A2 Media Studies Evaluation

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A2 Media Studies Evaluation

  1. 1. EvaluationA2 Media Studies Alex Atkinson
  2. 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 codes andconventions of existing media products was paramount. Extensive researchallowed me to adhere to these conventions but also develop them to create aunique and individual product. By keeping in line with these conventions, my finalproducts would be successful in the current market and appeal to my chosentarget audience.The trailer I created employs many of the codes and conventions of existingtrailers I found when researching current horror trailer by production companiessuch as ‘Lionsgate’. Firstly, the trailer runs between 60 and 120 seconds, typical ofteaser trailers currently in the market. This is long enough to put the narrativeacross so the audience will understand the basic plot of the film, but not too muchis given away. This way, I was able to entice the audience in to wanting to see thefilm as they would want to know what else will happen. Another way my traileradhered to the typical codes and conventions was by the length and types of cuts Iused. As my chosen genre was horror, research into trailers within this genreshowed that they predominantly used short straight cuts to make the trailer fastpaced, exciting and to create moments of suspense. Therefore, I transferred thisonto 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. The victim ispresented as a young teenage girl, overcome by guilt to make the audience feel sorry for her. This can be seen inexisting films such as ‘Prom Night’. This stereotype originated in the 1920’s when the original horror films such as‘Nosferatu’ were created. On the other hand, the villain is usually an older male character, but we decide to challenge thisconvention by making the villain a young girl. In the opening scenes, the audience is made to feel sorry for the villain butthis quickly changes as there is a role reversal between the victim and villain.
  3. 3. Another typical convention of the horror genre is the use of dark andmysterious environments to create insecurity. The images I used on myposter and website display this as many of my backgrounds were oftenblack with only small sections of the images and antagonist showing. Thisalso helped create the idea of being watched which links with the narrativeof our trailer. Despite this convention, I also decided to film parts of ourtrailer in daylight. This helps to lull the audience into a false sense ofsecurity as daylight suggests that the characters are safe and danger is notexpected. This effect has also been used in trailers such as ‘ParanormalActivity 2’. This image that I did use on the film poster shows the antagonistrather than the protagonist which is more commonly used. This is used todirectly scare the audience as they are now aware of what the ‘villain’ lookslike. I also found that many horror film trailers used enigma codes to createquestions for the audience. I transferred this onto my trailer in the closingscene; the protagonist is shown in the front of the car and the antagonist issat behind her. A short flash of this makes my audience question what willhappen as it suggests the protagonist is in danger.I found that violence and death were commonly only suggested in thetrailers rather than explicitly shown. For example , in The Last House OnThe Left Trailer (click on hyperlink below presentation to watch), flashes ofblack are shown at various points when something violent is about tohappen so it is not explicitly shown. In my own trailer I decided to onlysuggest this violence for ethical reasons. In the opening scene of the carcrash, the girl was not shown to be dead; instead the black screen with thesound effects of the crash suggested this. We had to consider howappropriate it was to show this scene in our trailer, and we had todeliberate the airing time of the trailer as we did not want to scare orfrighten any younger viewers. However, parts of our trailer does still havegraphic or frightening imagery, and so our trailer would have to aired afterthe watershed, as it is aimed at an older audience who are more likely to bewatching at a later time.
  4. 4. Another convention I challenged in the production of my trailer was the use of music and sounds. Mosttrailers use ‘creepy’ music to connote horror, and although we did use some parts of this, we alsodecided to use other types of music. At the beginning of the trailer, the pop song ‘Price Tag’ is playing inthe car. This puts the audience into a false sense of security yet again, as it has positive connotationsand they do not expect anything bad to happen. We then used ‘thud’ sound effects in dramatic partsof the trailer to make them memorable. Towards the end of the trailer, we included a crescendo as thisis where the trailer is building up to create tension and the cuts became faster. We wanted to put thisacross to the audience and made them feel nervous as the music builds. Finally, at the end of ourtrailer, we played the nursery rhyme ‘ Ring Around the Roses’, being sung by a young girl. This links tothe narrative of the film, with the idea of a young girl being involved. It is still ‘creepy‘ yetunconventional.I maintained a consistent house style when creating my website and poster, using a black, white andred colour scheme. These are typical colours used in horror film products. Black connotes mystery andhidden danger; white represented the paranormal element of our narrative, and red connotes deathand violence.On the links below this presentation (labelled ‘Existing Horror Poster’ and ‘My Horror Film Poster’) Ihave annotated an existing film poster along with the one I have created to compare how far I kept tothe codes and conventions. To view annotations, click on the links and roll over areas of the image withmouse.Doing analysis’ like these made it easy for me to keep to the conventions as I had a constantcomparison.
  5. 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 researching websites, 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. This acts as a ‘seal of approval’ and was a typical convention I found in the research stage, as it creates a degree of prestige. On the main homepage I included comments from well known newspapers and film critics. I found this feature on websites for the films ‘Insidious’, and ‘The Devil Inside’. These short sentences create an effective 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 maintained a consistentcolour scheme that linked with the poster and made the website fluent. I did however use different images on thebackground of each page so that they were all different. These images had all been edited so that they had the sameeffect. The use of different images, which is a typical convention , helps give the audience an insight into the content ofthe film.The navigation of my website was also very conventional. I researched this area before creating my own. I found that onall pages of the websites, the links to the other pages were always found in the same place and could be clicked from anypage. Therefore I made it possible on my own website to could go straight from, for example, the ‘Trailer’ page to the‘Gallery’ page without having to go back to the Home page in between.As we certified our trailer age 15, I wanted to make sure my trailer appealed to this age group and older. I incorporatedlinks to the films Facebook and Twitter pages as these social networks used by the young generation, are an excellentsource of gaining a wide audience and promoting our film. This also helped make my website interactive.
  6. 6. How effective is the combination of your main product and ancillary texts?When creating my main product (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, inorder to make my products recognisable and memorable. When filming out 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 blackhaze around the characters creating the idea of being watched. I also chose to use this effect on othervarious images on my website, to create a consistent theme. Taking images during the filming also meantthat the background images on my poster and website had the same setting as that of my trailer ; remote,woodland area. It also created intertextuality 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 andlook attractive to the target audience. Therefore, the designs had to be similar so they were easilyrecognisable. I used the same colour scheme on both the poster and website and similar fonts. Thismarketing technique meant that once the audience had seen one product, they was associate these coloursand images with my film and recognise that the website and poster had come from the same production.However, there was one significant difference between my poster and website. The site ‘Wix’ that I used todesign my website did not allow me to import the font that I had used on my poster and I therefore had tochoose a different one, meaning that they were slightly different. The narrative of my teaser trailer was alsoconveyed effectively on my main product and both ancillary tasks as I used similar iconography and images toconvey 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 samelogo was also featured at the beginning of my trailer. This helps to link all the products together as it showsthey have come from the same company, and also acts as a ‘seal of approval’. I also featured the tag line fromour film, ‘what goes around comes around’, on both the trailer and the poster. To further combine myancillary texts, I could have also incorporated this tag line onto the homepage of my website.
  7. 7. What have you learned from your audience feedback?Before the construction of our products, I had to gain audience feedbackon various areas to ensure my final products would be successful for mychosen genre and appeal to my target audience. I created questionnaireswhich I handed out to focus groups. For example, this questionnaire wasdesigned to find out which film name our audience members felt wasmost effective. They were given a copy of out film plot to help make theirdecisions.After creating the first draft of out trailer, we asked members of ourtarget audience for feedback in order to improve and adjust our work.One of the main things we found from the feedback was that we neededto speed up scenes in our trailer, specifically towards the end of thetrailer. We were told that they did not find it was fast paced enough to befrightened and feel anxious as they could predict what was happening.We took on board this valuable feedback and it helped us create moretension in the trailer as the audience did not have time to think what wasgoing to come next. For example, the fast paced scenes were reduced toless 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 understand thebasic narrative as it wasn’t too short, but they also still wanted to knowwhat happened as it wasn’t too long. When researching horror filmconventions, I found that trailers of a similar length to ours heldmore tension and excitement than those which were too long. The audience also told us that the genre of our trailer was very clear.From the feedback, we also found that our audience did not understand the initial opening scenes of the trailer as the narrative was notclear. To amend this, we filmed extra shots and edited them in it was clear who exactly was involved in the car crash. This was veryimportant as without knowing the plot, it is unlikely our audience would want to go and see our film and we would therefore be veryunsuccessful.
  8. 8. The feedback we received also specified that our audience members wanted to be challenged by and exciting and deepplot. Taking this on board, we created enigmas which made our audience ask questions. For example, ‘is the victimimagining things?’, which was created in the dream sequence as the audience are not aware if the victim has beenimagining 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’. On this website,audience members were able to ‘like’ or ‘dislike’ our trailer and also provide us with comments and their views. Thislike or dislike option allowed to gain a quick overview as to whether the majority of people thought the trailer wasgood 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 to make themappealing.
  9. 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, I useda variety of different technologies. In the research stage, the internetwas the most valuable technology I had available, as it allowed forextensive research from a wide range of resources. I used the site‘YouTube’ to search for existing trailers, as this site made them readilyavailable, and there was also audience feedback on each video so I wasable to see which ones were the most successful and why .For example,this trailer of The Strangers has nearly 3 million views, with a like/dislikebar at the bottom. This bar shows the trailer has 3,684 likes and only 318dislikes, meaning that it has been very successful with its targetaudience. I was then able to look at the comments on the video to seespecifically which elements of the trailer the audience liked and disliked.I also used the Google search engine throughout the research stage tosearch for film posters and websites. In my planning stage, I created a storyboard of our trailer which showedthe basic plot. Images of these were taken on a Blackberry and thentransferred onto the computer. I then used Windows Movie Maker tocreate an animatic of my trailer, using the pencil drawings of mystoryboard that I had transferred onto the computer. On this programmeI was able to add transitions and sound to create a realistic idea of howmy trailer would eventually look. Any planning and research that Icompleted was then transferred onto ‘www.blogger.com’, an online blogstorage service that 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. We then used theediting 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. Thisprogramme was completely new to us and was a new skill we had to learn in the step up from AS to A2.
  10. 10. When designing my ancillary tasks, I used the programme ‘Photoshop’ to edit still images I had taken whilst filming ourtrailer. This graphics editing program is the market leader for image manipulation software and thus permitted me tocreate 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 websiteallowed me to create and interactive and uniquewebsite from scratch. I was able to choosebackgrounds, import my own images and text, addmusic and videos, and create animations. The sitedid however have some Limitations. For example, Iwanted to add a white noise sound effect as eachpage changed as I also used this effect in my trailer,and could so create continuity. However, on ‘Wix’ Iwas unable to do this and instead just had to have acontinuous soundtrack playing on my final website.

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