Tuesday, June 8, 2010

SH042 - burn the candle at both ends

video: various
music: Sentenced - "Neverlasting"
link: depositfiles [36.3 MB]
editor: Dazzle MovieStar
production date: June 2002

Like SH024, this video was done as a kind of afterthought to balance the demo it appeared in, but in this case the balance was going the other way. Also like SH024, this one uses a Sentenced song that starts with the letter "N", which occasionally makes it confusing for me looking over my private AMV archive -- in which I ditch titles as being unproductive and pretentious in favor of the formula band_name+anime_source-song_title. These two videos both start with the string "Sentenced+various-Ne", and it takes an extra half-second to make sure I'm pulling in the right one.

SH041 - hold your head high

video: various
music: Pain - "On And On"
link: depositfiles [39.2 MB]
editor: Dazzle MovieStar
production date: June 2002

In earlier notes, this one was flagged as being not metal, or at least sufficiently non-metal to qualify it as a 'dance' video, which I have pretty much not done since. Then Pain goes and gets a sub-1000 page number on metal-archives. I don't know whether this is irony or just another "lol metal-archives" moment.

This was supposed to be the last new video in demo 3, but it turned out not to be. The 28-second cut from which the preview image is lifted is still the longest sequence used unaltered in a SH video.

SH040 - blind to see

video: various
music: Iron Maiden - "Can I Play With Madness?"
link: depositfiles [35.3 MB]
editor: Dazzle MovieStar
production date: June 2002

There's a fair amount of guff in the .org entry for this video about it being broken, and coming out in weird versions, etc., so this is probably the right place to discuss why.

The reason is that MovieStar, while a decent linear editor, was piss-poor at exporting stuff. This is the reason for the very small and very weird frame sizes on the original (non-remastered) versions of SH videos before SH093; well, that and that I didn't entirely know wtf to do with a MPEG2 output. What I should have done was process the final HQ build of the video like a DVD stream (that I didn't have any experience working with yet, but what the hell): drop into DGIndex (or whatever the equivalent was back then), save project, import AviSynth script into VDub, build standards-compliant full-screen two-pass XVID encode like a civilized person.

What I actually did was quite different, though close enough to make any overly neurotic video quality types want to bash me to hell and back with a brick: I exported from MovieStar as a "high quality" .asf (whatever that meant), then brought that into a legacy version of Virtual Dub that had ASF support, which was removed before I started making AMVs even. (In this video, the ASF didn't and wasn't able to export right, cutting the production chain off at the knees.) This was the source for a 3000 Kbps DivX distribution copy with, necessarily, damaged audio, but my speakers were damaged as well, so my ability to hear that the audio was fucked was kind of impaired.

This is the sort of thing that keeps guide authors awake at night: a theoretically smart process that doesn't even know how brain-dead it's being, or how few changes would be required to make it truly intelligent. I obviously had the high-quality MPEG2 builds; that's what all these remasters were done out of. I also had and was able to use AviSynth, at least after I started cutting stuff in Virtual Dub in the fall of 2002; I just didn't put it together for whatever reason. Stuff like this keeps me on my toes process wise: always conscious of needing to be aware of what I may be missing, and what I'm not seeing that I ought to.

SH039 - kimi no tameni

video: various
music: SHIMOKAWA Mikuni - "Tomorrow"
link: depositfiles [36.3 MB]
editor: Dazzle MovieStar
production date: June 2002

It's somewhat fitting, in the same ironic sense that anything at all is fitting for Shin Hats, that the only multi-part demo that is really accessible, and primed to attract anime-fan demographics, is the last one, and the one that I had no control over getting actually shown, since I mailed it up to my former kouhai in BAS (page hasn't been updated in forever, the club's still alive though) midway through the summer rather than lamely driving up and participating post-graduation.

This video is the first unambiguously non-metal song to go into a SH demo (yes, Linkin Park and Adema require some unholy twisting to get to that point, but you know people are going to fight that corner), and the first, period, not in English, though by this point I'd already done videos with bands from Finland, Sweden, Norway, Germany, and Russia. Despite weird historical accidents like three videos done in German and only one (the shortest) in English between SH107 and SH111, this is actually the norm. It's a lot more common for English speakers to not understand the lyrics in a SH video because of the vocal style than because of the language used.

SH038 - way up high

video: On Your Mark
music: Skyclad - "Dreamer Deceiver" (cover)
link: depositfiles (remaster) [36.9 MB]
editor: Dazzle MovieStar (remastered Magix 2.0+ deLuxe)
production date: May 2002 (remastered October 2009)

The picture up above does not represent the full fidelity of this video as it currently exists. This is because the pictures for these entries through about like SH089 were all done back in 2003/2004 when I was first putting together a SH web presence at UofM, and as noted above, I rebuilt this video shot for shot from non-beat-up source in October 2009.

A DVD print of the On Your Mark video was included, quite unexpectedly, at the back of the version of Umi ga Kikoeru (ok, ok, I Can Hear The Sea) that I picked up at the grocery store when I was in Beijing back in May 2006; however, due to not being able to read Chinese, I missed it until I ripped that DVD for use in assembling SH111 in January 2009. That video got hopelessly delayed for various reasons, but after eight months of mostly-not work, I had the opportunity to do this remaster as a follow-up project, made possible because I'd been inactively looking for the song on CD (or suitable fascimile) over a lot of that time, and it eventually paid off. The jump from upscaled-Indeo-from-LD to DVD video source is almost equalled by the jump from watery-room-mic to proper-CD-rip in the audio....and when this initially came out on the .org last October, it was replacing a 320x240 Divx encode that looked like the picture above. Video salinity shock, pur.

This is the second of two SH videos rebuilt; SH005 got redone as SH097, while this one obviously didn't get a new number. I'm currently working on a rebuild of SH007, which looks like it'll more likely get the SH116 designation rather than slotting in over the old version.

Monday, June 7, 2010

SH037 - gambarimasho!!

video: Comic Party
music: Iron Maiden - "The Wicker Man"
link: depositfiles [46.1 MB]
editor: Dazzle MovieStar
production date: May 2002

Like SH035, the song here was originally booked with this source before getting pulled back into demo 2. In this case, though, it's easier to argue for direct improvement, because the thematic of getting back on track and standing on one's own feet plays into the source available from this title a little better than with the diverse bucket available on the demo. Of course, in discussions I've had about this video since, this perspective isn't universal; it seems to be restricted somewhat to people who first heard the song in its original historical context, as the first indication that Iron Maiden was going to be relevant again as a result of Bruce coming back, rather than just a museum piece. Without this context, the theme of "rising to the challenge" isn't as prominent, but if I do my job properly in the video, I can convey that perspective to the audience regardless of where they're coming from historically.

SH036 - Trip At The Brain

video: Cowboy Bebop
audio: Fishbone - "Post Cold War Politics"
link: depositfiles [10.8 MB]
editor: Dazzle MovieStar
production date: April 2002

I like this video. The .org hates it. I can't say that I don't occasionally see the point of view that gets this marked with the lowest score of any locally-available video, because this is relentlessly weird, and for a long time the print on the available copy of the video looked like absolute crap. Thanks to the remasters project, the print now just looks mostly like crap, but the video is still relentlessly out in left field, so scores aren't going to improve.

SH035 - break me down

video: Yumede Aetara
music: Adema - "Giving In"
link: depositfiles [39.3 MB]
editor: Dazzle MovieStar
production date: March 2002

This is the same song that was used in SH027, but this was the video it was originally assigned to. This was an idea down near the bottom of the to-do list at the time, but it got pulled up as a result of the capturecardpocalypse mentioned earlier. Depending on perspective, it can be a good thing to do neat little videos like this one that don't have much in the way of ambition; at this point, it was kind of a force due to a lack of other ideas. Between SH033 and demo 3, there's a fair amount that can be contested on the logic of "well, maybe not making AMVs would have been an acceptable option", but I didn't see it that way at the time, and these videos turned out getting made.

Nani Naze Causality

The What and Why of Causality (SH115)


By now, I feel that enough space has been given for people to form their own opinions about this video, so I can weigh in without my comments being taken as authoritative about what it is, or what it's trying to do. This was also intentional: this is a self-organizing video, and I wanted for it to at least try, initially, to be self-documenting.

The what, first: this is a video that was to a large degree edited by random rolls (hence the credit to The Machine That Won The War). What I did was roll on a table of all the non-credit cuts in Summer Wars, and place the resulting cut into the timeline until I felt the music changed enough to justify another cut, or until I ran out of frames. Effects are by design rather than random, and at the end of the song I had a separate pool of extremely long cuts to be used as scaffolding that I rolled 1d20 on to place, except for the last two, which were by intent. There are zero frames in this not from the original source; I (mostly) put away my usual tools of negative space, positive space, and trigger abuse in order to concentrate on excessive close cutting to compose an order out of the chaos presented by the literally random clip selection.

The why: This was a confluence of several themes that turned into a video idea. I wanted to do a literally random video (picking cuts with rand(1) or something similar and letting the chips fall where they may) for a while. Since the source collection would be by linearly decomposing the input into its component cuts, it would have to be from movie source, for linearity (because I'm lazy) and to keep the total size of the source pool down. Also, since any cut could come in at any time, I had to avoid the slack or barren animation that you occasionally get in TV anime.

I was looking at The Girl Who Leapt Through Time as a potential source, but that was getting an overused rap on the .org, so I was leaning away from it; I needed a source that was visually striking to work with the assembly method, but I didn't want something where every cut has been seen in a hundred videos before, because that would tip the random-recombination element too strongly. It was in this time that I encountered Summer Wars, having heard a lot of good stuff about it when it was in theaters, and was immediately sold. I ended up not even buying the other movie.

The musical choice was another strong driver; I wanted to do an Arctopus video, but didn't want to kill myself in the process. Random selection takes a lot of the pain out of finding the exact cut, in a pool of nearly 1400, to match to the quarter-second of one of Colin Marston's fills. Additionally, despite being completely unrelated, there was a huge fucking kickup about someone who did a video to the whole of BTBAM's Colors record (which, really, is not good enough to get such treatment, especially in contrast to their earlier albums) and wouldn't acknowledge its weaknesses. I get embarrassed and defensive about such things, and it's not honest to claim that there wasn't at least a little motivation, as long as I was on this project, to show that you can do ambitious projects with long runtimes, absurdly technical music, and challenging concepts and not have it come out like crap.

As things developed, the synergy of the source with the concept drove the project further. The central idea behind the video is mass parallelism, and the implications that has for causality (hence the title). If everything is happening at once -- as manifested by the blizzard of random-selected intercutting -- what prior event is what consequence connected to? Is it possible to pick that out? This is kind of a big theme in the first half of the movie; a case of mistaken identity caused by a scattergun social-engineering attack, with its aim parallelized cracking. The ideas of parallelism, distributed resources and the communication models that bind them together, and the complementarity of social and technological approaches to the challenges of the modern world are, of course, everywhere in the movie, and it's difficult to think of a video that would bring them together into some kind of coherent whole that did NOT come out looking like this one. (Well, fucking duh, this was the Summer Wars video that I did, and if I was capable of looking at the material in a radically different way, I wouldn't've come up with the idea.) This might be why, at the halfway point in the production when I checked, there were exactly zero full Summer Wars videos out.

The random-select concept made the video easier but this is not the same as easy. Not by a fucking long shot. I still had to do all the actual intercutting to make things work, in addition to the rolling, and I also had to spend nearly 15 hours cutting up the movie in the first place, then moving it to an environment where I could keep 100 minutes of HD source on-disk rather than on remote storage. While the base idea of decomposing limited source into its component elements and recombining those in time with the music echoes back to an earlier day, actually doing so was a significant challenge even for me as an experienced editor.

The only regret that I have was that I didn't do this all in AviSynth, or that there wasn't a transparent way to do that. Why? Because I could have distributed a master script calling a synthesis of 500 or so smaller scripts (plus of course the index, omg bootleg), it would be a lot smaller in footprint, and I could claim to have out the first interpreted rather than compiled AMV. As a once-and-maybe-future Lisp head, this would have been neat, but in the larger scope of things is really not that important, and nobody would have the processing power required to interpret a video like this with any kind of smooth playback at the time it was released.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

SH033 - Phantom on the Green

video: Boogiepop Phantom
music: Demons & Wizards - "Fiddler on the Green"
link: depositfiles [60.4 MB]
editor: Dazzle MovieStar
production date: February 2002

In February 2002, war was beg--, no, strike that, PortCon Maine was in its first year and BAS was considering a trip down that ultimately did not come together. Related to that, I put together this video as an entry for the AMV contest, but did not end up submitting. They may have only been accepting entries on VHS at that point, and I was insufficiently aware, at least at that point, of the ins and outs of making VCDs and SVCDs to get around the capture card/output problem.

This is the last SH video not made from digisubs/other people's encodes until SH064. Because the video that eventually became SH070 was the one that was planned for SH035, after wrapping SH034 (not going to be posted) I attempted to install a trial of Adobe Premiere to see how that would work, since I was already feeling the limitations of the editing environment that I had available. The result was disastrous. I was able to recover the computer, but the capture card was proper fucked, and would stay that way for most of the rest of the year. This led to the Verbot on Adobe products and a period of grasping at straws, source-wise, that eventually forced me to learn more about digital video again. It also made SH070 a much better video, when I got back to it, than it would have been as SH035. So there was an upside, but try telling that to someone who thinks he's lost his production environment, and is going to have a giant hole blown in his project schedule, not to mention a wallet 300 dollars lighter from buying another card that ultimately didn't fix the problem.

This was also the first SH video, at least as far as I've been made aware of, to get jacked on YouTube. I'd post the link, but it got removed sometime between 2004? 2005? iirc and the present. Other people really need to do a better job of spreading around the videos I make to evangelize bands in order to prop up their internet egos.

SH032 - e vol ve

video: Boys Be
music: Solar Signs - "Skyland"
link: depositfiles [38.6 MB]
editor: Dazzle MovieStar
production date: February 2002

This video is probably the single most unambiguous success of the founding principle of Shin Hatsubai: to introduce new or obscure music to anime audiences that will like it. The band is a beyond-kvlt Russian post-black-metal ensemble that I found on a Japanese site dedicated to Russian metal; the anime, bugged digisubs that could not kill the attraction of the music in combination with the visuals. (You can see the digisubber watermark in the upper right corner of the preview pic above.) If a) I can be arsed and b) I can find DVD source of the first 6 episodes of Boys Be, this video may at some future point get remastered to get rid of the bug.

For both those who are here looking for Solar Signs' demo, and those who just came for the AMV but decided DO WANT, it's available on request (i.e., I still have everything from Wait Me At Dusk except "Theory of Hopelessness", and will upload a package if someone actually asks.)

SH031 - Revolt

video: Fushigi Yuugi OVA
music: Gamma Ray - "Rebellion In Dreamland" (2000 re-recorded version)
link: depositfiles [96.4 MB] (it's nine fricking minutes long, gies a break)
editor: Dazzle MovieStar
production date: January 2002

This was and is the longest single AMV that I've done. If you count SH075 through SH078 as four parts to a single whole, then yes, that checks in at like 18 minutes, but that's not how I edited those videos. And yes, this was blasted out in the space of less than a week, because I'd already capped the footage in advance. Even that, though, as previously noted, speaks to the constraints of working with essentially a linear editor (if all you've got is a hammer, you're not going to waste time trying to plane the boards smooth with it), but much more to the realities of being a last-semester senior, doing only three classes, of which only one (the others being finishing writing a thesis for German and implementing an independent-study project for CS) actually involved going onto campus. I spent a lot of time in the library and in the lab, but outside of work four nights a week, band/orchestra on the other three, and a once-weekly midnight radio show, I had virtually no ironclad commitments to break up AMV work. If I wanted to do a six-hour stand in the middle of the day, to finish an edit, I could usually do that, and do whatever got preempted while the final video was building, or at night until some arbitrary hour after band/work, unless I had a turn-in milestone to meet. That's just not possible post-graduation in a situation where I have a commute, a regular 8-hour shift, and for most of that time, at least an occasional phone tether that may require attention.

This video has always been historically big. It was originally distributed in a 320x240 screensize that due to bad protocols and other crap, was barely less than 100 MB, no matter how I shook and banged on it. The remasters project let me get it up to the original master resolution but, again, at nearly 100 MB. If I had a better print and 24 fps footage rather than 30, it would be smaller, but I'm not going to waste time finding the DVDs to remaster this for that reason.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


video: Mystery of the Necronomicon
music: Hypocrisy - "Carved Up"
link: depositfiles [38.9 MB]
editor: Dazzle MovieStar
production date: January 2002

By this time, it had been three months and eight videos since I'd done something FUCKING METAL. This was and remains too long for active operations. It's also a testament to what working conditions were like back then; I could get back to school, cap two hours of video, cut it down to strict brutality, avoiding the porn parts, then pound out a draft and a finished version and be done in about 12 hours worked, before classes started again. Nowadays, I seldom have 12 hours over two days to devote to AMVage, let alone the initiative to do so, but part of that is also that standards change. Cutting takes longer in VDub than it did in MovieStar, and the ability to fine-tune cut length and apply effects forces that work to actually be done, to make sure that the video's coming out optimal. Back in MovieStar, if I missed a hit, I missed a fucking hit, or just edited the sequence differently; not too fucking much that could be done about it.

SH029 - Harvest of Thorns

video: Rurouni Kenshin OVA
music: Sentenced - "Killing Me Killing You"
link: depositfiles [58.5 MB]
editor: Dazzle MovieStar
production date: January 2002

I do so much graph nerdery that I really ought to go in and do a graphical comparison of first- and second-run videos on a title in terms of some fixed metric of aesthetic quality. It's not going into the post for this video, a companion piece to SH028, but maybe by the time I get to SH082/083.

Sentenced's official video for this song is particularly bogging. The idea behind it is nice, but the filmography does a particularly bad job of bringing it forward in a way that audiences are going to identify with. I stopped bigging up my videos a long time ago, and will only under heavy conditionals defend an AMV against something that someone actually put effort into filming, but I'm pretty sure this, and any other competently executed amateur video, would be preferable to the video that Sentenced went with officially.

SH028 - and so it ends

video: Rurouni Kenshin OAV
music: Blind Guardian - "And The Story Ends"
link: zippyshare [68.3 MB]
editor: Dazzle MovieStar
production date: January 2002

This sort of video is what keeps me editing; something that somehow catches lightning in a bottle and matches up to the standard of the music. I can't remember what the production queue looked like exactly in January of '02, but I do know that this came forward because of source issues; I had the Kenshin OAVs on hand, but not much else, and could get access to a copy of Imaginations..., even though my own was still up at school. (This and SH029 were cut up over winter break when the demo finished earlier than anticipated.)

This one also shows that you don't have to cut the everliving fuck out of a source in order to make a decent video out of it. In addition to the demo 2 charts in the last post, I also dug out the complete project file for this video, which WAS pictured below on a 6"x9" sheet of note paper before ImageShack died.

[pretend there's some 15-year-old scribbled timecodes here]

Seriously, that's it. Less than 80 cuts for just about 6 minutes of music. No effects beyond crossfades. You could get away with that in 2002, and if your source and concept are good enough, you can probably get away with that even today.

Charts like this, with explicit end marks for all cuts that went into the final video, exist for all non-demo vids through SH038. This dictates, basically, what videos I'm allowed to think about remaking and which I'm going to be too lazy to ever consider challenging.

demo 2 and the Musical Chairs Demo guff

This was alluded to in the post for SH025, and since I was pawing through my project notes last night anyway as part of setting up the rebuild of SH007, I dug out the following pieces of paper to show the evolution of the demo.

This shows the initial plan of what the demo was supposed to be. The videos referenced, for those who can't make out my internal shorthand, are in order:
SH025/26; the script from SH025 with the song from SH026, which was originally considered with "Coerced Coexistence", also off the Colony record
SH026, at least the script anyway, using "Shades of Revolution" from the Kenshin OVA soundtrack
either SH023 or SH020
SH027; well, the script, using a song that would eventually show up in SH048
either SH021 or SH023

Things started changing almost as soon as the ink was dry. I had plotted out, at least initially, when I started writing the scripts, a demo that appealed to me, a demographic that at Bowdoin was already in the damn anime club. The first step was to dial the metalness back; this resulted in the more accessible In Flames song getting picked for the new-build video, and SH021 getting cut in favor of another new video that would become SH024. The next step was to make things snappy as well as diverse; SH023 got in over SH020 in that slot, and I had to do something about the seven-minute song assigned to the SH026 script. That something turned out to be slotting the song from the SH025 script in, and throwing a new song in behind the SH025 script.

The last change, for which I'm still not 100% on the reason, was to set the song for SH027. It's probably that The Dreamside were coming off as too kvlt, and I wanted something more accessible, but still fitting the emo parts of the script. Also, "Mirror Moon" would really dominate the script out, which was counter to, um, the entire purpose of making a demo video. One way or another, things got worked over into the form that demo 2 looks like now, as shown in this shot of the credits script:

The slightly different ink color shows that the two substitutions and one addition were done significantly after the script was originally written; this version is what shows up in BAS11.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

SH027 - in to you

video: various
music: Adema - "Giving In"
link: depositfiles [39.2 MB]
editor: Dazzle MovieStar
production date: January 2002

This video is wicked emo. I have enough other disturbingly emo videos in my catalog (no, not listing by name, they're pretty hard to miss) that I can't get off with blaming this on the spirit of the time and place (2002, college activities fair, emos are a prime target group for anime recruitment). It's the song more than any other fucking thing; even though this was a demo, I couldn't refrain from joking around on the lyrics a little, and it'd be dishonest to say that the chance to overdrive this into OTT dramedy didn't play into the decision to go ahead with this song as the music for SH035.

SH026 - embodied

video: various
music: In Flames - "Embody The Invisible"
link: depositfiles [36.3 MB]
editor: Dazzle MovieStar
production date: January 2002

This video includes the first and last pinwheel transition in SH history. Effects like this tend to go one instance per video and never get used again; it's extremely unlikely that the ripple effects or, especially, the Rubik's-Cube-emulation turns used in SH115 will ever make it into another video. What works in one place will not work in others, so the extent to which the pinwheel works here, which is surprisingly effective for being a garbage transition, essentially precludes it from ever being used again. It was supposed to get used again at some point in this video as well, but the editor threw up its arms and crashed horribly in the process, teaching me my lesson.

SH025 - your time will come

video: various
music: Iron Maiden - "The Wicker Man"
link: depositfiles [45.1 MB]
editor: Dazzle MovieStar
production date: January 2002

It's really weird for an AMVer to reuse songs, especially someone focused on the music; you do exactly one treatment of a song, and the thought never crosses your mind to re-edit it with a different video source. This makes demo 2 super weird, because this one both and SH027 got redone, more or less exactly ten videos later, as real videos rather than demos. Part of this is that this is a good song that deserved its own video with the source that got used there, and part of it is that this song was never actually intended to be in the demo as per the original script. As noted a long time ago on a different site, demo 2 might better be known as "Musical Chairs Demo" rather than its unofficial internal title of "Revolution '02". Sometime, when I dig out the draft scripts and slotting, I'll put together a full post on the evolution of the final listing, which will be uninteresting except as an illustration of my "start a fight in an empty hoose" abilities as an editor and project coordinator.

SH024 - light of the chosen

video: various
music: Sentenced - "Nepenthe"
link: depositfiles [38.3 MB]
editor: Dazzle MovieStar
production date: January 2002

This was the last video in demo 2 as presented at the actual table, but the first to be executed, as I had learned something from the experience of demo 1 and SH014 and decided against putting SH021 into something intended to appeal to general audiences. I needed something to fill the hole in the rotation, though (the demo was already plotted out by the time I thought better), so as a tuneup on the demo, I did up this video featuring newer titles and no script cards, which makes it more of an AMV than most other demo videos.

This one includes a relatively large amount of picture damage; it was while I was in process on source build-out for demo 2 that I discovered that leaving the audio in while pushing the video through TMPEG was causing fidelity problems. I never found out why this was the case; it was enough for me to fix the goddamned problem and then move on. Due to time constraints, I didn't rework the damaged episodes, though, and hence there's some weird breakage in this and the next three videos.