Introduction In this evaluation I will analyse how I produced a CD Digipack, an advert and a music video as well as the reasons behind why I chose the costumes/images/wording/designs that I did, whilst recounting my personal experiences while doing so. I will be doing this in the form of four main questions, which I have given a quick introduction to in the upcoming slides.
In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products? In order for this to happen I researched and analysed many mainstream female R’n’B music videos. I have chosen to the four main R’n’B artists which were most appealing to me as an audience. I chose Beyoncé, Ciara, Leona Lewis and Keri Hilson as my fuor main ‘inspirations’ before planning and constructing my own music video. I chose these four particular artists due to their successful status and the way they are able to sell their products almost effortlessly through the use of sex appeal and they’re famous reputation they created through endless advertising. This allowed me to establish the main codes, forms and conventions that I wished to use, develop and challenge in my media product whilst still maintaining obvious features of the R’n’B genre. This was so the audience (especially the target audience) could distinguish the genre almost immediately. It is clear that sex appeal and seduction is a well known marketing tool in this particular music industry, perfectly illustrated by these pictures all included in the artist’s albums. Through images that arouse such emotions the artist is remembered and becomes well known easily.
How Effective is the combination of your main product and ancillary texts? This question majorly focuses on the synergy that I created between all three of the media products, and how useful and effective that particularly was for marketing the product. There is evidence of synergy throughout the products as I wanted the artist’s image to stay the same so it would become easily recognisable to the audience, thus increasing sales.
What have you learnt from your audience feedback? Audience feedback is vital as it gives insight to what the original target audience wants from the product, the type of product they like best out of a choice of products and how our original product can be altered to appeal to them. To answer this question, we had to organise a structured interview which we would conduct in a busy high street/ shopping centre usually outside some of the stores that our target audience were most likely to shop at.The questions included were about the song and our digipacks and adverts. Mostly the questions asked which one of the adverts/digipacks the participant liked most and why? Also the participant was asked to recommend any modifications or praises. I believe this method of audience feedback is effective as it allows us as the producer to establish what appeals most to the target audience in order for us to increase awareness and sells.
How did you use new media technologies in construction, research, planning and evaluation? This question addresses the various technological equipment used to help us create, research and critically assess our product. This includes the use of final cut pro to edit the main artefact and the use of photoshop to create most of my ancillary texts such as the digipack and advert.
In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products? There are various ways my video uses, develops and challenges conventions. Firstly, my group and I decided that we were going to do an R’n’B song with a semi- traditional R’n’B music video. Choosing the R’n’B genre came with a whole set of forms and conventions of its own. The music videos usually contain narrative heartbreak, loss or even love at first sight to mirror the song and its lyrics. Minimal clothing is worn and the actual artist is the main character in the narrative. The singer is usually of African American/ Caribbean or African background due to the history of this genre. Usually has a ‘rags to riches story’ or about broken hearts or love. Artist will usually pose with expensive label outfits, with expensive cars or even in expensive looking houses. Gold & Black – Connotations of mystery and riches. Gold is rare and beautiful just like all the female artists that are associated with that genre .
Before the construction of my media product a lot of research was conducted consistently throughout the production. Research was conducted in both R’n’B and hip hop music videos and adverts as well as the pop genre. This was because those genre’s are some of the widest selling genre’s alongside the rock genre that do sell the most, particularly within our target audience. This research allowed me to establish their selling points as well as typical conventions that are used for these videos e.g. Narratives with relationship to lyrics. By doing this research it also allowed me to establish how I was going to either follow, develop or challenge these conventions in a way that ensured my product would be recognised for what it is as well as being able to sell it. Intimate sexual images reinforce the ‘sexually desirable’ image created cleverly by the artist and the media industry
To further research what our target audience wanted my group and I did do some field research of our own by going into public shopping centres such as Harrow and Brent Cross and asking people that fitted the criteria and profile of our target audience what they thought of our product. A criteria and profile of our target audience had previously been created by us from an earlier field research where we asked members of the public whether they liked the song or not and noted down their demographic variables.
A lot of the decisions and ideas that I put forward were influenced by the target audience and what input and feedback they had given us. A marketing aims profile was made for each product that was constructed, this helped me pinpoint the selling point of the product and ways of promotion for the product. Due to a low budget we were only able to promote the product using social networking sites such as www.facebook.com and www.twitter.com and using our own promoting skills and handing out advert copies to local DJ’s that we knew of.
Uses My video uses some of the main conventions of mainstream R’n’B for example using a narrative throughout the video which is an important factor of that particular genre of music as R’n’B did originate from hardship of slaves and story telling. This leads to the next convention that was used throughout the main artefact, the use of African/Caribbean actors and singers.
Narratives Beyoncé Same attire, both looking into a mirror getting ready Sensual intimate scene Ciara
R’n’B originated from that particular culture around the time of slavery hence the name ‘rhythm and blues’, therefore it is only right to use people from the origin representing the genre. Conventions where also used during the narrative, attention was give to the attire of the characters in the story as one of the main conventions of R’n’B videos are that the characters in the narration have meaningful attire, that not only represents their style and latest fashion but creates meaning throughout the story.
I believe I created that through the use of my female character’s minimal Clothing at the beginning to her red and black tracksuit at the end which has clear connotations of danger. Furthermore I used the conventions of the constant use of the title of the song and the title being of either of love or heartbreak which completely followed conventions of mainstream R’n’B songs e.g. ‘If I were a Boy’ (popular song title usually about switching places with the male race song previously done by Ciara as well as recently Beyoncé.) Emotive titles, reinforce the R’n’B conventions of heartache and male dominance.
My advert uses mainstream logos on a banner to attract the attention of the consumer which is a popular technique used by many R’n’B labels and companies. The use of logos such as MTV and KISS shows that the song is popular enough to go on such TV shows and radio stations which in turn leads the audience to understand that this product is as good as products released by artists like Beyoncé and record labels like SONY whos songs are played on such radio stations and music channels.
Develops However, many conventions were developed throughout the main artefact for example , the use of narratives that created a relationship between the lyrics and visuals (Goodwin’s music video analysis) reinforced mainstream R’n’B conventions but due to the artist not actually being involved within the narrative this developed the convention further. Most R’n’B music videos do use narratives usually featuring the actual artist in the narrative to make the story seem more real. Another way a convention is developed in my media product is throughout my digipack and advert, the artist’s name stands out from the whole cover and advert which uses conventions but the artist actually interacts with it (putting her leg up on it) which developed the convention once again. This is very rare for artists to actually interact with their name on their album cover. Usually this is because when the photos are taken there are no pre-production ideas of how these images will be used. This is evidence that I thought about my pre-production as well as post production, by making the artist pose in the way she did from the start.
Challenges One way my media product challenged the conventions of real media products was through the use of lighting. A lot of natural lighting was used throughout shooting both solo scenes and narratives which completely challenged the conventions of most R’n’B music videos. It is the norm to have key, filter back and top lights used during the filming of most mainstream videos of this genre hence why the artist always looks so ‘perfect’. To use natural lighting was to show the natural look of my artist which isn’t often done in this genre, thus why women of this particular genre are idolised and desired. The natural lighting creates a countertype to the mainstream ‘perfect’ image formed by the major media/music industries. It proves that although the artist may not look as ‘perfected’ as someone like Beyoncé, she can still look good. This also reinforces the British ‘social realism’ she represents, she’s not a star she’s still the same girl from London. I believe this method did work as the audience feedback was great and over 90% of people asked (male and female) rated her as attractive.
How effective is the combination of your main product and ancillary text? There is definitely synergy between the main product and the ancillary texts that I constructed. The main theme of the main product was heartbreak and abandonment. I developed this idea further by making the character in the narrative experience heartbreak by having the actress in the narrative find out about an affair that her boyfriend was having and having her pack her belongings and leave for good.
Although the lyrics are directed at the male in the relationship I purposely contrast this relationship between the lyrics so to challenge the main conventions of the R’n’B genre. In the female’s mind the relationship is no longer worth staying for as he has broken her trust to her he has chosen to love her and leave which are effectively the lyrics in the chorus of the song. This once again relates to Goodwin’s music video analysis were there is a visual relationship between the lyrics and narrative. By having the main theme and lyrics of the song being one of heartbreak and the termination of a relationship then reinforcing the theme into the narrative throughout my video by having the actress have a ‘rage’ scene where she expresses extreme anger then starts crying, I believe it creates a strong relationship between the theme and lyrics of the song and the theme and plot of the narrative. I believe this is effective as it reinforces what the song is actually about therefore allowing a direct target for broken hearted girls, which has worked successful for almost every R’n’B artists especially Beyonce, Ciara, Keri Hilson and Leona Lewis.
I further created synergy by having my advert and digipack contain the same colour scheme – Black and Gold. Black has connotations of mystery and dark times which is great for a mysterious new artist and as well as reflecting on ‘dark times’ which is the reason R’n’B was created in the first place. Gold was used to symbolise rich, rare and high quality which is what most R’n’B artists are represented as usually, making the audience feel that the artist is not only rich in quality but rich in wealth as well and rare and original. That is how I wanted to portray my artist as too. The same picture was used in the advert and digipack which created synergy and allowed the audience to have a constant reminder of the artist, the song and the music video thus allowing further to promote the media product in different formats. I found that the picture with the artist’s leg raised was the most effective as it contained the main selling point that I wanted to use which was sex appeal. The artist is looking away in all the pictures, this creates a mystique around her, reinforcing the connotations of being mysterious which were also created through the use of the trench coat. Furthermore she is posing seductively whilst looking away suggesting she is hard to get, this is effective as it makes the male audience want her and want to see her more and it makes the female audience want to be her to be seen as attractive. By having her leg and heel the main centre point of both my advert and digipack I also reinforce Laura Maulvey’s theory of the male gaze which states that everything is placed in a way to benefit the male audience’s gaze and maximize their experience.
From the early stages I knew that sex appeal and seduction was the best way to appeal to the target audience as making the artist look as appealing and desirable as I could would make other women want to look and act like the artist, and make the male audience desire women like her and this would create a constant circle. By using a picture where her attire is the same as her video also created a further synergetic influence as there was a constant image of her and what she looked like. This was extremely effective especially for an unsigned new artist looking to become well known.
Throughout the CD/DVD digipack and on the advert the same type fonts were used constantly for her name and her song title. The font I used for the song title was like it was handwritten, this represented the digipack as being more personal thus making the song more personal (conforming to R’n’B conventions once again) and heartfelt. Her name was also used in the same font throughout almost like a logo, creating a brand name and reputation for her, this will also allow easy association between the logo and the product.
There is evidence of synergy between the music video and the advert and digipack, it is the idea of her being mysterious and new (represented through the use of her coat hiding her body except the legs ). In the video the artist is portrayed as innocent and a mere narrator of the story but this repersentation is contrasted in the actual cover and advert were she is represented as a fierce seductive woman who is empowering, just through the use of her body language. This was done to conform to the conventions of confident desirable and empowered women in the media who are objectified to sell products because they can.
A marketing aims profile was created for each product beforehand, this allowed me to get an idea of type of product that I wanted to construct and led to clearly analysing how it would be appealing to the target audience as a media product. A marketing aims profile clarified how I wanted to represent the artist and how effective this would be on the sales of the product. It also highlighted places I wanted to sell the product and the types of promotions I was willing to do for the product.
What have you learned from your audience feedback?
Audience feedback is vital when creating a media product, it is needed to see whether the product is actually sellable and appealing to the target audience. Furthermore audience feedback can help improve the product after it is done and even get praised for creating a good product.
We gathered audience feedback in various different ways. My partner and I chose to go to Harrow shopping centre in the Northwest of London, and whoever agreed to take part in our quick interview was played the song (on one of our mobile phones) and shown a picture of the artist. Then was asked some questions of whether this genre/ song would appeal to them. On another occasion we were located in Brent Cross walking outside the shops that our target audience were most likely to shop at and once again asked people if we could interview them, once they agreed we had to screen them with some pre interview questions to fit our target audience quota and if they were legible we asked them questions about our adverts and digipacks. Questions included them to choose which product they liked best and why .
Occasionally throughout the time I was editing my video I would casually ask what people surrounding me thought of the progress and what input they had to offer, this not only included my target audience but also my media teachers and professional media technicians which was a bonus, although this wasn’t official audience feedback it was still feedback and it did help in gathering opinions of other people and their thoughts on my editing and the video. It not only made the job easier but made it worthwhile as I got to learn new editing techniques from different media technicians and even experienced Media BTEC students who use Final Cut Pro during their course. However for my official audience feedback I posted the video on popular sites such as www.Youtube.com, www.Facebook.com and even burnt some copies on blank DVDs to pass around to people. I included a questionnaire for them to fill on the websites as well as giving a hard copy to anyone in the target audience who received a DVD. As mentioned earlier a lot of primary field research was conducted into finding out what the audience, especially the target audience had to say, what they thought about our products and what suggestions or improvements they could offer. I have provided some examples of the questions, finding and conclusions in the upcoming slides.
One of the ways that I tried to get audience feedback was through www.facebook.com . This is a print screen from when I had first posted the advert up. I managed to get a lot of feedback but for privacy issues I cannot show pictures of people who did comment on the advert.
MusicVideo What general modifications would you suggest, if any, to this music video? What praises would you suggest, if any, for this video? Did you think that this music video represented the R’n’B genre? Would you watch this video if it came on the music channel you were watching at the time? Why? 25% 40% 50% 75% 10%
MusicVideo Did you like this song? Would you purchase or download the song if this was a famous artist? Would you purchase or download the song if it was by the independent artist Did you think the narrative and the lyrics had a positive or negative relationship? (Did they go with the words?) Question 2&3 Famous Independent
Music Video Did you enjoy the narrative? Why? On a scale of 1-10 how far do think this is media product is similar to a real media product? (1=lowest 10=highest) Number of People Rating Given
Reasons for praising the video The narrative was interesting to watch, it went with the song. Shots, effects and transitions all worked together to make the video look eye catching and professional. Modifications suggested: Some shots were too fuzzy Shine on singer’s forehead during some of the solo scenes Actions Taken After Feedback
Added some more narrative shots but didn’t add to many so not to go overboard or make the video look less professional
Shots were reviewed and analysed then I spent time re-logging and capturing shots from tapes and trying different effects.Consequently, the end results on the video were the best that I could edit without reshooting and I have written about it in more detail in my blogs. Some shots were too dark whilst others had too much overexposed light in areas like the artist’s forehead.
Digipack Which front & back cover appeals to you more? Why does that appeal to you? Which inside cover appeals to more? Why does this cover appeal to you? Mia’s Mine
Digipack What genre would you expect this music media product to be? Why? What modifications, if any, would you suggest to your chosen designs? Why? What praises, if any, would you provide for the designs chosen? Why? Would you purchase or download the song if it was by a famous artist No. Of People Genre
Modifications Suggested: Less is more approach. Use better pictures of The artist in the lyrics section Praises Given: Selling Point was clear The artist’s name and song title were really good. Front cover picture interesting. Actions Taken:
Better quality pictures of the artist were chosen and used.
Less words and pictures used so to create the ‘less is more’ effect which also helped with the ‘mystery’ connotations.
Front Cover picture used on the advert too and name and song title echoed in the same font.
Advert Which advert appeals to you? Why does this advert appeal to you? Would this make you want to see the product further? Would it make you want to purchase/download the product? Mine Mia’s
Advert What modifications, if any, would you suggest to your chosen designs? Why? What praises, if any, would you provide for the designs chosen? Why? Did you think that this music video represented the R’n’B genre?
Modifications Suggested: Less is more approach. Improve the Apple sign as it looked different due to the effects used. Praises Given: Selling Point was clear The artist’s name and song title were really good. The mirroring of the same image was good as it went with the product Black and gold theme made it look appealing. Actions Taken:
The Apple logo was changed into a less heavily effected one.
Reduced wording only included the date and iTunes as it was the main download site for it.
Echoed the song name just like the CD /DVD cover.
In conclusion to the research conducted to gain my audience feedback, it is fair to say that the target consumer does enjoy the usual mainstream conventions created by the R’n’B genre eg minimal clothing or seductive poses. However the audience does like to be challenged for example by creating a mystery around the product yet at the same time hinting towards the R’n’B genre. I believe that is why my products worked best out of the two because it still represented the R’n’B genre but it didn’t give too much away and kept the audience wanting to find out. This refreshed them from the constant images of close up images of artists and black and white images on the cover yet it still met their expectations which made it more effective. Mia’s work fed into the usual conventions and didn’t excite the audience or make them want to know more about their products but it definitely represented an R’n’B product in my opinion which was great as it showed that the artist was on the same level as mainstream artists such as Beyonce.
With the help of the audience feedback I managed to create a product that did appeal to what seems to me like over half of the target population that was interviewed and I think that with the suggested modifications and the praises received I could maintain the appeal of my advert and Digipack. However I do not think that my product is perfect and it still has an amateur air to it but I think that I did try my best to make it look professional in some way. I also believe that my digipack could have featured some better shots of the artist that could convey more meaning into the digipack. The preferred reading of my product was received well. I wanted the audience to see as her as an attractive young female who the female audience could relate to through the use of her song lyrics and the narrative whilst the male audience could relate to her through the use of sex appeal and her ‘hard to get’ image. I feel the audience really did manage to relate to her and there is evidence in my audience feedback that they did, for example the male target audience were asked whether she seemed attractive and over 90% agreed she was.
How did you use new media technologies in the construction, research planning and evaluation stages? Construction During the stages of constructing our video many different forms of new media technologies were used. First and foremost a Canon Video camera was used and a series of tapes instead of memory cards. This allowed us to record our video in the format and quality provided by the canon camera, which I admit wasn’t as good as some of the HD cameras that are used nowadays in music video. HD cameras provide high definition quality adding to the professionalism of the entire video. The tapes were logged onto a Mac/ Apple computer where the software included Final Cut Pro and iDVD, these were the main software's used to create the final video draft. At first all these technologies were rather tricky to get around but I thought that after a few tutorials from more experienced final cut pro users, the software became easier and I started to getinto adding effects and transitions to create meaning and use and develop conventions.
Technology One of the ways new media technologies were used in the construction of my video was the use of final cut pro to edit out the video and keep the good shots of the artist and narrative. It was important for me to keep the continuity of my narrative scenes to keep the suspension of disbelief in my target audience and I learnt some editing techniques that allowed me to keep the continuity throughout the video.
I found syncing the artist’s lips in time to the music a bit difficult as my artist had trouble miming the song even though it was played in the background of her shooting. However after slowing down some shots and making others faster I finally made the artist move her lips in time to the lyrics. It is vital that the artist’s lips did sync with the music to keep the continuity of the video flowing otherwise it will not allow the audience to understand the lyrics and it will not have the same powerful effect. An external hard drive and USB flash drive was used to store and transport my media products (both video and digipack and advert) to and from different computers. This allowed me to constantly edit my product and allowed me to show my various products to different people at different times which in turn allowed me to gain even more audience feedback. Through the use of broadband and the USB flash drives I was able to stream my media products through sites such as www.youtube.com allowing even more access to my media product, promoting it as well as getting audience feedback from it.
Photoshop was used to create both my digipack and advert. I used Adobe Photoshop CS4 on both a Mac laptop and Windows computer. I made sure to save my products both as a PSD file and a JPEG so as to be able to show the JPEG but also be able to edit the picture on Photoshop again if needed. I had previous experience on the photoshop software from last year so I knew how to achieve the looks I wanted and how to make those looks more effective. This also gave me an advantage as it was less time consuming to make adverts and digipacks so I could easily create a few and compare them to personally decide which one I thought was the best.
Technology Photoshop was used to edit the images of my artist and add effects to them. Also it was used in the construction of both my advert and digipack
Research Various forms of new media technology was used for research. Youtube was once again used to stream R’n’B videos to watch and analyse. Sites like myspace allowed us to see what kind of other advertising is needed for artists, whilst watching videos and analysing adverts. To find an artist was relatively quick as there are many unsigned singer that me and my partner knew of so therefore it was a straight forward process. Sites such as www.youtube.com and even www.facebook.com were extremely useful in researching my audience as well as for my audience feedback. Youtube allowed me to stream other music videos online through my broadband and which was vital for my research. Furthermore I could upload my own music video and through the comment box provided with every video uploaded people could easily view my video and give me some feedback on it. It was extremely useful for me and effective especially as a promoting tool. I could tell by the many record labels that posted their own videos of their artist on the sites that these sites were already a great tool for promotion and research (some artists that were signed to these record labels were found on youtube by them).
Analysed Videos Narrative, mirror scene Black and white Click on the pictures to direct you to the videos on youtube.com Heartbreak Waistcoat& heartbreak (new video) Multiple narratives of heartbreaking situations were singer isn’t involved(old video) 2 different versions made – new version is hyperlinked
Planning Planning our media products did take a while, microsoft word was used and scanners were used to input our sketches onto our blogs. Our blogs allowed us to give a detailed schedules of our next shooting days, how far we were into our coursework and all the other drafts of our story boards etc.
The internet, especially search engines such as google, allowed me to look further into what my target audience wants and usually looks for as well as allowing me to see other examples of A2 media coursework's from previous years which guided me .
Evaluation Firstly evaluation was possible through all the previous mentioned software's as I had to constantly look back on my work to evaluate it. This allowed me to analyse what worked and what didn’t in my video and in my digipack and advert. Secondly Microsoft powerpoint was used to evaluate my actual work and produce graphs and images onto the evaluation which allowed my work to be seen both in image form and described and evaluated.
Conclusion In conclusion I believe that I constructed a typical looking R’n’B music video that not only used conventions but developed and challenged them in different ways. Although some shots in the video weren’t to the best quality I did do what I could to maintain a professional look about the video as I didn’t want it looking too amateur. I think my digipack and advert were rather effective as they did represent the right genre and did appeal to the target audience. The audience feedback received for these products were mainly positive which showed that the consumer were ready to be challenged slightly from the usual R’n’B conventions but still enjoyed some typical mainstream conventions seen in most videos of the genre such as minimal clothing and narratives.I enjoyed the positive feedback that I got and I listened to the constructive criticisms too which helped me improve my product to the best extent that I could. I enjoyed creating the product and using different technologies and I hope that my product also represents the fun I had making it and not just the hard work put into it. I believe the meanings in my video were received well too, such as in the narrative the actress is wearing red and black just before she finds out she has been betrayed, which is effective as these colours do contain connotations of danger. I believe my main selling point worked effectively too, the fact that I used sex appeal and seduction to make my product appealing to the audience did show evidence of being effective especially through the male audience who after seeing the advert or digipack did find her attractive. I believe my product does reflect what I was trying to convey and how I was trying to portray my artist as successfully even though it is not perfect.