Lewis Underwood's Media Evaluation A2

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This is my Media Evaluation of my coursework I have been working on throughout my A levels.

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Lewis Underwood's Media Evaluation A2

  1. 1. Media Evaluation<br />By Lewis Underwood<br />Lewis Underwood's A2 Media Blog<br />(lewisunderwoodsa2mediablog.blogspot.com)<br />
  2. 2. In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?<br />Keeping the protagonist centralised in the frame is important for the viewer, as it helps to establish the character as important.<br />Furthermore the construction of shot angles during storyboarding, part of the professional process, brings a cinematic effect to the project.<br />Using real media conventions:<br />I analyzed a variety of short films, professional and amateur to develop my grasp on the current codes and conventions of short films (see post Friday, 16th July 2010, “Short Film Analysis: Overview”.) From this and previous research from AS I was able to construct my shots to work with my narrative and plot as best possible.<br />I knew that to engage the audience I would have to keep the protagonist centralised in the frame and use a variety of close ups so that the audience can familiarise themselves with his face. <br />Furthermore at the start of one of my scenes I used a close up shot of a lily so as to connote meanings of death. This is related to the protagonists dead/limbo state in the plot at this particular moment, I used this because it is common in media language to portray importance through camera distance and framing.<br />This is demonstrated by the close up shot of the black raven in “Lovefield” to connote death.<br />Close up of protagonist at (01:20)<br />CLOSE UP<br />
  3. 3. Using real media conventions:<br />Sound was something that I wanted to get right in my short film, as a good film can be ruined by a poor soundtrack. Therefore I tried to maintain a consist soundtrack and the two tracks that I used were similar in their sounding and genre. The soundtrack helped form the narrative and create pace when needed, this was a result of researching the importance of sound. For further analysis on the effectiveness of sound (see post Thursday, 15thJuly 2010, “Short Film Analysis 5”.) <br />A further convention I felt necessary to meet was the absence of speech from characters throughout my short film. After researching short films during the pre-development stage I found that the majority of amateur and professional shorts films did not use speech as a means of communicating the plot of the story to the viewer. This is because it is more entertaining for the viewer to journey through a story with visual representations. In fact without the use of speech it challenges filmmakers to find interesting ways to communicate to the viewer with the camera. <br />An example of this during my short film is when I attempt to portray the frustration of the protagonist whilst he attempts to take good pictures. I use the camera, mise en scene and sound within this shot to link together aspects that create my desired meaning. Within the background the children are playing around, their blissful laughter binary opposes the protagonists frustrated expression and movements. (01:01-01:10)<br />Another convention of modern film that I had researched was that film titles are more often superimposed over footage nowadays, whereas they used to have separated black screenings. However production companies generally still remain within their own sequence.<br />
  4. 4. Using real media conventions:<br />I also analyzed Todorov’s theory of traditional narrative (see post Friday, 17th September 2010, “Short Film Idea”.)<br />I used his 5 stage approach to develop my plot, in the sense I removed a confusing and unnecessary car scene and added scenes to my short film as meaning to make it easier to digest as a viewer and to create further meaning within the narrative. (see post Wednesday, 16th March 2011, “Extra Scene”.)<br />Furthermore I believe I have also tied up my short in a fairly succinct manner which coincides with conventions I’ve analyzed from Todorov’s theory. Specifically, the key features of: Equilibrium, disequilibrium and then the equilibrium being re-established in some new form. The final scene in which the evidence of his existence is being wiped away and the ghost is contently walking off into sunlight is, in the conventional sense, the happy ending - as it should leave the audience feeling contentedbecause the protagonist is showing no signs of anguish.<br />The narrative of my short film is very conventional because it follows the story of a protagonist throughout the plot. However this was something that I didn’t purposely consider and created my story around this prospect of following a singular character. This realisation raised led me to research into Marxist film theory. For information about my research into Marxism (see post Monday, 28th February 2011, “Marxist Film Theory”.) <br />When reflecting upon my rough cut I found it interesting that I had structured my narrative in a very Hollywood style in the sense it revolved around one protagonist and his represented the story from his perspective. However I subconsciously made this decision without considering other alternatives. <br />Hopefully I will be able to consider these factors next time I'm going through the brain storming creative process to create an ultimately more original piece of work.<br />
  5. 5. Developing real media conventions:<br />I wanted to develop the story behind my short film by creating as much meaning as possible throughout.<br />After watching shorts such as “Lovefield” and “The Backwater Gospel” as a viewer I could see that the film was trying to convey meaning, sometimes on multiple levels. This led me to include shots throughout my short film which show the protagonist eating and drinking really unhealthily, the point of this was to convey the meaning that although he lives as a slob he died of a different and unexpected cause. By which I mean for viewers to think about whether they are living the life the way they want too, and whether they are happy any can die at any time.<br />I think that I developed this further by directing the actor to look fairly miserable throughout shooting which shows the viewers that the protagonist is unhappy and further portrays my films underlying meaning. <br />
  6. 6. Challenging real media conventions:<br />Initially I wanted to create a distinct difference to traditional shorts, therefore I attempted to create more ambiguity and changes in time (cutting between the real life and the protagonists limbo.) However the audience had to understand what was going on in, so I used the convention of a white flash which would mean to viewers a change in time or place (flashbacks) however my desired effect was misconstrued by viewers.<br />I’ve also tried to leave the last plot points to the last few shots which should reveal the general plotline that has been running through the film. This is my intention as it may lead the audience to a second viewing to fully understand the story, an idea inspired from the film Inception, which also reveals plot points in the last few scenes. Upon peer review, viewers did mention that the story was clearer and they noticed new things with the second viewing.<br />Although I stated that I felt it was important that my short film was devoid of any spoken dialogue I decided to break this convention very subtly by including it within the background in the shop scene at (01:46-02:00.) I did this because the words hint towards the plot of the film using phrases such as “its been dead in here all day” and this would help the audience understand the current state of the protagonist. <br />
  7. 7. How effective is your combination of your main and ancillary texts?<br />
  8. 8. Synergy:<br />To create synergy between my short film and Ancillary tasks I kept the images and colour schemes dark as my short film’s narrative focuses around the death of the protagonist. This then connotes seriousness and sets the theme for the film. However I've also included some colourful still images to bring in some lively activity and interest into the poster. It is also effective for defining the art house genre of the film. <br />To create a similar feel within my video footage I used Adobe Premiere editing tools such as the colour corrector to change the colour levels of some shots that were to bright, and brought them down to the common colour level found throughout my ancillary and main tasks.<br />In addition to synergizing my film poster to the narrative of my short film I used a cloud effect I created on Photoshop to coat the edges of the images, I feel this worked well and tied into the eerie and mysterious vibe that my short film and poster connote.<br />The film poster “IMNOTHERE” somewhat inspired my film poster as the tone and mystery behind it grabbed my interest. <br />I used a pretty traditional arrangement in my poster because I feel that it’s simple and effective for looking professional and shows the protagonists face so that the target demographic may be interested when they see someone looking similar to their peer age.<br />
  9. 9. In the construction of my Ancillary tasks I researched existing examples to understand the layout and structure of them. For my in-depth review on film review conventions (see post Tuesday, 4th January 2011, “Film Review Research”.) With the conventions in mind I underwent the process of writing the review, although it was based on my rough cut the context of it is fairly apt in regards to my main piece. The layout was important as that's what gives film reviews a professional aesthetic, whilst also considering the still images to use as they had to portray the correct colours and themes associated with my film.<br />Similar use of fact box for readers interest or amusement.<br />The text and pictures are laid out in similar style.<br />Use of main image and smaller subsidiary images to give diversity and create interest.<br />Overall I feel that the synergy within my texts are consistent and work well with each other. I’m happy with the level of quality in my film poster and magazine review because I feel that they are similar in conventions to traditional pieces.<br />
  10. 10. What have you learnt from your audience feedback?<br />I gathered my feedback from Facebook and sitting people down in front of my short and getting direct feedback which I then wrote down. <br />Feedback:<br />“Story is a little hard to follow and understand if you don’t know the plot.”<br />“Hard to read the text message, which I now understand is quite important to the plot.”<br />“Editing and shots were good for student work, didn’t look too amateurish.”<br />“Background wind was too loud in some places and a bit off-putting.”<br />“Music was effective for building pace and interest.” <br />“The movement fades looked good.”<br />“Good use of shots and angles.”<br />“Missing some shots, would make it clearer.”<br />“Titles looked professional.”<br />“The part where he falls in and drowns is unclear.”<br />“A second showing does show new things which is cool.”<br />“Continuity was good.”<br />
  11. 11. Analysis:<br />I had a lack of close up shots at necessary points in time and consequently missed opportunities to create a clearer meaning. For example to portray more of a slob, I could of included a few more CU shots of him burping and being generally more disgusting. To create distinction between the drowning and walking straight into the store, could be a CU of a confused look on the protagonists face wondering where he has been, what time it is etc. In other words I didn’t quite manage to portray the meaning I was intending. However this may be due to my poor storyboarding because although the idea was formed in my head, I must of forgotten whilst out filming exactly what shots were required. I didn’t manage to gather all the shots I should have got to propel the idea and thus viewers were often left feeling a little confused and found it hard to follow.<br />Whilst discussing my short film, it tended to be a similar scenario as with all my intended meaning. – The importance of the close up and including a few shots could have changed it for the audience and make it more engaging and easier to digest.<br />Nevertheless my target demographic said that they “enjoyed watching it to the end” which is an accomplishment, as I didn’t want to make a film longer for the sake of it and result in being boring. Above all else is that generally the reviews said that the short films visual quality was above amateur which is a encouraging as I tried to make the film as aesthetically easy to watch as possible.<br />
  12. 12. How did you use new media technologies in the construction and research, planning and evaluation stages?<br />Construction:<br />At As level I developed my skills from GCSE art in which I was looking at online tutorials to further my knowledge. I learnt the basics the basics of Adobe After Effects which although I haven’t come to use directly in A level media it did give me confidence to start navigating Adobe Premiere at the start of AS. I think that from my continuity task in AS you can see that I had a basic level of understanding for the timing and editing aspect of post media production. <br />Furthermore when I found myself struggling to achieve something within Adobe Premiere, I would do a quick search on Google to find out how to do it. This would take me no longer than 30 seconds which means that I am able to progress quickly.<br />Sound booth is a program that I was introduced to at the end of AS, it was this program that allowed me to further my use of sound editing to a higher standard.<br />I learnt from fellow students and online tutorials how to create sound gradients and cut and piece together sound clips. This allowed me to create a succinct sound track for my short film and also noticeably edit one continuous clip of sound to different levels to match the source to distance from camera to create a realistic changing sound level. (01:46 – 02:00)<br />
  13. 13. Throughout AS and continuing within A2 my skills working with Adobe Premiere are becoming more fine tuned as I learn more about the features Adobe Premiere offers. For example the colour correction feature which enabled me to give desired tone my footage.<br />I was also able to receive a lot of feedback through online sources whilst creating my short film as I could upload my rough cut onto YouTube and link it to my friends through Facebook. This allowed me to receive peer feedback whilst constructing my work. To streamline the uploading process, I exported the adobe premiere file into Movie Maker which would then allow me to compress it and make it into a smaller and more manageable file size. This decreased the time it took to upload to sites such as YouTube.<br />I also used Adobe Photoshop to create and design both of my ancillary texts, creating the entire pieces within one program. Although I did write up my draft of the film review on Blogger beforehand. <br />
  14. 14. Research:<br />Whilst researching for my short film I used variety of new technologies. By harnessing the power of Google I searched the web for a reliable source to find professional, award nominated short films. Sites such as Future Shorts and Vimeo allowed me to access a variety of films I hadn’t heard off before. However it was YouTube that had the quickest and easy access, which most films I found were also posted on YouTube. I used this to embed onto my blog, which I analyzed and broke down the codes and conventions to better understand the nature of short films. It was during this research that I was inspired by the way in which short films are structured, which motivated me to a try to create a ambiguous story which would challenge my skills as a director and filmmaker.<br />In addition to YouTube the use of Blogger has helped me to structure, build on and record my journey through the creative process of creating my film. Laying down my ideas in editable post has helped me to become more self analysing as I can see more of the flaws in my work, which I would be more aware of in future productions. <br />
  15. 15. Planning:<br />During the planning stage I mainly used more traditional methods of brainstorming ideas on paper and playing around with concepts before moving onto further developing the character and plots.<br />However whilst storyboarding I could scan in my images onto the computer which I then used Premiere Pro and Photoshop to piece together the early fragments of my short film into an Animatic, which I could share on networking sites to get feedback. This process helps to develop the plot and also see some of the early flaws.<br />Evaluate:<br />Throughout the evaluation process, I've been constantly able to contrast and compare my work to my peers and seniors alike, which has enabled me to further improve the quality of my own work. This availability is stored in the archive of the internet, and has allowed me to access so much information to not only use as a benchmark for my own work but also as inspiration during many stages of production. “Slideshare” has made this possible as it is information sharing websites like this that allows me to view other students work and learn from stored material.<br />Furthermore I used Facebook as a platform for featuring my work to my peers, this is a great tool for spreading my film quickly and getting feedback. However one criticism of Facebook is that they are generally all your friends which may mean that they might not be honest with their feedback and you most probably wont be getting a wide variety of people as they are all your friends. Whereas YouTube will attract a wider variety of people but it can be much harder to broadcast your video to the masses in a short space of time.<br />

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