Media Studies Evaluation Michael Panter- 3128 Aiden Andrews- 3003
1) In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?
From the start of this course we set out to research in detail the ways music videos are received by audiences and codes and conventions they normally stick by in order to gain popularity. After researching different artists and their songs and looking through many different types of music videos we decided that we wanted to take the approach of a more unique sort of video, which challenged the usual conventions found in regular music videos. We began by choosing an artist whose songs reflected the style we were trying to mimic, Har Mar Superstar. After analysing numerous music videos that have been produced by him we found that it was exactly the type of thing we wanted to do and only reinforced our longing to create a music video that drifted away from the norm. We also like this genre of music video as it appealed to a large audience, with different aspects being favoured by different age groups, not just one.
In order to make sure we knew what kind conventions were to be found in a usual music video, we had to do detailed research on other popular videos. We did this both by watching T.V stations like The Box, a music channel that plays the song accompanied by the music videos by the artist and also by going on YouTube.
You Tube was of great help to us because it allowed us to find the songs that we wanted to analyse for free. We were also able to skip to certain parts of the video which came in handy when we needed to do textual analysis’ on other videos.
Although we planned to produce a music video that challenged the normal codes and conventions, we did follow some rules that were previously in place regarding making a music video. For example, we kept a narrative running throughout our video, which occurs in some music videos, but isn’t present in others. We did this because after we had constructed a questionnaire we found that the most popular type of music video was one that told a story and went along with the lyrics. This is because most audiences are entertained by this method of production and enjoy having a definite start and end to a music video with a narrative running throughout, rather than just using random shots and effects.
In this way our video follows a major convention in most real productions and more importantly, a lot of Har Mar Superstars works, which we derived much of our inspiration from. Har Mar’s video for his song DUI has a narrative running throughout, a video which influenced us greatly.
Editing on the Beat
After verifying the typical conventions of a music video, one of the major common threads we found was the fact that many of the cuts and edits of shots were in time with the song’s beat. We decided that we wanted to us this in our music video as it looked extremely effective and well timed when done correctly. The cuts look especially good when a character is walking on the beat, e.g. when the underlying beat sounds, the character takes a step.
When planning the shots that we wanted for our music video, we decided that in order to stick to the conventional norms in this respect (which is what we wanted to do) it would be best for us to only include items and scenery that we wanted in the shot. This is evident in our shot with the Pets at Home store, which we filmed because there was a major link to the concept of our video.
In our music video, although we had a very comic theme running throughout, we wanted the audience to perceive that the dogs were almost real people. This meant that we didn’t have to change a normal household massively when we were filming the dogs at home, we could just film them in an average house. However, we did try to include elements of items that reflected the fact that they were animals. For example, in one of our first few shots we had a close up of one of the dogs reading a ‘Cats’ magazine and we also included a toy that the audience could associate with pets.
From the very start of our planning and preparation we knew that we wanted to steer clear of the conventional norms for a music video and create something that challenged them. Originally we had picked The Verve’s ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ but after looking over it in detail we figured that the current music video was to iconic for what we wanted to do, and that might have a detrimental effect on our product. This forced us to look for a new song and a different artist and Har Mar Superstar fitted the style we were aiming to portray.
In our music video, from the very start it is evident of the themes we were trying to include. The dogs challenge the conventions of normal music videos as usually videos that follow a narrative are based around humans not animals. Also the way that the dogs appear to be very human like in their nature, by reading, walking, cleaning etc, is unusual as it is not a common trait in music videos. However, we did want the dog to show traces of slipping back into his animalistic ways. There is a good example of this when he is outside Pets at Home and surveys a dog kennel, reminding the audience that he is in fact still a dog.
Challenging Conventions (continued)
Another way in which we challenged the usual conventions found in a music video was the absence of the actual artist of the song, or anyone imitating him for that matter. Obviously because we had minimal funds and no contacts in the music industry, we knew that getting Har Mar Superstar to actually appear in our music video was unfeasible. After looking through our options, concerning the main focus of our music video, we concluded that it wouldn’t look as good if we had somebody else pretending to be Har Mar therefore we decided to go in the opposite direction and not have a human character involved in our narrative.
A lot of modern music videos also like to include lip syncing, however once again we decided to stay away from this. We felt that unless it is done very well, it looks terrible, and we did not want to take the risk of attempting lip syncing. Also, we didn’t think it would be necessary to include lip syncing in our video as it would break up the narrative and make things more complicated, whereas we wanted to try and keep ours simple to understand.
We also had the option of including some sort of band, or more simply, people playing along to the music of the song. However, like with the possible inclusion of the artist, we felt that it wouldn’t add anything to the piece.
2) How effective is the combination of your main product and ancillary texts?
Our digipak goes along with the typical conventions found in modern music digipaks. We have included, like a usual digipak, the artists name and the name of the album on the front cover of the digipak and there is also an image set behind the font. This image is reflects my artists style as it is quite abstract and meaningless. I believe it fits in with the what the artist represents and therefore is effective for one of his albums. Also we have a spine, which once again bears the name of the artist and the name of the album, and a back cover to our digipak which has not only a track list, but also a bar code and a Compact Disc logo. We decided to present these on the back as that is where they are normally situated on conventional products. The fact that we have them on our digipak increases our products realistic value. Overall we believe that our digipak is suitable for the task it has to carry out, which is to advertise and hold the CD of our chosen artist.
After creating our digipak, we believe that it not only does its job of appearing realistic and advertising the product, but also reflects strongly upon the style of our chosen artist, Har Mar Superstar. I have tried to keep the layout on my digipak as simple as possible as the artists has a kind of carefree and easy going attitude. We have also tried to include bright colours is both of our digipaks as our chosen artist is quiet bubbly and entertaining, so we have tried to draw upon this when completing our ancillary tasks.
When we were planning our magazine advertisement we thought that it would be best to keep a connection between both of the ancillary tasks. That meant linking both our digipak and our magazine advertisements together, so that the audience could piece the two together and see that they were from the same artist.
However, because of our artists abstract nature, we decided on having the links between the two as discrete as possible. This was because in a lot of magazine advertisements that we looked at there was not a massively obvious trend that connected it to the digipak.
Much like our first ancillary task, our CD digipak, we created our magazine advertisement so that it was as much like the real thing as it possibly could be. We did this is the Mac programme ‘Pages’ as it allowed us to layer our text and images and move and rotate them around so that we could do exactly what we wanted concerning the layout of the advertisement. We included an image of the digipak so that the audience made a connection, and also included the name of the artist, the album name, its date of release and also the artists website, so that fans have all the information they need. We felt that buy keeping the magazine advertisement as close to the conventional ones as possible we would be improving the quality of our product as it wouldn’t appear to be made by school kids, but would rather look like a professional artist had done it.
Magazine Advertisement (continued)
After deliberating about what the image should be on our magazine advertisements we decided that having the focal point of our music video (the lonely dog) would be suitable. After layering the text around the magazine advert we took pictures of the dog in different poses and included them in our advertisement. We also felt that this would once again broaden our target audience as the picture of a dog looking cute yet depressed is favourable by both small children and women in particular.
3) What have you learnt from your audience feedback?
During the very first stages of our planning and preparation, we found that it was incredibly useful to conduct research into the type of audience that we would be looking to entertain with our music video. Luckily enough for us, because of the genre that Har Mar Superstar fits into, with his quirky and comic style, we discovered that there was no specific audience for us to aim our production at. Instead, we found, that there was a wide range of people who liked different things about the videos from Har Mar’s genre.
After looking at our target audience we decided it would be best to both find other artists who carried similarities to Har Mar Superstar in the way they constructed their piece, and do detailed textual analysis on their videos. Other artists such as ‘Weird Al Yankovic’ and ‘Tenacious D’ provided music videos that we could analyse. After doing this we then knew the usual conventions expected in a video of that genre.
In order to get the audiences opinion on what they thought made a good music video, we handed out questionnaires to 20 people of different ages and genders, so that we could get the broadest possible feedback. Upon receiving our results for the questionnaire we put the percentages together and that then told us what type of music video our audiences would like to see.
Upon completing our music video we decided that it would be beneficial to gather a group of people together and allow them to watch our production. We also formed questionnaires to hand out to them, so that we could gain feedback on our video. We felt that by having a group of mixed age and gender would not make our results biased in any way and therefore they would be as fair as we could possibly make them.
In the following slides we have recorded both the questions we asked, the results we obtained from our questionnaire and how they helped us learn things about our music video.
1. How old are you?
It was crucial that we included this question as it was proof that our questionnaire was unbiased. We received mixed results from this question which was expected as we specifically chose people of different ages to watch our music video. This gave us the best chance of drawing the widest possible range of opinions concerning our production.
2. What gender are you?
Once again, this question was vital to our questionnaire as we needed to be unbiased to a certain gender. This is not only because that would not be fair, but also because our results might appear strongly one-sided if we did not take readings from both males and females. For example, an all male audience might find the same things appealing from our video and not like other things, whereas a female audience would probably be the complete opposite. This is because males and females have different mind-sets and therefore their results would be likely to reflect this. By having an audience of mixed gender we were able to acquire answers from both sides and therefore the results were fair.
3. Did you find our music video entertaining?
Our results for this question were important to us as we had focused most of our intentions on making our video funny and entertaining to watch. The results we received were good in this respect as 90% of the 20 people that watched our production found it very entertaining, with only the minority of 10% saying it was unappealing and boring.
This allowed us to see that the way we constructed our music video, with the comic outlook and entertaining style, was largely successful with our audience. However, it did prove that our video did not find favour with every member of our audience. We were willing to accept this however as everyone has different tastes.
4. Did you understand the narrative?
Because of our inclusion of a definite narrative, we decided that it would be good to ask this question to our audience, to make sure that the story we were telling was not too abstract and that it was understandable.
We recorded that 100% of our watching audience understood exactly what was going on and so we had been successful in our approach to the video and the way had ordered the cuts and shots. Although, none of our audience expressed a problem with the way our narrative was told, we realise that if we took a survey from a larger audience we might have one or two that said they could not understand it.
From this we have learnt that preparing the shots you need for your production in terms of how you are going to tell the story is vital as that is how the audience is going to take them in. Our music video has quite a simple narrative and so we figured that sometimes, having a complicated narrative is not a good idea.
5. Where the effects that were included suitable for the piece and the style of the song?
The results from question showed that 60% of our audience said believed that the effects we included, such as the fades on the shots and the title at the end of the piece, were well thought out and planned. This showed us that it was good to change some of the cuts that we originally had in place as it made the video look jumpy and unorganised.
However, 40% of our watching audience wrote down that they did not like the effects we had used. Upon asking further questions, we found that many members of our audience did not like the fact that we had repeated the use of the ‘cross-fade’ effect many times as it was not that relevant to the style of the song. This gave us valuable knowledge on how we could improve our piece or make things different in a future production.
6. Do you think the inclusion of the dogs and the props we have used add to the comic effect?
The feedback from this question was interesting as 75% of our audience said that they liked the fact that we stayed away from the conventional norms in having dogs appearing in our piece rather than actual humans. This was good as it was exactly the angle we were trying to come from in terms of how we presented our video.
The other 25% said that although the use of the dog costumes and props was a good use of initiative, once the novelty wore off it got boring. We accepted this as it taught us that having a comic idea might be funny for a while, it has the potential to grow tedious as the video goes on.
After talking with our audience about this question, many of the 75% of people that liked the way we constructed our production said that if an improvement could be made it would in the inclusion of more props that related to dogs. This helped us as it gave us another improvement which could be made in the future.
7. Was there a wide enough range of shots and cuts used in the music video?
60% of our audience believed that there was a wide enough range of shots and cuts used in the production to make the video interesting and diverse. This was good for us as we had carefully planned which shots we wanted include. 40% of the audience said that they would have preferred it if we had got some shots from more obscure angles and had played about with the camera to make our video look more unique. This was also good for us as it allowed us to see that maybe taking the time to try out different shots from a variety of angles that we would not have previously tried might be beneficial a future production.
8. Could you see our music video on TV?
This question was met with mixed responses as 55% of the people said that they could see it on TV as it looked quite professional. However 45% of the audience remarked that it would not be suitable for TV as it was like no music video they had seen before. This criticism was good for us however as we were trying to get the unique and abstract approach. The people who said that they could not see it on the news however agreed that it was not because it didn’t look good enough, but was more to do with the fact that the dog costumes looked a bit amateur and the way we arranged our shots was unlike a real music video. We understood this as compared to a real music video we have a limited budget and so we could not hope to replicate something that was professionally produced. However, we did accept that by re-arranging the order of our shots we could make it look different.
Most of our audience agreed that the channel most likely to show our music video would be MTV. This is because MTV is the most diverse music channel and does not discriminate against a certain type of music or genre. We found this to our liking as we had previously chosen the MTV logo to have as a constant as our video played, to increase the realistic value.
4) How did you use new media technologies in the construction and research, planning and evaluation stages?
During our production phases, we have encountered and used many different pieces of software and technologies when it comes to our music video and the planning and preparation that went behind it all. There were some pieces of software, particularly on the Macs, that we used last year in our Foundation Production. However, using the same pieces of software this year has enabled us to further our knowledge on the media technologies and improve our skills when working with them.
During our Advanced Production we used many different types of software, the following slides depict which ones we used, how they helped us overcome problems and fulfil tasks and what we have learnt from them.
Final Cut Express
Once again, Final Cut Express was critical in our creation of our music video because it allowed us to edit all of the footage we had filmed in a professional manner. We used Final Cut Express last year but this year we gained an even better knowledge of how the software worked and the advantages we could benefit from in using it. Final Cut Express has many effects and tools that gave us the ability to make our music video actually look like a music video.
Blogger.com is an internet site where people can make blogs on things that interest them. Fortunately for us, it is perfect for uploading all of the evidence of our planning for our production. This was good for us it shows that we have in fact done what we say we have done and at the times we said. It was easy enough to use and very effective as the uploading process was incredibly simple and it exhibited everything that we have done from the start of the course right up until now.
YouTube is the file sharing site on the internet that was immensely helpful for us in more than one way. It allowed us to look at many music videos for free and conduct research on the different artists. It was especially helpful because this research was critical when it came to planning and preparing our production. When we were in the early phases of our music video we were able to use YouTube to look at any part of any different song, which was useful when we wanted to freeze on a particular shot or cut.
Another way in which YouTube was useful was when it came to doing the textual analysis of other videos. It allowed us to take screen shots of the other videos which were relevant to what we were trying to explain. This made it effective when it came to using it for the planning phases of our production.
LiveType played an important role in our video production. We used it for our last production, which helped us because we were more able this time around. LiveType is useful because it is so simple to use, and yet the result looks of very good quality, our previous encounters with LiveType would also have contributed to good quality work. We used it to create the titles you will see at the start and at the end of our song, we made the titles with bright colours because we felt that was fitting with the song and artist. We also used LiveType for the effect at the end of the video which says ‘Puppy Love’. This is just a basic effect from LiveType, it comes as a standard effect and we kept it in the default colour because we felt red represented love.
This piece of software was critical on our creation of our ancillary products, namely the digipak and magazine advertisement. Pages was incredibly useful as it allowed us to layer images with text to produce advertisements that look realistic.
We did not use Pages this year and so it was a new experience for us. Our teacher gave us a brief demonstration on how to get started with it and then we took the time to use it and play about with its tools so that we could get a feel for how it worked and the things we could create using the software. Pages allowed us to create our digipak with relative ease as it was simple to us yet very effective. The same goes for our magazine advertisement, which Pages was once again a great help with.
Overall, Pages was incredibly helpful for us and after we had got to grips with it, everything ran smoothly concerning this software.
This incredibly simple software on Windows played a part in our production as its tools allowed us to edit the screen shots we had taken from YouTube when we were in our planning and preparation phase.
Having grown up playing around with Paint in school, it was easy enough to use but provided effective service to our production in the way that it enabled us to cut down print screens to have the exact image we wanted.
iDVD enabled us to take our production from Final Cut Express and move transport it onto a disc that made it viewable on a DVD player. Whilst in iDVD we were able to make a title screen for our music video which one again increased the realistic value that our production contains.
We used iDVD last year in the same capacity and it worked well then. This meant that we were already experienced in using iDVD and knew what we were doing when it came to finishing off our product by burning it onto a disc.