denying//CHANGE

title denying//CHANGE
anime Beyond the Clouds, 5 Centimers per Second
song (Tapping) The Source (Swingset Remix) – heavily edited version
artist Cocosuma
genre drama, serious, sentimental, experimental
amv time 2:42
project name Everytime, Everyday
time spent 75-80 hours (5th attempt counted only)
programs used Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0, Adobe After Effects 7.5
download link amv.org link (download VLC Player if you can’t play it)
discussion amv.org forum link

Lyrics

This could well be
the end of my dream
gave it all I had
Now I see you slip away

Prologue

Like usual I have a page for the AMV I’m releasing. Some people think that people who explain their videos want to show how clever they are. That’s certainly not true in this case: this is not only a reflection for myself (not only an evaluation, but also to think about why I made certain choices), but I myself would think it’s always an interesting read to know how much is behind an AMV and what the thought processes are while creating the AMV.

There’s actually not much to tell about the story here, as I tried to make more of an AMV that heavily relies to emotions and challenges the viewer to feel and view certain emotions and think of certain situations. Even though you see some sort of story, it’s more about the process, the thoughts behind it and the emotions behind the video. The story might be interpreted differently by everybody and even the message in its detail will, but the theme will be (hopefully) the same for everybody – and that’s what it’s all about.

Short AMV introduction

This is probably the most personal AMV up until now: there’s a lot of “me” in it. I can’t really say whether it’s my best or not, but one thing is for sure: I really like the concept, because of the theme that is in it. The AMV was hard to edit: unlike making your own little movie where can shoot or draw your own scenes, I was heavily dependent on the scenes played out in the AMV. I always try to create my own stories, but this one was extra hard, because of the fact that I needed a lot of the same scenes or situations, but different everytime. Even though I tried hard, I think this AMV could’ve been so much better if I had the proper scenes. Maybe one day I’ll remake it into a live-action short movie, who knows!

So if you like AMVs with a (somewhat) experimental concept, download and watch it! So this is an AMV that is not meant for everybody to like – I had some reactions saying things like it was annoying and some people even getting a headache!

AMV contest info

This AMV was especially made for AWA Masters. I really hoped that they appreciate the somewhat more experimental videos. Even though this doesn’t feel that experimental to me, I know that a lot of people will find it a wierd AMV (yeah, I’m ready for the low scores!). I didn’t hear much good about the AWA Masters entries though: from what I’ve heard most of them were disappointing.

Wierdly enough, this AMV has won at a local Dutch con, Abunaicon. Niotex (who was one of the three judges) put me on second place, the other two has put me on first, meaning I got lucky and won!

Also, in the same weekend of the deadline of Abunaicon, there was also the deadline of AC Cubed, a Canadian anime convention. Because they had different categories (best composition/technical/original) I thought it would be interesting to send it there too. Luckily I did, because it won Best Technical and Runner-Up Most Original at AC Cubed!

Title explanation

I needed a title quickly after finishing and wanted a title that would really say that this video is different. The stuff I came up with were things that associated with loops, titles like “CHANGEchangec h a n g e”. Then I suddenly came up with “denying change”, which is what the main character is doing. I thought “truth” would sound too objective, so “change” was a better word for it.

To make it more different looking, I wanted something to make the title structure different. I first wanted to call it “denying\/change” which is interesting because of the disjunction-symbol in it (denying OR change OR both). But, it kinda looked stupid, so eventually after playing with some different symbols, “denying//CHANGE” was the best title I could think of.

The reason for CHANGE in capital is because of the huge impact on the main character and the double slashes is something that is used in some programming languages to “comment away” code – as if CHANGE is being ignored/denied. For those who don’t know what “commenting” is about in programming languages, it’s when text is kept hidden for execution. So everything that’s after comment-syntax, in this case the double slashes, is being ignored (so it won’t get executed eventually). It’s mostly used for explanation of codes, but it’s also used when you wrote code you don’t want to be executed (for example when you think the code will produce errors).
The stupid thing is that the title structure is probably unconsciously taken from .hack//SIGN (which title I found very cool BTW). I only realized that a few days after submitting the AMV! So no, it’s not a reference to .hack! (plus I think they’ve chosen the title just to look cool instead of having a proper meaning to it).

Anime sources

This is actually my 4th attempt for this idea. I tried 4 different sources (Manie Manie, Perfect Blue, Beyond the Clouds, 5 Centimers per Second) before and filled the timeline with a general setup. But each time the story couldn’t be executed well enough because I was missing shots or because the continuity couldn’t be kept (you actually start to realize that Perfect Blue is pretty detailed when you’re editing with it – especially in clothing and environments). The last attempt I finally got it right, because I quickly realized that I could mix both Makato Shinkai movies seemingly with each other – well, at least I hoped to do so. If you think it blends (somewhat) unnoticably, then I think that would say more about Shinkai’s movies than my editing skills! :P

The basic storyline

I won’t tell much about it – just interprete it whatever way you want to. I heard different people saying different storylines (and hopefully they didn’t have to think too much about it), but I know some were confused. I just hope those people felt something though…

Theme

A lot of my thoughts and personal experiences went into this AMV and the the storyline that is presented is actually (just like a lot of stories) just a way to express my thoughts and message. The theme of denying change works as a twofold: on one hand you’ve got the change that occurs around you and on the other hand you’ve got the change that you have to make yourself. There’s always this change that initiates other changes to happen (which results into one big change) and if you don’t like it, you have to make a change yourself to counter that or deal with the events that affect you and you don’t like.

And that the hard thing about change: either to accept them or do something about it. By denying the change that occurs around you, or denying (not wanting) the fact that taking the (most likely huge) risk to initiate change can do something for the better will eventually not lead to something good – even if it is easier to handle all the things that are happening around, denying its existence can never be good. So that is what the constant looping represents: being stuck in the same actions (or in the same way of thinking), while something can be done so that what is happening will change. Eventually everything else changes within the loop itself, but unfortunately for the worse.

I think the theme is a very interesting one. Even though we deny the truth everyday, mostly what we deny is the change around us, what can change us or what will need us to change. Those are the things you don’t want to know, because you don’t want to deal with them. It seems that we all don’t get adjusted to life anymore, but more or less create our own world we are able to live in.

Editing

My initial idea was that the gimmick (the constant looping) to be much more notable, but everytime after I finished watching it, the feeling I have is a more depressed one. I guess that’s a good thing and that would mean that that the loop just adds more to the feeling.

To match it with the overall theme, change is also heavily incorperated into the editing. There’s change in almost everything: the colors start to fade away, noise is appearing gradually, the image starts to get messed up in several ways and the audio sync is starting to lose its power. The general pacing is from more organized/synched to more and more hectic.

That change is done more exponentional, there’s a certain point where you start to notice things are getting worse (that’s the part where he smokes the cigarette for the first time, I’ve also put small change in noise to make it more clear) and towards the end I really tried to build up the climax.

Scene selection

The scene selection was quite hard to do: I went through 4 different animes and in the end I combined two of them. There was a need of scenes which are essentially in the same (place/persons), but has a difference in situation and in mood. This was needed for the loop and the change to work. Of course I couldn’t find scenes that were to similar, so I used some scenes twice or even three times and tried to show more a difference in the actions of the main person. Together with the effects/color changes incorporated and of course the arrangement of the scenes they, hopefully, portray and let you feel the change.

Ending

What actually happens in the end is subject to own interpretations, but what REALLY happens is not the most interesting. It doesn’t matter what state he is in, what time that is, what reality is or not or even if it’s too late or not – the most important thing is what message it brings. Whatever the situation is, there’s something positive/hopeful to tell: somebody that cares, a realization to change, etc.

Audio

The music is from a French indie electronic lo-fi pop band called Cocosuma, who has some great music. The original mix (which I heard after this version, but did suspected it) uses Erik Satie’s first piece of Gymnopedie as sample. This version uses a guitar who plays similar chords, but still has that sad feeling behind it. The idea of the loop actually came with editing this song first: I just got Audition, loaded this song and had only the first part between the in and out points, playing it on repeat. That got me thinking about loops and that’s how the whole idea started!

I hope you noticed that the audio has been edited, if not, then either it says something about your ears or about my editing skills! The editing was not that hard – technically speaking – but it did take quite a while to achieve the effect I wanted (namely, getting the shivers at the end). It’s actually a lot of edited files stacked up onto each other and then keyframed in volumes. Here are some files for you to enjoy:

Cocosuma – The Source (Edit #0 – One loop only).mp3
Cocosuma – The Source (Edit #5 – Equalized).mp3
Cocosuma – The Source (Edit #6 – Distorted).mp3
Cocosuma – The Source (Edit #7 – SuperDistorted).mp3
Cocosuma – The Source (Edit #8 – 1 Octave Down).mp3

You can find the original song here (it’s a fan video, not original video though).