Saturday, 23 March 2013

Evaluation Question One

Evaluation Question One

The media concepts of genre, narrative, institutions, representation, audience and overall media language can be applied to my media coursework – my music video for the indie/electro artist ‘Alex Clare’ single of ‘Up All Night’, as well as the digipak and magazine advert which accompanies it. In my music video, a man dressed in a way which is generic to the indie genre itself, for example the bakers cap, trench coat and Doc Marten’s boots. The male protagonist awakens during the middle of the night and leaves the house to meet his friends behind his partners back. However, little does he know that the female does in fact know what is happening but does not want to believe what is going on. The male then proceeds to unite with his friends as they set off on a night of excessive drinking in an attempt to fulfil the excitement and relief of escapism. Despite this, the woman sits awake at home and reflects upon their torrid relationship, which in turn stimulates the emotions of anger and despair. Furthermore, the male character soon comes to realise the disruption that he has caused and feels let down in himself and tries to make his way back home. Along this journey, his friends mock him and heap pressure on him to continue acting in the dark themes of the overall video. Meanwhile, throughout the entirety of this process we see how time is progressing by the hands of a clock spinning and this again is another main influence and theme throughout my video.

Essentially, my music video is in the ‘Illustration’ genre-category of music video, established by Goodwin. Rather than performance, my music video is entirely narrative and though the artist does not feature -or a band at all-, the music is linked to the visual action as the actions of the characters are synced with the lyrics. For example, the lines “she saw me sneaking out the door” and “wasting all my time” are matched with visuals that correspond to the lyrics, thus amplifying the ideas of Goodwin and reflecting how my music video conforms to some generic conventions of music videos. I believe that my music video is an ‘amplification’ of the lyrics to the song and not a complete disjuncture. Although, my music video does not conform with Goodwin’s idea that lip-syncing is essential in music videos and mine does not contain a sense of repeatability either.
Nicholas Abercrombie describes genre boundaries as being ‘shifting and permeable’. My music video could be interpreted as adhering to this as on the outset it appears to be an escapist fantasy that many people from my desired indie genre target audience may want to lead. However, the genre can be blurred when the video is perceived as an account of a man’s corruption into drug-taking and hamartia. Thus the genre is split between fantasy and social-realism – if perceived as a video revolving around alcoholism. A moment where both the fantasy and social-realist genres collide is apparent during the protagonist’s ‘point of no return’ and the final corruption where the parallel narratives are scene side by side- the womans anger and the man’s excessive drinking-.

Music videos of a narrative format, conventionally follow a structure of beginning, middle and end – also known as Todorov’s narrative structure of equilibrium, disequilibrium and new equilibrium. I decided that I would conform to this structure as leaving the audiences without an end or climax may have made for an unfulfilling watch. However, there is not much of a strong equilibrium to start, as the first shot is of light being shined onto the character as the commanding and booming first beat of the song begins. The equilibrium is almost immediately broken and establishes Barthe’s ‘enigma code’. The mysterious opening compels the audience, and leads them into wanting to fill the gaps in their knowledge and discover what the protagonist is up to.Disequilibrium occurs when the female protagonist abruptly opens her eyes before the male has even left the house, and is aware of what is happening. This is highlighted through the shot reverse shot between the storylines showing the man enjoying himself whilst the woman is in despair. In relation to Propp’s character theory, the protagonist is male which then conforms to his theory, although there is now no love interest or reward for his actions which would disprove his theory. The corrupting force of alcoholism in my video is perceived by my target audience as being a positive and sense of escapism, however in this case it is portrayed as the villain as it leads to the dramatic downfall of the protagonist. Thus, the music video subverts the traditional roles of characters in accordance to Propp’s theory.
Laura Mulvey claims that the cinema positions the audience as male and that the ‘male gaze’ objectifies the female character on screen. This is not true in my music video as the audience empathise with the female character as a result of the actions of the male. Mulvey’s theory can be particularly linked to mainstream and hip hop genres which routinely portray scantily dressed and aesthetically pleasing females, often dancing behind the male performer in a suggestive manner. In my music video, females are not portrayed in this way, at least in not such a blatant and callous way – this can also be said for the majority of indie music videos, which often turn a blind eye to the desire for sex, power and wealth exuberated by hip hop musicians, and in this case place a greater focus on escapism and the sense of being free from the everyday struggles of life.

 It is evident that my music video attempts to immerse the audience in this microcosm by the use of intimate and eye-line matches that position the audience into the same situation as the actors. Throughout the video the camera seems to stalk the main character and the fast paced cuts adhere to the wild lifestyle that the protagonist is living, whilst also relating back to the idea of including the audience in the narrative so that the emotion of empathy is easier to establish as a relationship is built between the audience, the song and the actors. Furthermore, the theme of time remains constant throughout the video with the timelapse of the clock being of vast importance as it clearly reflects how the male character is having a good experience wasting his time with alcoholism, whilst ruining the daily pleasures of a relationship that he takes for granted.

The Magazine Advert
The magazine advert conforms to conventional magazine adverts in the indie genre. Many of the real-world products I analysed either portrayed the band of promotion, or some kind of a conceptual message. I decided that due to the fact my artist does not have a strong presence in the rest of his products- due to the fact that he shies away from personal gain-, I would keep to a generic theme for the indie genre of maintaining to be artistic, whilst also being simplistic. I also conformed to other magazine adverts by providing outside opinions and star-ratings for the album. I provided a five-star rating from NME – a trusted source of indie music. I also included the new-technology features with mentions of iTunes and internet.

The Digipak
The digipak conformed to the conventions of my music video by continuing the theme seen on the magazine advert and in the music video – it had very much an escapist feel, with the use of photographs outdoors – and also the strong influences of the indie genre where less is considered to be more. There was also a cover with a personal credits page, as well as all the necessary institutional details and a message to the fans thanking them for their support. The front cover is typically the most visually attractive cover on a digipak and so I decided to conform to this by choosing a photo which conveyed album themes as well as show off mise en scene of a modern day clash with the authentic and natural landscape.

Evaluation Question 2

Evaluation Question Two: 
How effective is the combination of your main product and ancillary texts?

From similar product research, I was able to note that all musicians – particularly in the indie genre which I am occupying with my products, have a collective house theme throughout their album artwork, merchandising and visual pieces. For example, British indie band Mystery Jets’ latest album entitled ‘Radlands’ holds a very Austin/Texas based theme due to the recording of the album there. This theme was then extended into their album artwork and merchandise which frequently depicts the band’s members in a dusty, Southern US environment, clad in the appropriate spurred boots and vintage cowboy shirts. This theme is continued in their visual pieces – such as the music video for the titular single which shows off the wild, hinterland environment of the West. Thus, in order to keep to convention, I aimed to maintain a house theme throughout my main and ancillary tasks.

The song in my music video ‘Up All Night’ is a track from Alex Clare’s debut record; I decided I did not want to go with the theme of first, introductive album. This is due to the fact that most debut albums will need to feature the artist(s) throughout their music videos and print-based pieces. The aim of my products was to portray the album as more of a concept album, with a running theme that the audience could relate to. This concept interested me, more than the purpose of a music video from a debut project to introduce, thus I portrayed the artist as more of a well-established artist and did not feature the actual artist at all in the music video but instead the use of actors. For this idea I was inspired by the work of the Arctic Monkeys in their video “When the Sun Goes Down” where successful British actors are used rather than the artists. I believe that this is essential in the indie genre as the artists consider their music to be more important than their individual star image. Music videos tend to be the visual representation of an artist’s musical angle and as a result of this, I made sure that my video was reflective of the name of the album –The Lateness of the Hour- and made sure that the key theme of time was kept consistent throughout my video and this therefore reinforced the idea that this video is simply an episode of a whole series. Another theme that I kept fluent through the production of my projects was the sense of escapism. However, whilst planning this I decided to keep the ideas constant throughout the digipak and magazine advert too, and made sure that these all had the same look and purposes so that they could all be linked and related back to the image of the artist. The digipak that I created highlighted the clash between modern society and regionalism. This then further reinforces the escapist themes of the album as this image can be interpreted as a chance to give the audience a release from their everyday struggles simply by listening to the music on the album which includes music and ideas that they will want to hear. I applied a few filters to the original image in order to add a grainy, artistic feel to the digipak and make it eye-catching and engaging. The filter then brightened the image, and made the choice of a bold, black and plain text easy. The bold letters at the top establish the words ‘The Lateness of the Hour’ to fulfil the informative purpose of identifying the band involved. Finally, the cover includes the name of the artist at the bottom in a font that keeps the artistic theme constant as it looks as if the artist has just signed the digipak in a similar way to when an artist signs his masterpiece.

The back album cover also continues the theme of escapism which is emanated from the music video as it portrays an scenic view of trees with a shallow focus, with the same filters being placed on the cover as the front cover in order to maintain the look of the digipak. This fulfils the back cover’s purpose of adding a sense of finality to the album as the dark setting of the shot symbolises the end, whilst also keeping the artistic themes constant. Its other purpose is for providing information and production credits which was executed, using the same font – Myriad Pro used in all writing on the digipak and magazine advert – to continue the house style. All covers in the digipak help to establish the escapist notion of the music video – all portraying scenes which occur outdoors, rather than the beginning scenes which begin in the protagonist’s house. Finally, the right hand inside cover is reflective of a clock so that the theme of time is further amplified to the audience. I created the effect of the hands appearing to be spinning around very quickly whilst the background of the clock had a hypnotic style about it. I believe that this reflects how the boundaries of time are being flattened and how in the modern world, the concepts of time are being warped by the increase and development of technology.

The magazine advert is a still from the music video and the audience will then denote that there is a continuous house theme, and this is what I want to create so that the viewers become immersed in my project. Thus Denis McQuail’s uses and gratifications theory is applicable to the music video – its chief purpose being that of escapism. The music video and the album artwork encourage the audience to do something out of the ordinary and that doing something that they usually do bares many risks, but could also have rew

Evaluation Question 3

Evaluation Question Three:

What have you learned from your audience feedback?

The target audience of my music video would typically be fans of indie music, more specifically to artists like Alex Clare, in the electro genre. These listeners would also be attracted to music videos which did not necessarily show performance or even the artists – a notable trait in music videos by bands such as ‘Crystal Fighters’, ‘Arctic Monkeys’ and ‘Rudimental’. This audience would typically fit within the 16-20s age range.
Without continuous audience feedback over the process of the products, it would be difficult to ascertain whether those you are targeting find your work appealing or not. Thus it helps to improve products and display development and the ability to improve.

The internet has proved to be a useful way of collating audience feedback over a variety of methods. Prior to creating my ancillary tasks of the magazine advert and digipak covers, I was eager to discover what my target audience would feel towards products which did not necessarily depict the artist. I also wanted to know how the concept of my music video would be received by audience members. Thus, I decided to create a poll of questions on my blog site on I discovered from my survey, that 55% of my test subjects would rather a music video was visually striking than anything else – this then supported my trajectory -  as I was aiming for a solely narrative piece that would be visually pleasing. 77% of my target audience also displayed an appeal for music videos with a narrative – however a small majority did display a greater appeal towards a narrative that involved the artist – therefore I had to make a huge judgement as to whether to please everyone, or just the majority of my audience. I then made an artistic choice against the majority of audience preference as my music video does not display the musical artist within it. 66% agreed that it was not important to see the artist on the digipak and magazine advert which provided me with the ‘all clear’, as it were, to create the ancillary tasks without the artist’s presence. I also learnt that the majority of those feeding back on my blog fell under my target audience, albeit from the younger end and from the same geographical location (77%).

Having completed the music video I was intrigued as to what other people from within my target audience would think of my video and how it would be received on a larger scale amongst my desired viewers. I conducted an interview with two of my class peers, after screening the video to them and then proceeded to ask them questions on the effectiveness of all my products and whether there was a coherent ‘house theme’ that ran throughout my video. Their response was generally very positive, though faults were also highlighted and gave me a sense of what needed to be done to further the effectiveness of my video. The interview was then placed on my blog alongside all other mediums of audience feedback.

Evaluation Question 4

Evaluation Question Four:

How did you use media technologies in the construction and research, planning and evaluation stages?

The biggest change and challenge in terms of media technologies for me this year, was the hosting of work as an online, blog format. It was one of the first things to be set up and has overseen the project from start to finish. Though blogger was at first confusing to handle, the blog has proved to be a great way to display multimedia skill, an easy place to access work from anywhere and visually more interesting than showcases from projects before. The advances and changes to the layout of blogger also causes many problems as it took a while for me to adjust to the new format, however once I was an accomplished user of the new layout, I believe that it was highly beneficial, time effective and efficient.

Due to the fact it was necessary to expand into web 2.0 for A2, it was essential that I find a variety of other online mediums to showcase work on my blog. I began to use video-hosting sites such as Vimeo and YouTube to upload my music video, audience feedback, diary entries and also for evaluation videos. Blogger itself, proved useful for audience research and feedback through its’ own poll services that were the foundations of the majority of my early audience research.  I found YouTube was particularly good at hosting HD videos though it could be difficult to handle when uploading large videos to online. I would often have to export my video using a different compressor in order to reduce file size so that I would not have to be waiting around for large amounts of time whilst the video uploaded. Other online mediums include the essential ‘prezi’ presentation-maker. I used prezi for my resource audit at the start of the project and for analysing the work of music video director Jonas Akerlund– both necessary parts of research and planning. When I did similar product research or research into my audience, I would often display my results on Microsoft PowerPoint, this would then be translated to an internet version via sites such as slideshare and scribd, which was particularly useful when uploading documents such as hazard checks and model release forms. After the completion of my products, I would also Facebook Chat to gather feedback or post my video there to garner comments and “likes” to measure audience approval. I found online social media to be the most reliable and efficient method of feedback due to its instantaneous response and due to the fact its users are so vast in number. Furthermore, Twitter was an essential tool for gathering and communicating with my cast and crew as it allowed me to ask them when they were free and arrange dates to film with an almost instantaneous reply. At first I tried to communicate with each member of cast individually so that it felt that I was being responsible for the creation of the task, however this worked out to not be an effective means of communication and I instead set up a group chat on an app called ‘WhatsApp’ that allowed every cast member to frequently post when they were free and if they agreed that the shots were feasible. This meant I could communicate with my personnel concisely, efficiently and all together.

In production, I shot my music video and the photos for my ancillary tasks using a Canon 550D. The camera was also equipped with a cinematic shutter speed and the 1.8 aperture lens, allowing me to shoot in shallow focus for a more cinematic and artistic effect.  However, for one of the monumental and key scenes throughout my music video- the timelapse of the clock- I found out after my first failed attempts that the default timelapse setting on the cameras was not going to let me achieve the look I was going for. As a result of this, I took the action of downloading the software Magic Lantern and installing it on the camera by low level formatting the SD card and then resetting the camera. Once this was installed, it allowed me to set up an intervalometer of my own speed (which I chose 30 seconds) and then make changes to the aperture, shutter speed and even the picture review setting in order to save battery. I then placed all over 600 photos into a timeline on Adobe Premier CS3 and then exported them as a movie. Once this had been achieved, I speeded up the footage to 10,000% so that my video could show shorts clips of the time passing rapidly.
After I had finished shooting the footage, I placed it into Adobe premiere pro cs3 initially. I began and It was on this software, that I did the bulk of my editing. I cut up my footage using the razor tool and placed the clips together to the beats of the song. I did this more precisely by moving along the video and audio frame by frame using the directional keys. I also manipulated the speed of several pieces of footage – at times it was necessary for me to speed up a shot to fit with the music– most memorably in the ‘glasses filling up’ sequence, to highlight the party nature and maintain the speed of the video. At this point in the video I also placed key frames on the drum beats so that I could match the speed of the glasses filling up more easily and see exactly where it needed to be achieved by.

My ancillary tasks were produced on Adobe Photoshop cs3. For my digipak cover, I chose to play around with multiple filters that Photoshop CS3 offers until I found an artistic effect that I believed to be effective and that reinforced the themes and ideas of the artist and album. Furthermore, I believe that the most challenging page that I created was the inside right cover where I had to create a wooden effect for the background of the clock. Here I drew a rectangle and then again chose the filter option, however this time I selected render and then fibres and played around with the settings until I was happy. I then duplicated and edited the opacity of the image in order to create an efficient effect of time passing rapidly. In order to add the hypnotic effect of the background I started by opening a new document in Photoshop CS3 and then adding the filter of clouds under the category of ‘Render’. Following this, I proceeded to add more filters, and chose the Mezzotint option under Pixelate. After adding more layers, I duplicated one of the blurred layers and then twirled the layers at different angles in order to create a more aesthetically pleasing effect. This then allowed me to have more freedom with the Hue and Saturation dialogue box until I was happy with the colours.  I added text via the text tool and used the same font ‘Myriad Pro’ on every piece I made, to create a sense of familiarity and continuity.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Magazine Advert

Magazine Advert:

This is my final product for the magazine advert. As you can see I have decided to choose a design that I did not draft, which in turn could have been a major risk but I believe this has payed off as it looks better than what I had expected.  This is because I felt many of the other designs were either not achievable, or would not have looked as effective. I decided to continue using the filters on Photoshop and also built on this by using blending options on the fonts and placing effects like shadows, bevels and embosses. I quite like the minimalistic style, its very simplistic yet difficult to create. I decided it suited the theme of my music video and music artist better to have a magazine advert in this style. 

I decided to use white text, on a dark background. This creates a contrasting effect, making the products more visually appealing and adding focal points to the page. This adheres to the artistic effect that I was trying to create throughout all of my products but the image is also taken from a still in my music video, and I believe that this will help immerse the viewers in my product.

Final Digipak

Final Digipak:

I have made many changes on my digipak from the first draft I made, however I am now very happy with my overall result. I feel that all the filters I have used support my artistic theme, as well as complimenting the location of my shots. The filters placed on each photo ensures that all pictures conform to a house style, and clearly come from the same digipak. I also kept a consistent theme of time running through all of my products, and this again can be seen on the inside right page of my digipak where I have constructed a clock in the Photoshop CS3.