If you’re an anime fan, chances are you’ve searched for anime videos on YouTube at some point. Some of you might even have wanted to make them yourselves, while some of you might already be good at it. In this article, I will try to guide the beginners and share some tips on how to make it big on YouTube. I’m not a pro myself yet (I only have about 110 subscribers), but I’m learning and getting better. Remember, I speak from personal experience and close observation, so these tips might actually be worthwhile!
First, you need to know some terms frequently used in the YouTube anime community. Here are a few of the more common ones:
Manga: Japanese comic books on which most anime are based.
Doujinshi: a short, unofficial manga drawn by a fan. It’s often based on the content of the original manga.
AMV: stands for ‘Anime Music Video’ and consists of edited anime clips with background music.
MMV: stands for ‘Manga Music Video’ and consists of edited manga pictures with background music.
DMV: stands for ‘Doujinshi Music Video’ (although it’s often mistaken to be ‘Disney Music Video’) and consists of edited doujinshi pictures with background music.
Hentai/Yuri/Yaoi/Ecchi: Japanese terms used to describe different forms of inappropriate content.
MEP: stands for ‘Multi-Editor Project’, in which a number of editors work together to make a video.
Studio: an MEP group that uses the same editors over and over again to create videos.
Beta: an unfinished video about which an editor is unsure how to complete it.
Which software should I use?
It’s always best to start with Windows Movie Maker (found in all computers) so you can get the basic idea of video-editing. Initially, just focus on splitting and combining clips, choosing a good song, applying basic transitions and effects, and timing your edits to go with the beat of the music. Once you get the hang of this, move on to advanced programs like Sony Vegas (my personal favourite; I use SV pro 9.0), Particle Illusion, Cyber Director, Adobe Aftereffects etc. These are complicated programmes, so you might need to watch tutorials. Mostly, though, you get the main idea by playing around with them for a few days. Explore deeply!
Basic editing advice
There are two types of editing: candy-style and raw. Candy-style is usually girly and makes use of couples/pairings, cute songs and a lot of colours. It is mostly romance-themed. Raw editing is generally action-themed and involves rock music with a fast beat.
If you’re doing candy-style, make sure to use lots of colours. They should be bright and ‘solid-looking’ (light colours don’t look appealing). Masking, a characteristic feature of all advanced programmes, contributes essentially to a good candy-style video, as does writing some of the song lyrics along with the clips. Think happy, cute and hyper!
If you’re doing raw, don’t use a burst of colours. Instead, stick to a specific (preferably dark) colour and use shades of it. Raw editing rarely involves masking (though of course, the video looks better with masks), so there isn’t much space for colours, anyway. Timing is crucial to a good video: make the edits go with the beat – without this, raw editing looks bogus, like random clips thrown together. Here, writing the lyrics doesn’t matter.
Both raw and candy-style can be used to make AMVs, while MMVs and DMVs usually work well with candy-style. In any case, timing is very important – I keep repeating this in order to convey its significance. And before opening a new project, always watch some pro videos for inspiration!
Which anime should I edit with?
It’s better to use well-known (though not overused) anime, since these are the most searched for. If you’re doing raw, use action scenes from Naruto, Bleach, Death Note, Code Geass and the like. If you’re doing candy-style, use shoujo (romantic comedy) anime such as Kimi ni Todoke, Kaichou wa Maid-sama!, Cardcaptor Sakura, Shugo Chara and such, although pairings from Naruto such as SasuSaku, NaruHina and NaruSaku are also incredibly popular. Of course, there are no specific rules – use whatever you want, however you want!
Make it big!
Once you’ve mastered editing, employ some of these basic ideas to get yourself acknowledged as the best AMV-maker on YouTube!
Good editors aren’t jealous
Don’t be reluctant to appreciate other editors, and don’t be jealous of the better ones. Like, favourite and comment on videos. Buttering works here, I assure you! Chances are, they’ll be flattered enough to pay your channel a visit and watch some of your videos. In time, they’ll start sharing tips with you and actually spread your work around if you get close to them! Remember, editors love appreciation!
Make friends. However, be very close to only two or three (to avoid being burdened), preferably with those of the same gender so there are no barriers. Be friendly, open and cute! (Look out for stalkers and online predators, though. Be vigilant and never give out personal information!) Make birthday dedication videos for your special friends and stay in touch with them. Some people make ‘online sisters’ (something I plan to do with my pals Kiba-chan and Yaku-chan), and trust me, this helps! Getting yourself surrounded by the YouTube community gets you registered with people. Associate yourself with other, better editors!
Get out there
Now here’s the fun part. Go all out! Participate in AMV contests and MEPs, audition for studios, make fan-art requests to anime artists, post video responses to your favourite AMVs, get a friend to nominate you for the annual International AMV Awards – in short, do everything in your power to let people know you exist! Even if you don’t get anything in return, don’t be disappointed; it takes time. Sitting in a corner of the vast cyber world and waiting for someone to subscribe to you won’t get you anywhere: you’ve got to get out there yourself. There’s always tons of stuff going on in the YouTube anime community, but make sure you don’t bite off more than you can chew – deadlines are to be respected. Don’t take on every MEP project that comes your way; take it slow, two at a time, so you can give it your best.
This is the best idea of all! Sometime in 2009, a YouTube user came up with the idea of a ‘wish-list’ around Christmas. The Wish-list Project invites any and all to post a video containing ten of their wishes at the start of November, and any secret Santas a-creepin’ around are welcome to grant them by Christmas-time. Wishes can be anything from ‘I want 5000 subscribers!’ to ‘I want an AMV dedicated to me!’ to ‘I want socks! Here’s my address!’ This project became an instant hit, and by 2011, non-Christians were joining it too, and it simply became known as the ‘holiday wish-list project’. Join it! Don’t be negative and think no one will grant any of your wishes; trust me, those who know the secrets of ‘making it big’ are dying of over-exhaustion because they granted too many. (If it helps, I’m participating for the first time this year too, so you’re not the only insecure one!) If nothing else, you can pester your friends into it – though I’m very sure it won’t have to come to that.
Important stuff to remember
Your editing should be your own original work. Editors are enraged if you steal theirs, and you tank if your online reputation gets ruined. Conversely, include a small watermark in each of your videos to prevent others from stealing them.
Only upload videos that are awesome. If you think a video is lame, remove it immediately. Most viewers judge you by the first video they see, and if that video happens to be non-spectacular, they won’t subscribe. Remember, quality matters, not quantity!
People can unsubscribe if you play dead. It’s better to upload a one-minute video once a fortnight than to upload a five-minute one once a month! Let your subscribers know you care!
Make them widescreen!
Those black stripes on the sides of videos aren’t loved. WMM can’t render videos in widescreen, but advanced software like SV can. This matters a lot, believe me! Watch tutorials on how to change your settings to widescreen.
Your video should preferably be HD. If not, it should at least be of good quality. Highly pixelated clips put people off, remember that! Also, noisy/muffled music is unappealing, and when you edit in bits and pieces, the constant rendering worsens the audio quality. What can you do to correct this? Well, after you’re done editing and putting the pieces together, remove the audio and replace it with the original song. Your music will sound a lot smoother!
Your video should be limited to a theme. Storylines are loved, and make sure to merge the scenes smoothly into each other with effective transitions. Unless your video is action-themed, don’t make it look rushed, because viewers like to understand what’s going on. Remember, easy does it!
Avoid being blocked!
YouTube recently took a stand for SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act), which blocks all copyrighted videos on the website and thus doesn’t enable editors to use some anime and songs! You can’t do anything about the anime, but you can do something to avoid being blocked because of the music. Pitch your audio just a little bit, so the automated YouTube sensors can’t recognise the song. (Aha! We have some tricks up our sleeves too!) Oh, and remember to join the AMV-makers’ protests against SOPA!
Video-editing is a creative hobby that lets you channel your emotions, creativity and inspiration into a five-minute treat, so try it! It takes a lot time, though, so please fit it around your study schedule! (I really don’t want hordes of parents accusing me of distracting their children!)
The true joy of AMV-making comes out of making people laugh, smile or cry through your videos. It’s a huge accomplishment to be able to inspire others and stir some emotions within them. Through video-editing, I’ve learnt to handle and accept criticism, to constantly strive to get better at whatever I do, to believe there’s always room for improvement. In the end, you could pretty much sit back and say, ‘What a waste of time!’ But to AMV-makers, it’s one thing they can truly claim to be good at, and that’s one hell of an unusual quality!
In the meantime, if you want more help, advice and suggestions or just want someone to beta-test your videos, you can contact me on YouTube (my username is simply MaiedaNadeemJanjua). And while you’re there, do drop by and say hello!