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Beginner's Guide: How To Make An AMV

Ever watched a super cool AMV (For the non-initiated, ‘Anime Music Video’) and thought, ‘Man, I wanna do that too’? But the problem is, you have no idea how and where to start. 

When I made my very first AMV, it took hella long to research the process, download the videos and familiarise with the program and you can bet I felt like slamming my face on the table multiple times. Perhaps I can look back on that experience fondly if it weren’t for the fact that, oh you know, I lost the video. It was a Zoro AMV that I poured hours of manic work into but I basically destroyed it because of a pretty lame mistake, which I’ll make sure you don’t end up doing too. (RIP My First AMV, my love for you was true)

Recently, I felt motivated to do another AMV which has been on my to-do for months, so I decided, why not teach somebody else while I’m refreshing my memory? Thus, the Beginner’s Guide on how to make an AMV was born.

Disclaimer: I’m sorry if you’re using a Mac, because the program is strictly Windows software. Apparently, there’s a way to run Windows programs on Mac but that's a whole other issue.

1.       Download Windows Movie Maker 2.6 (WMM)

This might be the best free software for AMV making, though it has some disadvantages which I’ll cover later on. I understand that Sony Vegas Pro seems to be the most popular choice among video makers but that’s a whopping $600. So let’s not even go there.

Make sure you download the 2.6 version! Personally, I find it much easier to use than the newer, pre-installed version and it seems more comprehensive in terms of AMV making.

2.       Download the videos and music you want to use

For videos, I recommend getting the files through torrents as you’ll be able to find higher quality ones, compared to getting them off anime streaming sites.

For video files, make sure they are of one of these extensions:
.asf, .avi, .dvr-ms, .m1v, .mp2, .mp2v, .mpe, .mpeg, .mpg, .mpv2, .wm, and .wmv.

First disadvantage, WMM is a b**** when it comes to recognising file formats. According to Microsoft, .avi should be usable but sometimes, it just can’t go through. In this case, you’ll have to download a codec pack, which basically enables your computer to recognise certain file formats. My head is going to explode from all this tech talk. I am not the most IT savvy person around, so rest assured that if I can do it, you can too. 

But guess what? You can just make things easier for yourself by converting the video to .wmv. (See below)

For audio files:
.aif, .aifc, .aiff .asf, .au, .mp2, .mp3, .mpa, .snd, .wav, and .wma. (I always use .mp3)

One of the more common file extensions for anime episodes is .mkv. To convert videos, I recommend Freemake Video Converter (It's free but they accept donations!). Google it and download it. After installing, open it and simply press ‘+Video’ to import your videos. Then, you can convert them to the .wmv format by clicking the respective button on the bottom banner.

Now, what I am going to say next is extremely important. Create a specific folder for all these files and save them there and DO NOT MOVE THEM ANYWHERE ELSE DURING THE ENTIRE AMV MAKING PROCESS. Don’t drag them to some other folder or delete them or whatever. If you do that halfway through making your AMV, they will not show up in WMM and you know what that means? There will be nothing in WMM and all your progress will be lost. And that’s how my first AMV was murdered by my own two hands. *cries a river and drowns in it Kuroko style*

3.       Import the video and audio files into WMM

Now that you have your raw materials, it’s time to get started on making the actual AMV! Open up WMM and you’ll find yourself face-to-face with this complicated looking thing:

Don’t worry, I’ll explain the basic features later and once you know what does what, you’ll be ok.

First, we need to get the videos and audio materials inside the movie maker so we can dissect them and arrange them into an AMV. 

Select ‘Tasks’ and in the left hand section, you’ll see ‘Import video’, ‘Import pictures’, etc. Just click on them; importing is pretty straightforward. Once you’re done importing, you can start experimenting with the different functions and working AMV wizardry.

4.       How to edit videos in WMM

4.1   What is the timeline and storyboard?

At the bottom of WMM, you’ll have two base options to work with: The Timeline and the Storyboard. Select ‘Show timeline’ and drag the videos and audio in their respective sections. This is where you’ll be cutting/trimming the videos and audio and piecing them together.

The storyboard is basically just another version of the timeline. The layout is different and more suitable for adding in video effects and transitions.

4.2   How to trim and split videos/audio

-   Drag a video clip into the timeline (When you import a large file aka our 25 minutes long anime episode, it gets automatically separated into smaller parts, which is great because it is a lot easier to work with your material this way)
-   Move that blue line thingy to where you want to start trimming
-   Select Clip > Set Start Trim Point OR Set End Trim Point

This essentially crops the video and gets rid of the parts you don’t want to use.

You will notice the other option called ‘Split’. As the name suggests, it literally separates one clip into two parts, according to where you place the blue line thingy. (If you have a better suggestion for what to call this, please tell me so I can change it.) This is fantastic if you want to add in effects or transitions in the clip, or move it somewhere else in the AMV.

You can also use these functions on audio as well, so try playing around with it.

4.3   How to add in video effects and transitions

-   Select ‘Collections’ > ‘Video Effects’ and ‘Video Transitions’ (You can also find these in ‘Tools’)
-   Select ‘Show storyboard’
-   Drag your selected video effect into the box with a star in it, situated on the corner of the video clip (You can have multiple effects for one clip e.g. ‘Ease in’ + ‘Ease out’ + ‘Film Age, Old’)
-   Drag your selected video transition into the chevron patterned boxes between the video clips

Note: You can also do this in timeline. Simply switch to the timeline view and drag the effect/transition onto your selected clip.

Now that you know how to trim videos and add in some snazzy effects, get experimenting! As you spend more time on it, you’ll understand how to use WMM better. The good thing about free software is that they are usually much simpler so you will take less time to grasp its functions.

4.4   How to mute audio/adjust volume

-   Select Clip > Audio (There will be options to mute the sound, adjust the volume, and do a fade in/fade out effect)

4.5   How to export your AMV AKA Save it as an actual video that you can post on YouTube etc. (This can get tricky)

-   Select File > Save Movie File

This part was an absolute headache for me initially because my AMVs have too many clips and transitions to save properly in one shot. When this happened, I panicked because I didn’t understand why my file wasn’t saving.

If your AMV is taking extremely long to save, it is most likely too complex to save in one go. What you need to do is save it in batches with NO audio. Later on, you can string these batches together and re-export them as a whole AMV. 

If your AMV is 5 minutes long, try exporting it in 30 seconds long parts, and name them ‘Part 1’, ‘Part 2’, etc.

After that, import these parts into WMM again. Then put in the audio and export this project, with those 30 seconds long parts (It could even be smaller depending on the AMV’s complexity) joined together. 

This is the ONLY way to export complex/long AMVs.

-   Constantly save your progress by selecting File > Save Project. WMM has a tendency of hanging way too often (This especially happens if you’ve done a ton of video trimming and have lots of transitions) so make sure you save, save, save.
-   Get the highest quality files possible. When you export the movie file, the quality drops, so importing high resolution videos should leave you with a decently clear AMV.
-   Try to download the English dub if it's available. Unless you actually want the subtitles to be in the AMV.
-   Converting videos and making AMVs takes a toll on your laptop and it'll release way more hot air than usual and create pretty scary "whooosh" sounds. So pat it gently once in a while and tell it you love it very much.

The last time I created an AMV was 2 years ago but if you’ll like to see an example of a finished WMM product, you can check it out here. There are two faults in it which are A) Timing is off at some parts and B) Certain clips are low quality. Again, these are the downfalls of working with WMM. 

Nonetheless, they are not extremely major issues and despite all that’s been said, it is a free program so it’s expected to come with its fair share of hiccups. I still think it's a great tool to use for making AMVs! 

I hope this article has been useful for some of you. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment and I will try to help (´`)  Until next time!

Written by Faelan

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