Thursday, 16 December 2010


13T2-40 Editor's Commentary 


Kirstys' evaluation

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

Our music video has taken a conventional route in the way it follows a narrative that is related to the lyrics of the song. We decided not to incorporate a performance into the product because we felt the opportunity to develop a story was strong, so we kept to that idea. We did however, have the characters lip-sync to the song to show the narratives connection to the lyrics, which is a convention of real media products, such as Katy Perrys’ “Teenage dream” which we had analysed in the research stage. Although the style of our media product is typically conventional, oppositely, it challenges the usual conventions of an indie bands music video, which The XX is. Usually in these sorts of music videos there is a strong theme of a band performance rather than a narrative, but we felt after looking at more successful music videos that a narrative is often more successful and keeps an audience entertained for longer.
  During editing we incorporated the use of differently coloured filters over the shots. We noticed in modern day media products the colours and vibrancy of music videos is often manipulated to create a certain mood. We looked at “Only girl in the world” by Rihanna and noticed the colours were intense and created more of a conventional pop/happy tone. Over our own music video we set the contrast on the scenes to make it seem darker, which produced a gloomier mood, to reflect the feel of heartbreak. Over the flashback scenes we placed a warmer tint, to imply happiness and romance.
   I think in a lot of new media products there’s been an increase in the use of CGI and special effects, most likely to create a more exciting and entertaining video and is a common convention used. We kept away from anything that made our story look unnatural, mainly because it wouldn’t have fitted in with our type of video, as it is meant to resemble a real life relationship and therefore should be relatable and also because we didn’t have that much access to any of those types of technologies, apart from green screens.
   Another convention of our music video is the fact that we incorporated some clips of the end scenes in the middle and some beginning clips at the end, this reminds viewers of the circle of the video and rounds it off well, which happens fairly regularly in real media products. An example of this is when a clip of the fire is shown quickly in the start to keep viewers guessing and interested in the rest of the video.
   We went against conventions and filmed in the dark, usually in real media products, to create a night time effect, they'd be filmed in the day light, then a darker/night filter would be edited over the clip. We thought the effect of using a single light to illuminate our actors' faces was effective because it draws more attention to their faces and keep only their faces in shot rather than their bodies and much focus on the background. This helps viewers focus on the emotions and the lyrics they're singing.
   During the planning stages, we wanted to make our media product a little but more unique, to challenge conventions more, rather just having a straight forward narritive. Whilst we were disucssing our ideas, we came up with the idea to base the video around the four elements; fire, water, air and earth. We kept each setting in the video related to a certain element, for example, at the beginning our actors were set around a river (implying the water element).

How effective is the combination of your main product and ancillary texts?
I believe all of our products have been successful overall, however, if we had to go back and do them again, I would probably change and correct a few things.
   I was very pleased with our music video, I think it successfully created the mood we were aiming for and the narrative went along well with the lyrics of the song, which I think an audience would appreciate to help them to understand the meaning of the song and the mood it’s trying to produce. I also think that it went quite well with the bands genre, although we did challenge a few of the conventions of a typical indie bands’ music video, the theme and effect of the product links in well, as we still took the lyrics into account and kept the theme quite modest, rather than a happy, brightly coloured, pop video, which wouldn’t have made sense.
    We aimed our digipack to tie in with not only our ideas of the band and the song, but also with the theme of our music video. We kept the fonts consistent and similar to those that the band actually uses, to create a more authentic look. We also kept the majority of the colours quite muted, which fits in with the genre of the band itself and also the colours of our music video. Because the hidden theme within our music video was to focus on the four elements (not just the narrative) we also incorporated each of the four elements onto each of the four sides of our digipack. I thought this was successful because it would also give the buyers of the product a clearer idea of some of the themes in our actual video. I also thought this was effective because our digipack captures your eye on each side, rather than have the aesthetics plain. We used the images of two of our characters from the video on the front of the CD, acting as the band. I thought that this would be good for branding purposes, however, if we could do this again, I’d rather take a photograph of both of them rather than a screen shot, as we had some trouble editing the images on Photoshop, which took up time.
    Our poster related to our digipack and band too. I thought the consistency of the fonts was effective as it helps create the brand for the brand and keeps it recognisable. We also put in the bands’ record label in the corner (also in the digipack) which I thought was suitable as it was realistic of what real bands do. From all of our products together, an audience would be able to tell what kind of band we’re representing, which is why on the poster we advertised The XX had won a mercury prize, which is a smaller known prize that other genres of artists; pop, R&B would probably not obtain, which was effective because it further helps represent the band.

What have you learnt from your audience feedback?
After our almost final draft, we got some feedback from a teacher. He watched it for the first time and commented on
Our audience feedback was generally very positive, which we are pleased with. There have been comments on the effectiveness of the colour scheme and font, which is good as it shows we represented the theme of the band well. On our poster we were told the tour dates were a good idea. We did this because, as an indie, lesser known band, these sorts of posters are really around advertising tour dates, as they’re probably not as well known for their audience to go straight to their website to find out information.
As one of our main ideas, the colour filters over the music video were shown to be effective: “the mood definitely suits the video. The colour filters were a good effect because they all go with the mood.” I’m pleased this was received well, as there is a fine line on how much colour manipulation you should do, as it could have looked over the top, which would have seemed unprofessional or it could be too subtle which wouldn’t have gotten the messages/moods across.

How did you use new media technologies in the construction and research, planning and evaluation stages?
During research we relied a lot on Youtube to provide us with real media products to gather ideas and inspiration from. We looked at a large range of them (some of them featured on our blog) and analysed different aspects of them, such as lighting, settings, moods, narratives, performances and themes. Youtube was also helpful when we were preparing our blogs as we were able to embed the music video codes onto our own posts to help our research become more visual, not just large paragraphs of text. We used a website called Blogger to help collate all of our research and information and talk through each of the steps we did, however we had some issues with this site as we couldn’t upload images straight to it, so we had to write in the HTML code for the images we wanted to use, after uploading each of our images onto the Flikr server first. To capture our own photos (not just google images) we took the pictures either using our phones during filming, which didn’t need to be high quality and we used the webcam on the mac computers to help us capture the work we had done on paper to show on our blogs.
   During the filming process we used Sophie’s HD camera, which was useful as we were able to capture our images in a high quality, which inevitably made it easier in the editing stage to see where we had to match up the song to our actors’ lips.
  Constructing the footage from the camera on to the computer was through Final cut. Here, we mostly just had to cut our footage down in to the useable pieces then place into the specific order we wanted. To add a different dynamic to our piece, we also incorporated different transitions between certain clips to help the video smoothly change throughout, by editing in fade in and fade outs.
 Also on Final cut, we incorporated filters on to each of our shots, some being rose tinted and some being darker, to represent different times and moods. To create a darker scene, we experimented with the contrast until we got a natural, but gloomier looking tone.
Some of our clips were better suited either sped up or slowed down. There’s a certain area in the video where Sophie is being twirled around when she is dancing. This is a good example where having the pace slowed down, suited the music, but also created a more romantic, poignant moment in the video as you had time to take it in.
We also got to play with the transparency of clips, more at the very end when the lanterns fade into the sky and the moon appears. This was an interesting effect and was visually pleasing.
   In the end, we uploaded the video back to youtube, which was a simple task, however, the only problem was that the quality decreases with most youtube uploads.
   On both our digipack and our promotional poster included similar designs to keep a level of continuity, but a we decided to change some elements too, to keep them interesting and individual, which fits in with the characteristics of the genre of the band. We created both on photoshop and downloaded some brushes to help us create the different effects, like the design on the front cover of the digipack, which was meant to represent the air element, so we also used blue and white to reflect air. On the inner left hand side of the digipack we used a leaf brush and created an autumnal effect with the variety of colours, which suited our "earth element" well. On the inner right hand side where the CD goes, we had to fit in our water element, so we painted a water ripple, which we thought was effective as it keeps in theme with the ciruclar shape of where the CD would be placed. On the back where the tracks were listed, we decided to put our fire element and painted on fire and smoke effects with a photoshop brush and adaped the suitable colours to make it look more realistic.

Lydia Downham - Evaluation

Question 1 - In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge, forms and conventions of real media products?
Our media product uses lots of conventions of real media products and also develops them. Our lyrics and narrative are conventional because we use a love theme because the lyrics are based around love and we thought it was best to carry the love theme on. We didn’t have a performance of the band because we thought the story line was very strong and didn’t need to have a performance. This is used in real media products which are based around love. Also our actors were the band members and we had them lip sync to the lyrics to show the narrative, this is conventional of real media products, for example, in Katy Perry’s song ‘Teenage dream’.
Our media products genre is ‘indie’ and i believe that our represenation of our media product is typical to this genre. The locations we filmed in our very typical to the mood of music. Our music is very calm and has a soft beat to it. We used realist locations such as river, woods and fields which are conventional of real media products with calm music as these settings are relaxing and not busy. Unlike pop video’s which are filmed in clubs or dance studios. However, we challenge the conventions of real media products through the locations we filmed in as well. This is because ‘The XX’ usually has a band performance and we challenged this by having a strong narrative.
In the editing of our media product we incorporated different colour filters over the shots. We noticed that in modern media products they also do this to give the media product a stronger or duller colour or do give a different mood to the product. On our media product we adjusted the colour and contrast of the parts when our actors are singing and made the shots darker to give a gloomier mood, to show the heartache of the narrative. To the flash back shots where the actors are together we used a red tinted filter which created a mood of happiness and love, and the flash back shots are when the couple where together and happy. We got our inspiration for the red filter from Rhianna’s music video ‘only girl’, where she uses a red filter to show a happy mood of love.
When planning our media product we wanted to challenge the conventions of real media products. When done this by coming up with the idea of using the four elements (earth, air, fire and water) as well as using a narrative which is typical of real media products. We combined the narrative and the four elements by having each element in a different location for a different part of the narrative. For example, Jack is singing in the wood which is the earth element and then Sophie is singing by a river which is the water element. We used this idea because it uses and challenges the conventions of real media products which we thought made it more interesting and unique for the audience. Also it is interesting for the audience beacuse it isnt a typical boy meets girl story, unlike Chris Brown’s song ‘Forever’ where he meets a girl in a club. Our narrative is that the girl and boy have already been in a story and they still love each other and want to be back together. Also our actors dont sing to each other, they sing to the audience, this is effective because it makes the audience feel connected with the song. Unlike in Chris Brown and Jordan Sparks song ‘No air’ they sing to each other and it doesnt make the audience feel connected.
Question 2 - How effective is the combination of your main product and ancillary texts?

The combination of our main media product and ancillary texts are very effective because we have kept the same theme though out them. In our main product we had the four elements as the main theme, we then carried this on to our digi pack and had each element as a different side to the digi pack. Such as, We had the air element as the front cover which was represented through white and blue swirls which are representing wind. For the back cover we had the fire element which was fire and smoke moving across the back of the digi pack. We used the water element for the inside of the digi pack where the CD sits, we represented this by having a blue water ripple where the CD sits. Lastly we used the earth element on the front inside of the digi pack and this was represented by having leaves falling from the top. On the front of our digi pack we used two images, one of our male singinger and one of our female singer. This was effective because they were actual images from our main media product, so when people saw the front cover they was think also of the music video. However, I think if we had the chance to do this again, I think it would be more effective if we took a photograph of our actors together and didn’t take it from the main media product. I think this because I would look neater and more professional if the photograph was not taken from the main media product.
On both of our ancillary texts we used the same big, bold font for our band name and song title. ‘The XX’ and ‘Heart skipped a beat’ are on both of our ancillary texts in the same location, in the centre at the top. We kept it in the same font so that it was recognisable to people if they saw one and then saw the other. However, we changed the layout of where ‘the’ went. On our digi pack we had it next to the ‘XX’ and on our poster we had in between the two x’s. We did this because it created a recognisable logo for the audience but also made each ancillary text look different and unique. Another reason we done this was becuase of the shape of the ancillary texts. Our digi pack was square and our poster a long vertical rectangle. We used this effect in our own digi pack. Typically on a digi pack the writting is in one of the corners of the front cover and typically on a poster becuase it is a long vertical shape, the writing is in the center of the page. We used this on our poster.
On our ancillary texts we have used the same colour scheme. This colour scheme is a black background with very bright, bold colours on the top. We done this because the colours complement each other, and the black background makes the colours stand out more. We used a different colour for each element. Such as, blue for water, red for fire, brow/green for earth and white/blue for air. We liked the air element a lot and decided to put it on our front cover of the digi pack and also used it on our poster. This is effective because it links the two ancillary texts together. Also we used the black background and bright colours because it fits with our music video. The black background fits with the parts where the couple aren’t together and we added a darker filter, and the bright colours are the happier parts like when the couple are together and there is a red filter on it.
Question 3 - What have you learnt from your audience feedback?
As part of our project we asked our class members to have a look at all of our work and feedback some good and bad points to us. We done this by uploading all of our final pieces, the digi pack, poster and final media product, to our blog and then people left comments on the blog.
We found that all of our feedback was strong positive feedback. For example, In our digi pack one group said ‘Really impressive, good colour scheme and the photo on the front is really good, fits in well with the video.’ From this we learnt that our ancillary texts all work well and they also link back to the video. For our magazine advert we had feedback such as ‘really good poster, I like how it has the tour dates on it.’ On our magazine advert we put the tour dates that our band were playing and where they were playing. We done this because it is very typical of an indie band to put their tour dates on their poster because they don’t really focus on having lots of art work, they think their tour dates are more important. Also we got a comment saying ‘looks very professional’, from this we learnt that the skills we used on photo shop were very good and that we can create art work that looks professional. We got alot of feedback on our music video. Such as, ‘This video is very good, I really like all the effects and the editing is very good. Also the locations are really creative and really go with the music. The lip syncing is spot on. I think the singers keep in character really well, and have done a really good job of putting across what the music track is about. Setting off the lanterns is a really nice touch at the end’, and ‘the mood defiantly suits the video, and the colour filters were a good effect because they all go with the mood.’
We also got feedback from other media teachers, one media teacher said that we could add parts to the narrative to give clue for what is going to come next to keep the audience interested in the music video. We thought this was very constructive and decided to use his feedback. We did this by adding parts of our ending to the beginning of our music video. We only put small clips lasting about 2 seconds, such as a clip of fire to show that a big fire scene was coming up.
So over all, we learnt that our media product was very well constructed but still needed a few things added to it to keep the audience interested.
Question 4 - How did you use new media technologies in the construction and research, planning and evaluation stages?
For the research part of our media product we mainly relied on the internet to help us find out information. This new media technology allowed us to use google, where we could find out information out the band, see images of the band and find out what was typical of an indie genre band. Also using the internet we could use youtube to have a look at ‘the XX’ previous work, other artists and also past students work to get inspiration from. Using youtube and look at other music video we were able to see what lighting, moods, themes and narratives worked well and which ones didn’t.
For the planning of our music video we used a large piece of paper and created a story board, which were just images of the different types of shots we were going to use. Then we used a webcam on the mac computer to take a picture of our story board so we could then upload it to flikr and then add it to our blog so we could see what we had done. Our blog was another new media technology that we used every stage of our media product. It was a place where we could have all our research and planning in one place so it was easier to see what we had to do next. Also on our blog people were able to give feedback on any post that they wanted to. On our the blog we put music video’s we liked and what parts we got inspiration from, which narrative’s we wanted to take ideas for our own from and what digi packs and poster we liked.
We used the mac computer every day in all stages of creating our media product, such as we used final cut. Final cut was where we uploaded our film footage and then edited it to create our final piece. In final cut we experimented with colours, speed and transitions. For part of our evaluation we had to create a small clip of all of our group members speaking to the camera about our final products. We also used final cut to create this small clip. Also we used photoshop on the computer to create our ancillary texts. We downloaded digipacks off the internet and then downloaded different brushes off the internet and started to create our ancillary texts.
However, we didn’t just use the computer in the planning and research stages of our media product; we also used a digital camera. In a few of our lessons we used the camera to take test footage of shots that we wanted to use in our final media product but weren’t sure how to create then For example, the ‘sometimes I still need you’ lyrics is a birds eye shot of our actors lip syncing, but at the same time the camera moves around in a circle. We didn’t know how to create this effect so we spent some time practicing ways we could achieve this effect.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Melanie Moran's Evaluation

In what way does your media product use, develop or challenge, forms and conventions of real media products?

Our media product doesn’t challenge forms and conventions of real media products, but it does however use and develop them. “The xx” song that we interpreted, “Heart Skipped a Beat”, has a conventional Indie genre love theme. During planning we looked at “The xx” song lyrics, and we felt it was best to create our music video narrative to fit this love narrative, conforming in a typical theme of real media products. We studied Andrew Goodwin's theory, which states that the visuals in a music video is meant to illustrate, amplify or contradict the lyrics and the music in a video. In our music video we have illustrated the lyrics in our video.
During planning we looked at forms and conventions of real media products and based our planning on viewing music videos by artists such as “Florence + the Machine”, “Mumford and the Sons”, “The xx” music videos, and many other media videos. A typical convention of music video is that the lyric along with the video evokes certain emotions and moods. Our media product does develop this effect as it evokes both positive feelings, also with a sense of mystery behind the relationship of the two singers. Our narrative and the order in which events run in our video evoke these emotions. The sense of mystery is created with the images and the lyrics, opening with the couple in our video separated, then together, then separated. We continue this throughout the video, to evoke questions in the audiences mind, as to “are they together?” or “are they apart?” this keeps the audiences hooked in our video, due to the ambiguity, as audience will hope there will be a resolution at the end of the video like real media product. We however don’t have a resolution at the end of our video. This therefore challenges real media products, leaving the audience's almost on a cliff-hanger on the persona that our band and actors have created. 

Another form and convention of real media products, is the music tempo often drives and influences the editing.  This is one of the first piece of researching we did as a group, with researching “Florence + the Machine” music video. “Florence + The Machine” video “Dog Days are Over” editing mimics the pace of their video, with starting slow, with long cuts, fitting with the pace of the tempo, then slowly getting faster, and having quick and choppy transitions towards the end of the video as the music tempo changes. This convention we used in our music video, with starting off slow, and even slowing down our footage, fitting with the slow pace of the song, with having long and slow scenes and cuts. With the tempo gradually getting faster in our music video towards the end, we then enhance the amount of cut and transitions in the video, making the editing snappy and fast. Our video includes many closes up shots, which is part of Andrew Goodwin's theory, to show detail, and several of which voyeuristically show sections of our characters bodies.

“The xx” are classified as an Indie genre band, with also being assigned to a small Indie label called The Young Turks. We wanted to use the Indie form and convention in the mise-en-scene, performance, camera and editing styles. For an Indie style mise-en-scene, we decided to make the costumes of the characters typically Indie and also the location of the video. The characters are in typical vintage, Indie clothing, with vintage Nikes, tops and skinny jeans. We have continued the Indie mise-en-scene with the locations featured in our video. With having the video filmed mostly outside in local Cambridge fields, and courtyards, our locations are rural. The location setting of being outside was commonly in the Indie genre music videos we researched, such as “Mumford and the Sons” video's and also videos by “The xx”. Our outdoors locations contrast with different media products genres, for example Usher, many of his music videos are filmed in a club, which is conventional for a pop video. Filming outside fits challenges urban music, and with filming outside this setting suits the gentle tones of the music, making our video feel more natural.

Intertextuality is a typical form and convention of a music video, which our media product challenges. Most music videos have intertextuality with audiences may not spot, for example Madonna’s “Material Girl” has intertextuality to the song sequence “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” in Howard Hawk’s “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”. Intertextuality references may bring pleasure to audiences who make the connection between the references, thus increasing the audience’s enjoyment with the song. Our music video challenges this convention, as it doesn’t have intertextuality to a particular film. However, our music video has a typical love narrative, with telling a story of a couple’s relationship. This typical narrative is included in many Rom-Coms and romance films, such as “500 Days of Summer”. In “500 Days of Summer” the intertextuality of our video to this film could be in the similar in the narrative style, with also similar colour tones. This film also includes Indie music, such as “The Smiths”, “The Temper Trap” and “Feist” Although audience won’t be able to pin point our intertextuality, audiences will still find our music video’s love narrative engaging, challenging this typical form and convention.

The convention exhibitionism is developed in our media product. With more powerful and independent female artists in recent years (such as Beyonce and Rihanna), this has added to the complexity of the politics of looking and gender, with female artists being sexually provocative as in this modern time sex sells. Both Beyonce and Rihanna have sexually provocative video, contrasting to our video where we don’t conform to this convention, as it doesn’t fit into the Indie genre. Different from Beyonce and Rihanna who are R & B, and Pop artists, these genres typically use their sexual provocative to sell, being in music videos, or ancillary texts. Having both our characters not being sexualised, although this isn’t uncommon in Pop music videos, but this is not common to use sex in Indie genre music videos. In Goodwin’s theory he stated that the female performer is frequently made out to be a sexual object through the combination of camerawork and editing with regular close up shots of body shots emphasising the artist as sexually provocative. Goodwin argued that making the females sexually appealing this ads’ voyeurism and satisfaction for audience's to watch the video. Although we don’t have our character sexually exploited, we do however don’t show our female singer as independent. Our female character (Sophie) isn’t a strong, independent woman, with having to be with our male character (Jack). Sophie is tied down to a man, with struggling with her relationship with Jack’s character in our narrative, going through a break up and then getting back together. Exhibitionism is developed in our music video, as Sophie is not sexually exploited; however she isn’t independent as she is with our male character Jack.

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

Our main product and our ancillary text have combined effectively, with keeping the music video; digipak and the magazine advert all indistinguishable and appropriate. We have keeps the theme, colours, images, and fonts consistent so audiences connect the band with the ancillary texts.
One of the main themes we decided to keep consistent in the music video and the ancillary text was the theme of the four elements. In our music video we included the four elements of earth (the first part of our music video), water (filming by the river, in the second part of our video), air (filming low angles of the sky, in the third part of our video) and finally the fire element. With planning and filming the video around the idea of the elements for our main product, we thought a good way to link the audience's to the ancillary text was to carry this theme on. We included the elements in the digipak with having the images based around Earth, Air, Water and Fire.

First, we had to choose a four-panel template of our digipak to include all four elements. The font cover has the air element, with air represented in the swirl pattern in the centre of the digipak. This combination of our main product and our ancillary text is in image of Sophie and Jack on the cover. We have taken these images from our main video, with taking stills from our video through Final Cut. We edited the image using Photoshop, and also created the pattern of air with using Photoshop tools. We decided to challenge typical Indie genre album covers, as commonly album cover by Indie bands don’t commonly include an image of the band, this is also see in “The xx” album cover. However, we thought it was best not to conform in this typical convention, as this was the best way to connect our audiences and fans to recognise the band from the video and transferred this onto the album. With having the connection transferred to the album this will increase album sales, as the band is more recognisable.
The element's are continued into the digipak, with the earth element being in the inside left panel. Making the panel the earth element with having simply used autumnal leaves. This is also intertextual of the video as the first part of our music video is filmed in a wood. We have also included the songs lyrics  “Sometimes I still need you” which the album is advertising. Having the lyrics written in white in this panel, makes the lyrics and song hook stand out. This lyric is also in second person, which is effective as we are trying to engage and evoke audience's emotions with “you”. This gets the audience to image that it is “you”, thus evoking self-importance. On the inside right panel, where the CD is kept, we have made this panel the water element. We have made an image of ripples in water to represent where the CD will be placed. There is intertextuality of the rippling water, as it is also shown during the start of our music video.

On our back cover we decided to convey the fire element, represented with having smoke instead of fire. Fire is also the last element in our music video, connecting both our music video and our digipak as fire represents the end. Additionally, fire is dominant and powerful element, therefore signifying a powerful ending to our music video and digipak. On the back panel we have place “The Young Turks” record label logo, DVD logo, barcode, and a certificate rating for the music video. “The Young Turks” is the record label, which “The xx” belong to. With having this institution, audience's who are familiar with this record label and haven’t heard of “The xx” may be more inclined to buy the record. “The Young Turks” record label may appeal to fans that don’t support mainstream labels, and may want to buy “The xx” album. The DVD logo is included so audiences know they can watch our music video, again connecting our media product with the digipak. The barcode is included to show that our CD is meant for retail stores such as HMV, which is advertised on our magazine advert. We acknowledged that not many CD's are bought in retail stores and now digitally downloaded. To increase store revenues, we included an exclusive completion, for store buyers only, of the chance of getting band concert tickets to create an incentive to buy the CD in stores.

With advertising a competition to win tickets to the bands concert, this links the magazine advert with the digipak. On our magazine advert, we decided it was best to place tour dates on your advert. This is because generally when bands release a new album, they have a tour to coincide with the album release. With having a tour this will increase sales of our album, and create good publicity for the band. We saw this when we were researching magazine adverts, and saw many albums advertising was accompanied by a tour. Our release date of our album is the date of the first live concert. The competition to win tickets to see the band live will be advertised on “The xx” Facebook or fan sites, getting fans to buy the CD in retail stores.

Another combination of our ancillary text is the fonts and logos in both products. We decided to keep the fonts and colours consistent in the magazine advert with the digipak. We have kept “The xx” lettering bold and white contrasting against the black backgrounds. This is similar to “The xx” logo, with having the X bold and white, again against a black background. We have kept the same font of “Heart Skipped a Beat” on our digipak and magazine advert. However, we decided to alter “The xx” logo on the magazine ad, with having “The” in the middle of the “xx”. We made this difference, so audience’s can distinguishes between the two ancillary texts and what there advertising, the tour and the album release. We have kept “The Young Turks” logo on both ancillary texts, however, we have place a different logo on the magazine advert, this being the HMV institution logo. We thought that having this institutions logo was best on our album, as we have a promotional opportunity for those who buy the hard copy of the CD in a retail store, and HMV has many stores around the UK and world. On our magazine ad, we have a quote from NME Magazine; this is the audience our band is targeting, as NME is an alternative and Indie magazine and a magazine in which we would place our advert. There is also “Mercury Prize Winners” advertised on our magazine ad, again to hook in our Indie target audience, and audiences who watch the Mercury Prize, or read NME.

 What have you learnt from your audience feedback?

Our group found that audience feedback meant we could learn to improve our video, to a professional quality. The feedback we received meant that we could fix any issues, especially in the early stages of the filming and editing process.
During the stages of making our music video we had to make a rough cut of our video. During this rough cut process we felt really rushed to quickly make a draft of our music video, as we hadn’t finished filming the majority of our video. On the due date of our rough cut we placed in what we had filmed onto the editing software Final Cut. We then dedicated a lesson to looking at our peer’s rough-cut work, and we found that many other groups had also more filming to do. However, the peer feedback from our class did help on ideas of our video and to improve our filmed work.

We received positive and constructive criticism from our peer members, which helped to enhance the professionalism of our video. The main positive feedback was the lip-syncing being strong and professional, especially in the opening scene of Jack. We had asked Jack and Sophie to learn the lyrics, so that the lip-syncing was correct and professional. When we where filming, we played the music out of our mobile phones so that the timing was correct and therefore easier to edit. Other positive feedback was the performance between the singers and actors was strong, therefore making a clear and powerful narrative. Comments where that the chemistry between Jack and Sophie was believable, and it looked like they had a history together, therefore working well together. The relationship narrative was also made clear due to the lyrics, for example when “sometimes I still need you” is sung; we would show a clip of either Sophie or Jack apart.

Our constructive criticism was really helpful, as it was good to get advice from fresh eyes on what to improve, and if our video kept audiences wanting to watch more due to our video being visually stimulating. Some of the criticisms was to include more scenes of the couple together before they where separated, it was suggested to include them cooking a meal, or watching a film together. We took this criticism onboard and then filmed more couple scenes such as cycling, walking and holding hands together. Another criticisms was that some of the filming was too unsteady, this was especially at the birds eye view shot in the woods of Jack and Sophie, which was done by hand holding the camera. We took these criticisms on board and also something in which we agreed with, we then decide to re-film these scenes. We went to the same wood in Cambridge where we originally film, and still had difficulty to keeping the camera steady. We didn’t want to spin the shot in Final Cut, we wanted to rotate the camera ourselves so it looked effective. In order to make the hand help bird's eye view more stable we tried different techniques. First, we attached the camera to some rope and tried rotating the camera this way. This however meant that the camera wasn’t concentrated on Jack and Sophie singing. Then we tried just filming one person singing, instead both Jack and Sophie singing as we did as shown in our rough cut. This was easier to film as it meant during filming we didn’t have to rotate over both Jack and Sophie, and just concentrate on keeping the camera steady. We where also told that in order to make the video more visually stimulating, we should add better fades and transitions. We took this criticism aboard, as we where rushed in meeting the rough-cut deadline we didn’t get the chance to add fades and transitions. We then added these filters, fades and transitions into our final product, such as contrasts, sepia with a pink tone added and more, in our video once we had finished filming.

The final draft feedback was also very positive, from our class and also teachers, with some feedback comments written on our blog comment box. The feedback we received was that our video looked professional, in terms of filters and editing. It was noted that we took the rough cut criticism onboard and then made the correct changes to our music video. A new point made to our final product was the locations where visually interesting and fitted with the Indie genre. The rural locations meant that we could create different atmospheres and the locations fitting with the music. We changed the locations to keep in pace with the music, with changing the locations a each verse, keeping audiences interested and not just looking at the same location. Our locations where filmed at certain times of the day depending on the lighting, as our aim to to create an atmosphere to enhance the mood which will be accompanied by filter, such as in the court yard scene. If we where filming in the dark, we simply lit the scene with torches, which created a nice glow over the scene.

During the editing process of our final product, we received feedback from media teachers at Long Road. One of the teachers had previously worked in the music video industry, and therefore knew the forms and conventions of music videos. He suggested that a way in improving our video would to foreshadow events at the beginning of the video, to the end of the video. We didn’t think this would really work, however, we added flashed of the end scene bon fire at the being of the video in order to keep audiences watching the video. Personally, I still don’t think this fits in our video, but we decided to keep this foreshadowing.
We received more feedback from another Long Road media teacher, however we decided to reject this feedback as we thought it didn’t feel right in our video. This feedback was to do with the lip-syncing towards the end of the video, which isn’t as strong as the opening lip-syncing scene. It was suggested to place an image on top of this scene in order to distract the audience from looking at the lip-syncing. However, we received this feedback the day of the deadline, and couldn’t find an appropriate image that fitted well in this scene, therefore causing us to reject this feedback.

We produced our ancillary texts of a short period of time; the peer feedback that we received on the digipak was that is was eye catching due to the contrasting colour scheme. Our class felt that the digipak fitted into the Indie genre feel, as many albums by Indie bands are abstract and not over the top, similar to “The xx” album cover. Our peer group like how the idea of the four elements was continued onto the digipak, connecting the two products together.

The peer feedback on the magazine advert was that it was effective to place the tour dates on the magazine ad, as the band are promoting a concert to coincide with the release of the album. Audiences thought that there is a clear link between the ancillary text and also the video, through the colouring, themes and text. However, the feedback on the ancillary texts wasn’t very helpful and not learning from the feedback, as there wasn’t feedback given throughout the process of making the ancillary texts. This feedback would have been helpful during the process in order to know what would look eye catching and effective on both our digipak and our magazine advert.

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

During the researching and planning stages of our music video, we used the new media technology of video sharing website YouTube. YouTube allowed us to look at countless video, from music videos, to tutorials on how to uses technology such as Photoshop. We used YouTube to look at real media products for inspiration, looking at artists such as “Mumford and the Sons”, “Ellie Golding” and other videos for analysis. With YouTube being worldwide and having billions of videos, we also watched past student’s music video covers around the world. We could also looked at tutorials of how to create certain effects and tips in using Photoshop and Final Cut. We also placed our rough-cut and final music video on YouTube, and YouTube also allows the public to view and comment on our video. We also used BBC iPlayer to look at effects for editing for our flash back scene, which we took screen grabs of and placed this onto our blog.

We used a website called Blogger to construct our research, planning and evaluation stages. Blogger allowed us to place any information or research we did for our music video, and shows the stages of the production of our music video. We could embed videos on our blog from which we mainly collected from YouTube, we could also post any analysis we did, and also photos. Working on Blogger also meant that we could look at previous Long Road students blogs, and make our blog a high standard, as well as visually interesting with the uses of images, videos and colours, with also our group also received blog of the week.

We used the search engine Google which helped us with researching theories such as Goodwin's Theory, and Auteur Theory and also the 180 Degree Rule, Codes and Conventions of music videos. Google let us look at website which could help us, such as Flickr for images to help our blog look visually interesting, and Flicker was also a place where we could upload our own images. We used Google to find the correct fonts for our ancillary texts, tutorials for Photoshop, and Final Cut. We also used Google to buy items such as Chinese Lanterns for our video.

During the planning for our video, we first drew up storyboards. Storyboards allowed us to roughly plan our video, and the narrative structure. We did stick to the main ideas of our storyboard, but this was really just a rough structure, as we added or changed thing when filming. Our storyboard was drawn by hand, but with the use of a webcam technology, this meant we could take a photo of the storyboard, flip it, upload it onto flicker, embed the photo code to our blog, and place the image onto our blog for others to view. If we ever hand drew or wrote some work, we would take a still of our work on the webcam and place it on the blog. All these technologies helped us with the planning stages of our media product. 

During filming we used the new technology of a Sony HD digital camera. With having the camera in high definition, this meant our video was filmed in a high quality and made our video looked sharp, and professional. With the camera being new, it meant we could easily transfer our video onto the computer for editing in Final Cut, instead of previously the digital camera being tape recoded, and not digital. Throughout the filming process, we would document this with our mobile phone, and taking photos with the camera. We would then turn the Bluetooth on, in the computer, and send the photos directly to the computer, and then upload then onto the blog. Our mobile phones also helped us during filming, as we place the song onto our mobile phones, and the speakers on the phone meant that we could hear the song out aloud. This meant that we could get the timing of the lip-syncing correct and also the lyrics. Also, if we had forgotten the lyrics, we could Google them through our phones whilst on location.

For the editing process, we used the new editing technologies, Final Cut and Photoshop. The Final Cut technologies let us compose our music video, easily add filters, transitions, add “Heart Skipped a Beat” audio, and produce our video. Photoshop allowed us to create our ancillary texts. We took stills from exporting a still out of Final Cut and import the images into Photoshop. We where able to edit images, for example image retouching, adding texts, and making our digipak and ancillary texts to a high standard. We could import different brushes or font texts into Photoshop, which we collected off Google. Overall, the skills that I have learnt in A2 media is how to use technology better, such as Photoshop and Final Cut, and how to improve media products to make them look visually stimulating.

By Melanie Moran

Sophie Alard - Evaluation

In what ways does your media product use, develop, or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?
One way that our media product helps to develop the forms and conventions of real media products is with the narrative. We found whilst doing our planning as research that other indie band video’s had a strong narrative to it. An example of this is ‘Stolen’ by Dashboard Confessional, who tell the story of two people who fall in love at a young but have to leave each other for a while then are  reunited when they are older. We took this idea and made a strong narrative to our video. Unlike music videos with a pop genre, we didn’t need to have a big performance of the artists dancing with show styled costumes on as that isn’t a normal convention of an indie music video. Instead we based the video on a story similar to Dashboard Confessional. When looking at some of The XX’s previous video, we noted that some of their videos tend to have fire included in them. An example of this, are with their videos ‘VCR’ and ‘Islands’. Our initial thought was that this wouldn’t be an idea that we would be able to do, but the as our planning came underway, we had the idea of the four elements which are fire, earth, air and water, We then knew this would have to be something to include.
The locations we chose for our music video were all outside. It gave more of a professional look to it as other students videos tend to be filmed in houses or in their cars. This can sometimes degrade a video as the space isn’t always used creatively.
Parts of our music video were filmed in the dark so we used a bright light to light up the faces of me and Jack. This technique mimics real life media products in the professionalism we have incorporated in our own video. The lights give the end bit in particularly an eerie look as it is just the faces that are lighted up the most. When me and Jack are standing next to each other in the woods singing, it almost looks like Jack isn’t really their and that he is perhaps just a mirage because of the lighting isn’t lighting up his face as well as it is with mine.
An important aspect of the music video was the outfits. We had the outfits correspond with the different elements that we had selected for each verse, mainly connected the element with a colour. For example for the element air, I wore a white floaty top. It is important to have outfit changes throughout a music video as it is widely seen in many other real music videos. Jack is seen wearing vintage Nikes in the part where we are dancing together. This is conventional for indie bands as they are typically seen wearing normal everyday outfits. The style we went with was a casual/youth style as that heads more towards a target audience of teenagers and young adults.
During editing, we found we needed the flashback parts to stand out from the rest of the video. We found that real life products used filters to make the part look more interesting and for it to stand out from the rest. One real music video we looked at was ‘Only Girl in the World’ by Rihanna who uses a pink tinge to her video to give it a girly look. So for the flashbacks we used a red-ish tint to represent romance that the two shared between each other and the rest we made the contrast higher which made it look darker to create a gloomier mood. 

 How effective is the combination of your media product and ancillary texts?
One of the main themes we had for our music video was the 4 elements; air, earth, water and fire. We included this idea for our ancillary text. For the CD cover, we represented each element on one of the four sides to the cover. On the front cover, we represented air by using different swirly brushes in blue and white underneath and on top of a picture of me and Jack, which we collected from our music video to link the video and CD cover together. The inside on the left represented the element earth. For this we used another brush to create a leaf effect in oranges and greens. Our first idea for this element was to have a tree with leaves falling from it; however the image we created by using a tree brush looked cartoony. We felt this didn’t match the overall style of the CD album. On the inside right, we had a ripple effect to represent water coming out from the centre in a strong blue colour. This is especially striking as you can only see the ripple once you have lifted the CD out of the holder. Lastly, on the back of the cover we represented the element fire, using brushes to make a smoke effect in red and white. We placed this at the bottom and aligned to the left so it left room for track names.  In both of the music videos and the ancillary texts, it wouldn’t be straightaway obvious that we had included these elements. Instead, it comes across subtle which works better than being in your face and too obvious.
Our magazine advert uses a similar effect to the front cover of the CD. We created a similar spiral effect like we used on the front so people can see a clear connection between the two. Both of the spirals look like they are expanding across the covers which give an edgy look to it. Both ancillary texts work well with this particular genre as it works more on selling the music instead of selling the artist. For example, a CD from Rihanna would most likely display a photo of herself unlike bands from the indie genre who concentrate more on the music which they show through images. The XX are not greatly well known across the UK and USA, so we adding tour dates to the magazine advert to promote the band more. We got this idea from looking at previous students work and saw that it worked well with the genre and the rest of our advert. One of The temper trap’s magazine adverts has a similar style to ours. 
The colour scheme for the ancillary texts we kept with a black background. The reason behind this was to keep the design of the digipak relatively easy to make when it came to adding all the elements to the different panels. We adopted this idea onto the magazine advert and used a bold white font called ‘Planet of the Apes’ which is prominent against the black background. This font was also used on the digipak. An interesting aspect of the font is that the lowercase and uppercase versions of the font are different. I think this adds a little bit extra to the ancillary texts as they don’t look entirely the same.  The ancillary texts together have the band’s name ‘The XX’ at the top in the centre of the products to keep the continuity in both pieces. One change on the placing of the name was that we decided to put the word ‘The’ in the centre of the ‘XX’ for the magazine advert. It works well for the advert as it doesn’t make all the text look like it is aligned to one side so is therefore using the space creatively.

 What have you learnt from your audience feedback?
The first feedback we received for our music video was for our rough draft. After watching all of our class’s music videos, everyone commented on each video. Altogether the feedback was strong and included positive feedback and constructive criticism. Our class thought we had a strong narrative and could easily pick out the storyline we had created from the lyrics. The felt the chemistry between the actors was strong and natural. This performance adds to the narrative and makes it more realistic and similar to a professional music video. Some of the constructive criticism we received was people felt, whilst watching our music video, that it needed more shots of the couple together to be used as flashback. We agreed as a group that this needed to be included in the narrative. We added more shots of the couple together towards the end between the choruses’. These shots included them walking down a dimly lit street together and a scene where they are riding a bike. We were told that the flashbacks needed to stand out more so they could be a clear distinction between what had already happened and what was happening in the narrative. One of the biggest problems with the video was the ‘Sometimes I still need you’ verse. This scene was visibly unsteady and needed to be filmed in a different way. Our class easily saw this problem too. We re-filmed the scene at the same location and tried it out a couple of times and in different ways. In the end we settled for filming me and Jack separately and editing it so the shots are seen simultaneously. The unsteadiness was inevitable as the camera was handheld, but the editing technique helps to make most of the wobbliness unnoticeable. Lastly, we were told the beginning shot was too long. This feedback wasn’t overly helpful as that shot had just been placed at the beginning to fill a bit of the gap and hadn’t intentionally meant to be so long.
The feedback from our final draft of the music video was also very positive. Our class had another chance to watch over the final music videos and each gave feedback about what they thought of it. These points were that they liked the effects we used for the flashback and this helped to improve the editing as they thought it was also very good. They liked the professionalism in the changes of locations as it goes well with the music and are creative. Another point was that the lip-syncing is spot on throughout the video which shows that it is a high quality piece of work. The mise-en-scene in the video were used in terms of lighting and is cleverly used to light up the faces of the singers so you can see them sing. Finally, they said the lanterns add a nice touch at the end and goes well with the mood of the video.
We received feedback from two Long Road teachers before our final deadline was due. One talked about hinting to the audience what would happen at the end of the video towards the beginning because the first 30 seconds of a music video needs to make the audience want to keep on watching the video otherwise they are likely to stop watching. As a group we thought this was a good idea. We incorporated it into the video by adding a flash of the fire scene in the second verse were I am singing. The second part we added was a small shot of the beginning part of the lanterns scene where I am flipping one of the lanterns over. I feel like it enhanced our music video a lot. The other Long Road teacher felt that we should add a couple of bits to the scene where the lip-syncing isn’t all perfectly in time. We tried to do this but had a couple of problems. For example, the part where Jack is singing by the fire, we tried to have a shot of me in the background by turning the opacity levels down low. The look we had created made it seem like I was sitting on top of the fire. We didn’t go along with the idea as it was an hour until the deadline and thought we liked our end product just the way it was.
We were told that we needed to quicken the pace at the end of the video to match with a small part the editing was a bit faster. We thought this was a good idea because otherwise throughout the whole video, it would have been the same pace and not very interesting for the audience to watch. We changed it by adding more shots and mixing around some of the shots we already place on the timeline.
Overall, all the feedback we received had helped us create a high quality piece of work. The rough draft feedback was the most useful as it helped us put together all the work that we needed to do, the bits we needed to improve on and the parts that could stay how they were. Also, the feedback from Amaar helped our group a lot and I feel as though we learnt a lot from what he told us.

How did you use new media technologies in the construction and research, planning and evaluation stages?
Throughout the construction and research, planning and evaluation stages we used many new media technologies to create our music video. First of all, we used these different media technologies for the research stage. The internet was a key factor in this stage, as we used it for many parts. We used Google to search for information on the band ‘The XX’ such as were they come from, awards they had won and the lyrics to the song we had chosen. All the information we gathered, was put on a blog called Blogger. This is a useful way for collecting research as you can come back to it and see all your work together in one place. On our blog’s media homepage, you can find an archive of all past students work. We found this very helpful as we could find what blog posts we needed to do and how to make our music video stand out against the rest. Also, YouTube was very handy for watching real music videos. These videos gave us a lot of inspiration and gave us an idea of how many cuts we would need to give our video a professional look.
Most of our planning stages were written down on paper. For example, the storyboard, costume ideas, ending ideas and a rough idea of what would happen in each verse. After each part was completed, we took a photo using Photobooth on an Apple Mac and later uploaded this onto our blog. In this stage, we also filmed some test shot which we would need for our music video. We tested different angles, and tried the rotating bird’s eye view shot, so we could see how easy/hard it would be to do later on.
The construction stage consisted of filming, editing, and the actual construction of the two ancillary texts. For filming, we used a HD Sony Digital camera for all of the filming we did for the music video. Whilst filming, we had our phones out to play the music so me and Jack could sing in time to the music and so it would be easy to get it all in sync in the editing stages. Also our phones were used to take a couple of photos so we could document this onto our blogs. When it came to editing we used a program called Finalcut, and uploaded our shots and rearranged them into the correct places, until we were happy with the final outcome. The ancillary texts, Magazine advert and Digipak, consisted of using Photoshop. We designed them both by using brushes that we downloaded from various websites.  
Finally, the evaluation stage was similar with the construction stage for the commentary. We filmed and then edited it using Finalcut. The written evaluation was typed up on Microsoft Word.
From these projects we created, I feel that my skills have developed a great deal. I am now more confident with using Photoshop and feel that I would be able to create most things with the help from tutorials. My knowledge on camera techniques has improved as I have learnt that there is always more than one way to do things, e.g. the rotating bird’s eye view shot. Lastly, with editing, my skills are much more advanced than what they used to be before the music video project had started.
Sophie Alard

Monday, 13 December 2010

List of Stills and Images to add into our Evaluation Video

Question One:

•    Image of “If I were a boy” by Beyonce album cover
•    Image of the mise-en-scene, such as the costumes. Still from the video of vintage style clothes
s and j clothes
jack clothes

•    Image of our locations then contrast with real product such as Usher in a club
Picture 5

•    Image from the video of the fire, water, air and earth and Sophie in a white flowing top.

Question Two:

•    Have an image of the whole Digipak, then image of just front, then back, then inside.

•    Image of the magazine advert, then close up of digipack XX logo, then magazine ad logo.
Magazine advertFINALpsd

4 ACD Digi pack Template.pdf
•    Digipak image of Sophie and Jack
Picture 4

Question Three:

Mel’s point
•    Video of Jack lip-syncing in the opening scene, with music softened and our voices raised
jack lip sync
sophie ls

•    Video of Sophie and Jack on the bike or holding hands
•    Video of the birds eye view in the wood
birds eye view woods

Sophie’s point:

•    Image of the filters
filter on hands
•    Image of locations

Picture 8
Picture 11

•    Image of Sophie and Jack by bon fire and lighting


Lydias point
•    Image of digipack and xx album
4 ACD Digi pack Template.pdf


•    Image of magazine
Magazine advertFINALpsd

Question Four:

•    Image of Mumford and Sons album and Katy Perry’s
•    Image of the storyboard

Photo 9

•    Pictures from the filming

•    Screen shot of the Final cut and Photoshop
Picture 3

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Evaluation - Question 4

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

1.  Research
Before we started filming we researched real media products.  We did most of our researching on Youtube, looking at music videos for inspiration, such as Florence and the machine, Katy Perry, Mumford and the Sons etc.  We also used search engines such as google, it research Gordwins theory, Forms and Conventions of music videos, fonts and tips in editing, and using photoshop. We also looked a previous students blogs in our research for inspiration and also how previous students planned and blogged and their final product. We also placed our final and draft on Youtube, where people are able to look and comment on our video.  Youtube technology has allowed us to let people all over the world, and also has let us view millions of videos, and tutorials to help us research.

2. Planning
During planning we first drew up storyboards. This was roughly to guide us in filming; we did stick to most of the storyboard, however we added or changed ideas when it came to filming. This was done with pencil and paper, so we therefore didn’t use new technologies. However, we then added a webcam photo and added the still of the storyboard on the blog.

3. Filming
For filming we used a Sony HD digital camera. We used our mobile phones to play the music aloud when on location and also to take photos documenting the photos, which we placed on our blog.  We also used a the digital camera for test shots.

We used final cut for the editing of our music video. On final cut we wre able to speed up and slow down footage and also put filters over the top. We were also able to cut out the parts that we didnt need and move them around so they were in different orders.
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