Wednesday, 25 April 2012

1b Representation

I am going to look at representation in relation to my advanced portfolio for which I created a music video for using Jack Johnson’s acoustic rock song ‘Better Together'. However we renamed our artist as Nathan Vega who is of Asian ethnicity. 

One way we used representation in our video was in the way that we portrayed our artist. We did this by looking at similar rock artists and their conventions such as playing a guitar and dressing casually with a laid back attitude. We applied these conventions to our artist and dressed him casually with accessories such as a hat and sunglasses. We also dressed him in this costume to give off a positive attitude and show that he is not consumed by fame. When creating a digipak and magazine advert we made sure that the guitar was main thing we would focus within the images to hint the genre to the audience. Our artist represented the genre of acoustic/folk rock well through his costume and props. 

However one way in which we challenged simplistic representation of ethnicity in our genre, by using an artist from an Asian ethnicity, which is contrasting from all the other artists that are signed to the record company. This enables our artist to reach out to a wider audience and different people from ethnicities. Representations can become familiar through constant re-use which means that audiences of this record label/genre may find it new to listen to and watch an artist who is slightly different.

We also challenged representations of a male artist by creating an artist that is laid back and not as dominating as a stereotypical male. He is casual and playful which is shown through various shots of the artist laughing and just generally having fun. Our behind the scene shots and some of the close-ups of the artist were able to portray his humorous character away from acting out the song. This may attract a feminist audience as he does not fit the stereotype of a normal male artist and is more sympathetic and loving. He doesn’t take things too seriously either which may increase his appeal. On the other hand the male audience may not accept this character as he is not as masculine and serious about things. For example a distinctive artist to ours, but from a similar genre would be Michael BublĂ© who is more masculine, attractive and charming, fitting more to a stereotype of a male artist. 

However our female character does not challenge representations of females so much as we still see her depending on him for her happiness. This is seen through shots of her gazing at photographs of the male artist. This is an example of John Berger’s theory of ‘Men act, Women appear’, with the male acting away and the girl just appearing at the end of the video to make it all better. 

Representations in music video are often made simplistic to enable audiences to understand the texts and make sense of them. We have done this successfully in our music video by using certain representations that would relate our artist to the particular genre, as well as challenge certain representations such as male stereotypes.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

1b Audience

I am going to discuss the concept of audience in relation to my advanced portfolio, for which we created a music video for Jack Johnson’s acoustic rock song ‘Better Together’. We decided our target our music video for both genders between the ages of 18-28. This target audience was identified after researching the artist and going onto his official website. 

We wanted to attract a folk rock audience as the artist and song were from that genre. Therefore we looked at similar artists and their products to get an idea of the main conventions they had which established the genre successfully. Examples of artists we looked at were James Morrison, John Mayer and James Blunt. Some of their main conventions were that they performed with a guitar throughout their videos, many close-ups were used on the artist performing and each video has some sort of simple narrative in it. 

We also had to consider how the audience would read and react to our music video. When researching the artist we found that the artist is has a laid back character and enjoys his music and playing his instruments. He is also environmentally friendly, which we found when visiting his website. He minimalised the environmental impacts of his ‘To the Sea’ tour, by doing various activities such as selling eco-friendly merchandise and reducing the use of single plastic bottles used backstage while on his tour. Therefore we decided to encode messages of eco-friendliness in our video through the artist and mise-en-scene. This supports the theorist Stuart Hall who believes products can encode messages for the audience to decode in their own way. Messages we encoded were that the artist is not consumed by fame, which is a positive factor. We set our video in a natural environment, where the artist freely wanders around playing his guitar showing he is friendly toward the environment. 

However audiences have many ways of decoding messages, depending on how they read the text. This links to Denis McQuail’s ‘Uses and Gratifications’ theory, which states that audiences have many different ways of using texts whether it be for entertainment or whether they feel the text actually relates to them. Some of our audiences may have selected the messages of caring for the environment and not being consumed by fame and popularity. However viewers who have an oppositional reading may have just gained entertainment from watching the video or happiness from the meaning of the lyrics.

To conclude, we were able to create a music video for an active audience and would not have been able to do so without having researched the artist and the genre’s main conventions.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Describe how you developed your skills in the use of digital technology for media production and evaluate how these skills contributed to your creative decision making. Refer to a range of examples in your answer to show how these skills developed over time.

I am going to discuss how my skills in using digital technology contributed to my process of creative decision making from my foundation portfolio to my advanced portfolio.

In my foundation portfolio we created a thriller film opening in which we shot in two different locations. As we hadn’t yet edited sequences we felt that Final Cut Express would be a basic and suitable program to use, therefore my skills in Final Cut express were rudimentary as the program was new too me at this stage. After experimenting with different tools we learnt how to put the footage together, cut sequences and fade and tone down the soundtrack to fit in with the action in the frames. We also used a program called Adobe Aftereffects to create the titles in the opening. My group and I had a little difficulty using it as  we had never used it before and it was quite complex.

Therefore for my advanced portfolio, me and my partner chose to stick to using Final Cut and expand our knowledge on the program and learn more effects and ways of making our product more marketable. In this project we had to create a music video for a song of any genre, for which we did one for Jack Johnson’s songs ‘Better Together’. I knew my skills of using Final Cut were lacking and so in my spare time I decided to explore the range of tools on the program and practice putting footage together.  I learnt how to sync the footage with the music, layer and fade shots together using the ‘pen tool’, add transitions between the frames and play around with colour levels to ensure each shot was clear and professional. This shows how I have developed my skills in terms of Final Cut in both my foundation and advanced portfolio. I took the initiative to learn how to use the program, something I would not have done in my foundation portfolio, which helped me become more confident and enable me to produce a more polished product. 

Another program I used in my advanced portfolio was Adobe Photoshop. I was very familiar with the many tools and effects it provided as I use it frequently and so did not have any problems editing the images for our album covers and magazine adverts.  Creating these required use to take photographs, for which we used a HD 12 pixel camera. This gave us clear photographs which were then easier to edit as it was able to capture the light well. In contrast to our foundation portfolio we used more advanced and a better quality HD video camera which was able to pick up the sound and lighting impressively. Whereas in our foundation portfolio we used a canon HD camera which wasn’t as successful as most of our footage in our opening was blurry. 

To plan and market our products we used Web 2.0. In my foundation portfolio I created a very basic blog on which we displayed our production process. This process of blogging meant that me and my group were able to work more effectively. We used YouTube to watch thriller openings and upload our opening to gain feedback. However in our advanced portfolio we widened our use of Web 2.0 by not only using YouTube but using Facebook as well to share our products. Facebook enabled us to gain positive and negative feedback which would help us in improving and amending our product to be its best. 
In conclusion I feel that I have developed many skills from AS to A2 to make better creative decisions. I have developed these skills by expanding my knowledge in software’s to create better effects and using more advanced technology to capture better quality footage to create an overall more professional and marketable final product.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Discuss how you used genre in one of your products

I am going to discuss genre in relation to my foundation portfolio for which I had to create a three minute thriller film opening. Genre is a way of categorizing media texts according to its style/content, enabling the audience to easily choose what they want to experience. 

The genre for our group was ‘thriller’ with which we researched several of its subgenres and chose to look at ‘psychological’ in particular. To gain an understanding of the conventions of this particular genre, I and my group began to research several real media texts of this genre, looking at films such as ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ and ‘Se7en’ which all had running themes of psychology and mystery.

A theorist called Steve Neal said that ‘genre is a repetition with an underlying pattern of variations’ which meant certain generic features had to be included and repeated. While analysing these texts, some of the conventions we found were the use of low lighting, deserted and isolated locations and point of view/ close-up shots. 

Our psychological thriller opening sequence was called ‘captivity’ for which our storyline was a boy who was obsessed with seeking revenge on his wife’s killer. We recreated the generic conventions and set our opening in two locations. We used two locations as we wanted to create an anachronic type of narrative, which meant our opening narrative did not have a clear flow with constant cross-cutting between the locations and uses of flash-forward’s. This anachronic type of narrative was created by a theorist called Allan Cameron. This pattern of variation that Neal talks about is seen in our opening scene where we included two locations, one of a victim being tortured and the other scene of him being captured. We decided to do this to keep our audience captivated, wanting to know who and why the victim was being tortured. This related to Barthes’ enigma code which is a theory that suggests a text portrays a mystery to draw an audience in and pose questions. 

However our opening sequence may have gone against some conventions as when our victim was being abducted it occurred during broad daylight. Many thriller films are set when it is fairly dark or use low lighting. On the other hand, in a sense this uses ‘binary oppositions’, a theory which was looked at by Levi Strauss. The two scenes showed a contrast between good and evil. One of our scenes in which the victim was walking, not knowing what was going to occur, was shot in daylight, whereas the torture scene was shot with use of low lighting in an isolated room, which portrays violence and evil. For the scene in which the victim was casually walking we tended to shoot more Point of view and establishing shots whereas in the ‘torture scenes’ close-ups were used more, which captured the severity of the situation.

Each genre has its own identity which can be recognised by the mainstream society. I believe that the genre of our thriller opening sequence was successful in being able to be recognised and fitted the conventions of its genre.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

‘Media texts rely on cultural experiences in order for audiences to easily make sense of narratives’ Explain how you used conventions or experiments narrative approaches in one of your production pieces.

I am going to discuss theories of narrative in relation to my advanced portfolio. We created a music video for Jack Johnson’s acoustic rock song ‘Better Together’.
We drew conventions from real media texted to ours, to understand ways in which they conveyed certain concepts to their audiences. Me and my partner looked at James Morrison’s music video for ‘You make it real for me’, which is about someone losing faith in himself and about how one person can bring it all back to him and make it all better. To look at the video in depth, I compared it to Vernallis’ theory of how music videos are constructed around four concepts – Narrative, Editing Camera Movement, and Diegesis. The video complies with bits of Vernallis’ theory of however does also challenge it. We really liked the way the video was fragmented, but still had a sense of flow and the shots that were used which we decided to incorporate in our own music video.
While creating our version of ‘Better Together’ we looked at Vernallis also. Once analysing the lyrics of the song, we found that it was about a couple being apart and realizing it’s always better when their together. Therefore we decided to create a narrative of the artist and his girlfriend being apart in two different locations and then coming together. The narrative in our video was fragmented, keeping the structure of the video disjointed which supported Vernallis’ theory that ‘the narrative is not always complete’. This is because throughout our video we had photographs of the production of the filming. It also complied with Vernallis’ theory that ‘there is not necessarily a balance between narrative and performance’, as we spent more time on the performance of the artist, but still tried to keep an element of narrative. This was a convention of acoustic rocks music videos, which we decided to stick to as we wanted our audience to recognise it belonging to a genre.
We also looked at a theorist called Andrew Goodwin who believed there was a relationship between the music and visuals. However our video challenges most of our video was of the artist performance and the parts of the video that were narrative did not illustrate what the visuals apart from at the end of the video where the couple are both together and the lyrics ‘we’re better together’.
On the other hand, although we did not have did not have much narrative in our music video, the different shots of the artist performing and the photographs of the production were still able to drive the music video forward. This supports Vernallis’ theory that ‘Something drives the video forward, but often it is not the narrative.’
Our narrative went against Todorov’s five stage narrative structure. His first stage is ‘equilibrium’ which is essentially where everything is good, however our music video starts with the artist being alone, without his girlfriend, challenging what Todorov says. He then goes on to say that there is a something happens that ‘disrupts the equilibrium’.   Our music video does not involve any kind of disruption, but a solution to the artist being alone – the female. However the narrative does have ‘a reinstatement of the equilibrium’ at the end of our video where the artist and his girlfriend are together.
To conclude, we were able to create a music video which was primarily performance based, however still involving elements of narrative. Our video supported most of Vernallis’ theory on narrative, but went against Todorov’s theory on narrative structure. I am pleased with our final product and would not have been possible without looking at real media texts to gain the main conventions of the genre.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

BBC iPlayer

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Michael Wesch’s Theory

1. Sum up Michael Wesch’s main point about the web (or YouTube in particular) in one paragraph.
Michael Wesch provides a Utopian view of the web stating that it is a way of linking and connecting people globally through sharing, trading and collaborating. He describes it as an ‘integrated mediascape’ of social media and networking sites, with us in the middle of the sphere. In particular he talks about YouTube and how it is a new type of platform where people are able to view and share videos.  He talks about how his video gained over a thousand views, three days after uploading it, and once investigating how it gained so many views, found that it was due to ‘user-generated filtering’ and ‘user-generated distribution’.
    2. Write down your understanding of the following terms used by Wesch:
    Networked individualism – is a phenomenon created by Berry Wellman. It means how we are increasingly networked, and in turn people are becoming increasingly individual/independent and longing for communities and stronger relationships, which is called a culture conversion.

    The invisible audience phenomenon – when people record themselves, they are essentially talking to a webcam, not directly to an individual(s). We cannot see who are audiences are, therefore you do not know who you are talking to. However everybody is watching what you’re saying, once you’ve posted it, but while filming it, it may feel like nobody’s watching it. 

    Context Collapse – is the idea that we wherever we go we never known where a camera is going to be and if and when the footage is to be uploaded to YouTube.

    Connection without constraint – people crave connection but also feel constraint. YouTube enables people to connect with people without having to see/get a reaction from their audience.
    4. On the whole do you agree or disagree with Wesch’s ideas? Why?
    I agree with Wesch to an extent, as the web has enabled people to connect globally and to create communities and a public sphere, as in the past this would not have been possible. YouTube has provided entertain for people and enabled them to express themselves in videos without having to get the reaction of their audiences. However enabling people to have perform these acts may not always be a positive thing as it can create conflict and misunderstanding such as the story of Lonelygirl15 who was a fake created by people to ‘tell a very real and fictional story’. 

    5. How might Wesch’s ideas be applied to the music industry (or atleast the production of music)?
    Wesch describes YouTube as creating global connections between people, by creating and sharing videos. Nowadays there are many videos on YouTube of people sharing their musical talents with the world, enabling people to comment on their videos, gaining feedback and reactions from their audiences. Some of these people are recognised by music producers and artists, for example Justin Bieber became recognised by famous artists such as Usher and Justin Timberlake, by posting videos of himself singing on YouTube. It has become a platform for ordinary people to share their talents with people globally and also become recognised and signed by music companies.