Transcript of "Codes and Conventions of Music Videos"
CONVENTIONS OF A
• The codes and conventions of music videos are the different techniques used to
construct meaning in them. These techniques can be divided into two types;
technical and symbolic.
• Technical – how meaning is conveyed using technical equipment e.g the way the
way camera angles are used, different types of shots, sound either diegetic and non-
diegetic sound, the pace and style of editing, and the genre
• Symbolic techniques are ways of showing meanings beyond what you can see for
example through, facial expressions, gestures, poses and mise-en- scene
WHAT ARE THE CONVENTIONS OF A
• The conventions of a music video vary depending on genre of music. However, the
general conventions include; The Style, The Camera, The Editing Techniques, The
Sound (non diegetic and diegetic), Mise- en Scene – props, lighting, costume – hair
and makeup, location/setting, colours, Notions of looking - stereotyping
• Performance is when the music video consists mainly of the artists performing in the
video. This style of music video isn’t as common, as music videos that are solely
dedicated to performance are not that popular, because target audiences would not
be able to engage with the song or video, however this example is used costume
and lighting to display the performance in a creative way making it more interesting
A good example of a performance based music videos is
‘Stronger (what doesn’t kill you). Not only does this
music video have the artist it also has fans contributing
to the music video.
• A Narrative music video follows a story line, there are two types of narrative Linear
and Fragmented A linear narrative starts a story at the beginning, goes on through
the middle, and ends at the end. A fragmented narrative is one that doesn't.
Katy Perry’s ‘The One that Got Away’ a perfect music
video which has a clear narrative which the viewers
can understand, furthermore the narrative plot and
the lyrics link together – hence emphasising the
phrase ‘the one that got away’ – which is about a
couple deeply in love, however they have a conflict
and the guy walks off angrily and gets killed in car
crash, Katy Perry who also stars in the music video,
remembers her past and then visits the place where
the crash happened.
• This style of music video has a combination of Narrative and Performance. This is
usually found in music videos as it is hard to have a pure performance or narrative,
by using both performance and narrative the video can be made more interesting
and enjoyable to watch for example In ‘Kelly Clarkson’s’ video – ‘Since you been
gone’ there are scenes where Kelly Clarkson is performing to a crowd with her band
and then there are some scenes which have Kelly is part of a narrative.
Cameo is when a band or an artist are featured in the narrative of the music video however they don’t
An example of this type of music video is ‘Rihanna - Whats My Name’ the video features Drake who is a
cameo in this music video.
• They way the camera is used is very crucial. it can create different effects with the
use of different angles and movement.
• The general trend in every music video is that there are a wide variety of camera
shots, angles and movements which creates different techniques to make the video
different and unique in its own way.
Camera Shots, Angles and Movements
• Very wide shot
• Wide Shot
• Mid Shot
• Medium Close up
• Close up
• Extreme Close up
• Over the shoulder Shot
• Cut In
• Eye-Level Shot
• High Angle
• Low Angle
• Bird’s Eye
• Dolly Tracking
Very wide shot - This is were the artist is shown visible (barley) but the emphasis is still on placing the artist in the
Wide Shot - This is were the artist is shown taking up most of the shot but the location/setting is still focused on.
Mid Shot - this shows the artist from his/her waist to head, and focuses mainly on the subject but still giving an impression of
Medium Close up - this shot is halfway between a mid shot and a close up, showing the artist from chest to head.
Close up - this shot shows the artists face or can show an object that the artist is holding, or something were the camera
focuses closely on.
Extreme Close up - this shows the artists face extremely close , for example eyes, or mouth to identify something it can have
the effect of showing the audience the artists thoughts and feelings or even showing a lip sync commonly used in music
Over the shoulder Shot - this is a good shot used , specifically in narrative based music videos usually when the artist is acting
and speaking to another person you tend to see an over the shoulder shot to display the conversation , or to show something
the character is looking at.
Cut In- this shot can be used in music videos to show something that the lyrics might be saying for example I will shoot you
with my gun ‘ and a gun comes in’ It shows the object in detail, similar to a n extreme close up, but used very quickly, or and
object that relates to the subject or narrative.
These shots are the basic shots you expect to see in most music videos, however there can be some more creative
ways of displaying a scene through different camera angles…
• Eye-Level Shot -this is a very common view being the real world angle that we are all use to seeing, it shows
subjects as we would expect to see them in real life.
• High Angle - This is were the camera shows the subject from above, and the camera is angled down towards
the subject, which has the effect of making them appear less powerful, less significant and or even
• Low Angle - This is were the subject is shown from below, giving the impression of being more powerful o r
• Bird’s Eye - this angle is showing the subject/ scene from directly above, and its is completely different and
can be from an unnatural point of view which can be used to add a dramatic effect or showing a different
partial perspective. It can also show the positions and motions of different characters and objects, enabling
the viewer to see things the character might not see
• Slanted -this is when the camera is slanted also known as a Dutch angle. the camera is purposely tilted to one
side so the horizon is on an angle, this is creative in making interesting dramatic effects. Dutch tilts are also
popular in MTV-style video production, where unusual angles and lots of camera movement play a big part.
The way the camera is positioned determines the angle of the shot. There are many different camera angles used in the
production of music videos to convey different images . Camera angles play a huge part in emphasising the artist or to show
emotions and expressions. Other camera angles that are simply the most common in music videos , are close ups, showing the
artist lip syncing, and extreme close ups were lyrics can be linked to visuals. The camera never stays on one shot for longer
than 3-5 seconds.
The camera moves to follow the artist or to show the performance of the artist. These movements include panning
and tracking. A director may choose to move action along by telling the story as a series of cuts, going from one
shot to another, or they may decide to move the camera with the action.
• Pan - This is were the camera scans a scene horizontally. The camera is placed on a tripod, which operates as a
stationary axis point as the camera is turned, often to follow a moving object which is kept in the middle of the
• Dolly/ Tracking - This is were the camera is mounted on a cart which travels along tracks for a very smooth
• Editing is the process that concludes the making of the music video. When you edit, you cut scenes
down, add special effects and add the track to the music video etc..
• The editing consists of the following things:
• Jump Cutting -CGI effects (the process used for generating animated images by using computer
graphics). An example of this is in the music video, ‘Sweet Dreams- Beyonce .’ The background has been
added on .
• Additionally, the effects in the second picture have also been generated using computer graphics. -
Parallel editing- (A method of cutting between a couple of scenes or stories that are happening at the
same time.) -Also, adding non-diegetic sound is also part of the editing.
• Sound consists of two main forms diegetic sound which is already present in the film and non - diegetic
sound which can be edited in.
• Sound is absolutely essential in any music video as this is the main reason for why people watch and listen
to them, to gain a sense of art via different artists’.
• Sound, like footage can be edited to create different effects and variations to the normal vocals that we
• Sound Parallel sound is when the music matches the mood of the video. An example would be if the song
was slow then the video would also be slow to go with the mood of the song.
• Also, if it was a sad song then the video would also be sad.
• Some music videos have diegetic sound, where they include sound from the surroundings, such as birds,
police sirens that make the video seem more realistic. However, the music itself is non-diegetic sound.
The Mis en scene for music videos focuses on the lighting, props, costume, hair and makeup, location, and
colour these elements usually depend on the genre of the music video and the style.
These elements are also important in contributing towards the chosen genre. They are used to convey the
importance of the people in the music videos.
They are also used to represent certain characters in different ways.
Lighting – how the scene is lit / artificial lights/ side lights
Props – performance equipment, band merchandise
Costume - certain outfits
Hair and makeup – style of the artist
Location – concert halls venues, streets etc
Colour - Specific colours representing a mood
The Mise-en-scene creates some of the thoughts and variations associated with a specific social group,
The lighting in a music video can create different views by the way the scene is lit , it allows the
audience to recognize the genre and style of the music video.
A bright light draws the viewers attention, but a scene can be lit by using – natural lighting i.e. from the
sun or existing light sources, or by using artificial lights.
Strobe lights and coloured lights you would most likely see in a dance pop/hip hop videos, but be very
rare in say country type music videos
Props - In most music videos sometimes props are used to illustrate the narrative, and when linking the lyrics
with visuals, props are commonly used. The props in a music video add to the entertainment side, and can be
used in a fun imaginative way.
The costume is usually used to represent certain characters in different ways. Different artists would also wear
different clothes to represent what there are portraying in the music video.
Costume can also illustrate the narrative, and can relate to what the song is about.
The way an artists hair is, is done for a purpose, it can also show a character’s personality, or be done as a way
of attracting the audience.
Depending on the target audience. Hair like makeup is really just about style, and fashion and what’s in. It’s
important that the appearance of the actor/ artist is of good quality as they will be looked at by the audience.
Hair and make-up can be displayed in many ways for many different reasons.
The location, and scene of a music video can not only show the audiacne were the artist is, but also can decide
on the genre, for instance locations for instance the beach, or in a car, at a party, these sort of locations you
would usually find in a dance pop music video, Due to the happy and lively feel they give. If the music video
was say filmed in a street, or modern house, these are the typical locations you might find a gang, and you
would relate this to grime/Hip-hop type video. The location influence the genre, but also be chosen purposely
to relate to the song.
Colours are shown through almost everything in a music video, lighting, costumes, hair, makeup, locations, the
way the camera is angled also plays a part in positioning the colours we see in music videos. Colours are used
in everyday things and we generally see the use of colours throughout music videos displaying normal day life
things. Colour can also be interoperated though to represent a feeling or mood or to signify a certain thing.
Notion of looking elaborates upon stereotypes and labels that you may associate with a certain Stereotyping
artist or group. These stereotypes are usually taken advantage of in many music videos in order to appeal to
specific target audiences.
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