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A2 Media Evaluation

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  • 1. EvaluationA2 Media Studies Alex Atkinson
  • 2. In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?In order to create realistic and successful products, research into the codesand conventions of existing media products was paramount. Extensiveresearch allowed me to adhere to these conventions but also develop themto create a unique and individual product. By keeping in line with theseconventions, my final products would be successful in the current marketand appeal to my chosen target audience. The teaser trailer I created employs many of the codes and conventions ofexisting trailers I found when researching current horror trailer byproduction companies such as ‘Lionsgate’. Firstly, the trailer runs between30 and 90 seconds, typical of teaser trailers currently in the market. This islong enough to put the narrative across so the audience will understand thebasic plot of the film, but not too much is given away. This way, I was ableto entice the audience in to wanting to see the film as they would want toknow what else will happen. Another way my trailer adhered to the typicalcodes and conventions was by the length and types of cuts I used. As mychosen genre was horror, research into trailers within this genre showedthat they predominantly used short straight cuts to make the trailer fastpaced, exciting and to create moments of suspense. Therefore, I transferredthis onto my own trailer to put this idea across to my audience.One of the conventions I kept to in the narrative of my film was the representation of the protagonist. Thevictim is presented as a young teenage girl, overcome by guilt to make the audience feel sorry for her. Thiscan be seen in existing films such as ‘Prom Night’. This stereotype originated in the 1920’s when the originalhorror films such as ‘Nosferatu’ were created. On the other hand, the villain is usually an older malecharacter, but we decide to challenge this convention by making the villain a young girl. In the openingscenes, the audience is made to feel sorry for the villain but this quickly changes as there is a role reversalbetween the victim and villain.
  • 3. Another typical convention of the horror genre is the use of dark and mysteriousenvironments to create insecurity. The images I used on my poster and websitedisplay this as many of my backgrounds were often black with only small sectionsof the images and antagonist showing. This also helped create the idea of beingwatched which links with the narrative of our trailer. Despite this convention, Ialso decided to film parts of our trailer in daylight. This helps to lull the audienceinto a false sense of security as daylight suggests that the characters are safe anddanger is not expected. This effect has also been used in trailers such as‘Paranormal Activity 2’. This image that I did use on the film poster shows theantagonist rather than the protagonist which is more commonly used. This is usedto directly scare the audience as they are now aware of what the ‘villain’ looks like.I also found that many horror film trailers used enigma codes to create questionsfor the audience. I transferred this onto my trailer in the closing scene; theprotagonist is shown in the front of the car and the antagonist is sat behind her. Ashort flash of this makes my audience question what will happen as it suggests theprotagonist is in danger.I found that violence and death were commonly only suggested in the teasertrailers rather than explicitly shown. For example , in The Last House On The LeftTrailer (click on hyperlink to watch), flashes of black are shown at various pointswhen something violent is about to happen so it is not explicitly shown. In my owntrailer I decided to only suggest this violence for ethical reasons. In the openingscene of the car crash, the girl was not shown to be dead; instead the black screenwith the sound effects of the crash suggested this. We had to consider howappropriate it was to show this scene in our trailer, and we had to deliberate theairing time of the trailer as we did not want to scare or frighten any youngerviewers. However, parts of our trailer does still have graphic or frighteningimagery, and so our trailer would have to aired after the watershed, as it is aimedat an older audience who are more likely to be watching at a later time.
  • 4. Another convention I challenged in the production of my trailer was the use of music and sounds. Most teasertrailers use ‘creepy’ music to connote horror, and although we did use some parts of this, we also decided to useother types of music. At the beginning of the trailer, the pop song ‘Price Tag’ is playing in the car. This puts theaudience into a false sense of security yet again, as it has positive connotation sand they do not expect anythingbad to happen. We then used ‘thud’ sound effects in dramatic parts of the trailer to make them memorable.Towards the end of the trailer, we included a crescendo as this is where the trailer is building up to create tensionand the cuts became faster. We wanted to put this across to the audience and made them feel nervous as themusic builds. Finally, at the end of our trailer, we played the nursery rhyme ‘ Ring Around the Roses’, being sungby a young girl. This links to the narrative of the film, with the idea of a young girl being involved. It is still ‘creepy‘ yet unconventional.I maintained a consistent house style when creating my website and poster, using a black, white and red colourscheme. These are typical colours used in horror film products. Black connotes mystery and hidden danger; whiterepresented the paranormal element of our narrative, and red connotes death and violence.On the links below I have annotated an existing film poster along with the one I have created to compare how far Ikept to the codes and conventions. To view annotations, roll over areas of the image with mouse.Existing Horror Film PosterMy Horror Film PosterDoing analysis’ like these made it easy for me to keep to the conventions as I had a constant comparison.
  • 5. My website generally sticks to the conventions of existing horror film websites . I have combined sound,images, text and moving images to create a professional product that reflects the genre. When researchingwebsites, I found that all of the ones I looked at had interactive elements which aim to engage the audience,and thus I used this on my own product by the means of clickable items, image gallery and page links. On the‘Enter’ page of my website, the production company logo is featured in the bottom right hand corner. Thisacts as a ‘seal of approval’ and was a typical convention I found in the research stage, as it creates a degree ofprestige. On the main homepage I included comments from well known newspapers and film critics. I foundthis feature on websites for the films ‘Insidious’, and ‘The Devil Inside’. These short sentences create aneffective impact as they give the film credibility and encourage the audience to see the film.On each page of my website, I used the same font – ‘OptimusPrince’ to create continuity and also maintaineda consistent colour scheme that linked with the poster and made the website fluent. I did however usedifferent images on the background of each page so that they were all different. These images had all beenedited so that they had the same effect. The use of different images, which is a typical convention , helps givethe audience an insight into the content of the film.The navigation of my website was also very conventional. I researched this area before creating my own. Ifound that on all pages of the websites, the links to the other pages were always found in the same place andcould be clicked from any page. Therefore I made it possible on my own website to could go straight from, forexample, the ‘Trailer’ page to the ‘Gallery’ page without having to go back to the Home page inbetween.As we certified our trailer age 15, I wanted to make sure my trailer appealed to this age group and older. Iincorporated links to the films Facebook and Twitter pages as these social networks used by the younggeneration, are an excellent source of gaining a wide audience and promoting our film. This also helpedmake my website interactive.
  • 6. How effective is the combination of your main product and ancillary texts?When creating my main product (teaser trailer) and ancillary texts (poster and website), I was aware from myresearch that they had to closely link and maintain a house style. I was therefore very cautious of this, in order tomake my products recognisable and memorable. When filming out teaser trailer, we took still images of theantagonist to use on our individual posters and websites. I edited the image on my poster to create a black hazearound the characters creating the idea of being watched. I also chose to use this effect on other various images onmy website, to create a consistent theme. Taking images during the filming also meant that the background imageson my poster and website had the same setting as that of my trailer ; remote, woodland area. It also createdintertextuality so the products would be associated with each other.The purpose of my poster and website was to promote my film, and thus I had to make them stand out and lookattractive to the target audience. Therefore, the designs had to be similar so they were easily recognisable. I usedthe same colour scheme on both the poster and website and similar fonts. This marketing technique meant thatonce the audience had seen one product, they was associate these colours and images with my film and recognisethat the website and poster had come from the same production. However, there was one significant differencebetween my poster and website. The site ‘Wix’ that I used to design my website did not allow me to import the fontthat I had used on my poster and I therefore had to choose a different one, meaning that they were slightlydifferent. The narrative of my teaser trailer was also conveyed effectively on my main product and both ancillarytasks as I used similar iconography and images to convey the story.On all three of my products, I featured the production company’s logo and institutional information. On mywebsite and poster the ‘Pinnacle Productions’ logo was featured at the very bottom of the pages. This same logowas also featured at the beginning of my teaser trailer. This helps to link all the products together as it shows theyhave come from the same company, and also acts as a ‘seal of approval’.I also featured the tag line from our film, ‘what goes around comes around’, on both the teaser trailer and theposter. To further combine my ancillary texts, I could have also incorporated this tag line onto the homepage of mywebsite.
  • 7. What have you learned from your audience feedback?Before the construction of our products, I had to gain audiencefeedback on various areas to ensure my final products would besuccessful for my chosen genre and appeal to my target audience. Icreated questionnaires which I handed out to focus groups. Forexample, this questionnaire was designed to find out which film nameour audience members felt was most effective. They were given a copyof out film plot to help make their decisions.After creating the first draft of out teaser trailer, we asked members ofour target audience for feedback in order to improve and adjust ourwork. One of the main things we found from the feedback was that weneeded to speed up scenes in our trailer, specifically towards the end ofthe trailer. We were told that they did not find it was fast paced enoughto be frightened and feel anxious as they could predict what washappening. We took on board this valuable feedback and it helped uscreate more tension in the trailer as the audience did not have time tothink what was going to come next. For example, the fast paced sceneswere reduced to less than 1 second.One of the positive things we found from the feedback was that theaudience liked the length of the trailer. They were able to understandthe basic narrative as it wasn’t too short, but they also still wanted toknow what happened as it wasn’t too long. When researching horrorfilm conventions, I found that trailers of a similar length to ours heldmore tension and excitement than those which were too long. Theaudience also told us that the genre of our teaser trailer was very clear.From the feedback, we also found that our audience did not understand the initial opening scenes of the trailer as thenarrative was not clear. To amend this, we filmed extra shots and edited them in it was clear who exactly was involved inthe car crash. This was very important as without knowing the plot, it is unlikely our audience would want to go and seeour film and we would therefore be very unsuccessful.
  • 8. The feedback we received also specified that our audience members wanted to be challenged by and excitingand deep plot. Taking this on board, we created enigmas which made our audience ask questions. Forexample, ‘is the victim imagining things?’, which was created in the dream sequence as the audience are notaware if the victim has been imagining things or if the killer really is there.A very resourceful way of getting feedback on our trailer was by uploading it to the website ‘YouTube’. Onthis website, audience members were able to ‘like’ or ‘dislike’ our trailer and also provide us with commentsand their views. This like or dislike option allowed to gain a quick overview as to whether the majority ofpeople thought the trailer was good or not.The feedback on my film poster and website was also very positive. These are some of things that were mostcommonly said:- Looks professional.- Good use of lighting and focus on the antagonist.- Good editing of the images- Liked how the transitions on the website linked with the element of paranormal activity in our narrative.Some of the negative feedback I took on board was:- The website and poster use different fonts.- More images could have been used throughout the website.However, overall my feedback was generally positive and I did not have to adjust much of my products tomake them appealing.
  • 9. How did you use media technologies in the construction and research, planning and evaluation stages?Throughout the planning and construction of my media products, Iused a variety of different technologies. In the research stage, theinternet was the most valuable technology I had available, as itallowed for extensive research from a wide range of resources. I usedthe site ‘YouTube’ to search for existing trailers, as this site madethem readily available, and there was also audience feedback on eachvideo so I was able to see which ones were the most successful andwhy .For example, this trailer of The Strangers has nearly 3 millionviews, with a like/dislike bar at the bottom. This bar shows the trailerhas 3,684 likes and only 318 dislikes, meaning that it has been verysuccessful with its target audience. I was then able to look at thecomments on the video to see specifically which elements of thetrailer the audience liked and disliked. I also used the Google searchengine throughout the research stage to search for film posters andwebsites,In my planning stage, I created a storyboard of our teaser trailerwhich showed the basic plot. Images of these were taken on aBlackberry and then transferred onto the computer. I then usedWindows Movie Maker to create an animatic of my trailer, using thepencil drawings of my storyboard that I had transferred onto thecomputer. On this programme I was able to add transitions andsound to create a realistic idea of how my trailer would eventuallylook. Any planning and research that I completed was thentransferred onto ‘www.blogger.com’, an online blog storage servicethat allowed me to enter my work chronologically.In the construction of our trailer, we used a digital SLR Lumix camera for a high quality and professional looking production. Wethen used the editing programme ‘TrakAx’ to edit our trailer and put the scenes together.This programme allowed us to edit various aspects of our trailer. For example,we were able to add a ‘car crash sound effect’ to convey what happened in the opening of our trailer without having an explicitcamera shot of the crash. It also allowed us to create fast straight transitions and speed up the trailer to make it exciting and scary.This programme was completely new to us and was a new skill we had to learn in the step up from AS to A2.
  • 10. When designing my ancillary tasks, I used the programme ‘Photoshop’ to edit still images I had takenwhilst filming our trailer. This graphics editing program is the market leader for image manipulationsoftware and thus permitted me t0 create professional images. The specific tools I used were:- Magnetic lasso tool: to isolate areas of my image and change the colour filter.- Burn tool: to darken the edges of my images.- Dodge tool: to highlight areas of my images to become focus points.I also used the programme ‘Picasa’ to add a blur to some of my images. To create my website, I used to online site ‘www.wix.com’, which was free to use. This website allowed me to create and interactive and unique website from scratch. I was able to choose backgrounds, import my own images and text, add music and videos, and create animations. The site did however have some Limitations. For example, I wanted to add a white noise sound effect as each page changed as I also used this effect in my trailer, and could so create continuity. However, on ‘Wix’ I was unable to do this and instead just had to have a continuous soundtrack playing on my final website.