In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?
Originally our group decided on making a trailer for a horror film. We conducted some basic research into this looking at previous horror films such as Freddy Vs Jason. We found that most films tend to follow conventions rather than try and break them. When looking at the trailer for Freddy Vs Jason we concluded that like most other horror trailers there was mainly point of view shots, long shots of the victim to show isolation and very fast cuts of the monster/enemy to keep the audience in suspense. As for the locations it is generally in a wooded area or somewhere quiet and outside big cities and towns with the weather normally being poor and raining with thunder and lightning. This was evident in the clips we looked at. As for the editing the main transition was a cut to keep up with the fast pace of the trailer, this also included a fast paced backing track. At the end of the clip came the billing block and links to the website. This is used to build up anticipation for the audience so they can try and find out as much information before the film as possible. Todorov’s narrative theory was also included in the clips we looked at. This suggests that at first there is equilibrium between the characters, then something to disrupt this thus leading to a period of unsettlement. This is then followed by a renewed sense of peace and a new equilibrium. In the video clips we looked at Propp’s character theory was also evident. There was always a hero, villain, prize and a sidekick. We intended to re-create this style of horror using Todorov’s narrative theory and Propp’s character theory however we all agreed we would prefer to do a music video as we felt it would be more challenging as there are more locations and camera shots required.
After deciding this we began to plan our music video. We all knew we wanted to create a ‘rock music’ video so we looked at previous music videos created by some of our favourite bands. We looked at video’s from: Theory of a deadman, Nickleback, Hinder and Shinedown. We discovered that certain conventions became apparent. The previously mentioned bands tend to use mise-en-scene to create a mood which follows that of the music. Often the weather and the colour (or lack of) is used to create a dull feel and tends to be used when the video is in the disequilibrium stage. Shinedown’s Second chance is a good example of Todorov’s narrative theory in use. Todorov suggested that every story line in films/videos contain a state of equilibrium, a disruption stage, realisation, struggle and then a new equilibrium.
Once we found a song (Theory of a deadman – In the middle) We began to also look at the print work. This included the creation of a ‘Digipak’ and an advertisement to feature in a magazine. With this in mind I began looking at previous designs for album artwork. I looked at Nickleback’s album which shows the band members standing/sitting against a grotty wall. This is also reflected in the font style used and therefore reflects the style of music they play. I like the idea of the image and font style reflecting the music they play as this will entice our target audience to buy the album.
After researching existing products I began to draw up flat plans for my album artwork with a fair idea of what our music video will be like in the latter stages of development.
With this in mind we decided to work more on the video itself then concentrate on the print work later. After looking at our research we found that we preferred the style of video which makes use of Todorov’s narrative theory and has a narrative storyline. Rather than try and break conventions we thought it would be more suited to follow conventions as this is what we discovered was more popular in our research. The main conventions of a rock music video with a narrative structure include the use of lots of varied locations, variations in the time of day i.e. some filmed at night or some filmed at sunrise, the lead singer lip synching and in some video’s the use of filming on a stage. We have used realistic locations and tried to retain a realistic storyline following the pattern of professional music videos. Another common occurrence in video’s we looked at was to have the lead singer as the main character in storyline. With the group deciding to follow conventions we decided to use Warren Connor as the lead singer. Steve Archer (2004) also states: “Often music videos will cut between a narrative and a performance of the song by the band… Sometimes, the artist… will be part of the story, acting as a narrator and participant at the same time. But it is the lip synching close-ups and the miming of playing instruments that remains at the heart of music videos, as if to assure the band really can kick it”. This is what inspired the group to create a video in this style as well as looking at previous of examples of how professional video’s have been produced.
What have you learned from your audience feedback?
From the research we conducted, creating questionnaires for people to fill out, we concluded that the target age range was 13-25. This is understandable as our target audience would have a disposable income and would be able to spend it on items such as CD’s, gig tickets or magazines. Looking at the results from the questionnaires it is evident that new technology has had a substantial impact on how people view music videos. It is apparent that people mainly use the internet and music channels as a source of music videos. People are beginning to use mobile phones more now as a multimedia device and are downloading more music videos to their phones. Also, mobile phones are now able to use the internet so there is an even greater demand for viewing music videos on the internet.
We asked the audience what they believed they would consider most important in a music video and there wasn’t one specific thing. The audience preferred an equal balance of everything what a music video consists of including, varied shots and locations, a different pace and a narrative storyline. The group all agreed with the audience in that variation is a major factor we tried to retain in producing the video.
When thinking of ideas for what song to create a video for we asked our target audience who their favourite band were and which song they preferred and the results are shown here:
How did you use new media technologies in the construction and research, planning and evaluation stages?
In the planning stage of production we used three main media technologies. These were:
• Spreadsheet software - To create questionnaires and graphs for our audience feedback
• Internet – To research music videos, mainly using Youtube, Band websites, as well as fan sites to find information from our target audience
• Digital Camera – To take photographs of where we would be filming. We travelled to a variety of different places using the mise-en-scene to create a more dramatic feel in the video, for example, and empty field to show isolation.
• Video Recorder – To physically record our video
• iMove – To place our shots into the Mac and to order them
• Final Cut Pro – To edit our video
In the research stage we used Fan sites and Band websites to gather information about what type of video we will be producing. This made use of forums and a way of communicating with people worldwide to collect as much data as possible. After collecting opinions of our target audience we moved onto research other music videos which make use of the conventions we would like to use. To do this, again, we used the internet, mainly Youtube, as it is a vast source of every type of video and we had no problems in finding what we needed.
With the research complete and ideas for locations as to where we were going to film we set out using a video recorder and began with just filming short amounts allowing Warren to feel comfortable performing on camera. Once he felt he was ready we set out and recorded everything we felt we need covering all of the locations. After filming what we believed to be everything we needed, we began using Final Cut Pro to edit our preliminary work. After editing this we found that we didn’t have a vast selection of locations, camera angles or transitions. We then took this opportunity to go back out and film exactly what we needed only in more detail and took more time on the filming. The main problem was the lack of close-ups in our video as this is a strong convention used in other videos. We decided to mainly concentrate on filming more close-ups, especially of warrens face as this tells the audience how he is feeling. In order to achieve the result of varied locations we had to travel further and film there. We filmed at local beaches, the Tyne Bridge, Jesmond Dene park and on a stage prepared for our filming with our own light sequence and setup. During this stage we also attempted to use a more varied selection of angles as opposed to the straight on, eye level shot. We experimented with low angles, high angles and over the shoulder shots but we felt that these did not suit the style of the video so went back to the basic selection of shots as is done in professional music videos. A specific example of where we did use a low angle shot was in the pub scene. The camera was positioned on the table looking up at Sorrel (Female actor) to give her a sense of power and to show that she is the domineering character. Although the audience will not physically spot this and think about it, they will subconsciously think about it and automatically realise that Sorrel is in power as this is a typical convention used in film and video.
Referring back to my point: “bands tend to use mise-en-scene to create a mood which follows that of the music” I believe that we have created a realistic mood which follows that of the video. An important point to help reinforce this was to use different lighting. The use of varied dark and light shots allows the audience to, again, subconsciously, relate more to the characters as when they are positioned in dark shots there are connotations of isolation and negativity. A light shot, for example when Warren and Sorrel are walking, holding hands in Jesmond Dene park, gives connotations that they are happy.
The natural lighting, in my opinion, also gives off a more realistic feel as opposed to using our own, especially when outdoors, so in order to create a true sense of verisimilitude we had to film on specific days which was difficult but I believe our end result was better. An example of this would be the scene on the Tyne Bridge. Originally we intended to film on a warm sunny day however circumstances changed and we ended up filming in the rain on an overcast day. With this in mind we made some quick changes to our plans and filmed the scene in the rain, several times. When we got back and began the editing for this scene we all agreed that it gave a much more realistic feeling as the surroundings matched Warren’s mood. The passing cars gave off the idea that Warrens life was moving at a fast pace and the weather suggests that it is in a stage of negativity or the “struggle” stage in Todorov’s narrative theory.
When filming the stage shot we were lucky enough to have our own light setup which has connotations of actually being on a real stage, the idea for this was taken from the Foo fighters – Pretender video as shown in my blog. The increasing blue light shown on the side of the stage follows the song and grows as the song progresses from a quiet, slow paced start to a louder, faster paced ending. I believe the song itself was a good one to choose because it too follows Todorov’s theory as it begins quiet (equilibrium), builds up and gets louder (disruption, realisation and struggle), then reverts back to the original quietness (new equilibrium).
As explained earlier mise-en-scene is a key factor we need to include to reinforce the mood of the video. This was done with props, location, weather and clothing. The clothing Warren wears was specifically chosen to reinforce his mood, for example towards the end of the scene when he is in the car with Sorrel he is wearing red which has connotations of love and romance. However, in other scenes he is wearing black, or dark colours, which has connotations of negativity or uncertainty.
The use of locations such as the empty beach and the cave allow the audience to feel that Warren is alone and isolated, whereas when he is with Sorrel they are filmed together in places which have connotations of business, for example, the pub and Newcastle city centre. This reinforces the mood of the scene which is vital so our audience can get a true feeling for the video. I believe it is important for the audience to connect with the video of they will lose interest.
How effective is the combination of your main product and ancillary texts?
Our brief was to create only a small part of what would normally be a huge ordeal. I have learned that the media is shared and distributed in various ways and normally the band would go onto radio or television for interviews to get airtime and allow their song to be heard. Ultimately they want to sell their song/songs and not the video itself. The video is provided for the audience’s sake as we are living in the world of media 2.0. Along with interviews on TV and Radio there is a requirement for posters, billboards, advertisements and magazine articles. There will also be a band website which will include all the information people will need, such as release dates, but will also contain trailers, video extracts, photographs, downloadable content, competitions etc. This will all allow the audience to gain a sense of ownership of the product and hopefully will persuade them to buy it.
Media 2.0 is, in my opinion, the best way to advertise. This day in age, especially our target audience of 13-25 year olds, most people will have access to the internet, be it on a computer/laptop, mobile phones or other accessories and use it regularly. This is why viral marketing is one of the most successful ways of advertising. The key to viral marketing is to release only a small amount of information to build up tension before the release, for example a teaser trailer on the bands website and on a music video channel such as MTV. Fans will then be able to access this information and will begin talking about it passing on the word and some will re-post the video to video sharing websites such as Youtube where an even larger audience can view it. As time progresses and it draws closer to the release date the song will begin to play on the radio and on music channels. This will allow an even larger audience and eventually the record can go on sale to purchase on hard copy i.e. CD or on download now.
The use of Photoshop to create album art is also important, even in the age of Media 2.0, as people who download music still view the album art as it is downloaded with the track. This provides a cultural background for the music and video through aesthetics and commercial images.