A (Very) Brief History
The first AMV (anime music video) created is credited to Jim Kaposztas in 1982, when he used two VCRs to mix The Beatles’, “All You Need Is Love”, with scenes from Space Battleship Yamato. Timing the song to certain cuts from Yamato, it had a largely comedic effect that many fans appreciated. By the 2000s, with digital editing software’s advent, creators started striving for more complexity and modernity to their AMVs, creating videos on par with some from Hollywood.
From the past (circa 1990s):
To the present:
AMV Editors in Their Home Environment
The culture and community of AMV editors is a different type of environment now than it was in the past. Before YouTube, the community was a more close-knit group of people, and AnimeMusicVideos.org was the central hub to see just about every AMV available. However, over the years that has changed, due to the rise of digital editing and the expansion of the internet making distribution easier. Fall_Child42 (co-creator of AMV Hell 4 and 5) commented, “Since the internet evolved and more platforms for video exist [nowadays]… communities have spread out and created their own pockets with different styles and rules.” Because of these differing styles and rules, some have commented about its fragmentation. Shin-AMV (Winner of different categories at Anime Boston in 2015, 2012, and 2011) adds, “Because of this a lot of the community ends up in small cliques that is quite separate from each other… that the community is toxic because of in-clique drama, but these views tend to focus [more] on small spheres or groups….”
AMVs: To Collab or Not To Collab?
Despite this, many have said they have felt welcomed and have created some of their closest friendships based in the AMV community. There is a sense of camaraderie among fellow editors and a willfulness to help. AMVs can be a solo art, but more often than not, many of the AMVs out there are multi-editor projects (MEPs).
“It’s actually quite common in the AMV community for some editors to just be MEP… type editors, who rarely finish solo projects but will edit anywhere between 15-30 seconds in… different MEP projects,” says Shin-AMV. It not only encourages new editors to hone their skills, but also gives them opportunities to find their own style inspired by other fellow editors. “You see new ideas you might of [sic] never thought of and we learn a lot from each other,” replies Hamstar138 (winner of Anime Expo Best Trailer 2015). However, some editors have lamented that it is hard to complete a truly original work when there are many hands in the pot. As Lirinis (winner of several AMV contests in Russia) says: “Collaboration is a lot of fun and joy but it's really hard to produce something … when you have to combine inputs from several people.” That is not to say that there are more pieces done by either collaborations or soloists.
Fair Use Laws and The AMV Community
Moreover, concerning Fair Use Laws, many had a similar response. There have been some problems along the way, especially whenever hundreds of hours go into an AMV’s creation only to be taken down under copyright laws. ”It's definitely something that's always bothered me,” says MyCatHatesYouAMV (winner of several AMV contests over ten years), “…It’s common for various editors to find their amvs [sic] without any music one day or just removed entirely.” Since these editors are making no money from these productions, more often than not Fair Use is applicable for a few reasons. As PieandBeer (winner of Another Anime Convention’s Best Romance AMV 2013) comments, “AMVs are definitely separate and distinct from the sources they are comprised. Even videos that really just summarize the anime to music are creating a unique experience…..The issue with copyright now is something that affects a large amount of creative content, not just AMVs.”
AMV Makers: Any Advice?
In conclusion, they were asked to give advice to future editors. Here’s what some said:
Fall_Child42: “Do what feels good!”
Shin-AMV: “Be creative and make mistakes.”
Xophilarus: “…[A]lways edit from your heart rather than to win contests or to be popular.”
Camichan19: “Don’t take yourself too seriously. :’3”
Special thanks to Fall_Child42, Shin-AMV, Xophilarus, Camichan19, MyCatHatesYouAMV, Lirinis, Hamstar138, and PieandBeer for their help.