Evaluation A2 Media Studies 2010 Music Promotional Package
IN WHAT WAYS DOES YOUR MEDIA PRODUCT USE, DEVELOP OR CHALLENGE FORMS AND CONVENTIONS OF REAL MEDIA PRODUCTS? In the production of our music video, we decided to make a low budget video for an indie band called Modern Mafia, who are an unsigned band from the local area. By choosing an unsigned indie band, we had a blank canvas to develop our own ideas without the urge to replicate or produce something with the same style, as a signed band would already have. Also, unsigned bands are usually more interested in making music rather than the lifestyle that often happens with stardom. This affects the products that would be created for the band as it focuses on the music rather than the style and type of products that are associated with it. There are several conventions of indie music that make the genre easy to identify. We found this in our research by studying indie music videos. The convention of indie musicians and the music itself varies slightly between different bands but there are subtle similarities within them all that make them belong to this group. Some of these conventions could be the clothing choices of the band members, the setting of music videos, and the way they perform the songs in product.
In more detail, the clothing choices of indie bands are usually relaxed (jeans, t-shirts, converse, long trench coats, etc). For example, The Editors have a relaxed approach to their clothing choices and are more about comfort than designers. This relaxed feel in clothing is something that we show in our music video in both the performing and atmospheric clips but also made sure that this fit into the lyrical meaning that we tried to show in the video (it was cold/raining). Another reason into why we chose this is for the relationship between audience and band is quite strong if they are wearing something that is accessible and affordable to the fans as well as the original idea that they are not a ‘polished’ brand controlled by major record labels. This is one of the conventions that we had incorporated into our music video as well as trying to add it into our print products where possible.
The mise-en-scene of indie music videos are generally quite varied and show both city and country settings for example, in Plain White T’s ‘Hey There Delilah’ , they use a range of both lonely and busy places. We used this contrast in our music videos in the atmospheric scenes in the town and in the countryside. We tried to include this convention into our music video but personally I don’t think that it worked as well in our music video as together it did not tell a story to the viewers which is often found in many music videos in all genres which was commented on in our feedback. By including this convention in our music video, we did make it fit into the characteristics of an indie music video even though it could have been planned better to include an obvious storyline. Another convention of an indie music video is the way the band perform the song, which can be seen in both live gigs and in music videos. Indie bands are usually doing one of two extremes when performing – either ‘rocking out’ or are completely still. An example of the ‘rocking out’ extreme would be Death Cab For Cutie whereas an example of a band/artist that perform standing still would be Imogen Heap . In our music video, we decided to go with the relaxed, small movement shot style because the lyrics are emotional (sadness) and we wanted to incorporate this emotion through the direction the actors were given. This style of performance makes it harder to integrate a storyline into the video, which is why we chose not to include one and make it about the performance of the song.
The camera techniques in music videos in this genre are generally quite similar with little change between the types of shots used. For example, in the music video we used the majority of long to medium shots with the occasional close up to make the music video smooth and flowing as well as providing an entertaining video from the actual scenes. We found examples of this from music videos by Imogen Heap’s ‘Canvas’ and Death Cab For Cutie’s ‘What Sarah Said’. Each of these music videos uses similar camera angles and shot types to produce an interesting music video with basic shots. This links in the target audience for the music video and what they want to see from the band in the products. The target audience for our music video is teens which we found out from our questionnaire in the initial research, this has affected our music video in terms of camera shots as we use medium and long shots of the band so that you can see them performing to a audience live which is something that audiences want from indie music videos unlike a music video from somebody in the pop music genre who use lots of close ups like in a TV commercial (as said by John Stewart of Oil Factory).
In the filming processes, we unconsciously used some characteristics that Steve Archer (2004) found in music videos by having scenes that cut between narrative and performance. We did this unconsciously, knowing that it was a convention of music videos in general so we should include it. We also used one of the band members for the main character in the music video which helped the performances link to the narrative and give the audience a view of the band that a live performance could not give. The lighting in music videos in our genre can be quite varied and do not stick to any type or convention within this genre. However, what is shown in the shot is usually what controls the lighting effect required, for example, in a shot at a performance the lighting is usually quite dark so that the colours of the lighting effects are picked up whereas in a music video that has a storyline to follow, the lighting is usually quite bright and light so that the image is clear and crisp. In the music video, the diegetic lighting of the gig was too bright for the overall effect we wanted (dark yet realistic) so in post-production we used the effects on our editing software to darken the image.
In the print texts, we also used a range of methods to produce a print product similar to ones already in the genre of music, which we found using our research on digipacks and magazine adverts. In the initial process of researching these products, I did separate research for digipacks because there was a range of different types of digipacks and I found out, as I looked further into the production that there were only small characteristics that each genre’s products contained thus making it harder to find anything to contain in our own products. The still images we used in the inside cover of the digipack were from a gig the band played at one month prior to the start of filming. By having live pictures from a gig, we are meeting a requirement that audiences ask for on a print product (something that we established in our research). At this gig, the band had better lighting effects whilst playing and we were able to get the colours into the shot giving it an edited look. By having the inside cover plain black, these images stood out and made the blank spots around the text look fuller and used up less ‘white space’.
Another image that we used on the front cover of the digipack was a raindrop image. Originally there was a grey background on this image, which we tried to use the background eraser tool, which ended up cutting out the outline of the droplets of water so we had to do it by hand and deleted the grey pixels around the droplets so that it fitted onto the new black background smoothly. We changed the background of the original image to fit the style we wanted and also so it fitted our genre better – as indie music usually uses darker images with effects to make it more interesting. We found this idea by looking at Goo Goo Dolls ‘Live in Buffalo’ digipack and decided that it would fit our idea as well because of the songs links to rain and also the effect it gave to audiences. In both of the print products, we used the logos of other companies, which may be important to our products, for example, in the magazine advert we used Amazon’s logo to represent where audiences could buy the digipack. Another image we also showed as the age certificate the music video would have which told the target audience for the music video and also it’s suitability. It was necessary to include other company’s logos into our products to make sure that it was professional but also to tell audiences a bit about the product and the makers of the products. We also made our own logo for this reason as many production companies have their own logo on the products they create.
In our magazine advert, we used a smaller range of images to produce a less complicated design that also contains the relevant information. We copied the new background that we had previously used in the digipack production so that there was a continuous effect, which brought the two products together. The main image on the magazine advert was the DVD case which we took a picture of after finishing the design and then used Photoshop to cut out the background of the image. This time we used the main rubber to get rid of the large amounts of background space and then used the rectangular marquee tool and the rubber to straighten up the line around the DVD case. By doing it this way, we were able to create the straight edge needed on the magazine case whilst getting rid of the excess background that we didn’t want. Because the background on the digipack and the magazine advert was the same, we were able to make it stand out and add texture to the picture by using an actual photograph of the DVD case.
Overall, all of the products created are linked together in some form or another, which makes the set of products obviously part of a brand. They also have characteristics from the genre in each of the product that would make them popular and fit the style of product associated with that type of music. This all reinforces Richard Dyer’s star image theory as all of the products relate to each other and include elements of the bands strengths (live performing, lyrical themes shown through images and their lifestyle).
HOW EFFECTIVE IS THE COMBINATION OF YOUR MAIN PRODUCT AND ANCILLARY TEXTS? Within my print products, I tried to reuse certain elements from the music video, such as fonts, text, layout of words and pictures to link together all of the products and create a ‘brand’ for the band’s single. By creating a sub-brand for the single and the additional products available, audiences are able to recognise the products and also the band, which increases their popularity and boosts income. When designing the products we established house styles (such as colours, fonts and images) for all of the products in order to create similarities within the products. By having this already produced and designed we were able to produce the products within the style and reinforce the ‘brand’ feel to the products. For example, by using the same background in each of our print products we were able to make a continuous style for the products, which were easily recognized to be a similar or sister product.
We moved this further, by creating a logo for the band using the bands name, which was printed onto each of the products (printed and the music video). We made the logo customized for the sub-brand by adding the singles title underneath the original logo in a ‘rainbow’ of colours (each of the colours of the rainbow panning across the letters). There were some aspects of the music video that we made different to each other, for example we didn’t include any images of the band on the print products (except on the inside of the digipack). This goes against a convention of indie bands as they usually show a picture of the band to make them easily recognized. We went against this because they are a new band and it would be the first products that they release as a band getting into the music industry and would invite new listeners into the products more.
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNT FROM YOUR AUDIENCE FEEDBACK? After producing a rough cut of our music video, we previewed our music video to our teachers and three of our peers to get some initial feedback from the potential audience so that we could make some changes to the music video. After making some of the changes they suggested we then previewed our music video to the whole of our media class and received more feedback to help us to be critical about our work and identify our strengths and weaknesses in the production of our music video. From the audience feedback, I have learnt a lot about the preferences of different audiences and also what they ask for from a music video in order to make it successful. It also helped us to be more critical about our own music video as we are able to identify the problems we have in the video and know what we could improve. In a few of the feedback forms that we got back from our audience, we had comments about the lighting and that it needed to be brighter in the gig scenes of the music video. This told us that the darkened mask on the image (that we used in the effects) were too dark and having it lightened would have given the image slightly more detail of the band whilst maintaining the convention used in most music videos with live performances. We could have improved this on the night by having more lighting on the night (coloured lighting to give the effect of a large funded gig) or changed the shade of layer on top of the final image/shot.
Also, some of the feedback stated that they would have liked a storyline in the music video to make it more interesting and also to use another convention in the genre of music. Although we had chosen not to include a storyline into the music video, this is a valid point, which could work well if we had the chance to create another music video. A lot of viewers thought that the effects that we used were good and showed another convention of this genre really well, in particular the symmetry effect on the guitars. However, some people did find some of the effects repetitive but this could be due to the clips we used and not the effects. I think that the effects were our strong point in the music video because we were able to include a convention that looked professional and added to the over impact of the music video.
We did not have as much feedback on our print products as I would have liked but did have one of the band members look at the products among the few we did get to give feedback. Overall the feedback for the print products was quite positive with people liking the use of images and also the editing of the background to give the textured effect. One viewer said that ‘the use of raindrops in the image links the two products together as well as being a suitable image for the song choice’. This gave us the impression that we had successfully pulled off giving a textured look to the products as well as making them link together. Most of the negative feedback on the print products was the rainbow colour effect that we used on the singles title on both the products. After questioning this further with the viewers, they said it distracted from the other images and the raindrop effect as well as also being hard to read with the textured background. I feel that we could have corrected this by using a border around the letters to separate the background from the edge of the lettering, which would have made it easier to read.
HOW DID YOU USE NEW MEDIA TECHNOLOGIES IN THE CONSTRUCTION AND RESEARCH, PLANNING AND EVALUATION STAGES? During the production of the products, I have used multiple types of technologies, ranging from new software on the Mac computers to the new camcorders that we have in the media department. During the research of our chosen brief, we used the Internet and PowerPoint to make an interactive and appropriate way to view the final research. In AS media, we did not use this form of presentation so using this software was different from the essay form that we used last year. By using these new programs, we were also able to make the presentations interactive and interesting to look back at during the production of each product.
In the filming of our music video, we used the new digital camcorders available from the media department to film our video instead of the old ones that we used last year. The new technology meant that we had to learn how to use the new cameras whilst filming as well as get used to the touch screen technology it included. This was difficult to get the hang of but because we had booked it out overnight it gave us a chance to learn how to use the basic settings on the camcorder before having to use it to film and also how to look back at what we had captured after we shot it. We also used a digital camera for our print products, where we took pictures of the band and also the DVD case for the magazine advert. We used this technology last year so we were both competent in using it this time around.
The editing process was different for each of our products as we used different products to create different effects/elements that we wanted. We used software such as Adobe Photoshop, Live Type, and Final Cut Express as well as attempting to use Adobe after Effects although we didn’t use this in the final visual products. By using software like this we were able to produce professional looking products that were eye catching and interesting. In the editing of the music video, we used Final Cut Express on the iMac computers. We used this software last year so there was not much changes except for a few upgrades. Unlike last year, when we used this program we did not have as many difficulties in applying effects and actual using of the program because we knew what we were doing. Of course, there was some occasions where we needed help to with final cut, for example, when exporting it from final cut and when clips didn’t fit the screen as planned in the storyboard but we overcame it by adjusting our ideas to make sure that it could be done and still get a similar effect to what we were after.
For the print products (DVD cover and magazine advert), we primarily used Adobe Photoshop. We used this software because it made it easy put pictures and text where we wanted it to but also gave us the option of putting effects on images and adjusting anything we wanted. In this class, we were lucky to have had a tutorial on Photoshop at the end of the last academic year. By using the notes I had made, the booklet we were given at the tutorial and the media technicians help, we were then able to produce suitable print products which related to each other and looked like part of a brand or set of products. For example, we learned to use background eraser tool, which helped us when we took photographs of our final product to put onto the magazine advert. Without knowing this tool we would have to erase the pixels slowly by going around the edge of the product which would have been time consuming and made it harder to make the edge of the image we want straight.
Another technology that we used was the blog that I set up to display my work in an easily accessible and creative way. By using the blog to let other people view my work, I used a variety of ways to display my work in a more creative way compared to last years AS coursework. For example, this year I used PowerPoint presentations (uploaded onto www.slideshare.com ) and images such as spider diagrams to show all my work in a clearer way.