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Codes and conventions of music videos
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Codes and conventions of music videos


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  • 1. By Gemma Lovitt
  • 2.  Many music videos include a performance based activity within their video alongside a narrative, however some music video’s purely rely on one performance. A performance within a music video is normally used to promote a particular main artist allowing the audience to either personally relate and identify to or just to feel engaged and interested with the individuals given performance. By using a performance based music is beneficial for the artists as it allows their image to be portrayed to a larger extent, whereby hoping to be easily recognized within society both nationally and internationally depending on the viewed audience. Likewise it is also beneficial for the artist as it highlights their skills and ability to perform emphasising their confidence within their hobby and passion. Additionally successful performance based music video’s can be difficult when ensuring success as the artist needs to engage the audience without having the need to display a narrative alongside. Performance based music video example: Beyonce Ego
  • 3.  However many music video’s consist of a narrative based performance where a story is told within the lyrics sung by the performer. Music video’s can have both a narrative and performance based song however a few only contain a story. This is beneficial for the audience in a variety of ways as it engages them and influences them to watch on until the end to find out the outcome. Likewise some audiences may even be able to relate to the story being told through the lyrics and for that reason may watch the video even if they dislike the actual song. The story of the narrative typically works as an illustration along side the lyrics and therefore all that is shown to the audience is relevant. Narrative based music video example: Bruno Mars Grenade
  • 4.  Overall there may even be some music videos with a mixture of both the narrative and the performance. This means that the director of the video is wanting to include both a story that relates to the narrative alongside with the artist performing. Therefore this means that typically music videos that contain a mixture are likely to have a lot of cuts between the two to ensure that one isn’t getting more screen time than the other. Having a mixture of the two is effective due to the narrative being able to grip and draw the audiences attention whilst the performance influences the audience to become interested in the artist leading them to become more likely to purchase the track due to the approval and likability of the singer/band. Mixture based music video example: If I Were A Boy Beyonce
  • 5.  Mise en scene is a vital and essential element of the codes and conventions that consists throughout the majority of music videos. Mise en scene covers and represents a varied amount of items such as costumes, lighting, props, settings etc. The importance of mise en scene is that it clearly demonstrates the setting including the mood and tone of the scene as well as the characteristics of the protagonist/artist displayed throughout. Likewise the use and extent of mise en scene can illustrate the quality and background of the video. For example a music video consisting of big, extravagant costumes and outfits will display a figure of sophistication whereas a music video including an artist dressed in clothes with rips and tears in can visualize the setting being performed from a poor part of society etc. However a key success of mise en scene is keeping everything simple as it often appeals and attracts the audiences attention due to being more realistic.
  • 6. The screenshot demonstrated to the left highlights the use of mise en scene and the effectiveness of the lighting etc within the establishing shot. Lighting has been used successfully illustrating the mise en scene due to the low key lighting setting the mood and tone. Similarly due to the lyrics not being up beat the colours surrounding matches and relates to the type of genre and song being sung. Likewise the very little use of props surrounding the bed seems to be faint therefore immediately visualizing to the audience that the atmosphere isn’t very homely leading to thoughts of the track progressing having a few issues and problems to be aware of that could potentially arise. Pink-Family Portrait In contrast the screenshot highlighted to the right demonstrates mise en scene used in a similar way however connoting a different mood, tone and atmosphere. The audience are immediately drawn to the bright lighting that is shining through onto the singer leading to the audience making assumptions that the video brings hope, purity, and simplicity. Likewise the artist (Beyonce) is represented wearing very natural coloured clothing and very little make up indicating innocence and delicacy. Lastly as the scene of the music video is filmed mainly in the bedroom it makes the setting feel passionate and romantic linking to the lyrics of the song. Beyonce-Halo
  • 7.  Furthermore editing is a very important code and convention when ensuring a successful music video is produced as it is an element which gains the audiences attention and allows music videos to differ slightly in comparison to other videos of the same genre. Editing includes the editor piecing the music video together with a varied amount of different shots ensuring that all fit perfectly and make sense to the lyrics of the song.  Editing can cover a varied amount of effects include CGI where the director may want to include parallel editing for example. This would cover the narrative and the performance being displayed on the screen at the very same time. Similarly effects could be contained within the production of the soundtrack that is used to promote the artist etc. For example the screenshot on the left highlights the use of editing and special effects as the weather conditions visible towards the audience have clearly been set up and altered to attract the attention of the audience. Both the clouds and the mountains would have been altered to fit in with the emotions sung through the lyrics and would have engaged the audience as reality clearly has been ignored within this music video.
  • 8. Camera Angles: Throughout any music video a varied amount of camera angles are used in order to meet and engage different emotions and narratives in a variety of different manners. The majority of music videos contain a lot of close up shots due to being able to clearly focus on the artists emotions whether by concentrating on certain facial expressions, lip singing, hand gestures etc. These are all effective and important when being seen by the audience as it allows the audience to sympathize and engage with the singer either in a positive attribute or a negative one. Although similarly several amounts of long shots and mid shots are typically found whilst capturing a performance within the music video illustrating the whole figure of the artist. The example on the left highlights a close up of the main artist and his emotions linked to the lyrics. Song Olly Murs Dear Darlin. Camera Movement: Similarly camera movement is included within almost every single music video whether being through the use of panning, tracking, zooming, dolly, wipe etc. Camera movements can be used to follow the movement of the artist when singing to highlight the pace of the singer and the surrounding that forms in the background. An example of camera movement would include Adele’s music video as throughout the video the camera just moves in the same direction as her whilst she mimes the lyrics. Camera movement is very important when illustrating the pace and tempo of the song.
  • 9.  Realism: Lastly some music videos contain diegetic sounds such as car traffic, beeping from cars, glasses smashing, birds tweeting etc to make the video come across as more realistic, leading to the story developing into becoming something that could potentially happen in every day life. An example of this would be in Jason Derulo’s music video ‘What If.’