AMV: The First and Last Men

This AMV was submitted to ConnectiCon’s 2023 FMV Contest and PopCult’s 2023 AMV Contest. It made the finalists in neither. This AMV primarily concerns the Charge of the Light Brigade, based on the famous poem. It helps to have an understanding of the events, so I would recommend Hell Riders, by Terry Brighton. That said a brief perusal of Wikipedia should be sufficient.

I have been of late really interested in the Crimean War so it is no surprise I would make an AMV about it. This of course is really just an evolution of my last historical AMV. A poem makes a bit more sense for an AMV given its brevity and it is already predisposed to musical accompaniment. I searched around YouTube and went with Lawrence Harvey’s reading as it had the least flourish to it. I wanted just the poem without a lot of unnecessary additions. I then ran the audio through Adobe’s audio cleanup tool just to clean up some of the cracks and hisses.

Given the subject matter of the poem it paired very nicely with Legend of the Galactic heroes, which heavily features a lot of the themes the poem is getting at.

It is no surprise then I liked how it turned out. I especially like how the poem comes in and out in respect to the song and the sounds effects I put in at the start.

Director’s Commentary

00:00 – 00:22: I really liked how the sound effects set the stage here. I think it is a pretty cool intro. These are recordings of the Saturn V launching.

00:34: There is a real time crunch from the start to about this point. We have to establish the setting and the basic plot before we get to these vocals. The vocals will overpower the poem reading so that has to stop before, but we need to get enough of a teaser if you will so that the viewer knows what is going on.

00:34 – 01:06: This is from LOGH: Gaiden (stories adjacent to the main LOGH story). I needed some clips showing some students and Gaiden has a series set in a school (Dreams of the Morning, Songs of the Night), so that worked nicely. I wanted to humanize the spaceships you see and show where the operators had come from and what better way to do that than show a school.

01:06: Right as the vocals end I wanted to get back into the poem. The poem in a sense represents current time or that actual charge unfolding.

01:33: I wanted to include some scenes of the destruction inside the ships to show it is people operating these things. A lot of war films just concentrate on the equipment and it kind of sterilizes the event. There are a couple of clips like this throughout the piece.

03:07 – 03:27: The end of the poem is fairly jingoistic, so I wanted to contrast that with a bit of destruction. Eager readers should contrast the Tennyson work with Kipling’s follow up.

03:44 – : I am not in love with the end. When the poem is finished the whole piece kind of feels done, so it is overstaying its welcome a bit here, but I do like how it wraps up visually with a funeral.


AMV: Many Faces, One Story: The Japanese Siege of Port Arthur

You can watch the piece here. This was submitted to Rice 2023, where it was a finalist in the storytelling category, Anime Boston 2023, were it was not a finalist, and ConnectiCon 2023, were it was not a finalist.

Of all the pieces I have done, this one is probably the most unique. It took a lot of work to realize and I am very happy with how it turned out. It is heavily inspired by this AMV. I have always been pretty interested in making different kinds of AMVs and making a very historical AMV with voice acting hits a number of unique checkboxes.

If you would like to know more about the background of this war, the best one volume work would be “Rising Sun and Tumbling Bear: Russia’s War with Japan” (0304366579). It is fairly short and hits all the high points. Notably it covers the Battle of Mukden, the largest land battle before WW1 with 165,856 casualties. If you are interested in the naval aspect of the war (which includes the Battle of Tsushima, probably the most significant naval battle of the 20th century) I would recommend “The Tsar’s Last Armada” (0465057918).

If you are a visual learner The Great War channel has a good documentary on the subject, although it is pretty brief.  If you want something more cinematic check out: The Battle of Port Arthur.

Overall Commentary:

All the quotes in my AMV come from “Human Bullets: A Soldier’s Story of the Russo-Japanese War” (080329266X), you can read the full text here. Everything came from chapter 26, “The Forlorn Hope” and chapter 27, “Life Out Of Death”. The chapters I referenced are worth reading, but I would not recommend his memoir on the whole. It is fairly jingoistic interspersed with casual racism against the Chinese.

The voice work was provided by Yoshi-8301 through the service Voquent. Overall, I would have preferred the dialog be a bit quicker (and I did speed it up in a number of places), but I really do like a lot of his reads and I think it complements the visuals quite a bit. Part of my problem was I should have been more explicit about my needs upfront. I figured I would have more direct access to the voice actor prior to recording and that was not the case. Not a big deal, but I should have asked more questions. I also had him record a number of lines which I had to pare down drastically to fit the length of the video.

Finally, here is an early draft when I was trying to get the timing right, complete with occasional line flubbing.

Director’s Commentary:

00:00: Originally I started with an intro basically describing the coming battle (and you can see that in the early draft), but I dropped it so we could get right into things.

00:00 – 00:09: I wanted to be very explicit about what is going on as I knew the audience is not really going to be familiar with the setting so I added all this descriptive text here. If you have seen Golden Kamuy you may be aware of this campaign, but the Siege of Port Arthur and the Russo-Japanese war on a whole is fairly obscure. I tried a bunch of different fonts until I found this one. I like how it fills the screen.

00:09: This is one of the hills surrounding the port and it mirrors a famous photo from the time.

00:25: This scene is from a later episode covering the battle of Mukden. I was so short of clips I had to use it. Golden Kamuy does not have a ton of applicable footage for this AMV so I had to cheat when I could. An eagle eyed viewer may notice the lack of snow, but it is close enough.

00:27 – 00:40: One of the key concepts I tried to convey here was this AMV would use many faces to tell a single story. This is also why I went with such a verbose title. I had to do this since there was not enough footage to use one character to tell the story I wanted to. This is why these clips feature many different faces.

00:29 – 00:31: I color corrected the soldier here to have a more gray and washed out look to match the earlier and later scenes.

00:57: I tried to add a cannon sound here, but I never liked the various options I tried. It still feels a little empty with no sound though.

01:34 -01:37: “Great confusion and infernal butchery followed” is such a captivating line and really captures the austere style some war memoirs from this and earlier eras take.

01:49 – 01:51: I was pretty lucky to find this eye fade to black. It is one of my favorite clips.

01:54: I faded quickly into and out of a solid red here to convey a bit more violence with the bayonet stab.

01:59 – 02:01: I really like these three clips in quick succession. I went back and forth on making them black and white. Ultimately I wanted to tone down the violence just a tad here which removing the color helps achieve.

02:19 – 02:21: I flipped this scene so he is holding his right leg.

02:28 – 02:43: These scenes are color corrected to be a bit more red. I wanted to convey a bit more of a hellish atmosphere.

03:05 – 03:14: I was pretty hit up for clips here as the dialog is not literally matching the scene, so I had to be a more imaginative.

03:47 – 03:52: I really like the quietness of this ending.

03:53 – 04:02: I wanted a bit of a wrap at the ending, putting one man’s experiences into context with the larger battle as a whole. I did try adding some distant battle noise here, but it always sounded out of place.


I am very happy with how this turned out. It is pretty unique and covers an area I am very interested in. I hope it sparks people’s interest and gets them doing some reading on the subject. It was also pretty fun to work with a voice over artist, but I probably will not be doing that again given how long it can take and the cost associated with it.


AMV: I apologize to both of my sisters, I am just trying to win trophies

This AMV was shown at Anime Boston 2023 in “Hentai AMV Extravaganza!”. Originally I wanted to submit it to the regular contest under comedy, but it ended up being too risque. That was disappointing, but understandable.

Overall, I really like this one. The concept is pretty wild, but well complemented by the song which was rather hard to find. I remember this song and video doing the rounds a number of years ago, but trying to find it in 2022 when I was making this turned out to be a challenge. I knew from the get go I wanted to use this song, but I was not sure what anime I would use. I like to fully watch the shows that I edit with so I ended up watching a lot of fairly low quality shows (“Recently, My Sister Is Unusual” and “I’m in Love With My Sister”), until I ended up watching both Kiss×sis series (24 episodes total). This show has very little to offer and I would not recommend it. It did have all the footage I needed to work with though.

Director’s Commentary

00:36: I tried a couple different things in this video, like this scene where the character is mirrored across the vertical axis. It looks ok (minus the seam in middle), but was chiefly done so I could cut the other sister out.

00:49: This lighting bolt is from another scene. It was set against a black screen so I just removed the black and superimposed it on this clip.

00:54-00:57: Regarding this turtle I originally toyed with putting a flashing label underneath saying something like: “metaphor alert”. I figured I needed to explicitly make the joke for people to get it. I ended up not doing that and based on the audience reaction they understood what was going on, so it was the correct decision to remove it.

01:45 – 01:47: This is a tricky shot because the character here is talking as the camera pans up. There are a couple shots like this where I had to get a single frame with her lips closed and then match it as the camera angle changes. I like to avoid the lip flaps when I can and the work was worth it as without the flaps this scene flows better.

02:03 – 02:07: This is definitely the weakest part of the piece. I wanted to convey that his mind was elsewhere during this scene, but I never could quite get it looking right. Originally I wanted to drop in a thought bubble, but its only going to be a few seconds long so it took too long to develop. We have to move the main character out the way once we start flashing back so there is enough space to see the other clips. This does give a little awkward shadow of him early on. I lived with it since I think it is better to have than not have, but I bet a better editor could improve on it.

02:08 – 02:11: Definitely my best joke in the piece and so cheaply achieved.

02:30 – 02:31: I generally do not like to layer clips with different opacity layers over each other, but I really do like it here. The firework is also fairly sperm shaped which is an additional joke I wanted to include.

03:03 – 03:04: There is a bit of a zoom at the end here. I wanted this clip to last a second longer, but there was not enough footage to do that. I could stretch it, but I have had inconsistent results with that approach. I chose to freeze the last frame, but add some movement in with the zoom to keep it dynamic.

03:20 – 03:44: I wanted to save all this physical contact until right at the end. A gradual build up through the whole music video that pays off right at the end. A crescendo if you will. I think it hits well. It also does a great job of showing a lot of saliva, which was more frequent than you might expect in this show.

03:44: These hearts are cut out from another part in the show. I wanted them here to close things out. They look a little jagged on the edges, but it was a quick scene and its good enough for government work.

Postscript: I did want to actually end this on me looking embarrassed and being beat up with pillows, but that idea never came to fruition.


AMV: I got fired so I watched anime, fell asleep, and woke in a new world

You can watch the video here. This was one of two submissions to Anime Boston 2022 in the other category. It was accepted as a finalist and won Best of Show. I will discuss the video here in text, but if you do not like reading you can watch a retrospective here. Credits to long time friend of the show Patrick Skehill (of Quixotic United) for his technical advice and beta testing and Chuck for holding the camera for one shot.

Ultimately, this video is the logical progression from my last live-action-AMV mix up: April 15, 2019. If you make one video with live action shots and then you cut in anime, the inverse would be to take anime and cut in live action shots.

The first thing I needed to do for this project was get a camera. I thought I would get something cheap, and while that may have worked, I figured it was good opportunity to get something decent as there may be future live action projects. This turned out to be a good call as I ended up needing some of the advanced camera features to get the green screening just right. I went with a Canon EOS M50 with a EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens. Once I got that there was a lot of work involved getting the green screen to work. I initially only had some photography lights. These were wholly insufficient. I had to get three new LED lamps. Once I got the lights, along with fiddling with the camera settings (iso:640, shutter speed: 80, and aperture 3.2) things started to look good. This took me about a month. What I found especially helpful was this video. There are a bunch of minor issues you will not notice on a close viewing, like me having the green screen light spill onto me or the LED lights reflecting in my glasses, but overall it is good enough for government work. Once I had that all sorted I could go into full production.

I pretty early on wanted to start the video with me being fired and then drowning my sorrows by watching anime. As an aside, I was not actually fired in real life as some people have asked. I had actually hoped for a much longer intro referencing the previous video, but I only had so much time I could dedicate to just live action so I had to trim it down to the bones. I was allowed a maximum of five minutes or 300 seconds. Since 75% has to be anime that leaves only 75 seconds worth of live action. Initially I thought I would get transported into just one anime (tentatively Bubblegum Crisis), but in doing some initial poking around I figured this would be very difficult. It can be easy to find a few scenes that work in any anime, but I was going to have an uphill battle to find four minutes worth of scenes that worked in one anime. Especially in a short OVA series like Bubblegum Crisis. It is also a rather niche series at the moment. I suppose it is my MO to use old anime, but I did want to have a wide selection of anime so that there was something for everyone to enjoy. Likely though that is still just going to be people who like anime from before the 2000s. This ultimately is why I went with the current framework of jumping from anime to anime.

Production wise I would split my work up over days. I knew I had plenty of time (since I started in April 2021) so I never killed myself working like I did with April 15th. Ultimately this project was much less demanding man-hour wise. One day I would spend an hour or two finding anime clips and building up my live action shot list. Then the next day I would record and bring the clips into my editor (Adobe Premiere) to arrange them and then into After Effects to key the green screen out. This took a couple months on and off, but progress was pretty steady. There were a couple action shots that were hard to get the angle right on and some shots I had difficulty keeping myself in frame, but for the most part it was pretty smooth sailing. I would say overall the shooting took a few months to complete, but again I was never working on it every waking day like I did with April 15th.

Interestingly I did most of the video before I had the music picked out. I would just put completed shots in a rough order. It was only when I brought the music in that I could hit the beats by trimming or lengthening certain scenes. For the music I wanted something retro-like. Something like it sounded from the 80s. I first thought I wanted an exactly four minute song: one minute of live action (or so) and four minutes of anime set to music. It was a late revelation that I could cut the song early. I am not particularly musically inclined, but Gloria by The Midnight fits the bill nicely.

A quick note on the title, I had wanted: “I got fired so I watched anime, fell asleep, and woke up in a new world”, but Anime Boston has a 70 character limit on titles, so I had to go with the current title which is not perfect, but comes in at 68 characters.

Overall, I am very happy on how things turned out. This project lacks the emotional connection April 15 does, and it is not the most logically consistent, but it is fun and unique. I do hope it inspires others to create live action and anime mixups. That said, I think this is the end of the live-action-AMVs for me. I am not sure what more can be done. I do have other AMV ideas though.