I just finished reading 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami and I’m quite inspired to say the least. I had only read about a third of the way through (the book is around 1200 pages long, which is quite a lot for me) when I made the video below. Now if you don’t know, the video is what they call an “AMV” or Anime Music Video, sometimes referred to as an “FMV” which I believe stands for Fan Made Video. These are usually made from combining some kind of pre-made animation or film footage with music. They are usually made by amateurs simply to express their fandom of a particular movie, show, or song.

Anyway, I made this one as part of a contest at animemusicvideos.org where we had to create a music video within a week. We were given a random song and we got to choose the footage. I thought The Girl Who Leapt Through Time fit well with my 1Q84 theme. To read more about the meaning of the video or to get a downloadable version go here. I put a lot of effort into making this video but I didn’t make it past the first round. I would say the biggest critique I received was that the video involved too many scenes of the main character running. Eh well, so I like running…


Since this blog is about things I make I decided I would explain a little bit about how it was made. So, here you go!

Basically the main thing to note is that almost the entire sequence is made up. As in most of the cuts were not from the original movie – depending on the scene I may have had to stop, reverse, or speed it up for it to fit where I wanted. Each clip individually was placed in order to give the video the flow and context that I desired. My plan was to create a new story (and in a way to summarize the story of the movie) with the original footage that I was given. Here is a screenshot of my Adobe Premiere time line to give you an idea of what I mean:

I’m writing this assuming you know nothing about the kind of process that goes into making any kind of video whatsoever, so if this is not the case, well, I’m sorry to explain… The box on the top left contains the footage I had available to use, the box in the top middle controls any effects that I apply to a clip in the timeline and the longer box on the bottom is the timeline where all my video and music clips have been added and altered. This is a relatively simple AMV and the timeline can get way more complex than what I have shown here!

So what about special effects?

The image above is a screen shot of my video in Adobe After Effects. This is different from Premiere in that it is geared less towards long term editing and more towards adding special effects onto your footage. I think they call this type of program a compositor, where you basically composite different pieces of footage and images in order to create one rendered piece of footage. AE is a pretty amazing program, you are basically limited only by your imagination. So to explain the screenshot, basically I created a time stamp and layered it on top of my footage. I then had to mask (that is the yellow box in the preview screen) certain parts of the stamp out so that it appeared to be behind some of the figures in the scene. I then moved the stamp left or right for a set amount of time according to the scene so that it appeared to be floating amongst the crowd. Depending on the scene I also added some slight blur effects to place it in the correct depth of field.

Here are some not so noticable things that went into the video…

First of all, I got rid of some “lip flap.” Basically lip flap is when a character in a video is speaking out of sync to lyrics or appears to be speaking when there are no lyrics at all. I had no intention of using lip sync during this video but there were a couple scenes where Makoto (the main character) appears to be talking. In the original footage of course she is talking, but since I changed the context of the scenes, simple things like lip flap can become really noticeable especially during dramatic moments. So to explain, the top screenshot is of Makoto’s original mouth. The bottom shot is with the mask enabled. Basically what I did was take a still of Makoto a frame or two before the moment she closes her mouth and masked away everything except the mouth. I then moved that layer on top of the original scene and made it appear that her mouth was still open. So the whole scene looks as if Makoto never actually said anything. This particular scene is really fast so it isn’t a huge deal, but when you add up a bunch of these small scenes it becomes really apparent that they are taken out of a larger context. I had to make it appear as if she was simply searching for someone instead of talking at the same time in order to help create my own sort of story with the original footage.

Here is another quick (not so quick) thing that helped give the video a new context…

Above is a scene that lasted about one second in my actual video. But like I said, in order to keep my stiory somewhat consistent I had to change it a little bit. In the original footage the feet in the background are actually walking from left to right. I wanted to get rid of them for two reasons. One, I felt that they were distracting to what I thought was important in the scene, and two, I wanted to make it appear that Makoto was still moving around in the world where time was still frozen. So here is what I did…

In the image above what you see is different still frames from the same scene masked and overlapped to create as much of the background without Makotos’ legs or the shoes from the fellow in the background. This was as good as I could get but obviously there is a big hole in the center of the image. So I rendered this still into a Photoshop document and, well, “Photoshopped” it. I then reimported it into AE as shown in the image below.

Okay cool, then I placed the original scene over the image I had created in Photoshop and then, frame by frame, masked everything but the legs out (just so you know, this can take a long time and make your eyes want to bleed). The image below is the end result.

So yeah, some silly things that might not be very obvious went into making this video but I really like what turned out! I find that making AMV’s is a good exercise when learning about animation. I would love to create my own animation in the future (one more thing I would love to do…) and this type of thing has certainly helped me understand how animation works and how involved video editing in general can be. I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted and I can honestly say I haven’t made much “Art” lately which I sometimes feel a little bad about. But then I remembered that this blog isn’t just a blog about art or my philosophical thoughts but more of a journal that records my creativity in general. There is so much stuff I like to do and I often have a hard time focusing on one single thing for very long. But I always tend to go back and forth between things, making my rounds. Perhaps someday I will be able to settle and learn how to focus on one thing but for now it is kind of fun to just do whatever the heck I want!

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