Monday, 21 May 2012

Online Age - Examples of 'the cloud'

The Cloud: Music is stored in the cloud, subscribed users can listen to that music. Users can also use the cloud to store music and create and save individual playlists. People can listen to music wherever and whenever they are, from a vareity of devices, as the music is stored in remote servers.
Listening to music is now going from a device-based system, which is buying music and listening to it on your iPod, phone or mp3 player, to a more access-based approach. This is when users can access music from huge music libraries stored in the cloud.

This launched in 2008, it is available for free but only a limited service is available. however for a monthly subscription which costs £4.99 a month for unlimited streaming of music and no advertisements. The premium which costs £9.99 a month, allows you to use Spotify on your phone as well.

French based music streaming service allows users to listen to music on various devices online or offline. Currently has over 15  million licensed tracks to listen to and over 30,000 radio channels. Users can also create their own library by setting up playlists or editing them with other users. It also allows you to follow an artist or add an album or radio channel to their playlist. With Deezer you are also able to share music and see what your friends are listening to. Deezer also has the same subscription prices as Spotify.

Rara, which has launched in 16 countries, said its research suggested that 60% of consumers had never used a digital music service. The organisation aims to simplify the process. For a monthly subscription, users can select and listen to tracks via their standard web browser. Its main competitor is Spotify, which has more than two million paying users.

New breed of online music download and streaming service, which allows people to stream and download for free and the artists get paid. Guvera was launched in 2008, music downloads are paid for by brands from a large music catalogue. It is run primarily from funding and this is the reason why users can download and stream for free. In 2010 Guvera was made available first to Australia and the United States, it is not yet available in any other countries as it is still fairly new and being tested. In March 2012 Guvera announced they will be releasing a mobile app soon, so users can access it from any device. Guvera has said it has plans to expand its content and include movies and TV shows for its occupants.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

'Representations in media texts are often simplistic and reinforce dominant ideologies so that audiences can make sense of them.' Evaluate the ways you have used/challenged simplistic representations in one of the media products you have produced.

I am going to discuss my advanced portfolio in which I created a music video, to the acoustic rock song 'Better Together', in relation to representations of my male artist and female character.

We challenged the simplistic representation of the acoustic rock artist, in our video by having an artist who is of an Asian ethnic background. This is because most of the artists signed to Brushfire Records, are not of an ethnic background. However this new representation of our artist in that label, reaches out to a wider audience, as more of the ethnic minority may become interested in our artist, Nathan Vega. Representations which become familiar through constant re-use come to feel 'natural' and unmediated. This could be why existing audiences of this particular record label, may see our artist as unnatural becuase he is from an Asian ethnic background and is not a familiar representation.

Another way in which we challenged representation was by portraying our artist in a less dominant way than the stereotypical male. For example we can see this representation through the narrative in which the female character comes to the male artist in the relationship at the end of the video. This shows that our male artist isn't very dominant, and can be seen as less assertive than a stereotypical male. This may appeal to a feminist audience as our artist can be seen as less of a stereotypical male, therefore making him different. However using the plurality model, we can see how a male audience would view the representation of our artist. It could be argued that the male audience may discouraged of our artists character because he is less assertive.
Also the nature of the song, being about love and relationships, can be seen to reinforce that representation of a less dominant male, when seen from a male audience's view. Another way representation can be said to show our artist being less assertive is the way he is seen as not taking himself too seriously. We can see this in the video when we see various shots of the artist having fun and laughing. These are seen in the black and white shots, where we see the artist behind the scenes, of his video, having fun and another shot where he jumps up in front of the camera.

However one way we have used simplistic representations in the advanced portfolio is through the female character. In the music video we see her gaze at the photo of the male artist quite lovingly. This suggests, from a feminist perspective, that the female character depends on him for her happiness in life. A feminist audience may suggest that the girl needs to be more assertive throughout the video, and maybe show she can still be happy without him. This representation would support John Berger's quote, 'Men act and women appear' as the women in the video can be said to just appear with the artist at the end, whereas we can see the male artist performing throughout as if she will just 'appear' at the end.

Another simplistic representation we used in this media product is in the was we chose to portray our artist to the audience. We used acoustic rock conventions in terms of our artists appearance, and we stuck to the record labels representation of these type of artists. For example we focused on his guitar throughout the whole video, and considerably in the digipak and magazine advert. To portray him as a laid back individual we made sure he was dressed very casually to give this impression. The hat was also to indicate this specific genre as similar artists of this genre were seen in this type of costume. In a way we represented our artist in a stereotypical way in relation to our chosen genre. This would appeal to a specific audience or social group, as these conventions are clearly seen, which could show our genre and convey our intended message prominently.

Representations in media texts can often be simple so that audiences can make sense of them. However I feel in our music video we have engaged with the pluralistic model in relation to our audiences, as we have challenged as well as used simplistic representations. 

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Online Age questions

1. According to this video, what was the music industry like in the 90s and how has it changed more recently?
In the 90s the music industry had big labels the drove the industry forward, television and radio were a very big part of that as they showed consumers what was out there. There were so many people getting signed in the 90s to all these mainstream labels, and there was such a wide range of the mainstream labels for them. This made it competitive, but it was and era that made it possible to discover an act before anyone else did. Now there is an even greater influx or talent and acts within the music industry, so this makes it harder to actually have mainstream acts. More recently many smaller and independent labels have been able to be successful because of they way they are able to compete with the bigger labels has somewhat equalised. Also the acts themselves are able to be in control of their career within music.

2. What are curators, such as Pitchfork and Hypermachine? What is their role? Why are they important?
Curators are essentially music guides for the consumers, to help them know what is good and what is not, also keep them up to date with what is going on in the music industry itself and the various musicians themselves. Pitchfork media is a online company who are dedicated to music criticism, commentry, music news and artist interviews. Hypermachine is also a website which brings together a cluster of information on the music industry from other blogs, and posts the most recent news from different sources all in one place for the consumers. Their role is too inform consumers about what is happening in the music industry and keep the up to date with the latest news, it also allows them to get involved more with the industry as these sites tell them what they can do and they best way of doing it. They are so important because there is so much music out there, so the curators are important as they essentially filter the music for us as consumers.

3. How can you link what this video says about creativity, video making in particular, to David Gauntlett's ideas and to the theory of the long tail?
The creativity in music videos is changing, therefore these new creations are what Gauntlett would say are 'niche' products. This is because there aren't a lot of these products, so people are viewing more of less in relation to the long tail, and as there is a wider variety of music videos these days, people tend to view less of more. This means that consumers are now looking for these 'niche' products more, as technology and ideas have developed further in the production of music videos, and your 'average' music video is viewed less even though there are more of them for the consumers to view.

Monday, 16 April 2012

1B Audience Question

For this question I am going to discuss my advanced portfolio, in which I had to create a music video, digipak and magazine advertisement for my chosen artist. My chosen artist was Jack Johnson, after researching him we found that his target audience was both genders aged between 18-28 and his genre of music is acoustic rock. The song we chose was called 'Better Together', we gathered research on Jack Johnson and the album that this song featured on, so we could establish a target audience for this genre of music.

To attract an acoustic rock audience we needed an insight into what conventions portrayed the acoustic rock genre, that would then draw our audience in. We looked at similar artists to Jack Johnson such as, James Blunt, James Morrison and John Mayer, by doing this we found the conventions that fit our genre of acoustic rock. The key conventions we found within these artists showed they performed mostly with a guitar in most of the video, this implemented the acoustic aspect of the genre. We also found that the main part of their videos were close ups of them performing, however the narrative seemed to be a small part of the video, but a narrative was still included.

Denis McQuail's uses and gratification theory, would argue that our music video tells the audience about the world around us, as it encourages people to be environmentally friendly, because the artist himself is. Our music video also allows the audience to feel they have a personal relationship with the artist, because the narrative within the video is quite simple and the audience can easily relate to it. When researching Jack Johnson we found that all his album's have something to do with nature, and during a tour of one of his albums he began selling eco-friendly clothes and was promoting environmentally friendly behaviour to his fans.

Stuart Hall's theory on encoding and decoding would be useful to apply to our music video as we have encoded many messages for our audience. Some of the messages we encoded in our video were about the environment, we encoded this through the main location of our video. Another message we encoded was the genre of the song, which we did through using the conventions of acoustic rock, performing with a guitar and a lot of close ups whilst he performed. The audience are then able to decode the video how they want, taking away messages they have made, through watching the video. If we have encoded the messages successfully then the product would attract the right target audience for this specific genre.

However the hyperdermic needle model would not fit in with our music video as the audience would not be passive to the messages incorporated in the video. These messages would only appeal to a certain target audience, therefore our audience would have to be active rather than passive. This is because our audience would decode our messages and chose whether to react in a particular way rather than instinctivly taking in the messages. Our digipak and magazine advert also incorporate generic conventions of acoustic rock, because we photographed our artist with his guitar and chose to use the same location in which we shot the video. This was because we wanted to continue the message of an eco-friendly perosn and encourage this behaviour further. By doing this we hoped that our audience would recognise what type of artist he was and that this would appeal to the right type of audience.
By using Facebook and YouTube mainly, we were able to gather audience feedback to all our ancillary task as well as our video. This proved to be helpful in some ways as we could then modify our ancillary tasks to better fit the needs of our audience.

In conclusion, I believe that our audience is an active audience rather than passive, which allows them to decode their own messages from our music video and ancillary tasks, to then chose, whether it appeals to them or not.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Describe how you developed your skills in the use of digital technology for media production and evaluate how these skills contributed to your creative decision making. Refer to a range of examples in your answer to show how these skills developed over time.

I will discuss how my skills in using digital technology contributed to my creative decision making from my foundation portfolio, a 2 minute thriller film opening to my advanced portfolio, in which we created a music video.
Final cut was the main programme, digital technology; we used to create both our advanced portfolio and my foundation portfolio. For our foundation portfolio we used the colour corrector to de saturate the colour of some of our shots, or enhance a specific colour within that shot. We chose to do this because we wanted to create a tense and thriller specific atmosphere to fit in with the conventions of our chosen genre, psychological thriller. In our advanced portfolio we used the colour corrector to enhance the feeling of the song in our music video; we added a sepia tone to the video as this linked with the lyrics of the song. We also brightened some specific shots because we felt this would enhance the genre and the character of our artist, which was very important to us, as appealed to our target audience.
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Photoshop was another piece of software we used in both advanced and foundation portfolio. During the making of our thriller film opening we decided to make a film poster to attract our target audience. Using a picture we had taken at one our shoots if the torture scene, which was also a shot in our film opening, we used photoshop to edit the picture and give it a sinister look to capture the genre of our opening. To do this we brightened up the main aspect of the picture, which was the victim, and darkened the background around him, and then we used bold white writing for the title and description. This allowed us to develop basic skills in photoshop which we could then advance further in our A2 production. The use of photoshop in the advanced portfolio was much greater than in the foundation portfolio as we had to use this software to create our ancillary tasks, digipak and a magazine advert. As we were already familiar with photoshop it made it easier to make our digipak in our A2 production. We started by using the basic tools we knew how to use from our AS production, we wanted our artist to be portrayed as an environmentally friendly person so we used the saturation to draw on that aspect. We increased the saturation to enhance the colour of the natural scenery around emphasis the environment around him; we also tried to use natural looking colours to reiterate the natural environment when deciding on our text colour. We made two different front and back covers for our digipak, this allowed us to develop our photoshop skills further and helped us in making our creative decisions, in which digipak portrayed our artist how we wanted him to be seen. We used the blur effect on the background of the picture of our digipak to make the legs of our artist and the guitar, stand out against the fence background, we also used the cut out tool to put an effect on the whole image. This represented the image we wanted for our artist as it showed him as an environmentally friendly person.
Web 2.0 was also very useful in our creative decision making as it allowed gaining feedback of various productions created using the photoshop and final cut software. For example once we had got a rough cut of our music video we were then able to upload it to Facebook and YouTube so others were able to see it and give us feedback which we could then use when creating our final cut of the video. We did not do this with our AS thriller opening sequence, we only uploaded it to YouTube for feedback, and had some of our peers to view it in school. Using new social networking sites made our creative decision making easier and more representative of our target audience. In our AS production we used blogger to document the whole of our production which proved to be useful as we were able to see the process of our production. We developed this skill in our A2 production because we were able to see what we should have done in terms of research and planning.
Overall, digital technology was a vital factor in allowing us to make good creative decisions in our A2 and AS productions as well as making our productions effective. 

Thursday, 29 March 2012

'Media texts rely on cultural experiences in order for audiences to make sense of narratives.' Explain how you used conventional or experimental narrative approaches in one of your productions.

I am going to discuss my advanced portfolio in which I created a music video for the soft rock song, 'Better Together' By Jack Johnson, in relation to various theories of narratives. 

One theory of narrative that explains how we used conventional narrative approaches in our music video is Vernallis. Her theory focuses on 4 concepts that relate to the way a music video is constructed. Narrative is one of the 4 concepts, Vernallis looks at a range of points when considering the construction of a music video and its narrative. 

A theory of narrative which our music video seems to challenge is Todorov's narrative theory. Todorov separates music video's into different stages. There are 5 different stages which he believes contributes to his theory, that the narrative must undergo a transformation, therefore the characters featured must undergo this transformation by going through a disruption. 

According to Vernallis theory of narrative we have shown conventional approaches in our music videos. Vernallis says that a narrative may not always be complete, it may be fragmented, partial narrative. Our music video complies with this as our narrative for our video is fragmented. Throughout the video the audience see the main male character alone, however the female character fragments the narrative as we see her from time to time, cutting into the performance of the male artist. This is fragmented because it does not happen at specific points in the video. Also the videos do not correspond to the lyrics as the girl is not with the male artist until the end, signifying 'better together'. The structure of our music video is disjointed as we have included still pictures of the video which would not fit in with a experimental music video according to Vernallis. Our video does not always use the narrative to drive it forward, for example we used different shots of the male artist performing. We also used still images to drive the video forward. this is how our music video fits in with the conventional narrative approach of Vernallis' theory of narrative. 

However Todorov's theory would say our music video challenges his theory of narrative. Todorovs first stage is equilibrium, which is when everything is as it should be at the beginning. Our music video challenges this as we begin it with the male artist alone. As the song is about being better together our state of equilibrium would involve our male artist with a female throughout. But in our music video the supposed state equilibrium is fragmented, this challenges Todorovs theory. In our music video there is no form of disruption that occurs as we can see the male and female are both happy throughout the video. At the end of the music video the male and female character come together and show meaning of the song being better together. This could be seen as the stage of new equilibrium, however due to the fragmented narrative of the performance and still images we can see how it does not fit with Todorov's theory of narrative.

Our music video shows conventional narrative approaches when applied to Vernallis' theory of narrative. However it does not fit Todorov's theory narrative as you cannot see a form of transformation throughout our music video. 

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Discuss how you used genre in one of your products

The product I am going to discuss in relation to genre is my foundation portfolio, in which I created a 2 minute thriller film opening. 
The genre of my film opening is obviously thriller, however our sub-genre's that we chose were revenge thriller and psychological thriller. Once we chose our sub-genre we had to begin to apply the generic conventions of a psychological/revenge thriller, by doing this it would be able to be recognised by our target/existing audience. Steve Neal said that ‘genre is a repetition with an underlying pattern of variations' which meant certain generic features had to be included and repeated which in my case was the use of a dark settings and flash-forwards which show the antagonist preparing tools which would be used for a torture against the victim. The pattern of variation is seen where we included the abduction of our victim as well as showing the torture scene, we also let the audience see a glimpse of the antagonist, to encourage them to continue watching the movie. 
For our research into our thriller sub-genres we watched many thriller openings which had the same sub-genres as our thriller opening. We felt we needed to do this as genre is what attracts the desired audience as Christine Gledhill says, 'Different genres allow different audiences to be identified and catered to..' as our genre is revenge/ psychological thriller we made sure it appealed to the right age group, 15-24 year olds. By incorporating the right conventions to highlight out genre, we hoped that it attracted our desired audience, this is why we felt it was important to research our sub-genres and why we tried to stick to the conventions of our genre. We found that genre plays a big role in relating to a specific audience, which is why we used our producers and distributors to help us. In our thriller opening we used the producer name 'Perfect Dark' the reason we chose to use this name is because we felt it reflected our genre and would help us further in attracting the right audience. Denis McQuail refers to the commercial and industrial significance of genres, and stresses that it is important as it helps target audiences or producers capitalise on the success of the product. In order for our opening to be a success in reality we needed to use the genre as one of the main elements to attract our audience and potential producers. 
However we didn't stick to the conventions of a thriller exactly, as the first scenes with the victim walking are filmed in a bright setting. This would conflict with the common conventions of a thriller genre, this is because you wouldn't usually associate abductions in a thriller to occur in daylight. This particular setting and scene could make audiences question our genre and the target audience could change as it doesn't show repetition within a genre. This is the first scene in our opening, the audience also see the victim being abducted in daylight which can also been seen as a conflict in our specific thriller genre. 
Our thriller opening uses genre very clearly and efficiently, as it uses repetition in my conventions and settings. My advanced portfolio shows how the use of genre attracted my target audience and how the use of specific producers can also effect how the audience would perceive the genre.