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An anime music video (AMV) is a music video consisting of clips from one or more cartoons set to an audio track often songs or movie/show trailer audio. The term usually refers to fan-made unofficial videos. An AMV can also be a set of video game footage put together with music which is known as a GMV.
AMVs are not official music videos released by the musicians, but are rather amateur fan compositions which synchronize video clips with an audio track. AMVs are most commonly informally released, most often over the Internet. Anime conventions frequently run AMV contests or AMV exhibitions. While AMVs traditionally use footage taken from anime, video game cut-scene footage is also a popular option. Music used in AMVs is extremely diverse, using such genres as J-Pop, rock, hip hop, pop, R&B, country, and many others.
AMVs should not be confused with professional and original animated films produced as music videos by such groups as Iron Maiden, or with such short music video films as Japanese musical duo Chage and Aska's song "On Your Mark" by Studio Ghibli. AMVs should also not be confused with fan-made "general animation" videos using non-Japanese animated video sources like western cartoons, or with the practice of vidding in Western media fandom, which evolved convergently and has a distinct history and fan culture. "Anime music videos" are a sub-genre of the more general "animated music videos". Parallels can be drawn between AMVs and songvids, non-animated fan-made videos using footage from movies, television series, or other sources.
The first anime music video was created in 1982 by 21-year-old Jim Kaposztas. Kaposztas hooked up two VCRs to each other and edited the most violent scenes from Star Blazers to “All You Need Is Love” by The Beatles to produce a humorous effect.
One of the first anime music videos that achieved popularity came from the 1996 song "Daytona 500", from rapper Ghostface Killah, using clips from the 1960s anime Speed Racer, which was first shown on English television back in 1968. In fact, it is one of the most popular anime music videos ever made, and the Speed Racer clips used on that video made it his official music video. It was also the first AMV to be shown on a TV channel.
The creation of an AMV centers on using various video editing techniques to create a feeling of synchronization and unity. Several techniques are available to achieve this:
- Editing: Using different clips from the video source and changing between them at specific times is the most important tool the AMV creator has. Often both the events in the video and the transitions between the clips are synchronized with events in the music. This synchronization is divided into two general types: internal and external. Internal synch involves synching the audio with actual events taking place in the scene, such as gunshots and slamming doors. External synch is instances of edited in cuts made in time with the audio.
- Digital effects: Using video editing software (commonly a non-linear editing system) the video source can be modified in various ways. Some effects are designed to be imperceptible (such as modifying a scene to stop a character's mouth from moving) whereas others are intended to increase synchronism with the audio, or possibly create a unique visual style for the video.
- Lip-sync: the synchronization of the lip movements of a character in the original video source to the lyrics of the audio, to make it appear as if the character were singing the song, often the purpose is comedic. Lip-syncing is also commonly used in parody AMVs. These songs usually come from musicals, or to the latest on the pop charts.
- Some editors use original and manipulated animation, both two-dimensional and three-dimensional, in AMV works. Such additions are often used for visual effect or to convey a story that is otherwise incommunicable using only the original video source.
- Rubber-bands, keyframe manipulation or dissolves: These are techniques in which the editor makes points in a video source on the timeline of the non-linear editing program that they can drag to different positions which makes the video either fade in or fade out. This can be to another video clip, or to a different color, most commonly solid black or solid white.
John Oppliger of AnimeNation stated that fan-produced AMVs are largely popular with Western fans however not with Japanese fans. One reason he cited was that Western fans experience a "more purely" visual experience as most Western fans cannot understand the Japanese language, the original language of most anime, and as a result "the visuals make a greater impact" on the senses. The second reason he cited was that because Westerners are "encouraged by social pressure to grow out of cartoons and comics during the onset of adolescence" whereas Japanese natives grow up with animation "as a constant companion", English-speaking fans tend to utilize and reconstruct existing anime to create AMVs whereas Japanese fans "are more intuitively inclined" to create or expand on existing manga and anime.
Famous amvs that have gone on to become Internet memes or semi-memes include "Crimson Destiny" a FullMetal Alchemist video set to "Dream On" by Aerosmith, "Tainted Doughnuts" (Trigun/Cowboy Bebop set to Shiroi Yami No Naka by Shakkazombie) and the Caramelldansen meme spawned by Popotan set to Caramell's Caramelldansen.
AMV competitions, evaluations, and rankings
- Iron Editor: Two or more editors compete directly with one another, editing videos on the fly in a real-time contest in the style of Iron Chef. Most commonly these bouts go for the length of one or two hours and they are held either in person, at an anime convention, or over the Internet. In both cases there are designated judges who compare the videos, either by the theme, the timing or overall production quality of the videos made during the competition. Judges will declare a winner and most commonly this winner goes on to compete against other editors who have won previous parts of the competition. The other alternative is an individual Iron Editor competitions, in which there is only one part to the competition and most commonly only two editors, only one of whom wins.
- AMV Viewer Choice: The editors submit videos to competitions that are held either at anime conventions or on Internet websites. In both cases the winners are decided by the viewers and sometimes the editors themselves are allowed to vote. In conventions AMVs are usually judged by the category they are competing in, for example an action video would compete with other action videos. Viewers watch the videos and they submit votes at the end of the viewing portion of the competition. The other way that this competition is held, is through an Internet website. Some websites have a similar way of judging the AMVs, by the category they are in. While on other websites the videos compete against other videos of the same or different categories and are judged on which is a better AMV overall, not solely on the theme of the video. The site AnimeMusicVideos.org has the largest known annual AMV contest, the AnimeMusicVideos.org Viewers Choice Awards.
- In March 2008, Tokyopop hosted the I-Manga Music Video Mash Up Contest. The contest called for fans to create a music video, using Tokyopop manga and music. As opposed to most anime music videos, I-Manga Music Video Mash Up Contest required participants to animate and manipulate still images with the use of motion graphics. The contest featured art from Bizenghast and Riding Shotgun with music ("Feel the Disease" by Kissing Violet, "Break Ya Self" by Far East Movement). The winner of the contest was awarded an iPod Video, loaded with Tokyopop music and Tokyopop I-Manga webisodes. As well as featured placement on Tokyopop's YouTube channel. 
- There are several public rankings of AMVs available: A-M-V.org StarScale (only for registered users), A-M-V.org Opinions Top10% (only for registered users), AKROSS Rating, AMVNews Overall Ratings
AMV and copyright infringement
The Japanese culture is generally permissive with regard to the appropriation of ideas. Works such as dōjinshi, unauthorized comics continuing the story of an official comic series, are actually encouraged by many anime makers. These dōjinshi take an original copyrighted work and expand upon the story, allowing the characters to continue on after, before, or during the original story. Most anime makers encourage this practice, as it expands their series. Some see it as a tribute while others see it from a business viewpoint that it draws in more support for the anime than it would have had otherwise. Some mangaka create their own dōjinshi, such as Maki Murakami's "circle" Crocodile Ave (Gravitation).
The question has been raised of how such works can continue to exist, or such organizations to flourish, when they do so with questionable legality. The answer is that many of the Japanese authors encourage it—several of these authors began their careers with the same kinds of projects they witness anime fans working on today (ex. Clamp).
Thankfully, it seems that American anime distributors hold a similar sort of view in regards to AMVs. In an interview with site AnimeNewsNetwork, FUNimation Entertainment copyright specialist Evan Flournay said they generally see AMVs as a sort of free advertising. "The basic thinking going into fan videos is thus: if it whets the audience's appetite, we'll leave it alone. But if it sates the audience's appetite, it needs to come down. Does that make sense?" he says.
In recent years there has been an increased demand, primarily on the part of the record industry, for the removal of AMVs from sites like YouTube, Google Video, or the AnimeMusicVideos.org aggregation site, with particular regard to YouTube due to its relative popularity compared to other AMV sources, as well as its for-profit status. Musical performers and their representative record labels have been requesting the removal of some music videos from websites where they are made available for download, though it is primarily the latter who take such action. Public discussions and perspectives give varying accounts of exactly how widespread these actions have become. In November 2005, the administrator of AnimeMusicVideos.org was contacted by Wind-up Records, requesting the removal of content featuring the work of the bands Creed, Evanescence, and Seether. Songs on AMVs uploaded on YouTube are sometimes removed due to copyright infringement of either TV Tokyo or the Warner Music Group.
While music labels and corporations generally see AMVs in negative light, often the actual musical artists in question do not hold the same views. A number of AMV editors report to having had positive contact with various artists, including Trey Gunn and Mae. Japanese electronic duo Boom Boom Satellites even teamed with site AMVJ Remix Sessions to sanction an AMV competition to help promote one of their singles, going so far as to provide the source material for editors to use. The winner's video would be featured during one of the pair's tours. The first of this competition took place in January 2008 using the song "Easy Action" and the anime movie Vexille. A second competition took place later that year in November using the song "Shut Up And Explode" and the anime Xam'd: Lost Memories.
From a purely legal perspective, the creation of AMVs generally involves the infringement of one or more copyrights. However, infringement alone can be justified under the auspices of fair use if the use is transformative in nature. In many cases, the video elements of an AMV can be argued as being a transformative use, while the audio elements (in the case of whole songs) might not be; the copyright holder being able to assert that the creator is in effect redistributing an unauthorized copy of the copyright holder's work.
In his book Code: Version 2.0 and a subsequent talk in Google's AtGoogleTalks Author's Series, Creative Commons founder Lawrence Lessig specifically mentions AMVs as an example when dealing with the legality and creative nature of digital remix culture.
- ↑ Such video game clips feature in over 10% of current AMVs according to AnimeMusicVideos.org statistics as of February 2007
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- ↑ TOKYOPOP :: Leading the Manga Revolution for 10 Years and Beyond! ::
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- ↑ "Chicks On Anime: Copyright Enforcement Interview". Interview with FUNimation Entertainment copyright specialist Evan Flournay, posted on AnimeNewsNetwork May 5, 2009.
- ↑ "AMVs and Funimation's Copyright enforcment comments". Discussion on the AnimeMusicVideos.org forum, thread created May 5, 2009.
- ↑ "Evanescence, Seether and Creed videos no longer available". Discussion on the AnimeMusicVideos.org forum, thread created November 15, 2005.
- ↑ "Musical artists who like AMVs". Discussion on the AnimeMusicVideos.org forum, thread created March 11, 2009.
- ↑ "BoomBoomSatellites x Vexille Promotion Contest". Discussion on the AnimeMusicVideos.org forum, thread created January 16, 2008.
- ↑ "BoomBoomSatellites x Xam'd Promotion Contest". Discussion on the AnimeMusicVideos.org forum, thread created November 20, 2008.
- ↑ "Authors@Google: Lawrence Lessig". Lawrence Lessig, author of "Free Culture," visits Google's New York office as part of the Authors@Google series. This event took place on October 3, 2006.
- AnimeMusicVideos.org, an AMV community site
- AMV Dream, Streaming AMV's
- Creatives face a closed Net FT.com, 17 January
- "Anime music videos" at the Annenberg Center for Communication
- ANN interview with Funimation copyright enforcer; discusses policy anent AMVs
- MangaTubeUSA Website for Anime Music Videos
- KetsuRyu.com Website with huge database of available AMVs (streaming & download), full results of the major international AMV contests and more.
- AMV Hell AMV Hell, which became a genre unto itself.
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