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Anime Music Videos

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A film is - or should be - more like music than like fiction. It should be a progression of moods and feelings. The theme, what's behind the emotion, the meaning, all that comes later.
- Stanley Kubrick

What Is An 'Anime Music Video'?

An Anime Music Video (AMV) is a Japanese Animation (Anime) that has been edited to add visuals to a piece of music. The majority of AMVs are edited by anime fans using video-editing computer software. These fan-made AMVs are widely available on the Internet for free and date back as early as 1989. AMVs have been known to be shown at night clubs and AMV contests have become a regular part of anime conventions.

Commercial Music Videos

Here are some commercial music videos that have been directed by anime legends and are worth checking out.

  • Linkin Park's 'Breaking the Habit' was directed by Kazuto Nakazawa and animated by Gonzo Digimation1 using a tracing technique called rotoscoping to give a surreal effect.

  • The French dance band Daft Punk had many videos directed by Leiji Matsumoto that were aired regularly on television. The feature length film Interstella 5555 contains little dialogue and every track from Daft Punk's album Discovery.

  • The award for best dance video at the 1995 MTV Europe awards went to the Japanese DJ Ken Ishii. The video for 'Extra' was an eerie anime created by Kouji Morimoto2.

  • In 1991, a German dance band called Wamdue Project had a video for the song 'You're the Reason'. The video was composed of clips from the anime blockbuster Ghost in the Shell and was broadcast on music channels all over Europe.

  • Shinkai Makoto created a beautiful anime to complement a J-Pop track 'Egao'. It was aired on a Japanese television show for children and in July 2003, the DVD containing four versions of Egao was released in Japan.

  • Although not strictly anime, videos such as Pearl Jam's 'Do the Evolution'3 show that animated music videos from the West can be very effective.

The World of Fan-Made Anime Music Videos

Are Anime Music Videos Legal?

Making an AMV using music and anime that you have purchased is entirely legal. Sharing and profiting from copyright material without permissions is illegal. At present, AMVs have not caused sufficient damage to the music/anime industry and no disputes have surfaced as of yet.

Where Can Anime Music Videos Be Obtained From?

AMV creators' personal websites are easily found via search engines and often have their AMVs to download. AMVs can also be downloaded from peer-to-peer file sharing services. is the centre of the AMV community. It contains an easy to navigate database of AMVs, guides to creating AMVs, a forum and information on AMV contests.

Some of the common file formats for AMVs are:

  • MPEG-1 - A good quality compression format and favourite for Video CD

  • Audio/Video Interleave (AVI) - The most widely-used format. AVI files are not compressed by one specific codec, they are compressed with one of many codecs or not compressed at all. To play an AVI, the codec that was used to compress it must be installed on the viewing system. The codec DivX and the open source codec XviD are 'must-haves' as a high proportion of AMVs use these codecs.

  • Others - Real Media (RAM/RM), Apple QuickTime (QT) and Microsoft Windows Media (ASF/WMV) are less commonly used in AMV.

What Software Can Be Used To Watch Anime Music Videos?

VideoLAN is an open-source media player that can be run on most operating systems.


Here is a selection of AMVs

SeizurelineFLCLSystem of a Down - SteamlineA Heavy Rock song synchronised nicely to a strange anime, great sound and video quality.
EngelEvangelionRammstein - EngelThis is a character profile and uses Lip sync.
StressCowboy BebopJim's Big Ego - StressFunny song acted out by the gang from Cowboy Bebop.
Playground LoveHis and Her Circumstances (Kare Kano)Air - Playground LoveSlow and romantic, a lot of effort went into the effects on this.
EuphoriaRahXephonFrou Frou - Must Be DreamingAward winning AMV with amazing motion graphics.

A Brief Guide To Creating An Anime Music Video

Putting together an AMV is difficult and can take a long time. When things become a challenge, it is good to remember that there is a vast amount of information on the internet plus a huge community of anime music video enthusiasts to turn to for assistance.


Take your time choosing the anime and the music. Try to be original. First attempts often use the combination of a Linkin Park hit to Dragonball Z and aren't very popular. If you only know mainstream anime, maybe focus on a minor character. For obscure music look at soundtracks, album tracks, re-mixes and B-sides.

Twin Video Cassette Recorders

Early AMVs were created without the use of computers. A technique involving two video recorders was used instead. AMVs created with this technique were of poor quality and tended to use long unedited clips of anime4. With a computer, things become easier and a better product is almost guaranteed.

Computer Capture

Once the music and anime sources have been decided upon, they then need to be fed into the computer and transformed into a format that the video-editing software will read. There are many ripper applications that can be used to extract from a CD or a DVD. Anime can also be taken from off the television by using a piece of hardware called a video capture card. PC game footage can be recorded using software such as Fraps. The source materials should not be compressed (ie, wav->mp3)5. Compression will be done after the editing and compressing clips multiple times will greatly deteriorate the quality.

Editing and Effects

Video-editing software can be costly. Adobe Premier is the most popular choice for Windows but virtualdub is a good alternative. Imovie and Final cut are available for Apple as is Cinelerra for Linux. The music should be loaded on to the video-editor first and so begins the long task of chopping and fitting the footage to it. Video-editing and rendering is a heavy load on the computer so saving regularly is recommended. Many video-editing suites have effects, which should be used with caution. Simple effects such as a slight flicker in the brightness to compliment a beat might be effective, where as big swirls and 3D wording are usually not. For amazing effects using motion graphics there is (very expensive) software such as Adobe After Effects and Final Cut Pro.


Post-production is completed with a video-processing tool such as Avisynth. If the picture is poor due to visible interlacing (an ugly horizontal line effect) a de-interlacing filter can be used to correct this. Also, now is the time to do any resizing and use filters to adjust the colours and sharpen/smooth the picture for the overall video.


  • Codec - Short for compressor/decompressor, a codec is any technology for compressing and decompressing data. Codecs can be implemented in software, hardware, or a combination of both. Lossy codecs irreversibly remove information and have a greater rate of compression than lossless codecs, which are fully reversible.

  • Lip-synching - An effective technique to make the on-screen characters appear as if they are performing the vocal elements of the music.

  • Spoiler - Contains visuals of key events to the story of the anime used ie the ending, or a surprising twist. This could spoil the viewing experience of the anime for those who haven't yet seen it.

1Responsible for the anime in Kill Bill.2Works include: Akira, Macross Plus, Animatrix.3Illustrated by Spawn creator Todd McFarlane.4A good AMV will keep both the music and the anime in the viewers focus. Always keep clips short and never use subtitled anime or the viewer could get too interested in the anime and distracted away from the music.5Unless a lossless codec is used (ie, wav->flac).

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