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

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Norn Irn Gangnam Style

As the most-viewed music video in history despite its comparatively recent vintage, there have been many, many Gangnam tributes/satires. Like Rebecca Black's horrific audio assault Friday before it (given its own sideways IGS tribute of course), many of the views, each notching up micro-payments through YouTube's ad-funded partnership programme, were from people wanting to mock and vent their spleen.
So, when I heard my old school had done a Gangnam vid ... I was underwhelmed. The vid's success, at least outwith its home market, is based on crude racial stereotyping; it receives oppositional readings as Stuart Hall would say.
Then I actually looked at it - and its a great example of the continuing power of a pop culture media format to convey a strong message. This message (PR for Antrim Grammar School with a nice touch of self-mockery from some of my old teachers) at the time of writing is approaching 200,000 views and seems to be adding 1,000s more a day. If ever there was a great example of how Media Studies skills can have commercial application, this is it.
If you've any thoughts, feel free to comment on this post (or on AGS' YT channel).

Monday, 17 December 2012

Daft Punk - TechnoLogic vid

YEAR: 2005
AUDIENCE: 18-24+ (by now 15-34)
DIRECTOR: DAFT PUNK (3rd self-directed vid)

By 2005 Daft Punk were a major act, with massive worldwide singles and albums behind them and the backing of one of the world's biggest record labels, EMI (through their subsidiary label Virgin), to boot. This shows in the video: it may lack shot variety in large part, but the budget is there for all to see with the central robot figure an impressive hybrid of the Terminator and Chucky from the Child's Play franchise. The distinct horror overtones are something we might more easily associate with industrial music, which tends to display a strand of technophobia, and also points to a band willing to sacrifice daytime screenings to target their core, club-going 18-24/18-34 audience. It would be hard to see this getting airtime pre-watershed.

The layers of intertextuality don't stop with what appear to be straightforward horror/sci-fi film signifiers though: the track gained wide exposure through being sampled in a Busta Rhymes track (with Missy Elliott on vocals); the track was used for both an iPod ad and a Motorola phone ad, featured in top-rated teen drama The OC (which has a wide global following), in 2009 was featured in two separate car ads. As the track's Wiki further reports:
It is a playable track on the iOS games Tap Tap Revenge and Tap Tap Dance, and was sampled for the video game DJ Hero. In an episode of the TV show America's Best Dance Crew, crew Kaba Modern performed to a master mix of this song on February 7, 2008. "Technologic" was also featured in the game Dance Central 2.
What we also see is another Daft Punk trait: anonymising the duo in the act. The doll itself could act as a stand-in for the animations they did in the past, but we also get two futuristic guitar-playing characters, dressed like security men or police with their full-face dark helmets. Their movement is notably minimal and stiff.

Another really key feature is the link up between the vid and the stage set: the mysterious, enigmatic pyramids formed a centrepiece of the tour that was already ongoing when this video was released. As we've seen, since 2005 the change in the music business from a product-sales industry to a live performance + merchandise + archive (long tail) sales industry has been pronounced, and this was an early indicator of a band that saw that change coming - as an act advertising iPods, a key driver of that drive, should!

The length of takes is quite remarkable, and perhaps an attempt to stand out from the crowd: its certainly counter-intuitive to have such a slow-paced video. Arguably the sheer splendour of their mise-en-scene, together with the impressive SFX, is doing the hard work for them, but it still seems odd and a little unsatisfying. Its not the only time we've seen this: the iconic Da Funk video featured many such long takes too.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Hurtwood House: Your competition!

Subbed to this school's channel as they produce some nice work, and have just looked at their latest A2 uploads. Its worth having a clear sense of the high level some others are working to out there - if you want a high mark you have to aim as least as high as examples such as these. They're not beyond improvement, but are generally impressive. Whats also noticeable is that these students have clearly invested in creating a production budget for themselves.

Copyright and YouTube

See also;;;;

Whereas your final AS coursework must feature zero copyright material, you're using a copyrighted track for your A2 coursework - have you remembered to evidence, as required by the exam board, an attempt to contact the rights holder (usually the record label) for permission to use the track for this work, making clear you're not seeking to profit from using their copyrighted material (and might even encourage some people to buy the track through your video!)?

Since YouTube introduced an automatic detection system (see the Wiki) and signed deals with most of the major TV, film and music companies (as you'll have seen from your Media work, these tend to be subsidiaries of massive horizontally and vertically integrated conglomerates such as News Corp and NBC-Universal), the issue of 'fair usage' of copyrighted materials has evolved a little.
Link at the end of the post: a very useful site for exploring the issue further
If any of your work contains any copyrighted material you might find its deleted by YouTube, or blocked in certain nations but not others (dependent on which countries its deals have been signed in). This will particularly the case where you've used lengthy clips from films. Where you've used a short clip, or any copyrighted music, you're more likely to find a notice on your channel uploads page telling you there is 'matched copyright material'.
My vodcasts used clips short enough to be considered 'fair usage'
Rather than delete or block the upload, the more common response is simply to assert that other copyright holders' material has been used, and force ads onto your upload, the revenues from which will be split between YouTube and the copyright holder.
I've tried to find a definitive acceptable length of film clips which won't generate a YouTube blocked upload, without success so far (if you find anything on this please pass it on). I'd suggest aiming for 30secs or less, using freeze frames with original audio removed for anything over this, but that's a guess. Check your uploads for anything being blocked. So far, we've not problems with any A2 music videos, just AS film vodcasts (and a compilation of scenes which used a Depeche Mode a couple of years ago), including one of mine (vodcast on scream queens + final girls, available to view on request) in which I simply used too much of Bride of Chucky. provide a very considered analysis of the issues involved, YouTube's policies and also highlight some of the common abuses - where fraudulent companies simply claim you've used their copyright material when that's not the case. I think I may have found one such dubious claim on my channel, for past AS coursework where the soundtrack was composed in school using GarageBand! In such cases, the fraudulent company pockets the money from ads which YouTube force on to the upload.
See;; and other such links on the site.

YouTube itself offers a guide, including lengthy videos, though they shy away from being specific over such matters as how much of a single TV show, film or other text goes beyond the fair usage doctrine - see also the Wiki on Fair Usage.

The Uni of Houston's DigitalStoryTelling site also features a considered discussion of the issues and legal policies.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

INDUSTRY: collected posts

Lot of overlap here with DIGITISATION but also posts on the position of Indies, dominance of a big 4 (now big 3), etc;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;


This is a vital part of the process. A commercial pitch would require this as part of a pre-screening process to decide which directors/production companies got to meet with the record label/artist/manager to put forward their creative proposal. It also strongly signifies that your production was organised and following a clear plan from the outset. As your idea eveolves, it also provides a useful summary of your starting point, so that you can compare your initial and final ideas with some authority. Here are some past examples of student animatics; judge for yourselves the relative strengths + weaknesses of each.


Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Misc Post guidelines (use with checklist)

These are arranged in the order they come in on the coursework checklist. Most of these are fairly self-evident, but this should ensure you can always quickly figure out what you should be blogging on

MY CONSUMPTION OF MUSIC VIDS: How do you access music vids (what media techologies do you use)? Has this changed much over the years (do you view more or fewer now than you did, say, 5 years ago?)? Do you download vids, watch on YT, MTV/VH1 etc, specialist chart shows ... Do you view on desktop/laptops, smartphones, tablets; when out and about; with friends or other social settings; do you share vids you like on FB and suchlike? Are you a heavy or light conumer of m.vids? Would you say at the outset of your A2 cwk you are knowledgeable about m.vids?

APPLYING ASSESSMENT CRITERIA TO 2011 VID; APPLYING ASSESSMENT CRITERIA TO 2011 VID: Quote from the assessment criteria (ideally, copy in each one) and discuss what mark you'd give and why (the important bit! needs specific details). An opportunity to embed knowledge of the assessment criteria + a chance to pick up tips on things to do or avoid.

OUR PRODUCTION CO: Whats the name (why?! what are the semiotics?). What's the logo? What sort of work do you think you'd realistically attract, or focus your marketing on (niche genres or all comers?)? Have you researched any existing music vid (etc) producers to get an idea of rates they charge, how they market themselves and their services?

[ARTIST] HISTORY + AUD (and other [ARTIST]-centred posts): You need to show you've thoroughly researched and understood the artist whose material you're using ... and whose image (brand, if you like) you can benefit or damage by your production decisions and outcomes. Knowing who the audience is/was is obviously key, but so researching + being able to reference EXISTING VIDS by the artist, their profile in 201x (ie now), their ONLINE/CULTURAL FOOTPRINT (looking at fanclubs, forums, official sites, FB presence, google results/rankings. YT channel, vid viewings, etc; recent appearances on ads, TV - espec shows like X Factor - mags [think carefully about aud of the mags, can be v, v useful for evidencing primary or secondary aud appeal of the artist - the Girls Aloud eg from 2012 is a great example of this working, with GA appearing in Q and suchlike as well as girls and gossip mags]

[TRACK] LYRICS + BACKSTORY; TIMED LYRIC SHEET; RECORD LABEL; ORIG VID; 2ND LIFE: CYBERSPACE IMPACT: Just as you need to be secure in your knowledge + understanding of the artist so you need to be well aware of what the track is about - regardless of your idea + whether its narrative-based or not. Obviously right from the start you need to break down the track with timings, so when you're discussing how to map footage you're considering onto the track you can do so in an informed and meaningful fashion. You should frequently write notes over copies of this timed sheet and scan in or photograph then upload to blog. The '2nd life' refers to cover versions and other cultural artefacts its inspired online or offline (from Simpsons skits to YT vids - be comprehensive on YT vids). You could explore the term meme here, which I've blogged on with reference to Lady Gaga and Bad Romance before. You are required to evidence having contacted the rights holder with a request to use the track, so you need to identify the record label - as you're probably releasing a compilation album, that might be multiple record labels for the digipak details. Some artists have bought back the rights to their back catalogue, or moved to smaller, Indie labels. How is your track distinct from the original vid; are there any links?

A BRIEF HISTORY OF M.VID: The book Money For Nothing is great for this, and the Wiki is prettty good in this case too. You don't need an essay, just a flavour of key dates and changes, videos over time, especially how technology has changed.

RELATIONSHIP OF [ARTIST] TO GENRE: Is your artist an archetype (early, influential example) of the genre; someone who has copied others, or someone who is a bit of a maverick? Discuss their place within your genre, their level of commercial success, hits/radio play (or lack of), tracks/albums that had major impact etc. Can you find relevant quotes by other genre acts?

CURRENT STATUS OF MUSIC VIDS: This could go in much earlier: are vids still relevant in a mobile, digital world (even MTV shows few vids)? Are they now actually more relevant? Discuss here whether vids continue to have cultural impact and commercial clout (I'd say they do on both counts: we've all heard of Gangnam Style after all).


(not finished)
Posts linked to the concept of representations
AS Eval Q2;
A2 exam Q1b guide; posts on this;
Female pop mvids: issues + challenges;
Femen: radical protest movement;
Blogging on exemplar vids;
Video Gaga? Various analyses;
Lady Gaga shows ideological power of pop;
M. Lang: Dancing;
Censored vids;
Female singer-songwriter who ran Epic Records;
Lady Gaga via Leeds: Bad Romance MEME;
Rammstein: Sonne;
Casting + Creativity;
A2 Eval Q1 Use of Conventions;
Feminist metal or male gaze? Butcher Babies;
FEMINISM/Annie Lennox;
Music vids set in schools;
Various posts on Britney;
Mag Ad: Research + Audience;
Roseanne on class prejudice/sexism of TV;

See also posts on BritishCinema about male gaze etc + posts on women in film (eg Bechdel test)

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Concept/Perf Vid featured on multiple YT channels

Longish post title: interesting example of a lyric-free rock vid blending concept (with a suggested narrative; concepts tend to have some narrative glue - narrative vids are those which directly tie into the lyrics) and performance. Comes close to getting sleazy (your reading may be that it falls over that line), and though the editing's generally sharp there are some obvious points where cutting to the beat, or simply greater shot variation would be good.

To my eyes there's a strong Anton Corbijn influence here (and it reminds me of the 2012 IGS vid for The Swing Movement in some regards, especially the use of focus-pulling and switching), with (to these eyes) an evident nod to Nirvana when the upbeat section kicks in with a splash (tho' you could also take this as a horror note in what could be alternatively read as a David Lynchian, filmic text).
What I also found noteworthy was the promotional strategy: they've either set up multiple YT channels or just got fans who've opted to put their vid as their channel's autoplaying featured vid. I came across it via another promotional strategy: adding other YT users/channels as contacts. Simple psychology: the suitably burnished ego of most YT users will coax them to add every contact to boost their numbers (I always click through to suss out who/what has requested this ... thus still making the strategy a winner!).

As well as the official CQ channel, Feeeppe, and mary1982next had CQ as their set vid at 20.11.12 and had all added me as a contact within a couple of days in Sept 2012.


I've blogged on both topics a few times; I'll gather together links to posts here.

Banned Band? CENSORSHIP OF MUSIC VIDS; includes vids for banned egs used in quiz

CENSORSHIP: Rihanna's top 5 controversies; [to which we can now add her new album celebrating her domestic abuse? plus her shambolic - omnishambles?! - album launch PR]

Rhianna says censors helped her sell single;

Piracy/SOPA - on the Stop Online Piracy Act that brought together a range of campaigners to successfully lobby against this (+ some info on Pirate Bay)

Pro-Palestinian vid controversy - neutral, balanced BBC? Not according to 2011's Bad News About Israel from the GUMG, nor the article in this post

Chris Cunningham short filmic vid/censored; detail on this controversy

Rammstein: frequently controversial, see these posts - one, two, three.


Thursday, 15 November 2012

CASTING: Using vid+social networks

For both AS and A2 part of your R+P marks are for casting, as part of your overall organisation of the production. The markscheme quite accurately reflects the range of challenges facing commercial film-makers and video producers.

I stumbled across the following vid looking for something else, but it is a useful example of how you can use video and social networks not just to get 'audience feedback' but also to help with pre-production tasks too.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Pop is too posh: Billy Bragg

I've blogged on this theme before - research which shows an extraordinary narrowing of the social range reflected in the pop charts, which has gone from mainly state educated (80%) in the 1990s to dominated by a public school elite today. Billy Bragg took up this theme at the annual John Peel Lecture; if you've never heard of John Peel but are interested in exposure to a wide range of eclectic music, the late DJ is a legendary figure whose annual 'festive fifty' is still something you can find as downloadable torrents many years later.

Billy Bragg: 'education reforms risk stifling creativity'

The singer and left-wing activist used a lecture in memory of John Peel to criticise Michael Gove's plans to scrap GCSEs,
Billy Bragg
Billy Bragg also turned his ire on 'culture-clogging shows' like Simon Cowell’s The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent. Photograph: Andrew Stuart/Radio Festival/PR
Singer Billy Bragg has warned that the government's education reforms risk stifling creativity and leaving the pop charts the preserve of a well-off public school elite.
Bragg used a lecture in memory of broadcaster John Peel to criticise education secretary Michael Gove's plans to scrap GCSEs in favour of an English baccalaureate. He also turned his ire on "culture-clogging shows" like Simon Cowell's The X Factor on ITV1.
The singer and left-wing activist said the government's proposed new education system threatened to exclude creative subjects from the core qualifications expected of 16-year-olds.
"At a time of cuts to the education budget, the pressure on schools to dump subjects like music and drama in favour of those that offer high marks in performances tables will only grow," said Bragg.
He criticised the "insistence that knowledge is more important than creativity", adding: "As Albert Einstein said, imagination is more important than knowledge, for knowledge is limited while imagination embraces the whole world".
Bragg, delivering the second annual John Peel Lecture at the Radio Festival on Monday, said: "Under the English baccalaureate, with its reliance on a single end of course exam, the child with the creative imagination will always lose out to the child with the ability to recall knowledge learned by rote.
"And it's not just the creatively talented kids who will suffer. Evidence shows that pupils from low-income families who take part in arts activities at school are three times more likely to go on to higher education.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Apps v Albums: paradigm shift?

The 1st album-app: see links list at end of this post
As 2012 draws to a close we could be close to a major shift in how the music industry operates, or, to use some terminology, a paradigm shift (a change in the normal, typical way of organising or conceiving of something). iTunes has already seen the traditional album under threat as record labels see customers increasingly downloading individual tracks rather than whole albums, with the shift to digital formats also diminishing the impact of sleeve designs that made LPs and, to a lesser degree, CDs objects of desire and often collectable items.
There have been a raft of announcements from major acts that they are releasing new material as apps, most prominently Lady Gaga, whose next album will be released as an app. Others are seeking to encourage listeners to upgrade from streams of their work to purchases by throwing in videos and other content with the album (or concert DVD) bundled as an app.
The article below gives good examples of this.
There are also multiple additional links at the end of this post.
You need to be blogging on, and thinking about digitisation and how this imapcted the music industry - a relevant factor when thinking about audience targeting/feedback/publicity, design, the rising significance of back catalogue sales (often stimulated by reissue/remastered editions, with previously unreleased demos and alternative versions added to the album or as a 2nd CD also common, as is 'best of' collections with a small number of new/unreleased tracks). As the long tail theory becomes an accepted part of contemporary economics (Amazon is the perfect example of a company making fortunes by selling few copies of many back catalogue items), new videos for archive tracks is a major growth area for media producers within the creative industries (as an economic sector, second only to the financial sector in scale and share of GDP) ... such as yourselves.
If you've been looking at the 1st part of your exam, you'll have noted that Q1a (DCRUP) is potentially linked to this issue - ditto Q1b (MANGeR), for example through Audience.

Music apps are the new albums. Or the new concert DVDs. Or...

David Gilmour, Lady Gaga, The xx and Calvin Harris app strategies show music industry experimentation
Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga's next album will also be released as an app. Photograph: Daniel Roland/AFP/Getty Images
Every so often, the music industry gets sucked into a debate about whether the traditional album is dead, even if the murderer has varied down the years, from iTunes downloads to Spotify playlists.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Final Cut Pro X video tutorials

IzzyVideo's free tutorials will help with using FCProX!
There are many online sources, including Apple itself (any YOU can recommend, please pass on a URL as a comment below), but I've found this (FREE!) one very useful. The vids are a bit longer than they need to be, but they are very clear. Some aspects of the layout are a little different (FCPX has been updated since it was launched), but that shouldn't pose a major problem.
IzzyVideo FCPX video tutorials
(or you can spend £30+ on books!)

I've copied in the full list below. Here's an Amazon link for books on Final Cut Pro X - make sure its for an up to date version.

I'll be adding some tips here. There is also a Final Cut tag on this blog.

Here's a short vodcast on using the green screen tool:

Final Cut Pro X Tutorial Contents

  1. Welcome
  2. Getting Started

Saturday, 3 November 2012

PopCulture Protest Vids: StarWars vid

From comes a good example of how tracks are created, and sometime quite sophisticated vids produced to help them to become viral hits: this cover of Goyet's Somebody I Used to Know with new lyrics to focus on how the 3 Star Wars prequels and George Lucas' attitude to the fans (from TeddieFilms, fast approaching 8m hits for this vid alone).

Friday, 2 November 2012

Camcorders: tips if buying one

A parent emailed to ask for help in selecting a camcorder to buy. As researching the answer took quite a long time I'll share it on both AS + A2 coursework blogs.
Note that my suggestions merely reflect my opinion, which you are quite free to follow or ignore!

You can skip this long list and go straight to the recommended models.
  1. Do you need it? Will your still camera or smartphone suffice? (Probably not yet for coursework, but we're not far off that point. You also need to consider tripods etc) This review suggests that an iPhone 4S can compete with a £370 V700 camcorder on image quality, tho' not on image stability or wide angle or zoom.
  2. Budget: you can get a good cam for £200, but £300-400 buys you extra future-proofing and should delay the need to buy a new one as technology changes
  3. 3D? This is a feature of some new cams; currently irrelevant for coursework, and possibly gimmicky at the budget end. It mostly requires adding a £150-200 3D lens.
  4. HD - this seems obvious but there are 3 variants of HD: 720p, 1080i, 1080p. I'll detail this below. Ideally, you want 1080p.

Monday, 15 October 2012

XBox Music to rival iTunes?

News of a new, potentially powerful rival to the all-conquering iTunes; read article below.

Xbox Music: Microsoft launches challenger to Apple's iTunes

Cloud-based offering will allow users to synchronise across multiple devices including PCs, tablets and smartphones
Xbox Music
Xbox Music will be available across several different platforms
Zune failed to take on the might of the iTunes music service, but now Microsoft is back for another bite at the cherry or, more accurately, the Apple. The software company has announced Xbox Music, an all-in-one digital music service that will make 30m tracks available to users via Xbox 360, as well as PCs, tablets and smartphones running Windows 8 or Windows RT.
The new platform is split into three strands. A free streaming service will provide ad-supported access to the library, but this will be limited to a certain number of hours after six months. Alternatively, a premium, unlimited, ad-free streaming option is available for £8.99 a month. Customers will also be able to purchase and download any track from the catalogue.
Launching on Xbox 360 on Tuesday and other platforms later in the month, the cloud-based service will allow users to synchronise their music across multiple devices.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Pitches October 2012

I'm sure you've noted the previous posts on pitching, or looked up the coursework guide document for pointers. Here are the essentials:

Simple: blog on everything you do in preparation, including multiple initial ideas. If you've considered an idea and rejected it, briefly post on this and explain why you didn't pursue the idea (including any points I've raised with you).
Your pitch will be filmed, including Q+A, so you can upload this and reflect on the pitch afterwards.

If your pitch fails to evidence sufficient preparation you will be asked to do it again until it is clear that you have undertaken considerable work on this. It is not acceptable to expect to simply ride on the coat-tails of someone else's diligence and effort.
The simplest way to approach this is to consider what sort of questions I might ask, and come prepared to answer them - with visual material which illustrates your idea.
I will obviously need to know you've undertaken initial research into the genre, act and track: viewed examples of genre vids and act vids, plus made sure you're clear on how your idea fundamentally differs from any existing vid. You shouldn't be pitching for a vid for a track which has an existing vid from the past 10 years.
You will have researched the lyrics and anything thats been written about them; it doesn't matter if your idea is for a concept video, you still need to understand the nature of the track you propose to work on.
You will be aware of any directors this act have frequently worked with, and some features that commonly occur in their videos.
You will provide visual material rather than rely wholly on words. This means images or basic footage of possible locations, costume, characters/cast, props etc.
You will show awareness of what you need for this idea to be achieved.
You will show that you have thought through the idea, and are clear on what core/primary and secondary audiences it will be aimed at, explaining how your idea fits for these. Noting intertextuality can be useful.
You will reference existing videos to illustrate and justify your ideas. If you are seeking to challenge conventions reference conventional vids.
You will have looked over the assessment criteria so you're sure your idea will lead to a very high mark
You will explain why your idea will lead to a video that target audiences will happily watch repeatedly (music vids are designed for multiple viewing unlike films), and be clear on the variety of locations and events plus any mix of performance and narrative/concept which will aid this.

You've a lot of info to convey so should be taking around 2mins for this. That includes time to play part of the track so we're clear on what you're pitching.
You will be stood by the projected image so whatever you create should not require clicking which will distract you or the audience (including me) from the pitch.
That rather implies a film file or a PowerPoint with timings built-in, though PowerPoints can be tricky with audio/video.

I've written much more on this in the past, but the above hopefully covers the key points.
See also;;

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Metal sub-genre challenge

Remember before embarking on this that you need to clearly blog on all 3 levels of this:
- the research + planning
- the production process
- evaluating the final product + outlining the learning that took place

To research + present your findings on the conventions of a sub-genre, then to pitch an achievable idea for a short (30secs+) music video reflecting several these (and possibly challenging some); agree on one idea and film/edit - all within 7 days!

Genres are complex, constantly evolving concepts
Using at least three sources, outline the history of the genre and its major features. This means the early and major bands/albums and associated record labels; significant events (eg tours, festivals); any clothing code (are fans a recognisable sub-culture?); definitions of the genre and views on it (you could include here any views on the concept of sub-genre and what factors decide whether a genre is generally recognised or accepted, plus any theories you come across tied to genre). Is it mainstream or niche - and has this changed over time? Is there any basis to outline a core audience? Have there been any controversies linked to the genre? [These are just a few of the things you should be knowledgeable and aware of when it comes to your full, final production]

View at least 10 videos, taking initial notes. Work back through these so that you can convincingly evidence the major conventions by citing multiple examples for each convention you claim. Provide a detailed post on the media language involved in ONE individual video, indicating as you go how un/conventional the media language (camera work, editing, mise-en-scene) is for this sub-genre, and noting any intertextuality and links to other genres and texts. Take plentiful screenshots as you go.

Summarise your findings in a vodcast. You should consider using an ident to brand your vodcasts if you haven't already (you could use one from your AS work). If possible, use moving image clips as well as screenshots, and ensure that titles are used where appropriate to help the audience follow your points.
We'll discuss to what extent these three sub-genres are distinct as we view your vodcasts.

Detail and sell an achievable idea appropriate for this sub-genre. As a group, plan, resource, film and edit, making sure you continue to note new tools within FCPX that you hadn't previously used, and noting significant insights gained as you go throughout the process.

Reflect and evaluate!
By this stage you'll be ready to put together a more comprehensive vodcast of the general codes and conventions of the music video format, working as a group (we'll consider some further examples as a class to help with this). This is a key point for marks in both the Research + Planning and the Evaluation - and the exam.

Friday, 28 September 2012

YTs most Liked vid: Gangnam Style

You'll likely have heard about this - the music video from South Korea's Psy (Park Jae-sang) of Gangnam Style has become the liked video on YouTube. Here's an interesting take on the crass stereotypes it seems to reinforce - at least as Western audiences are reading the text:

Here's the video itself:

(The article is copied in below - click 'read more'...)

What's so funny about Gangnam Style?

The South Korean pop video taking the internet by storm does little to overturn tired stereotypes of east Asian men
The world is currently in thrall to a fat Korean Psycho who is spouting anti-capitalist messages and blowing things up. Ordinarily America would be up in arms, but its defence forces are too busy learning the horse-dance and chorusing "Heeey sexy lady" to properly react. Shots have been fired, lifeguards have been fired, but Gangnam Style fever continues unabated: the music video has had more than 262m views on YouTube and made history as the most liked video ever.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Piracy: Google caves to pressure?

here's news of Google bowing to pressure from Hollywood and the music industry to effectively hide search results from certain download sites.

Femen: radical feminist protest movement

I raise this as a potentially useful concept to include in your consideration of representation issues. This is a feminist protest group that is using nudity to protest at the sexist, misogynistic patriarchy that they believe dominates global culture.

Its pertinent to analysis of music videos and slasher films as each feature near-nudity or nudity frequently, with artists such as Madonna, Rihanna and Lady Gaga clearly trading on their bodies and sexual appeal ... BUT claiming (as post-feminists would argue) to be strong women in control and expressing themselves, rather than victims of the male gaze. The slasher movie is often criticised for its wide use of female nudity, though these feminist campaigners are partly making the point that women have long been encouraged to feel ashamed of their bodies - can a seemingly sexist genre really be reclaimed as a positive expression of female liberation?!

The starkly contrasting ways in which traditional feminists and post-feminists (who believe that equality of the sexes has been achieved, so its outmoded to perceive women as victims of a male-dominated culture, or patriarchal society) read media texts is certainly something for you to consider when analysing your own work as well as existing media texts.

NB: the web page contains a topless image, so if you do follow the link take care not to do so in a school setting or around younger siblings. I've copied in the full article below so you needn't do so!

In a chaotic and crumbling former public washhouse in a rundown district of northern Paris, Inna Shevchenko was explaining how a large leather punchbag hanging from the rafters might be used by the foot soldiers of a new generation of feminists.
As she prepared to welcome recruits to the Ukrainian-based feminist group Femen's first "international training camp", it was clear that the instruction would not be all ideological. The talk was of "war", "soldiers", "terrorism" and "enemies". Was it not curious, one French journalist asked, that Inna and her warriors had adopted the language of combat, traditionally a male domain, to describe their mission?
Was it not also inconsistent, another asked, that the new feminists were using nakedness to rail against female exploitation? In a week that had seen the banning of photographs of a topless Duchess of Cambridge, it was certainly topical.
"Ah, but we have a different idea; we are talking about peaceful war, peaceful terrorism," Inna said. "We are taking off our clothes so people can see that we have no weapons except our bodies. It's a powerful way to fight in a man's world. We live with men's domination and this is the only way to provoke them, the only way to get attention.
"We don't hide our bodies, we don't hide our faces, we confront our enemies face to face. We look them in the eyes and we have to be well prepared physically for that."
There was, she explained patiently, no contradiction in going topless or naked to protest against what they view as the three main evils of a global "patriarchal society": sexual exploitation, dictatorship and religion. Protesting naked, as Femen's slogans insist, is liberté, a reappropriation of their own bodies as opposed to pornography or snatched photographs which are exploitation.
On a less intellectual level, taking their clothes off ensures a lot of publicity.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Vids from today's lesson

We looked at Megadeth's Peace Sells, with its ultra-fast paced editing style (to the point of looking like flashing lights - we also mentioned there are regulations on this due to issues around epilepsy) and its deconstruction of the classic/cliched vocalist shots, using an ECU of the singer's mouth alone. Also Daft Punk's Da Funk (from the mind of director Spike Jonze) which is an extreme example of the use of diegetic sound - continuously (we also noted the use of narrative enigma initially, not instantly revealing the dog's head).
Iron Maiden's Can I Play With Madness was another example of TV (or computer/phone) screens being used within the narrative/concept footage to present performance footage, rather than crosscutting between the two.
New Order's True Faith also features this, and is a good example of a concept video: there is no direct tie to the lyrics, but there is a coherent narrative nonetheless.
Weezer's Buddy Holly (Spike Jonze's trademark style again) is a great example of a postmodern text, with multiple layers of intertextuality - and a good example of why French postmodern philosopher Jean Pierre Baudrillard argues there is no coherent reality; everything is a signifier of a signifier in an endless trail with no ultimate true or definable reality. We see a 70/80s US sitcom set in the 50s featuring Weezer through the magic of green screen technology! [Wiki on this vid]

New Order - True Faith by hushhush112

Monday, 17 September 2012

Directors Challenge

Chris Cunningham. Michel Gondry. Spike Jonze. Anton Corbijn.
We have these 3 DVDs + work by Corbijn
Just 4 of the many video directors who have developed a distinctive individual style, leading some to label them as auteurs. The latter 3 have all directed successful feature films too - its a common route into the film business (remember that both Warp and WT emerged from music video producers deciding to take it a step on).

[2012 selections: Andy: Gondry; Will: Jonze; Tom: Cunningham]

Before you start to firm up ideas for your own videos, you should spend some time exploring the distinctive media language employed by some of these music video auteurs, and see if you can find some inspiration. One of the most successful IGS Media productions to date was the Joy Division video (here's one of their blogs, JH's) which was strongly influenced by the visual style of Anton Corbijn, a good example of how individual creativity can be bolstered with influences. Postmodern theorists would argue that any original idea is in any case impossible: everything is intertextual, every idea merely a remixing of existing ideas and expressions.

So, your task is to:
Chris Cunningham's style comes across loud + clear
  1. Identify a particular director with a clear visual style that you can research
  2. View a good number of their videos and use screenshots from these plus any additional research to summarise their style
  3. Having blogged on this, prepare a pitch for a class project, where a short section of a whole music video (at least 30 seconds) will be produced ... in the style of that director. You need to identify a track for this and in your pitch make it very clear which aspects of this director's style you propose to use. Remember that a pitch is a competitive process; you need to provide reasons why your classmates would want to work on your idea
  4. Having picked one of these to work on, plan this in detail so that you end with storyboards, a shotlist and full details of which cast member/s are required for each shot. Use the appropriate templates to do this.
  5. With casting and shots arranged, and every aspect of mise-en-scene (including costume, props, locations etc) arranged, shoot your footage.
  6. Using the expertise of whoever's pitch won out, each then individually upload and edit your own version, making notes as you go on how you're reflecting this director's signature style.
  7. You can use this opportunity to have a go with Final Cut Pro X.
  8. Blog on your learning as you go
You can find links lists on some big names in this blog, and could search for posts on each within the blog too - here's just 2 egs on Corbijn: and

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

MVid eg notes template

This is a simple table, you could always design your own. The point is to keep a record of your observations - not on scattered pieces of paper or even blog posts, but in one place where you can begin to see patterns, and can refer back speedily months later when you can't quite remember the name of that track where that useful shot example was...

By the time you're finished the A2 coursework you will have examined dozens of MVids (+ d'paks + ads). Again, create a database/spreadsheet if you prefer, but you will need to be able to reference multiple examples of observable format and genre  conventions, tied into points on audience/s and industry/economics as well. It is unlikely you will remember every detail you've blogged on, or made a written note on.

Maintaining a good, detailed record will not only make R+P posts easier but also the Evaluation and the exam (Media Language in YOUR productions is one of the concepts you may be asked to analyse in Q1b).

Its worth printing off a few copies of this simple doc to keep and add notes to at random times: sat in front of the TV, or even in class when not at a computer. You can blog or type up these notes at your convenience then, but will at least know where to find them.

You will immediately need a good list of specific egs for the vodcast on general codes and conventions of the music video format. This is NOT tied to a specific genre at this stage - and remember that any such list of common conventions almost certainly will contain contradictory points, as some things common to some genres will not be seen in others.

Common MVid Cs and Cs

Remember, you can design your own - and before printing off you should really change/delete some of the blurb at the top of the sheet (adding your name is also a good idea!).

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Streaming album for publicity: The xx

Attempting to echo the viral style in which they broke through to mainstream success, the xx chose to offer free streaming of their new album to help publicise its release, linking this into a graphic global map that added points of light everytime it was streamed. Fans soon launched a campaign to light the entire globe by getting someone in every country on earth to stream it.

This is a clever response to the challenge of digitisation, though a risky one - before digitisation buying an album was generally a risk, as you wouldn't have heard much of it before purchase. Now, you may be able to stream it, you'll often get snippets of each track on Amazon, or you could illegally download it via BitTorrent or some equivalent as soon as someone rips the CD and uploads the tracks.

What is also interesting here is the implication for the 'release date':
Music downloading and social media have made the pre-release album stream an integral part of the modern music marketing scheme, and Beggars Group hoped the visualization would draw attention to the physical release date.
"It's really hard to focus people on a release date – it's almost like the release date has become something that's become an adjunct to the whole campaign," said Farrell. "Even though for most bands and from the label perspective, it's the most important date because the record's available for sale everywhere."

Here's the full article:

How the xx shared their new album Coexist by releasing it to just one fan

Superfan in London given album to share online before its official release – and snowball effect causes host site to crash
The xx, Shepherd's Bush Empire
The xx: going viral. Photograph: Jim Dyson/Redferns/Getty Images
To recreate the word-of-mouth phenomenon that made them famous, the xx shared their album stream Coexist with a single fan just outside London last week – days before its official US release.
It was a risky marketing move that set out to test whether the band could replicate their initial viral success with a map that tracked shares with a visualization on the Coexist stream's host site.
Twenty-four hours after the stream was shared with a fan on Facebook, the site crashed from the millions of streams, with the average user spending 2.1 hours on the site.
"From a statistical perspective, it's one of the most significant album premieres we've ever done," said Adam Farrell, vice-president of marketing at Beggars Group, which owns the Young Turks label on which the xx's records is released.
Farrell said the xx were instantly able to determine the superfan who would first receive word of the stream due to their frequent postings on xx-related social media.
"The fan was the only one listening to it for an hour or so. It seems like they were hogging it for a bit," Farrell said.
Once the superfan finally released the stream, it spread quickly among the xx's online community, avoiding the eyes of music blogs until the next day, when media outlets finally got hold of it.
"What we saw on the first album was a real word-of-mouth phenomenon we had never seen before," said Farrell.
To promote the xx's second album Coexist, the label had to find a way to inspire the same sort of virality that greeted the band's eponymous debut. Beggars Group then entered talks with tech companies, and Microsoft agreed to create the visualization, which was inspired by Aaron Koblin's visualization of flight patterns in the US.
The stream's visualization prompts a burst of lines as the album is distributed across the globe, cascading from its origin to the opposite ends of oceans, where it then radiates to another point on the map.
Music downloading and social media have made the pre-release album stream an integral part of the modern music marketing scheme, and Beggars Group hoped the visualization would draw attention to the physical release date.
"It's really hard to focus people on a release date – it's almost like the release date has become something that's become an adjunct to the whole campaign," said Farrell. "Even though for most bands and from the label perspective, it's the most important date because the record's available for sale everywhere."
Coexist's release was one of Beggars Group's biggest album premieres. The group – which owns and distributes several other labels – counts Vampire Weekend and Jack White among their clientele.
A day before the album's official US release, the viral move made it to the homepage of Reddit, where fans motivated by the visualization initiated a campaign to get the album spread in each country of the globe.
Despite its success, Farrell doesn't plan on replicating this visualization site for other bands: he says he finds it especially suited to the sensibilities of the xx.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Postmodern intertextuality: Robert Palmer

I've seen this referenced in The Simpsons too, and many other shows/vids too - its sufficiently widely used to be described as a meme (a widely referenced cultural event, text or idea); as Andy used it as an example, here's how the intertextuality works in Bowling For Soup's 1985 video.

Wheatus, Blink 182, Weezer and similar pop-punk or alt-rock bands have all created postmodern videos centred on ironic intertextuality with classic TV shows or stereotypical depictions of a past time period with a modern twist.

Bowling For Soup appear to mock the casual sexism of the original video (from around 0:35 in):

They dress up as the glamourous models, the obvious humour ensuring they can maintain a macho, laddish image despite appearing in drag.

In a rather more ambiguous (or polysemic) style, the distributors of WT hit rom-com, Richard Curtis' Love Actually, created a chart hit with Bill Nighy in his fictional role singing Christmas is All Around. Is it simply sexist, or is is ironic and mocking sexism?

The reading of the original, from 1985 as the Bowling For Soup song title suggests, isn't necessarily that straightforward either. If it was intended simply to identify Robert Palmer with glamour and sex appeal, then it appears utterly preposterous to the contemporary viewer - but that doesn't necessarily reflect typical audience (especially youth) reaction when it was originally released. There are lots of shots of Palmer smiling (or smirking? again, its polysemic) - is he meant to be in on the joke ... is his original video actually sending up/pastiching the ever-increasing use of attractive models we saw with mid-80s pop videos? Or is it simply a crudely sexist video bluntly objectifying women, with its shots, for example, of legs in isolation?
Your take on this may well be dictated by your age!

Bands like BFSoup and Weezer didn't invent such explicit interextuality - the music video has always borrowed liberally from other media and from earlier music videos. Weird Al Yankovic has made a successful career out of lampooning hit songs, such as 1988's Michael Jackson spoof, Fat:

Remember, we saw similar traits from films too last year, eg: Psycho's Sam Loomis referenced through Halloween's Dr Loomis and then both through Scream's Billy Loomis.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Lego vid: Joy Division

This would be no easy path or shortcut to a music vid of your own, but may be of interest - and in any case, is another example of how UGC (user-generated content, or fan-made videos) acts as viral marketing for archive material; the fact that this isn't an official vid actually makes it more legitimate to mahy, as its not directly tied into record company profit-making. Many people will watch it and be introduced to Joy Division for the first time - part of your secondary audience for a vid made for a back catalogue track will likewise be new fans.

This next example is something of a curiosity: a 5-year old death metal vocalist, as publicised by Terrorizer magazine:

Sunday, 2 September 2012

How bands make money today

Rolling Stone magazine has a good 9-part list with examples: - the example below is on perfume!
I've blogged plentiful examples about this topic, which is important to grasp as a part of audience, institution and digitisation.

Justin Bieber/Girlfriend
James Devaney/WireImage; Courtesy of Elizabeth Arden
Everyone wants to smell like the Biebs – which is why Justin Bieber's women's fragrance, Someday, netted $3 million in its first three weeks this summer. According to Jo Piazza's book Celebrity Inc., A-listers can haul in between $3 million and $5 million up front, plus five to 10 percent of sales, by licensing their name to a fragrance. Beyonce, Britney Spears and Jennifer Lopez are among the other stars whose scents have raked in tens of millions in recent years.
Potential payday: $5 million or more for a hot star like Bieber
Downsides: Loss of cred. Before launching his 222 fragrance in May, Maroon 5's Adam Levine hemmed and hawed to People: "I know there's a stigma attached to it, a stigma that I fully understand because I, too, hate the idea of a celebrity fragrance, absolutely, 100 per cent. [But] I kind of thought to myself, 'Well, I'm interested in fashion and there's a lot of things about it that could be really cool if done properly.'"