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Key concepts & theories for a2


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Theories to apply to Advanced Production

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Key concepts & theories for a2

  1. 1. 1 HARROW COLLEGE Key Concepts & Theories For A2 Media Studies MUSIC VIDEO ANALYSIS & CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES snorton-taylor 1/1/2013 Key concepts and theories to apply to your media production
  2. 2. 2 KEY CONCEPTS Media Language Media language refers to the ways in which media producers make meaning in ways that are specific to the medium in which they are working and how audiences come to be literate in 'reading' such meaning within the medium. For example, the 'language of film/video', print layout conventions, web design and navigation conventions. These medium specific languages will often be closely connected to other media concepts such as genre or narrative and candidates are at liberty to make such connections to a greater or lesser extent in their answers. Denotation, connotation, mise-en-scene, use of camera, editing, special effects, sound, composition, colour, font, style, meaning of titles, mode of address, intertextuality etc It is about the techniques and conventions of different media forms (how shots are organised in film, how text is laid out on a page etc) Genre Codes and conventions, audience expectations, significance of genre to producers and audiences, narrative conventions, subgenres Mark Reid (2001) „How something is categorised is determined by who does it, for whom, where, and when‟ Narrative Theories of narrative, storytelling techniques, how the audience construct narrative/meaning in a text, cultural/social narratives (related to representation & ideology) Representation Realism, truth, violence, sex, gender, age, ethnicity, sexuality, positive, negative, radical, stereotypes, place, ideas, messages & values.
  3. 3. 3 Audience Mass/niche markets, target groups, demographic, social class, values and lifestyles, psychographics, age, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, „effect‟ theories, readings, opinions, pleasures, how audiences make sense of media texts. Institution Issues of ownership and control, marketing, advertising, commercial influence on products, regulatory bodies, gatekeeping etc Ideology Beliefs, values and attitudes, individualism, consumerism, beauty, implicit, explicit, ideas of good/bad, right/wrong, dominant/alternative, aspirations, freedom of expression.
  4. 4. 4 Analytical vocabulary This shot/scene/example (etc.)... ANALYTICAL WORD MEANING ... establishes... sets up, creates ... signifies... Shows / acts as a sign for (e.g. red signifies danger) ... denotes... provides a straightforward reading ... connotes... Suggests or offers a cultural or interpreted meaning ... suggests... provides a possible interpretation ... implies... suggests ... illustrates... provides a clear example of ... foreshadows... hints at what is to come ...contrasts with... offers a very different image / interpretation to (another example) ... is juxtaposed with... creates opposite feelings/readings (compared with another e.g. ...demonstrates... Is an example ...identifies... Pinpoints, makes clear ...empahsies... Highlights/makes more obvious Audience Readings This shot/scene/example (etc.)... PHRASE HOW TO CONTINUE THE PHRASE ... allows/invites the viewer to... ... deduce / infer / understand / realise ...creates and expection that ... X or Y will happen ... heightens the sensation of... ... fear / dread / excitement / passion etc. ... invites the audience to... ... sympathise / empathise / identify with (a character)
  5. 5. 5 MUSIC VIDEOS Definition “A music video is not primarily a commodity form, but a promotional one.” Andrew Goodwin, Dancing in the Distraction Factory. For our purposes, a music video means a short, moving image product, shot for the express purpose of accompanying a pre-existing music track and usually in order to encourage sales of the music in another format (generally CD). It might additionally be variously seen as: Part of the construction of the star image of a particular band or performer. A creative artefact of interest in itself. The chief raison d’être for music television channels. A marketing tool for other media products such as films.
  6. 6. 6 ANDREW GOODWINS MUSIC VIDEO CONVENTIONS Key features, which distinguish the music video as a form different from other media texts: There is a relationship between the lyrics and the visuals (with visuals either illustrating, amplifying or contradicting the lyrics). There is a relationship between the music and the visuals (again with visuals either illustrating, amplifying or contradicting the music). Particular music genres may have their own music video style and iconography (such as live stage performance in rock videos). There is a demand on the part of the record company for lots of close-ups of the main artist/vocalist. The artist may develop their own star iconography. There is likely to be reference to voyeurism, particulary in the treatment of women. There is likely to be intertextual references, either to other music videos or to films and TV texts.
  7. 7. 7 KEYTERMS – ANDREWGOODWIN Illustration: Music videos can illustrate the meaning of lyrics and genre, providing a sometimes over literal set of images. Here, then, is the most straight forward technique and the classic example of visualisation, with everything in the music video based in the source of the piece of music. Amplification: news layers of meaning added to the song - what separates it from disjuncture, is the fact that amplification music videos retain a link with the song and work to enhance or develop ideas, rather than fundamentally changing them. Disjuncture: contradiction between lyrics and image - seem to work by ignoring the original song and creating a whole new set of meanings. This is quite a radical technique and used often by bands/artists who want to assert their difference and originality. Usually, disjuncture videos of this type don’t make a lot of sense and may be based on abstract imagery.
  8. 8. 8 Critical Perspectives for Music Video Analysis This will help when applying the concepts of: NARRATIVE, GENRE, AUDIENCE, REPRESENTATION & MEDIA LANGUAGE (there will always be some cross-over between these concepts) Genre style While some music videos transcend genres, others can be more easily categorised. Some, but not all, music channels concentrate on particular music genres. If you watch these channels over a period of time, you will be able to identify a range of distinct features which characterise the videos of different genres. These features might be reflected in types of mise en scene, themes, performance, camera and editing styles. Camerawork As with any moving image text, how the camera is used and how images are sequenced will have a significant impact upon meaning. Camera movement, angle and shot 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. 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, and thus developing ‘relationship’ between ‘fan’ and artist. It also emphasises half of the commodity on sale (not just the song, but the artist, and particularly the voice). The music video as essentially having the aesthetics of the TV commercial, with lots of close ups and lighting being used most prominently for the star’s face.
  9. 9. 9 Sound track Often, music videos do not use a sound track other than the music and lyrics. However, many include brief opening / closing sequences with some dialogue and sound fx (eg a band setting up on stage before a performance), making the product a little different from the singles track. Editing Though 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, of course, videos which use slow pace and gentler transitions to establish mood. This is particularly apparent for the work of many female solo artists with a broad audience appeal. What editing techniques did you use? And to what effect? Often enhancing the editing are digital effects which play with the original images to offer different kinds of pleasure for the audience. What have you used, and for what effect? Mise-en-scène Mise-en-scène varies greatly in music videos, according to genre – eg urban settings for Rap tracks and live mega-stadium performances for rock bands. The bigger the star, the bigger the budget, the more exotic / impressive the locations / settings / props / costumes & dance routines. The mise-en- scène can be very effectively used: As a guarantee of 'authenticity' of a band's musical virtuosity by showing them in a stage performance or a rehearsal room. To emphasise an aspirational lifestyle, as in the current emphasis on the latest gadgetry. As part of the voyeuristic context by suggesting a setting associated with sexual allure, such as a sleazy nightclub or boudoir.
  10. 10. 10 Star Image & Star Construction/Branding As Richard Dyer has noted: “ a star is an image constructed from a range of materials” (Richard Dyer 1979). For pop music, these materials include The songs (their lyrical themes and musical structures/genres). The record covers (singles and albums and the image of the star they present). Media coverage (from interviews about career and private life through to tabloid gossip). Live performance (the image through the stage show). And, arguably most significantly, the music videos, which may draw upon the image presented in the other materials. A star’s image is all about how they are perceived by the audience and the characteristics ascribed to them may be a combination of conscious construction by the media industry for which they work and of extratextual publicity in other media. The music promo has a significant role to play in the construction of star image or brand, by creating an associated iconography (visual features which regularly accompany performance by the star, such as costumes, jewellery or settings) and even a video 'biography' of the star. For example, collections of music videos can encourage a biographical reading of a star's career and image, while DVDs may include special features with stars and directors commenting on their work, as in Jennifer Lopez's The Real Me (2003). This construction can be reinforced through the notion of authenticity of performance where the audience takes the songs' lyrics as a direct reflection of the star's inner or outer life, which may be enhanced by the projection of the star through their music videos. Each star’s current video may draw upon its predecessors to reinforce their existing image as well as taking it further, or even subverting it to create a new one. This is particularly necessary in the case of a lengthy career. For example, as a star ages they are often represented as shifting from an angry young rebel to ageing respectable establishment figure (eg Sir Mick Jagger).
  11. 11. 11 An artist’s power over their careers, ie their star power, takes several forms: o Economic power, through the size of earnings generated by the sales of associated products (CD sales, downloads, cinema tickets etc); o Artistic power, ie creative control of their own image and how it is used by/appears in the media; o Ideological power, in terms of their influence upon the audience, which may take the form of style (influence on fashion) or attitude (influence on audience opinions). Madonna would be a good example of the former, while U2's Bono is an example of the latter. Looking at an artist's retrospective collection of music videos is a useful way to analyse the development of a star's image. For example, retrospective collections of female stars such as Kylie Minogue or Madonna show evidence of quite frequent 're-invention' to help maintain their careers. Similar evidence can be found in collections of the work of male stars such as David Bowie and George Michael.
  12. 12. 12 Representation Voyeurism This idea comes from Freud, and has been much used in Media Studies, particularly in explaining the gendered pleasures of cinema. Broadly it refers to the idea of looking in order to gain sexual pleasure. It has been argued that the male viewer’s gaze at the screen is geared to notions of voyeurism in that it is a powerful controlling gaze at the objectified female on display. In music promos, as we have seen, the female on display has been a staple element from Britney Spears and beyond. Goodwin argues that the female performer will frequently be objectied in this fashion, often through a combination of camerawork and editing with fragmented body shots emphasising a sexualised treatment of the star. In male performance videos too the idea of voyeuristic treatment of the female body is often apparent with the use of dancers as adornments flattering the male star ego. The idea becomes more complex when we see the male body on display and we might raise questions about how the female viewer is invited to respond. Equally, the apparently more powerful independent female artists of recent years, from Madonna onwards, have added to the complexity of the gaze by being at once sexually provocative and apparently in control (Madonna’s Justify My Love is a prime example of this) This offers interesting questions for discussion of the range of audience experiences of music video and the contradictory meanings they may evoke. The idea of voyeurism is also frequently evident in music video through a system of screens within screens- characters shown watching performers or others on television, via webcams, as images on a video camera screen or CCTV within the world of the narrative. Indeed the proliferation of such motifs has reached a point where it has become almost an obsession in music promos.
  13. 13. 13 Exhibitionism The apparently more powerful independent female artists of recent years, from Madonna on, have added to the complexity of the politics of looking and gender / cultural debates, by being at once sexually provocative and apparently in control of, and inviting, a sexualised gaze - in what could be termed the opposite of voyeurism: exhibitionism. Indeed, much has been written about the representation of women and race, for example, in rap music videos and the recent trend for sexually explicit Jamaican dance-hall moves which have influenced some mainstream performance styles. Debate is increasingly polarised, as it is on pornography - who is exploiting whom? Is the female flesh on display simply a cynical exploitation of the female body to increase (predominantly) male profit margins, or a life-enhancing assertion of female self-confidence and sexual independence? All of these areas, together with the notion of a 'queer gaze' (where the representation of a male or female artist may covertly address a homosexual audience as well as a heterosexual one), pose interesting questions on the diversity of audience experiences of music video and the contradictory messages and values its representations may evoke.
  14. 14. 14 KEY THEORISTS COLLECTED Narrative and Performance – Andrew Goodwin Narrative in songs is rarely complete, more often fragmentary, as in poetry. The same is true of music promos, which more often suggest storylines or offer complex fragments of them in non-linear order. In doing this the music video leaves the viewer with the desire to see it again if only to catch the bits missed on first viewing. Narrative and Performance – Steve Archer “Often, music videos will cut between a narrative and a performance of the song by the band. Additionally, a carefully choreographed dance might be a part of the artist‟s performance or an extra aspect of the video designed to aid visualisation and the ‘repeatability’ factor. Sometimes, the artist (especially the singer) will be a part of the story, acting as narrator and participant at the same time. But it is the lip-synch close-up and the miming of playing instruments that remains at the heart of music videos, as if to assure us that the band really can kick it.” Narrative and Performance – Simon Frith The mise-en-scene may be used as a guarantee of what Simon Frith terms ‘authenticity’ as in the stage performance/use of a rehearsal room by a band whose musical virtuosity is their main selling point. Narrative and Performance – John Stewart John Stewart suggests, it may be used to emphasise an aspirational lifestyle for the audience, Simon Frith: Music videos can be characterised by 3 broad typologies Performance: to convey a sense of in-concert experience, ‘authenticity’
  15. 15. 15 Narrative: linear stories- love stories are the most popular Conceptual: metaphors to create a mood, offer multiple meanings Richard Dyer - Star Image “a star is an image constructed from a range of materials” (Dyer 1979). Music videos work in reinforcing the star’s existing image and in taking the image on further, perhaps in new directions. Thus even more than Hollywood films may be seen as vehicles for their stars, music videos will act as a showcase for their talents and a significant part in the construction and maintenance of their image. Andrew Goodwin - Voyeurism This idea comes from Freud, and has been much used in Media Studies, particularly in explaining the gendered pleasures of cinema. Broadly it refers to the idea of looking in order to gain sexual pleasure. It has been argued that the male viewer’s gaze at the screen is geared to notions of voyeurism in that it is a powerful controlling gaze at the objectified female on display. John Stewart – Intertextuality His 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
  16. 16. 16 GLOSSARY for Music Video Analysis & Production Amplification In this context, to add to the meaning of the lyrics through a visual interpretation which may be quite removed from them. Animatic An animated storyboard, often used in advertising, as well as in music video, to give a better idea of the planned project. AOR Adult-Oriented Rock, the dominant, white, mid-America music form in the early 1980s. BARB Broadcasters‟ Audience Research Board, which researches UK audience data for TV, producing reports for subscribers, with basic statistics available on its website. Brief The original requirement from the client given to the creative team, via the commissioning editor. Capture The act of transferring footage from camera to computer. Chromakey A feature allowing material to be shot against a plain blue or green background which at the edit stage can be replaced with a pictorial background (eg to show a character in an impossible environment). Also referred to as blue-screen technology. Client The record company and artist who want to produce a music video. Commissioning editor The person employed by the record company who offers contracts for music videos. Continuity editing The dominant editing system in film and TV, in which spatial and temporal continuity is maintained for the comprehension of the audience. Cutaway A shot of an object, person or detail, which can be inserted at any time in a sequence (usually to give extra narrative information to the audience) without breaking the continuity of a sequence. Demographic Particular socio-economic or geographical features of the audience, eg working-class males, aged 16 to 25, in the north of England. Director The main creative interpreter and organiser in charge of the production process. Distribution The means by which a media product reaches its audience, including all promotional and marketing activity.
  17. 17. 17 DP Director of photography, also known as lighting cameraperson, in charge of camera and lighting teams. Exhibition The point at which audiences view media products. Exhibitionism The emphasis on an artist‟s performance and self-display, while dancing or posing, to show off their status, skills or image. Form The structuring conventions of a media text, such as generic, narrative or ideological framework. Genre The categories into which media texts may be divided according to similarities of form and content. Hybrid A combination of different genres or styles. Iconography Specific visual features associated with an artist or genre, such as a costume or style of dress, particular jewellery or other objects such as cars, guns, etc. Ideology Systems of ideas, values and beliefs we hold as individuals or share as groups, which inform the way we interpret and construct representations of the world. In Media and Film Studies, this concept is sometimes referred to as Messages and Values. Intertextuality The process of creating meaning through reference to other media texts. Lip-synch The process by which mimed performances of songs are matched up to the original soundtracks in editing. Mise en scène The combined effect of a series of visual elements within the frame of a visual text, such as costume, props, decor, figure placement. Montage editing A style of editing in which the juxtaposition of different elements creates impact and meaning. Niche marketing Where a small specific audience is targeted, not a mass one. Ofcom The Office of Communications, the UK organisation now charged, under the 2003 Communications Act, with responsibility to oversee issues of regulation in all electronic media. Its predecessors for TV were the Independent Television Commission (ITC) and the Broadcasting Standards Council (BSC). Offline edit The basic edit to be viewed by the artist and record company prior to any effects being added. Online edit
  18. 18. 18 The final edit where effects are added and the tape produced to broadcast standard. Overages Costs which were not in the original project budget but which have been agreed by the client while the video was in production. Panarom Early American video jukebox. Pitch To present ideas for a creative project to producers in order to secure funding. Post-modern An aesthetic category, often applied to MTV, which can mean a mixture of an abandonment of linear ways of telling stories and the eclectic „stealing‟ of ideas and images from other sources. Post-production The stage where effects are added. Pre-production The planning stage of a project, prior to shooting. Producer The person who looks after all the logistics for the project, including personnel and the financial balance sheet. Executive producers have less direct input in day-to-day management of a project but may control initial and subsequent funding decisions. Production The main shooting and editing stage of a project. Production designer Also known as the art director, responsible for the mise en scène, including set design. Production manager Responsible for the daily organisation of talent, crew, locations, etc. Representation The processes by which aspects of the real world are reconstructed in media texts. Most commonly applied to the construction of particular individuals or social groups. Scopitone French version of the video jukebox from the 1960s. Sell-through The practice of releasing videos either as a single or compilation album to sell in the shops. Single bid The awarding of the contract for a video where only one video maker is approached and no competition is sought. Storyboard A planning sheet on which shots can be drawn prior to shooting.
  19. 19. 19 Style The combination of visual, and other production elements, which gives the text a distinct image and mode of address. Synergy The process by which one media product may be used to help sell another, often from the same company. Telecine A stage between shooting and offline editing whereby all footage is transferred from film to video to allow editing on a computer. Transition Editing components, such as fades, dissolves, wipes, etc which overlap between shots to move the video from one shot to another. Treatment An initial outline of a project, which indicates the main features of the finished product. Voyeurism The obsessive desire to look at a subject who is unaware of the looker, usually accompanied by erotic pleasure; different from sexual display, where the subject is inviting our attention. Zeitgeist The spirit of the times. Used to identify a particular creative trend (eg Bollywood style) or popular political preoccupation (eg ecology or anti-globalism).
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