Monday, 7 March 2011

Note to moderator

This blog now contains my complete A2 Media coursework which is ready for assessment.

You can find the different areas of my studies in the following order:
September-October: Research into similar products
November-December: Planning
December-January: Print Production
January-February: Music Video Production
February-March: Evaluation

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Question 4 - How did you use media technologies in the construction and research, planning and evaluation stages?

I used a variety of new technologies in the creation of my video and print production, some of which I had not used before and had to develop my skills at using. I used my iPhone to upload short production updates during the production of my video. This was a useful tool as I could quickly write down how my work was progressing as I was filming and capture the thoughts and feelings I had at the moment (using 3G internet service). I used social networking sites to obtain feedback from members of my audience I could not reach in person. I mostly used Facebook however I did post links on Twitter, my own personal blog etc.

The editing program we used to construct the video was Adobe Premiere Pro. This was not my first time using this program however using it to create this video forced me to develop and improve my skills greatly, which I feel I did. I used effects such as changing the colour levels, grain levels, fast forwarding and reversing footage and slow motion. We recorded the footage in the video with a Digital Camcorder and transferred it to the computer using the program Adobe On Location. This was a good opportunity to enhance my skills at using this program, too.
To create my Print production task I primarily used Adobe Photoshop. I had previous experience with this program so I adapted to using it for this task fairly easily. I used a Digital SLR Camera to take the pictures I used. There was some technological determinism here as I found myself trying different camera angles that could not be achieved with a normal digital camera which I am used to using.

For the planning stages I used lots of different internet sites to research into similar music videos, one of the main ones I used was Youtube, which I used to research and analyse videos similar to the genre of mine and also what makes videos of other genres different. I also uploaded rough cuts of the video to keep a document of my progress, viewable in previous blog posts. I used Blogger to document my planning and to gather my thoughts. I used Photoshop to create a moodboard to draw inspiration from and Adobe Premiere Pro to create an animatic (Animated storyboard) which can be viewed here:
I used audio editing program Audacity to edit the song into a more manageable length. The song was originally over 6 minutes long and I managed to effectively reduce to running time to 3 minutes and 23 seconds.

I experimented with using Prezi to create a presentation but decided that it was not necessary for what I was trying to accomplish and used PowerPoint instead. I created a PowerPoint presentation for my music video Pitch in the planning stages. I used different slides to detail the different aspects and aims of my music video. I uploaded this powerpoint to my blog using SlideShare a web device for embedding slideshows with HTML code. I used Google and Google Images find research materials along with many other websites. I took inspiration from digipaks I own such as Plastic Beach by Gorillaz and Scream, Aim, Fire by Bullet for My Valentine.

Question 3 - What have you learned from your audience feedback?

For my audience feedback I asked my audience a number of questions which we carefully considered so as to get the optimum quality of useful comments and things that would help us in the future. We were very interested to find out not just how the target audience reacted to the video but also someone who was not in the target audience so we asked people from both groups. Our target audience would be something like this:
  • Aged 14-20
  • A fan of rock and metal music
  • Mostly males, some females
  • Like to attend gigs, drink, go out with friends
  • Be "Individualists" and probably a student in college or secondary school
These are the questions we asked:

-Did you enjoy the video and why?
This question is important to gauge how the target audience would receive the product on a basic level and to see if the audience recognized our aims and if we achieved them.
-Do you understand the link between the lyrics and the visual imagery?
The narrative of the video is deliberately ambiguous so as to represent the entropic style of the music but we hoped the audience would have an idea of the themes so we felt it important to confirm this.
-What would you change/what could be improved?
This will help us in future work and help us reflect on the things that we failed to accomplish in the video.
-How well does this video fit the genre (rock/metal)?
This question will help us understand how recognizable the video is as a part of the chosen genre.
-Did you think the editing was well done?
This question was intended to see how the target audience would react to the entropic editing style.

I also posted the video on my Facebook, Twitter and personal blog, asking my contacts for comments, here are some of the comments I received:

"you keep the same frame for a while on loads of them and i think it makes it a bit boring but then with the different angles you mix it up a bit which is quite cool. i think more locations would of made it a bit more exciting but from 2:18 ...when it get super speedy, like you get crazy and it looks sick and a bit more professional." - Vicky Handley, 18

"I didn't really understand some of the story but it looks proffessional so good effort!"

"its starts slow but I liked the quicker pace of the second half"

"they look like a proper band, really convincing"

"a bit too similar to some other videos like you me at six so a bit boring in a way but i still found it fun to watch"

"The image of the dead girl is pretty edgy, i liked it though :)"

From these comments I decided that people found the first portion of the video a little too slow and could have been better with more movement in the camera and perhaps some more different locations and shots.

It seemed that most of the people who viewed the video took a preferred reading whilst some took an negotiated reading, few took an oppositional reading. The viewers who enjoyed the video took pleasure from the exciting nature of the video, the fast paced editing and energy of the performances. People who had a culture capital of the rock/metal video genre took a negotiated reading as they recognized the cliches included in our video that are a very common occurance of the genre but still enjoyed watching it anyway.

I also asked some members of my target audience about my Print Production task.

"I thought this album cover looks quite professional but maybe you could have used some different camera angles for the people in the band"
Although it was my intention to keep the camera angles consistent some people found them boring so would have preferred me to use some more varied shots.

"I liked the front cover and inside but the back cover was a bit messy"
I think some people reacted negatively to the back cover because the font of the text is a little hard to read as the colours are similar to the background.

"I liked it because it's different from the standard band album art"
This comment links with the comment made by Aaron (18) in the feedback video, he commented that "the scenery is a bit random...[but it is] a good thing because it's different and not copying other things." To me this indicates that people who enjoy rock/metal music enjoy the originality of it and respond well to new, entropic ideas and things that have not been attempted before which was something I aimed to do in the planning stages and as these comments would indicate I feel I have succeeded to achieve this.

Question 2 - How effective is the combination of your main product and ancillary texts?

I tried to keep a consistant house style across my print production and my music video. In both I used only outdoor, Winter environments and had the band members dress in the same style, band t-shirts, jeans etc. In both the video and the print production I had the band members maintain a serious, "cool" appearance. I used a serif font across the print production apart from the front cover which I used a sans-serif large font with fading effects. I chose to do this as the serif font would be the band logo however the focus of the front cover is the title of the album "NUMBERS" so I chose to have the band title be the same as this as it was small in comparison to the album name.

We based the bands image on some existing bands such as the following:

Both of these bands have similar appearances, long hair, black t-shirts, jeans, band clothing and in rural areas. The lead singer in our video is wearing the same brand of clothing as the singer of Bring Me the Horizon (first picture).

You can see in my digipak I used an effect used in the first picture and a lot of metal/rock photography which is the fading black borders, which I used around the band members faces, which gives the image a darker feel.

It was my intention that the promotional materials for this release would retain the same style so that all of the product's house style was coherent. If I could change something about my digipak it would be that I would put the band's Serif font logo on the front cover so that it was more recognisable as a part of the AlterVertigo brand. It would be very beneficial to all the products released by the band that they are instantly recognisable to the band's brand.

When marketing a band or artist through Media 2.0 it is important that you maintain a recognisable brand image as audience members will quickly dismiss something if it is not something they are familiar with. Having a consistent brand image is one of the most important elements to creating a popular band/artist however there are some artists who are famous for constantly changing their brand image for example Madonna. You can see that the woodland setting was used for both the video and the print production creating a link (Alex can be seen singing in the wood where the Digipak pictures were taken).

Above, the band I used for my video except for the 3rd person was changed for a different drummer.

Monday, 28 February 2011

Question 1 - In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?

Our music video uses forms and conventions of heavy metal videos however I think our video has a certain degree of originality due to the setting. We chose the set our shoot outside as we thought the idea of a band performing in the middle of a large expanse of field would be original and powerful as well as being visually pleasing. We also used woodland locations from the same area. These different locations blended together well in the final video and did not create continuity problems. We drew inspiration from a number of videos from a similar genre (Bring me the Horizon, Enter Shikari, Bullet for my Valentine).
We used an image of an eerie ghost like girl which we achieved through use of costume and make-up. This is an original idea as it's very entropic and is something I have never seen before. We included this idea as it links to the lyrics. The lyrics make reference to an "abortion machine" ("Turn the key, unlock the page, the abortion machine, we abort your machine") so we used the ghost girl to represent the ghost of someone who was aborted. The message of our video was not intended to be either pro or anti abortion. This is a meaning that audiences will understand if they think about the video. Metal videos often have an ambiguous or strongly interpretable narrative that is not as easy to follow as mainstream music, we feel we reflected this convention in our production. I feel we succeeded in creating a video that both conformed to some of the conventions of heavy metal videos whilst retaining our own elements of originality and creativity. There is a intertextual reference to similar metal band Killswitch Engage as one of the band members is wearing a t-shirt sporting their logo. In my print production task I used the contrast of dark tree branches against the grey sky a technique also used in rock band A.F.I.'s album Decemberunderground:

My audience research affected the way I put together my video and print production as I learned that fans of heavy metal music usually favour non-maintream themes and like a style more serious and dark. The song is serious rather than happy so we chose to reflect this in the composure of our video. Our video repeats some techniques used by other metal/rock videos such as the shots of the band performing, the style of their clothes and hair, the fast editing style, the supernatural imagery and the constantly moving camera, rarely is the camera static.

Steve Neale describes genre as "instances of repetition and difference", this thought process can be seen in our video as we used a familiar format; the band performing inter cut with narrative imagery; but put our own spin on it by putting in the image of the supernatural girl. For this element of the video I took inspiration from Horror films such as The Ring and The Blair Witch Project. The Blair Witch Project uses hand-held cameras to shoot a horror scenario in a woodland setting. This film is supposed to look real so a shaky, always moving camera is used which is a style we tried to emulate in our video. This sense of confusion is meant to frighten and excite the audience.
The look of the girl in my video was inspired by the girl from the Ring as she has a creepy, undead look which we thought worked well with the non-mainstream style of the music.

We changed the colours of the shots to create a dream or nightmare like feel, by increasing the prominence of primary colours like red and blue, which made the video seem more entropic and helped emphasise the supernatural elements of the video.

The video does not have a set linear narrative that would fit into Todorovian or Proppian structures, instead uses imagery to display a theme while there is no real plot.
The mise-en-scene of the video was similar to Bring me the Horizon's video with the band as the main focus with cut-aways to the girl.

Auteur Theory could be related to our video as we tried to make sure our video had some elements of originality and was not entirely redundant.
The cinematography is also similar to Bring Me The Horizon's video for "The Sadness Will Never End", in the way that the camera is almost constantly moving to reflect the energy of the band's performance. Another technique my influences used is that they often cut to other members of the band to emphasise the fact the band all play their own instruments rather than some other mainstream popartists.

My biggest influences for this video were:
  • The Sadness Will Never End - Bring Me The Horizon
  • Waking The Demon - Bullet For My Valentine
  • Anything Can Happen In the Next Half Hour - Enter Shikari
  • Vermillion - Slipknot
  • Stay With Me - You Me At Six
The following video is a commentary on the music video:

Friday, 11 February 2011

Friday, 4 February 2011

Music Video Rough Cut #2

This is the second rough cut of our music video, uploaded so that we can get some feedback from our target audience. You can see the progress we have made with this video, we have added colour effects onto some of the clips to give them an eerie feel as well as adding in some lip synched shots.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Music Video - Progress so far

This video shows the progress so far with our music video.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Filming log #1

On Sunday we had our first day of shooting. We gathered the band together at 11.00 AM to begin shooting and we chose to film in a small public field near to one of our group's house. We could not shoot in our original choice of location (Croome Court) as they had not responded to our requests to film there. We set up the bands equipment and began shooting. I devised a number of shots including a mid-close up on the lead guitar player and a solo shot of the drummer from a number of different angles. We plan to have another day of shooting soon to get footage for the complete song.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Music Video Production Update

In our recent lessons we have been experimenting with using different effects on the scenery footage we shot at the weekend. After capturing our clips on On Location and importing them to Premiere, we proceeded to add different colour effects such as high contrast to give the footage a creepy feel. We also continued to trim our song to make it a more manageable length.