Monday, 25 July 2011

WS - Representation Of Women In Music Videos

The representation of women in music videos is an area of great controversy. Ideas and 'tactics of music video may often be described as insulting and maybe even humiliating to women. Strangely however, it is often female artists that use such techniques with people such as Lady GaGa, Rhianna and Madonna to name a few who are famed for such videos.

A theory that has often come up when looking at music videos is the "male gaze theory", which suggests that music videos will often use women with very little clothing on, who are also quite glamerous and 'busty'. The idea behind their inclusion is that they will attract a male audience or the male gaze. This kind of technique is common in music videos, despite arguably been degrading to women.

As can be seen with the previous point, women do not appear to be represented fairly in music video; they are certainly represented very differently to men. One complaint that we have come across in the study of music videos so far is that women are often objectified and are their bodies, they are not people in the same way as males are in the video but just an object.

The clothing and actions of women in music video represent that they are objects and, as with the majority of media, they have an effect on normal people, particularly the young. Music videos often seem to signify that women are rewarded for sexual acts, and that it is good to dress similarly to the female artists who many younger people will admire and look up to. This is a very negative view of women, yet seems to make the industry a lot of money. The idea that women can gain fame through dressing like this and behaving in this way is supported through cases such as those mentioned earlier in Lady GaGa, Rhianna and Madonna.

It would seem strange that female artists would agree to have themselves represented in this way as it is seen in such negative fashion, but as I have already mentioned it brings about fame and therefore money for the artists. One such reason that has come up a few times as to why an artist may want to make a controversial video is that if there is publicity surrounding it, maybe even as far as it getting banned or censored, then that will make people curious and interested in seeing the video. Having a video banned can in some cases make it more of a success for the artist, and while this and portraying women as simply objects there for the pleasure of men is making the music industry money, it is likely to carry onn for a long time.

To see more on representation of women, here is a link to a good powerpoint found on the internet. The presentation is not mine.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

WS - FishEye Lens

"Fisheye lens is a wide-angle lens that takes in a broad, panoramic and hemispherical image." [Wikipedia]
The above quote is taken from the Wikipedia page for Fisheye lenses. Fisheye lenses are used more in certain genres than others, for example "Rap" and "R 'n' B".

There are two types of Fisheye Lens; Circular and Full Frame.

Here is a quote regarding Circular Fisheye lenses:
"The first types of fisheye lenses to be developed were "circular fisheyes" — lenses which took in a 180° hemisphere and projected this as a circle within the film frame."
 And here is a quote for Full Frame Fisheye lenses:
"The picture angle produced by these lenses only measures 180 degrees when measured from corner to corner: these have a 180° diagonal angle of view, while the horizontal and vertical angles of view will be smaller; for an equisolid angle-type 15 mm full-frame fisheye, the horizontal FOV will be 147°, and the vertical FOV will be 94°."
 Both of these quotes were taken from the following page of Wikipedia.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

WS - Common Conventions of Music Videos

In the short space of time that we have been studying Music Videos for the A2 course, we have learnt a number of things about them, and picked up on many different aspects of Music Videos that are common and occur in a large number of videos.

Like in the Slasher genre that we studied last year, there are many conventions that frequently appear in different Music Videos. Some conventions can appear across all three types of video (Concept Based, Performance Based and Narrative Based Videos).

Conventions that seem to be appearing so far, and exist in the Music Video Industry include the following:

Camera Shots/Angles:

  • Close Ups - very commonly used in Music Videos to show the expression of the band/singer or the actor in the Narrative based videos. Can also be used to show lip-synching.
  • Extreme Close Ups - similar to Close ups, ECU's are used to show close up detail/emotion in the bands/actors as well as showing where lip-synching has been successful.
  • Long Shots -  Long Shots can be used to show the whole band in a performance, or a larger setting for a narrative based video.
  • Dolly Shots- Dolly shots are often used in Music Videos
  • Panning Shots - Panning Shots are often used to view the whole band without cutting the footage, or to show an extended area in a narrative video.
  • Tilts - Like Dolly shots and panning shots, tilts are often used to follow the movements of the bands/singers/actors.
  • Often very past paced editing is used in Music videos. For example, there are 162 different shots in the 220 second long Britney Spears Video, "Hit Me Baby One More Time".
  • The pace of the editing is almost always in sync. with the beat of the track.
  • SFX often used in Narrative based videos. 
  • Jump Cuts are the most common 'type' of cut in Music videos, as the idea is to 'jump' from scene to scene, band member to band member.
  • Reaction Shots - These are very common in Narrative based videos as they show the relationship between two or more people.
  • Often very unusual settings. Unusual settings make the videos stand out from other videos.
  • Iconic, standout characters and costumes are usual, again to make each video stand out and be original.
  • The mise-en-scene will often be linked with the lyrics of the video. Occasionally, what is happening on screen will have no link to what is happening in the song. If the video is Performance based, then it is likely that the mise-en-scene will include band equipment and microphones etc.
  • The mise-en-scene will often reflect the time of the video or the song.
  • The sound, obviously, is mainly the soundtrack.
  • However some videos may use SFX for sound, and may use some of the sound from the filmed action.
  • Various diegetic and non-diegetic sounds are sometimes heard in Music Videos, as well as the obvious music and vocals.

An additional, early list of Music Video conventions that I made in the first week of the project includes:
  • Male/Female Gaze
  • Actors/Dancers/A band
  • Glamorous Females/Males (depending on the Target Audience - fits in with the male gaze theory)
  • Interesting, abstract or strange settings.
  • A singer.
  • A narrative, a performance or some sort of concept.
  • SFX
  • Recognisable singers/bands or actors in the narrative.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

WS - HD Cameras and Final Cut

Although we are only a couple of weeks into the new course, and have only had short experiences of using the HD cameras and Final Cut, the benefits of both have been really clear already.

So far, we have shot footage for th Mini Vid and we have filmed the BritVid. Both have given us oppurtunities to use the HD cameras and to begin learning how to edit on Final Cut, which is far better and more advanced for editing in a more proffesional manner than iMovie.

The HD cameras, as you would obviously expect, give you a much sharper and better image. This was clear when we were filming our mini vid. While shooting shots looking through trees, or where the amount of light changes, the benefit of a HD camera was very clear. While a sudden change in light would have really affected the normal DV cameras, the HD camera adapts much better and allows shots where a sudden change of light occurs. In terms of looking through wooded areas, a common occurence in our short Min Vid, the image is much sharper and much more detailed.This means that the more subtle aspects of mise-en-scene will be clearer to the audience and will show the level of thought put into the setting for each scene in our music videos.

Although we have only had a brief introduction and a short attempt at using Final Cut, the massive benefits it holds over iMovie are shining through already. Final Cut allows you to add layers to videos and has a much larger selecton of effects and transitions that you can add to your footage. The added options should be very helpful when it comes to making our final product, as they will allow us to choose the most suitabe effect from a very large selection of effects. The effects also appear much more proffesional than on iMovie where they often seemed quite childish and amateurish, limiting what we could really choose when we were wanting to make a proffesional looking product.
In terms of cutting the product down, Final Cut is also very good. At the touch of two keys (I and O) you can edit the footage down by cutting what is in between the two buttons and using that small amount of footage. This is much easier than trying to cut down with the mouse and allows you to get a precise timing on when to cut the footage. 

So far from using this product, it does not suprise me that it has been used to edit big box office films, as the priduct is so obviously of a high quality.

If any other updates are required for this post when filming throughout the rest of the project, they shall be posted here.

WS - Three Types of Music Video

There are Three Types of Music Videos that are used in the business and we will have to decide on one of them, or maybe more, to use during our productions later in the course. The three are: Performance based videos, Narrative based videos and Concept based videos. The three types are the theory of Goodwin.

Performance Based Videos
A Performance based video is a video that features the artist/band/group throughout most or all of the video. This is probably the cheapest 'type' of music video to make, if you can find a suitable location or place to film.
An example of a performance based video is "Best Of You" by the Foo Fighters.

Narrative Based Videos
A Narrative Based Music Video is a video that attempts to tell some sort of story through what is shown on screen. It may or may not fit in with the lyrics, but generally would follow the lyrics in some way. They can often be used if a song features in a film, with clips of the film often appearing in the Music Video as well.
An example of a Narrative Based Video is "Always" by Bon Jovi.
Concept Based Video
Concept based Music Videos are videos that are based around a single 'concept' or idea. They generally take on an unusual form of filming or editing technique that splits the apart from the other types of Music Video. It is rare for there to be a Music Video that is purely conceptual because videos with a performance or narrative base generally get a better reception from the public. An example of a Concept based video is "Monkey Drummer By Chris Cunningham and Aphex Twin. 

Although the different 'types' of video are quite clearly set out, it isn't always so clear cut which 'type' a video belongs to. Many videos combine two or more of the types within the one video. A good example of this is "Black or White" By Michael Jackson. 

Monday, 11 July 2011

WS - Mini-Vid

A task that we have been set early in the course is to take an existing piece of Music and make a video for the track, without knowing of any video previously made for the song. We started off with a list of three songs to choose from and brought that down to one idea, for which we had to make a music video of our own design.

Our three options included:

  • Frankie Goes to Hollywood - "Two Tribes"
  • Jaydee - "Plastic Dreams"
  • Faith No More - "Falling to Pieces"
From this list we had to decide on one video to create an idea for and then carry out the whole filming and editing process. Our original idea was to use the song by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, but soon realised it would be exceptionally difficult to create the effect of two tribes realistically, as would have been our idea if we used that video.
"Falling to Pieces" by Faith No More was another option, but we weren't sure we could accurately carry out a narrative for the video. A performance video at this point would have been exceptionally difficult so we wanted to stick to a narrative based video.
For this reason we began to look at Jaydee's "Plastic Dreams". There are no lyrics in the song leaving the narrative aspect very open to our imaginations. 

We looked at a number of ideas and eventually settled on a chase video through the woods. 

Here is the final video:

This task was and will be very useful for our coursework for a number of reasons. There were a number of errors in the filming and preperation for the task. While it is never good to make mistakes, the positives from this task include the lessons we will learn, and hopefully won't repeat. Below are some of the lessons we learnt:
  • Preparation is key for success. We had to actually film twice because of bad organisation, despite the original idea been to just film the once.
  • Plan what exactly we are going to film. We didn't have a clear idea for what to film, and ths delayed everything and meant that we missed some shots that may have been useful the first time we filmed. We had a basic plan in mind, but a detailed plan is required.
  • Framing the shots is very important. We showed some examples of this in the video, for example shooting the footage through the branches of trees. However we didn't do as much of this as we should/could have done. This is another example of where planning would have helped.
  • The quantity of shots to take is important as well as the quality. The more variation you get when filming the product, the better the eventual video has the potential to be. Shooting shots from different angles is also an effective idea, the inter-cutting them in the product.
  • Costume adds verisimilitude. Again, a disadvantage of not planning enough was that we didn't have any proper costumes for the people in the video. This makes th video look amaeturish and is something we have to learn from.
All of these are mistakes that we can learn from, and we must improve them for our actual coursework. 

For comparison, below is the actual Music Video for the song. Please note that we had not seen this video when planning and creating our video for the song.

WS - Censorship on Music Videos

Censorship is a big issue in the Music Video industry. At times it can be very controversial with videos been edited for TV, moved to only late night screenings or banned altogether from appearing on TV on channels such as MTV (the most popular Music Television network in the US.

MTV has been accused by some as been too politically correct when it comes to what they will and won't screen. Shows such as Beavis and Butt-head have been moved to later time slots and edited because a child burnt down his house after watching the show. This is just one example of the sort of censorship that MTV does.

There is quite a long list of what MTV will not allow to be referenced in the videos shown on their channel. In the list are references to drugs, sex, violence, racism, homophobia and advertising. They completely edit out swear words. From this list there are a number of censored songs. There is also a relatively long list of songs that have been completely banned.

The list of censored songs by MTV includes some very famous artists. Michael Jackson's single, "They Don't Care About Us" had words replaced by other words (the words "Jew me" and "kike me" were replaced by the words "do me" and "Strike me"). As well as this song by Michael Jackson, songs by Lady GaGa(Poker Face), Maroon 5 (This Love) and Eminem (Guilty Conscience) have all been censored before been shown on MTV.

As well as Censoring songs, many videos have been moved to late night by MTV. Songs such as "Toxic" by Britney Spears, "I Miss You" By Blink-182 and "Hotel" By Cassidy have all been moved to late night showings only on MTV due to the content in the songs or the videos.

In more extreme cases, songs have been banned by MTV altogether. Hugely famous artists including Madonna, Foo Fighters and Queen have had videos completely banned by Americas top Music TV channel. The list of MTV videos in America is around the 40 mark. If you add the three sorts of censorship together you can see how heavily MTV does censor it's music videos and shows you that, when making Music Videos you must adhere to tight guidelines, or run the risk of the video not been accepted by one of if not the biggest companies in world music.

Friday, 1 July 2011

WS - What I have Learnt So Far...

From the start of the course we have been getting a basic understanding of the conventions of music videos as well as just looking at and learning about them in general. 

In the first lesson of looking at Music Videos, we all made lists of the typical conventions and things that we expected to see in a Music Video. The lists were varied between each person, but there was also common ground, where people agreed on what they expected in a Music Video. The following list shows a number of things that we would expect from a Music Video:
  • generally fast paced, quick cuts.
  • Actors/dancers/a band.
  • Glamourous females to fit in with the male gaze theory.
  • Mise-en-scene; interesting settings, abstract or strange backgrounds.
  • A singer.
  • Narrative or a performance
  • SFX

As well as conventions of Music Videos, we have also found out about the types of Music Videos such as Performance based and Narrative based videos.
  • A Narrative based video is one where the focus is on a story, where the video actually tells the story of what is happening.
  • A Performance based video is one where the focus is on the performance of the band, for example the band on stage and performing the song to camera.

In more general terms of music videos, we have looked at the history behind them, where they originated from and the basic history of the videos. This is very different to learning about the videos in themselves and has given us a broader understanding of the genre than we would have had from simply looking at Music Videos in themselves.

An example of something we have learnt about Music Videos in general is that "Video Killed The Radio Star" By The Buggles, recorded 1979, was the first Music Video to be shown on MTV. This was on August 1, 1981. By learning about this we have found not only where the Music Videos have originated from, but also the time frame we are looking at for when they first began to air on television and to the world.

A further bit of Music Video information we looked at included looking at "Scream" By Michael and Janet Jackson, the most expensive Music Video to date. Airing first in 1995 the video cost $7,000,000. We also looked at the fact that, despite some artists still producing very expensive videos (Lady GaGa for example), the amount of money is falling in the industry and the videos are been made on smaller and smaller budgets. A main reason for this is Digitilisation and how simple piracy now is with the internet. Because it is available free vis piracy, less and less money is being made from the industry and therefore less money is been spent on making the videos.