Deadlines/Brief

Music videos are so 80s/90s, right? They belong with the era when MTV screened wall-to-wall vids instead of 'reality' TV? Try telling that to the millions who bought Gangnam Style; were they really simply loving the music? 1.6bn (and still climbing) have viewed the video on YT, not to mention the many re-makes (school eg, eg2), viral ads + celeb link-ups (even political protest in Seoul) - and it doesn't matter how legit it is, this nightmare for daydream Beliebers is making a lot of money, even from the parodies + dislikes. All this for a simple dance track that wouldn't have sounded out of place in 1990 ... but had a fun vid. This meme itself was soon displaced by the Harlem Shake. Music vids even cause diseases it seems!
This blog explores every aspect of this most postmodern of media formats, including other print-based promo tools used by the industry, its fast-changing nature, + how fans/audiences create/interact. Posts are primarily written with Media students/educators in mind. Please acknowledge the blog author if using any resources from this blog - Mr Dave Burrowes

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Eval Q1 Use of conventions

Take a moment to consider carefully the question, and the very specific terms selected:
In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?
  • its identical to a Q you answered for AS cwk!
  • you will need to make detailed comparisons between each of your productions and existing vids, digipaks, ads (and any TV shows etc you've also referenced as influences)
  • BUT its not just how you've reflected these conventions; you may have chosen to change, undermine, flip round some of these (perhaps countertypes in place of stereotypes for example) ... maybe even seek to take an established genre in a new direction
  • the word 'rules' is NOT used. 'Conventions' means commonly occurring; frequently seen - elements which when combined help an audience to identify the genre or type of media text. Many books + articles will discuss 'rules' of a genre; what they really mean is 'conventions' - if a genre stays completely rigid it will be doomed
  • lots of opportunity to apply exam theory: intertextuality + postmodernism more widely (media language, semiotics); feminist and queer representation theories (Mulvey, Butler etc); genre... you could apply any of the 1b theories here!
So, this Q boils down to:
(i) demonstrating your knowledge of conventions;
(ii) providing denotation of each of your own texts;
(iii) analysing how your choices reflected or challenged conventions
As is the case in the exam, it is crucial that you provide very precise, specific examples, using specific, precise terminology as you do so (you are marked on this in the exam, so practise using it now!).

As is the case for the Evaluation overall, you should aim to use some combination of hyperlinks, images, video and audio to ensure your post on this is multimedia and well illustrated.
You have to consider whether you'll tackle all 3 texts in a unified way, or perhaps discuss each separately.


A STREAMLINED WAY TO PROVIDE A GOOD ANSWER...
I set out a lengthier structure below, but you may find it works better to condense this (in retrospect, this simpler structure makes more sense to me). I have added more detailed notes to the longer version below.

  1. Sum up key findings of research into conventions, splitting this between general format conventions and more specific genre/artist (and/or director if appropriate) conventions. Make direct comparisons to your work as you go. E.g.: lipsynching, which is also one of Goodwin's defining features - show a short clip from an example you used in your blog then follow with - or use splitscreen to put both side by side - a clip from your work. Try to incorporate theory: narrative structure, the media language of videos (Goodwin v Vernallis + Dyer's star system; intertextuality + postmodernism), audience (uses and gratifications, web 2.0), feminist/queer critiques  (Mulvey, Butler), obviously genre, including subcultures (Hebdige and Bourdieu's cultural capital linked to costume/hair + intertextualities) ... etc
  2. repeat this for mag ad ...
  3. and digipak
  4. Sum up; Negus' breakdown of generecist, pastichist or synthesist would be really useful here. You could also throw in your take on Vernallis v Goodwin; Baudrillard's simulacra, and any more exam theory (having such visual material to work from will help with exam prep!). The 1a topic of Creativity is also useful to briefly consider here



PAST EXAMPLES
You can browse through all past examples here.
The 2014 answers were generally high level.
The Atomic Kitten group of Tilly, Millie, Poppy and Kate provided a strong video on video conventions as well as additional material (including a Prezi) for the two print texts. They also provided a transcript of their video, which was extremely helpful (to themselves as well as to the marker), though this needed more attractive presentation with sub-headings and some imagery to break up the text.
Faithless group Dec, Jake and Curt provide fairly good illustrations and don't neglect the print texts. Again, their transcript is very useful but lets down the presentation without clear sub-headings and imagery! The exam board don't like such identikit responses: this is meant to be the key individual part of the (usually group) coursework, and the downside of the script approach is also seen with the sometimes dreadful vocal delivery.
Both groups make use of theory. The girls' discussion of the male gaze theory and how they partially objectified themselves with the older, male end of the audience in mind ... but limited this with the younger end of their audience in mind, is nicely done, and clearly personalising abstract theory.

Here's how I suggest you work on this Q:

STEP 1: DEFINE CONVENTIONS OF 'FORMAT'
The words format and genre aren't used in the question, but its useful to tackle both. by format I mean music vid/digipak/mag ad [hereafter: MV/D/Ad] - the type of text/part of a text. Never mind specific genres, what do we expect to see from MV/D/Ads generally?
What I'm saying here is DON'T START WITH A FOCUS ON GENRE.
In any combination (work across groups!) or by yourself, list the relevant features of any 5-10 MV/D/Ads from genres other than the one you're working in! Simply list the features, don't waste time analysing their meaning (connotations). From this, create a list (perhaps the top 5 or 10) of the key conventions of MV/D/Ads.

For digipaks/ads, this is straightforward, and you should be able to draw upon prior research to set out the common conventions of these formats. Illustrate your points with images of actual examples.
For music vid you should be noting (and discussing, where appropriate the absences of) aspects such as:
  • diegetic intro/outros
  • titles (rare, other than info added by TV channels?)
  • is there an equivalent to the establishing shot (typically ELS) which opens many films/TV shows?
  • likewise, any notable trend for the final, closiong shot? (fade out?)final shot of opening sequence (do more titles/main title follow? fade out?)
  • shot types + variation
  • continuity editing (eg following 180degree rule?)?
  • focus on a main character ['mode of address']? (pro/antagonist?) PoVs?
  • mise-en-scene + verisimilitude
  • sound/music (non-/diegetic)
  • editing
  • narrative (which part/s of Todorov's structure: equilibrium, dis-equilibrium, new equilibrium?); use of binary opposition; exposition (dialogue, titles on screen, mise-en-scene etc); stereo/arche/counter-typical characters
Work through your examples and note the commonly recurring aspects (ie conventions) - these might be seen in some, but not all (again, not 'rules'). Its advisable to limit this to a top 10 (or other number).

STEP 2: COMPARE YOUR TEXT TO GENERAL CONVENTIONS OF FILM OPENINGS
You could do this in a table ... or podcast, video...
Stills/video/audio of existing text/your text will definitely help (you can easily import and work with stills in iMovie to create impressive vids; simply record a voiceover and edit in!).
Basically, work through the conventions you've noted, and discuss how and why your text does(n't) match up to these conventions. A brief summary would be useful.

STEP 3: SUMMARISE KEY GENRE CONVENTIONS
This should be easy as it should already be covered within your R+P!!!!
A list of bullet points, with 1+ specific eg for each one, would be an idea.
You might want to get into the concept of genre; there is a links list on this, and plenty of useful material in various books (not least the official OCR AS Media Studies student book) in F6/Lib.
Again, you could do a simple table to compare yours to these, but perhaps better is to...

STEP 4: EVALUATE YOUR TEXT AGAINST GENRE CONVENTIONS
You could use each listed convention as a sub-heading (or section in a video).
IT IS NOT A PROBLEM IF YOUR TEXT DOES NOT MEET EVERY CONVENTION!!!
Just discuss why you have opted against using some features (you might conclude that you should have; being honest will not lose you marks!).
Remember: specific, precise well-illustrated examples using specific, precise media language!

STEP 5: DID AF MATCH UP TO YOUR PREFERRED READING?
Again, do be honest! As there's a specific question on this later, be brief.
Did test audiences respond in the way you'd hoped? Did they follow your encoded meaning, what Stuart Hall describes as the preferred reading?

STEP 6: REFLECTION + SUMMARY
Summarise your findings, but also answer this:
what challenges or limitations did you face as a student filmmaker, and from working within a (small!) group? If you had greater time + resources, is there anything you'd change (explain why if so)?

Further notes follow from a previous handout on the Eval; its worth reading through these for additional pointers




In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?
How does your media product represent particular social groups?

These two topics are closely linked – and also overlap with the questions on audience … plus the question on Institution… If you think you can best fully answer some of these questions in combination, set them out accordingly, but some repetition will be okay.

Firstly here you’d have to briefly set out the relevant ‘forms and conventions’ before you can look at how yours reflects, adds to or subverts these. You could this as an initial paragraph or take each point as a sub-heading and discuss your text alongside typical expectations. As you have throughout the blog, try to make specific links to specific films/texts rather than vaguely say, for example, ‘the opening scene needs to provide sufficient exposition to introduce the audience to the narrative, but won’t necessarily take us beyond the equilibrium stage (Todorov’s theory of narrative structure). Indeed, a narrative enigma may be introduced to try to hook the audience.’

Consider how some films use titles with character names (e.g. Trainspotting), dates, locations etc to accelerate the process of providing exposition. The Warriors used intercutting of scenes, moving back and forth in time (a non-linear narrative), to both get the action moving straight away and to introduce the main protagonists and antagonists. A voice-over is commonly used together with a range of scenes (Trainspotting again) to introduce characters, settings and narrative themes.

These points are mainly focussed on NARRATIVE.

You should also consider GENRE + MEDIA LANGUAGE. For example, are there typical character types (archetypes, stereotypes), e.g. the ‘jock’, cheerleader, nerd/geek/outsider, ‘final girl’, ‘scream queen’, male killer with ambiguous sexuality and issues with his dear old (possibly dead) ma?! Stock locations (forests, isolated detached houses surrounded by mature trees, school; in US productions, we expect small towns and at some point to see a sheriff’s office)? Conventions of narrative (disturbed male killer kills sexually active, drug/alcohol-consuming teens before being stopped by a virginal female, typically with false scares and false deaths along the way)? What about props, costume and mise-en-scene? The slasher genre takes its name from the weapon of choice, a knife (or machete in Jason Voorhees’ case) which symbolises the sexual slant to the genre, being seen as a ‘phallic object’, or symbolic stand-in for the penis (making the attacks a symbolic form of rape [according to psychoanalytic film theorists]). A narrative enigma (who’s the killer? why are they killing?)?

What about common editing techniques or shot types? Hand-held shots to signify social realism perhaps, or a stalker’s POV? Dutch angles to signify danger or something being wrong? Cutting shots to match with beats in any music used? Fast-paced editing with short takes? Continuity editing (sticking with 180 degree rule, match-on-action, shot-reverse shot etc?), perhaps with jump cuts to move the action on?

Your use of sound and; music is a key consideration, though obviously this will be a central point in addressing the question of AUDIENCE.

Don’t forget the basics – your inclusion of certain titles or credits (linked, as always, to examples of actual texts from your research).

Consider your REPRESENTATION of age, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, (nationality and) regional identity, physical dis/ability, class and status. Again, re-read the notes from the Blog Checklist handout on Audience for help with this. On the question of age, have you maybe stretched the credibility (verisimilitude) of your text by casting teens in adult roles? Are your young people portrayed in the same way that, for example, they might be in tabloid newspaper stories (yobs, hoodies etc)? Are your Yorkshire cast tapping in to the well known stereotype of Yorkshire folk? If not, might this be advantageous for a local audience but actually harm your prospects with a wider national, or even international audience? Could you (briefly!) reflect on the stance taken by filmmakers such as Shane Meadows with This Is England?

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