Thursday, 29 November 2012

Production Update 2 - File Management

So yes, I have imported the clips from Thursday's performance recording session into Final Cut, and have separated them into bins based on the kinds of shots.

This may not be a conventional organisation manner, but I have my reasons - right now I am focusing solely on the performance section, and will worry about narrative later. Because of the untamed nature of my character's mentality, I want to borrow parts from as many takes as I can, to give a disjointed tone to the video. Provided they can all be chroma keyed properly, I hope to use something from each of the clips (excluding the PRODUCTIVITY files; those are ones from the green screen test montage which I imported by accident. Failure.).


Friday, 23 November 2012

Production Update 1 - It begins...

Yesterday, as mentioned in the planning post, I started filming the performance section of the video, with assistance from Mr. N..

In terms of equipment, I decided we should approach this with a multi-camera setup; this is because I want to have multiple different angles and using multiple cameras for this is less time consuming than having to shoot each part over and over for each angle. I would usually point out that this also helps out with avoiding continuity errors, but in this case I'm actually going out of my way to avoid perfect continuity from shot to shot to represent the broken manner in which the performer sees himself (the whole light vs. dark thing).

The cameras we've used are my Bloggie which Mr. S. issued me at the start of last year that I've sort of... kept, and three more Bloggies which I borrowed from the Media Studies department.

To keep the cameras in place we used the tripods from the store room; each one of these attaches to the camera in a slightly different way which is wonderfully inconvenient... but oh well. They did what they needed to do.

I also borrowed Sir's laptop - this was used to play the song which I could use as reference when miming. A slight problem I've noticed is that in some parts I am slightly late starting; though this can easily be fixed with the "left a bit, right a bit" method in FCP.

Unfortunately as the backup of the footage is on the school computer I'm not able to put together one of those fancy raws montages like I did with the Sheena is a T-shirt Salesman raws; but I do have my Bloggie with me so enjoy these screenshots of me looking like a complete plonker.


Thursday, 22 November 2012

Initial Performance Filming Planning

This post is to keep informed regarding when I'm going to go about filming this thing.

The main framework of the video revolves around the performance sections; so these are the parts I will go about filming first. I can then go about filming the narrative sections to the appropriate lengths to 'fill in' the rest of the video.

I intend to film the performance parts in front of the green screen after school (after 16:00) today. These will be the first attempts, so I may need to refilm at a later date. Needs doing:

- Intro
- Opening verse (until "here we go buddy")
- "Do it"
- Chorus
- Verse (until "here we go buddy", again)
- "Do it"
- Chorus
- "Do it"
- Chorus
- ANGSTY ending

Whilst these are the parts which most notably need doing as per my original plan, I intend to record multiple takes of the entire song - this is so that a) it will be easier to sync up the video to audio as the takes will be about the same length as the song and b) so I have room for a bit of creative license should I decide to splice parts of performance into the narrative if the narrative doesn't seem interesting enough further down the line. I probably won't need to, but I want to keep my options open.


Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Rock Video Analysis 4 - I Am the Least of Your Problems

So I intend to use a lot of dark shots during the performance segments of my video (which in my case will be done using the green screen and a dark background), so I thought it'd be a good idea to see how other artists have approached this idea.

To make up for the worrying lack of FotL in our lessons since Mr. S. left, I'll have a look at the I Am the Least of Your Problems video, as it features a lot of performance sections in a dark area.

(heads up: lots of flashing lights)

This video shows the performers in a very dark room with the only solid lighting being on the band members themselves; this is creating a really sweet intense aura which in all honesty I think is very effective in setting a dark tone. I do intend to try to create a similar tone to this in the I Am... All of Me video, though I want to use the green screen to create an artificial setting as opposed to using an actual room for the sake of exploring the uncertainty of the performer's mental state. It also gives me the chance to play around with the background to move from dark to light to enforce the conflict idea I have mentioned in previous posts.

In terms of the kinds of shots used, I feel it is useful to look at the way Falco is presented in this video as he is playing guitar and lip-syncing, as I will be. A great deal of the shots of him are close ups of his face, with only the occasional mid shot to establish that he is playing a guitar; this is something I wish to use in my video as it will help establish my performer's image (as per Goodwin's theory) by making my face recognisable (thus boosting my ego making me famous and my record label lots of money as a result of it). The occasional mid shot is necessary to show the guitar; thus satisfying one of the conventions of rock videos.

Additionally: the blinding lights. I should use these! But not in such a blinding way. My song is much slower than this song, so I do not need to have them going so fast, and ideally I'd like to have an element of randomness as to when they go off (I will use the lights to represent the 'light' side trying to break through the darkness; I want it to be a struggle so it shouldn't use any kind of consistency). This will have to be done in post production rather than through the use of actual strobe lights to avoid interfering with the chroma keyer effect.

I also want to use some of the slightly random looking cuts we see here. Again, to emphasise the struggle of light vs. the darkness, I was thinking of having very short cuts to zoomed in versions of the shot which will be lighter than the main shot - I could also potentially have the main shot in greyscale with the short 'struggle' shot showing my face in colour. I'll see what looks best when editing.


Album Image Analysis: The 2nd Law - Muse

For the sake of developing my own digipak for my artist, it is necessary to look at the presentation for albums which will appeal to a similar target audience to my product.

The album I'm going to be marketing is a rock album, so I should look at the presentation of other rock albums. One band which have a similar audience to the audience I identified previously (older teens/young adults) are Muse, so I will look at the way their recent album "The 2nd Law" has been presented.

Here we have the front cover. The main thing that stands out to us is how dark the tone of the front cover is. Whilst there is a lot of colour used, it is done in a way which compliments this dark tone, as opposed to making it look bright and friendly. There is a lot of emphasis on the abstract imagery on this cover, which gives the impression of it being dark and mysterious; thus intriguing those of the older teen/young adult demographic.

The band logo is placed in the top left corner of the cover; this is done in a way that it stands out (thus attracting long-term fans of the band) without overshadowing the original artwork in the centre.

The album title ("The 2nd Law") has a white to red gradient pattern acting as its colouring; this seems to be for the sake of adding a touch of colour to the text for the sake of making it more aesthetically pleasing. 

Track listing on the back! Here we see the same white to red gradient which we saw on the album title on the front, which seems to be for the sake of staying consistent throughout the presentation. This strengthens the album's image, thus making it more memorable to potential consumers.

On this same point of consistency, the back cover maintains the dark tone from the front cover; this reinforces the maturity of the album, which will draw in the target audience mentioned earlier.


Sunday, 11 November 2012

Digipak Analysis: Circle Of The Oath - Axel Rudi Pell

Digipak Analysis: Band On The Run (2010) - Wings

Digipak Analysis: One - Pearl Handled Revolver

Media Regulation Theories - Byron Review Notes

(Attn: posts under the "media regulation" tag is of relevance to the Media Regulation question in the exam paper, as opposed to coursework research).

The Byron Review

The review (conducted by Dr. Tanya Byron) looked at the potential effects of modern technology such as videogames and the internet on children. It provides a fairly balanced look at how children make use of technology and the various conceptions around it.

One of the points made in the Byron review is that there is a division in how people of different age groups understand what is presented in the media, with many parents not understanding what is being presented and thus having an irrational fear of it.

Byron highlighted that whilst some media content can be beneficial to the learning and development of children, other content can be inappropriate.

The review suggests that parents should help their children make decisions when online - whilst children typically have a great understanding of how the web works from a technical standpoint, their critical analysis skills can be lacking which can lead to them making bad decisions - which can threaten their safety.

The Byron review does in part look specifically at videogames, where it found that whilst there are a lot of systems in place which attempt to inform parents as to the content featured in videogames, however systems such as PEGI's age ratings do not always work as many parents mistake them as being difficulty ratings (because a 3 year old is OBVIOUSLY going to have an easy time with Mega Man...).

Friday, 9 November 2012

Green Screen Experimentation

So, I plan on using the green screen for the performance element of my I Am... All of Me video. This is because I intend to make use a background which using some creative lighting effects to represent the confusing of the character as they try to choose whether to take the pathway towards being a brave-hearted hero or the pathway towards black-hearted evil.

Before I can start planning which shots I should use for the storyboarding phase of production, I need to know what is technically possible with the green screen in school. Because of this I thought it'd be a good idea to film some test shots from different angles to see what works well post-editing. There possibly are some obstacles I'll face as the green screen in school is very small - however this is a challenge one must face when they don't own a film studio.

Therefore, here is nearly two minutes of me acting like an idiot in front of said green screen (with backgrounds I happen to have saved on my computer - don't ask):

Many thanks to Mr. N. for sticking around after school to act as cameraman!

What worked well here then?

Static shots (where the camera stays in the same place) seem to work fairly well, though there are still some green reflections over my body. I'm guessing this is down to the lighting in the room at the time, but I may have to experiment more to pin down the exact cause.

As for what is in the shot itself, the first three shots show that I can get away with -some- movement myself, with only minor chroma keyer glitches showing through (usually near my hair and fingers). I did have problems with shots where I moved a lot though - there was one shot we attempted which featured me walking from outside of the shot straight past the camera, however this ended up being completely unusable when I tried editing it in iMovie. Because of this it will be necessary to keep the movement limited during the performance scenes.

Shots where the camera moves are a different story though; as we can see in the shot at 0:40 where Sir tried rotating the camera, the chroma keyer software struggles to keep up with it (resulting in some unwanted background and some moments where it clips through my jacket), which seems to be down to the way the visible lighting appears to change as the camera moves. This is also apparent in a later shot where Sir tries to pan the camera past me.

The very close up shot doesn't work on the basis that the software struggles to cope with the extra detail of my hair against the background, which makes the cut look like a bad magic wand job.

Because of this I should avoid using unnecessary very/extreme close ups during the green screen parts of my video - some will be necessary (Goodwin's conventions; plugging star image etc.) but I don't want to overkill it because I'd hate for my artist to be associated with terrible visual effects. I also still need to sort my eyes out, as we can see in the screenshot above.

Getting the chroma key to work in iMovie was a tad fiddly; most of the shots didn't want to work off the bat, so I had to reduce the Green Gain in the Inspector until it looked right. There was no formula for each shot, I just had to tinker until they worked. This could be annoying.


Monday, 5 November 2012

Rock(?) Video Analysis 3 - Bring Me To Life (and production notes)

Let me tell you folks a story. Last year I had a fantastic Media Studies teacher. He did awesome things like pretending to be Falco and picking fights with chairs. He's also probably reading this and sitting there with a grin right about now.

Unfortunately this year I no longer have the privilege of being taught by the king of the hipsters himself, though I did start warming to the new teacher. He seemed like a nice guy at first. He'd write entertaining and productive comments on our blogs. He'd let us into the Mac room when we needed it. Generally seemed like the kind of person you'd want to be working with.

But that all changed when he made me listen to this:

 This is Bring Me To Life by Evanescence. But you knew that, because you can read.

I guess the reason why Sir suggested I take a look at this video is because it has a narrative focus on it, much like the plans I have for my own video. Makes sense. Though I'm sure there are plenty of other videos I -could- look at, and he just wanted to annoy me...

On to the video itself - what do we have? I'm going to focus a fair bit on the intro and then analyse the unique 'set pieces' further on. I'm not going to be looking as far into Goodwin's theory here as I'm aiming more on picking out how the narrative and performance sections are used

This is just an establishing shot, giving us an idea of whereabouts the video is set in CGI-land. This is actually something I really need to think about in terms of my video's narrative section - my video isn't going to be anywhere near as abstract as this is so I don't need to spend as long introducing the different locations featured, though I should still use brief establishing shots as to avoid confusing the viewer. These will not need to be anywhere as long as the introduction to this video is - in Bring Me To Life this shot lasts for over 25 seconds; in my video they will only need to last for about 1 second (if not less) as I plan on filming in much less complicated environments. Additionally, by having faster establishing shots, my video will be adapting to the pacing of the song (which is significantly faster than this piece of [word of choice goes here]), thus satisfying one of Goodwin's conventions in the way that the visuals will be related to the music.

This is where my biggest gripe with this video comes in - here we see the lead singer in bed in a way that suggests we should be seeing some kind of story introduced to us, or at least a conceptual idea... but I have absolutely no idea what is going on here...

Now I'm starting to see why this is particularly useful to look at: I don't want to fall into the same pitfalls as these guys have. If your audience haven't got a clue what is going on in your video, you're failing to engage them - and in this day and age where there is a heavy division in a consumer's attention as it is - there's a great chance they'll just switch to a different tab meaning your opportunity to plug the artist's star image disappears, or worse still just turn it off altogether and stick something else on.

I need to make sure that when I produce my video, it is clear to the audience from the start as to what they are looking at during each individual shot.

Now she's falling free in the wind, in the wind! from the tower block because _______? If we go by Goodwin's I would take a guess and say that it's a link between the music and visuals in that they are using depressing imagery to accompany the depressing music, but it wouldn't really make much sense for the institution to go out of their way to say "look how depressing our track is" (even though it is). Unless, of course, they're trying to market to the 14-year-old "my life is terrible and I hate my parents so I'm going to rebel by only dressing in black" crowd. Which honestly wouldn't surprise me.

Here we have the other members of the band performing during the chorus. This actually makes some sense, so well done for getting something right guys! Why does it make sense, you ask? Because you're plugging the artist's star image with the most memorable part of the song, so anyone who's watched the video will mentally see the image of the band performing when they hear that part of the song (or have it stuck in their head). This reinforces the image. The next time the image comes around (i.e. when the band have a new record out) they remember the image and associate it with the chorus of this song, and if they somehow like this they will feel encouraged to buy the new song.

Now she's walking along the side of the building, scaring the living daylights out of their insurance company. Again, it doesn't seem clear as to why this is happening.


So, she was climbing up to where the other band members are? This took waaaaaay too long to make itself apparent. If I wasn't watching this for a writeup I would have switched it off by now, so this narrative would have been completely wasted on me.

Band member tries to stop her from falling, she falls anyway. Well, actually, it looks more like he throws her. I would put this down to him being sick of her annoying, monotonous shrieking throughout the whole song. I can't blame him in the slightest actually.

AND IT WAS JUST A DREAM. I think. I actually feel kinda cheated that I sat through the whole thing for it to go absolutely nowhere. Overall, a horrifically bad video. I can now look at my issues with this video to avoid making mine as terrible.

So Sir, I did it. I'm sure I'll be able to find something awful for you to have to sit through and write about; how bad the chosen video actually is depends on how nice you are to us in lesson tomorrow!


Sunday, 4 November 2012

Early Production Outline

In PowerPoint because Sir said no essays. This was a difficult decision to make, because to me choosing which interactive media format to present my work in is like choosing which food product I'd rather die choking on. But eh.