Adapted and updated version ofI Thompson’s presentation, taken from the TES website www.alevelmedia.co.uk
This presentation will focus on music video with particular attention to the technical codes and conventions of the music video. It also examines how music videos came about and how new technologies have revolutionised the quality of each video There is scope for independent research and analysis on concepts such as intertextuality and web virals.
Since cinema was invented it created the ability to bring songs and music to life. Advances in technology have transformed the music video into what it is today. What other technologies have changed consumption of music videos?
Surprisingly, music videos have been around since the 1920s Many Jazz musicians of the time, such as Bessie Smith, made short films to accompany popular songs – the talkies… Bessie Smith
1965: Bob Dylan Films Subterranean Homesick Blues as a segment for D. A. Pennebakers film, Dont Look Back – widely credited as one of the first modern music videos.
1970: The record industry discovers TV-Shows as a great opportunity to promote their artists They (companies and bands) focus on producing short "Promos", early music videos which started to replace the live performance of the artist on the TV-stage
1975: Bohemian Rhapsody a groundbreaking video released by Queen marked the beginning of the video era and set the language for the modern music video. The video is considered one of the first to use advanced visual effects http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=fJ9rUzIMcZQ&ob=av2e
Camerawork As with any moving image text, how the camera is used and how images are sequenced will have a significant impact upon meaning.
CameraworkCamera movement, angle andshot distance all need to be analysed. Camera movement may accompany movement of performers (walking, dancing, etc) but it may also be used to create a more dynamic feel to stage performance, by for instance constantly circling the band as they perform on stage.
Camerawork The close up does predominate, as in most TV, partly because of the size of the screen and partly because of the desire to create a sense of intimacy for the viewer. It also emphasises half of the commodity on sale (not just the song, but the artist, and particularly the voice)
The most common form of editing associated with the music promo is fast cut montage, rendering many of the images impossible to grasp on first viewing thus ensuring multiple viewing. There are videos which use slow pace and gentler transitions to establish mood. Notice how this video (click image) uses a variety of camera and editing techniques.
Often enhancing the editing are digital effects which play with the original images to offer different kinds of pleasure for the audience. This might take the form of split screens, colourisation and of course blockbuster film style CGI.
The key innovation in the development of the modern music video was, of course, video recording and editing processes, along with the development of a number of related effects such as chroma-key or Green/Blue Screen
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 This proliferation of technology also allowed relatively unknown artists/amateurs to write and produce music tracks quickly and cheaply with free online distribution.
However, as the genre developed and became more commercial/profitable, music video directors increasingly turned to 35mm film as the preferred medium, while others mixed film and video. By the 1990s, several technical codes became common in music video: Most common form of editing associated with the music promo is fast cut montage
Many images impossible to grasp on first viewing thus ensuring multiple viewing Split screens, colourisation are also commonly used effects Non-representational techniques, in whichthe musical artist is never shown, become more common (alternative narratives) Lack of edits, Long take/steadicam also a common experimentation
The rise in popularity of music video channels MTV and VH1 may have been some of the first, but the advent of Sky, cable and freeview services in the noughties led to huge demand for good quality videos and genre themed channels like Q, Smash hits, Kerrang. Case study: Channel U and how it evolved into AKA http://www.channelaka.tv/ You should also consider the rise and impact of video sharing websites like Youtube in finding and nurturing new talent.
Andrew Goodwin writing in ‘Dancing in the Distraction Factory’ (Routledge 1992) 1. Music videos demonstrate genre characteristics (e.g. stage performance in rock video, dance routine. 2. There is a relationship between lyrics and visuals 3. There is a relationship between music and visuals http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRYNYb30nxU
4. The demands of the record label will include the need for lots of close ups of the artist and the artist may develop motifs which recur across their work (a visual style). 5. There is frequently reference to notion of looking (screens within screens, telescopes, etc) and particularly voyeuristic treatment of the female body. 6. There is often intertextual reference (to films, tv programmes, other music videos etc). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rlNpWYQunY&ob=av2e
It is perhaps not surprising that so many music videos draw upon cinema as a starting point, since their directors are often film school graduates looking to move on eventually to the film industry itself. Most mainstream music videos have a cinematic feel – largely thanks to new technologies and post production techniques. There are several lucrative tie-ins these days, including synergy of soundtrack releases and exclusive artist recordings.
It is perhaps not surprising that so many music videos draw upon cinema as a starting point, since their directors are often film school graduates looking to move on eventually to the film industry itself. Intertexuality is when media texts reference another media text – this can either be reflected in the style of the video or done in a humourous way (like a parody). It can help audiences take further levels of meaning away from a text.
David Fincher: Madonna Vogue and Express Yourself, Aerosmith, Paula Abdul.Spike Jonze: Fatboy Slim Praise YouMichael Gondry : Bjork, Foo FightersMichael Bay – Osmonds, Meatloaf,Antoine Fuqua – Coolio, Gangsta’s ParadiseSimon West – Rick Astley
From Madonna’s ‘Material Girl’ (Mary Lambert 1985, drawing on ‘Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend’) to recent indie artists like Oasis mimicking the Beatles, etc. There are many examples of cinematic references which dominate music video and you should highlight these in your research. Fan made music videos on the web, such as youtube, often use parody or intertextuality to go viral and get ‘likes’
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) Madonna Material Girl (1985)
The intertextual image is not necessarily of Monroe, but of the Hollywood archetype of the sexy blonde who uses her looks to get what she wants. Whilst Madonna has constantly reinvented herself since, can you think of any other blonde artists doing the same?
Television is often a point of reference too, as in The Beastie Boys’ spoof cop show titles sequence for Sabotage (Spike Jonze 1994) one of the more famous.
Visual reference in music video coming from a range of sources, though the three most frequent are perhaps cinema, fashion and art photography. Fashion sometimes takes the form of specific catwalk references and sometimes even the use of supermodels, as by George Michael in both ‘Father Figure’(Morahan/Michael 1988) and ‘Freedom’ (Fincher 1990). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slTYj2h6OfY for a bit of intertexual Mulvey Gaze action
Probably the most memorable example of reference to fashion photography is Robert Palmer’s ‘Addicted to Love’ (Donovan 1986), parodied many times for its use of mannequin style females in the band fronted by a besuited Palmer. Shania Twain copied it for her ‘Man I feel like a woman’ (Paul Boyd 1999).
Robert Palmer Addicted To Love Shania Twain Man I Feel Like A (1986) Woman ( 1999)
The influence of video games will predominate for the younger audience with the more plasticised look of characters emerging (as seen for example in Robbie Williams’ ‘Let Love be your Energy’ dir. Olly Reed 2001 and The Red Hot Chilli Peppers ‘Californication’ dir.Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris 2000) And now, we have the next level of music video mash up http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-iOKHjy3sQ
Linkin Park Breaking The Red Hot Chili PeppersRobbie Williams Let Love Be Habit (2003) Californication 1999Your Energy ( 2001)
John Stuarts description of the music video “incorporating, raiding and reconstructing ” is essentially the essence of intertextuality. Using something with which the audience may be familiar to generate both potentially nostalgic associations and new meanings. It is perhaps more explicitly evident in the music video than in any other media form, with the possible exception of advertising. All of the music videos playable in this presentation used some form of intertextuality – can you tell?
◦ Rock/Metal – The hue of these videos are dark and deadly colours, although the contrast is bright in order to emphasize particular symbolised colours.◦ The videos are mainly performance based, long-shots in order to show the whole band and individual mid-shots of each instrumental band player (mainly vocalist). Narrative music videos are also used but more than likely feature snippets of the band performing also.◦ The overall mood is dark and depressing portrayed with lyrics, sounds and visuals. The sound can often been quite emotional, meaningful, self-expressed, with apparent satanic messages. conventionally.
The band and extras are generally dressed in black, have multiple piercings, dark heavy eye- makeup and sometimes pale skin or masks. Sometimes black and white or negativity effects are used to scare and shock audiences. The demeanour is edgy, and lip-syncing and head banging is used
Indie – The conventions for Indie music vary in particular artists. The main ones are the black and white camera effects used, reality settings, hue of bright colours, vintage clothing and band performances depending on the lyrics. The split is with some narrative visuals, and some performance based, although some artists tend not to feature in their videos.
The narratives are not particularly a reflection of the lyrics, only for particular parts e.g. the chorus there is direct narrative.
RnB – The hue is bright, and the settings are generally in mansions, nightclubs, outside areas, boats, beaches etc. The tone to the music is usually light, involving some type of narrative setting or performances. There are generally background dancers, (mainly women) who are synchronised around the sounds of the music. Voyeurism is shown through the women, they are dressed revealingly. The wealth of the artist is shown through belongings; cars, jewellery, swimming pools, money, and designer clothing.
The narrative matches the lyrics of the song usually and lip-syncing is used. The songs are usually relaxing, and express the good things in life.
◦ Pop – Usually performance based, with frequent lip- syncing.◦ The routine is danced based or narrative reflecting the meaning/hidden meaning of the lyrics.◦ The hue of the video is extremely bright, with a lot of typical gender based colours (pink and blue) or symbols for certain moods e.g love = red.◦ The band/artist wears the same type of colours, mainly being modern/fashion based (mainstream clothing styles).
The main artist is almost always showed somehow in the video, and the vibe of the music fits the fun-filled video (attracting younger audiences). Main storylines are centrally about love or friends so audience easily relate to this. And then there’s this...