+ In what ways does your Comparing my research findings media product and conventions with my group use, develop or challenge production forms and conventions of Hanan Mohamed real media products?
+ GENRE CHARACTERISTICS - CONVENTIONS The band/artist is usually shown performing within the video, with shots of their instruments if they play any or simply their face if they sing only. They are also usually performing alone, or simply the band cut in with scenes elsewhere e.g. a narrative cut in with the performance. Their isolation is often to highlight their music’s importance rather than screaming fans, and to indicate the artist is introspective and mature. (See Mumford & Sons: Little Lion Man, Iron & Wine: Boy With A Coin, Laura Marling: Rambling Man). USED - Our band is shown playing in front of trees surrounded by fields and open space, which is in the This is usually done in a location theme of nature. This is in keeping with the depiction full of nature – somewhere of folk genre artists being in touch with nature as rural, full of fields, by a river, on a beach by the sea (Laura Marling: they are surrounded by it, in touch with earth, which Rambling Man), by a swamp, a assists their ruminations on life on culture, history forest (Iron & Wine: Boy With A Coin) etc. and protests, which are common themes in folk rock songs.
RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN LYRICS AND + VISUALS The lyrics of folk rock songs tend to be fairly abstract most of the time, however the visuals are usually illustrative for the chorus or a particular verse, but most of the song will use the visuals to amplify the lyrics meaning. Bon Iver: Calgary’s visuals are at first illustrative it says ‘don’t you cherish me to sleep’ and it shows a woman on a bed sleeping who defies being mollycoddled by being cherished and wakes up. ‘Hair, old, long along/Your neck onto your shoulder blades’ is sung as we see her lifting her head to show her hair is long, as the camera moves to show her neck and then her shoulder. The visuals begin to amplify in the next verse as ‘hip, under nothing’ is heard as she falls through the bed and lands standing in a lake. This is amplifying because instead of merely having her fall off of the bed, it shows her very foundations are not what she thought they were so she must go and ‘hunt the cause’ which she does getting up and finding a door out. USED In a few, rare places the meaning will be contradictory but instead of ILLUSTRATIVE confusing the viewer makes the artist seem like a storyteller. The visuals are illustrative of the lyrics when the lyrics ‘my friends and I wave Contradictory visuals can be seen in the first verse of Iron & Wine: goodbye as our ship left England home’ and we had a ship leaving shore as Boy With A Coin as the lyrics are: A boy with a coin he found in the the friends they were leaving back home waved goodbye to them. weeds/With bullets and pages of trade magazines/Close to a car that flipped on the turn/When God left the ground to circle the world ILLUSTRATIVE – when the chorus plays ‘they say I fight, for king and country’ footage of soldiers play with their marching being in time to the beat This was contradictory as all that could be seen on screen was a of the song, showing that their military march is done with precision, in time group of women dancing, no boy or weeds or a car to be seen. But in and with conviction of their morale that they are fighting this war for their king the following verse the visuals take the other direction and actually and country. amplify the lyrics meaning: A girl with a bird she found in the The lyrics ‘cackling guns against boys so fine’ are heard and footage of a snow/Then flew up her gown and thats how she knows/If God made soldier firing is seen on screen; in tandem a few moments later when the her eyes for crying at birth/Then left the ground to circle the earth lyrics ‘over the top the sergeant cries/and into no man’s land’ footage of soldiers crawling over the top of the trenches play, the lyrics illustrative of the visuals. There is one woman singled out for dancing and we can see no bird, but feathers are falling from her dress and her dress is moving AMPLIFYING – when the song plays ‘when she’s in need, when she’s in like a living bird – her expression is also quite sad. This amplifies because instead of simply showing a girl in the snow finding a bird danger’ the screen shows a young woman crying into her handkerchief, and that flies up her dress, the bird is metaphorical and the repeated line amplifies the typical understanding of the lyrics of the ‘she’ referring to our of God having ‘left the ground to circle the earth’ reflects the women country England, taking it to mean fighting both for our country as well as dancing endlessly in circles in the same path as people are left on the ‘she’, the safety of the soldiers’ sweethearts who have been left behind and path of fate, referencing religious messages. are waiting for them to come back home.
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MUSIC AND + VISUALS The music is mostly illustrative of the visuals. In Iron & Wine: Boy With A Coin the style of the dancing matches the style of the music that is being played, both old fashioned and classy. The movements of the dancers hands are very smooth as are the notes of the piano being played. At the same time their dancing is still very obviously choreographed, hips and legs sharply in time to the guitar strings being plucked in clearly defined movements. In Laura Marling: Rambling Man the music has a fairly steady ‘one-two’ beat which is in time with the visuals, to the point where even the birds flying and the sea waves lapping have been edited so their speed is in time with the song. The music being in time with the visuals actually amplified meaning at some points e.g. near the middle of the song and near the end the music sped as the man leaped into the sea for his freedom, emphasizing the weight of his action and its symbolism. This reflects the common themes of folk genre music where artists normally perform in settings full of nature where it’s peaceful which helps their ability to be introspective and reflective on life and its meaning. DEVELOPED ILLUSTRATIVE – the interval between the first verse and the chorus, the visuals are in time with the music as the screen shows the guitarist from a low angle, focusing on his no- nonsense converse shoes amongst autumn leaves and the gradual tilting over him till settling on his somber face in a close up. The movement of the camera tilting and gradually getting faster in time with the music, emphasizing that the most important message of the song within the chorus is coming up. In the return to the narrative nearer the latter part of the song, there are jump cuts of the soldier doing up his coat in time to the music; the harsh plucking of the guitar strings along with the jump cuts reflect his disjointed sense of time as he is still immersed in memories of fighting in wartime.
+ DEMANDS OF THE RECORD LABEL A large number of close ups of the artists are used in all of the videos, even in the ones where there is a large narrative taking place in order to keep the viewers back to focusing on and reminding them of the artist/band (Laura Marling: Rambling Man). By constantly focusing on the face of the artist, especially if they’re new, makes them more memorable and a brand in themselves. Conventions of the artists appearance if men, tends to mean fairly long hair to the shoulders or at least floppy around the ears or chin. This emphasizes their masculinity (also with suits in Mumford & Sons: Little Lion Man), maturity and life experience, which in turn imply authenticity that the artist knows the life issues that they’re singing about in their song. (Iron & Wine: Boy With A Coin, Mumford & Sons: Little Lion Man). Costume tends to be very minimalist, simple colours and traditional cuts which lets the viewer focus on the actual performing of the artist and USED – We decided to use the convention of narrative actions of any actors if present. This makes sure to draw more attention to the actual music itself, instead of being distracted by minor details like overly extravagant clothing with bright colours and patterns. the artist having longer hair than usual with the lead singer, but kept it a little more contemporary by instead of him having shoulder length hair it was Make up if used for the women is usually naturalistic so subtle, which also lessens distraction by beauty/appearance and gives off along with merely grown out a little to around his ears, and a the simple clothing an impression of humility. (Bon Iver: Calgary) This little height in the hair of the guitarist was left instead was turned on its head for Laura Marling: Rambling Man but still had of him having e.g. a shaved head. Close ups were the same intended effect as its extravagance of make up only served to used in our video at the appropriate moments where highlight the humbleness of the rambling man’s lifestyle and dourness the most emotional lines were sung in order to of his clothes. achieve a greater feeling of intimacy between the viewer and the artists. Their clothes were kept very The only video I found which defied convention was Bon Iver: Calgary basic without detail or diverting designs, in simple in that the artist did not appear at all, which defies the convention of leather jacket, hoodie, jeans and converse. showing and focusing on the artists’ face within videos to sell them as an artist.
+NOTIONS OF LOOKING + VOYEURISM OFFEMALE BODY NOTIONS OF LOOKING The notions of looking are effectively referenced in Iron & Wine: Boy With A Coin where the use of the dancers watching their own performance within the video – hinting that they are aware of the audience, and they are performing for them. In Laura Marling: Rambling Man there’s a reference in the beginning of the video where the man looks at himself in the mirror. This shows his self-awareness, and the camera shoots it from the same angle where he must be able to see it and be aware of his audience although he does not directly look in that direction at the viewer. VOYEURISTIC TREATMENT OF THE FEMALE BODY CHALLENGE - There were hardly any females within our Iron & Wine: Boy With A Coin has chosen a slightly more video and the only one we used was stock footage, in a subtle way of viewing the female body voyeuristically. In the close up of a young woman in a dress crying into her medium close up shots of the singer’s face we can see the main dancer’s bust behind him emphasised further by how handkerchief. We challenged the convention of treating her head has been cut out of the shot. the female body voyeuristically as in the particular clip we chose, the camera did not focus on her in a physically In Bon Iver: Calgary the female is treated voyeuristically as intimate way and therefore it did not objectify her. We the viewer sees her half dressed in a sheer nightgown believed that this would further emphasize the convention tossing and turning in her bed which is an intimate location, and the feeling of voyeurism intensifies as the of folk rock artists having integrity, not needing to lower camera lingers on her neck, legs and bare skin. themselves to objectifying another human being and would further help market the artist as in it for the music in the true interpretation of the human emotional state.
+ INTERTEXTUAL REFERENCE Intertextuality was found to be rare within the music videos that I researched, present in only one: Calgary – Bon Iver. This may be due to the folk rock genre’s strong focus on the artist being involved with creating their own music and song writing as opposed to using industry songwriters. In Bon Iver’s video of Calgary, the woman rises up out of the ground coming up from a whole hidden world beneath the earth up to ground level – this is a direct reference to the film Pan’s Labyrinth. As a folk rock band, part of the genre is being very true to the music and the integrity of the artist – Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon writes his own songs and produced the album For Emma forever ago independently. This is reflected in the production of the video. Instead of taking clips from actual films and embedding them in the video, the label has chosen to recreate the concept of coming from a world underground and filmed it themselves with their own actors Our Video - However this is not applicable and extras for the video. to our music video as we did not use any intertexuality. We decided upon this as we This was appropriate as the film is about a young found intertexuality to be rare so much that stepdaughter of a cruel army officer in fascist Spain who escapes her reality into a fantasy world. As the film itself it was a norm for it to be present within the draws much on old myths and legends of Pan and video, and so as a result followed the norm Dionysus as well as other fairytales, upon drawing upon this film to allude to this made the music video unusual to other of not having included it within the video. videos and highly conceptual – a success in terms of a folk rock video being original in its approach even amongst others in its genre.
+TECHNICAL DIRECTIONS –ARTIST/ACTOR MOVEMENTS, POSITIONETC For the most part the artists within folk rock tend to remain still in one place as they perform, playing their guitar and if singing choosing to emote with their facial expressions in time with their sung lyrics rather than moving about melodramatically as a pop singer might do. Their movements, when markedly different, are often simply almost a part of the music e.g. a band member stamping his foot on the floor in time with the bass (Little Lion Man – Mumford & Sons). Actors movements tend to be fairly slow, leisured, languid and never hurried. The drowsy girl in Bon Iver’s Calgary moves slowly in her bed and even when fully awake travelling the swamp and finding her way out does not move fast – nor do any of the people over ground. The band are positioned in an equal manner across wherever they are performing and if a sole artist then off centre or near the back of the room; their position suggesting they are not here for glamorous reasons of fame or wanting to be the centre of attention. The band/artist does not usually put on a pose of one kind or another, and Use – the members of the band are merely performs – the lack of an obvious pose or adoption positioned as standing by one another of a persona, or a characterization which is usually done in other genres e.g. RnB singers with bling and aggressive equally without one being further forward gestures, adds to the impression of integrity of the artist in not attempting to fool the audience that they are someone or backwards. They remain fairly still, not they’re not but rather letting the music speak for them. making any overly dramatic gestures Screenshot^ and focus on playing their music and singing in heartfelt tones, which fits the convention as Samuel Beam and Laura Marling do the same in their music videos.
+ TECHNICAL DIRECTIONS – EDITING DIRECTIONS The cutting rhythm is fairly even and tends to move in time to the music in most folk rock videos. The cutting rate tends to vary, speeding up when the music does to various shots and slowing down as the music does. DEVELOPED – we used jump cuts where the soldier Match cuts are used to enforce dwelling on thoughts of his war experiences in the trenches is doing up his coat, jutting from him doing continuity of the action in the one button to another in time to the music. This was to music video, to make it seem reflect the disjointed memories and mental state of the soldier by the disjointed feel of the editing, jarring to more seamless. the visual eye. We also used matched cuts where the band would be playing and we’d repeat the same shot but from a different angle or position in order to vary shot for the viewer. We kept the cutting rhythm in time to the music, for example different shots of the guitarist being cut at a faster pace when the music speeded up in a build up to the chorus after a long tilt up.
+ TECHNICAL DIRECTIONS – MISE EN SCENE The mise en scene tends to reflect this emphasis on the music, focusing on their respective talents in the band, on their instruments or the singer’s face/mouth rather than the camera focusing them in a voyeuristic manner. In Little Lion Man by Mumford & Sons, the singer’s face is frequently backlit, his face in shadow with his open mouth singing highlighted under the spotlight. CHALLENGE – rather than having a naturally lit setting or a mildly theatrical lighting of the setting we chose in editing to give our music video a highly stylized colour scheme,. The band footage was made mostly monochrome in order to highlight the guitar and some autumn leaves in red, to signify the blood of all the lost soldiers. A sepia tone throughout the narrative footage of the soldier living in the current day is used in order to reinforce the impression that he is still stuck in the war, lost in thoughts of the past. No props were used, and the soldier actor was dressed in simple black military style coat and boots with trousers and a grey t-shirt. The simplicity of his clothes was in keeping with the simplicity of the artists clothes but had a more formal bearing to them. Locations used were fields and the bedroom in a house, as explained in slide one the field location was used to use the convention of the band performing in a natural setting. No crowds or dancers were used as we wanted to emphasise the solitariness of our lone soldier.
+ TECHNICAL DIRECTIONS – FRAMING OF SHOT In Little Lion Man by Mumford & Sons, the singer’s face is frequently backlit, his face in shadow with his open mouth singing highlighted under the spotlight – in the rule of thirds, his mouth crosses one of the lines and is in perfect alignment to naturally catch the viewer’s eye, to his music. His silhouetted face is framed in the far left of the shot, leaving two thirds of it free and full of light seemingly emanating from him – the music that comes out of his singing mouth is symbolized in the light. Music, is light, is life. Mid level shots of instruments as well as close ups of them help to signify their importance, of the music over and above all, particularly as they tend to take up ours nearly the entirety of shots. This is seen across folk rock music videos. Voyeurism of the female body is achieved by framing the female body in parts, in intimate close up shots as seen of the drowsy girl in Bon Iver’s Calgary and mid level shots of the dancers in Iron and Wine’s Boy With A Coin that cut off their faces to identify and individualize them and instead make it feel as if they are just one of many commonplace female parts, further objectifying the female body.