Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Ancillary Production - Poster (Final Version)

There. Done. Hopefully now I will never have to look at my ugly mug in Photoshop ever again.

Changes since the previous version I went over in Photoshop yesterday:

  • The error with the logo (not being aligned properly at the right) has been fixed.
  • The font of the text at the bottom has been changed to be consistent with the text on the back of the digipak (OCR A Std). This a) looks prettier and b) helps develop imagery which is maintained across the brand. But you know that, because I've mentioned it god-knows how many times on this blog.
  • This text has also had its opacity lowered a tad, so it doesn't look quite so obnoxiously out of place. Simple blending at its finest.
So that's that finished. Huzzah.


Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Ancillary Production - Digipak Shell



Holy 3000x1000 .png files, Batman! I'm sure these will take their sweet time to load, but I wanted to show them at a nice high resolution. I think they look pretty. Except the ones with my face on.

(Honestly, I've wrote about this digipak so many times now... I have no idea what else to put here...).


Ancillary Production - Final panels

Oh dark, the darkness that dozes in the dusk...

The flap which will lay on top of the disc upon opening the digipak.

The panel which will appear on the far right when the digipak is open.

I could regurgitate what I've said already about the whole dark imagery/guitar motifs again, but I think I've made the whole "branding" and "imagery" points clear by this point. I'll get these all edited together tonight.


Monday, 15 April 2013

Ancillary Production - More panels

Left inside panel.

Centre inside panel with disc. (There would be a plastic holder here; this image is to show off the design side of things).

The left inside panel is meant to be the simple artwork-only panel (technically there will be more of these but this is the first one I've finished!). Not really much to say here other than that it features the reappearance of Dark Flame's signature Black Knight guitar, and some wonderfully edgy grunge-type brush textures going on (by the power of Overlay blending!). 

As for the disc panel, it uses the close-up of the fretboard from my post yesterday; I figured it wasn't really worth using anything too flashy as it was going to be covered up by the disc. The disc art itself is one of the guitar stills with my face blended in. As the disc art isn't going to have much impact in terms of marketing, I thought my priority should be making it look cool; which I think I achieved in terms of the main visuals. The legal text not so much - I wanted it to curve with the disc so it didn't take up much space, but me and pathing aren't particularly good friends. Eh, it's kinda in place I guess.


Sunday, 14 April 2013

Ancillary Production - The Knight of the Wind (Inside panel photography RAWs)

Hey folks!

Last time I updated about the digipak, I mentioned I'd be putting some emphasis on the Black Knight for the inside panels of the digipak. I now have some photography to show off!

No, I was not under influence when I took these photos - they're at odd angles for a reason. I want to maintain the disjointed theme from the video within the digipak, for the sake of consistency. Not to mention that I think it'd be a nice touch.

This guitar is becoming a kind of motif associated with Dark Flame - Goodwin mentioned in his music video conventions theory that videos from artists tend to have recurring motifs; I've taken it a step further by featuring it across multiple pieces of promotional material.

Will get editing later on!

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Ancillary Production - Poster mk. ii

As I posted yesterday that I've updated the front and back covers of the digipak, I thought I'd show off how I've fixed up the poster a bit since the mockup post from a while back.

I will note that this is not the absolute final version of the poster. The font used for the text at the bottom is purely placeholder; I intend to use the same font as used on the back of the digipak for the sake of consistency; I just don't have access to it on my computer at home. Also, I feel that I could do with a bit of colour correction on my face - it looks a tad too dark on (my) right side.

So - changes? Well, I've updated to the digipak PIP to the completed version - no-one likes having an obvious beta work sticking out on a final piece, do they? Unless it's Sonic '06 where the beta versions actually look more polished than the final product, but I digress. I've also made it a bit bigger, so the thing we want people to be buying is more prominent.

The big change (that stands out to me) is the brush texture in the background. Now, I -could- have just ripped the brush layers from the digipak .psd, but instead I decided to employ a technique which is actually rarely used in the music industry these days, which is known as "putting effort in", and making new layers using different brushes. My main reasoning for this is that whilst yes, it is a good idea to have a visual link between the different promotional materials (as I've mentioned ~9001 times on this blog...) I feel that this has been achieved already by using the same photo, logo and fonts - and on top of this, the digipak itself is present, so having the exact same image twice would be incredibly redundant.

Now, onto something else - "why is it so simplistic?", you may ask. Well, I've been looking at some professional posters, and from what I've seen, using content other than the album art and logos doesn't happen much. Fear not, people with a fear of text, here's some pretty pictures for you.

A poster I actually own! Axel Rudi Pell's Circle of the Oath poster, pictured alongside the digipak for comparison. The poster is literally just the album art, with the logo and album name relocated to the top.  I would take a guess and say that this is because the poster is a gift packaged within the album as opposed to one designed to be placed in shops etc., so the primary aim is to look cool (which it does).


The poster for The 2nd Law, the Muse album for which I have previously analysed the album cover of. As with the ARP poster, this one too is just using the album art but moving the text to the top out of the way.

If anything, mine is actually much less simplistic than these two covers - my justification for this is that my poster is promoting a currently upcoming album as opposed to one which is already out, so it should be informative to potential consumers.

Final version to follow shortly.


Friday, 12 April 2013

Ancillary Production - Revised front/back covers

So, here are the revised versions of the front and back digipak covers. I've made the changes I said I would in the previous version's post, but the more observant folks may have noticed some more updates.

Firstly, the institution information is now present - it references "Metallic Records"; get it, because metal? I am so funny. But in seriousness, it seems appropriate because it describes the kind of music they sell. There is also an anti-piracy warning. No copyright law in the universe is going to stop me!

The more obvious of the changes? I've used some royalty free Photoshop brushes to add a bit of texture to both panels. Why?

Well, I was looking at the album chart earlier, and I noticed a bit of a trend:

Whilst following conventions can be useful to a degree, it dawned on me that an album isn't going to stand out on a shop shelf if there are two other albums which look the same. Because of this, it seemed appropriate to add a bit of uniqueness to the front cover. I then decided to add similar brushwork to the back cover to keep it consistant with the front.

Now left to go are the inside panels. I thought I'd initially prioritise perfecting the front and back covers as they are the parts which need to sell the album, but the inside panels are coming soon. Be excited; one of them has a closeup of my beautiful Black Knight.


Thursday, 4 April 2013

Production Update 10 - Draft the Second

With the feedback I'd received from Sir a little while back I've been able to get a second draft exported for your viewing pleasure. Or something. I don't want to make him feel too great about this after all, I've spent a good seven months now crushing his spirit but his feedback has been useful in prompting me to make some changes.

So as it stands, this is what my video is currently looking like.

Looking better, no?

Now whilst I could do my usual here and write up several paragraphs about "well, I've changed this because x, and I replaced that because y" etc., but I know you folks love a bit of dynamic media presentation. Therefore, I've employed the wonderful Picture-in-Picture tool in iMovie to have the first draft playing in sync with the new version so you can easily see the differences between the two (the big image is the current version, the overlay in the bottom right is the first draft).

It is necessary, however, to bring up a couple of notable points:

  • The intro has been changed as per Sir's suggestion of having a short shot to draw the audience in without the intro looking awkward.
  • I've thrown in a few rapid flicker cuts (such as those used as a transition between the first shot and the start of the performance) to make the video "more crazy". This was achieved simply by using the blade tool to make a few cuts to the overlay track, which were then deleted.
  • A few shots have been shuffled around to fix some of the syncing issues; though as these have been fixed, new and exciting syncing issues have been discovered which need fixing before the next export. Huzzah.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Production Update 9 - Initial feedback; plan of action

So... after posting my first draft of the I Am... All of Me video, I asked Mr. N. to give me some feedback on the edited product. And he did. Because of this, I will hold off of tormenting him for at least twenty minutes.

This feedback has prompted me to think about how I'm going to improve the video before presenting the second version. ANALYSIS POWERS, ACTIVATE!
"0:00 -- The opening seems to lack something. It just jumps straight into the middle of the performance. I know the song itself seems to just jump straight in, so arguably the video matches the music… but when I watch it, it just seems awkward. Check out “Heaven's Basement - I Am Electric” – it does nothing special but at least gives an idea of how openings can draw us in a bit more smoothly. You could even just start with a few seconds of noise in the style of your transitions, or perhaps use an establishing shot."
I can appreciate where this comment is coming from - the first thing we see in the video is that mid-shot of me with the guitar; there's no real opening. This can come across as a bit jarring. Let's look at the video Sir referenced:

The first couple of seconds consist of a shot featuring CCTV footage of people walking around. This shot is notable because a) not much is happening in it, yet b) the noise filter they've used over it is reused throughout the video. This soothes the audience into the atmosphere of the video without overwhelming them in the first few seconds, which draws their interest to it more effectively. This is a concept which would benefit my video and make it feel more professional, because in the state it is currently in it feels very incomplete. Whilst this is mainly because it is incomplete, it is also because it just throws everything at you right away without a proper introduction.

To fix this Sir has suggested using a similar effect to the one I've used for the transitions. Whilst this does make sense as it's following the same design concept as that of the I Am Electric video, I worry that throwing a few seconds of strobe light visuals in before we see anything else would be counterproductive to what I'm trying to achieve. What I do have up my sleeve, however, is a few seconds worth of footage of a close-up of my eyes which we filmed as an extra "it might be useful for something" deal. Usually when I produce things through this clause it usually rots away on my hard drive, yet this could actually be useful! Huzzah. I'm thinking I could try using a shot section of this clip over silence to create the somewhat intense atmosphere, then use a rapid flicker clip A/clip B/clip A/clip B etc. style cutting effect to 'warp' us into the main video as the song starts.

"0:15 - 0:18 -- The facial expression looks a bit bland. It just doesn't seem to match the intensity of the song. I think part of the problem is the length of time the shot holds. Close ups generally tend to be a briefer cut than medium/long shots. The two-to-three seconds you have here is perhaps too long, and brevity will help maintain intensity. I think it looks particularly awkward because it coincides with a moment when the music drops, so you should be trying to make the visuals more… can/t think of a word… more… more crazy (you have to love the technical terminology)."


This is something I was a tad conscious of before exporting, so it's nice to know I was right. The problem is particular is when we have close-up shots of my face which seem to go on forever, such as the one at 0:15 which Sir mentioned. Fixing this should be fairly simple; go back to FCP and cut down the close-up shots. Depending on how well it works in practice, I may also experiment with some flicker cuts when using the close-up shots, as this will (in theory) create more of an intense feeling, and make it "more crazy".

"0:00 – 1:00 -- Does there have to be your special transition between every cut? I’m not suggesting you reduce the frequency of the transitions as these seem spaced out really well, but perhaps you could insert a few more cuts, different angles or movements between the transitions. E.g at 0:40 you could cut to a split-second close up as you say the word “evil.”"

From this I can see the transition effect seems to be spaced properly, though it appears that Sir has suggested making some more things happen in between them. This is another thing which is encouraging me to try using the flicker cuts - as it stands I'm wary about using regular cut transitions purely because having regular cuts mixed in with the strobe transitions would look particularly jarring, in a "oh look, he forgot to put the transition in this time!" kind of way.

In terms of using different angles/movement, as it stands I don't have much filmed in the way of moving shots, so I'm going to talk Sir into helping me film tomorrow (TUESDAY 2ND APRIL), using some movement. This could be difficult as the wall we've used to film is quite small, but we'll see what we can do.

"2:21-2:23 -- the lip sync is slightly off."

The lip-sync is indeed off in quite a few spots; this can be fixed using the good old fashioned "left a bit, right a bit" method.

"0:00 – 3:08 – the balance between narrative and performance does not seem right to me. I guess it is a matter of opinion, but on the surface it seems that you just do not have enough narrative footage to sustain the video, and have tried to squeeze as much out of what you’ve got as possible. I would go so far as to say about 90% of the video is performance based. Any chance you can reschedule some narrative scenes?"

This is a very good point; most of what we're looking at here is performance - whilst this does fit the conventions of rock videos, the narrative could be fleshed out a bit more to make the video more interesting. One idea I've been throwing around for a while now is to throw in some conceptual shots showing things being 'harmed' in some way to support the main character's insanity, for example fruit being cut, or something being dug up etc..

"Right, now that I’ve picked holes in your work I feel much better about myself. I’m sure I can find more stuff too, but I’ll save it for the next edit. Until then, adios... and enjoy Paramore in the meantime."
Nitpicking is great, and as we know posting a message on the internet saying that you hate something makes you a better person. You should make a YouTube account; I think you'd fit in well with the community! Also, Paramore are great.