Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Daniel Evaluation

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

Our music video is a mixture of a narrative format, conceptual ideas and performance.

Our video starts to the song spitfire (the prodigy) with a girl being chased through a forest by a 'bad guy' wearing a balaclava and threatening a baseball bat. Every now and again a member of the band appears in the forest playing along to the song, which forms the entirety of our performance. After a high-octane chase through the forest, the 'bad guy' catches up with the girl, which is represented with a POV camera shot from the victims perspective. The 'bad guy' grabs the camera, and in a cloverfeild-esque style throws it to the ground and the camera breaks. This is where the music stops and the video changes from a conceptual and performance style into a narrative story.

The video twists on the viewer, they do not expect to see the camera fall so suddenly, and the effectiveness of this shot achieved on the edit adds a high level of verisimilitude which stays with the video until the end. The camera does a match on action of the video (shot is broken camera recording with static on the ground) and matches to a tv screen, where someone (like the audience) is watching the video. Although, this is no ordinary character.
The lighting and make-up in this scene display the character as of a freakish nature, he looks unhygienic and inordinate.
He is shown to pick up a mask exactly like the one the bad guy was wearing in the film. A remix of spitfire then starts to play as he turns on the lights; the awakening of the beast.
He then takes to the streets as the music drops in.

This idea was directly inspired by the idea of copycat behaviour and violence in the media, and relates back to moral panics and the exam question we've been learning this year. This also has a inter-textual reference to film “the human centipede 2” which is a film highlighting copycat behaviour.

Adding the unpopular remix to the video adds a great deal of contrast to the popular song spitfire,  and amongst audiences achieves the effect of novelty, as its rare that music videos change the song halfway through.

For my research into editing, I came across a director I took a personal interest in, Chris Cunningham. His pacey style, intricate edits and his conceptual style appealed to me as a viewer. I did extensive research about his directing style and studied his video 'Windowlicker' in depth. I loved the style of this video, trippy cuts and the way it moves from a story into music video. This is why we decided to include a different narrative, so our video becomes more of a story. Shock tactics play a big part through all of Cunningham's directing work. The edit I did on the Cloverfeild style shot with the music cutting abruptly as the camera hits the floor adds a shock tactic to the video. The video after is also shocking, a man with a bat walking around a street. We were able to film this using the new number for the police, 101. We informed them of our intentions and they sent community support officers to ensure the public that they were safe. We are very grateful. Goodwin's music video analysis suggests a relationship between the genre characteristics of the video and the music. In the media drum and bass is often cited with the use of hallucinogenic drugs, Cunningham uses the knowledge of this genre to influence his work on Rubber Johnny by adding 'trippy' effects and changing the speed of the video. When looking at the genre characteristics for punk videos, its clear that shock tactics sell. Costumes also play a big part, which is why we 'Punked' up for the video. This reaches our demographic. 

Examples of star theory appear in the first scene of the video. Although Chloe (the girl wearing the read dress) is the main focus of the music video at first, Max and Efosa are clearly shown on screen to be part of the band. This mimics many examples of music videos, where the performance is included in the narrative. This is true of many videos, such as Chris Cornells “You know my name” from James Bond Casino Royale.

The red dress Chloe is wearing was inspired from a scene in Schindlers list. The director used this effect so she'd be recognised later in the scene. We used this for the same reason, so that when the film changes, the colour red would be associated with the 'bad guys' victim.

What influenced our thoughts about Schindlers list was that we'd already decided to use a gas mask styled mask in our film as it connotes the title of the song; spitfire. Schindlers list is about war and in our research about it we discovered the gravity of that scene. I then researched how to create that effect in final cut. It couldn't be done with final cut express, because it lacks the same colour corrector as PRO.
To create that effect I laied two copies of the footage on top of each other, and monochromed one. After the clip was in B&W I used chroma key on the bottom layer of the video, set the colour to red and inverted the filter.
This allowed only the red dress to be rendered upon a monochrome file and gave the popular 'Schindlers list' effect.

We tried to incorporate 'Star quality' into the video'.
Fortunately an old friend of mine is tumblr famous, and worked as a model for a popular clothing company.

Based on how popular her videos are on tumblr and youtube, we were able to predict at least 5,000 views on youtube, although time will only tell how well it actually does.

We applied Mulveys Male Gaze theory to the shot in which Chloe touches the mirror. Its filmed in a seductive style which is juxtaposed by the sharp edge of the mirror she touches.
The video adheres to the theme of voyeurism, Chloe is wearing a seductive red dress and in a desolate place which highlights her vulnerability.
This is supported by her acting, she's shown to struggle whilst running and falls stumbled through bushes. This satisfies the audience and the record label.

The spinning camera shot is typically recognised as the “matrix” shot. We tried to imitate this and sped up the shot on the edit. This shot is typical of many punk/rock music videos and is matched with a fast paced part of the song.

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

A brand is a Name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.

In branding the video we created a scary and unclear theme/atmosphere throughout the film. The viewer doesn't know what he's watching until the video twists. The 4 items we've included into the video to shock and scare viewers are the white contact lenses Efosa wears, the broken mirror, the bat and most famously the gask mask with lights.
This is such a scary and powerful image we decided to include it on the CD cover as it is the most recognisable thing about the video.

Our company Ident, Avant-Garde-Productions, appears at the start of the video for a brief few seconds in a very simple font and a minimalist transition. We felt that this would be more stylish and doesn't spoil the abrupt start of the video.

To help with the branding of our project, we asked our school technician if there was any way of getting a gas mask effect on photoshop. We were then referred to a site in which we were able to download various gas mask and war style brushes, which really helped our theme. This allowed us to complete our digipack with a house theme and a logo for the prodigy/our video. We also downloaded a skull brush. The reasoning behind this is the iconic image is recognised throughout the punk genre.

In editing I used various effects to achieve the punk video look. This was a combination of camera shots and editing, we filmed unusual shots and used the colour corrector to make the colours look faded more like archive film, we upped the contrast and the white balance to achieve a washout effect with deep blacks. Other filters I used on the clips include:
Gaugasian Blur
RGB Balance
Colour Key
Chroma Key
Film filters such as Old Film
and Broadcast Safe.

I acted as the drummer in the band and appear in the video for a brief 20 seconds, to keep with the punk theme I'm wearing Gothic make-up and hair products to achieve the right look. We modelled this loosely on our target audience but took inspiration from ledgers' joker.

The first shot of Chloe is designed to display her as a dark and mysterious character.
The shot type is a close up eye level with her, this gives her a higher status, which is lowered considerably when the masked character starts to dominate the screen. Colour correction in this scene was vital, and a bright sunny day seem gritty and hopeless.
The colour red connotes danger and draws in attention more than other colours. The reason behind Chloe's red dress was so the audience's attention focus on her and she'd be recognisable in a later scene where the copycat has a flashback.
The other reason for the colour red on Chloe is that It takes away her innocence, so the audiences sympathy lies not with her but with the copycat.

The toxic waste brush was inspired by our research into WW2. Nuclear waste and weapons symbolise fear and represent the song. The spitfire brush also represents the song in the most obvious way as its the title, and the flowers brush represents the location. To conclude, all brushes can be related back to the video and also appear on the insets on a smaller scale.

Our initial ideas for the CD cover were inspired by images we collected on the shoot.
As we'd rushed this on the day so we could film more, we had some continuity errors in the photo's which effected the mise en scene. The problems were the ladder was sticking out slightly behind the mirror, and Chloe's Iphone was in one of the pictures. To overcome this problem, we carefully cloned a mirror image of the leaves and ground opposing the side of the mirror, and pasted it where the ladder was. We couldn't tell it had been altered after we stepped back and looked at it, which was great. Although we solved this problem, we realised that the setting gave too much away to the audience who haven't seen the video, its an empty part of the forest and we didn't want the whole thing set in a forest, a typical location for media students. 

The image of the mask on Chloe adds contrast and looks unnervingly unnatural. Her Petit frame and delicate features add juxtaposition to the mask. Having this as our CD cover makes the audience intuitive as to why she's wearing it, and what exactly it is.
This gives our project an edgy appeal which appeals to our target audience.

What have you learned from your audience feedback?

Our audience was based upon the punk and hardcore scene, with the music genre being either hardcore, break-beat electronic and rave. They generally dress with big hair, skinny jeans, piercings/tattoo's. They have a rebellious attitude which is why they listen to 'alternative' music. The music video characteristics of this scene are fast pacey edits, flashing lights, trippy effects, and a heavy emphasis on cuts to the beat to emphasis the visual and musical link. The colour tends to be overexposed or contrasted. This audience expects the music video to be hard hitting, and an intense vidsual experience. We know this from the popular videos withing this genre such as the titans ofthe punk drum and bass rock genre, the prodigy, sigur ross, and pendulum. They prefere more of a narritive about violence or the supernatural. Giving all the bad press about this genre and copycat behaviour, we decided to make a video surrounding the theme of immitation.

Our secondary research revealed more about our audience.
Our demographic was males between the ages of 15-25 who are in the alternative or punk scene. Although the prodigy are an old band and this song came out in the 1990's, we thought the themes addressed in the video would appeal to a younger audience. We also felt that the remix would attract a younger audience. This is because the technology to create remixes of tracks is available to download on the internet and advanced programs can now be torrented. This allows people to be creative with music and produce professional quality material from their own house for free, and electronic music has recently grown in popularity because of this.
Our demographics from youtube support our proposed target audience.
Audiences Demographics:
This video is most popular with:


Our character we chose to represent our target audience is a high school friend that me and Max are familiar with. His name is Robin, he has piercings and tattoo's and attends punk gigs in the area of Camden. He is a perfect example of someone from the “Hardcore” scene, and would read magazines such as NME.

To appeal to our target audience, we ditched the suits and “punked up” for the shoot.
We all wore eye liner and makeup which were provided by Chloe for the shoot. Efosa wore white contact lenses, bracelets, black jeans, a scarf over his mouth and body paint. Max changed his hair, was wearing black skinny jeans with black contact lenses to match, and a puffy military styled green jacket. I was wearing a can of hairspray, make-up and a green leather jacket from the 70s.

We wanted to present ourselves as rebellious to look cooler to our target audience. This is taken to the extreme with our character Luke marching through the streets of Debden. This matches the anarchy surrounding the song, as it was written in a time of change and revolution and reflects the chaos of world war 2. Inspiration was taken from Marlon Brando especially when he is featured  antagonising people around town in “The Wild Ones”.

Sigur Ross are another punk band similar to the prodigy. They are even signed to the same record label. For our research we mostly studied the video “Breath” by the prodigy, and looked at various Sigur Ross videos. It came apparent that a common theme throughout the genre is dark fantasy. This is what we tried to imitate in the first section of our film, and the verisimilitude of this is exaggerated when the video twists and we enter the streets.

We received positive feedback from our friends in school in the first stages of filming.

“great use of effects”
“could imagine it on MTV”
“good camera angles”

some of the more constructive feedback:
“Its good but it could use more of a narrative”
“the colour corrector”
“would be better in full HD”

We acted on this feedback, introduced a stronger narrative, rewrote the colour for the scenes and printed to HD.

We then received more feedback.
“Really professional looking”
“Great editing”

For me the proudest moment was showing Chloe the video for the first time, as she had been in New York after the second shoot and hadn't seen any of the footage. She said she had goosebumps when the video twisted.

We wanted to achieve a professional look purely to challenge our work last year. We were all in separate groups and thoroughly enjoyed making a video, the finished project brings immense satisfaction. This year we wanted a video we would be proud of years. We are also considering entering it to music video festivals around the country after our exams.

For the digipack we used the colours red green and white. These are symbolic of war, red symbolising danger/warning/blood, green symbolising terrain/camouflage and white surrender or peace. These are the main colours that run in our video too, we are wearing items of clothing based around  these colours, for example Efosa's red bandanna, his white eyes, Max’s green top, Chloe's red dress, and my green leather jacket. This gives us an overall theme.

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

The use of the internet allowed us to research the prodigy from all possible angles, including live performance, personal lives, and access to their many music videos.
Youtube also showed us how to do things, such as me spitting fire (which was cut from the video)
but was most helpful when it came to editing tutorials. I've felt my editing skills develop from the use of the internet alone, as I've researched very useful but sometimes overlooked things, such as printing to full HD, and how to master colour corrector.

Instead of using phones, we used social networking sites to communicate with each other outside school and share our ideas. We used Skype to talk to each other, and Facebook chat and blogger to share links of research. This was essential to achieve our finished project.

Final cut was the editing platform we used. We had talks about using adobe after effects, however we thought that this would be more time consuming, as we are already familiar with Final Cut and didn't know how to use After Effects.
The programs I used to along with final cut was Toast, a high quality video conversion program. I exported the .MTS files into HD 1080i 59.9fps. This was hard to edit with, so we converted each clip to a lower quality HD at 24fps then replaced the clips with the true HD.

We filmed this project on a Panasonic HDC-TM700. This was rigged to an X-grip, which makes the camera smoother and steadier, and more of a point and shoot operation. On the rig was a RODE mic, this was unnecessary as we cut all the sound, however we used it so we could have superb audio quality if there were any out-takes.

Using my own filming equiptment instead of the schools allowed us to try for more daring and risky shots, where the camera might have been put in harms way. For instance, we gaffa taped the rig onto a long wodden pole, and literally swung it towards max. These shots appear when he is singing the lyrics to spitfire in the video. Another bonus of using my own equiptment is that I was famiilar with the way it operated which allowed for a faster set up and better, more focused shots.

Our close friend Luca Greene lent us his cannon camera, which allowed us to take great quality pictures for use on our digipack. We were very grateful for this as it really did make the difference. 

Max and Efosa created the digipack on photoshop. Despite not knowing the program very well, they managed to come to terms with it and created outstanding images. The hardest challenged they faced in the process was cloning to erase continuity errors, however they did this so well you can't actually tell the difference. The class feedback proved this.

To conclude this project was made possible by research into the forms and conventions of media products, open source media technologies, and our audience feedback, and careful consideration to relate our main product to the ancillary texts in order to make a themed product.