Making of 作画 Sakuga -「Ambient Action」AMV

Hi everyone, I realised I don’t really talk about my process in I’m making these AMVs so thought I’d give some insight into how I made some of my videos. Starting with this AMV I’ll be doing a writeup of how I went about making some of my videos.

作画 Sakuga -「Ambient Action」AMV

Pre-production Time: 20-30 hrs
Time spent Editing: 50-60 hrs

Programs Used

  • Adobe Premiere
  • Adobe After Effects
  • Handbrake
  • ClipGrab
  • Subtitle Edit

Background

I made this AMV in the beginning of June. I had some time off work so I spent a few days organising and expanding my collection of Sakuga clips. I had between 2000-3000 clips on Sakugabooru to check and a little over 2000 clips to organise. This is the pre-production time mentioned above. By doing this I was able to get a good idea of what I had and come up with a lot of ideas for future videos.

I usually sort my clips of animation in the program Adobe Bridge, but I can also just sort them into folders

One thing that I noticed while organising my clips was that I had a lot that I would describe in my head as “ambient action”. Action animation with a really nice, almost relaxing atmosphere/ambience. The sort of animation you’d see in Openings, PVs or works directed by Shingo Yamashita.

I was also listening to Castle Carousel’s Future Funk Album 1 around this time. Some songs just really stimulate my imagination and Internet Moms is one of those. I really wanted to edit to it. I could see what kinds of animation different parts of the song made me think of really clearly. Like these clips of “ambient action”, the song is upbeat and energetic but with a cool, sultry baseline/atmosphere.

The song also adds to the TV aesthetic. Smooth jazz, like the song Internet Mom samples, is often used on obscure, 24 hour channels like the weather channel.

I wanted to do new things with this video. I’ve made a lot of MADs that are long, where I try to be comprehensive. But I wanted to make AMVs that covered the same ground that focused more on the editing. So I leaned more into flashy editing, and focused more on what I could do creatively rather than trying to make something comprehensive.

What I was Trying to Do with the Video

Finding out about the Sakuga community back in 2015 reminded me of experiences I had as a kid watching TV. When it was a weekend or the school holidays and it was just on in the background. I’d be doing something else around the house when it was on. Every so often something would come on TV that would catch my attention. Something I’d never seen before- like a made for TV movie, a weird daytime TV show, a music video. I would never know what these things were. I usually started watching them when they were already half over. But they could be mesmerising. The transience of these things left big impression on me.

The Sakuga community left a similar impression on me. I came across Sakuga MADs by chance. I had very little frame of reference, no idea what they really were. But it felt like I had found something unique, niche and interesting in the midst of all the millions of other things on YouTube. A diamond in the rough like those shows I caught by chance on TV.

This is the feeling I wanted to communicate in this AMV.

Blue Sakuga’s MADs were my introduction into the fandom

Editing Notes – Intro

The video begins with footage of the sun refracting off a lake. I shot this at footage at a local park. The water fades into a shot of a CRT television turning on. I used the footage of the sun on a lake to give a dreamlike feeling. To make it feel like the TV and the AMV itself exist in a dream realm. The footage of the sun reflecting off the lake is also overlaid onto all footage of the TV to emphasise the dreamlike feeling (look at the top left of the screen at 0:09 for example and you can spot the lens flare).

I found the TV used in the video in a stock footage library. I used it because it looks similar to one my family owned when I was in primary school.

This One

The initial zoom in towards the screen was included in the stock video, but the zoom in that happens at 0:09 is from a 3D camera effect that I added in After Effects.

An unseen observer scrolls through the channels on the TV.

Channel 4: The first channel shown. This is footage I shot at the same local park as the water footage. It’s right next to the lake. It’s meant to feel mysterious but calming. Like it could be a mature show. This footage features in a future video I have planned, so it also acts as a teaser for things to come.

Channel 5: The Making of Little Witch Academia documentary. The shot I used shows animator Yoh Yoshinari at his desk. This is an easter egg and a bookend. The video begins with footage of Yoshinari and ends with a clip that he animated (from White Album, NCED4).

Channel 6: A clip from the movie Serial Mom. This was originally a placeholder before I decided that I liked how this worked. I was originally going to use a clip from the William Friedkin movie Sorcerer here. I wanted some beautiful live action footage that looked beautiful to compliment the animation and that movie has some really great shots. But the Serial Mom clip worked better in my opinion for a few reasons.

  • I think the hyper-Americana/corny tone of the movie fits the dreamlike atmosphere
  • The cheesy tone carries into the cheesy dialogue at the start of the Internet Moms song pretty well I think. The movie and the song are about different kinds of Moms
  • This is a really good movie

作画 (Sakuga Channel): The channel that the MAD plays on. Light leaking in from the sides of the screen tells us that we’re entering the world of the TV. I inverted the colours of the Hungry Days ad at the time of the transition to make the light leaks more visible. Light leaks are used a lot in media and YouTube videos now. The reason I used it is because I’d seen the Brandon Cronenberg movie Possessor around the time and I liked how the light leaks in that movie made it feel like a dream

I decided to made the screen between the channels blue. This is because when I was growing up I had friends who had TVs that thought were very high tech for some reason. Often flat screen, silver CRTs. When you.changed channel on the TVs I owned the screen just went black. But I remember when they changed channel or their, cooler, TVs it went blue. For some reason as a kid I thought this meant their TV was more advanced, more exotic. So I added a blue transition screen in this video to give the same feeling.

It took some searching to find a font that looked like a believable TV font that which could also write Kanji characters. The font used is DotGothic16, which you can download on Google fonts. The CRT effects were created using Creation VHS Effects in After Effects. I applied a mixture of filters that made the footage look believable but not too degraded.

Editing Notes – AMV

I wanted to make a AMV that felt like an anime Opening. Very fast cuts, tightly edited to the song and an exaggerated sense of appeal and flow. Spending days going through my collection and having all those cuts in my mind at the time helped me make the AMV pretty fast. I created the AMV section over 2 roughly 12 hours editing sessions over 2 days.

Like all of my AMVs I went between syncing up actions within clips to specific elements in a song to using clips that follow the general flow of the music. Also keeping in mind thematic and visual links between clips to create a stronger sense of connection (matching things like camera movements, camera angles, character actions, themes general themes and focal objects likes hands, feet or faces).

Some of the edits I’m most proud of are:

  • The opening section from 0:25-0:47. I like how the action reflects what’s going on in the song. I think the relaxing, contemplative vibe gels well with the atmospehre shots from JJK. I thought of the fast sparkling effects at 0:33 like a Final Fantasy battle transition. This effect was made by playing 2 different sparkling effects from a Fate Movie/Pocari Sweat ad in fast succession. I match the character movements in the following clips to elements in the song (character landing in time with the baseline at 0:33, the attacks in that clip and the JJK ones matching up with the keyboard notes). And in general I wanted to make this section feel sweeping with a lot of moving camera shots. I’m happy with the flow through the JJK clips. I liked blending both of the openings together, going from Toge doing a flip in the 2nd OP to Kento dropping down in the 1st.
  • Timing of the water droplets/sun flare at 1:10 in time with the notes in the music.
  • 1:50-2:01- Reaching out to the sky in Just Call it Love > the sky breaking open in Alex Alice’s Siegfried. The champagne being popped in the Fate PV to champagne being poured in the Shuo Feng PV. Then the action in the cuts is synced in time with the descending notes. Coin flip > Cap flying off > Cut into JJK > Water droplet hitting water
  • 2:40-2:51- The song here reminded me of a Character Select screen in a fighting game so I chose clips that looked like character showcases, or fighting game select screens. It’s edited to flow of the music with the Balance: UNLIMITED characters dancing and Rock Lee’s head movement synced in time with the notes.
  • 2:54-2:58- I’m very happy with these match cuts. Guilty Crown character’s punch flows into the Boogiepop Wonderland punch well I think. The punch’s impact into the wall is in time with beat, then as the Boogiepop Wonderland character moves to screen left the character in Angel Links dashes to the left to punch. The Angel Link character’s kicks are in time with the beat. This is the part of the video I’m most happy with.
  • 3:16-3:23- I like the shot progression. I was trying to make it feel like the same object was moving through different cuts. The dragon dashing out from left to right, the object in Weilin Zhangs animation doing the same, then an object finally coming in from the left again to explode in the middle of the screen behind All Might. I think the Generator Gawl cut also has the same energy as the MHA one, with a guy standing calmly in the midst of firey explosion.

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