It may be hard to remember, and the younger readers may not even know, but once upon a time there was a band called Staind, and for all intents and purposes they constituted what today would probably be considered a meme. In fact, the whole crummy genre of music they espoused was rightly panned by most people who didn’t like wrestling and, like, really baggy pants as being some of the most annoying radio music out there. You can imagine, then, how I felt as a 13-14 year old kid, just getting into music, when I heard Staind played on the radio and kinda…y’know…liked it. But, I mean, at that age social pressure has a way of forcing one to say that something you like sucks and then trying to convince yourself that it’s true.
The fact is I always liked the song “Outside”, despite Staind’s reputation, and I had to repress that enjoyment whenever I was around music-knowledgable friends. 16+ years later, I can finally say this without shame, although it’s not like I’ve just been waiting around for the right time to finally come clean; it’s just that I happened across this great AMV a couple years ago and realized that it’s something I can write about here.
Because this is really a pretty fantastic video. Released in 2001 by serDouglass, this was one of the first 2,000 videos entered into the .org’s database. Given that the .org now has some 165,000+ videos entered in it, that’s pretty impressive. But what’s more impressive, at least to me, is just how well it has stood the test of time these last 17 years. This video demonstrates an innate understanding of editing basics, which is something I harp on again and again when I talk about those AMVs that speak to me the most. There’s nothing fancy in here — of course much of that may be attributed to the time this video was released and the fact that, back then, effects were simply much harder to come by. But this video is all the better for it.
Even so, editing-wise, there’s really not much to comment on. I would expect any halfway competent editor to be able to do the things this video does, and truthfully someone watching this video today probably won’t “learn” anything they didn’t already know. Cut on the obvious shifts in the song, hold onto a scene as the music lingers, pay attention to the lyrics without being obvious about it. Everything in moderation, basically, and that’s the most played-out lesson in the world. If anything, the video shows how important it is, but you probably already knew that.
Nah, what this video has is something more intangible, harder to manufacture without more thought and heart — it’s simply the fact that the anime and song seem to be so in sync, almost regardless of the technical choices the editor makes (or doesn’t). And while that’s also a pretty hackneyed concept, especially on this blog, there’s a reason I’m always harping on it and highlighting videos that do it so well: it’s probably the most important lesson any editor can learn. Smashing things together just because you like them on their own is hardly ever reason enough to do so — the art of editing an AMV implies that the two go together on some deeper, more fundamental level. Being an editor means recognizing that connection and making it work.
There are plenty (and I do mean plenty) of AMVs out there that don’t follow this pattern. Many of those even rely on the disparity itself to work — and many of them are downright excellent. I’ll say this, though — the videos that last, that stick with me and that I watch over and over and over again until a normal person would be dead sick of them are those that harness and emphasize a found synergy between the two sources that totally shoves all the editing tricks and technical wizardry the editor might throw in into the background. Peering Away The Layers isn’t the best video that does this — not even close — but serDouglass certainly hit on something special with this combination that’s worth remembering almost two decades later.