Media Third and Final Piece of Coursework Essay Sample

Media Third and Final Piece of Coursework Pages
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Introduction

The third and final advanced piece of coursework was to produce a promotional music video. The video was to last up to five minutes and could be produced individually or part as a group. The practical work on the promotional music video had to be supported by a critical evaluation which consists of 3,000 words.

There are vital differences between the foundation and the advanced coursework. Firstly the length of the piece is dramatically different; the foundation coursework only had to be three minutes long, whereas the advanced coursework can be up to five minutes long. The more time used for the video allows there to be critically sophisticated filming and editing techniques. There also has to be a more effective storyboard with efficient time being spent on the planning. The last significant difference between the two would be the motives behind the music video and thriller. The music videos main aim is to entertain and promote, whereas a thrillers purpose is to create tension and be suspenseful. Consequently in the music video there is a post modernist theory highlighted more in a music video, which means that they do not follow a narrative structure nor meaning, as a result, the artistic style may be different from that what is used in the thriller. Out of all of the sections, evaluating the text, could be argued as the most important difference. There are critical theories that have to be evident in the evaluation. This uses any different theories and assumptions in order to analyse and draw results on our work. This was not required in the first piece of coursework.

The Original Brief

The brief of the advanced coursework is to design, construct and evaluate a promotional music video, which is up to five minutes long. In addition to this promotional music video you will have to provide a three thousand word critical evaluation which includes critical media theory.

Research into the Text and Target Audience

Research in to the band and song that I was using was a crucial element in to ensuring that the best possible piece of coursework was being produced. The internet was at the forefront of this research. Due to the fact that the band `TV on the Radio` and their song `Wolf Like Me` were not being mainstream like other popular bands it was difficult to carry out research using books, television and music magazines, because there was little or no reference to them in these texts. With the rise of `You Tube` and `Myspace` it wasn’t long before I found their own personal page with links to their previous songs already done and the actual music videos for the songs. Although the music video for `Wolf like Me` could have easily been viewed, the group decided that we was not going to watch the video until we had produced our own one for it. This would enable us to bring in our own personal elements, and be able to effectively produce our own video for a song that we had no idea about.

Also from the research I was able to ascertain that the band `TV on the Radio` is a New York City indie rock band formed in 2001 whose music spans genres as diverse as free jazz, a cappella/doo-wop, soul, trip-hop and electro. The band has grown recent success over the years as `Spin magazine` voted the band as 2006 Artist of the Year. The band is comprised of Tunde Adebimpe (vocals/loops), David Andrew Sitek (guitars/keyboards/loops), Kyp Malone (vocals/guitars/loops) along with Jaleel Bunton (drums) and Gerard Smith (bass).

In order to ensure that there is maximum success, it is important that our music video be directed at its target audience. Therefore, it is crucial that we carry out not only research into the band, but also to its audience. An important factor to consider when calculating a target audience is age. Our group conducted a survey into the amount of people and the age of people that watch music videos. From this information we were able to find that the majority of people that watch music videos have digital, cable or satellite television and are within the 13-25 years age group. This would be our target audience to be used for the music video.

In addition, we researched into existing music videos to determine which factors were important to produce a successful video. Firstly, the television channel which the video will broadcast on is a significant factor in the video’s success, as this will have a big impact on the viewers that will watch the music video. For instance, a music channel such as Kerrang! Which specialises in rock music, will have a much different audience than more mainstream channels such as Kiss or MTV. Taking this into consideration, we felt that the music video should be aired on a terrestrial television channel. T4, a weekend morning slot aired on Channel Four, would be ideal for this as T4 is a popular slot and is aimed at the 13-25 target audience. Moreover, as the video would be broadcasted on a terrestrial channel, it would gain maximum exposure. The ultimate aim of the music video is to promote the song and the artists. It is important in today’s society that a music video is made as this will appeal to both people who watch television and those who listen to the radio, and so will ensure maximum exposure. Accordingly, it is important that the video is entertaining and memorable to increase the amount of sales and band exposure.

Planning

The song that the group have chosen to create a video for is ‘Wolf like me’ by `TV on the Radio`. We chose this song by randomly choosing three songs. We then was able to listen to the three songs that we had chose, and had to choose the best one that we would be making a video for. `Wolf like Me` stood out predominately from the others. Mainly due to the fact that there was a fast paced rhythm, that weren’t really loud and `rocky` but had soulful blues vocals in it. For the song, we all wanted to combine a strong narrative to grip the audience but also a performance of the group to enhance popularity of the band.

Planning is a vital stage of any production; if something is not planned accurately enough, it can result in critical miscalculations. Before we began the storyboard for the video, we felt it would be better to brainstorm some ideas around between us to give us some inspiration and also to give us a wide range of ideas to choose from when planning. Our group came down to a decision between two concepts. The first idea involved a group of fans racing each other to get to a gig where the band is playing. Although, instead of simply running, the band are free-running, also known as `Parkour`.

This is an activity with the aim of moving from one point to another as efficiently and quickly as possible, using principally the abilities of the human body. It is meant to help one overcome obstacles, which can be anything in the surrounding environment – from branches and rocks to rails and concrete walls – and can be practiced in both rural and urban areas. This movement has become increasingly popular in more recent years and would have been an interesting inclusion in our music video, as it would make the video unique and, thus, would help make the video memorable for viewers. Unfortunately, we later decided to reject this idea in favour of our second idea due to the gymnasts that we were planning to use as the fans in the video were not able to be present during filming. Also, free running could be considered dangerous so we decided not to break the filming rules by having stunts in the production, so we opted for a more effective, safer idea.

The final idea that we planned was to produce a high- states poker game that featured a group of gangsters, `Guy Ritchie` style, but in an approach not unfamiliar to that of Film Noir. We thought that it would be interesting produce a black and white music video, as it would also make the video distinctive from the other videos being produced in our class. The black and white effect would also be used as a throwback to the title; due to wolves commonly linked with full moons, we felt the video should include a high contrast in light and dark. After settling on having the video in black and white, we then went further to include other characteristics commonly associated with Film Noir, notably an urban environment and a grainy atmosphere.

Due to the different speed of the song, for example at the start its fast paced to build up the tension, and in the middle is slow due to the fact that tension is at its highest. We planned to match the pace of the song with the poker game and the band playing. Therefore, it is likely that the speed of a lot of the shots will have to be altered to match the periods of fast pace and slow paces on the track. This would be done by speeding up and slowing down a number of shots.

Likewise, the duration of the shots will have to be altered accordingly. While shots in periods of fast pace will be shorter to convey a feeling of rapidity, shots to be shown during the period of slow pace will likely be much lengthier to make the action onscreen seem longer and more drawn out. In addition to this, transitions will also play an important role in portraying a sense of speed. Faster shots will likely comprise of mostly straight cuts, although fast dissolves can be used as well. For slower shots, though, we will require mostly slow fades out to black, as this is a common tool used to portray time passing. The use of transitions would also allow the video to look more visually stunning. In order to keep audiences interested more the storyline would be gripping and there would be shots of the band performing. The group also planned to show different angels of the band performing to present the band in a more professional way. Also unusual shots such as crab shots would attract the audience and effectively be memorable, balanced with lots of close up shots of the gangsters to convey emotions.

The organization of the group had to be planned out carefully as to ensure that the work would all be produced and get completed in time for the deadline. With anything in life, time is a very important issue and we knew that if we used time wisely and planned it out well then we were going to produce a high level coursework. There were certain elements that had to be implemented which were in the form of meetings, filming, resources, and editing. We all planned to meet up at least twice a week to discuss the initial ideas and planning. When we all collaborated to the main idea, the group which consisted of 3 members and I decided that it was best to get the filming completed in the early stages. It was vital that we at least filmed some footage once a week. This was because we knew from last year that editing the coursework was time consuming and also with the new I-Macs that the media department invested in would take longer, due to the fact that we all had to learn how to use them.

There are three different parts of the video we planned to film. Firstly the gangster poker scene. Throughout the filming process we kept all of these different groups separate this is to help me organise my resources in a better way and so that my ideas did not become tangled. The group would be fortunate with the physical resources for the project, such as the camera and iMac as they will always be available to us. This way, we won’t have to organise our schedule to fit the availability of the resources. Instead, we will be able to simply use them whenever we need to. The filming will be taking place at very different times this is so that we can organise the footage that we have shot after filming so that we do not get confused or muddled with the ideas. Furthermore the people that we film will be filmed at different times as well. A catalogue of the shots and the stages of production can be found in the appendix.

Analysis

The music video which our group produced is seen first and foremost as having a strong, albeit simple, narrative; this narrative obviously deriving from the gangster scene of the video. This corresponds with our aims for the music video at the beginning of the planning stages. The video can be seen as a narrative and a performance of the band, and the two combine well together to enable an effect video. The black and white images can be seen as a film noire type film and give the video a `grainy` touch. On the other hand, the number of different shots, transitions and effects allow the music video to be under the post modernist approach. From the preliminary research, we all found out that the uses of mid shots are at the forefront of music videos.

This means that the audience are used to seeing mid shot camera work and so by using different types of shots this should draw audiences’ attention to the video, making it more memorable and similarly more successful. Instead, we inserted a lot of close-ups. Close-ups were used extensively, especially in the gangster poker scene. The close-ups worked well in the poker scene as the close-ups were used mainly to exhibit moments of importance, such as the protagonist’s smile as he knows he has won the game. The number of close-ups also worked well with this segment as it helped portray a sense of mystique which was essential to maintain the viewer’s interest throughout the duration of the video.

However, it soon became clear that we could not rely on close-ups alone, and that if we wanted to convey a narrative within the video a mid shot would be the most effective as it is the clearest shot for an audience. Therefore, some mid shots were included where we felt they were too many close-ups, so as to not confuse the audience. The band scene also employed a variety of shots so as not to appear tedious and repetitive. We aimed to use various angles to create a dynamic atmosphere for the band scene; shots of the lead singer from various angles were shown in quick succession at one point in the video to emphasize this sense of energy we were trying to convey. In addition, close-ups of the guitars and a crab shot of the lead singer was used to keep audiences engrossed.

The filming was shot using two cameras. The first camera used to film the poker scene was a basic camera, however to film the band footage, a High definition sophisticated camera was used; this was to give the impression of a more professional look which would be vital for a band playing. There were many types of camera shots and movements such as slow panning, close ups, crab shots, low angle shots, point of view shots, and over the head shots.

There was not much lighting that was used during the poker scene; it was coming from a lamp that was placed away from the action. This was intentional as we wanted to try and give the poker scenes a gritty feel. Just like a film noire film a mixture of chiaroscuro would be used this was to highlight an influential idea in filming history but new for an indie video. During the band shots there was a spotlight in the drama room that focused on the lead singer, this had worked well with the close up shots of the singer (Dan) and shown his passion for singing the song.

Colour and mise-en-scene played a very important role within this text. In the shots where the more desirable lead singer is being filmed the lighting made Dan glow and the white shirt that he wore made him stand out against the black background. The use of the grainy black and white poker scenes stood out to the audience as a sort of place that was uninviting and dangerous and this strengthened the narrative and the tension that the poker players faced. The mise en scene was effective in showing exactly what we wanted to create. The poker scene which we created was evidence of this.

The start of the video when (me) the protagonist is getting ready was filmed in my living room, the living room itself has many antiques in it and gives the impression of a gang member in the mafia’s house. The shots that were filmed for the poker scenes had pretend bags of cocaine, bottles of whiskey, and weapons on the bar. This tells the audience that it is gangster like. The poker players were all dressed in black suits which is another gangster convention and at the end of the poker scene when I defeat the antagonist (Danny) he, along with the other players, all draw out their replica guns to show that we are gangsters and to allow the tension of the game to be at its highest. During the band shots we filmed in the drama room in our school. The colour of the background was black and the bright coloured guitars and our clothes had allowed us to stand out. The type of clothes we wore was intended to be just like members of an indie band. For example, skinny black ties, scruffy shirts and jeans.

We have edited this video by only using straight cuts this is to add to the authenticity of the image, and will hopefully mean that the audience can relate better to what they see. There are a number of effects put in to place. For example fast motion when I look back to take the gun acts like a quick thought and goes with the beat of the music. The pan at the start of the poker game establishing the players conjured many praises as to how we did it. Many thought there was a hole in the table or that we spun it from the ceiling. To be honest the pan was just a simple whip around the table from the centre firstly by Dan and then met by Danny halfway. The initial idea was to be a pan around the back of the players like in `Reservoir Dogs`, but to the lack of room in the chalet was not able to do this. Another few shots that worked well in the piece were the crab shots and low angle shots to make Dan the lead singer look powerful as he sung his words. This along with the close up shots and pans of me and Danny playing the guitars proved to make the performance look more effective.

The TV effect on the I Mac also made it appear as if the band were playing live on TV, and went well with the song. When Dan repeatedly sings `You` we all thought that each `you` would be shown better using a different angle and on the last `you` Dan would look in to the camera and then push it away. This worked brilliantly and had received many first-class criticisms. Due to the fact that the song was long, it was vital that we had enough footage. As to not waste time filming sections again, preparing to make it perfect, some shots were repeated and at the end when I the protagonist am betrayed by the other players, the whole of the poker scene is played back but sped up. This emphasises the last moments of my life and along with the quick cuts and fades which bring it back to the point of where the guns are in my direction show the audience that my life has just flashed between my eyes.

This creates an enthralling sequence. To end the video off there is a graphic match via the gun pointing to a circle closing effect to give the impression that it is looking down the barrel of the gun which then shows a white poker chip spinning on the table which falls once the music has come to its end. The graphic match creates a smoother transition between shots that show two completely different images. Lastly the timing of some of the shots was perfect and was parallel to the music. When the band sings `Now` slowly, Danny goes all in with his chips. The slow paced music in the middle is backed up by Kiki and Dan folding their hands and along with fades show that their chances of winning the game have came to an end and when Danny finds out that he has lost the game, he angrily punches the table right at the point when the music beat kicks in. All of the timings were spot on and made all members of the group very pleased with the outcome.

When we initially planned the video we wanted to incorporate a narrative that conformed to Todorov’s theory of narrative. However when we began to film we realised that we did not have enough time to set up an equilibrium, disruption, resolution and new equilibrium. Similarly we did not have enough time to incorporate Propps theory of narrative this was also because we did not have enough characters. Therefore the work seemed to take on a more abstract form where there were a few conventions from each theory. The storyline of me the protagonist preparing at the start and playing the game of poker would be the point of equilibrium. When Danny the antagonist smiles and shows his cards as if he has won would be the disruption, but then when I have two aces and beat his hand it conforms to the resolution stage. Then shockingly when the other players/characters draw for their guns it’s the climax stage where tension is at its highest. There is no new equilibrium which would appear in Todorovs narrative. The storyline is deliberately unresolved to allow the audience to remember it.

When producing the music video it was important to consider the impact that the text would have on the audience. I looked at the text with regards to the effects or hypodermic needle effect. The video does contain material that could be stated as violent such as guns being pointed and pretend drugs in the background. Thus if it was viewed by very young children they may want to play with the guns. On the other it is unlikely that people would imitate what they saw in the video. Consequently I think that the music video works more on the basis of the uses and gratifications model. This is that the audience only watches the video for their own pleasure or use. So people will see the music video because they choose to view it furthermore the video is supposed to act as an advert for the band the son and in this case the style of music so they can use the video to go and buy the album and/or the single. Advertising relies on the consumers being active which is the basis of the uses and gratifications theory.

Evaluation

The work that the group had produced could be compared successfully to real promotional indie videos. Like other indie videos it follows a narrative, but is also parallel edited to shots of the lead singer and the band. This is in order to promote the band as well as promoting the single. Like other indie videos we have all tried to incorporate a real life situation.

The audience reacted well to this video. They were able to identify that the visual images which they were seeing in fact related and linked well to the songs lyrics. For these reasons they liked the video. When asked a week afterwards whether they remembered the song and whether the video that had seen helped them to remember, the results were positive with seven out of ten saying that they remembered the song and that the video aided this recollection. Ultimately a promotional indie video is used to advertise and promote the song .If a week later the audience can still remember the video and the song then it could be deduced that the video was successful.

The institutions that are involved with the making and showing of a promotional pop video are the band or artist, the music channels and programmes at which exposure could be gained and lastly the people which are involved with the making of the video. This promotional video satisfied the needs of the band as it ensured that the song was promoted and exposed this is reinforced by the survey we carried out. The video also helps to advertise the band itself because it features the members of the band, this means that even if the song isn’t particularly successful then the band will be known through the publicity that it is given. This is based on the concept that any publicity is good publicity. The video also satisfies the needs of the institution which is the music channels and the music programmes this is because it is a video which is suitable for all viewers and there is nothing controversial about the video. Controversy often sells videos this is because a controversial video creates publicity for the video and so therefore creates publicity for the song which means that more copies of the single will be sold.

This video was partially successful on the part of the audience that is that the majority of the audience interviewed a week after exposure still remembered the song and the video. The video was partially successful on part of the institution which is the band. The band featured in the video however not for long so they could of gained more exposure if the video was set out in a different way. The song was successfully advertised so this may have resulted in more copies of the song being sold. This video was extremely cheap to make. Therefore an everyday location was used for example my house and chalet. The props which were used were also cheap and consisted of stuff that I already had for example replica guns, alcohol, a poker set, and equipment that we borrowed from the music department in school. This would mean that hopefully the money that was invested into the video could be easily returned with a relatively low level of success. However the equipment used to film and edit the video is slightly more expensive and so would require more revenue. On the whole the basic narrative had a dimension of imagination due to the fact that we based the film around film noire.

This video was on the whole successful to the purpose of which it was produced however there were many problems that had to be dealt with when producing it. Firstly there was a debate as to how to film the band performance. We decided to film it outside of my chalet at first, but the footage was appearing all misty due to the cold weather and lack of outside lighting. We decided it was wiser to film inside the drama room due to the fact that we could use as much lighting as we wanted via the spotlights, luckily for us also we were allowed to use the sophisticated camera which allowed for a high definition quality of footage to be filmed, this had overall turned out to be a success and due to the drama room being warmer then outside prevented moans. Secondly my video could raise some debate as to how it ends some would argue that there was no form of closure.

According to Todorov the classic Hollywood narrative presents closure at the end where all of the loose ends are tied up. The audience particularly a British and American audience, (where my video will want to get the most circulation), are more familiar with this kind of structure and so may not enjoy my video which not only doesn’t incorporate resolution but contains elements of post modernism. On the other hand we would argue that there is a slight closure due to the point of view shot of the barrel of the gun graphic matched in to the slow motion shot of the poker chip falling to the table suggests that a new equilibrium is established as a feeling of hopelessness overcomes the narrative, and the antagonist wins. There was also a problem with the editing at the start of the new I-Macs, this was due to the fact that they were upgraded versions but did not have the same amount of effects as the ones used before for creating the thriller and children’s program. We dealt with this problem by changing to the older I-Macs.

Postmodernism is characterised by pastiche

Definition – Pastiche

A work imitating style, an author or period

Three characteristics of postmodernism

Based on pastiche of traditional generic material

Much of the imitation is of images of the past, offered as a nostalgic substitute for any real exploration of the either the past or the present

The artist is unable to say anything which has not already been said

A further characteristic of postmodernism is:

Bricolage

This is defined as the playful mixing of elements from different styles and periods

There is no specific set of conventions to shape the text

Elements from various genres and influences can be chosen and mixed

With intertextuality the text has a fluid relationship with other, similar, media texts.

With Scream the film makes reference to ‘the rules’ of the horror film

It then ‘plays’ with these rules

E.g. The ‘double’ ending

If the audience understands the conventions then this gives greater enjoyment and satisfaction

Semiotics is the study of signs

Or, the social production of meaning by sign systems

A sign refers to something other than itself

This is called the signified

This is the ‘idea’ or ‘meaning’ within the sign

The signifier is a physical object or concept, e.g. a sound, printed word, advertisement.

The signified is a mental concept or meaning conveyed by the signifier

Semiotics and Media Texts

An audience consuming a media text is creating meaning from a complex system of signs that they have become used to ‘reading’

By understanding the nature of signs and how they work, we can gain some insight into the process by which media messages are interpreted

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