Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Pac-Man Fever Animatic Update

Production of this has been particularly slow because of illness; but here's an update to show the general idea of what I plan to do -

I listened to the song a few times and made some rough notes as to what will be on-screen during each part -

I do plan on starting drawing soon; though because of this really annoying cold it may be a while before I feel properly motivated - and I wouldn't want to just throw out something mediocre. My apologies for this.


Friday, 20 July 2012

"Sheena Is A T-shirt Salesman" Recreation Analysis

After many, many unsuccessful attempts at adding in the frame-stutter effects from the official video I've decided to give it a miss and stick with the regular full-speed video I posted previously.

For the sake of comparing the recreation to the official video, I've been able to use the fantastically useful Picture-in-Picture setting in iMovie to overlay the official video over the top of our recreation.

We can use this to look at what does and doesn't work in the recreation. Am going to start off with the obvious stuff -

- Location: we used the most conveniently accessible room in the school for filming this kind of thing (one of the music rooms, with thanks to the music department for letting us do this!) - it just happens that this room doesn't look much like the one in the official video, with blue walls rather than beige, a different window arrangement and carpet instead of the wooden floor. It's also significantly smaller, which impacts the next point.

- Cinematography: The video is just one take so I didn't have to worry about getting multiple angles of the action, however the room being smaller meant that a bit of creativity was needed in regards to camera position to make sure everyone was in the shot - meaning our recreation shows the action from a slightly different angle than the original.

- Direction: Also impacted by the size of the room - in the original clip they had significantly more space to move around in than we did. This is especially apparent in the parts throughout where a band member walks between the drum kit and the point at the front where the current attention focus is standing - due to the lack of space available this was impossible in our version, meaning they had to play along the back of the room somewhere at these points. Lip-syncing was pretty spot-on - Mr S. has the lyrics to the entire FotL discography permanently engraved in his brain somewhere, and we ran through the most distinct parts of Mr E. and Ms M. briefly before filming. Mr N. appears to have put his own distinct touch into the drumming, which was very much appreciated (though spinning around that much for the duration of the five takes can't have been healthy...). The band's movements in the original original clip look improvised, so I don't think it's a big deal that ours stray from it here and there.

- Costume: We filmed this after a school day and were all still wearing what we'd been wearing in school time. In the original video the band were dressed casually, so ours is noticeably different. The biggest difference is the fact that me and Sarah are clearly not dressed in blue full-body jumpsuits when we run in with the signs - said costume was not available, and not being able to see would have impacted on our ability to follow what was happening on the laptop. We thought that in a one-or-the-other situation, the general direction is more important than the mise-en-scene in regards to staying faithful to the original clip.

...and now for the other stuff -

- Editing: I tried to recreate the frame skip, I really did. I tried multiple different techniques of doing this - out of those I remember, the Strobe (if I recall correctly) filter in FCP was too consistent with frame drops to be faithful to the original (which had them all over the place), cutting around the strobe track to reveal the raw track in parts only worked in theory as it is way too fiddly to get right (and it sticks out like a sore thumb when not right), and laying stills over the individual part looked way too time consuming to justify the effort. The speed looks about right though; this was achieved by filming at half-speed, then adjusting to 200% in FCP.

- Props: We are using different instruments to what the band are using in the original - this is because we didn't have exact copies available, and instruments are expensive. All of the ones we used do, however, serve the same purpose thus making our video just as believable as the original. The only major differences I see are that Ms M. was using Mr S.'s awesome 5-string which I am totally not jealous of in any way *sigh* which is visually quite different to the P-bass(?) Julia is using in the original, and that the Pearl logo is visible on the drum kit in ours. Also, as mentioned previously, the signs in the video were hand-written by myself, because I'm too cheap to get proper recreations printed professionally.


Sunday, 15 July 2012

Rock Video Analysis 2 - I Want It All

Continuing on from a previous post where I looked at Hardline's Takin' Me Down... here's the video for my favourite Queen song (tied with '39 and Stone Cold Crazy, but they don't have videos...)

So, let's look at how this video relates to Goodwin's music video theory then! In regards to screenshots, these do have a VEVO logo over them. Last time this was the case I was able to Photoshop them out; however this time there are significantly more affected, and my computer which has PS on it takes decades to load up. These will have to suffice.

1) Relationship between lyrics and visuals

As with the Takin' Me Down video, this is purely performance, so that fact tied with the rather vague meaning of the song makes it difficult to pick out examples of this. That being said, however, the "I want it all" lines in the chorus could be interpreted as a desire for a supreme status in one way or another; and at these moments we see a lot of cases where the camera is placed below the band (low angle shot) members, which could represent them being 'high up' -

2) Relationship between music and visuals

As I mentioned before, it's a performance video. This gives us the link between what we see and hear in that we can see the band miming the song on their instruments. There are a couple of things especially worth noting in this video - first is during the a cappella intro we see nothing but close side-on shots of the band member's faces as they are lip-syncing -

This is drawing all of the attention to the vocal harmonies, thus satisfying the relationship between the music and the visuals. Also, as with the Hardline video, we get lots of shots of Brain as he's playing his solo, thus emphasising the solo in the music.

3) Genre characteristics

The Hardline video was performance heavy. This video is performance heavy. Pretty much every rock video I've seen before has been performance heavy. I think it's fair to say one of the conventions of rock videos is that they are performance heavy.

As we can see above, a lot of focus is given to the guitar, though we're also seeing some attention given to the other rock instruments used (the bass and drums) - though nowhere near as much.

4) Close-ups/artist motifs

As seen earlier there are a lot of close-up shots of the band members, to help make their image more prominent throughout the video. It seems most of the attention in regards to image is given to Freddie and Brian - which is highlighted heavily in the vocal exchange part way into the song by showing nothing but close-ups of their faces during their lines -

No, that isn't bad cropping on my part, it's actually shown at a different resolution in the video. Possibly used as a deliberate effect to draw more attention towards them by leaving less white space at the side of the shot.

Brian is shown with the two things we automatically associate with Brian May - his Red Special and his awesome hair (Barthes' Mythologies, anyone?).

There's one point I specifically need to make in regards to the presentation of the artist - and that's that Freddie was really showing signs of his illness by this point - and it's clear that they've gone out of their way to try and hide this - particularly in the way they've employed really harsh halogen lighting to hide how pale his face was at the time. This also seems to be why a lot of the close-up shots of Freddie are shown in greyscale (which would be a recurring theme in a lot of later Queen videos) -

5) Emphasis on 'looking'/voyeurism

I can see no examples of voyeuristic treatment of females... as there are no women in the video. I'm also not seeing much use of 'looking' to engage the audience, outside of the part with Brian/Freddie during the vocal exchange part (for which I will not repost the images to avoid excessive load times...). Part of me is thinking this is part of Queen's image - they've always been shown as more of a whole, rounded theatrical act as opposed to a typical rock band, so it makes sense for them to be shown as a one-way performance.

6) Intertextual references

Again, I'm not seeing anything... possibly because it's entirely performance. The closest thing I can think of is the a cappella intro being filmed over a plain black background, similar to their own video for Bohemian Rhapsody.


Saturday, 14 July 2012

Animatic Concept - I'm goin' out of my mind!

Sir said I should now make another animated storyboard as a follow up to the one I did for The Great Escape now I have a bit more background knowledge about music videos. This time I have been allowed to pick a song for myself from my chosen genre (I wanna ROCK)... so it will be this -

(Well, not this particular version, the one that's on iTunes.)

This song has a lot to play with for a music video, so I think I should throw down the ideas I have.

First up - I really like Temporary Veterinary. Therefore they will return. In the TGE video we managed to flesh out a bit of the band members personalities' through their costume; we can reinforce this through the followup video. This ties in with the star image theory, in that I, as the exploitive record company boss I am, am using their music videos to construct a marketable image for them. That way I can earn MONIES.

This will have more of a direct link between the lyrics and the visuals as per Goodwin - in the TGE video I touched on this in a slightly obscure conceptual manner with the spiders; though here it will be so obvious that even an X Factor contestant could understand it. This is to a) widen the audience and b) make it more engaging, to tie in with the light hearted nature of the song.

To explain this further: the song is about an obsession with Namco's Pac-Man. I plan on using a link to the lyrics by featuring shots of the band members running through the maze levels of the game during the verses, with the things we see on screen tying in with said lyrics - for example, during the "So I'm heading out the back door and in the other side; Gonna eat the cherries up and take them all for a ride" part we see exactly that on screen. Not sure how I'm going to handle the "I've got Speedy on my tail, and I know it's either him or me." line purely because it baffles me slightly - Speedy is unlikely to be on your tail in gameplay; he's much more likely to be trying to get in front of you (no, I'm not making this up to be difficult; that is actually how he's programmed). May have to be creative with that one.

Point that needs carefully addressing: I don't want this to be a gimmicky "oh look, it's a music video about videogames!" thing, but as a video which employs Pac-Man as part of the narrative. Reason? So that it doesn't annoy videogame players. There's little that annoys me more than the way a lot of media represents videogames - I'm pretty sure we've all seen a TV programme that fits the TVTropes "Pac-Man Fever" trope or some other kind of misrepresentation of how videogames function by either relying on LOTS OF FLASHING LIGHTS AND VIOLENCE or spamming out of place chip-tune music (not that I dislike 8-bit/16-bit music! This is coming from the guy who went out of his way to learn the Metropolis Zone riff on guitar!). In short, the narrative should get the point across to casuals whilst being relevant to nerds.

re: Narrative? Video starts with the frontman (I should really give these guys names...) walking up to a Pac-Man machine in the corner of an arcade alone. He starts playing, and we 'zoom' into the game where we see the band members in place of Pac-Man. Lots of time-lapse cuts will be used; the end of the video sees the frontman successfully reaching the split-screen level (256 for those interested!) and having a crowd gathered around him. The choruses have performance elements weaved in with the whole band present.


Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Fan Image?

This is something I've been thinking about lately; it's kind-of relevant but I'm tagging it as off-topic purely because this is a ramble, and as such some of this may not make sense and I may contradict myself a fair bit.

To start things off, it's no secret that I like the Sonic the Hedgehog videogame series (emphasised by the fact that I made a point of changing the desktop background of every computer in the Mac room to a Photoshopped image I made of Shadow with lyrics from Magna-Fi's "All Hail Shadow" next to him at one point a while back) but I have to say I do not consider myself part of the Sonic fanbase, on the basis that I actually enjoy a lot of the games he's in.

To clarify - the Sonic fanbase is pretty infamous for being full of people who are generally idiots, who have nothing better to do than to whinge and whine about trivial things on the internet. Examples of this include the fact that "Sonic sucks since Adventure", "they ruined his design by giving him green eyes", and my favourite being the assumption that anyone who liked Sonic '06 is a furry. Yes, some people actually believe this. This is far from true about a good deal of Sonic fans, but that doesn't stop it being the general image people have of the fan community.

So why have I brought this up then? Because it's dawned on me that the same thing seems to be the case with musical artists. I've came to this conclusion by thinking about some of the artists I can't stand, and realising that a big deal of my hate for them comes from the kinds of fans we associate with them.

Case in point? Lady Gaga. If I'm being honest, out of all the terrible manufactured pop artists out there today, her music is probably the most tolerable. So why do I have so much hate for her stuff? Because of the kind of fans I see. If you think of a theoretical Lady Gaga fan in your mind, you're probably thinking of an obsessive Social Justice Sally-type 'little monster'. From the outside, this is not the kind of person most people would want to associate with, which is probably the source of a lot of Gaga hate.

So how has this fan image been created? From the source itself. A fair bit of Gaga's "message", if you will, is about all this equality stuff. Wanting equality between social groups is great, but if your message transmits the idea to fans that the whole world is against them and that they should be overly proud of their differences, all you're likely to end up with are a lot of annoying egotistical kids who become defensive whenever any of The Great Gaga's teachings are brought up in debate.

Not every Gaga fan is going to be like this, but from the outside people are going to look at what is being presented, put two and two together and come up with this image.

I personally could see this kind of negative image of a fanbase being a threat to an artist, as it means that people outside the current fandom could be dissuaded from showing interest in their work - purely because they either feel threatened by current fans or worry about being associated with certain types of people.

So what could the Temporary Veterinary lads/my fictional coursework 'artist' do to avoid having a negative fanbase image? I think the main point is to try not to close the door on any kind of groups from the artist's image - whilst they're going to have a target audience, they shouldn't make a big deal about shoving this in the audience's faces - because doing so may put off the people who may be hovering over the barrier between one potential target market and another. For example, if you have someone who's mostly a fan of rock music, but likes some pop music to extent, they'd probably be turned away from a pop artist's video which employed every single pop video trope ever, yet they'd probably still check out a pop artist who's video has just a couple of these pop video elements (which would probably still be enough to satisfy fans of pop music, thus keeping their 'target'). Failing to create this relatively open image would create a locked in, defined fanbase which seems completely out of touch to anyone who isn't already part of it.

...And to prove that this is actually a concept I've thought about, as opposed to one of my typical "everything is terrible" points - I do indeed believe that the opposite of this can happen, in that a positive fanbase image can be beneficial to the artist - for example, Cash Cash are a fairly mainstream-sounding pop band, yet I've never once heard dumb things like "why do you like The Beatles, isn't that old people music?" or "if Hardline are so great, why don't they play on the radio?" from Cash Cash fans, in the way that I do from fans of other pop groups. I can put this down to them drawing in a fairly open fanbase, because of the way they are presented. Let's look at the video for their Forever Young cover (because it feels like I've posted Party In Your Bedroom over 9000 times now) -

Yes, they have used some traditional pop video conventions, yet they haven't overdone it to a point that filters out everyone who isn't a pop music purist. They've used things like a club setting and bright lights to bring in their target market (pop fans), yet they haven't thrown every single thing you'd associate with pop videos in there, because that would create an illusion to those who aren't pop purists that they are not welcome. The video as it is invites in the pop fans, yet leaves the door open for fans of other genres, meaning that the Cash Cash fanbase is more varied, and therefore more open to other things which are about.

I've been very general by talking only about genre characteristics, but there's usually more to shaping the fan image than this; in some cases it feels like the marketing/artist image of some artists is pretty much headhunting the people they want in their fanbase e.g. in Gaga's case if you don't buy into overdramatic narrative videos/wacky costumes then her music videos offer absolutely nothing for you, and if you disagree with any of the social issues Gaga discusses on her Twitter feed then you a supposedly a terrible human being. Therefore, if you're not a liberal who loves unique(?) self-expression then you're not welcome into Gaga's fan club, meaning that her fans are a very closed group - who annoy those who are not part of it.

This has been a post.


Tuesday, 10 July 2012

FotL Recreation - Full Speed (Export 1)

Another WIP upload; this time I have chosen the best of the raws (the fourth one), sped up the video to 200% (to meet the speed of the original song) and synced up the audio.

Syncing up the audio has been particularly tedious; at school earlier I got it just about right after seemingly hours of "nudge it left a bit, nudge it right a bit" in FCP, and exported it on to the memory stick so I could upload it when I got home.

Problem? When I got home I found that part of the sound skipped during exporting, meaning there were two moments where the clip was dead silent for a fraction of a second. Sure, it was so minuscule that no-one but me would have noticed; but I am a nitpicker and won't accept it not being right (especially after how unsatisfied I was with the sound mixing of the project I'd worked on last year). Because of this I had to repeat the whole "left a bit, right a bit" process in iMovie (as I don't have FCP here...) before uploading. Fun.

Still to do is to find a way of making the jumpy effect; I believe this can be done by manually cutting and shifting individual parts around (again, using the "left a bit, right a bit" method), but I plan on looking to see if there's a quicker way of doing this before I resort to the long-winded method.


Sunday, 8 July 2012

Rock Video Analysis 1 - Takin' Me Down

I would love to have made a reference to one particular Dumbledore quote from HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH but sadly the obscene nature of it would have been too unprofessional even for me. But oh well.

For the sake of not making myself feel too conscious about post lengths etc. when analysing these, I'm going to put each analysis in a separate post.

Because Johnny Gioeli was fantastic at Summer of Sonic yesterday I'm going to start with an old Hardline video. (I'm using a MySpace embed because the ones on YouTube have terrible quality. This is slightly better but still not too great).

As this is solely a performance video this could be interesting...

1) Relationship between lyrics and visuals

This is fairly limited because of the aforementioned fact about it being performance only, but there is one fairly interesting point to note - most noticeably during the first chorus, the camera is positioned low down in a low-angle shot so it is looking up at Johnny whilst he's singing the "taking me down" part, so it looks like he is looking down at the viewer.

2) Relationship between music and visuals

As a performance video what we see on screen ties directly in to what we hear, so to get the obvious stuff out of the way: the vocals are lip-synced, the band are miming their parts on their instruments, the Earth revolves around the sun etc.. On to the more interesting stuff, we see a succession of different shots of Neil Schon when he is playing his solo - of particular note is this close-up of his guitar -

This amplifies the status of the guitar in the video quite a lot (and therefore draws attention to the sound of the guitar in the song), both because it is a close-up shot, and because the greyscale filter is applied only to this close-up, and not to any of the full-body wide shots of Neil playing which precede and succeed it.

3) Genre characteristics

This is pretty much your stereotypical classic rock video. So, what do we expect from a rock video?

In regards to props - guitars?


Costume - performers wearing not much?

There's also a heavy focus on action and the video has a lot of fast-paced cuts to represent this - this is something people usually associate with rock music. re: cinematography, pretty all of the shots seem to have a camera pan rather than being stationary to reinforce this action.

4) Close-ups/artist motifs

As you can see from the screenshots I've already posted you can see that there are a lot of close-up shots of the band members, which helps make them recognisable to audiences, thus building up their star image.

To the point of artist motifs/similarities to their other work, despite the constant lineup changes they still seem to keep a consistent use of seemingly random individual greyscale shots mixed in to the video - I've seen this present in this, the Hot Cherie video from the same album, as well as the Fever Dreams video (which actually only came out a couple of months ago).

It's also worth mentioning that all three of these videos consist almost, if not entirely, of performance. This could be to stress the fact that they are pretty awesome as a live band, thus helping sell concert tickets (whenever Johnny hasn't decided to take a ten year break, that is*)?

Also of note (though slightly irrelevant) is that their 2012 album Danger Zone makes reference to the 1992 album Double Eclipse by featuring a picture of an eclipse on the album art.

5) Emphasis on 'looking'/voyeurism

Nothing in regards to the male gaze (there are no women in this video), yet the band seem to be wearing hardly anything with Johnny having forgotten his shirt altogether which is probably to please the fangirls.

There are a number of shots which show the band members looking directly at the camera, as if to address the audience - this helps engage the audience to a further level than just having them passively sitting watching.

6) Intertextual references

I can't see any other than the fact they were conforming to what was popular at the time e.g. the long hair/instruments/performance appeal being similar to what a lot of other rock bands of the time were doing.

*not from music in general, just from Hardline. He's been in Crush 40 with Jun Senoue. And Crush 40 are the best thing.


Friday, 6 July 2012

Hip-hop "music" videos

With that being a very liberal use of the word "music".

In this post I'm going to be looking at several hip-hop music videos to try and get an idea of some of the tropes which keep appearing throughout the genre, as well as seeing how the videos fit in with Goodwin's music video theories.

Just a warning: I am fairly biased against the hip-hop genre. I hate it. How much do I hate it? Well, the other week I had to be taken in to hospital after randomly passing out at a party and was in there for five and a half hours not being able to eat or walk around, feeling physically sick the whole time, developing a neck ache from the shape of the 'bed' (which is really just a plastic board of some kind) whilst being tested for all sorts of things, including having to be pinned down to have a blood sample taken because of my unnatural intolerance of needles. I would take that over having to listen to hip-hop any day.

On that note, let's look at a video from an artist I would quite happily punch in the face, Eminem. Apologies if this becomes a bit laggy.

1) Lose Yourself - Eminem

The first thing we see is a use of cinematography to establish the setting: a bird's eye view of a city, followed by a wide shot of a street area. This is showing us that it is set in what appears to be a deprived area, which from my background knowledge seems to be a recurring factor of hip-hop videos.

Now, how is the artist himself presented to us?

Eminem is shown wearing both a hooded jacket and a hat in some shots, and the hat alone in others. He also appears to be trying to look angsty in a great deal of the shots - in the same manner as those individuals who find it worthwhile asking random members of the public what they're looking at.

You could say they're trying to make him look like he's a threat, or that they're trying to make him look 'cool'. Personally I think he looks like a waste of organs.

As far as intertextual references go? We see a lot of reference to "8 Mile", which IIRC was a film he brought out around the same time as this record. I am also aware that product placement is common in hip-hop. Yay for consumerism!

2) Low - Flo-Rida ft. T-Pain

Ugh, this song. Most of what is shown here is in a club, tying in with the lyrics which are about a bird in a club. As with the Eminem video, the guy is shown at times in a hooded jacket, which again appears to be to make him look threatening.

In reference to the lighting, we see a lot of shots which feature nothing but coloured lights.

I imagine this is just to remind the viewer that it is a club. In case the terrible music and shots of people dancing hadn't already managed to get this message across.

There are also a lot of women shown in the video, and as you would expect from a hip-hop video they are shown in a respectful manner -

All the shots of women dancing in this video are highly sexualised, and it's definitely worth mentioning that from what I could see none of the women appear to be on screen for a significant amount of time - suggesting that this 'hip-hop lifestyle' the video seems to celebrate sees women as objects to be used for sex as opposed to actual people. The idea of women being treated as objects could also be seen in the shot where Flo-Rida is shown completely surrounded by women, as though they are being seen as his 'property' -

3) Drop It Like It's Hot - Snoop Dogg ft. Pharrell Williams

As with the Flo-Rida video, here the artist is shown completely surrounded by women - again this could be seen as objectifying women by showing them as being Snoop Dogg's possessions.

It's also worth noting that the whole video is presented in greyscale; this appears to be for artistic effect.

4) Can I Kick It? - A Tribe Called Quest

I think the most interesting point about this video is the portrayal of the artist - instead of being shown as either yobs or guys who treat women like objects, these lot actually come across as genuine nice people who have a sense of humour. Whilst they are dressed in typical hip-hop costume in the same way Eminem is in the Lose Yourself video, they aren't trying to be threatening in any way, and are shown having a laugh in a good majority of the shots.

5) Gangsta's Paradise - Coolio ft. L.V.

Firstly, Coolio is a hypocrite and I hate him. Why? He whinged and whined about Weird Al basing Amish Paradise off of this when in actuality all he's done himself is taken Pastime Paradise and shouted over it.

But that's irrelevant, what's relevant here is the video. Two things which stand out here in particular - firstly is the representation of women. Whilst the women in this video don't appear to be shown in a sexualised manner (opposing Goodwin's theory re: voyeurism in music videos to appeal to a male audience), there are some moments where the male artist is shown to have a high degree of dominance over a female in the video, e.g.

The combination of both the staging of the people in the shot and the position of the camera show Coolio to be above the female lead, rapping 'at' her, whilst she submissively listens to what he's going on about - which could be seen to suggest that males are more dominant in that the female doesn't appear to challenge anything which is being said to her.

Secondly is the artist's image - as with Eminem they seem to be trying to make him appear threatening/intimidating. This is achieved through the use of lighting; the shots featuring Coolio are particularly dark, with the only lighting covering his face -

This also reinforces the point in Goodwin's theory regarding videos containing a lot of close-ups of the artist to promote their image - with this taking it a step further and ensuring that the only thing you can see in the shot is Coolio's face.

6) Airplanes - B.o.B. ft. Hayley Williams

What's this, a hip-hop song I can sort-of tolerate? That is only because of Hayley Williams' part, mind you.

Making their reappearance from the Low video are the brightly coloured lights!

The screen in the background changes between a number of different colours, with the black, red and green being most apparent. Whilst this isn't down to being set in a club environment like the Low video, it does appear to be aiming for a similar kind of effect (making the setting seem active/lively).

In terms of voyeurism, it seems a lot tamer than the other videos - some of the shots of Hayley at the beginning could be interpreted as going out of their way to draw a male audience (thus satisfying the male gaze theory) very little attention is given to these shots in comparison to other shots of her, such as those with her in the printed photographs.

These shots also help build up the artist's image - Hayley is shown to be a regular human being, walking through typical everyday snapshots, who the audience is meant to feel that they can relate to. This contrasts to the way B.o.B. is presented - as seen in the earlier screenshots, he is dressed in a black jacket and is seen performing a variety of different arm motions towards the viewer, making him look slightly threatening, in the vein of Eminem and Coolio (though not to the same extent).

This could lead to a point regarding the representation of males and females; B.o.B. is shown to be slightly intimidating, whilst Hayley is shown to be innocent and potentially vulnerable, depending on interpretation. This could be representing the male artist having dominance over the female one.

So, to summarise and answer the question, "what are the conventions of hip-hop music videos?", we need to look at the recurring trends in these six videos.

I'm seeing two main kinds of location from these - the 'street', and the club. The 'street' features in Lose Yourself, Can I Kick It and Gangsta's Paradise, and is shown to be a deprived area with things people usually associate with deprived areas, such a hoodies/gangs. Often shown in a negative light, but not always - A Tribe Called Quest don't seem too bothered about their surroundings. The club, which features in Low (and to an extent Airplanes/Drop It Like It's Hot) typically features a lot of flashing lights and dancing.

Portrayal of Artist
As mentioned many times already in this post, a lot of the videos portray the artist as being threatening, in the sense that you wouldn't want to bump into them in a dark alley. This is especially true in the Eminem/Coolio videos, whilst being pretty much completely subverted in the A Tribe Called Quest video. This is potentially to make them appear 'cool' or 'rebellious' to their audiences - specifically picking up an appeal to teenagers. If we go by Dyer's theory of an artist's image being something which has been manufactured to make them a star who has a big appeal, we could theorise that the labels have identified what this particular market are looking for, and have built up their stars to meet these expectations.

Representation of Women
Some of the videos I have looked at here show women to be little more than sex objects, with this being especially apparent in the Drop It Like It's Hot/Low videos. These two are especially guilty as they show wide shots of the male artist surrounded by multiple women in a way which makes it look like they 'own' said women. They also show women wearing next to nothing whilst dancing suggestively, which appears to be a method of gaining the attention of heterosexual males.

Shots of Artist
There are lots of close-ups of the artists in each of these videos; going by Goodwin's theory, this is typically a demand from the institutions for the sake of making it absolutely clear to the viewer who is performing the track, as well as being a factor in building the artist's star image.


Thursday, 5 July 2012

Audience Research - Rock Video Feedback

Hey all,

A few days ago, I posted my results from a survey about what people like to see in music videos. Whilst I was able to collect a fair amount of responses, in retrospect I've noticed a few problems with this information:

  • The questions are perhaps a tad leading. The wording on some of the possible answers in the multiple choice questions seem to be a tad pushy towards one particular answer.
  • It's a tad too generic; I'd asked anyone who felt like answering to give responses. As it stands I'm more than likely to be making a rock video, and people typically have different expectations for different genres.
To gain more useful, information, I sent out messages and emails to people who I know on various forums and social networks to just tell me what they like to see in rock videos. This way I've managed to get some more relevant responses with answers that weren't prompted by the question. Believe it or not, there are actually people in this world who can bear to talk to me!

One trait I seem to be finding is that rock fans like seeing the artist perform. This counters what I found in the previous findings, where most people went for narrative videos...

Another comment I received which I found interesting was from someone who seems to prefer more mature tones in videos - even though this idea received little support in the questionnaire.

Whilst this input still isn't technically perfect - after all, with a more specific target demographic I wasn't able to get as much information - it has given me a more representative idea of what fans of the genre want to see.


Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Lip-Sync Montage Task

The lip-sync task, where I mime to Sonic Youth/Blue, Dressed In Black/Driving Rain/His World as practice for when I'll need to put a music video together for the final coursework piece.

I should note that I have a noticeable error in Sonic Youth - where the note goes on for longer than I appear to be 'singing'. This is because some of the long notes are artificially processed for effect, whereas others are Johnny Gioeli actually holding the note, and I got myself confused.

The colour alterations are purely there to make things look more interesting; four identical shots of me standing in front of my wardrobe seems a bit dull.

I honestly don't know what my eyes were doing through this.

Sir - this comes to longer than the original task's request because I had the last minute idea to do His World with the split-screen and felt that it needed to be done, if only for the sake of getting used to lining up multiple tracks to be in time with audio. If this is a problem, let me know and I can re-edit to get it down to three minutes.


Lip-sync is in progress

I noticed that I kept doing stupid-looking performance things like grabbing the mic stand, waving my arms around and grabbing the air. So I decided to go over the top with this for the fun of it, and I look ridiculous.

So yes, letting you know this is filmed, am in the process of editing it together now.


Monday, 2 July 2012

"The Great Escape" - Temporary Veterinary

So yes, this is on the internets now. Copyright strike in 3...

This is my animated storyboard for a music video of "The Great Escape" by We Are Scientists, as if it is being performed by a fictional band called Temporary Veterinary.

Information about the technical production side of the video is here.

In regards to Goodwin's music video theory:

Relationship between visuals and lyrics
I've gone with a bit of a conceptual link here; the song is about being unable to face up to challenges and therefore resorting to running away. It's as though there is a block of some kind - in the same way the spiders in this video act as a block. As mentioned here the spiders are representing darkness and fear, which in turn highlights the corruption in the mind of the narrator.

I ended up not going with the grey gradient effect I mentioned before; but instead placing them in what appears to be an infinite grey void (yes, this is intentional as opposed to being the product of artistic limitations!) to show that they are stuck in this endless insanity, and that there is no sign of reality in sight.

Relationship between visuals and music
The song is fairly heavy and dark toned, and the video is set in a dark grey void to further enforce this. There are several cuts based on what happens on screen, for example, we see a lot of movement around the guitarist during the guitar solo, and the lights during the first part of the video flash with the beat (and stay consistent between shots, which made the whole thing take a lot longer to put together). The cuts slow down noticeably during a slower part of the song.

Genre characteristics
This is especially apparent in regards to the mise-en-scene:

- Lighting: Part of the video contains stage lights which flash on and off quickly, which occurs quite a lot in performance-based rock videos - though in this case the flashes are occuring as a way of alluding to being on stage (as the last bit of 'reality' left in the narrator's mind before being switched off by the spiders) as opposed to actually being set on a stage.
- Props: They have instruments typically associated with rock performance - a guitar, a bass guitar and an acoustic drum kit.
- Location: Discussed this earlier but it is relevant here - it's set in an endless grey void. Whilst audiences don't generally make an automatic association between rock music and fantasy locations, quite a few videos (such as the Iron Man video by Black Sabbath - below) show the artist performing in these kinds of environments through set designs/green screens.

There are also a few sections with fast cuts, which are often used in rock music to highlight the tone of the music.

Artist close-ups
Lots of. Each band member has multiple close-ups individually, and the band are on screen at all times. These are typically used to get the artist's image across to the end viewer, as a way of developing their appeal. If we go by Dyer's theory of the 'star' being an image which has been carefully constructed by the industry, I see the close-ups in music videos acting as a way of promoting this image to newer consumers, whilst grabbing the attention of those who have already bought into this image as they now can see that this new media product offers more of said star.

Not apparent, from what I can see.

Intertextual references
The concept of an outbreak of spiders could be seen as a reference to the 1990 film Arachnophobia. Is also worth mentioning that the band name is a reference to this fantastic song:


The Great Escape Animatic Timeline

The video is exporting right now, and I'll upload the full thing when I get home. For the sake of killing some time whilst I'm waiting, here's the timeline for the animated piece.

Yes, each one of those blocks is an individual frame (with the exception of the ones on the second lowest video track, which are alternating for the first phase and then straight through the same afterward).

I've made each individual 'shot' in PowerPoint, using stock characters I made earlier using Photoshop on my TouchSmart. Yes, the six-year-old TouchSmart that blue screens all the time. Eh. My working computer has neither Photoshop nor a touch screen, so that wasn't an option. /technologyhatesme

From a production standpoint, this was clearly put together in FCP using the previously mentioned shots from PowerPoint. The spiders were done in FCP by importing the .png into Final Cut and then moving them one step at a time. This took ages, though it could have been longer if I didn't decide to recycle some of the shots here and there and just make minor tweaks to the movement each time. Originality, what is this?

The text at the beginning is just the song name/band name/year, as they theoretically show when playing the video on music television channels (I say theoretically because music channels tend to focus more on terrible reality shows about teenage mothers and making cars look ridiculous than playing music videos). I was very tempted to add in loads of pop-up video style text boxes with facts about the comings and goings of the Temporary Veterinary lads, but thankfully managed to hold off. This may still happen!

So yeah, will upload the final piece as soon as possible.