Also known as AMVs or Animated/Anime Music Videos.*
Other media have their own acronyms. The most common are DMVs for doujinshi, CMVsor animash for Western Animation and comics (if they're not using AMV), and MMVs for manga
In a nutshell, a basic concept is to take recorded footage from your favorite movies or TV shows, set all these edited scenes to your favorite music (maybe add some Fan Art or subtitling) put it all together in a digital Movie-Maker on your PC, then upload it to any video streaming site online- and wait for awesome comments to pour in! (YouTube is a popular choice)
It's not the most productive activity in the world, but for the most dedicated, it is one of the most time-consuming. Like Fan Fics and Fan Art, making and watching these videos is another way these fans express their consuming obsession over their favourite show.
Naturally, the companies and network executives behind these TV shows and music are mixed on the whole deal. Some companies welcome the support and publicity and even hold competitions for the best video. Others simply turn a blind eye to these videos, neither encouraging them nor forcing them removed under threat of lawsuit. Other companies do that very thing (removing them).
By definition, Fan Vid consist entirely of already copyrighted material. Whether the usage of the clips counts as Fair Use or not is up for debate- but there's a real lack of legal precedent for whether it actually qualifies as fair use... Largely because few makers of an AMV are interested in dragging the case to court (when makers could just re-upload the same video under a new different name or just into different site)
In any case, the sheer numbers and proliferation of such edited material makes it very difficult for many company to gain headway in removing the Fan Vid. Fan Vid made from anime or cartoon are also called Animated or Anime Music Videos, or AMVs, while Japanese fans call their videos Music Anime Doujinshi or MADs.
Fan Vid artists can even get into trouble for the audio they use. AnimeMusicVideos.org, which catalogs its namesake (hosts over 80,000 videos) had to remove all videos using music by Evanescence in late 2005! Hosted videos now come with following disclaimer, "THIS VIDEO IS PURELY FAN-MADE- AND IS IN NO WAY ASSOCIATED WITH ANY MUSICAL ARTIST OR ANIME COMPANIES, IN ANY WAY."
Shipping vids (for the romantics) and videos centered around your one favorite character (sometimes called "tributes") seem to be the most prevalent, though some Gag Dub parodies have been picking up steam recently.
Subcategory of Fan Work. Just like with Fan Fic, Sturgeon's Law applies oh so very much when it comes to the overall quality of the following videos. Also See Fan Film.
A Sister Trope is The Abridged Series.
"One Girl Revolution" by Superchick is also a popular song for Action Girl's. Likewise "Bad Reputation", by Joan Jett for some girls.
Superchick's "Stand in the Rain" and "One More" seem to be giving "One Girl Revolution" a run for it's money these days. The latter's gender neutralness also allows it to expand to male characters as well.
Any Avril Lavigne song, really. "Girlfriend" is getting pretty common, too.
Pretty much everyWoobie or abused/bullied/etc. character has a tribute set to "Concrete Angel."
"Crazy Possessive" and "Super Psycho Love" are very commonly used for Yandere characters.
"Castle Walls" T.I. ft Christina Aguilera has become popular with the Stepford Smiler, especially the Ojou. Note that people only use Christina's part, ignoring the rap portion that makes up most of the song.
This has a LOT to do with the fact it's one of the few decent/recognizable songs you can use without YouTube shredding you upon upload.
Anything to "What I've Done," "Numb," or "In The End" by Linkin Park. No, seriously, anything.
Especially ones centered on Starscream from Transformers Armada. Interestingly, "What I've Done" appeared in the 2007 movie.
There is one with Kingdom Hearts scenes arranged and set to "Numb". It's about Roxas's anger at being just a shadow of Sora, so it gained points for making sense in context (the 'someone disappointed in' Sora being Riku).
Something epic to a DragonForce song. "Through the Fire and Flames" is merely the most popular.
Loreena McKennitt songs for... just about every fandom ever.
Almost every fandom has a video set to "What Hurts the Most" by Rascal Flatts. Seriously.
Quest, epic journey, war, or any ongoing struggle type stories set to Marching On by One Republic. At least 50 for Supernatural
Most Boys Love series are set to "Flesh" by Simon Curtis or the Far cover of "Pony" at one time or another.
Any show dealing in anyway with supernatural beings and romance combined with Real Life's "Send Me An Angel". (Ah! My Goddess is the most common. Often entitled: "Send Me Belldandy")
There is a Chrono Crusade version — the irony that Chrono is a devil, not an angel...
"Weird Al" Yankovic and Lemon Demon seem the go-to artists for high energy, wacky comedy vids. (Some AMV contests have actually banned the use of Weird Al music since it renders making a crowd-pleasing, overwhelmingly popular comedy video far too easy.)
Then there are thesetwo mashups of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic with two of his polka medleys, one with Polkarama and the other with the Angry White Boy Polka. They impressed Al so much that he posted the links of both of them on his Twitter page.
As a rule, any Hot Blooded show goes well with JAM Project.
Salacious scenes from various series set to Avenue Q's "The Internet is For Porn".
And don't forget any and all male duos and If You Were Gay!
"Accidentally in Love" by Counting Crows is often used for two mismatched lovers.
"Two Lovers" by Mary Wells for a Love Triangle, usually if it's Two Guys and a Girl (never mind that the song is actually about one man with a split personality).
"All About Us" by t.A.T.u. is sometimes used for star-crossed lovers. "All The Things She Said" is the yuri song of choice.
Any time you get a yuri (or non-anime lesbian) couple, expect a lot of t.A.t.U. vids. Uranus and Neptune have almost their entire discography.
Actually these days you're lucky you get t.A.T.u. instead of "I Kissed a Girl" by Katy Perry. This song is used for EVERY femslash pairing EVER. Despite the fact that it's a song about experimenting with women while having a boyfriend, it's used in videos about people who are in long term relationships.
The male version by Cobra Starship ("I Kissed A Boy") is getting quite popular for slashpairings.
Anything overlaid on a Stupid Statement Dance Mix. These usually (but not always) come out of Japan; bonus points accrue if voice clips from the characters are set to the rhythm and/or melody of the song. Some particularly devoted creators will actually cut and paste very short samples of the character's voice so they "sing along" — usually in a very mechanical way — to the song; these are termed "manual Vocaloids" due to the popularity of Hatsune Miku and friends. Like so.
Grabbing a specific scene, mostly or totally unaltered and unedited, from a work of media, and adding it music from a foreign work, specifically inserted to better blend in, sometimes improving upon the original music placement. In this regard it differs entirely from your traditional AMVs.
Cut some good scenes, take them out of context and insert in a new one, mix them with awkward silences, gasping or groaning, stir and cook for some time... and viola, you get yourself a Fan Vid so slashy or dirty that the creators' faces would turn red had they chance to see it.
Crossover re-cuts are fairly popular. Creative fans use several sources with the same performer to find some humour or awkwardness. Alternatively, it's used to add a desired flavour. For instance, Brokeback Mountain music is very popular for Slashy videos or Twilight Zone for some mystery.
Fine selections of the best snarks, coolest showdowns or most badass moments are well-liked among viewers.
Collecting every single utterance of a show's Catch Phrases or all occurrences of Running Gags in one Fan Vid is favourite sub-category.
Fandubs, video clips that have had all of the audio removed and replaced by spoken audio, either from another show or by the fan's own voice acting. These are usually humorous in nature, although some fandub projects crop up by fans who hated the original professional dub of a series (or noticed that there wasn't one) and want to give it a better one. As an aside to the copyright infringement issues, humorous fandubs are not considered infringement, at least under US law. Parody and satire are protected free speech under the First Amendment — the decisions in favor of MAD alone could fill a minor law library.
Snarky MST-like cut reviews with commentaries, either subtitled or dubbed, are popular and fairly more creative than just mixing the scenes with music.
Other common techniques
Mixing and matching one show with another's theme song
Especially common with sequels
Any ensemble show is probably going to have a Sitcom constructed reality vid with the Friends theme.
Ahh, Gurren Lagann. So badass even your leitmotifs can up the coolness factor of something by tenfold. Here's a wonderful little music video syncing Viral's Leitmotif, "Nikopol", with the Assassin's Creed series that makes Desmond's ancestors even more epic.
Anime and Manga
What may be the very first version of this trope were the 1981 and 1983 creations for DAICON III and IV by the people who would go on to found Studio Gainax. The video can be seen on YouTube, of course.
Live-action vidding traces its roots back even earlier, to the '70s. Read.
"A Fair(y) Use Tale was made by a professor to explain copyright law and fair use, with each word lifted from various Disney movies! "Enjoy."
ADV Films included four fan-made anime music videos on disk 7 of the DVD release of Noir as an Easter Egg. You can find them by going to the moment where Kirika kills Chloe in the arena, and then pressing any of the four direction keys — each one leads to a different video.
This trope was popularized by two "professional" music videos by Mathew Sweet: "Girlfriend" and "I've Been Waiting", featuring footage from Space Adventure Cobra and Urusei Yatsura, respectively. Both were seen on MTV in the very early 90s (back when MTV showed videos).
Another "Professional" video was Ghostface Killah's Daytona 500, which featured footage of Speed Racer
The AMV Hell series is a compilation of short fan vids (not always AMVs) ranging from the funny to the serious. One of the most famous ones was Osaka from Azumanga Daioh mixed with Ellen Feiss from the Apple commercials, with the video edited so Osaka's eyes are bloodshot like a stoner's. It's like...a bummer.
It should be noted that, as a whole, the AMV Hell series is something on an inversion and Take That against most other fan-made vids; many normal vids are centered around a specific lyric/scene combination, and the rest of the video is built around that, making many of them 90% longer than they have to be. The AMV Hell clips are short enough to get the joke in and get out of the way for the next clip. And it works beautifully.
Possibly the ultimate example of effort and attention to detail in an AMV: "Woolongs For Nothing" by Box of Mystery, which perfectly reproduces Dire Straits' "Money For Nothing" video with characters from Cowboy Bebop.
A serious competitor for that title is this EGSMV for Howie Day's "Collide". The creator technically didn't create any images in it, but he somehow managed to transmute Dan Shive's static comics into true animated clips?
Because of this fanvid (Spoilers for Code Geass R2), Coldplay's Viva La Vida has basically become Lelouch's theme song.
Extremely elaborate anime Opening/Ending parodies, such as this example (which mixes Code Geass and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann), seem to be fairly popular among users of the Japanese video hosting site Nico Nico Douga. English-speaking viewers quickly caught on, and now whole YouTube channels exist that are dedicated to uploading them for all to see.
One person particularly good at this is Yoraee. Who, of all things, recreates anime openings using the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2003 series. Which is awesome in its own right. They make good MVs as well that are worth a watch.
The Nakanai Kimi to Nageki/Aganai no Sekai/Gensou videos are well known to large numbers of When They Cry fans. Somewhat interesting, as the makers apparently do all the artwork themselves too. Here's a small sampler, but beware of spoilers!
Vocaloid videos will always fall into this category due to there not being an actual anime (yet). Example. (warning, sad.) Videos of this type will more often than not have fan-created music as well (since this is what Vocaloid software is for).
This video is the most impressive example of it. It features a cross between K-On and Gundam 00 in one of the most impressive culmination of it. It features a completely unrelated song to either series but the animation itself is the most powerful where the creator was able to fuse the two series into a completely plausible parallel that was unprecedented. It was so realistic to the point where it was scary that it WASN'T real.
A chap named Ivan Guerrero pioneered the concept of "premakes," which combine footage from different older films in order to retell a more modern film. The most notable of these is for a film made in 1954 called Ghost Busters, which starred Dean Martin as Dr. Raymond Stantz, Bob Hope as Dr. Peter Venkman, and Fred MacMurray as Dr. Egon Spengler. It is very well-done, and gained mention in newspapers and magazines. Ivan has done other films, such as Indiana Jones and The Empire Strikes Back, both of which were well-received by George Lucas himself.
The Master dancing in the show to part of "I Can't Decide" by Scissor Sisters also led to the creation of fan vids set to that song which included clips of him dancing to it, creating an interesting recursive effect. Here is one of about 300 of them.
Now with over a million views, this was one of the first Kirk/Spock videos and has been played at several (non-slash!) major conventions. It's a bit disturbing, but a classic.
One notable video is the impressive Addicted To ''Lost'', whose makers actually tweaked the audio of the original song ("Addicted To Love") so that Robert Palmer appears to be singing the new title line. The kicker? This isn't technically a fanvid. It's an actual promotional video that aired on ABC during the 2005 Super Bowl.
Despite being over thirty years old, Blake's 7 has some awesome fanvids. This one is a very wry one about the cheesy production values. This one lampshades and parodies the bleak tone. This one wins for being a marvelous piece of meta-fiction. The song itself is practically filk with the two lead singers playing the main characters, the clips are depicting the events sung about in the song, and the band itself was named for the series.
Community spoofed an actual fanvid of their show in the episode "Paradigms of Human Memory". Annie brings up all the glances and Will They or Won't They? moments she and Jeff have had and it cuts to a silly Noodle Incident montage set to the love song "Gravity" by Sara Bareilles. Jeff points out you could do the same thing with Pierce and Abed and a montage of innocuous moments between those two set to the same song is shown. It is an Affectionate Parody(or as creator Dan Harmon tweeted "homage") to a real Jeff/Annie fanvid made two months after the show premiered.
Fate/stay night is a popular one for MADs, due to it's action Visual Novel nature. However, none of them manage to beat the Guilty Sky MAD which somehow manages to give a rapid recap of the entire game. If you've beaten every route, you WILL be reminded of the most important scenes, if you haven't spoilers!
Lecravian has earned a name for himself in the MS Paint Adventures fandom for doing a terrific series of tribute videos for Problem Sleuth and Homestuck that take the events of the series, string them together at warp speed, and add some kickass music to accompany it all.
There's quite a few fanvids for Homestuck, thanks in part to its huge library of flash animation and artwork to draw from. Given its penchant for Zodiac motifs, "Weird Al" Yankovic's "That's Your Horoscope For Today" in particular has inspired lots of parodies.
This May 2012 flash page of the comic itself (warning, spoilers!) brings to mind a Fan Vid, as a large percentage of it is a repeat of older panels of the comic, popping up for no other reason than that they fit the lyrics.
Back during the 1980s and 90s, The Disney Channel frequently ran DTV, a series of music videos of popular songs set to appropriately-themed clips from the company's animated films (and even some live-action ones on occasion). For instance, they had a music video of "Splish Splash" by Bobby Darrin set to clips of Disney cartoon characters getting washed or taking a bath, and "Owner of a Lonely Heart" by Yes set entirely to the Silly Symphony Elmer Elephant. DTV would even spin off a few NBC TV specials featuring shortened music videos.
Similarly, Cartoon Network did a few, only using more contemporary artists.
This video sets Jars of Clay's "Mirrors and Smoke" to scenes from Superfriends—with the video clips edited to make Superman's lip-flaps match the lyrics. The band liked it so much that they uploaded it on their youtube channel.
The Legend Of Korra has this tribute to the bloodbending brothers, set to the song You Treat Me Like a Stranger; though its a refreshing cover by Gavin Mikhail. Perfect.
And then there's this masterful video, A New Hope by Broken Iris. As well as this one, When You Believe from the religious movie, Prince of Egypt, that fits extremely well and is positively tear-inducing.
Here's an amazing AMV set to "This is War" by 30 Seconds to Mars. It was inspired by the Avatar Parallels tumblr blog, and the parallels shown in the video are done beautifully.
Within the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fandom, these are commonly called PMVs (Pony Music Video). The fandom is as prolific with these as they are with every fanwork imaginable, but even then some rise above the flock.
The Stars Will Aid In Her Escape possesses popularity and quality above nearly every other, taking scenes from the first season to tell the story of the pilot episodes in a far different, and perhaps even more emotional, way.
This fan-made trailer for seasons 1 and 2 is nothing sort of stupendous, turning the series into a literal epic of world-shaking proportions (which, in a way, it is).
Another early progenitor of the modern Fan Vid: Fighter Fling, created by none other than the F-14 Tomcat fighter squadrons of the United States Navy. That's right, even the hotshot Top Gun types were into this sort of thing! From 1989 to 2004 (when the Tomcat's retirement was announced), the squadrons would produce one long yearbook-like video of Tomcats and their crew acting Badass or Bunny-Eared set to whatever music was popular at the time. Every so often, clips or entire Fighter Fling videos appear on YouTube, but as they are no less copyright violations than the average modern-day Fan Vid, they are often taken down due to DMCA.
The final Fighter Fling produced in 2004 included a sendup of Van Halen's "Right Now" music video, centered upon the final days of the F-14 Tomcat's service history.
This sequence from Fighter Fling 2004 says it all. You will never doubt the quirkiness of the United States military ever again.
Footage of Hitler's army being deployed seems to fit well with Krook's March from Donkey Kong Country 2 here, as it does with John Williams' Imperial March here.