An Anime music video (AMV) typically is a fan-mademusic video consisting of clips from one or more animation shows or movies set to an audio track, often songs or promotional trailer audio. AMVs are not official music videos released by the musicians, but are rather fan compositions which synchronize edited video clips with an audio track. AMVs are most commonly posted and distributed over the Internet through AnimeMusicVideos.org or YouTube. Anime conventions frequently run AMV contests or AMV exhibitions consisting of blocks of videos.
AMVs should not be confused with music videos that employ original, professionally made animation (such as numerous music videos for songs by Iron Maiden), or with such short music video films (such as Japanese duo Chage and Aska's song "On Your Mark" that was produced by the film company 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. Parallels can be drawn between AMVs and songvids, non-animated fan-made videos using footage from movies, television series, or other sources.
The creation of an AMV centers on using various video editing techniques to create a feeling of synchronization and unity. Some examples include:
Sync 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.
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.
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. Others include splicing in graphics that are not normally in the video, such as adding text on a fixture in the scene up to additional computer graphics to add visual flair.
John Oppliger of AnimeNation has noted that fan-produced AMVs are popular mostly with Western fans but not with Japanese fans. One reason he cited was that Western fans experience a "more purely" visual experience inasmuch 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 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"; as a result, 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.
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. Coordinators pick a theme and sources to be used in the competition, which are known to the contestants beforehand and typically include a secret source known only to the coordinator just before the competition. Most commonly these bouts go for the length of 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, by the theme, the timing and overall production quality of the videos made during the competition. Judges will declare a winner and commonly this winner goes on to compete against other editors who have won previous parts of the competition or in a tournament-like setting.
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.
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 producers 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 manga artists create their own dōjinshi, such as Maki Murakami's "circle" Crocodile Ave (Gravitation).
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 and AnimeMusicVideos.org, with particular regard to YouTube due to its relative popularity as well as its for-profit status. Public discussions and perspectives give varying accounts of exactly how widespread these actions have become. Most notably in November 2005, the administrator of AnimeMusicVideos.org (Phade) was contacted by Wind-up Records, requesting the removal of content featuring the work of the bands Creed, Evanescence, and Seether.
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.
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.
^Lessig, Lawrence (March 25, 2004). "Chapter One: Creators". Free Culture. Authorama.com. Retrieved 2009-09-08. This is the phenomenon of doujinshi. Doujinshi are also comics, but they are a kind of copycat comic. The creation of doujinshi is governed by a creators' ethic stating that a work is not doujinshi if it is just a copy; the artist must make a contribution to the art he copies by transforming it either subtly or significantly... These copycat comics exhibit significant market penetration as well. More than 33,000 "circles" of creators from across Japan produce doujinshi. More than 450,000 Japanese come together twice a year, in the largest public gathering in the country, to exchange and sell them. This market exists in parallel to the mainstream commercial manga market. In some ways, it obviously competes with that market, but there is no sustained effort by those who control the commercial manga market to shut the doujinshi market down. It flourishes, despite the competition and despite the law."