Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Stephen's written evaluation

Media studies – written evaluation
1. In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?
Our media product uses quite common conventions for the theme and genre of our song and the artist. Our music video uses common conventions that are also displayed through most other music videos, these would be the obvious features like keeping the editing in time with the beats of the song so that the music video flows better. A lot of music videos nowadays also have quite a strong narrative as well as a strong connection to the lyrics as well. Our video however does not have a strong connection to the lyrics but our video has some kind of narrative story using a mix of both animation and live footage, this challenges a lot of other videos because most music videos have either complete animation or live footage, we included a story which shows the transition of the band members going from live footage into the animation. This challenges music videos that use either full animation or live footage, for example, Gorillaz for all of their music videos use all animation. This is a specific theme to this artist but a lot of artists stick to one or the other. We also used 4 different animated locations which also challenges common conventions as for a lot of artists they only stick to the one animated location with a similar animated theme. I think that a lot of music videos include live footage of the artists playing instruments, for example, in most of Mcfly’s videos they generally feature footage of the band all playing the instruments, we have some of that though through audience feedback and an overall group decision we decided to cut most of it as it seemed out of place in comparison to the animation and to the rest of the music video. We chose the song ‘Random firl by Late of the pier’ ,the genre of our song is electro-indie, this gave us quite a bit of leeway as to what we could do, the music sounds quite upbeat with room for no particular style and quite free to make a music video. As for inspiration for our music video, because of the limit we didn’t really have there were a lot of different videos as well as artists because this genre of music doesn’t have any set expectation for a music video. We more decided that we would look into quirky artists and videos that we enjoyed and looked further into them. We looked at ‘Weird al yankovic – Amish paradise’, we looked into this artist because they don’t take themselves seriously this is also showed through this music video as it is branch off some other artists song. This music video along with the lyrics I think is made for a humorous effect and it is quite a unique video, we looked here for some inspiration in our music video. Comparing this to our video they are both very different, neither video have very much performance involved. ‘Amish paradise’ is shot quite a lot like a film, as he is playing a part in the video. As I have said he is represented as an outgoing artist who doesn’t really take himself seriously. His video is much darker compared to our music video, ours is full of vivid colour whereas his music video is mainly filmed either at night or late in the day or he is being shot in a dark room. His video connects more to the lyrics than ours does, but both include a narrative story but both stories are completely different in every way. We used similar things in our music video similar to his, like our music is quite funny in ways, say the giant gummy bear chasing Eloise and the giant ugly doll chasing Josh. We added these into our music video for a comical effect.  We also didn’t take ourselves very seriously when acting for the music video as it is far from a serious matter and it would be easier to over act and over dramatise the whole sequence, our expressions are very over the top but used for a comical matter. The animation is 2D and we used only primary bright and colourful and attractive colours to catch the viewers eyes, this helps add to the childish kind of sequence and the help to make sense of the over the top expressions and so called danger of our music video (Giant gummy bear, Giant snowball etc.,). It wasn’t hard to work with this kind of genre as we had not really heard of any songs quite like it giving us quite a bit of freedom as to what to put in our music video. I have looked at a couple of bands that are of the same genre as us, one that stood out to me was ”PuppetBox” and there song “Everything”. This band has a very similar music video style as us, this video is all about the story and they also have a wacky and quirky story where they too don’t take themselves seriously. There costumes are very childish and it’s like a special uniform for like a play, one is dressed up as a robot, ones a warrior and another is a monster. They follow the same theme as having no connection between the lyrics and the visuals but they do have a narrative to their story. They also have the band playing instruments in the video, this is a difference to our music video as ours didn’t have a need for a band performance and it was unnecessary.

2. How effective is the combination of your main product and your ancillary texts?
I think the combination of our music video and the ancillary texts is great because we chose to follow the same theme of colours, pictures also used in the music video and the same kind of images and important props we used in our ancillary texts. The basic design for our Digi-pack was just to use images of each of us as the band members, we wanted to keep the theme coherent with the video so we used a similar vibrant colour scheme as well as the same images used and we also used the paper which was an important prop in the video as a highlight of our Digi-pack as well. These ideas all came directly from the video, also we had to take into account along with the video how we wanted to represent the band and we wanted follow the theme of vibrant colours, bold expressions and body language to show a unique band who is fun and quite out there. A lot of the context that we used in the video we transferred onto our Digi-pack and the CD cover so that we could have the band being represented as unique but with a very eye-catching style that when you saw these people would go that’s their style and that’s how they are recognised. We achieved the same kind of style as our video by through using Photoshop actually taking clips and pictures from the actual video and putting them in our ancillary texts. We used the same style and theme through all of our pieces of work, the magazine advert is no different, we used images that took specifically for the advert and we used the same common colour scheme as the Digi-pack and the music video. We hope through the use of a vibrant colour scheme and with the similar appearance of all three products we are hoping this combination will catch people’s eyes through the colours and the unique look of the band and we are hoping the overall look of our three products will keep this band in people’s heads so that they won’t forget and when they see the products they will instantly recognise the style of the band. We chose on the advert to put the logos of iTunes and HMV, we chose these two specific stores because they are two of the biggest and most famous music retail stores in the world, also ITunes has the online access where you can purchase the songs online and download them straight to your computer. We did this so that people would go and download or purchase the song or album as soon as they can from two recognisable retailers. We also included the URL of the website that we made for the band, this is so that people can go and see what the band is like before promptly buying the single, and it also lets them know of other things the band have done. We chose to call our band ‘Parrot Disco’ because we wanted to keep the band unique and parrot disco is not a name that you’re likely to forget as we hope for the reaction that the name is unique and quite memorable. We just thought that there would be no other band out there like this one so we wanted to keep with their unique and quirky style to give them more attention. I would describe the representation of our band as unique, quirky and fun, I think this band will shine out to a wide audience because it’s interesting to look at so we wanted to represent them as interesting and eye-catching which I think we did quite successfully.

3. What have you learned from your audience feedback?
We have had quite a lot of feedback in the form of both criticism and praise. The two main ways that we received feedback was when we showed our rough cut to our peers and they gave their opinion. We also made two Facebook questionnaires about our music video and the ancillary products. Here are the results to the one of the questionnaires:

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We got quite varied results by some people but we also got quite a few agreements between the people. We used Facebook to get the questionnaires out to what we chose as our target audience, which is teenagers mainly but we think the video can get the interest of an older and a younger perspective. The questionnaire helped us a lot in changing our video to make it better, the main help was advice that they gave us on our music video and what they like to see in music videos and it was interesting to see people’s responses about their favourite videos. A lot of the results we got were really helpful because when they told us what they would like to see from our music video, a lot of their ideas were also ours so it helped us to create a solid plan for our video. They also said that most of them download there music online so that is why we chose ITunes as one of our retailers. We also made a questionnaire for the ancillary texts; the answers were similar to that of the music video and that they would like vibrant colours and a unique style to represent the band. We also got feedback from our peers on our rough cut. We overall got quite positive feedback with little bits of criticism. The main criticism was that the live footage alongside our animation was out of place and unnecessary this aided us in the decision of cutting most of the performance part and the singing part. We got quite a lot of positive comments about the animation, though they thought that the video didn’t make a lot of sense and we need to make a stronger narrative. We used these comments to make our video much better and more professional we are all very impressed with the outcome. “The timing on the first animation is great but on the second one it's a bit off. I'm sure you know that. Some of the editing is a bit weird in the band scenes. I'm talking about 1:24 of course.
“Still that was pretty awesome. Potential and whatnot. Can't help but think all of that effort you put into the animations will go unappreciated though. Shame.” This is a comment that we got about our rough cut from YouTube. We understood his point and worked on our music video to fix the error.”
From the research that we did it helped to assure some ideas that we had already discussed and thought about, the main impact our research had on our music video was the eventual decision to drop our performance part and the singing part as it really didn’t go with the rest of our music video. They also helped to help us decide on the best style we could use for our products. Because of their opinion on the vibrant colour and what they would look for from a band like this we chose to stick with the same vibrant colour theme through all of our tasks.

4. How did you use new media technologies in the construction, research, planning and evaluation stages?
We used many new media technologies through all processes of making our music video. In the research and planning stages we used the internet for most of our sources. We created a blog where all of our research went onto so that we could look back on the information that we had found. We did research such as looking at other artists that were similar to what we were looking for to gain some kind of inspiration. We also created storyboards; timelines and a shot list so that we had planned everything for when it came time to film our footage. We each had to play a part into doing research so the blog collectively was made up of many posts from all of us each doing our own separate research into the band. We also had to evaluate our target audience, we used a website called find your tribe, this is where you could answer questions how you think your target audience might answer and you can find a description about a particular tribe of music that they could be into. This helped us to figure out sort of music they might like. We chose to aim our video at teenagers but it could also appeal to an older and a younger audience. For the design process we used mainly Photoshop for the design of out ancillary texts. This proved effective as Photoshop had everything that we needed to make decent ancillary texts, it also helped us to take certain shots from our video and apply them to our ancillary products. For the designing of our actual music video we used a program called Final Cut which allowed us to edit our video and to apply effects and transitions to our video to make it flow better and look more professional. We also had problems with Final Cut. We had to use Adobe Flash to create the animation and the file was not compatible with Final Cut so whenever we had to move a clip or add an effect we would then have to render the whole video which took a long time. Though we had all the technology to use we still used quite a lot of paper as it was easier to work on for the storyboard and shot list that doing it on a computer and we then scanned in the images. We also used the internet to access facebook so that we could get out questionnaires out to the target audience to learn firsthand what they think. Our blog was extremely crucial to our planning and research because all the research we did inside lessons went on the blog and all the work we did outside the lessons could also be put on the blog for all the group members to view from home. This helped us all work as a group to pull together ideas to see all our personal opinions on what the music video should be like. It helped to pull together a strong collaborative effort from all of us. 

Dominic Noble - Written Evalutation

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

Over the past few decades, music videos have been becoming increasingly popular amongst the listening audiences. Because of this, every genre of music has slowly been building up very stereotypical themes and conventions of which most modern music videos still take into account. There are genres such as rock or heavy metal, and these videos usually involve the band playing on camera at all times, be it live or with computer generated backgrounds. Other genres such as dance, rave, and electronic music tend to use more 'artistic' methods of creating music videos. This can be done in the form of computer generated animations, stop motion videos and other forms of animation. There are so many different conventions of music videos, it becomes increasingly harder to categorize them to certain genres.

With our media product, we wanted to merge multiple genre conventions into one, therefore developing them into a more unique and modern form of entertainment. For our product we used an interesting mixture of animation and live footage to tell a vague story of the four band members being forced into different dimensions, each of them having to survive until the end of it. We had some intertextuality in our product, as we wanted our video to have similar characteristics of a side-scrolling platforming game such as 'Super Mario Bros.' for the Nintendo Entertainment System or 'LittleBigPlanet' for the PlayStation 3. To do this, we photographed each of us doing different actions which would be similar to that of a game character. I feel that the idea of gaming in Music Videos is becoming more popular, but there are still very few videos which really take basic ideas from games and apply them to other forms of Media.

For the majority of the video, different shot types didn't come into practice a lot as it was all taken up by animation, which stayed at one angle to continue the theme of side-scrolling platforming games. In the live footage parts of our video, however, we did try to incorporate as many different shot types as we could into a short period of time. There were a lot of mid-range shots for each of us, as well as high and low angle shots. We also used close-ups when filming out reactions to the paper unfolding. The tone of the video is generally very vibrant, as it fits the music and our representation of the band being very happy and hyperactive. This was done by filming in sunny locations for the most part, or adding less saturation to the videos during the editing process. The only problem with this is that during my own clip of live footage, where I put Christmas decorations on a tree, everything is very dark and saturated; we tried fixing this by boosting the saturdation and using different filters, but none of them were very effective.

Every music video has a different representation of the music artist, and I tend to split these representations into two groups, 'public artists' and 'hidden artists'. I would categorize boy bands and girl bands such as McFly or Girls Aloud as public artists, as in their music videos they do not hold back in showing their faces throughout the majority of the video. These music videos tend to have the band or artist as the protagonist, leading the video forwards by saving the day or playing a show in front of an audience. One example of this would be the video for 'Party Girl' by McFly, which is a story revolving around the band members and a club, with shots of the band playing in between. Hidden artists such as electronic or DJs such as Daft Punk or Justice tend to keep their identities hidden behind masks or completely. In their music videos they tend to focus more on special effects and interesting subjects instead of themselves to keep the audience attention yet still keep it personal to the song. A good example of this would be 'Around the World' by Daft Punk, in which a group of interesting characters dance along to the music; it may sound basic, but they do it in such an interesting fashion that it becomes very unique and personal to the song, without them once appearing on camera. 'Random Firl' by Late of the Pier falls under the Eletroclash/Indie Rock genre of music, which allowed us to mix a few of the conventions of electronic and rock together. In our music video, we once again develop both of these conventions in that we have the basis of a hidden artist music video, using interesting images and animation instead of focusing on the artist too much, but we also represent the artist without a mask and very openly. We hoped that this would leave the audience satisfied in terms of the band appearance and how interesting the video was.

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

Before starting work on the main product and the ancillary texts, we had to think of a theme which we could think of whilst making them and then hopefully link the two very well. When deciding upon a theme, there were a lot of things to consider; we wanted them both to have a powerful affect on the audience, leaving them with lasting memories of our products. We also felt the need to keep them both very consistent, as consistency is important when it comes to creating a set of products based around one artist. Because of this, we also wanted to keep it tied closely with the music itself. Our target audience for the video is very broad, as we wanted to make a video which could appeal to all genres of music and all age groups. We wanted to make the audience feel happy rather than sad whilst watching the music video and looking at the poster or Digipack. For this, we decided to have a bright and vibrant palette of colours which would really stand out.

For our Digipack, we started by thinking of and developing a set of ideas at the start. The main idea behind is was to have a 'quirky' or 'wacky' feel to the entire product, using a modern abstract style of photo editing to achieve a colourful result which would grab the audience attention. This idea was brought about because of the fact that the music video itself is so colourful. We wanted to link them so much so that the Digipack looked very similar to the animation. To achieve this effect, we took some of the images from different walk cycles in the animation and incorporated them onto the front cover of the Digipack. We also used 4 main colours throughout the ancillary texts: red, yellow, blue and green; each of them being linked to one of the band members. On the back cover of the Digipack, we were aiming for a similar style, but using a full photograph as the background. Using Photoshop, we applied an outline filter to a photograph of a sheet of paper, then drew the contents of the Digipack on top of that. From looking at the CD, there is a clear representation of the band itself. I believe it represents the band as a fun and wacky group of people, who are generally happy and make music to please their audience instead of their wallets.

This theme of colour and wacky images continues in the magazine advert. We originally had the basic idea of a band photo, one of the four of us standing beside each other or in another pose; we thought of this after looking at other artists advertisements in music magazines, and found that rock and pop artists such as Green Day and Jonas Brothers all used a similar style of advertising. Later, it became apparent that to make the advertisement fit in with the Digipack and the music video itself, we had to use a more surreal method of representing ourselves; this is when we had the idea of editing photographs of us with scared expressions together in Photoshop and pretending there was a monster of sorts in front of us. This turned out very well, and we then combined that idea with the same colour palette as we used in the Digipack to link them. To finish off, the font used on the advertisement is wacky and colourful, continuing the same representation of the band throughout all of the products.

The band name 'Parrot Disco' was apparently chosen after using a random name generator many times, but I find it somewhat fitting for our own representation of the artist. It is clearly a very random and spontaneous name, and the word 'Disco' suggests that the artist would get the audience dancing along with their music, which is the right image we were going for. Not only that, but the name, being so unique, is also memorable for the audience; this means that if somebody saw our CD cover in a music store, then that name would stay in their head until they get home and use the internet or TV to watch our music video.

What have your learned from your audience feedback?

For our audience feedback, we used a variety of methods to gather people's thoughts and opinions on the most vital decisions we had to make, as well as gathering feedback as we went along. Whilst we were researching and thinking of ideas for our music video, we used the social networking site 'Facebook' to create a questionnaire for friends to fill out. We also received audience feedback from the rough cut of the music video. With the feedback and opinions gathered, we analysed them and our ideas and choices were influenced by them.

Using Facebook, we asked a set of questions to any friends who were willing to volunteer to help, and luckily at least 10 people replied with answers. This was enough data to create bar charts of the answers and made it very easy to gather opinions on vital decisions. One question we asked was whether they liked music videos in general, and from the results it would seem that people are more interested in the song and artist rather than the video. This wasn't extremely helpful, but it made it clear to us that the digipack and magazine adverts were just as important as the music video itself. Another question was asking what they would like to see in a music video. Most people answered with similar trends, saying that they would like to see something interesting or unique compared to other music videos. 50% of the people we asked said they liked good special effects or animation in a music video, whereas the other 50% said they preferred to see the band members playing the song or taking part in the video. Most people agreed that they like videos which go in time and fit in with the timing and theme of the song itself.

After a couple of weeks working on the music video, we had created a rough cut to show the members of our class to get feedback on; we also uploaded it to YouTube with the hope of people leaving comments with feedback included. The feedback we received from showing the class was very positive, with the majority of people saying that the animation worked well with the song and that it had a 'video game quality' to it. The gummy bears on the 'Candy World' part of the animation were very effective as everybody watching could relate to them and found it humorous that a sweet they liked would be evil. However, despite getting a lot of positive feedback, we also received some constructive criticism. We gathered from people that they transition between parts such as Stephen singing and the instrumental clips needed to be more smooth. It was also made clear that the animations should have greater priority over the music video than the clips of the band playing. Because of this, we ended up cutting down nearly all of the clips of the band playing in the final project, leaving mainly the animation. Although we also received two comments on YouTube related to the rough cut, they were not extremely specific or helpful towards making decisions. We were told that the editing could use improvement and that the shots of dust in blank space were very effective; I believe we did improve the editing in the final version as well as leaving in the dust shot at the very end.

Unfortunately we didn't ask for any feedback from people relating to the Digipack or the magazine advertisement. This made the process of creating both of them a lot slower as we didn't have any opinions to base our ideas around. Because the feedback for the music video suggested people like interesting and unique music videos, we made the ancillary texts with that same idea in mind. It still turned out well in my opinion, and we received very positive feedback on Blogger when they were finished.

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

Originally the idea of our music video was inspired by a particular music video for the song 'Her Morning Elegance' by Oren Lavie. This music video was made using stop-frame animation, and we all appreciated how creative it was. The idea behind the music video was a woman sleeping in bed, and then representing her dream by making her move on the bed and using objects like pillows and items of clothing as parts of the animation. This gave us the idea of using some form of animation to make a 2D side-scrolling story, similar to this video. Thanks to YouTube, we were able to watch it many times in order to see how they handled body movements and animating in time with the music. We also used YouTube to search for other videos similar to our idea, and found a large database of music videos to research and take ideas from. It wasn't only YouTube which helped with our research into codes and conventions, we also used sites such as Google and the Wikipedia to research other artists and how they represent themselves as a group and in their videos.

In order to make our project a success, we had to find out what our base audience is. We used a website called 'Find Your Tribe', which lets one input information about themselves and then it would find what group they fit into. We decided to take this and input information and likes/dislikes of Parrot Disco, so it would then find which people we would get along with and therefore where our audience may lay. We ended with the social group called 'Craft Kid', and we used this information to compare with the questionnaires done with Facebook to see if it was useful.

We used still cameras to do some location scouting for our music video. Although we didn't need to do a lot of location scouting as the majority of it was animation, we still had to find the best areas to film the live footage clips. We used my own digital stills camera to take photographs of the locations such as a park near Eversden, rooms in the school and rooms in my mouse. Then, using email, we could send the photographs to each other and get comments on locations; email was also useful for many other parts of our project, such as conveying ideas to one another whilst not in lesson.

When creating our music video and ancillary texts, there were three main bits of software which were essential. We used photo editing software such as Photoshop CS5 to create the Digipack and the magazine advertisement. Photoshop allowed us to turn our ideas into actual images very easily with its large array of tools and fonts which were extremely useful when designing the ancillary texts. We also used a piece of film editing software called 'Final Cut Express', which allowed us to put the live footage and animation together to make the final music video. It made it very easy to take multiple bits of footage from a camera and combine them in the way we wanted, adding filters to the video as well as the music.

The third piece of essential software was Adobe Flash CS5, which was how we created the animation. The idea behind it was to have each of the band members trapped in another world, and using Flash CS5, I was able to take the idea and bring it to life. Flash allows one to draw anything you can think of, and then it gives you a lot of methods of animating said drawing. I used a method in which I drew the objects I wanted, such as backgrounds, monsters and foregrounds, and then turned them all into loop cycles; this meant that I could animate 5 frames of somebody or something walking, and then it would automatically loop itself infinitely until the animation is over. With that in mind, it was a simple case of moving the background and foreground respectively whilst keeping the walk cycle of a band member in the middle of the frame. I used the same methods for each animation, and they each had very similar time lines.

It was a little problematic that I was the only one of us that could use Adobe Flash CS5, as it was the main part of the music video. It was a lot of hard work, and looking back, it would have been smarter to use a method which we could all do as a group. However, despite most of the workload being on me when it came to the animations, I was also helped a lot by the other members when it came to creating objects for the animations, and more importantly, walk cycles. For each walk cycle, jump and run cycle, we had to go through photo shoots we took of us walking, and pick the best set of photographs which would loop nicely. We then had to crop each of these individual photos out and get rid of the backgrounds in Photoshop; if doing this alone, it would have taken weeks and weeks to get it finished, but all of the other group members helped me with it and made the whole process a lot easier. It was also very encouraging to get positive feedback from each animation, with each member of the group giving me ideas on how to continue a part of the animation.

Although we used a lot of technologies whilst making our music video, it is also important to remember the traditional methods. We used a lot of paper whilst planning and researching, as Eloise had to draw the storyboards and ideas for each world whilst we were coming up with ideas for them. We also used other methods of planning such as mind-maps when thinking of themes for each world.


In conclusion, I believe the whole project went extremely well. From the start, we were all slightly worried because our idea seemed overwhelming, but with all of our joint efforts put together, we managed to make a good set of products which followed a consistent theme. There were a few problems with each stage of development, but we overcame each of them or worked around them efficiently, and I'm very happy with the results. When doing another project like this, I would improve it by choosing a slightly easier idea which everybody could take part in, instead of one person doing most of the animation.

Evaluation - Eloise Mitchell

In what ways does your media product use develop and challenge forms and conventions of a real media product?
Our chosen song for our music video was ‘Random Firl’ by ‘Late of the pier’, the genre of the band is ‘pop’, ‘Elecroclash’, ‘indie rock’. From the list of genres of music associated with this song by Late of the Pier you would expect the music video to be quirky and original. When creating our music video we had to keep in mind the many different genres of the song and address each genre within our video. The Electroclash genre, would include music such as electronic music, a typical artist would be Calvin Harris. From his music video you would expect to have a surreal music video, for example having floating lips singing. There might be possible inclusion of people dancing or enjoying the music, electroclash genre would be flexible to either having a mild storyline or just being completely abstract. A surreal music video by Calvin Harris that would meet this genre of music would be ‘I’m not alone’, the video flows so although it is quite surreal the music video does have a small narrative to it and fits very well with the lyrics. At the beginning is almost a flashback of him as a boy with his bear which he loses then later on he is shown in his laboratory with all these woman in cages making them into these doll like robots, at the end he has the bear he lost from the beginning in a laboratory chair as if he is trying to bring the bear back to life, the video shows a strong sense of how he is avoiding being alone. There is no lip singing evident in the video. Another video by Calvin Harris with no storyline to it or any relevance to the lyrics would be ‘Ready for the Weekend’; the music is abstract and very surreal with a running theme of circles and primary colours. There is some lip singing involved within the video. Conventions of pop genre would include having the artist as a main focus, lip syncing, people dancing or a performance and usually there is a story behind the song which is being acted out as if the music video is a short film or part of a film. A typical artist from pop genre would be ‘Papa Don’t Preach’, Madonna is shown as main focus, there is evidence of her dancing, and there is a story behind the song which is being acted out like a film. There is a beginning, middle and end to the music video ending with a happy ending. Conventions of the rock genre would include the band as a main focus, they would be shown playing instruments at gigs or on buildings or different places. There would be inclusion from audience or fans and the band would be shown typically looking ‘cool’ walking about, driving in vehicles etc. There would be many special effects included within the music video. A typical music video from Rock genre would be Green day ‘Boulivard of Broken dreams’. The video mainly consists of the band playing and walking about and getting audience or fans involved in the making of the video. There is a scratchy special effect which makes the video edgy and interesting. We feel we have met all three conventions briefly. We have included a surreal storyline of each of us being sucked into a different other worldly dimension which includes animation and being chased by things such as gummy bears. This meets the abstract convention of electroclash music. We have had a vague narrative to the music video and had the band as main focus throughout the music video which connects to the pop genre; we have used footage of band playing instruments and had many running/walking cycles of the band meeting some conventions of indie rock.
A normal conventional music video would usually include either animation or live footage; our music is unconventional as it includes a mixture of animation, stop frame and live action. When we were first planning our music video we were inspired by Mario bro’s and Little Big Planets platforms. We were even considering whether we should be transformed into characters similar to the pixelated Mario bros or even characters similar to Pok√©mon for the Nintendo Gameboy. However we decided to use photos of ourselves, walking etc and cut them out and loop them into creating walk, run, jump etc cycles which meant we had included intertextuality within our music video. The idea of incorporating stop frame into the music video was inspired by ‘Her Morning Elegance’  by Oren Lavie, we liked how clever it was and how the story was illustrated without her leaving her bed.
The live action to our music video consists of a range of shot types such as: close up, extreme close up, mid shot, long shot, over the shoulder shot and a few low and high angle shots. The reason why there weren’t many high and low angle shots was because we wanted us to be portrayed all equal within the music video. The animation gave the band a 2D viewpoint and the background used a side scrolling method to make it look as if we were actually walking/running through different scenes rather than it appearing as loop cycles. The band is represented a quirky , this is shown with us playing guitar hero instruments instead of real ones and in the animation running away from peculiar things such as an over sized ugly doll. We have used vibrant colours throughout the video to capture a childlike delight and innocence. The mood is upbeat and hopefully humorous to the viewer. The lyrics of the song are very random and weren’t helpful in establishing the meaning behind the songs of ideas towards the video. The only evident connection between our music video and lyrics would be the clouds that appear in Josh’s animation.
Although there was a lack of easily identifiable conventions I found it easy to work with this genre of music as it gave us a chance to be really original, creative and experimental with ideas. In the rough cut there was less experimentation as only two of the four animations were put in and we hadn’t filmed the live footage that went with them in time for the rough cut, so we temporarily had a lot of live action of the band playing and Stephen singing. Although we planned to include some clips of the band playing etc for the final music video we decided in the end that the footage we took wasn’t very strong and that only a little should be included.
How effective is the combination of your main product and your ancillary texts?
The design ideas behind our Digi pack were to make it as bright and exciting as possible to link with the animation from our music video. The Digi pack needed to be bright and colourful and eye catching. The DVD cover has images taken from the walk cycles of our animation to have an immediate link to the music video. On the back of the cover there is the crumpled piece of paper from Stephen’s scene, I felt this was relevant as there was a recurring theme of crumpled paper throughout the music video. I created the cover on Photoshop so that it would have a similar style as flash did to the animation. The DVD cover has added quirky extras to link with the representation of the band and music such as the umbrella barcode. The magazine advert followed a similar theme to the DVD cover, being both bright and colourful and using images taken of us rather than images taken from the music video.  Today’s artist/band usually advertise their music by creating their own website, Dom had created one for our band as an added extra which we recorded on the advert and DVD cover ‘’. We have included HMV and iTunes on the back of the advert to advertise where our product would be sold or could be downloaded from. We chose ‘Parrot Disco’ as our band name as it fit with the quirky childlike essence to our band representation and was also completely unique. I called the album ‘Dream Walker’ because I felt it fitted well with our music video as there was a dream sense to the music video as it was quite surreal and we were all walking through another worldly dimension. Originally when going about creating the DVD cover for our band I was inspired by ‘Massive attack V Mad Professor ’ I planned to have us screaming running away from giant gummy bears and ugly dolls and sugar spaceship firing lasers at us etc. I rejected this idea because of the same reason that my spray painted gummy bears were rejected from music video – the drawn style and computer art style had a too bigger contrast which didn’t flow well.
What have you learnt from audience feedback?
We created a facebook questionnaire and received around ten responses.

One of the questions asked people what they liked in music videos, from the responses we made sure our music video met what they liked. For example we made sure the music video was unique and interesting by having us animated and running away from unusual things such as gummy bears. We made sure our music video fit with the mood of the song by making it upbeat and childlike. We were all included in the music video and had a small story behind the action. We had special effects such as the glow from the paper before we went into the animated worlds to fit those who liked special effects.

One of the questions asked people whether the music video helped sell the song. The majority of people replied no. This helped us realise just how important the Digi pack was at promoting the music.
From the rough cut we got responses such as ‘the animation worked well as there was a game quality to the piece’ however we got constructive criticism such as ‘transition between Stephen singing and band playing needs improvement’ and ‘movement between animations and guitar hero performance appears unrelated and drumming needs to be faster and to the beat’.  From the criticism we cut the scene of Stephen singing and most of band playing as they were temporary anyway and they had a high contrast. We added in live action to make sense of the animation and made the drums at the beginning in time with the music.

How did you use new media technologies in the construction and research, planning and evaluation stages.
When going about creating our music video we started by making highly detailed storyboards of how I imagined the music video to be. Because we wanted animation to be involved as well as live footage I needed the planning process to be highly detailed to show my thoughts clearly. I made giant A3 plans on paper of what each world would look like and what object chosen for each world should chase us so Dom could use the plans as inspiration towards the animation. I handmade the creature ‘Ugly Doll’ which chases Josh in his scene because we didn’t think an animation version would be so effective. We used a similar method for animating us on the Ugly Doll to bring it alive. Originally there was going to be a mix of hand drawn illustration with the digital animation which we decided against for timing reasons. I had a go at creating spray painted gummy bears however the art style contrasted too much with the flash computer art style. We researched other music videos for inspiration on YouTube before creating ours such as ‘Her Morning Elegance’ by Oren Lavie, this inspired us to include stop frame within our music video and also gave us the idea to take pictures of ourselves and create them into walking cycles etc. To create the stop frame part of the music video with the paper we used I-stop motion and reversed the sequence of the paper crumpling. A music video by ‘Eatliz’ called ‘Hey’ I found quite inspiring as I liked the twists between the music and visuals and I thought it would be interesting to go down a similar path for our music video however we decided as a group that it would make it over complicated.  We used the blogger to note down ideas and the progression of our music video. When we were considering how to create the walk cycles one idea was to use the green screen however we had trouble with lighting and shadows and capturing our whole body within the shot.  Before filming I made a Mise-en-scene list of everything we needed to include which was quite helpful in keeping organised. Originally we planned to film a lot in Dom’s room as he lived closest, however we had trouble finding time which we were all available so in the end we had to change the location of Josh’s and Stephen’s scenes into being at college. Dom brought in a colourful rug which I thought would work well in the background of Josh’s scene to make it look more room like. We found a small TV and Dom brought in a game controller to make it seem more homely. Stephen and I had to hold the rug up and there is evidence of points in the video where you can see the background moving. We filmed my scene at a park near Dom’s house and Dom’s scene was filmed at his house. We did do questionnaires on facebook however it didn’t change any of the original storyboard plans as the responses conveniently wanted everything we were aiming for anyway. I have developed team skills, in the past in other groups I have mainly took control however in this group I feel we have all had an open relationship and shared responsibility and roles. We all got on really well and weren’t afraid to be different. Outside college we kept in touch and me and Dom forwarded ideas and plans through Skype and MSN. I have learnt a bit about flash and developed my Photoshop skills.
We had some trouble with loading the flash animation onto final cut, making it high quality and coping with the long period of time it took to render. Any fade or cut that we tried to add would cause the animation to need rendering all over again. We were very lucky that the animations went in time to the beat of the music as that would have been a disaster if it were out of time. When finishing the filming we discovered that all the footage was longer than the music itself, this meant that we had to altar the music so that everything could be included in the overall final product.

By Eloise Mitchell

Evaluation Commentary

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Evaluation - Josh Wells

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

Although our music video was relatively unconventional compared to more mainstream videos it does not really challenge other conventional films of the genre. You could describe our video as “indie” and within that genre the conventions tend to be quirky and different. We got a lot of  inspiration from was "her morning elegance" by Oren Levie, this is quite a typical indie film and inspired to use stop frame a lot more in our video. Our video develops this idea of “quirkiness” by employing animation to try and make the video more surreal and a more visually pleasing spectacle.  Although our video does stick to this indie genre quite well there is a fundamental challenge of one convention, performance. Most music videos regardless of genre tend to have a performance or indeed a few performances showing the band singing and/or playing their instruments, for instance videos such as "Martell" by The Cribs features performance heavily throughout. Unlike other video ours has little to no performance and zero lip syncing. We felt that by cutting out the performance clips we could concentrate constructing more of a fluent feel to the music video, we also felt that by putting in performance it would actually distract the viewer from the narrative itself. 

I would compare our video to “end love” by OKGO and “70million” by Hold Your Horses. Both of these videos concentrate on quirky and spectacular visuals to replace an almost scripted narrative. We too follow this particular convention however the way our video differs from these two is the lack of performance. Although both videos use quirky videos and spectacular stop frame animation the still have an element of performance, for instance in the Hold Your Horses video there is lip syncing and instrument playing the whole way through, the same goes for end love. I think the reason this is effective for them and not for us is because they have well established band members that people know and recognize  ,the fact that we don't makes it easier to stray away from performance. Our use of flash animation in our video also challenges the real life aspect of both those videos, although there is some live footage in our music video the emphasis is definitely on the animation, thats where the true indie feel comes from. We also tried to incorporate a video games feel, related to 90s platform games like mario or sonic, we achieved this well as all the animation are side on and follow that particular video game convention. Like end love we do employ a bit of stop frame to merge our live images into the animation. A lot of indie videos are starting to employ stop frame animation as it is a fantastic way to give the illusion of life with the freedom of animation.

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

Our digipack is a pretty standard dvd layout, on the front is pictures of all the band members in poses taken form the main video, with a vibrant colorful background that was used to try and copy the nature of our video onto the digipack. The colours on digipack although not taken from the video directly are a good representation of the mood and theme of our video. The colours do relate to the different worlds that we each go into but are not exactly the same.  We wanted to make it so that just by looking at the front cover of our dvd the viewer could tell immediately what kind of mood and style the music is likely to have. I think that we achieved this very well, the vibrant colours and quirky images give a clear idea of the bright happy mood of the music and indeed the music video. The use of text and fonts also help catch the customers eye, the idea being that our dvd will stand out from all the others and you will instantly want it. The main institutions we have used on our front cover is NME. NME is a top Indie music magazine that write hundreds of reviews about Indie albums, bands and the genre in general, to be recognized as a good Indie band by NME is a great selling point for any artist, by putting NME on the front cover a customer is likely to think “if they have been approved by NME they must be good”. On the advert however we put iTunes and HMV logos on it, this is to let the customer know that if they want the album this is where to get it from.

The advert, like the digipack, uses those same vibrant interesting colours to catch the attention of people passing by, or indeed to make a person hang on before turning to the next page in a magazine. We experimented with a very minimalistic advert by just displaying the logo, a website and a small amount of text. This looked very effective but we decided it would only work if we were a very successful band and our logo was wildly recognizable. An example of this kind of advertising working is the Grand Theft Auto games, just by simple displaying the number 4 in the game font they were able to stir up a lot of interest simply because every one instantly knew what it was to do with. Our band name had to be different and unusual to fit our genre, we went for “Parrot Disco” simply because of its absolute originality and interesting quality. It is also catchy and memorable.

What did you learn from your audience feedback?

We had a pleasantly positive response to our video, a great deal of people said that they really like the animation and though it was incredibly effective and cool. The main audience feedback we got was from youtube. We put our rough cut up on youtube and got a few comments bringing up things the maybe were not as good as they could. For instance in our rough cut there was a bit more performance, a lot of the comments we got on our video were about this, they often said that the performance was out of time or didn’t fit with the music, this was one of the reasons we cut the performance from our final video. We also used facebook a great deal to establish what people like and don't like in music videos, we found out that there was almost a 50/50 split between people who liked strong acted out story lines like a lot of Michael Jackson's stuff such as "bad" or "thriller", however the other half said that they prefer more visually pleasing videos to ones with a strong narrative. This gave us an idea of the sort of market that we might aim our video at. We also used facebook to find out what people though about our final product and give us feedback on how we could have made it better. A lot of the responses were incredibly positive with some saying that they wouldn’t change a thing, however some said that they felt the live action was too slow. We also thought this when making the video however we decided that is was important to keep the live action shots relatively slow to make sure people could grasp the surreal narrative of the video

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

One of the main technologies we used in the research and planning stages was facebook, we did questionnaire to find out what people liked to see in music video, we also asked them what sort of music they like and what would make an appealing music video to them. After collecting the results we created graphs that showed what people liked in music videos we then tried to incorporate these results into our final product. As well as facebook we used youtube to get comments and responses on our rough cut as well as researching hundreds of other bands of the genre we were going for, to try and understand what we would need to do to achieve our music video in an effective way. I went through hundreds and hundreds of videos trying to establish what conventions were employed by other video of our kind.

In the construction part of the project one of the biggest pieces of software we used was final cut express, the editing capabilities of final cut made the process of cutting together our video an easy and enjoyable task, we combined final cut with another piece of software called Colour; colour works with final cut and allows you to precisely edit the colours and look of the final video to make sure that the colours were clear and fitting to the theme. As well as these we also used Adobe Flash to a great extent, Flash is a very powerful piece of animation software that allows you to easily make fantastic looking animations and allows you to combine those animation with stills and stop frame. It worked very well for us however there were some problems with compatibility with final cut. The format that Adobe Flash exported was not ideal for final cut, it caused the software to become slow and need to render every time you did a fade or a cut, this proved quite frustrating but nothing we could’t overcome. When it came to creating our digi pack we used Photoshop, photoshop allowed us to make interesting effects for the front cover and advert and keep the colour scheme we were using in the main video. Photoshop proved easy to use and very effective, I feel it made a huge difference to final product and made the digipack vibrant and eye catching.

As well as those technologies will also used old fashion story boarding and and concept art to engineer our final product, eloise also created a brilliant scary doll that was in my animation scene.  We also used iStopMotion to put together all of our stop-frame photos and make the stop frame look clear and smooth.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Directors commentary

Yesterday we finished filming our directors commentary. We think it went well and we said all of the information that we needed and we also covered all the extra points that were missing from our practice written evaluations. We are hoping to finish editing it today. We have a plan, we filmed in the green room yesterday because we have decided to show all of our ancillary texts and our video in the background of us speaking, this is just to show the products that we have made and also to back up some of the points that we are saying.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Guideline to directors commentary

We have still got to do our directors commentary as our final piece of work for our coursework. We have recently tried writing up a short evaluation for the questions that we are supposed to answer, these have been marked and this is some of the feedback that we received:
1. In what ways does your media product use, develop and challenge forms and conventions of real media products?
  • What we should include:
    • Establish what song you chose and what music genre you are working in
    • What do you usually expect to see in a video of that sort of music (codes and conventions)? Give examples (mention artists, specific videos)
    • Now compare that with your video
    • Does it have performance?
    • How is it shot (shot types, edits)?
    • How is the band represented?
    • Tone of the video, (colours, mood) How did it interpret the lyrics (did it help)?
    • Was it difficult to work in a genre of music that is so quirky and hard to pin down?
    • What were the thoughts behind dropping the performance part?
2.  How effective is the combination of your main product and ancillary texts?
  • What we should include:
    • Explain the basic design and ideas for your digi-pak?
    • Explain where the idea came from? Were they directly from your video?
    • Is the look of your video (colour, fonts, style, mood, tone) similar to your digi-pak? If not why? If yes - how did you achieve that?
    • What impression do you get of the band from the CD - is it the same representation that you see from the video?
    • How is this style continued in the advert? 
    • How are you hoping to attract consumers to purchase the product?
    • What is the relevance of the institutions you've included on your advert (reviews, stores)?
    • Talk about your choice of band name? 
    • Justify why you've rejected some of your other designs?
    • How would you describe the representation of your band on the cover?
3.  What have you learned from your audience feedback?
  • What we should include:
    • What have you learned from your audience feedback?
    • Did you do the facebook questionnaire? How did that influence your decisions when making your video/ advert/ digipack (What they like in a video, where they buy there music, do they go on magazine reviews when buying records, what sort of extra content they like on their CD's)?
    • What did you learn from the rough cut feedback and comments from youtube and your blog? Did you use them? If yes why and how? If not, why? be specific - quote the comments if necessary.
    • Use those graphs if you want? If the research wasn't helpful then say it wasn't
4.  How did you use new media technologies in the construction and research, planning and evaluation stages?

  • What we should include:

    • Internet/ Youtube/ Google - researching codes and conventions and similar bands
    • Find your tribe/ Facebook - audience research
    • Still cameras - location scouting
    • Email - sharing ideas, teamwork
    • Photoshop - design
    • Final Cut - test footage, effects, filters, editing, converting footage into internet ready footage
    • Da fonts - fonts
    • Other technology - you still used a lot of paper for storyboard, mind-maps, noting down ideas, designs, checklist
    • Talk about the use of Flash - what were the advantages and the problems of coming it with Final Cut
    • Was it a problem that only one member could use it effectively
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