5: AMVs as Remixes

As a fan of animation, I am familiar with the genre of video known as AMVs. The acronym stands for Animated Music Video, though sometimes it’s used in the context of live-action shows and movies as well. Recently, the term has expanded even more to include work that has been animated by the editor themselves, not from a pre-existing show, though it can be based on previous work. Anime is the most popular genre of animation to remix, but Western animation gets its fair share as well, as is evident in this AMV about classic Disney films:

Any genre of music can be used in an AMV, though rock and electronic tend to be the most popular. In this AMV, footage and other elements from Disney movies are pieced together into one cohesive video. The song itself is relatively unchanged, with the exception of the very beginning in which there is a voiceover, but the video is heavily edited with masking and other transitions. The song used is itself a remix made by Porter Robinson using influential music from the 2000s. The movies used came out around the same time. Overall, this is an homage to media that was a large part of many people’s childhoods.

AMVs often run into copyright problems similar to the ones mentioned in Vivian’s blog. Music companies and some animation companies can make video sharing platforms seem like a copyright minefield. Because of this, most AMV editors are mainly hobbyists, or use the genre as a way to hone their skills for less derivative editing projects. This is an example of the conflict between individual content creators and large corporations; many times fans are introduced to a show or a band through AMVs and end up buying merchandise, so in a way it’s effective word of mouth advertising, but it still toes the line of fair use.

Video and audio are some of the easiest things to remix, especially now that both are available digitally, which could be why video remixes are so popular. Writing and drawing take a lot of time and effort, and results are not immediate, but video, especially already-produced video, takes comparatively little time and effort to rearrange and repurpose. This makes it an accessible way for fans of a show or a band to contribute to the fan community, since part of the appeal of a fandom is the creative effort put forth by its members.

As well, songs are closely tied to human emotion, which makes the combination of the two almost inevitable. The juxtaposition of the two can also be interesting, such as combining a heavy metal song with a relatively innocent show. This can be used to add new layers to the pieces being remixed.

AMVs are an interesting consequence of the intersection of fandom culture and technology. It creates a form of media that is difficult to explain but is a very effective way of calling attention to the things about a show or a movie that stand out to the individual, as well as looking at both the video and the song from a different perspective.