Thursday, 31 January 2013

Ancillary Production - Digipak Conceptualisation

Hey all, Knight of the Wind reference goes here...

Over the last few weeks I've had a concept come into my head for the front cover of the digipak. In short, the cover will be mostly black, with a photograph of myself in the centre. In this photograph, I will take some factors into account to make it have a very similar aesthetical feel to the video. This is for the sake of having a direct link between the music video and the album art - which reinforces the imagery of the product and makes it more recognisable.

  • The setting of the photo will be dark, much like the performance section of the video. If possible, I will have the photograph taken in the same location (in the Media suite in school), though this relies on practicality. Filming in the dark and photography in the dark are two completely different beasts.
  • Costume: I will be wearing the same clothes on the cover as I am in the performance section of the video; this is for the sake of having the previously mentioned synoptic link between the two promotional mediums, for the sake of branding.
  • Props: I will be holding the guitar, again for a link to the video. Whilst the guitar will be cut off as this will be a close-up, the strap will be visible to show that I am indeed holding a guitar.
Don't worry, this will all make more sense once I'm able to produce visual examples of what I mean...


Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Artist Branding - Hear the Sonic Youth

Hey all, welcome to the greatest storm... 

In this post I'm going to be looking at the way in which artists present their brand image through various promotional materials. Here, I'm going to analyse the best band ever of all time, Crush 40. This is not just my opinion, this is fact.

Album Covers

This is the part which needs to stand out either in a shop, or more commonly in recent times, a digital download service like iTunes. Many artists choose to use recurring imagery/themes on their album covers; this will make the presentation feel familiar to existing fans, so they are more likely to pick up the album on the basis that it appears to be similar to something they know they enjoy.

This is the first full album the band released; a self-titled album. The band's logo is featured prominently in the upper-region of the cover, with the "40" repeated on the front of the car.

As this is the first album the band has put out, it's in their interest for the individuals in the band to be acknowledged; in this case their names are printed in the red banner at the top of the cover. At this point, Johnny Gioeli had already become reasonably well known for his work in the band Hardline, and Jun Senoue had done some compositions for various SEGA videogames, such as Daytona USA and Sonic Adventure. Because of this, publishing their names on the front cover will attract existing fans of both of them to the album.

This is amplified on the back cover and the included booklet of the physical CD release, as they feature photographs of Jun and Johnny: (meh webcam quality because no-one on the internet seems to have uploaded photos of those...)

The photograph shows cars, which seems logical as some of the songs on the album are either about racing or reference it (e.g. all of Revvin' Up; the "turn the car into the wind" lines of Into the Wind etc.). But I digress.

This is the cover from the Super Sonic Songs compilation, released in 2009. By this point, the band's logo had been revised slightly to include the distorted circle around the 40 part of the logo. The font used is the same, however, so it is still recognisable.

The cover is quite simplistic, which is quite common in the rock genre:

This could be seen as representing the way in which rock music focuses more on the music and its meanings as opposed to being focused on image.

This is the cover for the 2012 EP Rise Again, for which they have again used a simple cover; from this we can see that part of Crush 40's brand is the use of very simplistic imagery, with some kind of relation to the music's lyrics (in this case, the title track Rise Again features lyrics about being optimistic about the future when going through a tough period in life; shown in the bright colour on the cover). 

This is the artwork for their most recent release, a live album titled "Live!". The cover uses quite a radically different style from the other covers, which is likely to be to create an intentional distinction - highlighting that it is a different kind of album (a live album as opposed to a studio one - this is further emphasised by the photograph on the front showing them in a concert environment). They have, however, maintained the band's logo so it is still instantly recognisable to existing fans. It's also worth noting that this logo shows up again in a preview video Jun uploaded to YouTube to show off the live versions of songs.

Band's Image

The next thing to look at is how the band members present themselves in the public eye.

Jun is known for using ESP guitars with Sonic the Hedgehog's face on them. He uses a close-up of one of these guitars as his Twitter photo, so it becomes more a part of his image.

Online Presence

On the topic of Twitter, Jun routinely answers questions his fans ask him about his various works; which shows him connecting to fans - thus allowing them to feel closer to him and feel more likely to buy the music he puts out.

As I mentioned earlier, Jun manages a YouTube channel on behalf of the band. Earlier this featured some camera footage of concerts which they'd had some friends film, however as they've obviously had a bit more funding available to them recently they've now uploaded some higher quality concert footage. It's also used to tease new releases, to create hype amongst the fanbase. An example of one such video is this, which contains samples of the songs from Rise Again:


Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Production Update 5 - ...And the law won

My original concept for the video's narrative involved me threatening my friend Stephen with a replica sword and a replica gun. I went looking for props and found out something which has quite an impact on my ability to do this... turns out the things are illegal. Not just in public places, but to own in general in the UK.

I could have went with a cop-out and just use obviously fake props, but that would look terrible, and given my reaction to the Porcelain recreation it should be obvious that I don't want to be putting out  sub-standard work. If it's obvious that the weapons aren't real, the threat scenes just wouldn't have the same effect.

Because of this, I ended up having another brainstorming session, which has led to a possible change of pace. Here's the general gist of where I'm going with this:

  • First section: the two characters are shown in the same area in a public place (a street), with the performer being made aware of the "victim". He is shown staring at the victim as he walks past.
  • Second section: In a slightly less public place (a quiet park) the two characters are shown to interact; the performer is shown pushing the victim out of the way. This section features rapid cuts between this, and the performer looking through personal possessions (it is implied that this will be used to harm the victim character).
  • Third section: Set in an alley with just the performer and victim present. Rapid cuts are increased; this features a lot of close-ups on the performer's face, highlighting the unstable emotions present. The video will finish with the performer walking towards the camera from the darkness; I'm not sure as to whether I want him to actually attack the victim or not. I'm tempted to film both possible endings for the sake of checking which works most effectively in context.
As I still wish to include the whole light/dark concept, the three narrative sections will be set at different times of day. The first scene will be in bright daylight - this is representing the performer in his neutral state - he's acknowledged the victim's existence, but he hasn't done anything wrong. The second scene will be filmed later during the day, where it is getting darker - probably around mid-afternoon. This shows him being a tad more aggressive. Later, when nightfall strikes, our performer is filled with pure black-hearted evil, and so he goes out of his way to find the victim and confront him.

On another note, in terms of time management - originally myself and Mr. N. were going to get the performance sections filmed after school tonight, but he's had IMPORTANT TEACHER BUSINESS come up. For now we've conditionally set Thursday as our day to film after school, but this depends on whether the snow has cleared up (I really don't want to be lugging all of the equipment backwards and forwards from home to school in the snow...).


Thursday, 10 January 2013

Production Update 4 - With added TIME

As I was saying in the previous post, I am quite satisfied with the effect I achieved in the test edit, so I will be using this approach when I film and edit the final I Am... All of Me video.

Speaking of which, I have made arrangements as to when and how I will be refilming the performance parts of the video -

  • I will be filming after school on THURSDAY 17th JANUARY.
  • I will be filming in the media studio in school - whilst I filmed my test footage in my bedroom, the area used is too small to film myself with the guitar performing from multiple angles.
  • Mr. N. has offered to help with the filming (by which I mean Mr. N. has been told that he will be helping with filming) by lending me a few more Bloggies to capture footage from multiple angles as we did last time, to be in charge of the lighting by holding and moving the mini torch as necessary, and moving the camera in the strobe shots.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Production Update 3 - Electric Soldier Guitar

A day earlier than promised! Huzzah.

In this video, I decide how I'm going to go about filming with the strobe light, and then have a go at testing the editing effect I wish to use in the final piece.

The idea behind the shots in that test at the end is that the guitar on the stand is a placeholder for me. I couldn't be in this as I was in charge of the camera and the torch - when I film the final thing, I'll have someone else covering those duties.

From this I've established a few things -

  • The qtxlight strobe light seems to be the most practical to use when filming the video; so I will use that when recording my main performance.
  • The rapid cuts to the strobe shot actually work well! This is something I'm really glad about; it creates the 'detached' feeling I've been aiming for since my original concept.
  • The contrast between static and moving shots work well - the regular shots are static (well, as static as they can be when I'm holding the camera without a tripod whilst also moving around a torch...) whilst the strobe shots have a degree of movement to them. In the final piece, I will use a combination of pan and zoom shots - more variety will re-emphasise the detached concept.
  • The torch also works well! I wasn't expecting this; I just used it for the test due to a lack of better lighting. I could use the torch to create a similar effect to what I was originally going to use the chroma-keyed backgrounds for - to show the light floating around, representing the clash between hero and dark in the performer's mind.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Planning Revisited

As mentioned previously, I had intentions to use the green screen to film the performance element of the I Am... All of Me video. I am now reconsidering this for these reasons:

  • Editing is going to be a problem - when I'd decided upon the light and dark background effects, I hadn't really considered that I'd need to make alternate versions of each (animated!) background for each type of shot. This would be impractical, and would probably lead to a ton of potential errors due to the amount of different things which would be going on.
  • It just didn't look right - I tried editing together a sample with a placeholder background and the cuts looked really awkward.
After a discussion with Mr. N. about this issue, I brainstormed some other ideas - 

  • Film in an actual location - I intend to now find a dark place in which to film the performance parts. I will be keeping the light vs. dark concept, only now I'll be using a strobe light to create the light parts. I'll make a separate update about the strobe light later on.
  • Rapid transitions - Inspired by the I Am The Least of Your Problems video, I've thought I could approach transitions in a different way. In the past I've always just used a straight-up cut from one shot to another, but for the sake of making it more interesting to look at, I could attempt using sudden rapid cuts as a transition.
This will mean I will need to refilm the performance parts of the video. For the sake of effective time management, I will now establish when I am going to do this:

  • Tomorrow (THURSDAY 3rd JANUARY 2013), I will film some test footage using the strobe lights I have borrowed from school. This will help me work out how would be the most effective way of using them, in terms of position and light tempo. I will edit this footage together to see how it works, and have it uploaded by the end of the following day - FRIDAY 4th JANUARY 2013
  • After this, should everything go to plan, I will film footage which I hope to be usable for the final video.