Friday, 26 October 2012

Sales Pitch Video

After giving up on several days' worth of work in FCP on the computer in school, I threw this together in iMovie in under an hour. Eh.

Part of my hair is out of place in this video and it frustrates me. Also the lack of alternate angles towards the end is down to the fact that I left Mr. N. in charge of preparing the additional cameras, and he was unaware of the fact that cameras need to have their batteries charged in order to work. Oh well. You can still hear what is being said as I ripped the audio straight from the close shot and borrowed it from the camera near the dragons as and when necessary.

This video covers things like my proposed artist name, why I've chosen the song and what I intend to include in the final music video. This is being posted in this format because interactive media content is supposedly better than text posts.


Wednesday, 24 October 2012


What happens when one of the most incompetent guitarists ever tries to play a song by a fantastic guitarist?

This happens. This is me trying to learn how to play one of the parts of the song which will be performance in the video. For the sake of the production I need to learn how to play it to a standard which will allow me to mime the song convincingly; I filmed the many, many attempts in this video to try and get used to moving my hand to the right places on the guitar for it to look right if the song were to be dubbed over. This is going to take a LOT of work; as you can see I'm still pretty slow in terms of calling where I need to move to whereas the song itself is of a high tempo.

Ignore the hideous sound quality - it comes from a combination of my hilarious lack of skill, a cheap amplifier, and the fact I was recording with the Bloggie.

Eh. I do start screwing around at the end. If you need a good laugh at my expense, watch this video.


EDIT: By the way I am aware I'm playing in standard tuning whilst the original song is in C. This won't matter when I'm miming.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Sales Pitch Update

I did a mock sales pitch for my I Am... All of Me video concept last week. We filmed it. I have attempted to edit it.

I have failed to edit it.

Reason? It is very time consuming, and children are a thing. To be more specific, I need a lot of time with the Mac to edit it together (as we had a multiple camera setup and FCP likes to take hours to render things) and there seems to be a lot of timetabled lessons in there when I have free periods.

Because of this, it's unlikely it will be finished in time for the start of half term, which is INCREDIBLY ANNOYING. I do hope to be able to get in there for 10 minutes one day this week so I can retrieve the raws so I can hopefully bodge-job something together in iMovie at home over half term so I am able to show the things which were discussed on the blog.

I'm starting to think I need a "catastrophic failure" tag on here.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Why are jewel cases still a thing?

This is a slight digression from the other R&P posts on here but it relates to the way that music is distributed and I know we have to design a digipak to sell the CD for the final coursework artist even though I'm the only person in the world who still buys CDs...

Why do some publishers feel the need to sell their discs in plastic jewel cases, even though better options are now available?

The photos I'm using are for the sake of examples of how publishers have chosen to distribute their products rather than to comment on the artists featured.

First problem with jewel cases: this can happen.

Plastic can get scratched or cracked really, really easily. And when it does, it looks awful. See those two lines in the bottom right? They're there for good now, which is a major frustration for anyone who is fussed about the presentation of their music library (yes, my CD drawer is organised first by alphabetical order and secondly by year of release of the original copy).

Another issue is the general effort put into the presentation. Jewel case presentation is pretty much limited to the front cover artwork and the track list page on the back, whereas digipak presentation seems to be much more detailed. Let's have a look at a comparison -

The digipak looks so much tidier here - the way the inside artwork has been carefully cropped to fit the shape of the box, the way the booklet has its own little slot cut to shape, the way the disc is hidden away to improve the art's presentation whilst still being easily accessible etc.. It just looks so much more appealing than the typical "book goes here, disc goes here" situation we get with jewel cases.

There is the argument that it would cost more to produce more unique artwork for the insides of a digipak, though personally I believe it would still be more appealing than a jewel case even if they use basic cheaply produced graphics like simple snapshots of the band etc..

In my eyes record labels do need to realise that they need to put some effort in to persuade people that they're getting a better product in the long run if they own a physical copy of an album as opposed to just pirating it; and as someone with mild collection tendencies I feel more 'proud' to own albums which have had great care put into their presentation on top of their musical value.

Another point is the long time wear. Any CD case you own is likely to get a bit worn after a while; that's nature. It's just that from my experience digipaks seem to age more respectfully than jewel cases. Whilst card digipaks do get a bit dog-eared in the corners and some of the colour can fade, they don't end up being anywhere near as bad as scratch and fingerprint smothered jewel cases (all of which occur from typical everyday use).

Some albums try to counter this by having the jewel case inside a card cover -

- though this doesn't work. Why? Because the card gets tired out instead, due to the thin edges.

This is probably more of a random ramble than anything productive (yay for writing inspiration at half-past two in the morning!) but I think it's definitely necessary to look at the pros of the digipak format.


Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Porcelain Recreation Evaluation - Oh dear...

So I exported the final version of the Porcelain recreation today. It is terrible.

First thing I'm going to note: yes, this post is overly self-critical, even though I received a lecture about this kind of thing in Thursday's theory lesson. Reason? Because I would much rather reward myself exclusively for absolute perfection as opposed to settling for mediocrity.

I was supposed to be recreating a minute of this:

Instead, I spewed out this:

As the purpose of this task was to get a feel for how to go about creating the final piece I am going to look at each individual problem with this and hopefully highlight what I'd need to do differently in the final piece so it doesn't look like My First Final Cut Project in the way this... thing... does.

If we look at the eye shot which stays throughout the video, we can see one fault in particular: it looks like it was filmed with one of those Game Boy cameras from 1998. That's an exaggeration, but the point stands - the quality is really, really poor. I'm not sure whether this is down to the camera (the Bloggie) or the filming location (it was in my bedroom, which has poor lighting), but either way, it's something I need to work around.

The overlay shot, however, is of a good quality. This is probably because I resized it, so any blurriness the original had is not visible here.

Holy Arceus, I royally screwed this up. I can break this down into two significant problems:

1) The cutting away. Whilst in theory it would be possible to cut away at the overlay bit by bit so it looks like the eye is closing over it, it is not practically possible due to time constraints. It wants to render each time you make a cut - and when you only have about two hours with the Mac at a time this just doesn't work, so I took the easier choice and just cut it in and out roughly in time.

The result of this practice is that it looks absolutely AWFUL. It's like my head is just popping in and out randomly, which is completely out of place with everything.

2) Consistency, how does it work? Because I couldn't keep my head still in the eye shot, I've had to shift the overlay crop around at different sections in the video. It is highly noticeable, and it is WRONG. To avoid things like this I need to ensure that the cinematography is spot on to avoid having to use bodge-job editing techniques to work around it.

Honourable mention in the hall of failure: some of the lip-syncing if off. This only became apparent after exporting as the FCP window is fairly laggy.

In regards to make-up: no, I am not wearing mascara or eye liner. Ever. At all.

At least the song is nice, I guess.

So yes, I believe this shall suffice for an evaluation for this absolute abomination to the art of music videos; I think it's fair to say I'm highly dissatisfied with the outcome of this. I need to step it up.


Monday, 15 October 2012

Here we go buddy, here we go...

PowerPoint is the devil, but somewhat necessary in this case. This is the .PPT I intend to use for the sales pitch tomorrow. Yes.


Audience Feedback - I Am... All of Me

As part of the research and planning phase, I have taken to the wonderful world of the internets to find out what people think of the song I Am... All of Me by Crush 40. This is to decide as to whether the music video would have a potential audience, as well as to potentially observe what people's initial reactions to the song are, so I can shape the video in a way which compliments them.

I'm going to obscure the identities of those who have responded, out of respect for their privacy. Also be warned, there's potentially some naughty language in some of these screenshots.

First up, web forums. I'm going to start up with my absolute favourite comment - not because I agree with him (far from it!), but because I absolutely ADORE this man's writing style.

So, this comment definitely isn't in favour.

A reasonably neutral response; doesn't dislike it, but prefers other songs by the band.

Bear in mind that this man is a long time fan of the Sonic the Hedgehog videogame series (for which Crush 40 have recorded many tracks in the past), and so his thoughts reference that as well as the song itself. He's not a fan of the heavier feel of the song compared to Crush 40's earlier work

Now a comment from Facebook. Yes, just one. I need more friends.

A positive comment here - as with the first one, this is a comment from someone who knew nothing about Crush 40 prior to hearing the song, thus explaining the lack of comparisons to their other material. This feedback is necessary to receive as my artist will be a new artist; thus their reception will be based on people's reactions to this particular song, as opposed to whether they sound like early Crush 40 or not.

I also asked people on Twitter to share feedback -

This is a great reaction to Crush 40.

So yes, I will try to conduct further research after the sales pitch to incorporate any decisions I may make from the feedback from that. I also need more friends. But eh.


Sunday, 14 October 2012

I Am... All of Me - A look at YouTube comments

I had the crazy thought that it might be an idea to do some audience research for I Am... All of Me by looking at... YouTube comments. Yes, it may be a dumping ground for casual racism and homophobia, but at the end of the day, it does still give an indication as to whether people like the song.

I'm going to be looking through the comments of this video. Remember that this song was originally used in a videogame, so not all of the comments will be relevant - so I'll skip over those. Also remember that I am just copying and pasting the exact wording of the comments, so the views expressed are those of members of the YouTube community and not myself.

"1 person disliked this? Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?!!! He/She's gay."
News just in: your sexuality is dictated by your taste in music. If you dislike this song, it -obviously- means you're a homosexual... -_- Anyway, this person does like the song.
 To be fair, this is the same kind of reaction I had when I heard the song for the first time.
"So catchy"
Catchy songs can often be commercially successful as people remember the hook, so this could be useful for the sake of marketing the track/video.
"Awful game, love the soundtrack. But that's a given for most Sonic games."
Sonic soundtracks are always fantastic bar the GBA games and Chronicles so I'm in agreement. This person likes the song.
"Wow... This... Was... EPIC!!!"
 Another positive.
"do it do it do it... This is Very COOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL"
"Stupid Guy:I Hate The Game And This Song
Stupid Guy:Why Did You Puke?
Me:Cause Im Allergic To Trolls Like You!!"
...Interesting comment. Still in favour though!
"the most badass song ever"
Can also see where this person is coming from!
"when i mess shit up i always listen to this song"
I can't see what point they're trying to make here...

I've gone a few pages in and haven't found any overly negative comments about the song itself (though there is still plenty of aggressive hate towards other things like the videogame it's from and individual users, in true YouTube style) so I think in general the YouTube community are quite in favour of the song.


Thursday, 11 October 2012

I Am... All of Me video concept

As promised in the last post, here is the rough video plan I came up with yesterday with input from my friend Stephen (of 'Lawyer Who Gets Killed' from my AS prelim fame) -

So, I will now attempt to translate the above image to those who don't understand my rough notes from just throwing together ideas as I go along. The first thing to note is that the song will be 'performed' by a solo artist - so I need a cool sounding pseudonym.

Intro: this will be entirely performance. Artist is playing the opening riff on the guitar, because as I found from my research of existing videos one of the conventions of a rock video is the presence of guitars. The guitar in question? Would make sense to use a black guitar to fit in with the whole 'dark and edgy' feel of the video. Could go with either my Black Knight or my Jaxville -

Disclaimer: the Golden Virginia tin has a capo and some plectrums in it; I am not using my guitar case to smuggle tobacco or anything. It doesn't show too well on the photo here because of bad lighting, but the Jaxville has a flame texture on it which could add a bit of character to the video; though the Black Knight has a sweet dark matte look, which could make the video look edgier. It would also leave a very specific and nerdy (but cool nonetheless) intertextual reference - Crush 40 performed on the soundtrack of a videogame called Sonic & The Black Knight. Maybe I'm looking too far into things, but eh.

Opening Lyrics: Lip-sync performance element. The artist is seen performing the opening lyrics and we are introduced to some harsh lighting effects which alternate between extremely light and extremely dark. These will have to be added in post-production. If convenient it will be useful to film this in front of the green screen so I an edit in a 'void'-like background so it becomes easier to manipulate the lighting.

"Here we go buddy": During this section we are introduced to the narrative. Our artist plays the part of a guy who has beef with another person. In dark lighting we see the main physically threaten the second character, at which point the lighting adjusts to become overly bright (post production) and we see the main walk away. The lighting is now a conceptual idea used to represent the internal mental struggle of the main as he cannot decide whether to follow the 'good' path and leave the second character alone or take the 'evil' path and unleash his anger on them.

Chorus: Each chorus until the final one will be entirely performance featuring lots of close-ups of the artist - therefore the viewer will come to associate the most memorable part of the song with the artist's star image (as per Dyer's star theory).

Verse: This again will be lip-sync performance, with alternating light and dark lighting.

"Here we go buddy": Here we see the next stage of the narrative - the main character tries to attack the second character with a sword (not attack a sword, as the above scan's wording would imply...) but again wussies out as the bright lighting kicks in.

Chorus: Performance.

Breakdown: Main plots ultimate attack - he decides to use a gun and shoot from a distance, hoping his conscience won't stop him if he doesn't go near the person.

Final Chorus: Main either fires at the second character or wussies out again - I haven't decided upon which yet. I'd be inclined to have him actually go ahead and fire to make the clip even darker (thus cool, to the audience who are likely to be teens/young adults), though to anyone reading, your input would be appreciated.

So, what potential problems could I face? Firstly is the availability of props. If a sword/gun replica isn't that great, it doesn't just look bad, it looks AWFUL. Especially in a video which is trying to take itself seriously. Also, I need to learn to play the song on guitar to a point where I can convincingly mime it - and unfortunately, I am no Jun Senoue. I've sort-of worked out the opening, but I need to work on the other performance parts.

So yes, I still need to work on this.



So, where am I so far?

Porcelain Recreation
My critical review of this so far: absolute disaster. Was editing this further earlier on today and it's become apparent that even with the camera on a tripod there is still too much movement thanks to my awkward head. This means that I keep having to move the overlay around, whilst in the original video it stayed in the same place.

To be honest, "absolute disaster" is still a bit of an understatement. Next time I get a chance I'll export the thing and upload it and do a writeup on why I think it is beyond terrible and what I need to do to avoid repeating the same mistakes in future pieces. I know it's unprofessional to so openly slag off one's own work like this, but a) one must make mistakes to learn and b) claiming this to be anything more than a terrible video would be a complete lie.

Final Piece Planning
Am still working on getting some audience input on I Am... All of Me - this is taking so long because I am about as popular as the common cold. I did, however, draw up a concept of a potential narrative/performance based video with some input from my friend Stephen yesterday, and I have a wonderfully rough notes page I will scan in and post tonight.

We're also doing a mock sales pitch next week in which I'm going to propose some ideas for the final product and receive feedback on them - more information will come in time.