Magical Barrage

Anime - Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha (Original and A's)
Song - KOTOKO - We Survive (short ver.)
Completed May 2006
Premiered July 7, 2006 Link
YouTube Link

The first time I watched Nanoha, I remember thinking that the action scenes were better than any other magical girl series I'd seen. That impression was confirmed and significantly enhanced during the second season, which had even better battle scenes (with more than twice as many people involved in the combat, things can be much more interesting). So when I decided that I wanted to do a combat-action video, Nanoha was the first thing that jumped into my mind.

The music was much harder. I wanted a fast, driving song, but fairly upbeat, and without long slower sections. I decided that I wanted to use a KOTOKO track after some deliberation, and was having difficulty deciding between "Oblivion" and "Face of Fact," though both had the problem that they petered out pretty badly at their ends. I decided to dig through my collection one more time, and found that I had missed "We Survive," the opening to VG Neo, on the first pass through. The long version, from the GIGA Opening Collection CD, felt like it was too long to carry the action the whole way through, but the short version was still available on the company website, and was perfect for the length and feel that I wanted.

Most of the editing was done without a major plan in mind, just general blocks that I wanted certain characters to dominate. My main goal was to make the action flow, and almost every clip was replaced at least once before finding a good scene for the music.

The text effects of the characters and their devices were fun to do, as finding a font that looked similar to the official Nanoha font took some time. The spellings of Raising Heart, Bardiche, Laevatein, and Graf Eisen are all official, from the device cards in the Nanoha A's DVDs. The spellings of Chrono's and Fate's last names, Signum, and Vita are all from Triad's subs, as I couldn't find an official spelling. I admit that the actual "light" that reveals the text looks kind of lame if you pause the video and look at it, but my skills at generating my own static images are pretty lacking, and they're only on the screen for about a third of a second at a time, so it still looks okay. Something to work on for my next videos, though.

There is one shot at about 0:40 that isn't from Nanoha or Nanoha A's, but from the Triangle Heart ~Sweet Songs Forever~ Soundstage VA, which is a collection of music videos from around the Triangle Heart series, made as a promotion for the then-upcoming OVA series. Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha started out as a sidestory game to the Triangle Heart games, and was apparently vastly different from the series, if the video from TH~SSF~ is any indication, including a distinctly different device, a fairy-form Lindy, and Chrono apparently as the bad guy of the game. Having the DVD available to me, I couldn't resist putting at least one small segment from Nanoha's roots in the video.

Convention History:

Animethon 13 (2006) - Runner-Up, Best Action
Otakon 2006 - Finalist
Anime Evolution 2006 - Finalist
Bakuretsucon 2006 - Finalist

AMV Hell: Championship Edition Entries (MEP Segments)

Anime - Various
Song - Various
Completed January-March 2006
Premiered June 8, 2006 Link
YouTube Link

These are the three entries I made for the AMV Hell: Championship Edition competition. Because I either had no ideas for a song (most of the early rounds) or because I was busy with projects for classes (some of the later rounds), I only created videos for rounds 8, 10, and 13. None of them ended up in the final compilation.

Round 8 - The Money Song
This was the first round that I had any idea for the song picked, since I've heard the song more times than I can count. The two lines that jumped out at me were "forty thousand French francs in my fridge," which made me think of the C4 packages in Rally's fridge in Gunsmith Cats, and "my dollar bills could buy the Brooklyn Bridge," where I remembered that US dollars are the currency of choice in Area 88. The hardest part of the video was overlaying all the British Pound notes over the love letters in Shiro's jacket for the opening lines. I eventually took the first and last frames of the original pan, aligned and pasted them together in Photoshop, overlaid the notes, and panned the frame across the large image in Final Cut.

One of the judges sent me a PM after the round saying how much they liked it, but the other judges disagreed and Fall_Child42's (I admit, very funny) entry won.

Round 10 - Wild Card
I'm really not sure where this one sprung from, except that I had just hunted down a copy of the music video of One Billion is Big from the old edutainment PBS show Square One TV, which I watched religiously as a kid. The song by the Fat Boys felt like a perfect AMV Hell song, so I went looking for shows with huge numbers of things. The first thing I thought of was the rats behind Yuki in the first episode of Fruits Basket, which reminded me of the explosion of rats in a first-season episode of Sailor Moon. The rat population of Chibi Goddesses rounded it out.

This was a quick one-gag joke, and I'm not surprised that it lost badly.

Round 13 - I Like to Move It
Blame this one on having watched blaidd's Battle Chess video at Katsucon 8. The first thing I thought of with "moving" was chess, and I hunted down what I had in my collection of people playing chess, which ended up including Miyuki-chan in Wonderland's live chess game as well as a second-season episode of Sailor Moon in addition to the Cowboy Bebop that blaidd used so well.

Not particularly funny, so I'm not surprised that the Azumanga pigtail-moving video entered by AmPsy won.

Dreams of the Stars

Anime - Seikai series (Crest/Banner of the Stars)
Song - Trans-Siberian Orchestra - A Final Dream
Completed December 2005
Premiered February 26, 2006 Link
YouTube Link

This video grew out of an utterly failed attempt at a Crest of the Stars video to "If We Hold On Together" from The Land Before Time in 2003.

The goal was a Jinto/Lafiel romance video, but the concept died an ugly death from lack of ideas on how to assemble it and the time pressures of graduating from college. By the time I was able to get back to the video, it was long stale in my head and I ended up scrapping it.

The idea got resurrected by two near-simultaneous happenings: I picked up a copy of Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Beethoven's Last Night and Banner of the Stars III got released. Banner III had Jinto and Lafiel much closer together than previous series, and "A Final Dream" was screaming for a "looking towards tomorrow" romance video in my head.

So, armed with nearly three times the source material I had for my original video (Banner I and II in addition to III, rather than just Crest) to fit a song half as long, I sat down and watched the entirety of the Seikai anime in about three days, taking notes on what scenes I might want to use. The actual editing of the video came together in about another four days, assisted by the fact that no digital effects were used, save crossfades and a few speed changes to fit a lyric.

The only major decision I had to make footage-wise was whether to edit fullscreen, cropping Banner II and III horizontally, or widescreen, cropping Crest, Birth, and Banner I vertically. I quickly decided to go widescreen, as I wanted the full span of several scenes from the widescreen series, and I lost very little of the fullscreen footage's scenes' impact by cropping them. Interestingly, unlike the other two times I've cropped fullscreen footage to fit a widescreen project, I didn't need to shift any of the fullscreen scenes up or down to keep the important part in the frame. For some reason, the Seikai series kept the action and focus in the middle of the frame, which worked out admirably for me.

This was the second AMV that I editing using Final Cut Pro on my PowerBook laptop, and has seriously hooked me on FCP over my old standard MediaStudio Pro, especially as the latest version of MSP (which I tried the demo of) was very, very disappointing.

The footage was ripped, filtered, and cut into lots of uncompressed AVIs on my desktop PC (as AVISynth is an absolutely wonderful tool for that), transferred to the laptop over the LAN, and edited on the laptop. The final export was transferred back to the PC for distribution encoding (XviD for the Org, MPEG-2 for cons).

Convention History:
Llamacon 2006 - Finalist
Animethon 13 - Finalist
Anime Evolution 2006 - Finalist

Ad Caelum

Anime - Various
Song - Michael Kamen - From the Earth to the Moon Opening Theme
Completed May 2005
Premiered August 19, 2005 Link
YouTube Link

Ever since I was a little kid, I've loved planes and rockets. I devoured every book about the Apollo missions, fighter jets, test pilots, and the Space Shuttle I could lay my hands on, and watched every Shuttle launch I could. I was even watching live when Challenger exploded. My grandfather, a former private pilot, nurtured my interest and encouraged me to become a pilot when I got older. My poor eyesight eliminated the possibility of being a military pilot, and with the expense of obtaining a private license, that dream was put on the shelf a long time ago.

Still, I love the thought of soaring through the skies, which became the source of this video.

I went through the majority of my collection of DVDs looking for footage for this video, and even purchased Macross Plus specifically to make it. I was actually surprised that I own so many things related to flying, since there are several more series and movies that ended up not getting used here.

The audio portion comes from the HBO miniseries From the Earth to the Moon, that I devoured watching it the first time. Again, the spirit of going higher and farther than anyone has before appealed to me.

The video's title, Ad Caelum, is Latin for "To the Heavens," and is a small tribute to a poster I had on my wall for many, many years, showing an astronaut on the moon above the words "Ad Astra de Aspera," a Latin phrase meaning "to the stars through aspiration."

The two quotes in the video I found randomly on some "famous quotes" site, when I searched for ones about flying. The Lilienthal one seemed especially appropriate for the feeling of the video.

Finally, there's no real message in this video beyond the love of flying.

This was my first video edited on my PowerBook laptop, using Final Cut Pro. The DVDs were ripped on my PC, since the PowerBook's drive is not region-free and the video uses some R2 disks, then the VOBs were filtered in AVISynth and uncompressed clips were created using VDub. The uncompressed clips were moved to the Mac and edited, then the final render was done in an uncompressed Quicktime file. This file was brought back to the PC and converted back to an uncompressed AVI file in Quicktime Pro, before making the needed compressions for conventions and distribution.

Convention History:

Otakon 2005 - Entrant, non-Finalist
Anime Evolution 2005 - Finalist
Bakuretsucon 2005 - Finalist, 3rd Place Drama


Anime - Sailor Moon
Song - Culture Club - Do You Really Want to Hurt Me
Completed February 2005
Premiered April 29, 2005 Link
YouTube Link

This video has a bit of story behind it.

Sailor Moon was the first anime series I saw (in 1996, I believe), and is what drew me into the genre and AMVs (old RealPlayer music videos from Jet Wolf's page ^_^). However, Chibi-Usa annoys me to no end. Which is why I find the Chibi Project hysterical. I first stumbled on the site longer ago than I can remember (right after the electric saw test, I think), and had forgotten about it until Bakuretsucon 2004, where Patrick D was a guest. Revisiting the site brought back many memories and is even funnier than the first time I saw it.

Boy George's music in general, and "Do You..." in particular also irritate the heck out of me. Whenever it came on the radio, I would wait for the first "Do you really want to hurt me?" line, say "YES!" and change the station.

So when the song happened to come on as I was reading the Chibi Project's website, the idea was born.

The video's title comes from the name of a pair of rabid anti-Chibi-Usa groups on the newsgroup that I was reading during my first experience with fast internet during the summer of 1998. LAKACUA, which is an acronym for Let's All Kick Annoying Chibi-Usa's A**, has a homepage that hasn't been updated since August 2001, so I think it's safe to assume it's a defunct group now, though I no longer play on Usenet to confirm that. Project CURE (Chibi-Usa is Really Evil) also has a website, which hasn't been updated in even longer (March 2001).

As a small possibly in-joke, the voice saying "Scratch One" over the final text is taken from the old Mac Classic game Terminal Velocity, for which Patrick D provided voices. I can't confirm whether that particular voice is his, but I though it was a nice tribute to the guy who came up with the Chibi Project in the first place.

Please note, I am not, nor have I ever been, a member of LAKACUA, Project CURE, or any other anti-Chibi-Usa group. I just dislike the character, and take humor where I can find it.

I also am not a member of the Chibi Project staff. The images from the Chibi Project site are copyright, and are used with permission.


This video is also the first time I tried a number of different technical things.

Firstly, this video is the first time I used AVISynth to try cleaning footage. All my earlier videos used whatever came off the DVDs, IVTCed if needed, but with no attempt made at cleaning it up. Since the Sailor Moon DVDs we got in the US are very low quality DVDs, cleaning was absolutely necessary. I may have overcleaned some scenes, but for a first attempt, I think the video looks light-years better here than what came off the DVDs.

Secondly, this was my first attempt at lipsynching. Given the huge amount of frame jitter in the show, I decided to go with the "overlay mouth" method, letting the background run, and only covering the mouth region of the character. I only synched a few scenes, and just let lip flap run for the rest of the video. I figured the scenes I didn't synch don't distract that much from the rest of the video, so why not just let them go? All in all, I think it's not a bad job.

Lastly, this was the first time using After Effects for anything more complex than the overlays in the round segment of Not What You See. These effects didn't come off that well, I think, so that tells me I really need to learn how to use AE better before attempting anything as complex as masking a character into another scene.

Convention History:
Anime Boston 2005 - Entrant, non-Finalist
AnimeEvolution 2005 - Entrant, non-Finalist

Not What You See

Anime - Revolutionary Girl Utena
Song - Savatage - Not What You See
Completed May 2004
Premiered July 30, 2004 Link
YouTube Link

I found the song for this video because of VicBond007's wonderful This Isn't What We Meant. Because of that video, I picked up a copy of the album Dead Winter Dead, and found "Not What You See" because I did.

The choice of Utena as the source was kind of a fluke, because I was planning another video entirely when this pairing leaped into my head. The basic premise was that the entirety of Ohtori Academy is not what you see on the surface, and how Utena and Anthy needed each other to break out of the cycle that the school is, even though neither understood that at first.

I made the conscious decision to avoid as much dueling footage as possible, since it has all been used many, many times before in other videos, plus it wouldn't have fit in most places in the video.

The most difficult section to decide how to do was the round starting at about 1:58. I knew I wanted to have something for each line going, but not how to do it. I ended up alternating Utena-Anthy, and repeating as the line was repeated a third and fourth time, so yes, the repeated footage is deliberate. Also, the "I don't understand" lines with the various Duelists was chosen because none of them (except possibly Touga, though that's debatable) fully understood what the Duels and the End of the World were.

On the downside, this video highlights one of my biggest hurdles to overcome as an editor: an utter reliance on lyric sync and over-literalness. There are several points where I wish I could have picked better scenes, but I can't think of anything that might have worked better off the top of my head (the literal wheels during the round for "As the wheels go around" is probably the biggest example of this here). Hopefully I can get over that soon; I think that it'll make me a much better editor once I can.

Otakon 2004 - Entrant, non-Finalist
AnimeEvolution 2004 - Entrant, non-Finalist

Isn’t That Love?

Source - Avalon webcomic
Song - Shimokawa Mikuni - Sore ga, Ai deshou?
Completed February 2004
Premiered February 27, 2004
Download link (12.6 MB)
YouTube link

This was a bit of a gift for the fans of the C & P pairing. With the song completely and irrevocably stuck in my head, I happened across a translation of the lyrics, and immediately thought of Avalon.

This was a fun way of learning keyframing in After Effects, and I like how it ended up coming out.

There is also a Sub Station Alpha script with the translated lyrics as subtitles available here.

Gummi Tanuki

Anime - Pom Poko
Song - Michael & Patty Silversher - Gummi Bears Theme Song
Completed December 2003
Premiered February 13, 2004 Link
YouTube Link

The blame for this one lies squarely on sleep deprivation, too much sugar, and Richard "Pocky" Kim's performance at Katsucon 9.

A few months after Katsu, immediately after our finals finished, two friends and I sat down to bounce AMV ideas off of each other, while we played songs in the background. When someone dropped this CD into the player (we're still not sure who did), we remembered Pocky's bouncing onstage to this song at the cosplay. I had the "bright" idea of doing a video to this song to torment poor, long-suffering Pocky with at the next Katsucon. After much laughter, we moved on to other ideas, but I hung onto the image of the ubiquitous con personality bouncing on stage in the back of my mind, and decided to actually do it.

The first order of business was to decide what anime to use. I rejected several ideas (Chibi Goddesses, Record of Lodoss War (SD segments), and other similarly cute shows) before I stumbled across the Ghibli classic Pom Poko in the anime club library, which was due for a R2 DVD release very shortly. The DVD was preordered in short order (Hey, you can never have too much Ghibli).

Unfortunately, the other piece of footage that I desperately wanted to include was not available, as the copy of it that I asked the Katsu con chair for got lost en route to me. Having the actual scene of Pocky at K9 in the video would have been wonderful, and I actually created an edited version of the song specifically to include that five seconds of his embarrasment. ^_^

Then came my final class, graduation, and moving back to my home state, along with applying to graduate school, so the video simmered on the back burner until I finally sat down to edit the video in mid-November.

As to the actual editing, I decided to not use any digital effects, since I had little enough time to edit the video already, and the fact the they were largely unnecessary to the video. So the only effects in this video are cuts and crossfades, with a very few clips slowed down to about 85% speed to fit a lyric.

I also had to choose whether to cut the song before the instrumental, or to do the entire song. I tried both ways, and eventually decided to keep what I thought was a fairly weak instrumental section because I liked the way the final vocal segment looked. In particular, I liked the final clip, (Actually not from the movie, but from the trailers on Disk 2) which makes the video look a little like a real opening with a title card at the end.

Convention History:
Katsucon 10 - Winner, Judge's Award
AnimeEvolution 2004 - Winner, Best Fun/Upbeat
Bakuretsucon 2004 - Entrant

As Mahoro Sleeps

Anime - Mahoromatic
Song - Sophie B. Hawkins - As I Lay Me Down
Completed July 2003
Premiered November 8, 2003 Link
YouTube Link

This is the first video I finished after graduating from college, so I was looking to make a fairly nostalgic and sentimental video to fit my mood at the time.

I had just finished watching all of Mahoromatic and Mahoromatic 2 with my brother, so that was the series that stuck in my head when I sat down to find a song. It took me a few days to find an appropriate song in my brother's collection, and another day to watch the first season again (DVDs of the second season hadn't been released yet) and take notes on the scenes I wanted to use. I'd have liked to use several scenes from the second season (especially episode 13), but without high-quality source, I couldn't.

Actually editing the video was a lot easier than I expected, especially since I didn't use almost any special effects except crossfades and speed changes. The most interesting technical hurdle was determining how to edit the anamorphic footage in MediaStudio Pro 6. I eventually decided to edit in the full 720x480 squished mode and resize/letterbox after the final export.

The one digital effect I used was the gaussian blur "transition" at 1:19 and again before the quick flashes at 2:22. I really liked the way it looked, and might use a similar effect in future videos.

One thing that irrites me that I didn't catch earlier is that the horizontal black padding on the first DVD is about four times the size of the padding on the other two, so it's very easy to tell which scenes came from the first DVD.

As Mahoro Sleeps was entered in the Nekocon 6 AMV contest and missed the submission deadline for AnimeUSA 5 because I mailed the form too late.

Convention History:
NekoCon 6 - Entrant
Bakuretsucon 2004 - Entrant