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Anime Convention Projects

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.

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