At Otakon 1996, my first anime-related convention, I received my first real exposure to anime music videos. Many cons have a music video contest, where people send in entries of Japanese animation footage set to "American" music. At that contest in '96, I got a sampling of the good, the bad, and the ugly, for sure. The next year, other CJASers applied their skills and entered a music video in the contest. Last summer, James Kao and I pumped out a music video of our own for Otakon '98.
It all begins with a spine-tingling idea (or it should anyway). A flash of inspiration that says, "Hey, I'm hungry, let's go to the State Street diner!" -- no wait, a different flash, usually when listening to your favorite tunes. Eddie Chen and Jerry Hsu had a flash that said, "'It's a Sin' (Pet Shop Boys) plus Ikari Shinji (our favorite shameful dude)" the year before -- we showed their video last spring. The next step involves a crazed scanning through video footage to find the right bits to match the lyrics. Next, all of the footage must be cut together so that they're in the proper order and timed well (this is the technically difficult part), the music is slapped on, and it's done. I'm told that the footage is usually cut together with 2 VCRs, using a record-pause technique (the VCRs having frame-pause capabilities). As for James and me, we used a computer and Adobe Premiere 5.0, then played it back onto a VHS tape; this method is very hard drive space-intensive, as high-quality video can take up multiple gigs.
Last summer, we decided (a bit late) that we wanted to enter the Otakon music video contest. Our aim was to make not just any music video, but a winning music video. Instead of just making something that we thought might be cool, we tried to anticipate the audience and play to them so that we would get the most votes. We tried this because it was a different goal than normal, a different angle of approach (and weirdoes like us can never do anything the normal way). We chose Evangelion because of its wide-spread popularity, and Weird Al Yankovic because the crowd in previous years cheered the most for videos using his songs, and because the '97 winner of Otakon's contest was only a mediocre video to "Trigger Happy". First, we cut out some lyric repeats and a musical interlude from the song (James expressed his previously-unknown audio editing skills). Then we searched through most of the episodes for scenes that went with the lyrics. We spent one entire day creating 2 seconds of footage by hand because we couldn't find anything to match the words (the part with the pizza). Footage from later episodes and heinous spoiler footage were used to generate "shock value". James began thinking of it as an "entertainment experience" rather than restricting us to a "music video". Thus entered cheesy special effects like split-screen and transparencies. A test copy was produced and reviewed by a few people (we really wanted to have more people watch it to see if we could make it more "winning", but time was severely limited). We took some advice from them and changed a bit here and there. It took us a mere 4 days from start to finish, and we just barely made the deadline.
Otakon staff divided their contest into 3 categories, Serious/Dramatic, Action/Horror, and Humorous/Satirical. The videos to "It's a Sin" (by Eddie and Jerry), "Skin", and "Losing My Religion" were in the first category. We chose the last category, and ours was the last video scheduled. I was out feeling for the crowd's reaction (OK, I was there to watch the other entries). When the third entry in the Humorous category played, I knew immediately that we had lost. The audience was sure to vote for this one -- it was very entertaining, also set to Eva footage, and it had the one element our video lacked: sexual innuendo. I'd say more, but you'll get to see it in meeting 12, later this semester. Still, we managed to get quite a few votes and ended up second, and since we entered the contest, we got a copy of all the videos shown. Eddie and Jerry also came in second in the Serious category, losing to "Losing My Religion". So close, ne?
So that's where the music videos are coming from. Next year, I recommend that you attend Otakon and watch the videos firsthand. Or you could enter the contest and give us some more competition -- but do a good job; there were 33 videos this year, and only 10 of them were worth seeing (some have left me scarred for life). Oh yeah, this is the end of the article.