Saturday, May 22, 2010

Final Fantasy 9 AMV: Porcelain

Basic Fact of Life: If it's a Final Fantasy and it has Full Motion Video, there are dozens, even hundreds, of AMVs featuring it. If it weren't for Kingdom Hearts, the FF series would easily have the most AMVs made for it out there on Youtube and and personal sites and wherever else you can find an AMV.

Addendum to that Fact: None of them are worth watching.

Okay, yes, that's a little extreme, but it's close enough to the truth--after watching every Final Fantasy AMV I could stomach for the FFs I've played through, I'd say that 3%, maybe less, of them are worth actually sitting through. The rest range from predictable to lame to messy crap. Lord, if I have to sit through one more Final Fantasy 8 AMV about the horribly-written romance between Squall and Rinoa to annoying, sappy love music...

Anyway, of the few FF AMVs out there worth the watching, I've only found 1 thus far that was worthy of a rant. But it's a damn nice one--an old classic back from nearly a decade ago, made by a talented AMV-maker known as AnimePROPHECY.

Final Fantasy 9: Porcelain:

Poetry in Motion: Visual quality's good throughout. Final Fantasy 9's FMVs were visually stunning in a fairly time-transcending way, so even though they come from a Playstation 1 game, all you need is a decent-quality representation of FF9's cut scenes to have a really lovely AMV to watch.

The visual artistry on the part of AnimePROPHECY here is simple, but effectively so. Many quick fades from one scene to another are used, but they correspond perfectly to the song's pitch and changes, becoming impressive just from their placement. The song is elegantly simple, so these simple tricks, coordinated elegantly, match it quite well. There are also occasionally some fades not from one scene to the next, but from one scene into a blank screen, then to the next scene, again arranged to perfectly compliment the song's rhythm. The beginning of the AMV's an excellent example of this, although it continues on to the very end just as well.

That's most all there is to find for cinematic tricks that AnimePROPHECY uses, but that's really all there should be--the visuals of Final Fantasy 9 really do grab attention and speak for themselves; adding any more complex visual artistry to the mix than simple fades would distract from the natural visuals that the game provides to the AMV, and be overall detrimental to the AMV because of it. The aim of the visual aspect of this AMV is to show the game in all its beauty and wonder, and that's exactly what the AMV achieves.

I Gotta Have More Cowbell: This AMV uses the song Porcelain by Moby. I would normally say in an AMV like this that the song is the greatest strength to it, as it's the focal point that the rest of the AMV is arranged around, and it works damn well in that capacity, but honestly, the other aspects of the AMV are also so strong and attention-grabbing that the music, though the heart and soul of this AMV, is no more or less important than its video component nor its purpose and meaning.

The scene selection to accompany the song's lyrics is quite good. Examples: the line starting at 1:22 talks of a "kaleidoscopic mind," to a scene of characters falling through rushing, circular lights and colors, looking quite like a kaleidoscope, with the camera going for a close-up on the reflection of them all in Zidane's eye--kind of like seeing his mind reflecting the kaleidoscope of colors, the line at 1:44 saying that "this is goodbye" to the scene of Zidane seeing off Dagger and his friends at the end of the game, and the line at 2:53 which talks about waking and "going out of my mind" to an opening, mad-looking eye, a twisted landscape, and crazy main villain Kuja.

However, the lyrics to this song are, ultimately, really not too important to it--the song's focus and memorable trait is its melody, the lovely, upbeat yet ethereal quality of its tune. And the AMV definitely reflects this quality, and uses it to its utmost. The FMVs of Final Fantasy 9, loaded with bright mysticism, colorful magic, awesome events, and eye-catching settings, often perfectly match to the song's tone of wonder, beauty, and the magical unknown, often matching the scene shown to the slightest shifts of instrument and tone in the song. The most easily notable example is how perfectly the scene changes are timed to the music's shifts, but that's really only the beginning of the synchronization of video to the song's mood. It's honestly very difficult for me to put into words, this intangible coordination of soothing wonder between song and video, but it really is there, as I'm sure you can see.

Guy, You Explain: This is another AMV whose purpose is simple, like the last one I did, Fallout 3: Mad World--to summarize and glorify the game, to bare its heart to you and show you or make you remember how great it is.

Does it succeed? Oh yes. The beauty of the Final Fantasy 9 fantasy world and its epic plot are portrayed wonderfully in its cinemas, and the merging of Moby's Porcelain sums it up perfectly, covering the captivating events, grand sense of adventure, soft and poignant love story between Dagger and Zidane, great characters, and general majesty of Final Fantasy 9 with the same grandiose, yet so very subtle beauty that makes the game such a great RPG. This AMV's goal is to invoke within its audience the moving emotion and wonder that the game should be remembered with, and to that end, AnimePROPHECY succeeds brilliantly.

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