Thursday, 10 December 2009

Sam's Evaluation

The song we chose to create a product for was I Feel It All, by the folk pop singer songwriter Feist. She is well known for her ability to bring up feelings of nostalgia and happiness in her listeners, and this is something we aimed to achieve in our video.
This is the main convention of this genre, and we could identify this by watching previous videos by Feist, and other similar artists. This was one particular convention we didn’t want to challenge, but it was definitely something we wanted to include and develop in our video.
Our first initial idea was a lot more typical to the genre, strongly based around a linear narrative. The idea was to have a group of friends trekking through fields and forests etc, carrying instruments and other odd pieces of furniture, to then eventually set up at their destination and play the final chorus. This is similar to the video we ended up with, as they both start off slow, and build up to a big climax. This seemed the best way to get people excited, to want to keep watching the video to see what happens, and to thoroughly enjoy the end. Through this, audiences would see it, and show their friends; “You’ll never guess how this ends!” or “You’ll love the end of this video!”

Personally, my main inspiration for the video that we finished with was the video for “War of the Worlds” by Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. In this video, the lead walks into a warehouse, where he sits and watches an installation being set up, while singing the lyrics. As the song gets faster, he gets more aggressive with his singing, and as the music hits its crescendo, the instalment, now fully set up, unleashes a barrage of lightning and paint.
This fit so well with the idea of a build up and climax, and sealed the deal for me in choosing what kind of video to make.
The audition idea came from a brainstorming session. I had put forward the idea that we each stand in front of a white sheet, while singing the song. When, for example, we sang the line “wings are wide”, a pair of makeshift cardboard wings would be hoisted up behind us, or feathers be thrown onto us. From this came the idea that we would try to make it as hard as possible for the person performing to do so, and the idea branched off of that. Throughout the whole though process, I was adamant that we keep it so we see the studio set up, maybe shots of clearing up afterwards. It was my hope that these shots would give the video its individuality, and make it seem more light-hearted and fun.
The initial shoot went well. We booked out the studio space at a venue in Cambridge, where I work, called the Junction. We set up some spotlights and hung a large white sheet from the ceiling (filming all the while), and placed our cameras on tripods around the room. We each then took it in turns to sing the song, while the others threw all manner of things at, on and over us, trying to make it as hard as possible.
We did two shoots for the first two members; one static, one closer up, and one final take for the climactic shot. We couldn’t do more than one shot for this, as paint would get on everything and we didn’t have spare costumes or sheets, so it was vital we got it right. One camera was knocked over halfway through this shot, but the particular member singing at this point took it upon herself to shoot some close ups later on, to fill any spaces out.
I think we achieved all our aims in the final product, though some of our initial ideas had evolved and changed over the research and development process, I don’t think any of these changes were bad.

Our auxiliary products followed the same processes as our video, as we though about them side by the side. Our original idea was twinned with a similar nature based auxiliary projects, photos of forests and sunny days etc.
As our ideas progressed, so did how we imagined our auxiliary products would look. Our final product, using the visual motif of one of our characters covered in paint, struggling to sing, managed to group together the feelings of nostalgia and light heartedness together, by using dark spaces together with the bright colours of the paints and fonts used.
The use of the visual motif was extremely useful to us, as it gave a recognisable link between all of our media products. Audience members would be able to see it as a series, a collectable must-have to an existing fan, a good place to start for a new one.
The motif we used was a very carefully chosen one. We wanted to capture the whole feel of the video, but also a good representation of the artist.
I think we manage both these things, as the image definitely gives a good idea of how the video is going to be.
I had made an earlier draft idea for the digipack cover; at the same time we made the magazine ad. This first attempt was moodier and more atmospheric (I was trying to capture what I had felt Feist’s previous products give off), but at the same time it lost the lighthearted fun the magazine ad had. So as a group we decided to mix both of these together, and we ended up with our final design.
I did have some doubts about the motif initially, I thought that it gave away our climactic seen, but the positives outweighed the negatives, and I decided that this particular image would attract more attention, and maybe the curiosity, of potential buyers.

We received feedback on numerous accounts. We originally had to pitch our idea, and we received feedback on that, which was really positive. We then had feedback on our rough-cut, which did have some minor problems. The main one was the lack of close ups, and variation in the quality of the shots;
“You could possibly use more close ups to cut the time of certain shots.”
“I do feel there are long sections of the video that are in long shot and these are not as satisfactory as the close ups and parts where things are happening”
The close up shots were a problem, so we went out and shot more footage, on the college site. Originally, we set out to film more performance shots, but being in a different location, even with the right equipment the lighting still wasn’t right. So instead, we filmed some “pre-audition” footage, to enhance the narrative.
There was also a problem with shot quality. Not that the footage we captured was bad, but we used three different cameras, so each had a different colouration. In our final cut, we ironed this problem out by altering the colour contrast and brightness.
There were also some issues with lip syncing, a lot of our shots were quite long, so it was difficult to see what being said, therefore difficult to match. With some extra time and effort, we able to sort these problems out too.
The fact we got feedback on so many occasions was tremendously helpful, we could see our peers as a sample of our target audience, and pitch our ideas to them. We acted on every piece of feedback we received, and our video was greatly improved because of this.
We also received feedback on our auxiliary products. This was the main reason our first draft digipack cover was re-done. We did initially have doubts about it, but with the help of peer feedback we were able to confirm and act on these, changing the font and making or cover more like that of the magazine ad.

Technology was an enormous help, throughout all of the production process. We used Adobe PhotoShop from the start, and on numerous occasions, preparing a mood board for our pitch, putting forward design ideas and editing and developing our magazine ad and digipack ideas. There was a brief period when we were planning on including animation in our video, but due to time constraints and the amount of time that would’ve taken, it was unfeasible. But PhotoShop would have definitely have been a major part in that process.
Using the Blogger website helped us share our ideas, and keep track on how far we were through production. It was also extremely helpful as it made it incredibly easy to give and receive peer and teacher feedback. We could look at other videos and comment and even get inspired by them, and have the same done to ours. The fact we could sign in and work from home was also extremely helpful. If I had got an idea at home, that I could have forgotten by the next time we had a lesson, I could log onto Blogger and write it down right at that moment.
We used YouTube to research and watch Feist’s previous work and videos, to get ideas from them, and try to use these in our own video. We used it to research similar artists too, like Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly, and the video I talked about earlier. Without YouTube, we might never have gotten that idea in the first place.
With Final Cut, along with the many, many upsides to the program, there was one quite large technical hitch for our group. One out of three of our cameras footage wasn’t recognised by the program and was unusable, and at one point it seemed like we’d have to re-shoot. This wasn’t something we particularly wanted to do, especially seeing as it was a majority of our video, and being unable to book out the Junction again, we couldn’t have that footage in a different location. We were able, after three days of editing as best we could without that vital footage, to convert these files so we could use them in the program. That being the case, we still had to render these files every time we moved our edited them in anyway, which meant watching a two to fifteen minute loading bar, depending on how big the change to the footage was, every few minutes, which was a massive hindrance while editing. We persevered, and we managed to get our final cut in by the deadline.

In conclusion, I am extremely pleased with how this project went, and even though we hit barriers, some small and some high, we managed to get what I think is a pretty decent final set of media products completed, with the help of peer feedback, new media technologies and teamwork.

2 Responses to “Sam's Evaluation”

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