AMV contest 2015
AMV stands for Animated Music Video. AMV's can tell a story, make you laugh or cry, act as a promotion for a certain series or just lovely to watch and see a spectacle of images and music brought together by a fan or a group of fans.
As every year, the AMV competition is a regular part of our show and 2014's edition will be no exception. Great works of art have passed the competition in previous years and it's a real treat seeing the video's people made. If you want to join the competition, we kind of expect that you are in the know of how to create one. If you're not, Google is your friend and there are plenty of tutorials out there who can teach you but know this: making an AMV isn't something you do in five minutes; it takes time, creativity and effort to make it really stand out.
If you want to join the competition, please note that there are a few rules you must adhere to. The rules are almost the same as last edition, but no major adjustments have been made, except for the credits. To make sure everyone can read it (well, save for those AMV's with a gazillion series mentioned- I'm looking at you, Sander), we'd like you to refrain from doing fancy stuff with it. So white text on a black background please: sans serif fonts (like Arial/Helvetica, Verdana or Calibri) are preferred.
So let's get down with the rules:
First off: time to stress about the deadlines! Please note: the deadlines for the AMV and XMV are different: we give you an extra week to finish your smut, gore and pink fluffy unicorns-video.
* The deadline for participating in the AMV contest is Saturday May 16, 2015, 23:59:59.
* The deadline for participating in the XMV contest is Saturday May 23, 2015, 23:59:59.
If you submit your video past this deadline, you're out of luck and we advise you to try again next year.
* The deadline for mended AMV's is Caturday May 23, 2015, 23:59:59.
* The deadline for mended AMV's is Caturday May 30, 2015, 23:59:59.
This deadline is for already submitted, but non-playing video's which need some work. Remember: we test and watch each video fully to make sure it works. If for some reason your video doesn't play or has other malfunctions, we will let you know as soon as possible, and you'll have until this date to send us a fixed version.
* Formats and containers: we are looking at different players but for now, we keep the Popcornhour C200 with the latest stable firmware as our player of choice, which plays nearly everything that adheres to video standards.
The compatibility list can be found here. However, if you're not sure, stick to video codecs like H.264, WMV, DivX/XviD and MPEG; AAC, AC3 or PCM for audio and containers like .avi, .wmv, .mp4, .mpg or .mkv. AVCHD transport streams muxed with Dolby Digital audio (.m2t) will do nicely as well.
We will flat out refuse AMV's in closed or backwards formats, like .mov, .rm, .flv, .swf and .3gp.
* The AMV contest will be held on Saturday in the World Forum Theatre, which you will have to attend in person.
* The XMV contest will be held on Friday in a room yet unknown, which you also will have to attend in person.
You as an editor will have to be there to vote for your peers' AMVs. We kindly ask you to be there about 30 minutes before the show starts, so we can explain how the system works and to make sure everyone's there. Not showing up in time without letting us know why may result in disqualification!
We have an Editor's and an Audience prize for the AMV: the former is decided by the editors, the latter will be decided by a group of audience members equal in size of the editor's group. We will pick these members from the waiting line at random and/or might be designated by the organisation of the competition if we are sure the person picked is a fair and incorruptible judge. The winners will be announced at the end of the competition, but if we have a feeling something's not right, we might decide to postpone the announcement of the final results to a later date and time.
The XMV will be judged by editors and audience as one prize, with the condition of there being enough entries. J-POP staff will have the final decision on that.
* Your AMV needs to be an original, as in not shown in public or in other Dutch contests before. We also frown heavily on copying other people's work, so don't do that.
When in doubt, we reserve the privilege of checking with various sources whether your video is an original.
To prevent repeat performances (ie. AMV's which already have been submitted to other festivals within our country), we have an exchange agreement with those festivals. This means that your AMV and your personal details will be made available to the person responsible for their AMV-competition and in reverse.
Suffice to say that nothing else will happen to your AMV or your details; we will not make anything public other than playing the video's at our festival and announcing the winners to the world, unless you give us explicit permission to do so. We'd also love to play your video at other events if the need arises.
* Your AMV needs to contain animation as its prime ingredient and make sure it actually has audio.
Note that we will interpret the term 'animation' loosely. If you are confident that you can make something awesome with just stills, that's fine by us, but try to make more of it than just a slide show. It's OK to use live-action or game footage as well if you like, but keep in mind it's an animation show in the end, set to music.
* We're a family show, so no pornography, gore, excessive graphical violence or blood during the AMV competition please.
Cartoon violence is allowed. If you're in doubt whether your AMV will pass, please show us a rough version or let us know which show you're going to use and we'll advise for or against it. If you just send in your gory video without consulting, you'll most probably be disqualified and I probably make a mention of it during the XMV for everybody to laugh at.
* You can put spoilers in your AMV.
There's no reason for us to say no to this.
* Your AMV length must not exceed 3 minutes and 10 seconds.
The sequence must be like this: 2 seconds of silent black, 180 seconds of AMV (maximum, but doesn't need to be 180: a video that drags along is just as bad as a video that's too short), 7 silent seconds of white on black-credits to the music and animation and 1 second silent black. Please don't name yourself in the credit screen; this might be of influence during judging.
* No logo's, (fan)subs, credits, or what have you.
Just don't. If you can't use a blu-ray or dvd source for whatever reason (often has a creditless opening and ending as extra), at least take some time to get rid of unwanted details. If we get the feeling you just threw something together, hit the Render-button and be done with it, you'll be disqualified immediately.
* Video resolution can be between standard DVD resolution and 1920x1080p.
If you want to make it smaller, your video will probably be rejected, because counting pixels isn't everyones hobby. Speaking of pixels: square pixels are preferred; while a 1440x1080 video will play OK, we'd appreciate progressive video's all the way. We probably won't have budget nor equipment to play 4k-files for a while, so please don't bother.
There is no limit on file size, but be moderate. There is no need to reserve more than one gigabyte for 3 minutes of HD video. 20Mbit video streams should be more than sufficient to let you show wat you want to show.
* Aspect ratio can be 4:3 or 16:9.
Our screen is 16:9, our player output and projector will be set to 1920x1080 pixels. Our screen will be something in the range of 8 meters in diameter.
However, don't upscale your DVD source to something it's not if you don't absolutely have to; it might end up becoming ugly. The scaling hardware in our equipment will take care of it instead.
* Mark your file with your Ticket number (ET---------), your initals and the title of the AMV in one uninterrupted file name (for example, mine would be ET123456789-KS-The-Robots.m2ts).
This makes life easier for us and helps to determine which is what and to whom it belongs. Titles like Sequence01.mpg are NOT acceptable! Please put your AMV into a ZIP, 7zip or RAR-file with the same name as described and upload it to your server or use Google Drive, Dropbox or WeTransfer.
* You need to attend the competition in person, holding a valid ticket for the festival.
We need you there to vote for the other contestants and it's more fun to see the people react to your AMV when you're there.
* Voting is done on the spot, through a custom built voting system.
We built this system a few years ago and it's been of service since 2012. Both groups of judges (editors and audience, equal in number) get a vote box. When it's time to vote, the boxes are set to receive input, the judge puts the score in (0 to 99 points) and hits Enter. The box saves the entry and is read out by the master system. We can see in real life which votes are cast and how many points are given.
At the end of the run, we can announce the scores in mere seconds.
* The number of entries depends on the amount of time available, and thus on how long your AMV will be.
For example: the 75 minutes of playing time we reserve for the contest itself can contain about 20-22 contestants with AMV's that use the maximum alotted time. However, an AMV doesn't NEED to be 3 minutes; it may very well be less. We draw the line at 25 contestants: we simply do not have more voting boxes than the 50 we already built and we need the other 25 for the audience judges.
* Collaborations are permitted.
We can't enforce a ban on things like this so we won't try. However, you can only send in one AMV and we will only have one trophy for the winner, unless you manage a double whammy for both audience and editor's prize.
*Tips and tricks:
+ Make sure your encoding machine has computing power to spare; the average video encoder takes every last bit of processing power it can find. Professional editing software also uses your GPU when compatible. For example: Premiere recognises the CUDA-GPU and uses it when it renders.
+ Make sure your project settings fit your source material in terms of frame rate, resolution et al.
+ Despite following the specs to the letter, it's still possible to screw up because you're adamant on using PCM, while the container demands AC3/Dolby Digital. Good editing or rendering software usually helps you with this, so pay attention!
+ Interlaced video in progressive AMV's usually makes your video look like crap (jagged lines are a giveaway), so make sure you de-interlace your source material and set your output to progressive as well. Most editing software doesn't allow you to go back and change the fundamental settings of your project, so be extra careful when you set up your document.
+ Don't add black bars to your video! Video players are able to figure out which aspect ratio the video has and will add black bars when necessary.
+ Make sure your audio sounds good with a sufficient bit rate. Check this by playing it through a proper stereo set instead of a set of in-ear headphones or the tiny speakers of your laptop. We will have a large, multi-kW audio setup available during the competition which amplifies (ba-dum tshh) every flaw your audio stream has.
+ Normalise your audio and make sure the peaks do not go above -3dB, but definitely not over 0dB. Our equipment and 2200 pairs of ears will thank you for it.
+ When you're all set and done, make sure you watch your video at least one last time before you send it in and perhaps show it to your significant other, a member of your family or a friend as well. If one of them or you sees something out of the ordinary, you can still do something about it.
Due to technical difficulties we haven't been able to reproduce as of yet, we will stick to stereo playback of audio from now on during AMV and XMV competitions.
The reason for this is that our surround decoder didn't play nice with some of the surround tracks we were given on 2013, so a stereo downmix will be it. Getting a different decoder is probably not an option, since this kind of decoder is generally not available through rental and we are dependant on privately owned equipment for surround sound.
Now, one question that's been asked to me on a regular basis is this: why are we using a designated media player (one that's a couple of years old to boot) when a computer does the same?
The answer is simple: reliability and years of experience. We've done numerous tests with player computers, but nearly every time we try, something goes very wrong at exactly that moment we need it the most. If a playlist doesn't fail (like it did in 2011), it will be some background process throwing a spanner in the works or a software player which decides to crash spectacularly. We've had our share of problems and other conventions had them as well, so enter the Popcornhour (PCH).
This device does what it's supposed to do: play video that adheres to video standards. You don't need heaps of processing power to play 1080p: you can do it with a Raspberry Pi, for crying out loud. The PCH has a dedicated processor with an instruction set to do what it has to do, contrary to a PC which relies on multiple factors to do its thing. A PC is more versatile, but also more prone to errors.
The downside of the PCH is that it's a bit picky on combinations; the files need to have a correct combination of codecs and containers, otherwise it won't play the file. Despite that, it's been proven to be the most reliable player for us: when it plays, it keeps on playing, and it doubles as a smoke test. :)
Video is a tricky bitch, with a host of standards and codecs which don't play nicely with eachother. Our player is a picky eater, I admit, but it's a great tool to play video's who do adhere to standards and smoke out those who don't. Software like VLC allowing you to use just any container and codec is a bad thing, because people get lazy and just throw whatever they can into it. Getting it right not only helps us getting video's that will play on just about anything, it'll also help you make better video's and understand the underlying technical side of them, understanding how it works.
Obviously, we are open for suggestions; if you know something that's proven to be rock solid, configurable to our needs and not too expensive, we are more than willing to give it a try. Until then, the PCH C-200 will be our player of choice.
Right, with that out of the way, you can send in your entry by using this form.
Good luck, you will have fierce competition. We're looking forward to seeing your creations. If you want to discuss something, ask for help or just want to hang out, please join us in the forums.
To be announced.
World Forum Theater / Archonia Room.
To be announced