Dugan Chen's Homepage

Various Things

Anime Music Videos, By Me

How I Started

In 1997 I rented a fansub of the Sailor Moon R movie from a store called Anime Jyanai. That tape began (or was it ended? I can’t remember) with a long string of music videos putting anime footage to English songs. I recognized one of the songs as being from the Last Action Hero soundtrack, and the footage from Patlabor 2. I was seeing music videos made by amateurs with their own editing equipment! The next day, I went to Anime Jyanai and said “I want to do one of those!”

This website has a detailed description by AMV maker Dugan Chen about the setup and the working condition inside Arctic Animation


Anime Jyanai was, at that time, a front for a fansubbing group called Arctic Animation. The store proprietor was William Chow himself. He had back rooms where people went to subtitle master tapes. Extra VCR’s worked around the clock to fill duplication requests. I made an appointment. Then, when it came, William Chow introduced me to the equipment (two VCR’s, a laserdisc player, and a TV whose brightness was impossible to calibrate), demonstrated the controls (video-dub and the jog shuttle), and left me to my devices.

Very few editors can claim to have worked under worse conditions than I did there. Because the equipment was in the back room of a store, I could not start before it opened (ostensibly at noon, inevitably between 12:30pm and 1pm) and had to be out by the closing time of 7pm. The editing room itself was windowless and dimly lit. The equipment was knee-high, and the room the size of a closet, so that you could neither sit nor stand comfortably. You had to squat or kneel. It wasn’t even physically safe. Heavy objects weighing as much as VCR’s would tumble off the top shelves and narrowly miss your head. Yet Arctic provided the equipment and, in many cases, the source footage that I could not afford. I took full advantage of the opportunity. By winding the tape back by five seconds and then counting them off, I could make cuts that were precise to the frame. I always had one good minute of completed work to show for every hour I spent editing. I made nine AMVs at Arctic.

When I got broadband I actively sought out other AMV creators. I wanted to see their work, to hear their views, to learn from them. By far the most generous of them was William Milberry of Aluminum Studios , who mentored me for years. Eventually I had the computer and software to go off and do this on my own.

Below you will find a subset of my entire body of work. A small selection, yes, but a representative one.

What I’ve Done

Let’s Talk It Over

Cowboy Bebop, Serial Experiment Lain, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Cat Soup, Akira, Ah My Goddess, Transformers, Outlaw Star, Read or Die, Jin-Roh.
Let’s Talk It Over / SHIN Murayama feat.Argie Phine

The concept for this video was meant for another song: Black Sabbath’s “Electric Funeral.” That AMV was to have have Ed (from Cowboy Bebop) and Lain (from Serial Experiment Lain) hacking into various military computers and using them to launch nuclear missiles. I wrote a script for what Ed and Lain would say to each other when planning their attack, being careful to keep it true to the way their dialogue was actually written. I never made that AMV, but it provided the concept for this one. It works because this song is about two people talking something over, but it never mentions what.

When I started making AMVS, I dreamed about eventually making one that I could use to get a real editing job. It happened, seven years later, with this one. I took a Final Cut Pro course at the Vancouver Film School specifically to use as a networking opportunity. I showed this AMV off several classmates, and pointed out what I did at each point. One hired me.

This AMV is part of the Dance Dance Revolution Nonstop Megamix Music Video Project that premiered at Anime Weekend Atlanta 9. You can could buy the DVD from expertDV.com (it’s the DDR I & III Iron Chef 2003 DVD). However, the people who put the DVD together took out one of the After Effects composites at the beginning that I worked so hard on. Bastards.

Download from AnimeMusicVideos.org »


Serial Experiment Lain
“Californication,” Red Hot Chili Peppers

I began by planning and laying down the first 6 seconds. When that was perfect, I put together the next 6 seconds. After repeating the process for 3 months, I finished.

This is one that I always show when I’m trying to demonstrate my editing skill.

Download from AnimeMusicVideos.org »

One Fucked Up Dude

“Tourniquet,” Marilyn Manson

When planning this AMV I studied Marilyn Manson’s video to this song. That means I watched it two or three times on TV and then played it over and over in my head. I took note of the editing style, the nature and arrangement of its images, and even the color palette. How much could I recreate using footage from Akira? During that time I also read Angelynx’s, Worms With Angel Wings, a song-by-song analysis of the Antichrist Superstar album. It made me I think about “Tourniquet’s” place in the album’s concept, and I designed the AMV accordingly.

I made this in 1998, using William Chow’s VCR, laserdisc player, and copy of Akira. In the end I memorized the movie, made the trip, and cut the whole thing in 4.5 hours.

Download from AnimeMusicVideos.org »