Blog Revision NotesTERM 1 A LEVEL MEDIA STUDIES
A Level Brief• A promotion package for the release of an album, to include a music promo video, together with two of the following three options: • a website homepage for the band • a cover for its release as part of a digipak (CD/DVD package)
Task• Create a timeline of the history of music videos using the notes you have made• Remember to make it as creative and interesting as possible!
The History of Music Videos• In 1894, sheet music publishers Edward B. Marks and Joe Stern hired electrician George Thomas and various performers to promote sales of their song "The Little Lost Child".• Using a magic lantern, Thomas projected a series of still images on a screen simultaneous to live performances. This would become a popular form of entertainment known as the illustrated song, the first step toward music video.
The History of Music Videos• 1926, with the arrival of "talkies" many musical short films were produced.• Shorts were typically six minutes in duration and played in cinemas before the feature film• Blues singer Bessie Smith appeared in a video for the song St. Louis Blues in 1929 which ran in cinemas until 1932
The History of Music Videos• Animation artist Max Fleischer introduced a series of sing-along short cartoons called Screen Songs, which invited audiences to sing along to popular songs by "following the bouncing ball", which is similar to a modern karaoke machine. The sing along concept is still used today, especially with younger audiences such as High School Musical.• Early 1930s cartoons featured popular musicians performing their hit songs on- camera in live-action segments during the cartoons. The early animated films by Walt Disney, such as the Silly Symphonies shorts and especially Fantasia, which featured several interpretations of classical pieces, were built around music.• The Warner Brothers cartoons, even today billed as Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies, were initially fashioned around specific songs from upcoming Warner Brothers musical films
The History of Music Videos• Musical films were another important precursor to music video, and several well- known music videos have imitated the style of classic Hollywood musicals from the 1930s to the 1970s.
The History of Music Videos• Tony Bennett was filmed walking along The Serpentine in Hyde Park, London as his recording of "Stranger in Paradise" played; this film was distributed to and played by UK and US television stations.• Disk jockey-singer J. P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson was the first to coin the phrase "music video", in 1959.• With the rise of television, as the format allowed for many new stars to be exposed that previously would have been passed over by Hollywood, which normally required proven acts in order to attract an audience to the box office.
The History of Music Videos• In 1964, The Beatles starred in their first feature film A Hard Days Night, directed by Richard Lester. Shot in black-and-white and presented as a mock documentary, it was a loosely structured musical fantasia interspersing comedic and dialogue sequences with musical ones.• The musical sequences furnished basic templates on which countless subsequent music videos were modeled. It was the direct model for the successful US TV series The Monkees (1966–1968) which similarly consisted of film segments that were created to accompany various Monkees songs.
The History of Music Videos• The Beatles second feature Help! (1965) was a much more lavish affair, filmed in colour in London and on international locations.• The title track sequence, filmed in black-and-white, is arguably one of the prime archetypes of the modern performance-style music video, employing rhythmic cross-cutting, contrasting long shots and close- ups, and unusual shots and camera angles, such as the shot near the end of the song, in which George Harrisons left hand and the neck of his guitar are seen in sharp focus in the foreground while the completely out-of- focus figure of John Lennon sings in the background
The History of Music Videos• In 1965, The Beatles began making promotional clips (then known as "filmed inserts") for distribution and broadcast in other countries—primarily the USA—so they could promote their record releases without having to make in-person appearances. Many clips were aired on "Top of the Pops" in the UK.• The colour promotional clips for "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Penny Lane", made in early 1967 and directed by Peter Goldman took the promotional film format to a new level. They used techniques borrowed from underground and avantgarde film, including reversed film and slow motion, dramatic lighting, unusual camera angles and color filtering added in post-production. Reflecting the fact that these studio masterpieces were impossible for the group to perform live, their psychedelic mini-films illustrated the songs in an artful, impressionistic manner rather than trying to simulate an idealised performance or depict a narrative or plot.
The History of Music Videos• The monochrome 1966 clip for Bob Dylans "Subterranean Homesick Blues" filmed by D. A. Pennebaker.• Eschewing any attempt to simulate performance or present a narrative, the clip shows Dylan standing in a city back alley, silently shuffling a series of large cue cards (bearing key words from the songs lyrics).• Many "song films"—often referred to as "filmed inserts" at that time—were produced by UK artists so they could be screened on TV when the bands were not available to appear live.
The History of Music Videos• The long-running British TV show Top of the Pops began playing music videos in the late 1970s, although the BBC placed strict limits on the number of outsourced videos TOTP could use. Therefore a good video would increase a songs sales as viewers hoped to see it again the following week.• In 1980, David Bowie scored his first UK number one in nearly a decade thanks to director David Mallets eye catching promo for "Ashes to Ashes". Another act to succeed with this tactic was Madness, who shot on 16 mm and 35 mm, constructing their clips as "micro-comedic" short films
The History of Music Videos• In 1975, The Who released their all-music feature film Tommy, directed by Ken Russell, based upon their 1969 rock opera of the same name.• Also in 1975, the band Queen ordered Bruce Gowers to make a promo video for their new single "Bohemian Rhapsody" to show it in Top Of The Pops; this is also notable for being entirely shot and edited on videotape.
The History of Music Videos• On August 1, 1981, at 12:01 a.m., MTV launched with the words "Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll," spoken by John Lack, and played over footage of the first Space Shuttle launch countdown of Columbia (which took place earlier that year) and of the launch of Apollo 11. Those words were immediately followed by the original MTV theme song, playing over photos of the Apollo 11 moon landing, with the flag featuring MTVs logo changing various colors, textures, and designs.• MTV producers Alan Goodman and Fred Seibert used this public domain footage as a conceit, associating MTV with the most famous moment in world television history.
The History of Music Videos• In 1981, the U.S. video channel MTV launched, airing "Video Killed the Radio Star" and beginning an era of 24-hour-a-day music on television.• With this new outlet for material, the music video would, by the mid-1980s, grow to play a central role in popular music marketing. Many important acts of this period, most notably Duran Duran and Madonna, owed a great deal of their success to the skillful construction and seductive appeal of their videos.
The History of Music Videos• Two key innovations in the development of the modern music video were the development of relatively inexpensive and easy-to-use video recording and editing equipment, and the development of visual effects.• The advent of high-quality colour videotape recorders and portable video cameras enabled many pop acts to produce promotional videos quickly and cheaply, in comparison to the relatively high costs of using film. However, as the genre developed, music video directors increasingly turned to 35 mm film as the preferred medium, while others mixed film and video
The History of Music Videos• In 1983, the most successful and influential music video of all time was released — the nearly 14-minute-long video for Michael Jacksons song "Thriller". The video set new standards for production, having cost $500,000 to film.• That video, along with earlier videos by Jackson for his songs "Billie Jean" and "Beat It", also was instrumental in getting music videos by African American artists played on MTV.• Earlier, such videos had been rare: according to MTV, this was because it initially conceived itself as a rock-music-oriented channel, although musician Rick James was outspoken in his criticism of the cable channel, claiming in 1983 that MTVs refusal to air the music video for his song "Super Freak" and clips by other African-American performers was "blatant racism"
The History of Music Videos• The video for the 1985 Dire Straits song "Money for Nothing" made pioneering use of computer animation, and helped make the song an international hit. Ironically, the song itself was a wry comment on the music-video phenomenon, sung from the point of view of an appliance deliveryman both drawn to and repelled by the outlandish images and personalities that appeared on MTV.• In 1986, Peter Gabriels song "Sledgehammer" used special effects and animation techniques developed by British studio Aardman Animation. The video for "Sledgehammer" would go on to be a phenomenal successand win nine MTV Video Music Awards.
The History of Music Videos• By the early 1990s, MTV was playing a combination of pop-friendly hard rock acts, chart-topping metal and hard rock acts such as Metallica, Nirvana and Guns ‘N Roses, pop singers such as Michael Jackson, Madonna and New Kids on the Block, and R&B quartets such as Bell BivDevoe and Boyz II Men, while introducing hit rappers Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer.• To accompany the new sounds, a new form of music videos came about: more creative, funny, artistic, experimental, and technically accomplished than those in the 1980s.• Several noted film directors got their start creating music videos. After pressure from the MVPA (Music Video Producers Association – later changed to Music Video Production Association) MTV began listing the names of the videos directors at the bottom of the credits by December 1992.
The History of Music Videos• In this period, directors and the acts they worked with began to explore and expand the form and style of the genre, using more sophisticated effects in their videos, mixing film and video, and adding a storyline or plot to the music video.• Occasionally videos were made in a non-representational form, in which the musical artist was not shown. Because music videos are mainly intended to promote the artist, such videos are comparatively rare; three early 1980s examples are David Mallets video for David Bowie and Queens "Under Pressure", and Ian Emes video for Duran Durans "The Chauffeur".• The video for George Michaels "Freedom 90" (1990), in which Michael himself refused to appear, forcing director David Fincher to substitute top fashion models in his place.
Encoding• As a Producer, when you produce a text you construct messages and meaning to it.• This is the idea of ENCODING• For example, imagine you are the Director for the Saturday’s. When creating the music video for their single ‘Notorious’ you may wish to construct the narrative that they are secretaries working in an office through the use of costume, set and props. They work hard during the week and like to go out at the end of a days work.
Decoding• As an audience, we decode,or interpret the media text based on our own beliefs, ideas and situation.• We may decode the text in the same way as the producer intended (encoded) it.• However, we may interpret (decode) it differently.
Reception Theory – Stuart Hall• Dominant(or hegemonic) reading: the audience accepts what is being presented without question.• Negotiated reading: the audience partly shares the texts code and broadly accepts the preferred reading, but sometimes resists and modifies it in a way which reflects their own position, experiences and interests• Oppositional (counter-hegemonic) reading: the audience understands the dominant, preferred reading but disagrees entirely; rejecting the reading. This is often influenced by social positioning, cultural experience and beliefs. Example: Party political broadcast Documentary film Big Brother/ TOWIE
What factors do you think may influence your reading of a music video?• Musical preference (genre)• Representations of the music artist (constructed in the media)• Lyrics• Visual content• Narrative
On your blog• Use your notes to:• Explain what encoding and decoding means• Explain the three areas of the reception theory• Apply all three readings to a video of your choice
What is Narrative?• It is important to tell the difference between narrative and story:• Story = a sequence of events, known correctly as the plot• Narrative = the way those events are put together to be presented to an audience.• Therefore, when analysing a narrative we analyse the construction of the story i.e. the way it has been put together, not the story itself. You also need to consider what the story is about in its most basic terms, the theme(e.g. Love, war, winning).• All media texts have a narrative, whether they are a six hour TV miniseries or a one paragraph newspaper story or a glossy magazine photograph.
TzvetanTodorov• Todorov was a Bulgarian philosopher who proposed that all narrative falls into a standard 3 part structure.• They begin with equilibrium, where everything is balanced, disequilibriumas something comes along to disrupt that equilibrium, and finally reach a resolution, when equilibrium is restored.
TzvetanTodorov• Equilibrium Disequilibrium New Equilibrium
Vladimir Propp• Vladimir Propp was a Russian formalist who analyzed the basic plot components of Russian folk tales to identify their simplest irreducible narrative elements.• Propp constructed a list of 31Functions and 8Character Types that occurred in all stories
Vladimir Propp1. The Villain (Antagonist) — struggles against the hero.2. The Dispatcher —character who makes the lack known and sends the hero off.3. The Helper (magical) —* helps the hero in the quest.4. The Princess (or prize) — the hero deserves her throughout the story but is unable to marry her because of an unfair evil, usually because of the villain. the heros journey is often ended when he marries the princess, thereby beating the villain.5. The Father— gives the task to the hero, identifies the false hero, marries the hero, often sought for during the narrative. Propp noted that functionally, the princess and the father can not be clearly distinguished.6. The Donor—prepares the hero or gives the hero some magical object.7. The Hero (Protagonist) — reacts to the donor, weds the princess.8. False Hero — takes credit for the hero’s actions or tries to marry the princess.
Claude Lev-Strauss• Was a French anthropologist who tried to apply a Structure (de Saussure) to anthropology• His work focussed on the theory of Binary- Opposition that is present in narratives
Claude Levi-Strauss• Binary-Opposition is a theory that all narratives are driven by conflict of a series of opposing forces.Light/Dark Good/Evil Noise/Silence Youth/AgeRight/Wrong Poverty/Wealth Strength/ Inside/Outside Weakness
Roland Barthes• Roland Barthes describes a text as• "a galaxy of signifiers, not a structure of signifieds; it has no beginning; it is reversible; we gain access to it by several entrances, none of which can be authoritatively declared to be the main one; the codes it mobilizes extend as far as the eye can read, they are indeterminable...the systems of meaning can take over this absolutely plural text, but their number is never closed, based as it is on the infinity of language..."
Roland Barthes• A text is like a tangled ball of threads which needs unraveling so we can separate out the colours. Once we start to unravel a text, we encounter an absolute plurality of potential meanings.• We can start by looking at a narrative in one way, from one viewpoint, bringing to bear one set of previous experience, and create one meaning for that text. You can continue by unraveling the narrative from a different angle, by pulling a different thread if you like, and create an entirely different meaning. And so on. An infinite number of times. If you wanted to.
Blog Checklist• 1) Introduction to your brief• 2) Your Music Video presentation• 3) Music Video Timeline• 4) Music Video Analysis• 5) Narrative Theory Notes• 6) Narrative Theory Comparison table• 7) Music Director Fact Sheet
Famous Video Directors• Michel Gondry• Hype Williams• David Fincher• F. Gary Gray• StephaneSednaoui• Mark Romenek• Spike Jonze• Michael Bay• Hammer & Tongs
Task• Pick 1 Director from the list whose work you enjoy – You will need to watch some videos• Create a fact sheet about that director using the template• Ext: Write a PEA paragraph explaining which video you have watched by that director is your favourite & why