Monday, 29 November 2010

Digital Technology...

Focusing on the subject digital technology, I have set myself a few targets of what I plan to achieve over the next week...

Firstly I intend to enhance my knowledge of Adobe Premiere Pro CS5, by taking some practice video footage (using the HD video cameras) and digitally manipulating the footage into a short practice film.

I also want to become more familiar with the Digital SLR cameras, so that I am fully confident in using them when I want to take photographs for my Digipak.

Finally, I want to understand how to deal with different lighting conditions, such as how to film and photograph in dark, night time situations.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Possible Digipak Idea...

I took this photo on my phone, because I think the contrast between the thorny plant and the spiked fence is really interesting.

I think the spiked fence could portray the violent, urban genre my music video follows.

I also think the way in which the natural wildlife is juxtaposed with the harsh metal structure could connote a variety of things; such as good and evil.

Because of how interesting this scenery was, I photographed it, and believe I may include it in one of the panels of my actual Digipak. Maybe I will just use this as a starting point towards a more planned out photograph.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Location Inspiration...

Whilst walking home from college, I had to travel through alley ways and along streets that linked to my music video's theme.
I took a few photos because I think some of the locations I passed through were relevent to my project and maybe even possibilities when it comes to the production of my music video.

The photo's below were simply took on my phone...

I also plan to use Google Maps to possibly search for some relevant locations that aren't too far away.

Character Design...

Focusing on the theme of creativity, I designed what I want the main character within our music video to look like, in terms of fashion and style.

The design above shows clearly what I want "him" to look like.
When it comes to the production of our music video, we can dress our character accordingly to my design here.

Being Creative - Creating A Draft Digipak.

I spent a short amount of time drafting a rough Digipak, then producing it.
I gathered a variety of relevant images from the Internet and placed them in the separate panels using Adobe Photoshop.

All of the images are appropriate to the themes of my music video in separate ways. I wanted to try and give this muck-up Digipak a sort of confusing element, I wanted it to be entropic and nonsensical.
Once I had the Digipak's flat plan completed, I printed it out and put it together in physical form.
I think creating this practice Digipak has helped my understanding of their layout.
Creating this rough Digipak has also given me some inspiration into what images I might portray in my actual Digipak.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

What Is Creativity?

According to Sir Ken Robinson, you can only be creative if you make mistakes to begin with.
He believes that without letting children make mistakes, they cannot learn from them, or maybe find an interesting outcome. Therefore he feels schools are not creative.
This week we decided to focus on the subject of creativity, to take risks and try new things.
This week I investigated Digipaks, and what I would like to do with mine.
I made a 'mock' Digipak, which provided me with an idea that I can develop, once I have my own images.
I also plan to use google maps to look at various locations around Worcester that me and my partner could include within my music video.

Getting Some Feedback From My Peers...

Me and my partner Matt performed a pitch in front of our media class, "selling our idea".

We used Microsoft PowerPoint which showed simple points of texts and eye catching imagery.
Once we had finished speaking about our idea, and the issues involved with it, we got some written feedback about what our audience learnt from us, and points they thought would help us improve our idea.

Below is a selected sample of some of the written responses we got to our pitch...

Aswell as speaking in person to a large group of peers about our idea, I also published our song choice and mood-board onto the social networking site - Facebook.
Once I had put my music video's song and mood-board onto Facebook, I asked a handful of teenagers to give their opinion.

I asked them if they thought our ideas were PREDICTABLE when compared to the song.
I asked them if they LIKE the ideas included within the mood-board.
I asked them if they thought the idea is REALISTIC, in terms of whether it can be done.
I asked them if they thought the idea was SUITABLE.

Using screen grabs I can show you directly what they thought...

Overall everyone we spoke to seems to be interested and feel our idea is successful, they also gave us some hints and advice on how to improve it.


I created this mood-board using Photoshop and google images.

It contains a large variety of images that all relate to our music video idea.
Some of the themes included are fashion, girls, substance abuse, crime, socialising and money.

I think this mood-board successfully gives an idea of what our video is about, and the issues it will portray.

I plan to show this mood-board to some relevent teenagers when I am researching my target audience.

My Chosen Song...

We used the website "MYSPACE" in order to track down a song within our chosen Genre - Grime/Dubstep.
We wanted something with a strong beat, that portrayed the streets and had a sort of grime effect.
Eventually we came across a song called... "Unfinished Business" by an artist called "Havok".
We sent Havok an email asking if we could use their music as part of our media project, we then got to work by listening to the song countless times, trying to see what ideas we could synthesise.
This is our chosen song, Luckily it does not already have a music video, but it is still on YouTube for us to share with you...
We also have it in MP3 format for when we begin production.

Interestingly this song has no lyrics, which could be a disadvantage and an advantage.
It will be more of a challenge for when me and my partner have to think of themes etc. yet we don't have to worry about lip syncing and so on.
Our basic idea is that we want the camera to follow a young male character throughout the journey of his day.
We will show him waking up, getting ready to leave the house, and then him leaving the house.
He will move through the city, meeting friends, and meeting people for "business".
Our character is going to be an illegal drug dealer trying to make his way.
We want to give our video an entropic twist, so we want to include something scary/thrilling.
I had the idea that we should include a creature/monster, yet something that isn't to childish and could be easily disguised with a sly and sneaky feel.
Eventually me and my partner decided that a zombie could be included into our character's scenario. The zombie will be wearing a hood over his face, and the zombie will hide in the shadows and follow our character without him knowing.

The video will have a similar feel to the one I analysed earlier, by Plan B.

Research Into My Target Audience...

Basically, the target audience for my music video are going to be a better behaved version of the main character within my music video.
What I mean is, like the character within my video, the target audience will be interested in fashion, money, girls and alot of the themes represented on my moodboard.

My target audience will be male, and around 15 to 19 years old.

They will go out drinking regularly with there mates and will work somewhere like Tesco or Subway.

They will own a BMX (probably stolen) but maybe a moped or a cheap car such as a Ford Fiesta depending on their age.

My target audience will listen to music in the genre of Grime, Rap and like my chosen song... Dubstep.

My intended audience will be inner city aspirers either in the working class or even below it.
They would also be hedonists.

Research Into A Music Video Of My Chosen Genre...

Plan B - Missing Links music video...

This is a very important video in relation to my work, for a number of reasons.
Firstly this video follows a similar narrative to what me and my partner had planned our video to have.
This music video follows the journey of a single character, using a variety of camera angles.
It uses restricted narration, as throughout the whole video, the audience only sees what Plan B (the artist) sees.
But, I plan for my music video to use omniscient narration, because my music video will have parallel action, showing more than one persons story within the situation.

Claude Levi-Strauss said that narratives consist of oppositions between "Right" and "Wrong".
I suppose this video does show "Good vs. Evil" in a number of ways, for example, when Plan B walks through the streets, the use of point-of-view camera shots show drug dealers and prostitutes which, represent the "Wrong side" within the narrative.

Plan B himself is actually represented as fairly neutral, yet I would say towards the end he is portrayed in a more negative tone, as his appearance and attitude visibly deteriorates.

To begin with, the video uses a couple of fairly long takes, lasting around three seconds each. Within the start of the video there are not that many cuts.
Then the tempo of the song increases, as well as the number of cuts.

The main character spends a lot of time staring directly at the audience, whilst walking towards them. This interesting camera angle makes Plan B appear in a sense quite threatening, which might have been the intention, in order to connote the violent themes being sung about in the song.

The genre of the video is very urban and could fall under the "Grime scene". It portrays violence as well as using references to drugs and prostitution.

The lighting throughout the whole video is quite shallow and low, there are only a few shots where sunlight is shown strongly.
Most of the time the streets are shown as shadowed and mysterious, this is even achieved when the streets are shown in daylight as well as night-time.

Characters within the footage are all wearing up-to-date clothing, emphasising the urban feel.
Within my music video, fashion will be incorporated thoughtfully, and the latest trends will be cleverly included.

Vladimir Propp's theory doesn't seem evident in this video in my opinion. This may be because the video doesn't stick to a solid narrative with an obvious middle and end.
This video simply follows a character walking through the streets from start to finish.

Furthermore, I wouldn't even say that Todorov's narrative theory is apparent either.
Todorov said that stories have 5 main stages, Equilibrium, Disequilibrium, Recognition, Reparation and a new Equilibrium.
Whereas, this video doesn't really consist of any significant events. Although you could say the story has a new Equilibrium because Plan B ends the video in an injured state, unlike the start of the video where he is healthy and unharmed.

There is no diagetic sound present within the video, the only thing that can be heard is the actual track being performed by Plan B himself. This could be a way in which the director wanted to advertise the artist, and ensure all attention is paid to him and his music.

I would say the video connotes a lot of themes, the most obvious being the negativity within some teenage lifestyles within society.
The video is illustrating, because the imagery on screen portrays the words being spoken by the artist, therefore I suppose you could class this video as very redundant.
There are very little entropic factors within this video, except for the way Plan B physically changes appearance in the time it takes him to walk from one destination to another.
He becomes inured, and looks weaker in a very short amount of time.
This is unrealistic obviously, yet it represents the issues within the song, which is why it would have been included.

Andrew Goodwin said that in music videos, there is a relationship between the lyrics and the visuals. This is definitely evident within this particular music video.
The visuals within this video are illustrative of the lyrics. The whole video is based within an urban location, where drug deals and violence occurs, this is what the whole song talks about.

When Plan B sings "now the highlight of your day is masturbation" he uses an illustrative hand gesture, which proves there is obvious synchronisation between the audio and the visuals.

According to Goodwin, within music videos there is genre-related style and iconography present, this is true in terms of this video.
Goodwin also said that another key feature of music videos is there is multiple close-ups of the main artist. This is definitely true in this video, in fact almost the whole video is simply close-ups of the main artist!

The mise en scene of the whole video is dark and dangerous, this is very relevant when attention is paid to the lyrics being sung.
Dominant ideology of teenagers being trouble makers is being communicated, young people are being shown dealing drugs and up to no good. This sort of representation of teenagers probably has many opinions.
Someone with an oppositional reading would say that not all teenagers deal drugs and attack people!
Whereas someone with a preferred reading might actually be a teenager who at some point has dealt with drugs etc. and understands how easy it is to fall into the wrong path.

The way in which Plan B gradually transforms is technically very successful.
His transformation is smooth and unnoticeable, but when his appearance from both the start and end of the video are compared, significant changes have obviously occurred.

Digipak & Advertisement Research...

A Digipak is a patented style of compact disc or DVD packaging.
Digipaks typically consist of a book style paperboard or card stock outer binding, with one or more plastic trays capable of holding a CD or DVD attached to the inside.
They can come in a variety of styles, the most popular being 4 or 6 panel designs.
The one below is 6 panel (6 sides) which is what I want mine to be like.

When the panels are opened the disc is revealed. On this particular Digipak the disc rests on the right hand side, whereas I want my disc to sit in the centre.

Below are a couple more examples of Digipaks...

Looking in more detail into Digipaks, I focused on the album "Recovery" by Eminem, which interestingly features one of the songs I analysed earlier.
The images below show the Digipak front and back cover for "Recovery"...

The front cover is very simplistic, the only text included is the one word "Recovery", which is the name of the album.
The artist's name is not even mentioned, I think this is a way of showing how successful he is. His name does not even have to be mentioned because apparently everyone will already know that it is Eminem's album.

The image has had no over the top editing, and appears very real and simple.

In addition to my point about Eminem's name not being on the front cover, a picture is not shown of him either. (except for one of him shot from behind walking into the distance).

This is the back of the album, it shows the list of tracks, aswell as a barcode, a website address, an anti-piracy logo and some other logos from producers etc.

The portrait image below is the poster which advertises the album previously mentioned.
As you can see it uses the same imagery which was incorporated onto the album itself.
I want to incorporate similar imagery and effects from my Digipak to my poster, yet I do not want to directly use the same images on both.
I think if I use the same images on both my advert and Digipak, it will look repetitive and lazy, even though I can understand why it has been done here.

Music Video Theoretical Ideas & Narratives...

Andrew Goodwin was a theorist that identified some key features within music videos, they are...

A relationship between the lyrics and the visuals.
(The visuals will either illustrate, amplify or contradict the lyrics)

A relationship between the music and the visuals.
(The visuals will either illustrate, amplify or contradict the music.)

Genre-related style and iconography present.

Multiple close-ups of the main artist or vocalist.

Voyeurism - Camera close-ups to particular body parts on women is often used.
(The male gaze)

And finally, Inter textual references to other media texts may be present.

Within my video analysis, I have picked up on a few of Goodwin's points, and agree with alot of the things he said.

Music Video Narrative:

Narrative describes the way in which a story is told, it is the way the story's elements are structured and organised in a way that is understandable to the audience.
(How events are unified in time and space)

Todorov's narrative theory...

The story is structured into 5 stages -
Equilibrium, Disequilibrium, Recognition, Reparation and New Equilibrium.

Basically, Todorov's theory says that all stories start with everything in order, then something disrupts that original order.
Character's realise the order has been disrupted and attempt to fix the damage of the disequilibrium.
Finally, the narrative ends with a repaired or NEW equilibrium.

Vladimir Propp's narrative theory...

The story is influenced by a variety of character roles.
Primarily there is a hero who is sent on a quest by the sender.
The hero has to overcome the villain, usually with the aid of a helper.
In completing the quest and/or removing the villain, the hero gains a reward - often a princess.

Claude Levi-Strauss' narrative theory...

The story is motivated by a struggle between Binary Opposites.
One side will be represented as the "Right" side, the audience should identify with and support this "Right" side.

There are two key types of narration...
Restricted Narration - The audience is "tied" to one character, and only sees or knows what this character knows, building up suspense in most cases.
Omniscient Narration - The story is not tied to one single character, and the camera reveals things which allows the audience to know more than the character in the situation.
This also builds up suspense because the audience is waiting for the event to happen to the character.