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How To Make a Great Animated Music Video

by on November 15, 2009

Music. Time. Animation.

All three of these are key parts in making an animated music video (AMV). However, an AMV is considered great only when they are all utilized. There are plenty of people who do not sync the animation with the music, or perhaps recycle scenes over and over again because they believe it to be “more dramatic.” Well, I can tell you right now that the failure to sync the music with the animation is just sloppy, and repeating scenes is nothing more than being lazy. Oh, and when selecting what scenes you are going to be using, make sure there are no subtitles. If you are considering making an AMV, please don’t be one of those people. Select the right song, make sure the timing is correct, and pick scenes that actually have meaning.

Music: Let’s say you wanted to make an AMV featuring Gundam Wing. Unless you want to show a particular relationship, typically you would want to avoid picking a slow and emotional song. You want to pick a song that is going to represent the piece well, and for those who have watched Gundam Wing, slow and emotional just isn’t going to cut it. A song that is fast and intense is more so the route to go. “Fast” and “intense” can of course differ when you go into the different genres of music, but in general most of the time you know when you are picking a song that will pump someone up. Gundam Wing involves a high amount of action and fighting, the music should represent this.

On the other side of the spectrum, there are shows like Ouran High School Host Club, which is relatively light-hearted and fun. For Ouran, selecting the music becomes a bit more bendable, so to speak. You can go the slower-route, depicting the various relationships in the show, or you can pick an up-beat song that is a bit more cheery. Picking a heavy metal song for this particular show would however not be the best way to go. There are a few serious moments, but for the most part Ouran is very carefree and nonsensical, something intense just doesn’t represent the show very well.

With all of that being said, let’s keep in mind that everyone has different taste in music. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t select a song that appropriately reflects the show.

Time: This is probably the biggest peeve I have with AMVs. Sure, selecting the music and animation takes effort, but the timing is when all of the real effort takes place. This pretty much means going along with the music. When a new line starts, have a scene shift, or do something in the AMV to acknowledge the shift in music. This of course doesn’t mean just a random change, but a change that both connects with the prior animation sequence and represents the music. If you can make sure your animation even follows those subtle changes in the music, your AMV will be of high caliber. Granted, this does not mean that your animation should be jumping around all of the time; there has to be some continuity! Another hint: during the chorus, I have always found the best AMVs to have a really pivotal scene. Do not mistake this as an excuse to recycle animation. Pick a new scene during each chorus; just make sure they are all equally good. The last thing you want to do is start off really strong, and end rather weak.

Animation: As I mentioned earlier, whatever you do, DO NOT pick a scene with subtitles. Not only are these distracting, but also they look tacky and take away from the quality of your video. Also, remember to pick scenes that actually mean something. So many people think that if they can just put animation to music perfectly, it is a great music video. Make sure your AMV actually has a point! Will it look nice if everything matches up perfectly? Yes. Will it mean anything? No. A central message is a vital part in making animated music videos. This also essentially means that you shouldn’t really have any “filler” in the video. Make every scene count for something and play a role in bringing the message out. It also helps when you are sequential. If you are depicting the love of Haruhi and Tamaki in Ouran Host Club, it really isn’t all that special if you randomly put in a lot of scenes where they have a personal moment. Everything should build up, from their first meeting, to their first intimate moment. You are not making an abridged episode for the show, but there should still be a story within your video.

There are always going to be exceptions, but in general following these concepts well will help you make a great AMV. In the end, remember to stick with your gut and think about what you like and dislike about animated music videos when you watch them. More than likely you will find that if you incorporate that thought process in your AMV making, the video will be pretty darn good.

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