Monday, 30 September 2013

Goodwin's Theories - #1

Music videos almost always adhere to the characteristics of the genre of the song around which the video is based. This is mainly for reasons of continuity and recognizability - seeing a video with a certain set of characteristics, without hearing the song, immediately tells the viewer what genre it is based around. 

For example: hip-hop

50 Cent - Candy Shop: Recurring themes of money, women (male gaze) and power. Artist lip syncing, surrounded by females.

Kendrick Lamar - Swimming Pools (Drank): general theme of partying and the metaphor of falling into swimming pools. Less male gaze (this screenshot is one of the only cuts featuring a female in the whole video), but there's still the standard 'generic female' featured. Artist lip syncing during some scenes, but not all.

Drake - Started From the Bottom: As one can see in the screenshot above, this video is based around the theme of power and money, as well as an element of male gaze. This video almost perfectly fits in with the hip-hop version of Goodwin's idea of genre characteristics. 

There are some hip-hop videos, however, that don't particularly fit these genre characteristics. A typical example of this is Kanye West's low-key black and white video for Black Skinhead, which is mostly animated, only featuring animations and recordings of Kanye himself. This video also doesn't feature any male gaze, and doesn't really contain any elements of money or power, although there is more of the latter than anything else.

Analysis of Andrew Goodwin's Theory - Planning

Andrew Goodwin, in his book Dancing in the Distraction Factory, theorised what he defines as the six main characteristics of a music video. They are

1 The music video must demonstrate genre characteristics, i.e. stage performance in a
    rock/metal band, money and aspiration in a hip-hop video, and so on.

2 There is a relationship between the lyrics and the visuals; the lyrics are
    represented with images. He categorised this into three different groups: illustrative,
    amplifying and disjunctive - 'illustrative' being a direct link between the lyrics and
    what is shown on screen; 'disjunctive' being just about no link between them, and
    'amplifying' being somewhere in the middle.

3 There is a relationship between the music and the visuals. There is a tone and
    atmosphere to the visual that reflects that of the music (pathetic fallacy?), which is also
    grouped as illustrative, amplifying or disjunctive. This is linked to the concept of
    synaesthesia - seeing the sound. This is crucial as it reinforces appropriate clichés and
    confirms pre-existing ideas that we all associate with a certain image-sound
    combination, and example of this being high-pitched spiralling synth sounds with aliens.

4 Close ups of the artist/band/performer. This is due to demands from record labels to
    show off as much of the performer as possible, for purposes of brand image and
    memorability, as well as motifs the artist may develop which recur across their work (a
    visual style that reflects their star image/persona)

5 There is a frequent reference to the notion of looking, such as screens within screens;
    mirrors; stages, and so on. This also includes voyeuristic treatment of the female body

6 This last one isn't essential, and isn't always included, but there are often intertextual
    references within the music video to films, television programmes, other 'classic' music
    videos, and so on. A particular example of this is Madonna's video for her 1984 single
    'Material Girl', which strongly references Marilyn
    Monroe's performance of 'Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend' from the 1953 film
    Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

What is a Music Video? - Planning

A music video is a short film, usually containing a form of narrative, that puts the themes and the style of the song into a context. Music videos can also be used to advertise the song, and the subsequent album; some artists' albums have recurring themes and storylines, and the music videos can reflect this. 

An example of an artist who features a central storyline to her wok is Janelle Monáe, who has featured the story of an android called Cindi Mayweather who falls in love with a human across her three first albums, each divided into suites.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Music Video Ideas - Planning

I saw this video because of a recommendation from a friend. Although it is a good video, the only real part I was interested in incorporating into my video is the song title 'Sledgehammer' at the beginning. 
It gave me the idea for the title of my chosen song to be shown there as the song starts; held for, say, 3-4 seconds, and then it just cuts straight to a wide shot of my two performers. 

Friday, 20 September 2013

Green Screen Testing - Music Video

We tested out using a green screen, by recording Jack in front of it, while he is holding a green sheet of paper in front of him, for a 'floating head' effect. 

Although the effect is there, the next time I do it I'll have to spend more time editing the blended areas, as there is still a lot of grain and noise around the head.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Redundancy & Entropy - Planning

Redundancy is the term used in media to describe anything predictable or conventional, and stretches all the way from photographs to film, television and music videos.
Entropy is the term used in media to describe anything that is out of the ordinary and unexpected. This, again, covers all areas of media.

Redundancy and entropy are employed in different measures in different genres. For example, pop, indie and electro videos tend to be more entropic than those of a rock persuasion, for example. So, going by this, here are a few examples of artists and how high or low their music videos tend to be in entropy or redundancy:

Taylor Swift's videos are almost exclusively presented in a redundant, story-like manner. Her video for '22' depicts her having a party for a birthday with her friends, then later on, lying and playing on a beach with the same group. This, like her other videos, is what society expects from this type of artist/song/genre (indie pop), and is a brilliant example of a redundant artist.

Lady GaGa's videos are the exact opposite. Each one is made to 'wow' the viewer, with entropic themes throughout. Her video for 'Marry The Night', for example, features around eight minutes of narrative at the beginning of the near 14-minute video. This narrative starts with GaGa on a stretcher, with a spiralling close up of her face, which then quickly goes into the camera following the stretcher, pulled by two women. Throughout this scene, she is describing what the nurses are wearing, and why - "their caps are tipped to the side, like Parisian berets, and 

Friday, 13 September 2013

Music Video Ideas - Planning & Video

Janelle Monáe - 'Q.U.E.E.N.'
This video is one of the ones around which I mainly want to base my music video, because I love the simplicity of the background and the costumes - I love the idea of the whole video being set in a high-key lit studio, as I think it can allow for a much higher- quality-looking overall video, whilst also allowing the on-screen time of the artist to be as long as possible (brand advertising), although the is very little in the way of male gaze. She clearly wants to viewer to see her as a power woman who can do what she wants (singing and rapping), and not one specifically designed for a man's attention and, despite wearing some tight-fitting clothes, there is no real gaze of the audience either.

Kanye West - 'Black Skinhead' (EXPLICIT)
Although the themes of this video and actually the song in general aren't appropriate to replicate in my music video/song, I find the sharp editing on the beat quite interesting, as this song had a particularly prominent drum beat. This looks really effective in this, and other videos. I also love the black and white simplicity. 

Miley Cyrus - 'Wrecking Ball' (EXPLICIT)
The main inspiration I have taken from this video is actually the opening shot, which is a relatively long cut extreme close-up of Miley's face as tears roll down it, with her lip syncing the first verse of the song. I think this is a really great feature, as not many music videos contain cuts of this length, and it sort of sets the tone of the whole theme of the song - which in this case is clearly that of heartbreak and upset. I plan to use something like this in my video, depending on the style of song (this sort of thing probably wouldn't be as effective in a music video for an upbeat track). The rest of this video replies heavily on the male gaze, particularly the gaze of the camera and the audience (there is no male actor), with naked shots and heavily sexually suggestive themes. 

Lady GaGa - Alejandro
This music video is one that mostly breaks away from the conventions of Mulvey's 1975 theory entitled 'Visual Pleasures and Narrative Cinema', which states that the gaze in cinema (and subsequently music videos) was 'specifically male'. GaGa does this in a number of ways, chief among which is the fact that the common music video roles are reversed - she is the one ruling over men, with males dancing in front of her instead of it being the other way round. Couple this with the fact that the men are dressed in stockings, suspenders, fishnets and stilettos and the idea of the 'queer gaze' is introduced, which is the gaze of homosexual men. This is a common theme across GaGa's whole brand image. 

Stop-Motion Video - Music Video

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Reflective Task - Planning & Video

In preparation for the A2 year, we have been experimenting with a couple of skills needed to create a music video, as we are doing just that this coming year. As well as recreating the first 1 minute and 8 seconds of Busted's video for What I Go to School For, we have been developing our lip syncing skills. This is an extremely important part of each music video, and will be one of the main things that must be included in our own.

Research & Planning
The planning task I personally found the most useful was the creating of a storyboard. In doing this, we were able to see exactly which scenes we needed and the order in which they fell in the clip. This made it a lot simpler to shoot and edit the video.
I do, however, wish we had done more planning of the logistics of the scene with the big group of people towards the end of the clip, as this required a location with an appropriate background and the knowledge of who was going to for the dancing crowd.
In the coming year, I expect to be doing similar sorts of planning as with these tasks, but also planning more important things, including:
   - getting artist's permission to use their song
   - time taken to complete filming and subsequent editing
   - who will be in the video (won't be group members this time around, as I plan to work alone
     on my music video)
   - risk assessments
   - booking camcorders

Production: Digital Technology
My knowledge of the digital technology developed over the course of these tasks in the form of things such as learning how to operate a tripod and the main features of the camera, but mostly, I developed a much greater knowledge of the Adobe Premier Pro video editing suite. These skills will be vital when it comes to creating my music video in the A2 year, as speed will be a key factor in getting my project finished and handed in on time. Therefore, knowing my way around at least the basic functions of this program is extremely important.
The main skills I would like to develop over the course of the A2 media studies year are, mostly, the ability to create my own music videos. This will require the knowledge of operating Premier Pro as well as camcorders, in order to shoot and edit my videos.

Overall, I feel the shoot went well and generally as expected. We managed to get the shots done relatively quickly, as well as decisions made on costumes and research and planning requirements such as the storyboard and shooting script. This was good as it showed us how long things can actually take; long or short.
Very little actually went wrong. The main thing was the confidence of the actors in the video to lip sync and perform. This can be avoided next time by having people assigned to roles earlier on, so that performing a certain part doesn't come as a surprise to some. For the music video, I believe people will be in a different mindset from the one they were in for these tasks. This is because it will be seen as - because it is - an integral chunk of the A2 work, and therefore can't be taken lightly.

Post-Production: Digital Technology
The editing also went well, with everyone in the group showing and helping one another with any troubles they might be having with the editing suite. I feel, however, that a more focused attitude within the group could have generated more effective editing, as well as a greater knowledge of the program, which is an issue that should be at least partly eliminated when it comes to editing one's own music video.
The main devices in Premier Pro that helped in editing were, for me, the ability to 'zoom' in and out on the timeline. This allowed for more precise matching up of the track to the video recording, allowing us to get the lip sync near-perfect.