Guide: How to make an AMV


Aug 22, 2011
Trait Points
This was on reddit and i'm sure it'll be helpful to everyone who want to start making AMVs.
Will add few points along with the user's original post(u/Captain_Chiggs).
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An anime music video (AMV), known in as MAD (music anime douga), typically is a music video consisting of clips from one or more Japanese animated shows or movies set to an audio track, often songs or promotional trailer audio. The term is generally specific to Japanese anime, however, it can occasionally include American animation footage or video game footage. AMVs are not official music videos released by the musicians, they are fan compositions which synchronize edited video clips with an audio track. AMVs are most commonly posted and distributed over the Internet through or . frequently run AMV contests who usually show the finalists/winner's AMVs. [Wiki source]

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By TheBestAMVsOfAllTime

Software and technical stuff:

Video editing software:
To make an AMV, you need some sort of video editing software. Here is a table representing my primitive knowledge about the most frequently used software:
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  • Sony Vegas - good option,beginer friendly and light.​
  • Blender is primarily a 3D animation suite, but it does have the ability to allow you to edit videos as well. Feedback on this aspect of it tends to be mixed.​
  • Kdenlive looks the most promising to me and I've been meaning to give it a shot myself, but simply haven't gotten around to it. Might be worth looking into.​
  • Lightworks also seems to be a decent option, and it works on a subscription model so if you want more options it seems affordable.​
  • Magix is a lesser-known commercial editing suite that is a lot more affordable than stuff like Vegas or Premiere.​
  • Windows Movie Maker -Limited, can still make some good stuff​

Finding anime to use:
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Here are my tips for footage used in your project:​

  • Use high quality footage: Use 1080p or 720p footage. Anything below that will look unrefined on YouTube. This will give you larger files to work with, but is worth it in the end.​
  • No useless subtitles or studio-credits: Obviously, unless you are having a character speak during the AMV (which works wonderfully sometimes), don't have subtitles in your footage. It looks unrefined and is distracting to the viewer. Additionally, if you are using clips from the opening/ending songs of shows, try and find versions where there are no credits. It looks cluttered otherwise.​
  • Where to find episodes: A simple google search will probably lead you in the right direction, otherwise, PM me and I can help you out.​

Additional Things you might want to check out:

  • Video converting software: You might encounter some problems with the editing software and the filetypes of the anime you want to use (.mp4, .avi, .wmv, etc...). The two I have are and . VLC, which is also a media player and a powerful tool otherwise, works fine for converting your episodes to many different times of files. The downside is that you can only convert one file at once. It’s quite the task. Aimersoft is what I currently use. It is dependable, can convert batches of episodes, and is quite user friendly (I firmly believe in the importance of click-and-drag functionality).​
  • Plug-ins for Sony Vegas or Adobe AE: If you see some cool effects that you want to emulate, do a little digging and figure out what the effect is called. Downloading is a breeze and the software does a good job helping integrate it.​
  • Screen Capture Software: This one is only if you decided to roll with WMM. I mentioned its rendering problems. My first project was a complete mess. After I finished and rendered the project, there were glitches and audio problems. I didn't want to scrap my work, so I downloaded the free trial of . I ran it in the WMM preview full screen and recorded it. It was a long process, but I could capture long, consistent chunks of my AMV and stitch them together in Camtasia. Hopefully you will only ever need free trials before you find some way to grab Sony Vegas or Adobe AE. Please don't use WMM, save yourself.​

How to start a project:

First, you want to figure out what kind of AMV you want to make:

The fundamental types of AMVs have/are:​

  • A single anime​
  • A few (2-4) anime​
  • A mix of many, many anime​
  • Multiple songs and multiple anime (possibly all the shows from any given year (god bless Animeography))​
  • A multiple editor project (MEP)​

Furthermore, there are very broad categories of AMVs. The lines between categories are blurred though.​

  • Typical AMV: A project which stitches clips together using any amount of effects and transitions to music. This is by far the most common type of AMV.​
NOTE: the former uses one anime (series) whereas the latter uses a plethora of shows.​

  • Text based AMV: A project which uses text (usually to the music's lyrics) as the primary effect. Most of the time, these involve text and still shots moving about.​
  • An in-depth story AMV (sometimes call an ASMV for anime story music video): This one is more of a sub category of the typical AMV. These projects tell either the story of the show or some completely made up story all together. These can range anywhere from minimal effects to complete intervention bringing together characters from different shows into the same world.​
  • Miscellaneous: I know it’s a little of a cop out category, but some AMVs belong in their own category.​
My two cents: once you have song picked out, listen to it a ton. An AMV should be something you put a lot of time in. You want to make sure you can listen to it repeatedly while editing. Also, doing this allows for you to figure out what you want to do where. For me, the anime I have used came after deciding upon a song. Remember, there is no order to thinking about making an AMV, just do what makes sense to you!

Working with the clips:

Note: This mini section is based around using Sony Vegas and making an AMV around one or a few anime. It is what I have done in the past to find clips.

LEARN THE BASICS OF THE SOFTWARE BEFORE DOING ANYTHING. Believe me, trial by fire works, but understanding your capabilities helps when thinking of ideas. How can you think of what to make when you don't know your tools? There are some great tutorials for any editing software on YouTube, just search and find one you like!
Here are the steps I use when picking clips for an AMV:
Make sure you have an idea of what you want to make. Do not expect yourself to pick out quality clips without a general idea. Get the big picture down first, then when finding clips work out the smaller details.​

  1. Convert your episodes to a usable filetype​
  2. Import the episode into organized media bins in Sony Vegas (find something which works for you, an organized project is more efficient and less frustrating).​
  3. Move one episode to the trimmer.​
  4. Open the episode in an external media player such as MPC-HC or VLC. Put the sound to 0% and watch the episode at x2 or x4 speed. You need to pay close attention to the episode to fish out what clips you want to use (it helps having dual monitors).​
  5. When you find a clip, go to Sony Vegas's trimmer and ctrl+g to where the clip is, then drag the video onto the timeline.​
  6. Repeat this step for however many episodes you want. If ever you want more clips afterwards, open the trimmer and an external media player, and re-do the process.​
  7. Then work on the project, constantly moving video clips around the timeline to build the AMV.​

Making your clips work with the music:
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The first thing someone notices when watching an AMV is how the clips are synced up to the music. This is something the watcher can evaluate without even finishing the video. Now, I am not asking you to map out every beat of the song, then shoehorn the separate clips inside. I am, however, asking you to find where the song changes intensity, tempo, key, tone, etc and work around them. There are many AMVs composed of one scene in real time and one song. These can be pumped out on the daily and don't require any amount of feeling or skill to make. This doesn't mean the quality of an AMV is proportional to the time it took to make, you just need to put some effort into the project. Some key points:​

  • Listen carefully to your song, find where it changes, find where big moments are, and reflect that in how you move from clip to clip.​
  • Having a rhythm to sections of your AMV is a good place to start. Don't use a cookie cutter to make your AMV, but rhythm helps with clarity, and people like clarity.​
  • Using the marker tool in Sony Vegas to label beats is such a fantastic tool. Use it and learn to love it.​
  • Another way clips can match the music is by making the characters "sing" with the music. This can be done dramatically, but usually it is done for comedy. This is difficult to do well: a lot of editing is required to make it seem real.​
  • Vary the length of you clips. Extensively using clips which last over 6 seconds is hard to do well. It results in boring and uninteresting sections of the AMV. Keep it immersive!​
Examples of using clips well with the music:​

  • (example of characters singing)​

What is flow ?

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Music is about expressing feelings. There are ups and downs. Every song is a roller coaster in one way or another. At the peak, there is a lot of potential energy, at the bottom, a lot of kinetic. It isn't clear and exact for every song, but is something to discover before making an AMV. Flow is about emotion moving in one direction or another throughout the AMV. This is vital. Some key points:​

  • Intros set the starting point: will the roller coaster begin at ground level, get chained upwards, then fall and let gravity do the work? Will it start high up, and fall immediately and intensely? Will it be propelled forward from the station at high speeds? Set where you begin with an idea of where the AMV will go.​
  • The build can make any emotional impact greater: This build doesn't have to be the chain lift sort either. A slow-moving coaster which is suddenly propelled excites great thrill as well.​
  • What you do after the climax matters: Use the momentum you have gained from the climax! Twists, turns, hill, and drops at high speeds are awesome. Don't waste the effort you have put in getting high up!​
  • The finish is a very important thing to keep in mind: You want to leave the watcher satisfied: that is what will bring them back to watching your project repeatedly. A premature finish is a drag. Again, get your money's worth: a lot of time and effort was put into getting the coaster up to top speeds, let it slow itself down on the tracks, not the station's break system.​
Find what emotion you want to invoke. Watch how other creators have done the same thing. See what you liked and what you didn't like. Improve on what they did and make your own AMV so that if you found it on YouTube, you would want to watch it!
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Emotion goes hand in hand with flow in my opinion. Flow is just moving emotion and tone. Some points:​

  • Understand the emotion of your song: Again, know your song and where it goes emotionally.​
  • Pick clips which are appropriate: This is key. When you are searching for clips, understand what emotion you want to invoke. Is it thrill, sadness, nostalgia, confusion? Ask yourself if you can convey your intended emotion with not only the anime you choose, but the clips. This is probably the most difficult thing to do. It is hard to find the right place for any given clip. It is impossible as a creator to be fully satisfied with their project. But this dissatisfaction is what propels you to change things up to better suit what you want.​
  • Can you show the emotion without the music? This is tough. After finishing your project, play it with the volume down. Are the emotions you want to provoke still evident without the music? If yes, you are doing a great job, and the music will only add to the experience. If not, evaluate if you have picked the right clips and have put them together in a cohesive way.​

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When I talk about effects, I am referring to anything from transitions to overlays to video FX and back again. Do not overdo the excessively distracting effects if you want to tell a story or invoke an emotion. Yes, there are some great muscle-flexing AMVs out there which are works of art, and have a ton of hits. But only a very, very select few I consider quality videos that I keep finding myself coming back to.

If you want to learn how to use an effect, Google it. Believe me, Google has all the answers.

Here I will touch upon a few effects I know about and what they can do, and how to use them effectively.


  • The general zoom function can be used as a transition into either a new scene, or a new clip from the same scene, just magnified.​
  • Pair it together with a blur function to get a nice composite effect. Also, consider different acceleration rates of (go to the "Changing the interpolation curve between keyframes" drop down menu) to change things up, or get the nice "bounce" effect you see places.​
  • Be careful with the quality of your video: if you zoom in too much, you will begin to reveal the pixels of the video. This is a no-no.​
The fade in/out:

  • This is a fantastic tool. It is quite vanilla and easy to apply, but adds a great deal to slower sections of your project.​
  • Can also be used as a hype tool for building the climax.​

  • Masking is awesome if done right.​
  • Takes a long ass time to do, but if done well, it is hard to over-do.​
  • Typically a transition tool.​
  • Adds speed and urgency to very intense moments.​
  • I'm a huge sucker for that thing where people go into characters' eyes over and over again. It’s awesome.​
  • A fantastic example of an AMV which uses a ton of masking very well:​
  • (the eye thing at )​
Flash of white transition:

  • Be careful with this effect. It is easy to use and easy to abuse. If the white flash transition is used too often, the AMV becomes literally unwatchable; it makes for very unpleasant projects.​
  • If you use the white flash transition conservatively and efficiently, it can make for a dramatic transition, which is awesome.​

  • Use in moderation, it gets old very quick. That being said, if you use it twice or three times, it adds subtle emphasis, which is a great thing.​
  • Don't base your entire project on the twitch effect to add pizzazz, it will end up tacky and uninteresting.​
Slide Transitions:

  • Again, use very frugally, otherwise your project will appear like a power-point presentation.​
  • Works very well for certain combinations of clips which have a symmetry axis you can abuse.​
  • uses a slight variation of the slide transition which I am a huge fan of. I think it looks real cool. The same video uses slide transitions well again.​
Other miscellaneous WMM transitions:

  • Stuff like moving from one side of the cube to another, strip transition, and the bubble transition thing don't belong here. Just don't use them please.​
No transition effect:

  • Holy moly. Something which took me a long time to figure out is that not every single transition requires a fancy effect. DO NOT BE AFRAID TO JUST SWITCH TO A NEW CLIP, YOU DON'T NEED AN EFFECT FOR EVERY TRANSITION.
  • If you are provoking an emotion effectively already, think about what an effect will add.​
  • Some of the most popular AMVs out there don't use many transition effects. You don't need to be fancy and flashy to succeed!​

  • This is hard to do well. Anime is usually at 23.something frames per second. Slowing down the scene will appear choppy if it is done too much.​
  • Be careful! Choppy frames will grind down on the momentum you are picking up.​

  • The hardest effect to use in my opinion. It is what makes Into the Labyrinth look so smooth.​
  • There is a whole process that goes into accomplishing making Twixtor appear natural.​
  • The payoff, if you do a good job, is awesome. You can slow down the clip as much as you want which is huge.​
  • Examples of what Twixtor looks like:​

  • I have no idea how I feel about moving to grey-scale. In principle, it should work wonderfully if done right. However, I have not yet seen an AMV which uses grey-scale very well. If there is one, please let me know!​

Final touches:

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After making your AMV, find somewhere at the end to slip in the song and anime used. I believe it is good to put these things in both the video itself and the YouTube description. Additionally, you can put the name of the AMV and your channel name (I will talk about this more down below) in the video as well.

When you are happy with what you have made, it is time to render and upload your AMV! It's as easy as shooting fish in a barrel (deceivingly). There are a lot of things which can go wrong during this step.

  • WATCH THE RENDERED VIDEO A FEW TIMES. There will be something you forgot, you did wrong, or that glitched up in the rendering process.​
  • Make sure the quality matches what you want. Check out the properties of the video file you have made.​

And finally,don't be afraid to make mistakes.Even if you fail couple of times ,continue working and do your best.When you get eough practice you'll see how smooth your work will be.Don't forget to share ALL your works,good or bad,with our community! Good luck ;)