to do, but I like lingering here a bit.

01:49, The locket is a very important item to the series so I had to get a shot of it here. You can see it also includes his sister who is important to the story, but I ignore here.

01:50. Kircheis in the stars may be too cliche, but its from the series and bookends this section of the AMV nicely.

01:53-01:56, The music changes and I need to jump a bit chronologically and show how Reinhard has increased in power in the Empire. The scenes with the crowd accomplishes this.

01:57-2:01, This scene is a bit clunky. I want to convey again how in charge Reinhard is and setup the rest of the AMV, but we linger, perhaps too long, on planning screens.

02:05, I love this shot of Reinhard and all the ships engines. As a side note that is Mariendorf next to him. She becomes pretty important around the half way mark of the series.

02:06-02:13, This is the planet Fezzan, a planet not in the Empire nor the Free Planets Alliance (FPA). The two major antagonists in the show. It is one of the first planets Reinhard takes on his campaign. It is a relatively quick battle which I used to convey the size of Reinhard's fleet in action.

02:14-02:19, Some of the most well drawn scenes in the series. Bookends Reinhard's conquest of Fezzan.

02:20-02:25, Maybe the cheesiest part of the AMV. That is an actual scene from the anime so I went with it. Also you can see the locket again which is super important.

02:26-02:45, Lot of ships again. Start to show some large battles with the FPA, but nothing decisive.

02:52-03:19, Again we return to Reinhard's ship and then show his decisive involvement in a battle. Lots of FPA ships blowing up climaxing in a nice large explosion. I cheat a bit and take a lot of battle clips from across the series, but we need a lot of different shots here and frankly a lot of these battle shots look the same.

03:20-03:23, Good scene to show after Reinhard's great success. You can see how lonely he is on the empty bridge and it contrasts well with the first shot of him and Kircheis from the beginning.

03:24, This is Heinessen, home planet of the FPA, after being captured by Reinhard.

03:26-03:27, This is a shot of Yang Wen-li, Reinhard's counterpart in the FPA. He is super important, but not covered at all in this AMV. I wanted to at least give him a quick showing and I think these two rapid beats help introduce him as the adversary nicely.

03:28, Real cool shot of both of their massive fleets converging.

03:28-03:41, Start of the battle, lots of fireworks to show the scale, but nothing to show who will win.

03:41, Maps again! Its hard to convey how the battle is going so I went with maps (which the series likes using too) to show things going against Reinhard. This shot also has Yang in the middle.

03:44-03:51, Might be asking too much of a person not familiar with the series, but I need to convey the battle turning in Yang's favor. Showing the map of a fleet disintegrating, FPA ships firing, and a lot of Empire ships exploding hopefully conveys this. It might be difficult to get if you cannot distinguish the different sides ships at this point.

03:54, Great scene of the Empire ships moving to defend Reinhard's ships. Hopefully conveys how desperate the battle is going.

03:55, Another really excellent scene of Reinhard having the ships guarding his front explode.

04:01, And here we are end of the AMV. This shot is the best in the series and what motivated me to do this AMV. I love the giant imposing FPA ship bearing down on Reinhard. Its awesome and in my opinion, a a great ending with the sudden cut to black.

The thing about that ending scene is, its a massive cheat. The very next second that ship gets blown out by the timely arrival (in true anime fashion) of Admiral Muller's fleet. I admit its deceitful, but I really just wanted a nice cliffhanger to end on to motivate people to watch the series.

Tools Lets wrap up with a quick tool discussion. All of my editing was done with Sony Vegas 13. I like it a lot since its relatively simple to use. I am sure other editors like Final Cut are just as good, but I have been fiddling with Vegas for a bit now and I know how to do what I want. The only real issue I had was the video sources. I was using files in MKV format and Vegas cannot handle those files. I had to convert each episode I wanted to use from MKV to MP4. I did this using Handbrake which is dirt simple. It was a tedious work around, but it got the job done. I will leave you with a shot of all the clips in the editor. You can see I like to have a lot of clips lying around so I can mix and match and see what works.


Saturday 5 July 2014

Review: Knights of Sidonia (Season 1)

The very first review on the blog! This show just completed its run so here are some thoughts on it in the form of a review. Be prepared for some light spoilage.

Knights of Sidonia is a 12 episode space mecha following the pursuits of Nagate Tanikaze as he and others try and defend their massive colony/seed ship the Sidonia from the inscrutable Gauna. As such this is mostly an action anime in the same vein as Attack on Titan or The Pilot's Love Song. Let us get to the breakdown.


A lively show, the plot starts fast and the pace is pretty steady throughout. This is a show about people struggling to survive in a harsh environment against an implacable enemy and as such very little time is spent on fluff. Viewers of Attack on Titan will find much they are already familiar with. This season does not have an overarching plot, but instead has a few mini arcs throughout. Overall things are hard to predict and the suspense is high enough to keep you looking forward to the next episode.

Setting and Characters

As far as anime goes, the settings is farm fresh. Not many animes are set in space these days and furthermore not many pay service to the realities of operating in a vacuum. Sidonia does and in a big way. Major plot points revolve around the physics of acceleration and the difficulties in regards to resources of running a society in a closed environment. Characters are probably Sidonia's weakest point. Our main antagonist is a bit plain both emotionally and back story wise. The supporting characters (other pilots, officers) are a little better, but some fulfill your standard anime tropes : rival to the main protagonist, bubbly girl classmate, etc.

Animation Quality

The animation quality is high, but viewers may be put off by the heavy use of CGI for characters and the mecha themselves. I do not mind, but if you found Arpeggio of Blue Steel hard to watch because of this, you should probably give this show a pass. If this does not bother you then enjoy the high quality visuals on display here. The Sidonia looks fantastic, clearly this ship has been an evolving home for a desperate people for many hundreds of years. The mechs themselves are well thought out and their cockpits are the most sensible I have ever seen. Battle scenes are lush, dynamic, and well choreographed.


High marks in this category. The OP is a nice mix between orchestral military theme and high energy JPop. The ED is restrained and brooding and always a good finish to an episode. Music throughout the series complements the action or the drama well, but nothing ever stood out for me. Sound effects wise Knights of Sidonia has a knack for capturing just the right mechanical effects. Consequently all the mechs, ships, machines sound great. Voice work is pretty standard, no one seemed off their game. I do award high marks to the voice actor of the captain who just seemed a bit better than everybody else.


This is a well done show. If you like mechs, SciFi, or Attack on Titan give it a watch. If you do not like it by episode four you can probably drop it. I award it 18 lead bricks out of five oddly situated bear characters.