Evaluation: Question 1

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Evaluation: Question 1

  1. 1. Introduction This area of my evaluation will be focusing on the codes and conventions used in my final three texts; the digipak, the poster and the music video. Through the conventions used I will discussing how my media products use, develop or challenge the forms and conventions of real life media products. I will be splitting this question into various categories and I will discuss them one at a time, starting with why I chose the song and genre and the formal and genre conventions. During this, I will discuss what I did in order to use and develop these conventions, while comparing my video to others. I will make a judgement at the end answering the main question.
  2. 2. My Chosen Song For my music video, I chose the song “Girl On Fire” by the independent country artist Ella Mae Bowen. The artist is unsigned and independent so she is more niche than mainstream. Plus, the song doesn’t already have a music video which meant I could make it objectively without having to compare it to anything. 9 chose the song as I was inspired by music videos such as ”Over You” By Miranda Lambert and ”Safe & Sound” by Taylor Swift and The Civil Wars as they display elements of my sub-genre, ‘Tragedy country.’ By choosing a sub-genre I followed Barry Keith's (1995) theory about how genres are divided up into more specific categories in order for the audiences to identify them. I felt the song I chose was at a slow enough pace to do something similar, as I thought being able to represent the dark themes of death and loss was important for my audience as they could relate to it to some extent. Originally, I planned to create an abstract video, but after doing more research into my sub-genre, I discovered that ‘tragedy country’ music videos tend to use a mixture of all three narratives, so I combined performance, abstract and narrative into my music video so it would fit the codes and conventions of the country genre effectively.
  3. 3. FORMAL CONVENTIONS
  4. 4. Formal Conventions - Cinematography Formal conventions are general conventions which are applied through all music videos, these tend to be followed no matter what the genre is. These are not a set of rules, but are generic trends which modern music videos tend to follow. I deemed it crucial to include formal conventions in my music video as this is a convention of my chosen genre, country. A formal cinematography convention that I followed extensively while creating my music video was the use of the close-up while the artist is lip-syncing. This is important because no matter what the narrative is, the artist’s expression says it all. And since my music video was planned to be sad, I wanted that to be shown throughout. Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” My music video
  5. 5. Formal Conventions – Editing Some formal editing conventions I used in my music video were ‘invisible editing’ in which it is subliminal and appears unnoticeable to the viewer, straight cuts to the beat of the song, jump cuts to different settings and dissolve/fade effects to establish a depressing mood. From when I began editing, I decided I would use a variety of simple transitions as I wanted the editing to reflect the mood of the song. I feel this worked very well as it fits well with the video’s three narratives I chose. Fades and straight cuts are all conventions of abstract, performance and narrative music videos, so I decided to combine all of these transitions to capture an essence of eeriness and ambiguity, which is a key motif in my video. I also used various straight cuts to the beat of the song throughout. But I did this most at the bridge of the song, or the climax, because there is a reveal of death when you see the artist putting a flower on a grave. Because this part of the video is very tense, I deemed it appropriate to use just straight cuts, because it will build up suspense for the viewer. I also used jump cuts very often in my music video, especially because I had a wide array of locations included. But again, I did this the most during the climax of the music video (the final chorus) where I show every location through jump cuts. Finally, I used a fade transition in any abstract or ambiguous parts of my music video in particular. For example, when she sings “the flames are getting higher” and the shot of her transitions to a shot of fire. Again, this transition keeps the audience wondering what it means, and they can interpret the meaning in their own individual way, which was my main aim when creating it.
  6. 6. Formal Conventions – Mise-En-Scene Formal mise-en-scene conventions are very well rounded as they generally depend on what genre the music video is, but they are still crucial to any music video. Some formal mise-en-scene conventions I used in my music video were the use of multiple locations, costumes that reflect the artist and genre’s ideology and the use of props or performance equipment. First of all, I used a wide array of locations in my music video including some woods, a church courtyard, a graveyard and a field. Pay attention to the fact that all of these locations are outside, that’s because the ideology of country music is closely associated with nature and the great outdoors. I feel if I had used an indoor location it would have been unconventional to my genre. As for costumes, I decided to use only one for my music video as this is conventional to my genre. Another reason for this was because I wanted this one costume to convey a lot of meaning and symbolism. Since the song is essentially about death and destruction, I wanted there to be a small essence of hope embedded in my music video somehow, I did this with the long white dress that was part of the costume. The colour white symbolises purity and hope so I felt this was the most subliminal yet conventional way to convey this meaning. As for the brown combat boots, I wanted them to resemble a deep contrast between hope and the realism of gaining it. Plus, these boots also related to the convention and ideology of country music being associated with nature. As for props, these don’t necessarily apply to country music due to the simplicity of them, but I did include a piece of performance equipment that was an acoustic guitar. I deemed this incredibly important to include in my music video as the acoustic guitar is commonly associated with country music, and it isn’t only conventional to include it in a country music video, but also stereotypical so my audience will expect to see it.
  7. 7. Formal Conventions – Other As for some other formal conventions, I didn’t use any bricolage in my music video (intertextuality and advertising) as I didn’t know of any country music videos that used it, so I deemed it unconventional and unsuitable for use in my music video. Bricolage is typically used in pop music videos as they contain that ideology of material things, for example, Avril Lavigne promoted various items from SONY, both her perfumes and clothing line, Abbey Dawn, in her “What The Hell” music video. Although another formal convention I did include in my music video was the use of semiotics, so when the lyrics of the song influence what’s shown in the video through connotation and denotation. For example, whenever the lyric “the flames are getting higher” was sung, I included imagery that represented the lyric, like my actress lifting up her hands and then transitioning that shot to one of fire. I discovered these semiotics through my lyric analysis. Example of Bricolage – Avril Lavigne’s “What The Hell” Example of Semiotics – My music video My lyric analysis
  8. 8. GENRE CONVENTIONS Genre conventions on the other hand are much more specific than formal conventions. Essentially, they are the defining aspects of any genre or sub-genre. There are tons of these conventions for each genre, and any given work doesn't necessarily have to include more than a handful of them; if there aren't any at all, the work may not ultimately fall into the intended genre. For example, a heavy metal music video without a few recognisable elements — things like creepy settings, isolation, or darkness — wouldn't necessarily be considered a heavy metal music video anymore by the target audience.
  9. 9. Genre Conventions – Mise-En-Scene As for my genre of country, there are many conventions catered specifically for it that wouldn’t be recognisable without them. As for locations, they are usually outside, in rural areas such as a wood, an open field etc. This shows country music's association with nature. This was something I deemed vitally important in the creation of my music video as I had a wide variety of locations, all of them being outside: Brantingham church, South Cave cemetery and some woods and fields near where I live in South Cave. I felt it wasn’t just conventional to my genre but also a key element in giving my music video depth. For the locations, I took inspiration from Miranda Lambert’s “Over You” and Taylor Swift’s “Safe & Sound” music video. As for lighting, I wanted it to reflect the mood of my music video, which is death and destruction, and the lighting reflecting the mood is a key convention in country. I achieved the dark effect by filming on dull, cloudy days and applying filters on Final Cut Pro to enhance this effect. Another key convention I followed was the use of the artist being the main character in the video. This is done to make their target audience relate to the character’s struggles while still enjoying the artist. I did this by only including one actress in the video and making her lip-sync the lyrics, so it was established that she was the artist as well as the character. As for hair and makeup, in country videos it is always very natural and true to the artist’s personal style. To achieve this, I came up with a distinctive look for my artist. I cast a girl in my video who had long red hair and distinctive features, her contribution in the video helped me develop the artist’s style very quickly as she had a unique personal style herself. Taylor Swift’s “Safe & Sound” Miranda Lambert’s “Over You” My music video – “Girl On Fire”
  10. 10. Genre Conventions – Mise-En-Scene Continuing with establishing my artist’s distinctive look, I chose a costume that not only fit the conventions of country but also reflected a lot of my music videos meaning. Typically in country music videos, the men wear plaid shirts and jeans and the girls wear sundresses. For my artist, I chose a long white dress similar to the one Taylor Swift wore in her “Safe & Sound” music video, because my music video’s theme is very dark and destructive, I wanted there to be a small symbol of hope that the audience could hang on to. As white is a colour associated with hope and happiness, I felt it the most appropriate to use. Commonly, country artists wear cowboy boots with their outfits as it is not only a convention, but also a stereotype of country music. Because of this, I deemed it incredibly important that my actress wore some kind of boots in the video. In the end I chose some brown lace up combat boots that reflected the genre well. Another key convention of country music videos that I used was the use of a guitar, as it is the main instrument associated with country I included it in the interlude between the chorus and second verse in my video. Plus, the guitar is one of them main musical instruments played in the song itself. Taylor Swift’s “Safe & Sound” My music video – “Girl On Fire” Danielle Bradbery’s “Heart of Dixie” My music video My music videoHunter Hayes’ “Everybody’s Got Somebody But Me”
  11. 11. Genre Conventions – Cinematography Cinematography in country music videos tends to influenced by the tone and theme of the music video. But since my video is categorised in the sub-genre, ‘tragedy country’, I discovered the cinematography conventions by researching into current videos of my sub-genre. I found that country music videos use a lot of handheld/steadicam shots to make them smooth and calm, close ups to display the artist’s emotion, long of shots of walking, zooming to change framing and establishing shots. I decided to use all of these conventions in my music video, not only to make it conventional to the genre, but to also display the element of emotion conveyed in my music video. I also wanted some of these shots to help my audience think about what the music video is trying to portray. Especially since my video’s meaning is pretty ambiguous until the bridge of the song. My music video My music video My music video My music video Carrie Underwood’s “Remember Me” Sara Evans’ “Little Bit Stronger” Taylor Swift’s “Begin Again”Hunter Hayes’ “Invisible”
  12. 12. Genre Conventions – Editing As for editing, country music videos are known to include more effects than other genres like pop and R&B. The deep meaning of country music enables editors to interpret things through the magic of editing. From my research I found that country music videos’ editing is structured around the pace of the song. Since my song has both slow and fast sections, I had to edit those sections separately by catering them specifically to the pace. I followed this convention because you want the audience to feel the suspense when you’re leading up to the climax of the song, and the pace of the editing does this. Another editing convention is the slow motion effect, this is used often in country music videos especially when it’s a sad song because it reflects the mood. I followed this convention not only because I wanted to reflect the mood, but because I wanted it to follow the slow pace of the song. From my research, I found that black and white effect is not a very common convention in country music videos, mainly because it takes away the colour and vibrancy that is essential for this genre. But I did find one music video that used it, Carrie Underwood’s “Wasted”, from this I learned that this effect is only used to reflect the mood. In my video, I decided to play on the country music video stereotype of everything always being in colour. I had the first three shots in black and white, and once my actress struck a match, the shot returned to full colour and stayed that way for its entirety. As for transitions, I stuck to the convention of using a mixture of straight cuts and cross fades to keep my video conventional to the genre of country. Carrie Underwood’s “Wasted” My music video
  13. 13. Challenged conventions While writing this evaluation, I have tried to take into account any ways I may have challenged typical music video conventions. But from discussing all the conventions used in my video, both formal and genre specific, I can only think of one that I may have challenged and it is a theory. This theory is Laura Mulvey’s “Male Gaze” theory which focuses on how women are treated as sexual objects in most music videos. I have challenged this convention as no women are sexually exploited in my music video. But this could be due to my chosen genre, country. Having a women being treated as a sexual object in a country music video wouldn’t only be unconventional, but also unethical. Country music’s basis is female empowerment, gender equality and sometimes religion so it would be extremely inappropriate to sexually exploit women in a country music video. I can argue to some extent against Laura Mulvey’s theory as I believe it doesn’t apply to all genres of music videos. But specifically, only pop, R&B, rap and hip hop.
  14. 14. Conclusion Overall, I feel I’ve used and developed the codes and conventions of real media products very successfully. From my extensive research into my genre’s conventions, I deemed it essential to use all of them in the best way I could to ensure that my music video is recognisable as country. I have also used a fair share of formal conventions from all areas which also make my music video more conventional and recogniseable. The only convention I challenged in my music video was the absence of Laura Mulvey’s “Male Gaze” theory as the women in my music video weren’t sexually exploited. So all in all, I consider my music video a success in capturing the essence of the country music genre completely. And this is all due to my great time-management and planning ahead of time.

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