Categories
Anime Projects

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.

Categories
Anime Projects

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 animemusicvideos.org (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.

Categories
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.

Categories
Anime Projects

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.

Summary

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.

Categories
Anime Projects

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.

Summary

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.

Categories
Anime Projects

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.

Summary

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.

Categories
Anime Projects

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.

Categories
Anime Projects

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.

Categories
Anime Projects

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.

LOGH AMV Editor

Categories
Anime Review

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.

Plot

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.

Audio

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.

Overall

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.