Anime Music Videos cover that little niche between science, art, and fanboy. Not just anyone can make an AMV, though many try. One must have moderately decent editing skills, and as videos get more and more advanced, so do hardware requirements. Money is also important, as it is very strongly suggested that AMV creators don't use bootlegs, and that they own the music CD with the song that they use. However, once you do make a vid, you are automatically raised a notch or ten on the fanboy scale, no matter how casual an anime fan you are.

The great thing about AMVs, however, is that you're never limited to a certain style. There are dramatic AMVs, AMVs with lots of action, AMVs that leave you crying with laughter, AMVs that make you want to dance, and AMVs that just leave you speechless.

Types of Anime Music Videos

So now that you've decided what video you want to do, it is time to choose your method of attack. Here are some requirements.
  • Original, legal source footage - No bootlegs, and absolutely no fansubs. If your source footage is VHS, subtitles are highly discouraged.
  • The CD that your song of choice is on - again, etiquette. You also have control over your method of ripping, to ensure the highest quality possible.
  • A reasonably good computer - You'll need a DVD drive to rip the DVD, or a TV tuner card if you wish to capture from a VHS tape. A fast processor and lots of RAM are invaluable for video editing applications that eat memory (see: Adobe). Lots... and lots... of harddrive space, especially if you're using footage from many episodes.
  • Editing software - In the AMV scene, software piracy is highly discouraged. Common apps used are Premiere, After Effects, and Media Studio, while n00bs tend to use Windows Movie Maker. Mac users are stuck with have access to iMovie or Final Cut Pro, as well as Adobe apps.
  • Time - This will not take a couple hours. Be prepared to redo segments. Be prepared for unexpected software crashes. Be prepared to sleep. Rome wasn't built in a day.
So once you have all of this stuff, you can dive right in, right? Wrong. Take the time to plan out your video, to make sure that you have all the required source footage, to make sure that you know what you're doing before you load up Premiere. The more prep work you do beforehand, the less time the actual editing will take. Watch the anime of choice and note scenes and chapters (you can use less harddrive space if you rip the chapter you want instead of the entire episode). Burn the song of choice on a CD and listen to it all day. If you can see your AMV playing in your head as you listen to the song, you're on the right track. Then, once you start editing... well, that's all up to you. Obviously the action on-screen should sync with the music, AMV-making isn't just throwing clips onto a timeline. As far as more interesting things you can do...
  • Transitions - You may be tempted to use all those crazy 3D transitions that come with your editor. Don't. Transitions should not be without purpose. Crossfades and fade-to-blacks are simple, elegant, and effective.
  • Digital Effects - You won't mess with these unless you know what you're doing. As far as the possibilities, well... they are endless. Let's put it this way, I have seen Spike Spiegel and Vash the Stampede in a gunfight, and it looked damned good.
  • Lip Synching - The art of having the characters sing the words. When done right, it's incredible. When done wrong, it's painful. Lip Synching does not mean that you put a clip of somebody's lip's flapping over the music. Lip Synching is making those lips actually fit the music, going frame-by-frame if necessary.
So once you have your finished video, what's to stop you from encoding it and sharing it with the world? Absolutely nothing. DivX is popular, as is XviD, MPEG1, and MPEG2. People with little bandwidth will use Real encoding, or WMV encoding. Submit it to the 'Org (, and people will start downloading and viewing your work. They may leave opinions. Some of them will make you feel great, others will sound harsh. Listen to both opinions, as almost all opinions on the 'Org will include ways you can improve. If an opinion seems unduly harsh, talk to the person who left it, and find out his reasons. If you think it's good enough, submit it for competition in an anime convention. You never know, enough people may like it that you win.

Recommended Viewing

These are AMVs that I have viewed and highly approve of, that cover most genres of the hobby. To find them, go to "Search Videos" on, "Super Search", and input the title. If you want to try your luck with Kazaa, a few of these (especially Odorikuruu) have a strong P2P presence.

AbsoluteDestiny's Shameless Rock Video - This one swept the Viewer's Choice Awards, and for good reason. I almost blacked out from watching it, as the digital effects are phenomenal.
KentaroPPJ's Ganymede Has A Whorehouse In It - Cowboy Bebop. The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas. Jet Black playing the role of Dom DeLouise. Need I say more?
The Beatles' Yesterday - Cowboy Bebop - Just put Yesterday as the song and Cowboy Bebop as an anime. There should only be one, because nobody can top this classic from More Than Toast Productions.
Odorikuruu - A classic dance video that uses at least a few dozen different series. Don't be put off by the differences in source quality from anime to anime, this video is still amazing.
PowerPuff Girls: Reloaded - PowerPuff Girls. The Matrix: Reloaded. God save us all.

Oh, and before this writeup gets blasted onto E2, a word on Dragonball(Z)(GT)/ Linkin Park videos, also known as LPZ AMVs.

For some strange reason, lots of 13 and 14 year olds think that taking downloaded episodes of Dragonball Whatever, clipping them in Windows Movie Maker, and throwing in a Linkin Park song is original. Here's a newsflash: It's not. There is no originality left in LPZ videos because it's the same damn thing, every time. If you are considering doing one of these videos, for the love of $DEITY, don't. Having an LPZ vid on your AMV resume is the mark of Cain. You're better than this.

As a shameless plug, I will be co-hosting a panel on Anime Music Videos: Do's, Don'ts, and Demonstrations at this year's inaugeral Anime Boston. If you're in town for the 4/20 nodermeet that I believe is still on and decide to go to the convention, stop by and enjoy. In fact, if there's enough noders going to Anime Boston, perhaps we should have a mini-nodermeet there.