Thursday, 3 March 2011

Evaluation Question Three- What have you learned from your audience feedback?

In order to understand ways to improve and identify strengths and weaknesses in our music video I carried out some audience research, this is illustrated in the following Prezi and explained in greater detail below:

In my video responses I made sure I asked people that were members of our target audience
, between the ages of 15-25. This was not a very reliable focus group as I did not include people from the whole of this age bracket, and only managed to find female willing participants, so it discludes the male perception and older viewers. In my social network feedback I included members from across the age group and of both genders, so as to get more quantitative research as opposed to the more qualitative feedback from my video session, although as you can see from the prezi print screens this was not very in depth originally- so I had to create a focus group to gain some more intellectual and comprehensive comments. My feedback from our media class focus group is from both genders although they are only aged between 17-18. But using each of these methods combined gives me quite a reliable and broad view of what needs to be improved in my video.

Narrative Response:

I wanted to ensure that the audience were aware of the plot of our music video as we used flashbacks and a non chronological order that could come across as confusing. Although our narrative cohered to Todorov's narrative theory of
equilibrium, disruption and disequilbrium we portrayed these stages in a cyclical pattern, beggining with the disequilbrium and intertwining the equilbrium and disruption within the middle of the video, then returning to the same disequilbrium as the ending.

Every subject I asked in the video and class focus groups said they clearly understood the plot of our video and found some of the plot elements amusing giving the viewer pleasure, as well as the approach to the structure interesting- this was a great relief as it was one of the most important aspects of our video! This could be due to their shared high degree of cultural capital of contemporary narrative form, I picked the video subjects as they all have an interest in the alternative music scene and this shared interest would mean they are more acquainted with slightly more quirky and disjunctive music videos than they would if they were part of the mainstream scene. When asking our media class their cultural capital of music video knowledge would be much greater than a non-media student, with much more experiences with different narrative styles and theory and therefore be more open to unusual styles of story telling allowing them to take a preferred reading.
This was the same general response in my focus group on facebook, although I did receive two comments that took a more negotiated reading:

Josh Taylor: 'Up until the adultery scene the narrative is really clear, but after finding out that Milly is unfaithful it just stops. Like it doesn't seem to go anywhere after that point.'

Harry Morley: 'I agree with Josh here, the narrative made sense until Milly's bedroom antics but then there didn't seem to be any conclusion after that.'

These comments may be due to the fact that they were not happy with an open narrative, and wanted a more definite conclusion to the story. We purposefully left the ending unresolved as it created a more ambiguous relationship between the two mimes, and in my opinion involved the audience more into actively thinking how the situation could be resolved and identifying with the characters predicament and emotions more. So, even after receiving these comments, I don't think I would change our chosen ending if I did the task again, as it pulls away from the hypodermic needle theory and gets the audience themselves more involved.

Genre Response:
This was an important question to ask as if we are aiming to target fans of indie music, with an aspiring or radical personality the video had to appeal and fit in with this genre.

Although some subjects admitted that when thinking of the indie genre they did not immediately jump to the conclusion of mimes and clowns in love, all subjects said that they felt the visuals worked well with the music cohering to Andrew Goodwin's theory on music videos. This was a relief as we thought the more entropic aspects of our video could be seen with an oppositional reading, but thankfully our feedback suggests that they all took the preferred reading. This would again be down to their cultural capital of Indie music and prior media product knowledge and their willingness to identify with some less obvious links.

Mise-En-Scene Response:

This was an important question relating to our choices of location, props, costume and editing. We felt that if the mise-en-scene did not come across the way we envisaged it, it would lose some effectiveness of the narrative plot and house style. We aimed to create a stereotypical French feel to our video through digital effects, our mime costumes and location choices.
From every avenue of research we found this was a success:

'The mimes were brilliant- very original and entertaining idea!'
'Clearly a lot of work went into planning of costumes and make up- well done!'

Other Comments:
I asked each of my focus groups if they had any general comments- what they didn't like, what they loved, and what they weren't sure about. This was important as it could effect the audience pleasure of viewing.

In our media class feedback, we received a few negative comments on the use of French subtitles over the images. A minority of comments said they 'didn't get' the French subtitles, this could be because they lacked the cultural capital to know that subtitles are a common feature of French film, or found them out of place in our essentially English m
usic video- if our attempted mise-en-scene wasn't as clear to them. The intention of these subtitles was to add to our attempted mise-en-scene of french life and vintage film, and add a slightly entropic element to the narrative. The views on the subtitles were mainly positive:

With only a few who weren't too keen:

'I didn't get the subtitles- seemed out of place and random'
'Can't read French so didn't understand the subs!'

Another issue that people mentioned was to do with our editing: Everyone agreed our pace, continuity, and shot types worked well, but the only recurring criticism we received was about the final shot sequences we have in our video, with some video comments illustrated in the above prezi as well as on my facebook focus group:

This was disappointing as we hoped the contrast between the dynamic and fluid flashbacks with the vacant and very still reverse zoom shots would create a dramatic juxtaposition and end the video in a climactic way. But this clearly didn't work very successfully and instead of making our audience think, it made them bored. So to address this if I were to do the task again, I would incorporate more flashbacks into the final 20 seconds of the video, instead of having such a long end shot without any cuts.

A final problem we encountered was that of the stop motion:

'The stop motion was done well, but was slightly out of place'

I slightly agree with these comments, as we knew there wouldn't be a direct link between the narrative and the stop motion sections there was a risk of it shifting from entropic to disjunctive and clearly some people found this too out of place, although others liked this aspect:

We could have made this sequence less out of place by incorporating some more stop motion within the video, as we had stop motion using the tear down Vince's face but then purely cards, although we had ensured the colours of the cards suited the mime outfits we only included one sequence- perhaps we could have included more objects with stop motion throughout the video, and more stop motion including the mimes themselves, and this would have been more of a recurring pattern.

Evaluation Question Two: How effective is the combination of your main product and ancillary texts?

The A2 task set this year was to create a Digipak and a magazine advert for a band and release of our choice. These had to create a coherent marketing package when seen in conjunction with our mucic video, in order to attract our target audience with a recognisable house style.

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

Music Video Evaluation:

We took particular inspiration from modern french film and also certain aspects of silent movies. Two of the most inspiring french films we took creative ideas from were, Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amelie Poulain and Paris Je t'aime:

The followi
ng short from Paris, Je t'aime gave us the initial idea to use mimes as our lead characters. We aimed to cohere to Goodwin's theory of an amplifying video where there is a relationship between the visuals and music that amplify each others meanings. As this is typical of indie videos, we were initially just using the conventions of typical indie media products. But we wanted to take the romance themes in Paris, Je t'aime further and develop them. Romantic story lines are typical themes in most music videos so this was quite a redundant idea, but when incorporating this theme with the unusual costumes and characters and taking Todorov's narrative theory and rearranging the typical order of equilibrium, disruption, disequilibrium, recognition, reparation, new equilibrium we turned our narrative into a more cyclical pattern by showing each development unchronologically and beginning with the disequilibrium and revealing what caused the disruption very late on in the video with a lot of contrasting shots of the equilbrium and ending our video with the same shot we used at the start. Using an unusual narrative style and non typical costumes and characterisation I think we managed to turn quite a redundant plot of 'boy meets girl and gets heartbroken' into a rather entropic and creative storyline.

Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amelie Poulain was another great product we took a lot of stylistic inspiration from. It is even obvious from the film posters above that we took creative ideas from the general colour scheme of these two films, as well as the mise-en-scene of french life portrayed throughout the film, and the filters and lighting illustrated in the clip below.

We aimed to create the French mise-en-scene primarily through our locat
ion choices, filming in places like Cafe Rouge and traditional flower shops, as well as our use of french subtitles.

I think we succesfully created a French style to our video, which is quite an entropic idea for a music video, as although previous media products have adopted certain aspects of french cinema it is not a particularly widely used focus on indie videos and therefore is not a redundant idea- although perhaps to focus on a romantic narrative and also shift it into the stereotypical french 'language of love' was quite a redundant connection.

We also took inspiration from the filters used in Amelie that gave it a cross processed and vintage feel. We changed the RGB Curves and Brightness and Contrast of our footage so as to emulate this effect. This is not really challenging the typical conventions of our genre as a handmade and vintage feel is commonly used throughout alternative music videos, but we felt this was neccessary as Steve Neale says 'Genre is instances of repition and difference' and if we continually challenged these typical conventions and made a completely disjunctive music video it would not be identified as suiting our chosen genre.

We also incorporated stop motion into our video, we got the inspiration for this from the Kate Nash video Foundations, as well as inspiration from the auter Michel Gondry and his video Fell in love with a girl. Stop motion is featured in a minority of music videos, most of which typically from the alternative scene. This means that we are not really challenging the forms of other media products, although we attempted to mix the movement of household objects and live action, creating quite entropic viewing for the audience as they would not be expecting a shift to stop motion. We also tried to illustrate the recognition point of our video using stop motion, as a tear rolls down our lead mimes face in attempt to include this technique in a pivotal moment of the video.

In agreement with Nicholas Abercrombie it does make economic sense to target an audience of your genre with conventions they are used to, they like, and want to spend money on. So we ensured we kept some redundant factors such as lip syncing to the lyrics to keep it recognizable as a music video. Cutting on the beat so as to create a link between the visuals and the music as Goodwin states. Creating fast paced cuts including match on action shots, as we both agreed we needed to keep the narrative moving forward and not lose the interest of our audience. We felt that a common feature in the majority of music videos were that the cuts between shots were on beat. This was important to include in a music video as it although we wanted it to have an 'unpolished' look, we still wanted to achieve a professional outcome and this was an important aspect of that. Creating an unpolished and homemade feel to the production as indie music often mimics this style so as to contradict overly produced mainstream products. These unpolished aspectswere achieved through the use of increasing the speed/duration of some shots, which gave the clips an uneven 'jumpy' look, much like and old Cinemax film:

Another convention of the indie genre is entropy, this is a difficult one to evaluate as if the genre we are focusing on always features entropic ideas it would create a redundant image for the genre- yet if you incorporate entropy into a piece it cannot really be reduntant! We felt our mime characters were very entropic and actually quite a creative approach to our genre so feel that our video would appeal to indie fans who often aspire to contradict the mainstream, and would look for an original and different music video.

Print Production Evaluation:

When finding inspiration for my album artwork I took a lot of inspiration from the French films stated above, as well as looking into albums that featured photography as opposed to artwork. Taking a keen interest in the use of images that were highly over exposed usually with a sepia/black and white or film grain effect.

I was particularly interested in creating a vintage, old fashioned feel, reminiscent of negatives from film reels. This does not challenge the conventions of similar media projects as these images all try and portray an image relevant to the Auteur Theory (Not being influenced by the 'mainstream hype' with individual ideas determined by their creativity alone) but as this style of photograph and the 'Indie/Hipster' scene has grown in popularity, in actual fact with this growing niche becoming more and more mainstreamed into the popular culture cohering to Adorno's theory of popular media and music products being characterised by standardisation (they are basically formulaic and similar) and pseudo-indivitulisation (incidental difference make them seem distinctive, but they're not.)

I found that my print tasks were less creative, and mimicked other media products a lot more than my music video did, resulting in a more redundant product. I think this is because it is more necessary to conform to digipak and advert conventions to keep it recognisable as a product for sale, whereas a video is more of an expression of art. This perhaps is a limit to creativity as the product has to be easily identifiable as a product on a number of platforms and to a wide audience, and conventions such as:

- Having a four panel layout
- Featuring title text
- Copyright details
- Track listings
- Bar codes
- Record label details

all have to be included on every product to gain sales as thease are all redundant elements that a consumer would expect to see- no matter what genre they are a part of. Therefore I think evey single digipak will have to share these conventions.

However there are some challenges to typical conventions:
For example the mime character featured throughout is fairly unusual, as normally images of the band, typically with instruments, are featured heavily throughout a digipak. Additionally, I think the use of a vacant expression is fairly entropic, as typically on album covers, especially if featuring a female like my print task does, expressions would be either jovial or attempt to catch the male gaze whereas my model does neither. I feel I have complied to Neales hypothesis , as I have kept to standard conventions yet on the levels that were viable to take a slight challenge to I have developed something fairly unique.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Filming: Day One

Our aim for today was to carry out the 'bedroom scene' shots:
"Bedroom Shots (Total of 11 shots = 44 takes)
Location: Milly's House
Estimated time: 1 Hour 30 Minutes (20 minutes set up, due to changes in location around the house and changes in camera angles, 1 hour filming, doing 4 takes of each shot, lighting check, 5 minutes test shots) Cast required: Vince, Sam and Milly"

Today might have proved to be a bit of a challenge, as it was our first day filming with our cast and we had to get to grips with the HD camera we had not used before, as well as using a set we were not familiar with. But as it was, the day proved a success and we even had extra time to record some shots for the chorus of Vince and Milly miming to the music against the effective back drop.

We had anticipated some problems as we already knew all of the lighting kits had been booked out by other students, so we planned in advance to bring along some extra lighting including strong watt lamps and also some fairy lights and candles to create the 'romantic mise-en-scene' we hoped to achieve. Milly and Vince proved to be very good at co operating and acting, and although the miming shots took a couple of takes all in all the day went very smoothly. Here are some shots of the day, and some film clips of what we managed to achieve:

Above is a one of the frames from our stop motion clips of Vince, we used paper to cut out a tear and stuck it to his face using vaseline so it could be easily moved without disturbing the make up behind.
The finished video has the tear falling down his face.

Top: The set up intererior, we liked the contrasting colours of the striped shirts and red braces, so we tried to emulate this colour theme with the background wallpaper and lights. We also lit the candles around the flower arrangements to create a romantic mise-en-scene.

Bottom: Emily putting on Milly's make up.

Above is some finished stop motions photographed from a Canon EOS DLSR used with a tripod to keep the images smooth and realistic. We then used Windows Movie Maker to get an idea of how it would look when it is edited onto our video. The final outcome of this stop motion clip will be slightly different in the music video as it will be edited in Adobe Premier Pro, where the transition from one image to the next will be slightly faster.


For our mime costumes we luckily already have all of the kit we need to create a realistic costume. Both Vince and Milly have supplied their own tops and trousers, and between Emma and I we have supplied the top hat, beret, braces, neck tie and make up. These have all proved effective costumes, as we found out from our print tasks.

Although: It will be too difficult to edit make up flaws througout the finished clip, and although the advantages of a HD camera mean we will have a proffesional end result, the high definition will mean any errors in make up will also be very visible. Therefore we have decided to ask our friend Emily Sparkes to be our 'makeup artist', due to her outstanding artistic ability shown in her work below, as well as the fact she has a tattoo apprenticeship so is used to working on human skin:

Here are some examples of her work-