Monday, 30 September 2013

My Chosen Genre

Picking a genre to work in is tough. I love a wide variety of music and each genre provides different creative possibilities. However, as you may be able to tell from my post 'Getting An Early Start', I have a soft spot for the Soft Rock/Alternative genres. Music that falls into this category is usually packed full of emotion, strong instrumentals, impacting aesthetics and lyrics that inspire as well as hook. The record label 'Fueled by Ramen' has signed many popular artists who work within this genre, as you can see below (Awolnation however belongs to Red Bull Records).

Paramore is a particular favourite of mine. They have a very wide repertoire. From their start as very american punk sounding group with early tracks like 'Pressure', to their slightly more heartfelt album 'Brand New Eyes' and now their considerably reinvented self-titled album, Paramore, for me, have always hit it home when it comes to songs that really become a part of you.

In an upcoming post I will take a look in depth at some existing Paramore videos.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Heading in the Direction of Genre

Now that I know I want to have a very entropic feel to my video, I need to think about genre. A few months back I did send tweets to Hayley Williams considering using one of Paramore's songs just on the off chance that she would reply, and therefore I could come with a song I could potentially use.
However, the alternative genre which Paramore belongs to tends to be very entropic and could potentially be something I would really enjoy doing. For this then I will need to look further into the rock type alternative genre.

Music Video Redundancy/Entropy

Redundant messages are those which convey predictable or conventional ideas. Usually we would associate the word with that which is boring but Redundancy is not a bad thing. It is vital in day to day situations for communication and understanding.

Entropy is that which is unpredictable; essentially, it's the opposite of redundancy.

Levels of entropy and redundancy differ when it comes to different genres.

Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift tends to come across as fairly reduntant. Her image is very typical in a lot of her videos resulting in a mis-en-scene of one 'fresh-out-of-the-box, fashionable adolescent'. Although some of the things seen in these videos are a little unusual (eating birthday cake by yourself, people dressed as animals dancing around etc.) they are not given enough attention/camera time to become of any specific relevance or present themselves as motifs.
There is soft lighting admist fairly high exposure giving an 'Instagram-esque' feel that will be positively redundant to Taylor Swift's hipster/mainstream audiences. Theses familiarisations are made to create a level of redundancy for easy communication of relate-ability. The only real levels of entropy come through the cinematograpghy although this only seems to break from convention in the second video with the execution of one near completely continuous shot. However, this less conventional level of cinemaotgraphy is not seen in the rest of Taylor's videos.

Yo La Tengo

Yo La Tengo are a completely different story altogether. They prefer to create entropy through completely or near completely disjunctive videos. 'Sugarcube', focuses largely on the narrative, seeming more like a clip from a poorly produced movie than a music video, due to the over layering of sound: speech, diegetic noises.
'I'll Be Around' seems to then stretch the boundaries of disjunction by layering another mis-en-scene of text which has no relation to the lyrics and only relates to the video in the second half, leaving it disjunctive until that point.

 OK Go

In OK Go's case, the levels of entropy they choose to convey come across far easier than can be said for Yo La Tengo. Their videos are also disjunctive in majority but do at times contain hinted amplifying features.
All 3 examples here consist of one continuous shot, which is not cinematographic format we are used to.

I think that it would be far more engaging for myself and more importantly the audience if I go for a more entropic format.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Making My Video Stand Out

The videos I've picked out seem to all have something very different in them. There's at least one element in the aesthetics or narrative that makes it stand out and be memorable.
If I want my music video to possess this memorable quality then I will need to take a look at their different levels of individuality or entropy...

Particularly Good Music Videos

The following are videos I find particularly successful. They span fairly contrasting genres.

David Guetta - Play Hard

Sum 41 - In Too Deep

Peter Gabriel - Sledgehammer

P!NK - Stupid Girls

 Tom Milsom - Pipes

 Scissor Sisters - Any Which Way

Kimbra - Cameo Lover

Capital Cities - Kangaroo Court

Friday, 20 September 2013

SKILLS LESSON 3: Green Screen

This lesson we took a look at the use of green screens. There was not a lot I knew about green screens prior other than that they were green and that you stood in front of them and through computer magic, suddenly you're in Egypt. It turned out though that it was relatively straight forward. Using Adobe Premier Pro CS5 I learned that using a Chroma Key, I could pick out the colour of the screen and then gradually slide to remove it from the frame at the right level.

It was necessary then to be very careful with the lighting as shadows across the screen would make it harder to isolate all of the green. It was also worth considering how appropriate the lighting would be in relation to what you intended to replace the background with. As can be seen below, we went for a rather unrealistic underwater swimming theme but did place blue gels over the lamps to mimic the kinds of reflections.

At a more serious level these techniques could be very useful and I will most likely be trying green screen in relation to my actual video.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Demands of the Record Label

Now I have a bearing on lighting I can take a look and see how that is incorporated in existing music videos, so as I can have a better idea of how I will use it. One of Goodwin's...

When considering musical artists, Lady Gaga is someone who very clearly has her own unique brand image.

Her videos are always very commercial:

Straight away you know what you are watching.

What Lady Gaga IS is artistic, weird, loud, vogue, individual. These pictures convey this clearly:

Metal wings look like they've come straight out of an arts workshop.
Their only purpose is artistic.

Hand on heart admits that she loves who she is... that and the coming of a giant top hat. 

Wild expression, unconventional make-up
'Vogue' style pose and imagery through black and white filter.
Weird for the sake of weird or art? Or both?

There are also many close ups that identify her in different forms. All however, make it clear of what the focus is; her:

Friday, 13 September 2013

SKILLS LESSON 2: Stop Motion Animation

The above is a quick, trial stop animation we made in class. There are quite a few flaws in this sequence that can be blamed on the fact that there was little time to pay proper attention to detail. There is inconsistent lighting and little jumps in the animation though in majority it is smooth.

The purpose of this trial was merely to put the attention on something that may not have been previously considered and just to pep up some creative juices.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

SKILLS LESSON 1: Introduction to Lighting

Last Friday, we took a look at the possibilities of lighting. The basis of this lesson was pretty simple and so fairly easy to some up.

The standard form of lighting used in most pieces is 3 Point Lighting. This is where a Key Light and a Fill Light are placed in front of the subject followed with a back light behind.
The key light lights the subject in majority, making it able to see them and is the brightest. In standard 3 point set up, it sits at a 45 degree angle to the subject.
The fill light sits on the opposite side, lighting the area of the subject that is missed, making the lighting more even.
The back light sits behind as is of lower intensity. It helps to make the subject stand out better against the background, giving them more of an outline.
Here is a basic diagram of 3 point lighting set-up:

Though the 3 point technique is the standard, it is by no means the only form of lighting that we can use. In our lesson we experimented with moving the lighting and camera in different places around the subject.
By isolating the key light and placing it behind the subject facing into the camera, we were able to create a silhouette. By applying different coloured gels and intensities of light, we could create a fair array of different moods.

Skills Lessons

On Fridays we are set to have practical lessons where we can explore and develop these different skills, whilst thinking about how they relate to the mood of music. Last Friday, (September 6th) we had a look at lighting and in particular, the standard 3 point set up. We then had the chance to experiment with light intensity, positioning and the addition of 'gels' and 'screens'. After each Friday, I will post about the skills we explored on this blog with the title 'SKILLS LESSON:' followed by what we looked at. This will help make it easy to come back to when preparing for the exam, as well as keeping the variety of skills that are now at my disposal clear throughout the task.

The Beginning of My Research

Now that term has begun, I'm beginning to learn in more depth about the task I have been set. In the 5 lessons I have had so far, I have already looked at conventions of different music genres as well as skills applied that were key parts of last years study (editing, cinematography, mis-en-scene and sound). It is the sound this time that needs to be focused on and it is these other techniques which will revolve around it.

To get the best marks and produce a video of higher quality, following Andrew Goodwin's framework of music video analysis is advised. There as 6 main features that are stated:

  • Music videos demonstrate genre characteristics. (e.g. stage performance in metal videos, dance routine for boy/girl band, aspiration in Hip Hop).
  • There is a relationship between lyrics and visuals. The lyrics are represented with images. (Either illustrative, amplifying, contradicting).
  • There is a relationship between music and visuals. The tone and atmosphere of the visual reflects that of the music. (Either illustrative, amplifying, contradicting). This is linked to the concept of Synaesthesia - Seeing the sound, the visual, including the editing make the sound visual. There is a physical representation of verse/chorus structure.
  • The demands of the record label will include the need for lots of close ups of the artist and the artist may develop motifs which recur across their work (a visual style that reflects their star image/persona).
  • There is frequently reference to notion of looking (screens within screens, mirrors, stages, etc.) and particularly voyeuristic treatment of the female body. (Mulvey)
  • There are often intertextual references (to films, TV programmes, other music videos etc.). 
I will need to take a closer look at all of these features so that I can apply then appropriately to my video when I come to planning and producing it.

Getting An Early Start

As soon as I discovered that we creating a music video as part of our second year coursework I was ecstatic. This is something I've wanted to do for a very long time and was thrilled by the idea that we'd get to pick our own artist and song.

The thought that followed immediately after was exactly what should I choose? There were so many different songs that I loved and could easily come up with creative videos for. And then I bought Paramore's new album. The whole self-titled album was an absolute triumph and I knew that I would revel at the opportunity to create a video of one of these songs. Better still, only two of the tracks - 'Now' and 'Still Into You' - were released as singles and so were, and are, the only ones which had pre-existing music videos (with the exception of a member exclusive video for 'Anklebiters' which came out recently). This was great, as after listening to the album just a couple of times I was drawn towards '(One of Those) Crazy Girls' and had already come up with some ideas.

The only problem was that I knew that I needed to ask permission, and well, Paramore are pretty big. I knew getting hold of them would be hard, but I still tried tweeting Hayley Williams, the lead singer, as you can see below:

I had little faith that she would reply as she has over 3,000,000 followers and my tweets most likely became swamped in the massive backlog she receives every day. So, I went onto the Fueled By Ramen website (Paramore's record company) and found some contacts that I could potentially go out and e-mail.

Despite being unable to obtain specific permission, I did a little research and it seems that I should be able to use the song anyway. This is to do with the 'Fair Use'. The Fair Use Doctrine is a part of copyright law that gives users the right to use copyrighted material without expressed permission. When uploading both of my lip sync videos to YouTube, a warning pops up, notifying the video publisher that they have submitted copyrighted content, stating that it will therefore not be able to be viewed in some countries. However, to bypass this, uploaders can dispute that there content does not infringe the terms of use in copyright, due to Fair Use.

For the task ahead, there isn't necessarily a need to make a dispute as the video is not intended to be public and will be uploaded as 'Private' so that only those with the link and the uploader can view it.

The important thing in this situation however is that this particular song may not be the one I use for my exam. I need to know what marks I should be hitting before I get too carried away or set on an idea. But, at least I can say I have something I could work with and also that I am a little more knowledgeable about how copyright affects my plans.