Saturday, 30 June 2012

Audience Research - Initial Survey

Despite recently allowing my entire life to be consumed by ICT coursework, I have managed to collect some information regarding audience's interests in regards to music videos. Productivity, on MY Media blog!?

I put up a survey on Polldaddy and asked people online to fill it out over the last week, so here are some numbers for your enjoyment. I too contributed a response to this, purely because I am a consumer of music as well, making my opinion count as much as others (to an extent...).

With the exception of the final question all of these were multiple choice for the sake of making things easier to process. Hey ho, let's go!

The first question aimed to find what draws people into a video the most. There's a definite favour towards seeing stories being acted out, which suggests that my coursework video should have a strong narrative element. Some people had no preference, which could leave some creative decisions being based solely on what feels right as opposed to having to match a specific kind of direction.

I have to say I am surprised there was so little interest in the performance element of a video, especially as my background knowledge of the industry includes how much time and money is spent on building up the public image of the artist. This result could also dispute Goodwin's theory which suggests that labels want to push the artist's image in music videos (through plenty of screen time/close-ups) - whilst it's hard to deny that this happens, these findings could suggest that it doesn't have much effect in the long run.

Fairly indecisive for the most part, though I'm sure this is down to how vague my question was. Out of those who did make a decision, it seems that light-hearted videos were far more popular - possibly suggesting that people prefer watching videos which are a bit of fun to accompany a song they like, as opposed to actually appreciating more about the video's production or looking for conceptual ideas.

Very one-sided here, though I feel my question may have been a little leading. If we look at the raw figures, however, we could interpret that people care more about the concepts/ideas behind a video than flashy effects - which suggests that the coursework piece should have an interesting idea behind it, and can't rely purely on complex cinematography and editing techniques.

These results are particularly indecisive, yet I did have a suggestion in the process of carrying out this research which said this should have had a "depends on the song" option. Which makes sense. From the way in which most of the results are "I am not too bothered" I think we can interpret it as needing to be in context with the song and the concept of the video.

So... this is the one where I just asked everyone to tell me a video they like. Let's look at them one by one.

Go With The Flow - Queens of the Stone Age

This is completely rendered in a vector-like style, which is interesting to note. There's a lot of performance in this, though it is by the animated versions of the band members. There's also a lot of sexual imagery (Goodwin's voyeurism point) - I actually had to check the Wikipedia page to see whether it was actually there or if it was me being twelve. Judging by the article, it's the former.

Never Gonna Give You Up - Rick Astley


I know this wasn't a serious opinion; this is the problem with collecting information from the internet. But regardless, this is nearly all performance. There's also some voyeurism of the female form, which is very mild by today's standards.

Stay (Faraway, So Close!) - U2

I can't in all honesty say I understand what was going on in this video. A lot of it seemed conceptual - even the performance element seems conceptual in itself, as though it's symbolising a relationship of kinds? I don't really know. The greyscale filming seems to work in the video's favour when it comes to setting the tone.

Я очень рад, ведь я, наконец, возвращаюсь домой - Eduard Khil


Porcelain - Moby

Eyes freak me out so this was a chore to watch. Contrary to the preference in earlier findings, the basis of this video is the feathered cut effect and the way it is edited together. There's no narrative here from what I can make out, the focus seems to be the eye (I'm guessing this is meant to symbolise... something?) and the lip-sync/keyboard performance.

Eyes Wide Open - Gotye

There's a definite narrative going on here, which fits earlier findings regarding preference. There's also some noticeable links between the lyrics and what we're seeing on screen, particularly during the "eyes wide open" parts.

Book of Good Life - The Maccabeats

First thing worth mentioning is the novelty value of this video - it's not trying to be taken too seriously, which fits in with earlier findings about light-hearted videos being more popular. This revolves around a combination of both performance, and the narrative fitting in around the lyrical theme of the "good life".

For The First Time - The Script

Again, this is a mixture of narrative and performance - in regards to the performance, this is a case of the narrative acting out the exact story which is being told through the lyrics. Considering that the first question's responses said that having the video act out a story is popular I'm not surprised this made it in.

Creep - Radiohead

Can't say I'm familiar with this acoustic version of the song, but anyways - I think this can only really stand as a narrative-based video, and even that's limited. For the first half of the video nothing happens, then we get a story based on "man runs away, woman chases him". Yeah. It's interesting this has come up as from what I can tell there is no performance, which backs up the earlier finding that people don't see performance works as much of a priority.

Party In Your Bedroom - Cash Cash

I wonder who mentioned this? Again, this has both performance and narrative aspects - the band are performing which appears to be the 'centre' of the video, whilst they are also introduced to us as characters which acts as a kind of sub-narrative. This narrative doesn't appear to have any link to the lyrics regardless of interpretation - we're shown an actual party, whereas none of the interpretations out there mention an actual party. On the note of interpretations, although a lot comments online come across as "it's Cash Cash so it must be about sex" I generally remember that Jean Paul and Alex are nerds and so there's a good chance it is actually about being on the computer all night...


Friday, 29 June 2012

FotL Recreation - Raw Takes

THIS WAS FUN. This video features each of our takes when staging a recreation of the Sheena Is A T-shirt Salesman video. Apologies for the lengthly delay at the beginning and end of each shot; because the camera was placed up high on a stand on a table I had to climb up each time to turn record on/off (HEALTH AND SAFETY: I didn't die).

First (0:00) - This didn't really work, but it was useful for giving everyone an idea of what we were going to be doing. We had a problem near the start where Mr. E had mis-judged when to start (this was unavoidable the first time - as he had to face away from the screen at this point it was a case of guesstimating when his part would come in). Also, mine and Sarah's banner got ripped a bit too early this round.

Second (2:55) - Not as many obvious errors, but we can still see a little uncertainty as to direction; again, it was just a case of everyone getting used to what was going on, so a few little mistakes are unavoidable.

Third (5:53) - Seemed to go much better! It's clear that me and Sarah had needed to start repairing signs by this point, but oh well.

Fourth (8:46) - I feel really confident about this take - I have to say during the first banner part I am looking particularly awkward not sure what part of the sign to hold, but that probably won't be as noticeable when at full speed.

Fifth (11:33) - Not as confident as with the fourth but this still went pretty well.

I'll have a go at putting these at double speed later on to see which looks best to decide which take to use. Couple of problems I've noticed:

a) Camera angle - the room we were filming in is significantly smaller than the one in the original video, so we had to improvise in regards to where the camera went.

b) Writing on the signs - it's pretty difficult to read the writing on the signs me and Sarah are holding up; this is something I hadn't thought through when making them. Had I not been such a cheapskate and actually printed them this wouldn't have been an issue (or at least bought a felt pen of some kind), but yeah.

c) Cast's eyes - We had the Slowpoke Remix playing on the laptop, which was positioned on the table underneath the camera/tripod, and I think every one of us is guilty of making it apparent we're looking at the screen at some point in each shot (I know I definitely did, especially when I was holding the second sign up each time because I needed to time that little duck thing). This was because we were unfamiliar with the directions beyond "copy what they're doing", so in the future it will be necessary to ensure everyone knows what they need to do from memory, rather than using a video reference.

d) I am lip-syncing when I shouldn't be. This is a habit because I know the song. An annoying habit I need to kill.


Wednesday, 27 June 2012

FotL Recreation - Signs

So, we're filming tomorrow, and there's one major aspect which we need to get in the video to have the right effect - and that is, of course, the signs to be held up by the 'blue men'.

It annoys me that it's not possible to get proper recreations put together, but unfortunately I do not own or have access to a printing firm. Instead, I've had to do the next best thing and create copies by hand. Yeah...

I started this using just printer paper and black pens (going by what was available), and an hour and a half (and half a rainforest) later I think I have everything covered -

I've reinforced the joints with some good ol' tape, with the exception of the "You don't know them but they're cool" sheets as they need to be ripped. There are two of those, meaning we have two attempts before having to stick them back together with tape. I also plan on bringing more paper with me for if disaster should strike in any way.

Also, other things from my checklist -
- Camera is charged
- Camera has space free on its internal memory
- I have extra necessities packed should they be needed - drumsticks/guitar straps/picks.

Let's see how this goes tomorrow.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Animated Storyboard: WIP

In the Mac room right now - I've just spent what seems like forever (but in actual fact was about 45 minutes) moving spiders around in FCP and now the thing is in the process of backing up today's work. I thought it'd be a good idea to upload the stills I have together so far just to prove stuff is actually happening...

I'll explain the thought processes/creative decisions about the different aspects once the thing is finished, but for the time being you can admire my wonderful still PNGs (two are JPG, because I fail at exporting things from PowerPoint! Oh well.).

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Another spider

Because I left my memory stick downstairs. D'oh. (I'm aware you can't see it here. Fun.).

Monday, 18 June 2012

Future of the Left video uberslooooooowwwwwwwwww

Resource we're likely to find useful when filming the recreation prelim -


Video for INTERACTIVITY. Because passively sitting back and staring at a video is more interactive than sitting closer and reading something for yourself. Right?

This is the song and video at 50% speed. The idea I had here is that it'll work as a reference to show the cast before filming so everyone has a rough idea as to what to do, as well as acting as an audio and visual reference whilst filming (will probably play through Sir's laptop as it's the biggest screen we'll be able to get hold of in the small room, providing he doesn't get in a fight with it beforehand).

Some things to note -

- The speed. Is still a little faster than natural movement, but I decided to keep it at exactly 50% slower so it's easier to edit together in post production. Will have to employ a little creative artistic license to cover for this. I was originally going to use 25% as mentioned before, but at 25% it appeared unnatural,  which would kill the accuracy of the finished product.
- Jumps. It's still very jumpy - originally I wasn't sure if the jumps were an illusion from the speed modification or altered artificially afterwards, but the slowed down version confirms it is the latter. We'll have to just film it naturally and then leave me to do some trickery in iMovie/FCP. I have a couple of ideas on how to tackle this, but I'll cover more about that once I've actually tried testing 'em.

I now need to acquire some people to be band members and men in blue. This could be challenging.


Playback Speed (or how I can't mime)

So... my prelim task involves directing a recreation of this -

The general direction is going to need some work, but on top of that there's a couple of additional things which will need addressing - the speed, and the frame jumps.

First thing I'm looking at is the speed. By the looks of it they've used the common tactic of recording it at a slower pace then speeding it up in post production (this process is in fact the opposite of a portal as it alters the momentum. Slow thing goes in, speedy thing comes out). Thought I'd have a go at testing this out -


Here I changed the speed by 50%, but to match the speed of the FotL video I'd be inclined to go at 25%. 

Big problem which is instantly noticeable in my demo - the miming needs to be spot on to work. Mine is far from it; this is because it's extremely difficult to 'play' a song at a different tempo than what you're used to. 

Although I don't know who I'm going to be borrowing for the recreation (or who'll be playing what), as soon as we're sorted we'll need to actually practice the song a lot, as opposed to doing what I did and just thinking "what the hell" and getting on with it. 

On that note - Sir, do you know where one could find tabs for the song? I tried looking the other day and didn't have much luck, and my interpretation skills aren't all that. 


Saturday, 16 June 2012

Animated storyboard stock art

We have time to start putting stuff together on Tuesday (well actually, we had time to start a couple of weeks ago, but I've been doing other productive things such as ICT coursework and remixing the Creative Media students' advertising work using electronic and pseudo-dubstep samples I found online) so I've had to do a bit of prep work on PS here in regards to putting stock images together to use in the digital storyboard.

Should warn in advance: this video will be set in an alternate universe where guitar straps do not exist, and guitars float in front of their player's bodies. If Harmonix can get away with it, so can I.

 The guitarist is a simple looking chap, he's there because he's there.
 The bassman is also the lead singer. He's a lefty because "why not?", and he has a P-bass because they're cool. I was originally going to kill the hat, but in the end I thought as he is singing he's technically narrating - so he's the one with the growing insanity, and the hat is acting as a block stopping his mind from working properly.
This guy thinks he's cool because he gets to hang around with musicians. He has a cigarette hanging out of his mouth because a lot of rock musicians are known to play whilst smoking (at least they were, before the smoking ban came into play a few years ago which as a non-smoker I will say is a ridiculous idea, but I digress. We'll pretend the void-like location they're playing in is their own private property), so in a way it's conforming to viewer expectations. Also, having a laid-back drummer playing along with a song about psychological problems acts a bit of comic relief. It's funny when it's clear that the drummer is at the wrong gig.
Spiders. They act as the conceptual aspect of the video as I mentioned in the last post. One of these has an Outer Glow, as I haven't designed the void setting yet, I'm not sure whether it'll be necessary to make them visible.

I'm pretty sure I'll need to draw up more angles etc. once I know what is needed - I'm going to start off by putting them together in PowerPoint keyframe by keyframe to see what looks right before drawing more.


EDIT: Turns out you cant see these particularly well on the black background; this is because they are transparent PNGs. Here are the links for reference -
Guitarist - Bassist - Drummer - Spider (Glow) - Spider (Raw)

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Personal Music Video Analysis - Negative

Part II of me expressing my over-opinionated beliefs in regards to music videos. Here we go again. Again, this is focusing on the video itself, not necessarily the song - though I'm bound to point out what I hate music-wise too, because I'm like that.

Going to do these on a video-by-video basis this time as opposed to categories so I can critically analyse what we see throughout each video as opposed to just picking up on one thing.

Just Like A Pill - P!nk

Biggest gripe with this? The redundant transitions from one shot to the next. This is especially apparent during the choruses as it cuts from one shot to... exactly the same shot, with some flashy pan transition thing. Sure, the special effects are kind-of impressive (by 2001 standards, anyway) but this is supposed to be a finished product, not a tech demo.

The other problem I have with this is that it's trying too desperately hard to be dark and edgy with the black and dark brown colours. The song itself isn't anything beyond a typical throwaway pop song, so the video's attempts to convince me otherwise just aren't working.

On the topic of trying desperately hard to be dark and edgy...

Fallen Angels - Black Veil Brides

This video is obviously trying to appeal to its target audience (twelve year olds with attitude problems) by promoting the idea of being individualistic, by doing original things such as dressing entirely in black and covering their faces in makeup, which totally hasn't been done before by the likes of Alice Cooper/KISS/Marilyn Manson etc..

As with the P!nk video, they're trying to up their image to be "cool" by making them look dark, when in actual fact their music is nothing more than Busted with a second bass drum. Honestly, I don't mind a -bit- of creative artistic license in regards to fitting in with the genre, but this just looks ridiculous.

Also that last shot is completely original and in no way borrowed from the Halo Reach promotional art.

I Want To Break Free - Queen

As much as I love Queen, there's no way I can deny this video is terrible. I think it's safe to say that cross dressing in anything is going to look stupid, and even when you consider the Coronation Street references it just looks ridiculous. Sorry, I just can't appreciate this in any way (except for the song itself which is fab).

Pour Some Sugar On Me - Def Leppard [US]

The problem I have with this isn't apparent in the far superior UK version. If there's one thing that bugs me it's when a great deal of the video consists of concert footage - trying to sync the concert video to the studio record is always going to require a lot of creative cutting, which pretty much always looks awkward.


Also I should note that I don't hate what would appear to be the obvious choice, Friday. Why? Because it fits into the same category as the Powerman 5000 video I mentioned in the last post, in that it's HILARIOUSLY TERRIBLE. Everything about this video is bad, right from the badly animated post-it notes at the start, to the waving of the arm thing that looks out of place, to the girl dancing extremely awkwardly around 1:16, to the slightly creepy unnamed rapper going on about following a school bus over a really poorly edited in background. This is so terrible it makes me laugh every time, which makes it worth watching.

Will edit in the image links later on, to make this blog SHINIER.


Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Problems (part 1 of ∞)

I'm at a bit of a block here...

I've been looking through the lyrics for The Great Escape and ideas-wise I have reached... absolute nil. From a lyrical point of view it makes sense to have a more surreal conceptual piece, but the song itself seems a little too up-tempo for it to work effectively.

From what I can pick out so far it needs to involve someone going insane; which is beneficial because from a conceptual point of view there's a fair bit which can be done with it - I just need to use my brain and find it. I also need to get a bit of performance in, if only to highlight the fantastic bassline in this which so many people would otherwise overlook...

Actually, I think I may have just had an idea whilst writing this. It involves the band performing and lots of spiders. Spiders represent the darkness/fear (with the lyrics this could represent the corruption in the narrator's mind - he always feels the need to run away from things), and this could have a greyscale gradient map thrown over the whole thing to portray the darkness further.

Who knew that rambling on the internet could actually be productive? Time to get sketching, methinks.

It annoys me how I want to give the bassist a bass that looks like Paul McCartney's new Hofner that he played Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da on last night but it's too bright to fit in with the context of this...


Band concept I threw together; bassman is the frontman, band is called Temporary Veterinary (because why not?). Now to go throw the phase of drawing these guys up in PS frame by frame...

EDIT2: Digitalised versions of band members -
This will make putting all the head-on shots together easier; will have to draw separately for alternate shots.