So there were a number of changes to the AMV contest this year. One thing that didn't change however is the very excellent ballots with the tear off voting section that lets you keep the notes for what was played, which makes writing this post _so_ much easier!
So last year there were five categories, "Drama", "Action", "Random/Fun", "Comedy", and "AMTV - Pro".
This year there were six categories. "Drama" was split into "Drama/Theatric" and "Romance/Sentiment". "Comedy" and "Random/Fun" were bred together and had two descendants, "Parody/Trailer" and "Fun/Humor". The AMV organizers mentioned during the retrospective panel that they never were sure what "AMTV" and "AMTV - Pro" were supposed to be. Partly it ended up being "videos that were better than all the rest," but they felt that ultimately that just detracted from all the other categories, and i remember on occasion the fact that it was a mish-mash of genres could make it hard to judge. So they dropped that category this year, or rather officially transformed it into the other trend it was following, "Upbeat/Dance." "Action" pretty much just stayed the same, but they welded "Adventure" on to the end so it wouldn't feel lonely compared to the others.
Overall i think those were some positive changes. As someone who likes a lot of romantic and sentimental drama videos, but not so much the DRAMA-drama videos or the horror-drama videos, that split makes a lot of sense to me. Although it does mean that there's now one "drama" category that i really like and one that i'm kind of meh about.
I'm also rather meh about trailer videos in general. Occasionally they're genius, more often the pairing is amusing but not strong enough to carry an entire video in my opinion, or i'm just not interested at all.I think part of me feels that doing a trailer video is too easy and not as creative. Since i've never created an AMV in my life however it's entirely possible that's an unfair view. But in any case, this year there were a lot of trailer videos. I'm not sure if the creation of the "Parody/Trailer" category encouraged the acceptance of more trailer videos, if the category was created just because there were so many of that kind of video.
So here are all the AMVs that were in the contest. (And between the leetspeak, the smooshed together names, the japanese, and the just plain made up words i'm sure there are any number of tyops in there =P)
P1 - Holomon - By Warlike Swans & Warlike Cygnet (Theme song from "Pokemon" - Bleach)
P2 - Fast & Furious: Valkyria Chronicles - By NightMistress85 (Trailer from "Fast & Furious VI" - Valkyria Chronicles)
P3 - Soul Hunters - By Hagaren Viper (Trailer from "Witch Hunters" - Soul Eater)
P4 - EVE's Progress - By Kvakond ("Gimmix, Dat Bass" by HaZeR - Mouretsu Pirates)
P5 - Into Darkness - By Yuusharo (Trailer from "Star Trek: Into Darkness" - Outlaw Star)
P6 - Testing Is the Future - By Mad Rush Studios [NoisyNinjas] (Soundclips from "Portal", "Portal 2," & other sources - Various Sources )
D1 - Into the Labyrinth - By lolligerjoj ("Into The Labyrinth" by Kraddy - Base/Nise/Nekomonogatari)
D2 - Reverse Nature - By Eake4 ("Ring Around the Rosey" from Dead Space 2 - Various Sources )
D3 - madokaAV - By "It's a Trap!" Productions [drewaconclusion] ("Kill The Lights" by The Birthday Massacre - Madoka Magica, Steins;Gate, Chaos;Head)
D4 - Deliver Us - By Nekokitkat ("Deliver Us" by Ofra Haza & Hans Zimmer - Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic)
D5 - Runaway Boy - By Cenit ("Last Night" by Good Charlotte - Eden of the East TV & Movies 1 & 2)
D6 - Dead End - By nicki_013 ("Sail" by AwolNation - Mirai Nikki [Future Diary])
D7 - Moonfall - By PixelBlended Studios [Shin] ("Rabbit Heart" by Florence & The Machine - Escaflowne)
A1 - Aevum - By Espace Studios [AimoAio] ("The Clockmaker" by Vexare - Fate/Zero)
A2 - JAGDMEISTER KREUZZUG - By Cenit ("Crucify Me Part 1 [DnB DJ Edit]" by SHockOne Feat. Phetsta - Evangelion 3.0)
A3 - Overcoming Me - By Hagaren Viper ("Overcoming Me" by Kutless - Persona 4: The Animation)
A4 - Solar Hearts - By BxP102 ("Light Years" by Razihel feat. Savant - Macross Frontier Movies 1 & 2)
A5 - Waltz S - By Iren S.S. ("Vienna Waltz" by Johann Strauss - Samurai Champloo)
A6 - I'm Only Getting Started - By Pwolf ("Blackout" by Breathe Carolina - Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood)
A7 - Black Rock BEatdown - By Visualized Nightmare Studios [Krystyrat] ("Tommy's Theme" by NOISIA - Black Rock Shooter)
U1 - DBZ - Always Hardcore - By Rider4Z ("One [Always Hardcore]" by Scooter - DragonBallZ)
U2 - JaAM [Just Another Anime Mix] - By VivifxAMV ("Pop Culture" by Madeon - Various Sources )
U3 - Time Twitch - By BecauseImBored1 ("Ready to Go" by Panic at the Disco - The Girl Who Leapt Through Time)
U4 - Fashion Beats - By Minako ("Saturday" by Basshunter - Various Sources )
U5 - BaBOOM!!!!! - By LoneSaiyan115 ("Game Grumps Remix - BaBoom" by Atpunk01 - Nichijou)
R1 - Summer Hearts - By RAWdangers ("Wild at Heart" by Gloriana - Ano Natsu de Matteru)
R2 - BFB - By Jump Cut Productions [Advent87] ("My Best Friend's Brother" by Victoria Justice - B Gata H Kei)
R3 - Before I Go - By SelfishPromise ("On Top of the World" by Imagine Dragons - Ano Hana)
R4 - Holding On - By Argen Team [madaraxD] ("Mouth 2 Mouth" by Kate Havnevik - Various Sources )
R5 - Bored With Me - By Digital Memory Studios [pacotacoshell] ("Finding Something To Do" by Hellogoodbye - Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai)
R6 - Tough Love - By PixelBlended Studios [l33tmeatwad])
R7 - Ivy Bridge - By PixelBlended Studios [Shin] ("Little Wonders" by Rob Thomas - Usagi Drop)
F1 - It Started With a Bang - By CDVV [Fall_Child42] ("Gonna Fly Now" by Bill Conti - Various Sources)
F2 - Don't Stop Arale Now! - By Armed and Out of Medication Productions [Nils Houghton] ("Don't Stop Me Now" by Queen - Dr. Slump)
F3 - I Choose Hippopotas - By PixelBlended Studios [kireblue]
F4 - 50 Ways For Your Partner to Die - By Tsu ("50 Ways To Say Goodbye" by Train - Resident Evil)
F5 - Magic Mouth - By BasharOfTheAges ("Magic" by B.o.B. - Madoka Magica)
F6 - 7 Days with Suzumiya - By VivfxAMV ("One Week" by Barenaked Ladies - Melancholy of Haruhi)
And here are the winners as well as my thoughts on some of the AMVs, both individually and as a category.
Seen Before: P4
Favorites: P1, P2, P6
Voted For: P2 - Fast & Furious: Valkyria Chronicles
Way too many trailers. The only one that really appealed to me is the one that i ended up voting for (duh.) I love Valkyria Chronicles, i like the Fast & Furious franchise, and the match was weird enough to be amusing. P1 wasn't actually a trailer video, but TV opening videos are definitely bordering on the same territory and i'm not especially fond of that anime anyways. P6 was the only one not based on a trailer or opening so i guess i can't be sad that it won, however i'm already tired of the faux audience interaction videos. But in any event the "Parody" to "Trailer" ratio in this category is way off in my opinion.
Seen Before: D5
Favorites: D4, D5, D6
Voted For: D5 - Runaway Boy
Won: D1 - Into The Labyrinth
It's probably not a coincidence that the one i ended up voting for could easily have ended up in the "Action/Adventure" or "Romance/Sentiment" categories. D2 was a horror AMV with a jump scare, so it gets negative points. Everything else was at least decent. I ought to have liked D7 given Escaflowne, but that song just doesn't do it for me.
Seen Before: A1, A5, A6
Favorites: A5, A6
Voted For: A6
Won: A6 - I'm Only Getting Started
Overall action seemed pretty average. Except for the two i already knew nothing really stood out to me. Though perhaps that was because i was getting kind of tired by that point. And ironically i find that action videos that i'm not particularly invested in are kind of sleep inducing =P
Seen Before: U1
Voted For: U1 - DBZ - Always Hardcore
Won: U5 - BaBOOM!!!
These were all perfectly competent, but none of them really grabbed me. U2 suffered in particular because i'm getting _really_ tired of "Pop Culture" by this point. (If you're going to make an AMV to that song now, you've got to measure up to Ileia's video, which is no small feat.) So U1 is an anime i like (even though it's rather silly) set to a song i like (even though it's rather silly) by an AMV creator i like. Pretty easy to go with this one. U4 is probably the runner up for me. From what i saw around the con "Game Grumps" is some meme i haven't encountered yet but which seems to have become fairly well spread, so perhaps that's why U5 won.
Seen Before: R2, R6, R7
Favorites: R1, R2, R3, R5, R6, R7 (particularly Tough Love and B.F.B)
Voted For: R7
Won: R7 - Ivy Bridge
Okay, all else being equal, clearly this category blew me away, which is _not_ what i would have expected going in. R2 and R6 would have been competitive in the "Fun/Humor" category as well. I might have voted for them there. I might have voted for them in this category too, except... "Ivy Bridge". Between the song, the theme, the opening, and where i was in my life when i first encountered it, "Ivy Bridge" pretty much makes me break out in tears every time i see it. So for this year and for me at least this was the new AMTV Pro, the category that was sucking up all the talent to the detriment of other categories. I expect opinions vary though :)
Seen Before: F2, F3
Favorites: F2, F3, F6
Voted For: F2 - Dont stop Arale Now!
Won: F4 - 50 Ways For Your Partner to Die
"50 Ways For Your Partner to Die" kind of bothers me a little. The AMV is well done, and i don't really have a problem with the song, but combining it with video of your (female) partner in Resident Evil getting killed over and over and over again starts making it somewhat squicky in my mind. Perhaps i've been watching "too much" Tropes vs Women in Video Games?
Aside from that, F1 would have been great as an AMV Hell short, but didn't really work as a full video for me. The others were all decent, with F2 being somewhat better than the rest. Definitely not the best year for the "comedy" category in my opinion, but at least part of the problem was appropriate videos getting siphoned away into "Romance/Sentiment".
Best in Show:
Voted For: R7
I'd have something to say about that, except i think i already said everything that needs to be said about those two videos in my opinions up above.
It's a little sad that most of the best stuff in the contest were videos that i'd already seen before, though that's hardly AX's fault. However even though i didn't make it to all of the "Best of the Non-Finalists" panel, during the time i was in there i saw a couple AMVs that i really liked and might well have voted for if they'd been finalists. (I'm hoping a list of those will be posted at some point soon on AMV.org or some such.) Clearly some years the judges agree with my tastes and some years they don't so much.