Evaluation, Question one - Trailer Presentation Transcript
In what ways does you media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products? By Rachael Allen
Typical trailer conventions - horror
As part of my research and planning stages of my coursework, I looked at the following horror teaser trailers.
Doing so has allowed me to identify the typical conventions of teaser trailers, and how such conventions work together to help portray a particular representation and genre.
The purpose of a teaser trailer is to show snippets of action from an upcoming film that typically is released in the near future. It is a lot shorter than a theatrical trailer which is conventionally between 1 minute 30 seconds to 2 minutes, and usually only lasts between 30 seconds to 1 minute. Unlike a theatrical trailer, its purpose is to advertise a film without giving away too many shots of action or the narrative of the film; like a theatrical trailer would. Unlike a full length trailer, a teaser trailer is released a long time before the release of the actual film and theatrical trailer, therefore in a sense is a ‘tease’ to the audience. Theatrical trailers are conventionally released once all the films filming has been completed, whereas a teaser trailer is released during filming.
Particularly in horror films, there is conventionally a female lead character, which is typically the source of horror or being effected by the horror itself. The terrifying aspect of the film is usually trying to get revenge or overcome an issue through the implementation of fear.
In regards to teaser trailers, the female lead is often revealed to the audience through the editing transition whereby cuts is used. The use of cuts helps to eliminate the amount of information the audience is provided, as well as ensure that enough action has been shown for the audience to be interested.
The lighting within horror teaser trailers is also extremely dark and doesn’t reveal much about the terrifying aspect, in terms of its appearance or surrounding; this again emphasises the amount of tension and suspicion that is created.
The changes in lighting are often paramount within the trailer, as it helps to support the mood and tone desired; for example, during scenes of fear, the atmosphere is very dark and abnormal in comparison to very light and vibrant shots during normality.
The transititions often used are very quick and jumbled (in a non chronological order), this prevents the audience making sense of the film, and eliminates any sense of meaning or narrative behind each shot. This helps to engage the audience as it leaves them longing to know more, as well as intrigued as to why certain things happened.
The music and pacing of horror teaser trailers also supports the mood of the trailer, as well as accompany and provide elements of fear. For example, conventionally very slow and bleak music is used, this helps to support the idea of horror, as typically there isn’t any energy or vibrancy to it, which ultimately adds to the lifelessness and dullness of the film.
In several trailers I have watched, typically there is a climax at the end and conventionally the pace of the trailer and music fastens towards the end, to help support the idea of tension and shock. If there were to be no climax, and just a slow paced trailer I feel the excitement of the trailer would be lost.
The transitions typically fasten towards the end, and repeated cuts of action are thrown in; this helps to break up the footage being shown, as well as show elements of the film otherwise not shown, ultimately helping to support the lack of narrative and understanding from the audiences behalf.
Other conventions such as association certificate, the name of the film, distribution company logo, extra text features and actors names are also included within teaser trailers; this can be seen on the next slide.
During The Ring trailer, like shown prior many conventions are implemented. From studying this trailer, I primarily noticed the lighting and pacing of the trailer. In regards to the lighting, I found that throughout the trailer the mood and tone was very bleak and dark. This helped to support the idea of the film being a horror, as at no point the audience was provided with any liveliness or energetic characteristics.
Coinciding with this, the appearance of the frightening character was very dark and pale, and continually the audience was only ever provided with snap shots of her face, or the back of her head. This helped to support the idea of the character being mysterious and leaves the audience with a sense of unknowing and suspicion. Alongside this, all the normal characters are revealed fully and therefore this again emphasises the difference in the fear factor character, and leaves the audience interested into knowing more about her and what she is doing.
In regards to how she is scary, the audience isn’t shown any actions that support this characteristic, it is merely her appearance and mannerisms that portray such fear. For example she is very lethargic and emotionless. Alongside this, the voiceover used within the trailer is also another typical convention, and in reference to this particular trailer helps to support the idea of the lead character being fearful as the tone and pacing of her speech supports this, as it helps to portray her emotions and mood.
The Ring trailer uses continual cuts and dissolves throughout the trailer, and has a very fast paced climax towards the end. During the end sequences, other characters are shown (typically one or two) and are revealed to be frightened and distressed by something within the film; however, the audience is not shown what this is and because of this supports the mystery and isolation of the characters .
The music used also accompanies the pacing and mood of the trailer, for example during the slow dissolved transitions at the beginning of the trailer the music is very slow in pace, and in a sense very tranquil; nevertheless, as the footage shown becomes much more exciting and horrifying the music picks up pace and supports the mood presented.
The text features inserted also support the fear and mystery of the trailer; this is because it provides the audience with some sense of meaning to the trailer, however because the footage shown doesn’t reveal enough action to adapt on what the text says, it means that the audience is still left in suspense.
The Sorority Row trailer consists of a similar range of conventions as The Ring teaser trailer, however in regards to the number of characters revealed, the Sorority Row trailer reveals between four and five more leading roles than The Ring trailer; I feel this is beneficial as although it provides the audience with more of a sense as to how the story is going to pan out, in regards to who it will be focused on, I feel that due to the range of characters shown it eliminates the amount of narrative that can be revealed, as a large majority of the trailer is focused on introducing the different characters rather than solely on the fright factor of the story.
The lighting and mise-en-scene of the trailer is a lot more modern and realistic in comparison with The Ring trailer; I feel this as due to the frightening aspect appearing much more natural and realistic than the ring girl, I feel it is much more psychologically challenging for the audience as they can relate to it much more easily than the ring girl. Coinciding with this, as the film is shown to be set in the summer time, the atmosphere of the trailer is very upbeat and vibrant, however once the fear starts to be revealed I feel the obvious change in mood and tone from energetic to darkness helps to really exaggerate the importance of the change and the fear implied, and really draws the audience in to this change. Alongside this, the pacing of the music also changes because of this, and unlike the ring trailer whereby a climax towards the very end is presented, the sudden introduction and change in equilibrium supports the significance of the change and the character introduced.
The large range in characters also adds to the mystery of the film, as in the ring trailer the audience is directly shown who the targets are and in a sense how they are going to be frightened, however in the sorority row trailer as so many characters are revealed, no one individual can be pinpointed as the target, which in a sense supports the tension and mystery of the film, as the audience is unable to estimate why all these different girls are being targeted, and why.
Similarly, at the start of the trailer very upbeat and happy music accompanies the shots, this in a sense challenges typical conventions as initially the audience would identify the trailer to be showing a horror film, and in a sense would assume that it is a click flick. It is only until half way through that the mood and pacing of the music changes, and then the audience is aware that the trailer is presenting a horror film. In a sense, this adds to the interest and shock factor of the trailer, as the audience wouldn’t see this change in mood coming, and in a sense would be like watching two different trailers.
Conventions of my trailer
Camera work - shots
My trailer is 44 seconds long, this is just in the range of conventional teaser trailer lengths. I felt that if I were to make it any longer the audience would be provided with too much action, and ultimately the narrative would be given away. Coinciding with this, if the trailer were to be made longer, I felt that the audience would lose interest in the film, and lose engagement.
I have implemented several different conventional shots within my trailer, these including a range of cuts, dissolves and zooms. These help to promote the mood and tone of the trailer, as well as support the films mystery and sense unknowing in regards to the audience; this is due to the pacing of each transition as the action shown is too quick for the audience to identify with or pin point some sort of meaning to. Alongside these, I have also used a ‘canted angle’ shot, I used this as conventionally they help to support the idea of chaos and confusion on the characters behalf; in regards to their benefit in my trailer, I felt that it helped to promote the characters innocence and lack of awareness for the situation they are in.
I have used several long shots, and close up shots of my ‘abnormal’ character, as I wanted to support the idea of her significance and dominance within the film. I felt that the close ups helped to promote this idea, as it allowed the character to be the only person in the frame therefore making her the focal attention of the audience. This is a typical convention, as conventionally in real media products a variety of close ups and long shots of just the evil character in the frame is implemented for similar reasons.
Likewise with my studied film sorority row, I have used a lot more than the conventional number of characters (in my case four characters), by doing so has eliminated any sense of why my ‘evil’ character has targeted them and who in particular. However, through the use of close ups I have been able to establish who the primary targets are; the shots below show this: This allows for the audience to sympathise with the characters, and in a sense be even more terrified by the evil character. The close ups help to provide the audience with a sense of how the character is feeling, as it primarily focuses on them, and reveals their facial expressions and fears. Close ups are a typical convention within horror teaser trailers.
Edits and transitions - text
Typically within horror teaser trailers, the transititions used are often either extremely slow in pace, or very fast. Such moods can be created through dissolves, cross dissolves, cuts and fade out/ in to black. These examples have been used continuously throughout my teaser trailer, and I feel by doing so has allowed for my trailer to have some sort of tension and build up; likewise with other trailers. For example, dissolves help to suggest a slow movement and change in action, whereas a cut helps to emphasise the change and draw attention to its change; it is also a lot more obvious.
In regards to editing, I have edited the lighting of my shots quite drastically in certain sequences. An example of this, is in every shot of Alice, I have changed the colour level and balances, as well as added some tools to the shot to help support the darkness and gloominess of the shot, (e.g. the extract tool) in comparison to the brighter and more vibrant shots of the other characters that are included. I felt these differences were paramount in helping to promote the idea of Alice being a lot different, in comparison to the other girls.
Coinciding with this, changing the appearance of the sequence also helps to make the character featured appear different also, and by doing so I feel that I have adhered to typical conventions of horror trailers, as conventionally the abnormal character is portrayed in a very different way compared to other characters featured. Similarly, the lighting and surrounding of this particular character is conventionally very dark and emotionless; this helps to support the characters characteristics.
As the narrative within a teaser trailer is never fully explained, by portraying these characteristics helps to provide the audience with some sort of understanding about the characters and their purpose within the film. For example, the three characters are shown in very energetic and vibrant shots which therefore helps to imply how they are very upbeat and cheerful.
I have also adhered to the convention of using text throughout the trailer; I felt by doing so allowed for the audience to gain some sort of understanding of what they are being shown. For example, I have included ‘Before all is lost, you must find yourself’, this could imply how the lead character has changed or lost herself in something (e.g. her personality has changed). I have chosen to insert the clips either just after or before Alice is shown, so that this idea is portrayed and clearly identified with her.
By using a range of edits and transitions allows for the idea that the film has been jumbled up and doesn’t flow in chronological order; this is a typical convention, as likewise in any teaser trailer the narrative is not clearly revealed to the audience.
Sound – music, audio and voiceovers
I chose to use a soundtrack for the music in my trailer, as initially I began using both music and a voiceover but found that the voiceover made the teaser sound cheap and nasty. I therefore got rid of the voiceover and stuck to just my soundtrack choice. The music is very slow in pace, but speeds up in accordance to the action being shown. Likewise already mentioned, this is a typical convention within horror teaser trailers; in my studied film the ring, a voiceover is used to accompany the trailer whereas in the sorority row trailer it is simply just background music. Because of these factors, I feel I initially developed on the conventions as I implemented both techniques, but then found that using just one supported the simplicity of the trailer and allowed it to become much more frightening, as the audience doesn’t have any guidance or sense of belonging within the trailer which is usually supported by a voiceover.
I have used some natural sounds within my trailer, as during my research I found that real noises added to the psychological fear of the trailer, as it can be compared to real life situations, and because of this ultimately connects with the audience more.
Characters & mise-en-scene
Typically within horror teaser trailers only a small number of characters are revealed, these conventionally being the source of horror and two other leading characters. I have adhered to this convention as I have presented the audience with three leading characters alongside my frightening aspect of the film; thus being Alice. I chose to include three characters as I felt that it was crucial to emphasise the significance of their friendship, and I felt that if I were to only include one or two characters that a sense of bond and relationship would not be implied.
Short snappy shots of my characters are used within my trailer, and by doing so allows for the audience to identify with each character, and recognise their importance within the trailer. For example, I have primarily focused on one character in particular and by doing allows the audience to recognise how her role within the film will be more much dominant in comparison to the others.
In regards to mise en scene, the costume choices for my characters allows for a clear identification and provides the audience with the ability to distinguish each individual character. For example, I have dressed the characters in completely different outfits that help to identify their personality and characteristics; I feel this challenges typical conventions as usually the audience can not identify as well with each character they are shown, whereas within my trailer I feel that this can be easy done. For example, I have the typical ‘blonde’ and a geeky character.
For the audience to clearly distinguish a different between my ‘normal’ characters and Alice, I chose to dress her in much darker and more bulky clothing so that she would physically appear much more different. This is a typical convention, as likewise with other teaser trailers, the appearance of the frightening character is much different in comparison. I feel that I have developed upon the typical conventions, as although I have followed similar principles, due to the normality of her appearance I feel that I have slightly challenged normal conventions as unlike other trailers the representation of the frightening character is very dirty and hectic, whereas Alice initially appears just normal but the bleakness and dullness of her clothing support the idea of her mystery and darkness.
A state of equilibrium is defined.
Disruption to the equilibrium by some action or crisis.
The Character(s) recognition that there has been a disruption, setting goals to resolve problem.
The Character(s) attempt to repair the disruption, obstacles need to be overcome to restore order.
Reinstatement to the equilibrium. Situation is resolved, a conclusion is announced.
What do these five stages mean?
The conventional narrative structure pointed out by Tzvetan Todorov as a rule has five stages though this can be rudimentary broken down to three stages, a beginning (state of equilibrium), middle (disruption to the equilibrium) and end (reinstate the equilibrium). What do I mean by equilibrium its simply just a state of balance, normality in which the characters find them selves at the beginning.
I feel that the first two stages of Todorov’s theory can be associated with my trailer, as likewise with any other trailer the state of equilibrium is never revealed, as if it was the audience would to be shown the outcome they would have no purpose to go and watch the film; it would also eliminate any sense of climax and mystery. The state of equilibrium is clearly identified in my trailer by my three characters demonstrating their friendship, and Alice being the outsider. Stage two is supported by a change in Alice’s disruptive actions, and how the other characters do not know what to do about it. Stage three is not clearly identified, as I feel again by doing so would eliminate the purpose of the trailer and the audience going to view the film.
Claude Levi Strauss
Claude Levi Strauss emphasised the idea of ‘binary oppositions’ within film narratives. This term describes a pair of opposites devised by structuralists to form and organise cultural thoughts. Several of these are commonsense, however many oppositions that are used are implied through such a way that it creates a privilege over one of its opposing terms. This creates a hierarchy, and in terms of literature terms such as white and black, where black is viewed as darkness, danger or evil and white perceived as purity and goodness are a prime example of such binary oppositions. Deconstruction sometimes involves identifying the oppositions working in a text and then demonstrating how the text itself undermines the hierarchy implied or asserted by the opposition.
I feel I have included the idea of binary oppositions within my own work through the lighting I have used, for example I have used very dark colours to help portray the sense of danger and fear, and lighter tones such as pinks and whites to help imply innocence and tranquillity. Coinciding with this, the colouring of the clothes I have chosen for my characters also helps to imply this; Alice wears black clothing whereas the other girls wear very colourful and vibrant clothing. The black of Alice’s clothing is much more dominant and supreme in comparison to the other girls.
Propp proposed the idea that the narrative of folk tales were broken down into four separate spheres, below are these spheres: thus example including a hero based plot. 1st Sphere: Introduction Steps 1 to 7 introduces the situation and most of the main characters, setting the scene for subsequent adventure • 1. Absentation: Someone goes missing • 2. Interdiction: Hero is warned • 3. Violation of interdiction • 4. Reconnaissance: Villain seeks something • 5. Delivery: The villain gains information • 6. Trickery: Villain attempts to deceive victim • 7. Complicity: Unwitting helping of the enemy The above seven points imply that this is what is going to occur during this introductory period. 2nd Sphere: The Body of the story The main story starts here and extends to the departure of the hero on the main quest. • 8. Villainy and lack: The need is identified • 9. Mediation: Hero discovers the lack • 10. Counteraction: Hero chooses positive action • 11. Departure: Hero leaves on mission Again, the main action that provides the plot with depth and introduces the main story/action to the audience.
3rd Sphere: The Donor Sequence In the third sphere, the hero goes in search of a method by which the solution may be reached, gaining the magical agent from the Donor. Note that this in itself may be a complete story. • 12. Testing: Hero is challenged to prove heroic qualities • 13. Reaction: Hero responds to test • 14. Acquisition: Hero gains magical item • 15. Guidance: Hero reaches destination • 16. Struggle: Hero and villain do battle • 17. Branding: Hero is branded • 18. Victory: Villain is defeated • 19. Resolution: Initial misfortune or lack is resolved This is the section where the film is reaching its climax and everything is starting to come together, to introduce the final section that is the ending. 4th Sphere: The Hero’s return In the final (and often optional) phase of the storyline, the hero returns home, hopefully uneventfully and to a hero’s welcome, although this may not always be the case. • 20. Return: Hero sets out for home • 21. Pursuit: Hero is chased • 22. Rescue: pursuit ends • 23. Arrival: Hero arrives unrecognized • 24. Claim: False hero makes unfounded claims • 25. Task: Difficult task proposed to the hero • 26. Solution: Task is resolved • 27. Recognition: Hero is recognised • 28. Exposure: False hero is exposed • 29. Transfiguration: Hero is given a new appearance • 30. Punishment: Villain is punished • 31. Wedding: Hero marries and ascends the throne Within the entire above sphere’s it implies that these are the normal conventions of a folk tale, and this is the order in which the story is portrayed and told to the audience.
Some aspects of Propp’s theory can be apparent within my teaser trailer, however I feel only the first sphere whereby the tale is in its introduction stage; this is because, again the narrative of the story is never revealed within a teaser trailer. Also, due to the time span of my trailer, the accessibility to integrate four individual spheres into the trailer is merely impossible, and if done the narrative still would be unclear due to it having to be rushed and simplified.