I’ve found my reading material for the week.
Going back through old threads in the General AMV subforum on the .org is a fantastic use of my free time. Besides seeing familiar names in an entirely different context than I’m used to, I’m starting to notice some discussions that took place which are eerily similar to those that I’ve taken place in or lurked through, years later (and even now, although generally these discussions take place outside of forum posts). Here are some of my favorites so far (click the screenshot to go to the thread in question):
Possibly the least amusing in terms of current discussion, simply because I haven’t seen this question explicitly asked in quite a while. Still, for me reading through this thread is a bit surreal, because it forces me to completely redfine my mental timeline for AMVs. I can’t seem to force myself to intuitively understand that AMVs didn’t start in 2000. In fact, thinking back to then, it’s hard for me to even picture an active Internet community existing around that time, much less having the time to develop to the point where someone felt that a lack of passion was something to legitimately be concerned about.
I think I tend to look back at that time and see nothing but passion, although that’s through a very warped lens. I wasn’t around then. As far as my conceptions go, the .org was in its infancy in early 2003 and there were but a handful of editors consistently releasing videos. They were a ragtag bunch who were spearheading the development of a subculture, and it was only through their passionate work and effort that the fandom exploded like it did a couple years later.
This thread completely annihilates that image. It forces me to completely redefine the constitution of the .org circa 2003, and to admit that there have always been, and always will be, those who question the purity of the hobby, and those whose works contribute to the validity of such sentiments.
This post would have made me feel old when I started editing in 2006. You have to remember that by then, the term “effect” had probably been redefined 20 times over to the point where things such as crossfades, fades to black, and overlays were considered status quo. And although it’s not specifically addressed in the thread, in 2014 it implicitly raises the question of what an “effect” is. (Exploring that topic might be something for me to do on a slow day in another post, but I’ll just touch on it now and say that this topic actually did come up recently, to the confusion of all involved.)
More to the point, this thread exemplifies a platitude I’ve heard old-timers spouting since day one: “People have always been complaining about effects.” Indeed…and now here’s the concrete proof. I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me, people have always been critical and skeptical of new things. Technology is unforgiving in this resepct; adapt or become irrelevant. I’m sure that was the fear back then – as an editor, my lack of technical skill, with effects specifically, would make my videos completely forgettable to the masses. Thankfully, the .org was blessed with several editors who made both mind-blowing effects videos (for their time) and equally impressive effects-less videos. Did this keep the “traditional” AMV relevant in spite of advancing technology? Hard to say with any certainty, but I’d like to say it helped.
As a side note, I often wonder, if it were possible to send, say, this video back to 2003 through a time machine, what in the world would the AMV community at the time make of it? Alas, we will never know.
Although similar in sentiment to the first example above, I particularly like this thread because it specifically addresses the idea of an “AMV recession”, which in 2014 is, superficially at least, a legitimate concern on the .org. In reality, looking at AMVs throughout cyberspace as a whole, we’re in no more of a recession than the .org was in early 2003. It’s just harder to find them because they’re so decentralized.
Back then, they didn’t even have fully-realized local hosting on the .org (that’s the “Golden Donut” referred to in various posts throughout the thread), so in some ways our situations are similar. All videos had to be hosted on webspace that was not the .org’s, or shared directly between members. YouTube was the nuclear holocaust that bombed most of us back into that stone-age realm, which is where we reside right now.
Think about it. If you’ve been involved in the .org since the mid-2000s, you will remember a time when posting a video guaranteed at least a couple hundred views and a decent number of actual downloads. If it was an above-average video, you’d get even more exposure than that. Now, YouTube’s instant-gratification philosophy has siphoned people away from the .org so the audience is smaller. YouTube itself is impossible to get noticed on unless you’re incredibly lucky or you send your video to every single anime convention, and even then it’s not you getting the recognition, most likely, it’s the video. Editors like myself have to satisfy themselves with showing their videos to their friends and then hoping more than a few people I don’t talk to on a regular basis might check it out based on my announcement thread.
So I guess you could say that things have come full circle and we are in a recession right now, although it’s of an entirely different nature than the one The Non-Professional was referring to 11 years ago; we’re now seeing a recession of viewership, rather than of actual content. It’s hard to tell which is sadder.