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Don't be alarmed at the sound of my voice

So we have this 200GB external hard drive which houses all the AMVs for the Room Party Kit, and stuckintraffik has done most of the filling and organizing up to this point. This past weekend at AI I pillaged Ukyo's external HD for stuff we didn't have, although we didn't have a lot of stuff he was interested in on account of different tastes in anime - he and his kunoichi prefer comedy to drama and action AMVs, and we like to keep a little more of the latter on hand because some of the best AMVs are action and drama pieces. (Anyone who disagrees needs to review the work of Vic Bond and Kevin Caldwell.) Don't get me wrong, everybody loves comedy, and we could easily do 3-4 hours of Monty Python, Weird Al and AMV Hell a night, to say nothing of all the other parodies and oddball humor pieces. However, for sheer jaw-dropping technical excellence and emotional power there is nothing in the comedy genre to match Koopiskeva's Euphoria, Vic Bond's Larger Than Life (yes, done to the Backstreet Boys tune. Must be seen to be believed.) or local talent Apocalypse Incorporated's Hey Pretty. I was thinking it's not really fair to stuckintraffik to dump the responsibility for maintaining the AMV inventory on him, so I've been spending time this week leeching stuff off Kris McCormic's joint.

ZOMFG, there is some hideous, hideous crap out there. I've clearly been spoiled by the local talent: animeamiee, tokenfanboy, revolutionaryjo, willow_one and of course stuckintraffik himself all have done some fine, fine work, and it just amazes me that kids with good technology and detailed guides readily available on the Internet still manage to produce such awful combinations of music and video. The ones that are most frustrating, of course, are the AMVs that are almost perfect. Good case in point: a perfectly lovely Fushigi Yugi video which had some great scenes, wonderful timing, excellent quality...and subtitles in every second of the AMV that had nothing to do with the song. It drove me nuts. What was really appalling was that the video in question had a somewhat respectable rating, 3.5 or 3.7 on a scale of 5, IIRC. What kind of undiscriminating idiots would have given this thing a 4, much less a 5? Artistically it was superfine, but on technical merit it was fatally marred by those distracting subtitles. This happens over and over again...a good combination of music and video is ruined by one or more of the following:

1) Horrible source video, either downloaded or off a poor-quality VHS tape. Come on, kids. Kevin Caldwell showed you how to do it right with Engel. You have no excuse, especially now that you can rent anime for cheap or bum DVDs off your friends.
2) Subtitles. There are tools for getting rid of hard subtitles, and no excuse for not using the right settings to get rid of the soft ones, you lazy scum.
3) Channel IDs. If I had a nickel for every "Cartoon Network", "Adult Swim" or other cable network logo I've seen in the bottom RH corner of a third-rate AMV, I could quit my job at the Evil Banking Neighbor. Same comments apply as for subtitles.

These are all technical criticisms. I'm not going to slam somebody for employing the usual suspects anime in their AMV; if your muse came to you and inspired you to create something using Sailor Moon,Neon Genesis Evangelion, Cowboy Bebop, Dragonball Z, or Naruto, fine. You better be really good to rise above the hundreds of fanboys and fangirls who have mined those particular veins of imagery, though. I'm also not going to rant about lens flare or some other FX; we are all trying to get a particular synthesis of music and image out of our heads and into reality when we do AMVs (and mine are coming, oh yes my precious) and if you think you have to use a ton of FX so be it.

Still...there are a lot of other series with mecha that aren't NGE, lots of shoot 'em up action shows that aren't Cowboy Bebop, and plenty of magical girls who aren't Usagi Tsukino or her four friends. It would also be nice to see an AMV contest without half a dozen Linkinball Z or Naruto Park entries. Which is by way of saying a little originality through use of little-known anime would be nice. Wouldn't it?


( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 16th, 2005 10:22 pm (UTC)
What, you don't like Linkin Ball Z videos?

Sep. 17th, 2005 12:23 am (UTC)
All the ones I've seen suck. Even the fake ad for the Ultimate Linkin Park DBZ Videotape, which mocked the whole genre, sucked.
Sep. 16th, 2005 10:22 pm (UTC)
Wait. Pretty soon, we'll all be seeing at least 5,000 bad AMVs with Advent Children footage, set to various Linkin Park songs. 9_9
Sep. 17th, 2005 12:24 am (UTC)
Kill me now. There's enough bad FF AMVs out there already to rate a separate server on amv.org.
Sep. 16th, 2005 11:36 pm (UTC)
Shows like Noir, Nadesico, Macross, but I might be biased...

I'm still tempted to do a RahXephon video, but I think my next AMV will be to Princess 9. Euphoria has kind of ruined making RahXephon videos for everybody else. Still, I may take up the challenge someday. I have 2 songs for RahXephon battling through my brain as to which one gets made. The P9 video I have a pretty clear idea in my head already.
Sep. 17th, 2005 12:26 am (UTC)
I think I'm going to take a few nights off from sifting through the mountain of crap...on the way home from work I caught myself think about a magical princess AMV set to Lou Reed's "Heroin". When you start thinking about twisted shiat like that it's time to take a break. *nodsnods*
Sep. 17th, 2005 01:19 am (UTC)
You should see the list of songs I'm seriously considering using for videos. I've got two Hillary Duff songs I'm considering, one of which I will be using for sure. Trust me, I know what I'm doing.
Sep. 17th, 2005 02:33 am (UTC)
Are you gunning for the WTF Award next year? Staff's ineligible for that too, y'know. ~_^
Sep. 17th, 2005 03:16 am (UTC)
Actually I am 100% serious. If it turns out the way I picture it in my head, you will eat those words.

In regards to WTF, I believe Jo was planning on promoting it a lot online to try to get the best-of-the-best to submit entries. I'm not sure if WTF is a contest or just an exhibition.
Sep. 17th, 2005 02:40 pm (UTC)
Well, I've seen your work and know how good it is, but the concept strikes me as very weird. If it turns out as well as some of your other projects have, I'll be happy to eat my words...maybe with some wasabi on the side. ^^

I'm not really sure what Jo has in mind for the WTF contest either. I'll have to noodge her this weekend to find out what her plans are for it.
Sep. 17th, 2005 03:55 am (UTC)
Now if I had said Lindsey Lohan...then be afraid, be very afraid. :P
Sep. 17th, 2005 02:41 pm (UTC)
The great thing about modern music is that by the time they're done massaging the voice input, pretty much anyone can be made to sound tolerable, at least for 3 minutes and 30 seconds.
Sep. 17th, 2005 07:16 pm (UTC)
All good criticisms and ones that any vidder worth their salt will take to heart. Everyone starts somewhere though and even I am guilty of having my first vid be spoiled by subtitles.

Personally I'm not as harsh about people who make videos with subtitles or have the cartoon network logo on the screen. Your vid will be more professional looking if those are gone, but outside of anime fandom vidding tradition is to get your source where you can because not everything is available on DVD. There's less of a need to spend a lot of money on something that's a nonprofit, fannish venture and I'm down with that. It's a matter of tuning them out for me. Some people get in a real twist about people using fansubs since it's someone else's hard work for ripping and encoding the video. But that mindset just doesn't exist outside of anime. It's source footage, not fanart, and the copyright line is a little more tricky.

I'm less forgiving about something like the divx logo, because you can turn that crap off without paying a cent. It's just a matter of looking up the information. Although admittedly, I too am guilty of having it in some of my early videos.

By any large though, most AMVs suck. Especially the ones that are easily uploaded to AMV.org. Hence the need for the WTF Contest.

I'm going to link you to the Vividcon Anime Vidshow playlist now to pick up a couple really spectacular vids that I don't think we have in the Detour library just yet. Raid away. :) Also, if you haven't already, go through absolutedestiny's work as he makes some stunning vids as well.
Sep. 17th, 2005 09:45 pm (UTC)
I don't have a beef with somebody using downloaded or VHS images if there is no other source, as there often isn't with series that haven't been distributed in the States, Kanon and Sailor Moon Stars, frex. But you can't tell me that somebody can't find DVDs of Inu-Yasha or Fushigi Yugi, for Heaven's sake.

As for the subtitles and logos, it's not that hard to get rid of them. Maybe not as easy as the DivX logo, but there are tutorials on how to do it without making your vid look like complete crap. (Easy for me to say; I have yet to actually attempt this, but soon...)

Thanks for the link. Isn't absolutedestiny one of the guys who helps run amv.org? I'm sure we have a number of his vids on the drive, but with good editors there's no such thing as having too much of their work. My ambition is to reach a point where we have enough stuff on the hard drive to run two nights' worth of AMVs and promos for the convention without having to repeat anything, and I think we can do it. Despite all the crap out there, I'm confident that we can get two or three seven-hour playlists set up with a good mix of comedy, drama, action and trailers.

*goes off to pillage*
Sep. 17th, 2005 11:36 pm (UTC)
DVDs are expensive and not everyone can afford them though. I sure as hell wasn't going to put out $30 for volume 10 or whatever of Fushigi Yugi (which I love to loathe) and as a result it took me many months trying to find someone who actually owned it I could borrow from before I could finish my Gay Boyfriend vid. If you don't have the cash and don't have the connections then you've got an issue, and sometimes fansubs are the only thing you can use. So for beginning vidders I give a lot of leeway. But for someone who's been doing it for years and could very well use the DVD version or what have you, it's a whole different story.

Subtitles are a bitch to get rid of. Tutorial or no. Especially if you want to have a constant aspect ration. I'm still a little annoyed with some parts of Crossroads because cropping the picture to remove the subtitles sometimes cuts out important parts of a scene. Like say, half the character's face. Cropping is the easy way, blurring more often than not looks like shit afterwards. Same for removal of network logos.

Ian is one of the AMV.org crew now and he's a well established vidder, so yes, I'm sure you have at least IWIWAL and Shameless Rock Video in the collection. There are a lot of vids of his that even I hadn't seen before I picked up a copy of his DVD at Vividcon though. Check out his website if you can, I don't have the link on me at the moment.

Glad to hear we're mixing up the playlist somewhat. Quite honestly I never stop by the Detour parties for more than a few minutes simply because I have seen all the ones we have so many times that I lose interest. And while I see it more than some people, I get the feeling that congoers will start to feel the same before long. I can go through my collection and pick out some older, less well known AMVs too if you want.
Sep. 18th, 2005 02:24 am (UTC)
stuckintraffik likes his stuff a lot so there's a fair amount of it, and I'm adding more. By all means, bring in some more stuff. We may not have a lot of the older AMV, and a lot of it ain't bad at all.

I'm not saying that it's always easy to remove subtitles and logos, but I think people ought to make the effort. I damn sure will be...removing text on stills is bad enough, I can imagine how hard it is on video. And yes, first efforts deserve a little more slack than I'm cutting them. If you want to run with the big dogs, though, you ought to do things at least as well as they do.

I think part of the problem with the RPK is that we tend to play a lot of comedy, which most people like, and don't blend in enough action and drama. Another part of the problem is that a lot of the file names are pretty farkin' obscure (it took me halfway through Saturday night's party at AI to find "The Pirates That Don't Do Anything" and some other popular AMV because they both had really cryptic filenames that gave no clue as to what the music or the anime were. I'm fixing that, I am, but in the meantime it means that a lot of good stuff got overlooked because nobody but stuckintraffik knew what it was, which is no way to run a room party.
Sep. 19th, 2005 04:09 pm (UTC)
Bah. Easy filenames are not l33t.
Sep. 20th, 2005 01:01 am (UTC)
Our convention is not l33t. Oh, wait, used that joke already...
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )



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