Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Group evaluation

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Individual Evaluation

In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?
Whilst analysing a variety of music videos throughout this course one thing was very apparent to me, this was that varying genres of music follow a typical set of codes and conventions in their music video. For example, you are more than likely to find Dance music videos featuring nightclubs, flashing lights and skimpy outfits and in the majority of RnB music videos you would see expensive objects, gangs and females typically used as objects. Certain editing techniques are also used as conventions within pop promos, you would find that fast tempo'd songs would have quick, flashy shots with a variety of camera angles - perhaps even obscure if the song was very upbeat, whereas slower songs would have longer shot that are perhaps not as adventurous. Reasons for these codes and conventions in pop promos is to define what category the song lays in and to allow the audience to identify with this, it's also a good way of expressing the artists star construction. The artist can choose how they want to be presented via their music video so its important they are being portrayed in the way that they wish. Following on from music videos, the CD cover and Print ad is just as important whilst promoting a band. However, codes and conventions are not clearly outlined or followed when it comes to this - and styles can even differ from the same artist varying from something that is completely abstract and irrelevant to simply nothing else but the name of the band. The main importance of a CD cover is to grab the attention of potential buyers, and to promote themselves either with a picture of them on the front or show their artistic side by creating something 'different'. It's important that print ads and CD covers are very similar to one another - if not identical using the same image because the print ad is advertising the CD, so it must be recognisable. The second purpose for a Print ad is to give potential buyers or fans extra information of the band, sometimes promoting tour dates.
I took all of the above into account whilst creating my music video, CD and Print ad and after discovering our band 'HOUSE' is playing soft Rock we set about looking for codes and conventions we could follow and analysed similar bands promotional packages. I thought it was a good idea to ask 'HOUSE' if there are any bands they base themselves upon so we could have a deeper, more exclusive research stage, one that they mentioned was 'Kasabien' and you can see in a previous post I have analysed their music video. It became pretty evident that the main feature of Rock videos is band performance, showing all members individually playing their instrument but more frequently focusing on the lead singer who is 'the face' of the band and the whole band playing together. Other narratives in soft rock are usually quite light-hearted, taking 'Blink 182' for example who often have humerus narratives. It is evident that we applied these stylistics above to our own work, making performance the main focus and following the usual set up and performance footage (such as vocalists close-ups) and I noticed from doing similar artist research that most of the artists are very casual in appearance, so it was important we kept 'HOUSE' looking similarly casual which is how they wanted to be represented. I also took typical stage lighting into account with its main purpose to light key areas, but to also make sure each member stands out from the black background and to make the set look more interesting. I used certain ideas from other rock videos that I have studied that I thought would work well, such as the last shot where the camera zooms into the last strum of the guitar - although this is quite a common shot I thought it would fit in perfectly with the end of the song.
However when regarding the narrative of our music video, we began to develop what we found during our research - although we kept the feel light-hearted, we also made it heart-warming. With the song being 'Kiss Me', kissing of course needed to be the main focus, so we set about getting home-videos and random members of the public showing each other affection then applying it to our video as a montage in between shots of the band performance. Affection isn't usually something you would see within a rock video but our development of this typical view worked well and got good response. We also began to develop usual conventions by using hand held shots for the narrative, you would probably see hand held shots in Rock videos when the band is backstage (which would only be a few short seconds) - but we used this 'personal touch' technique for almost half our completed music video as it help makes the showing of affection more realistic than it would be if it were properly stage set-up. We also developed ideas when regarding cinematography, using original shots to make our video unique, taking the shot where the camera is strapped to the end of the guitar for example - we got good feedback from all areas about this shot and I think it works well stylistically and creatively. We tried too add in another original shot where the vocalist holds the camera and spins round whilst singing into it, however this did not get as good feedback, proving to us that trying to be original does not always work.
I think that our CD cover and Print Ad is a very original idea, and instead of using ideas from real media products, we challenged them. The image we used is quite distorted, and instead of the band being the focus we decided ideologies from the song should be the main feature. To apply this idea we took a picture of our class mates in a 'just about to kiss' pose - obviously relating to the song 'kiss me' - and then set about distorting it to make it more interesting and so it fit in the genre of Rock using dark and red colours. Like most Pop promos, we used the same image as we did for our CD cover but developed it further by effectively repeating the image four times rather than two. The layout we used for both of these tasks is very similar to the ones you would find in real medias, having the image and band/album name as the main focus - then extra information such as track listings or tour dates as the next, then commentaries from the band or other reviews as small print.
Overall I think we used the ideas we analysed from other similar media texts and applied them to our own work, this is so it correctly fits the genre it belongs to and is recognisable to the consumers - but also developed these ideas to make them original, and to work with what we got as well as we could.

2. How effective is the combination of your main product and ancillary texts?
Of course when making a whole promotional package, it is important to ensure the music video, the CD cover and the print ad work together to promote the band - to make sure its familiar and suits the overall feel of the band and song in question. The music video itself works well as a finished product, we made sure we used the forms and conventions we learnt about during our research stage and applied them where appropriate. We also developed and worked upon our initial findings to create something that is familiar but original at the same time. Given our band and song is soft rock but with the main topic of kissing, it was hard to find the balance of something sentimental and to portray the personality of the band, I think given what we could work with (obviously considering limitations of location etc) we, as a group created a respectable piece of work. The video is light hearted and energetic yet emotional - which are three fairly hard emotions to collaborate! Given that the band performance was energetic, comfortable performing and exceptional on the instruments, we could use our knowledge of cinematography and editing techniques (such as interesting angles, fast shots and zoom ins) to really emphasise their performance and help define them in the category of soft rock, giving the 'HOUSE' correct portrayal and getting good audience feedback.
When we were happy with the finished music video, we then began to design our CD cover. We all brought ideas to the table and one of my ideas (as you can see in a few posts below) involved a couple just about to kiss, this image was mirrored onto itself creating two of the same image which I thought was very simple yet effective, we got our main inspiration of this image and developed it into our own idea. We agreed that instead of having a picture of the band, our image would have a better effect - and I believe it did as it was soft, yet distorted and slightly eerie - which is common in Rock band visuals. The same concept applies to our Pop promo as it is exactly the same image but has been expanded upon, making four reflections instead of two. I really like the effect of the images used in our CD cover and print ad, and although they are irrelevant to HOUSE - it brings across ideologies from the song and the genre of the band and ties them in together. The three elements combine and work well together perhaps not obviously, but when regarding ideologies and themes there are clear relations - such as love and affection seen through kissing and hugging on the music video and through kissing and emphasised colours of red on the CD cover and Print Ad - yet theres also something dark and 'Rock' involved such as band performance and a dark setting in the music video and dark colours and distorted images in the CD cover and Print ad.
The three elements promote HOUSE as a sentimental, light-hearted band but with a darker side which is helpful in showing their diversity and will heighten interest. Not only will it perhaps create a broader audience for their own band, but perhaps even soft rock as a whole as it will show two different sides to the genre. The creativity and ideologies behind the images used in the CD cover and print ad would also attract attention of potential buyers and listeners.

3: What have you learned from your audience feeback?
Of course our main target audience would be people who enjoy soft rock and are familiar with bands like ours. Typically, you would find the main age group this would fall under would be 13-25 so quite a young audience who are perhaps in bands themselves and are interested in this genre, also people within this age group generally seem to have more spare money to spend on self fulfilment and luxuries. In media terms, our target audience would preferably be classified to be of a social grade C2 and their VALS to be between strivers and experiences as this covers more of what our believed audience will be; young with expendable money who want to achieve something as well as emulate those that they admire such as the artists of the soft rock genre. Knowing that our age group is young and active, its important we can target them by advertising and promoting our band via popular communication sites such as facebook and twitter.
To make sure we attract our target audience, it was important we got as much feedback as we could - positive and negative. Right back at the beginning of the project, we proposed our fist idea to the media class; this idea involved a couple growing old together and seeing them as children, teenagers then elderly. We gained a really good response from the class and they all agreed it was a very unique and interesting idea, however, it was apparent that we all worried upon the topic of getting the right people to be our characters and eventually, to ours and the class's disappointment, the idea had to be scrapped. Upon proposing our new idea for the first time the main arising concern was that the montage of the kissing narrative could come across as 'cheesy' or 'cheap' so we decided to attack this problem head on by coming up with the idea that it should be shot in black and white. Typically, when something is filmed in black and white, usual connotations would be 'old' or 'classy' as there are no harsh colours or lights - we also decided to contradict the idea of it looking cheap by making it all hand-held, so it purposely looks like a home video making it more personal. Once we had finished our music video, the media class watched it and gave us their individual opinions, and luckily the narrative went down really well which was reassuring and was good on our confidence. Because we had more time to add some final touches and to polish our music video, we took all the feedback into account so we could no longer find faults, we done this by adding more kissing shots into the montage and to focus on the band when they and the song are being more energetic. We also learnt that our ideas of a casual approach regarding band clothing, performance and cinematography were equally admired and they all could identify our band being similar to 'New found glory' - who HOUSE was covering. This feedback taught me that you don't have to be clever, use lots of money and use special effects etc to produce a video, as sometimes casual has a better feel and promotes the band as easy going. Overall our video gained a really good response from the band and our other audience, they all strongly agreed we got across the right feel of the band and song. Media students agreed that the cinematography and editing techniques contributed well in way that promoted the band and made the most out of their energetic performance, agreeing that the pace and rhythm complimented that of the songs and liked how shots changed on a noticeable rhythm. However, with HOUSE not having the same media knowledge, they could only comment on how they were portrayed - and they all were happy and even shocked at how well they were represented, although, their only doubts they had about our final piece was that they felt too much focus was on the lead singer and would have appreciated more shots of the band as a whole. Unfortunately we couldn't edit further but it showed us how we could have done things differently. 
Regarding print work and images we used for our CD cover and print ad, we felt that it was important to propose our idea to some members of our media class by showing them the image that inspired us, they admired the original image but made comment that it would be too soft for a rock band album - inspiring us to use darker colours. We took on board what they said and made sure blacks and reds would be the dominant colours and decided to take 'the dark side' to a different level by distorting our image. When we began to work on our images on photoshop we had to bare in mind it was meant to represent a real CD and Print ad, and could also not forget the image of the band we were promoting. We distorted the picture enough to make it interesting and eerie but not enough to completely loose focus of the near kiss pose which was the right effect we wanted it to have. We also took the study of voyeurism into account and kissing, especially seeing someone else kiss is regarded as a pleasure - so by distorting the image of this pleasure makes it even more exciting and it encourages you to try and work the image out.
The final print work, like the music video, gained positive feedback. The use of the dark colours and the 'trippy' image made it evident that the band its promoting belongs to a rock genre. The print ad was especially admired because of the four image rippled effect and it almost looks as if there is a CD in the middle of the image. Students thought it was a creative idea to use one photograph and create two different styles of image out of it (one for the CD cover and one for the Print Ad) as it still it noticeably promotes the same band, but also 'mixes it up'. Font colours we used came from a colour sample of the reds in the image because we thought it would create a good effect to make it go hand in hand with the photo, but also because we didn't want to use too many colours which would make it loose the original effect we were going for, our audience agreed with this idea and thought it was clever to use the colour sample. The font style was also said to compliment the genre and theme as it was block capital writing with quite a hard appearance, which again is important to suit the rock genre. Our band agreed that the style of our print work suited their style and could easily work as their CD cover or Print Ad, however they also thought it would be would be better from a promotional point of view, that pictures of them should be on the cover. We knew this comment may arise but we explained how we believed having something unique and trippy as the front cover would attract passers by and would show creativity, they eventually agreed with this idea and were happier when we reassured them a picture of the band together would feature on the inside cover of the CD above a band commentary.
So all in all I think it's safe to say the audience and band feedback was positive and we throughout the project we took every comment into account and appreciated peoples input. I've learnt feedback and familiarising with the target audience turned out to be one of the most important thing whilst creating media texts, because without that you wouldn't know if you are on the right tracks to achievement and inspiration off other people can help you go a long way.

4: How did you use new media technologies in the construction and research, planning and evaluation stages?
Of course throughout this whole project, new medias have been helpful and necessary. The Internet has been the main device in which we find information, images and feedback - most importantly, the blog in which we track every aspect of our course has been used religiously.
During the research stage, the Internet provided us with information that we needed to understand ways in which music videos and pop promos work; it was useful when learning about the history of music videos such as the rise of MTV, learning about star construction and promotion, genres, codes and conventions and much more. Once we were put into groups it was important that we could all pitch our individual ideas to each other, of course its hard explaining to people the exact visuals and cinematography ideas you have in your head so using various pictures and examples helped paint a picture. An example of this is when the idea of the split screen came about for our original pitch, knowing similar stylistics were used in 'Alors on danse' we used Youtube to find this music video to bring our ideas to life. The research stage also involved us needing to research our bands similar artists, again Youtube was helpful in this as we could watch bands such as New Found Glory and Blink 182 in a number of their videos to get an overall feel of how they're represented - we could then apply similar stylistics to our own work. I decided to also search through fan pages of these similar bands to gain a wider understanding of their target audience as I knew ours would need a target fan base like this, it was also evident through this what their audience does and doesn't like. And of course my Blog was used often through the research stage as it was necessary to document my findings.
My planning stage, like my research stage, relied heavily on the Internet; to express ideas and to explore similar medias. However, as things started to become more 'set in stone' more technologies were needed to get the project going. PowerPoint presentations were used to pitch our ideas to wider audiences, here we embeded videos and stills from Youtube to show examples and to bring our ideas to life by interacting with the audience and expecting feedback. It was also important that my group and I stayed in contact whilst out of the class room so it was possible to express our ideas at any given time, for this Facebook instant messaging was most useful, if not this then we would e-mail each other perhaps with compressed files of videos and pictures, texting and calling on mobile phones were used also and Twitter was used - not particularly to communicate one on one, but to broadcast our ideas to a large audience.
New medias were very important during our production stage and our desired effect could not have been achieved - if anything at all without them. Whilst filming our band, we used three big, professional TV set cameras embedded onto their own wheels for smooth tracking and movement which was important to keep things looking professional. The cameras also contained their own microphone, colour correction, focus correction and would allow change to depth of field and had a smooth zoom effect - these cameras where easy to use and produced very clear moving images. During the filming of the band we also used the studio sound system, which was surround sound and came out from the speakers clearly, this was useful for the band as they could mime over the top of something they have already recorded. It was impossible to take these larger cameras out of the room, let alone out in the streets to film our narrative! for this we used a hand held Sony Z1 Camera, which was also easy to use and contained its own microphone and light. After filming our footage, we then needed to edit what we had filmed to create our music video. Technologies we needed for this was the mac computers which included final cut pro, and it was the most likely the most important technology used throughout the project, my skills on this software had improved dramatically since last year and I became more confident when I experimented with it. Final cut pro was needed when; synchronising the song to the visuals, cut unwanted footage, line up each line in the correct time and pretty much creating the whole video, it resulted in something effective and made it appear professional. After using this software and was happy with the final product, we needed to use Quicktime to compress our final edit into a much smaller file, yet without effecting quality which ultimately made it ready to be uploaded onto Youtube and my blog.
The print production stage also required a number of technologies to make things possible, effective cameras were used firstly to get the best possible still image of the 'close to kissing' shot - we then used photoshop to manipulate the picture by adding in a blurring effect, a smudge tool, lighting tools, ripple effect and mirror effect. I enjoyed using photoshop throughout this stage as I could experiment with a number of different tools and effects and it was easy to use and produced effective images that you could control completely. Stills from our music video were also used via compressors to ensure our band featured in the CD cover along with other images we used from the Internet. Internet sites such as 'cooltext' gave us ideas on logos and fonts, although weren't used it helped expand our mind to different ideas.
The group evaluation stage also required use of new medias such as Prezi to make the final piece of our work as interactive and as interesting as possible by engaging the viewers.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Band Feedback

Of course, those opinions who's matter most is our clients - the band HOUSE. If we were to make a music video as a real job and were getting paid for it, its the most important thing to make sure the client is happy with the final product because they are the ones on screen who will ultimatly want to make money off it, promote themselves and impress followers, fans or potential buyers.

 My group and I were fairly nervous on the way to meeting our band, hoping they are happy with the work we have created - plus we havnt seem them since filming them a few months back! The whole band apart from the lead singer turned up to view our video, which was unfortunate because the singer was the main focus throughout. Our band, plus a few members of another band crowed round our sceen in excitement to see their very first music video, when the video ended the first thing I heard was 'Wow! that was really good, I'm really happy with that!' - Lead guitarist.
We then needed to get some feedback - hopefully with complete honesty, it was evident the band seemed genuine throughout the discussion, but we needed to bare in mind that the band did not have the same knowledge of media terms as we do

1. Are you happy with how you are portrayed?
 "Yes, it was awesome! I honestly didn't think it would be like that - I really liked it." (Lead guitarist)
"Yeh I've never made a video before so that's really cool, we look like a proper band - Do you have this on Youtube? I wanna show people (laughs)" (Drummer)

2. What did you like best about it?
 "Well I really liked the shot with the camera tied on the end of the guitar with the close up of my fingers playing it, it's such a cool shot - I've never seen that before! It looks like I'm actually playing it...but honestly, I liked all of it" - (Lead guitarist)
"Yeh I liked that shot, I also like how you have so many different shots - there was loads" (Guitarist)
"To be honest I cant even remember making that video (laughs) but yeh it's quite good isn't it!" (Alex - Guitarist)
"I like the shots of all the people kissing, the narrative bit. I didn't realise you were going to do it but it works well, it would of just been boring if it was us playing the whole time" (Drummer)
"Oh, and that end bit - where you zoom into my hand after the last strum of the guitar, that's pretty cool" - (Lead guitarist)
"I really wasn't expecting the quality of the cameras to be like that either" - (Guitarist)

3. Is there anything your unhappy with?
"Hmm I'm not sure really, I think there was too many close up shots of the singer James if im honest - there's too much of that" - (Lead Guitarist) (All agree)
"I'm not too keen on that hand held shot of James either really" - (Alex - Guitarist)
"I can't really think of anything, but as a musician, I could tell we wern't really playing live - you can tell I wasn't hitting the symbol" - (Drummer)
"Yeh I noticed that too - the same with the guitars that wern't plugged in. You notice these things and it didn't look proffessional. I guess thats not your fault though!" (Guitarist)

4. What do you think of the pace and rythm?
"Yeh it worked really well with the song, it was quite fast and there were loads of shots so there was so much to look at. How did you do that?" - (Guitarist)
"Well I wish we could have chose our own song because I'm sure we could make a better rythm! - but yeh, I like what you've done with it" - (Drummer)

5. What would you have done differently?
"I'm not sure really, I would probably use more props, make the set more interesting I rekon" - (Guitarist)
"Yeh I probably wouldn't want to do it in that same set, It would of been good to have a proper location" - (Alex - Guitarist)
What about outside? 
"Yeh, yeh outside! that would have been good" - (Alex - Guitarist)
"Yeh outside would be good, but I suppose it would be hard to take all the equipment out wont it, plus it was winter!" (Lead guitarist)

6. Would you make a music video again?
"Yeh deffinatly! it was quite tedious at the time having to do it over and over - but now I've seen how it turns out, yeh!" (Lead guitarist)
"Yeh I would, it was fun - I feel like a proper musician now, I wish I could do more! (Alex - Guitarist)
"I wish we could do it again, I wasn't feeling well at all that day so I wish I could have put more energy into it" - (Drummer)

7. Would you hire us if you become famous and need a music video? (laughs)
"Haha, yeh I dont see why not - you done a good job!" - (Alex - Guitarist)

(Group work by Emily Stansfield)

Our Music Video!!

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Final CD design and Print Ad

As we approach the finishing line of our complete music video, we began to work on our final design for our CD cover and Print Ad. We decided to leave working on this near the end of the music video because we wanted to make sure we knew what the overall feeling and presentation of the band is and then make sure we can apply it to the print production.Each member of my group collected images and fonts off the Internet individually and then we pitched our ideas to one another. We all had varying ideas regarding the CD cover and print ad, and one of the images I found was a soft, artistically styled image of a couple just about to kiss, I thought this image was fitting as the song was called 'Kiss Me'. The original image can be seen on the right -->
My group, and other members of my media class approved of this idea and we all agreed we could base our own idea on this one. However, we all agreed complete imitation of this image would represent something far too soft for the image our band HOUSE, so we began to think of ideas in which we could make a similar image more dark and fitting.
Firstly, we needed to take our own picture that is inspired by the one above. For this we asked two members of our media class if they could be our models, we then went down to the studio so we could manipulate the lighting and setting to get our perfect picture. We used the same black curtain for the background as we did for the music video, to make sure we had a running theme of dark background, and then we staged the two models using 3 point lighting to get an effective picture. We played around with the positions of the lights and focus of the camera and came out with a picture we were all pleased with, this picture is on the left hand side of this page.

Once we got the picture we were happy with, we uploaded it onto a photoshop software on the mac computers. Whilst Josh continued editing the music video, I began to play around with effects, colours and lights on photoshop, just to get comfortable with the software and see whats possible. I really like the effect of the smudge tool as it distorted the image slightly but was still recognisable, so I applied this effect to the final image. I also added in extra spot light in the middle where the heads nearly joined to show connection and just to get in extra light pin points, I then darkened the image so only blacks and reds were the predominant colours, the colour of the font is a colour sample taken from the reds evident in the original image . I done this because I always had to bare in mind that our band belonged in the Rock genre and it was important this was portrayed. Rita then started to work upon the image I had already made, and found the ripple effect which ultimately completed our desired effect. I love the distortion and colours used in our final design, it fits well with our song, our band and the genre of the song. To make the CD cover look as realistic as possible, we added in barcodes, company labels and track listings.
Not only did we have to design the outside of the CD cover, we also had to design the inside. For this we decided we needed to have images of our band HOUSE and decided to get a still from our music video as we thought it would look good to show the band in their stage gear and with their instruments. We also added in a band commentary to make the design more realistic.  

Once we had finished this we began to concentrate on our Print Ad, the print ad needs to hold a strong resemblance of the CD cover as the purpose of the Print Ad is to effectively sell and promote the band and CD. Using the same image, we thought it would be effected if we expanded it slightly by having four 'reflection' instead of two. The effect we ended up with reminded us of a kaleidoscope, which then inspired us to name the album Kaleidoscope instead of Kiss Me as we felt it suited our band more. To ensure the Print Ad looks as realistic as possible, we involved tour dates, facebook and twitter promotions, quotes from Zane Lowe and RollingStone. As a group, we are very happy with our final designs of the CD cover and Print Ad, and although they don't particularly promote the band by using their picture, it promotes the song, the genre and would attract attention of passers by and potential buyers.

Powerpoint presentation

Risk assessment