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Blaine Kenneally's A2 Media Evaluation
Transcript of Blaine Kenneally's A2 Media Evaluation
http://blainekenneallya2media.blogspot.com/2010/09/choosing-brief.html Ultimately, my decision to make a short film was driven by my preference of THE FORM and its CONVENTIONS.
Tom and I decided to work together again because we had similar ideas of what we wanted to achieve.
We wanted to create something that would AFFECT an audience; that would send tingles down their spine whilst making them THINK. ONE GENRE OR TWO? After deciding that 'selflessness' was to be the theme of our short, Tom and I began to draw on influence from books and video-games to construct the narrative, and from feature films to determine key shots and the blocking of scenes.
When we were given films to watch that contained certain directorial techniques (http://blainekenneallya2media.blogspot.com/2010/10/directorial-techniques-to-consider.html),
it became apparent that the biggest difference between features and shorts, aside from duration, was its relation to GENRE.
It was the GENRE of a film that determined the CONVENTIONS that the filmmaker should follow in making it. Is the film a protest against genre? NO! Although it is true that our film doesn't abide by the defining conventions of a particular genre, it would be wrong to say that it is a protest against genre. Without the influence of genres, our film would suffer a serious lack of content! Genre Genre Genre Convention Convention Convention Convention Convention Convention Convention Convention Film GENRE AREA OF FILM Mystery Thriller Noir Drama Narrative Cinematography / Shots Enigma of the protagonist's origins. Post-production Gradual release of information. Threat to the protagonist's well-being; sustains tension. Focus on the protagonist's motives, and the way in which characters relate to one another. Themes of pain and suffering; the underside of everyday experience. Fast-paced tracking/action shots of football game. Lots of close-ups and super close-ups of faces to convey emotions of characters. Scenes arranged in such a way as to tempt viewers' curiousity and draw them in. High-contrast monochrome filter used over football scene to show that the event occured in the past. Above is a table showing our use and exploration of the CONVENTIONS of our favourite genres across different areas of our film. IN SUMMARY... After a long and detailed post about GENRE in relation to short films, I came to the conclusion that: It was clear from our plans that our film, rather than perfecting a single genre, was going to combine elements from a few different genres. Mystery Thriller Drama Noir Convention http://blainekenneallya2media.blogspot.com/2010/10/genre-short-films.html Quick 'flashes' of various iconic images - rose in hand, gravestone. Planning & Research For the planning and research areas of the task, which are documented entirely on our blogs, a variety of technology was used to convey information in modern and interesting forms. For a start, the use of blogger itself as a form of documentation was incredibly useful and intuitive. Being on the internet, it is more readily accessible to a greater number of people, and this meant that I was able to receive helpful comments, not only from teachers, but from other students as well. I also tried to present the information WITHIN the blog in a VARIETY OF FORMS. For example, to document our progress at different stages of the production, Tom and I recorded 'Production Log' videos and uploaded them to video, before embedding the html code in our blog posts. To show word-processed documents such as scripts on my blog I used the 'slideshare' website. Slideshare allows users to upload office documents such as word-processed text or slideshows, and it transforms these into internet-friendly boxes that work using adobe flash player, so that they can be embedded into blogs and websites, as the picure to the left illustrates.
Slideshare is great, because it allows readers to browse documents in the format they are already aquainted with. Of course, a less unique technology of just as much importance is that of digital photography and image transfer.
A lot of our initial planning was recorded roughly with pencil on paper, so it was useful to be able to take photos of these plans and upload them,. as shown in the screenshot to the left.
The screenshot on the right show images being used to illustrate the cinematic style of certain films, and also simply to make research posts more interesting. The ability to embed videos from Youtube and Vimeo was also very useful when I wanted readers to be able to see the very techniques I was discussing for themselves. Construction Main Task To record background sounds or 'wildtracks', we made use of a shiny new professional, solid-state sound recorder and sensitive multi-directional microphone recently purchased by the media department. For the main task of a five-minute short film, Tom and I filmed using the video function on the Pentax-Kx, a low-end SLR camera. We decided to use this rather than an ordinary camcorder from the school for two reasons. Firstly, it shoots higher quality footage; it records in 720p HD, and the sensor is larger and more advanced, so more detail is picked up, even in terms of depth of shade and colour. Secondly, IT IS AN SLR! This means it comes with an adjustable lens that can be MANUALLY FOCUSED as we record. Depth of field affects and focus-pulls were something we were incredibly keen to utilise, and so the SLR was the perfect piece of hardware. Editing For the main bulk of our editing, we used Final Cut Express, a slightly stripped down version of some professional editing software. This was practical to use, because it is installed on all of the school's Apple computers, so we could load up our saved edits on any of these computers at any time. Final Cut also provides a great amount of ways that footage can be tweaked, with the precise colour-corrector and the ability to add audio keyframes proving particularly useful. To edit, we used two editing programs in conjunction. Both Tom and I had had more experience working in Sony Vegas, so it made sense to use Vegas for processes we already knew the 'ins-and-outs' of. For example, I created the title and credits in Vegas, because I already knew how to go about animating text in this program. I then exported the clips as .mov, stored them on a flash-drive, and imported them into our Final Cut document at school. Evaluation You're looking at it right now! If it isn't already apparent, Prezi is a great way to present the evaluation for a number of reasons.
It is FREE to use.
Anyone on the internet can view it.
It can be embedded in blogs and websites.
It is fresh and lively compared to the ordinary 'slide' presentation format, and so viewers are more likely to take information on board.
Its ergonomic design makes it intuitive to use, freeing up the creator's imagination and allowing for more freedom in the way the information is conveyed.
It is INTERACTIVE; viewers can either follow the recommended path, or clikc around at their own leisure! I used Adobe Photoshop for the construction of the poster, not only because I had had earlier experience using it, but because its capabilities go beyond those of most image manipulation programs. One of the most basic of internet technologies, email, was incredibly useful when sending different versions of my reviews to Tom for him to compile with the rest of the Magazine Review Page. All that was needed was a way to transfer text, and Tom was able to quickly and easily copy text from my email and paste it into the publishing program he was using. Ancillary Tasks Poster Narrative For a short film, our narrative is unconventional in many respects:
It spans five scenes in a variety of locations, rather than one scene in one location.
It is quite complex, rather than simple.
Rather than providing a small amount of light entertainment, the film is quite heavy in terms of content and themes; it encourages the audience to think, and viewers will benefit from multiple viewings.
Obviously, though, conventions exist for a reason, and that is because they WORK. Many would argue that short films SHOULD ALWAYS offer simple, light entertainment, because that's what audiences expect from them. The challenge Tom and I faced, then, was to present our 'heavy' content to the audience in such a way that they would not reject it. We had to make viewers accept our narrative in the same way they would naturally accept the content of any 'normal' film. Inspired by Christopher Nolan's 'Memento' (2001), we decided to focus the narrative around one character, and convey the meaning of the story through his INTERNAL MONOLOGUE. The entire internal monologue script, and an explanation of its meaning and my creative choices, can be found here: http://blainekenneallya2media.blogspot.com/2011/03/internal-monologue-script.html In comparison to those of a short film, the conventions of film posters may be less apparent, but they are just as important.
In its most basic form, a poster is a SIGN. This means that the conventions of a poster are intextricably linked to SEMIOTICS. Ultimately, Tom and I wanted viewers to engage with our product in the following way: Semiotics Semantics Syntactics Pragmatics The relationship between SIGNS and the SIGNIFIED. The formal or structural relationships between signs. The relationships between signs and interpreters. The focus on the title 'Penumbra', with the images seen through the letters, and the presence of the blurred figure in the bottom all add to the sense of mystery surrounding the product that is the film.
We used the ambiguity of the poster both to CONVEY the mystery of the film, and also to CULTIVATE an enigma surrounding the film itself. We created the poster in a 'classic' or 'typical' style, because we wanted viewers to instantly be aware of what kind of product the poster was advertising.
Below are some examples of 'classic' or 'typical' film posters that illustrate the kind of look we were going for. In order for the poster to actually APPEAL to our target audience, it needed to relate well to our audience; it needed to convey the notion of our film effectively and efficiently, ideally at a glance.
Working in awareness of the 'TWO-STEP FLOW' effects model, and the successess of VIRAL MARKETING, we contstructed a poster that allowed for a slow release of information. FIRST GLANCE: Gets the notion that the film is of a mystery/thriller types from the ambiguity and the presence of the colour RED.
SECOND LOOK: Makes presumptions as to the content and narrative of the film after noticing the presence of the blurred figure in the corner and the images seen through the red text.
SPREADING WINGS: Looks up definition of 'Penumbra', talks about film to others, perhaps posts poster to social networking sites or blogs. http://blainekenneallya2media.blogspot.com/2010/11/poster-for-short-film-semiotics.html Magazine
Review Page Founder of 'Shorts International' Carter Pilcher evidently thinks of short films in this way, as illustrated in this excerpt of an article by Ryan Nakashima: For our product to be classed as a short film, we would need to abide by the DEFINING CONVENTIONS of THE FORM. But for our product to have the impact we wanted it to, we would need to REINVIGORATE THE FORM in some way; give our audience something NEW and DIFFERENT; something they could talk about. Therefore, we would have to pander to the DEFINING CONVENTIONS of a short film, but defy the STYLISTIC and AUTHORIAL CONVENTIONS that have become associated with THE FORM. Use of RED text against BLACK & WHITE Images within text, use of BLACK background, use of RED and WHITE text. Clear, central title. WHITE on BLACK (high contrast). Layering of images to tempt curiousity. Images within text. For the magazine review page, we had to approach the form and conventions very differently.
The results of our Audience Questionnaire had shown that most people would like to see reviews for short films as a new, permanent feature in an existing film magazine. Consequently, we decided to construct the page as if it was to appear in an actual edition of EMPIRE magazine.
In order to produce a realistic EMPIRE magazine page, we needed to fully abide by the conventions of the form that EMPIRE has established for itself. This involved focusing on three key areas: Content Layout Writing Style / Diction Because the results of our Audience Questionnaire revealed that readers preferred larger, in-depth reviews to shorter, concise ones, we decided to have a detailed review of our own short film filling half of the page.
Going against the reader preferences according to the results of our Questionnaire, Tom and I decided to fill the other half of the page with two shorter reviews. We did this because, realistically, if EMPIRE were to dedicate a section of their magazine to short films, it wouldn't be massive, so they'd probably have at least three reviews per page.
Other considerations for content revolved around details specific to EMPIRE, such as a box above the review with information on the film and a clear 'star-rating' at the end of the reviews. The layout was probably the simplest factor to take into consideration, but we were also aware it was central to the realism of our review page; it is the layout of content on a page that a particular magazine or newspaper will adopt as its most fundamental trademark style. Therefore, we needed to replicate EMPIRE's layout as accurately as possible.
During the construction and compilation of the review page, Tom made sure this was so by having our page and an actual page from EMPIRE side-by-side, so that he could constantly compare them and adjust them, a bit like playing a reverse-engineered game of 'spot the difference'. The most subtle factor we had to replicate was that of the way in which the reviews are written, and Tom and I made sure our's matched up to the real thing by reading plenty of EMPIRE reviews and taking their use of language and sentence-structure on board. Factors for Consideration With our subsidiary products of a POSTER and REVIEW PAGE, we tried to stick as close to conventions as we could, because we were utlimately trying to ensure they fulfilled the purpose of their product-type. In the POSTER, the purpose was to advertise the film, and in the REVIEW PAGE, the purpose was to review short films in a way consistent with the rest of the magazine. With our main product of a short film, we had more freedom in terms of the way we responded to conventions. Using GENRE as a starting point, we picked and chose certain conventions to combine, and certain ones to abandon. This has resulted in a product that fits the FORM of a short film, but which is also NEW and DIFFERENT enough to warrant interest from our audience. Overall, I feel my conception of a 'CONVENTION' has changed. Whilst it is undeniable that conventions work as RULES that SHAPE trends and GUIDE production processes, they also play another important role. Since making the film, I have felt more inclined to view conventions as a RECORD of PAST trends and processes, which can be used to reveal NEW and DIFFERENT artistic opportunities for the FUTURE. Recurring Images Recurring Themes Resultant Effect Differing
Insights Of course, recurring themes and images are both good ways of LINKING the products, but they're not going to work as stand-alone texts unless they provide audiences with something that the others don't. Otherwise, there would be nothing encouraging audiences to engage with all three products. Each product needs to offer our audience some kind of new insight or alternate perspective. Short Film The film itself is the experience we are offering the consumer. It is unique because:
It reveals what the poster and the review were based upon.
It is the only product designed to immerse the audience; to offer some kind of escapism.
It is the only product built to actually entertain; the other products were built to advertise and analyse. Magazine
Review Page The magazine review page takes an analytical perspective. It is unique because:
It looks beyond films as they are designed to be seen, into the way they have been constructed, and then it evaluates the processes, explaining what works and what does not.
It includes information on other films, not just our own.
Its main purpose is to inform, rather than to advertise or entertain. Poster The poster is a useful tool in the marketing of the film. It is unique because:
It acts as a summary of the film, albeit a non-informative one that leaves viewers with a thirst for the actual film, or more information relating to it.
It places more emphasis on style rather than substance.
Consumption of the poster and consumption of the film aren't necessarily contingent; posters can be regarded as works of art in themselves. This is unlike the review, which requires the film in order to have any meaning. The advertising industry knows that repetition helps to cement a thought in a person's mind. That's why we're bombarded day-in, day-out with pretty pictures of the same products along with the same cheesy taglines and the same catchy jingles.
Therefore, Images and Themes that recur across our products are sure to build some kind of representative identity that binds and defines them. Poster + Film Being a sharp, visual representation of our film, it seemed only sensible that we incorporated as many images from the actual film as was suitable. The Enigmatic Protagonist Being central to our film in all so many ways, the protagonist needed to feature in our poster so that viewers would been drawn to our film out of curiousity as to his identity.
To encourage curiousity, we used a shot which is blurred, and from behind. We only showed his face in a part of the red text, as seen above, where viewers would hopefully not notice it immediately. The Graves Although they are not enormously significant in our film, the graves work well as a reference to conventional horror/mystery films. The graves are visually iconic, and they appear in both the poster and early in the film to give the audience an idea of what they could experience, either from continuing to watch the film or going to watch it. Review +
Poster + Film Due to space limitations, our review could only include one image, so the one we chose needed to be of utmost relevance. The Rose in the Hand The rose in the bloodied hand was chosen, not only because it is visually striking, but because it is from a symbolic sequence in the film that Tom and I want to stick inside the audience's minds.
Compared to the usual images in magazine reviews, typically expressive shots of actors giving a glare, a smile, or having a weep, the rose shot jumps out, disturbing the reader slightly to cement the identity of the film in their mind. (Not entirely apparent in the poster, but still, the interesting shapes certainly add to the enigma!) The General Enigma Whether it is the absence of an explanation of the bloodied hand in the review, the vague nature of the narrative in our film, or the unclear images behind the text in our poster, all of our products maintain a general enigma as to what it all 'actually means'.
Tom and I were mainly targetting people from the age of 15 and 24, who consume media largely according to the two-step-flow effects model, wherein information about the product is actively researched and expressed by audience members.
Our cultivation of the enigma exploits that fact that such people will have the urge to actively search for meaning in the ambiguity of our products, in effect marketing our film free of charge. Red: The Colour of Pain Red is a highly connotative colour in all respects, signifying almost anything from lust to danger depending on the context in which it is used, and blood is an equally connotative substance, relating closely to identity and matters of life and death.
Red features most heavily in our poster, primarily to grab the attention, but also to connote, along with the graves, the idea of pain and injury, which is incredibly important in our film. We tried to convey the relevance of
In the film itself, bright-red fake blood is shown in the symbolic 'rose in hand' sequences; the only colour in the black and white footage. The purpose of this, aside from signifying the transference of pain, is to shock the audience, breaking up the pace of the film to keep the viewers' attention glued firmly to the screen. Ultimately, of course, all of this work on each product isn't going to be worth it unless the products, when combined, produce a RESULTANT EFFECT. On a THEORETICAL level, all of the products add to the distinctive notion that DEFINES our main product as: A thought-provoking peice of film that is as deep in meaning as it is visually interesting. On a PRACTICAL level, the combination of the texts will guide the way in which our audience ENGAGES with our short film. Below is an example of a perfect way in which a member of our target audience may engage with our products. SEES POSTER Wonders what the film is about.
Discusses poster with friends.
After seeing the poster a number of times, they begin to actively look out for more information on the film. READS REVIEW Having found a magazine with a review of the short film, the consumer reads the review and mentions it to friends.
Some of the friends become interested and also look for information, some reading the same review. WATCHES FILM The group of friends decide the film seems interesting enough to warrant a viewing.
If this weren't merely for a media project, they may pay to see a group of short films at a festival or at an art-house cinema, or they may pay to download the film via iTunes from a distributory institution such as Shorts International. Gaging an audience's response to a product can be very helpful for a variety of reasons. During production... ...audience feedback is useful for guiding art direction and stylistic approach. This feedback isn't always carried out formally, and could be as simple as asking a few different people which colour they prefer for the text on a poster.
Once they are underway with a task, this kind of feedback allows producers of media to understand more specifically what their target audience are looking for, so that they may shape their product accordingly. Tom and I managed to get this kind of feedback using an online questionnaire. After production... We ensured the questionnaire was user-friendly by splitting the questions up into sections and giving an explanation for each of them. https://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?formkey=dDM1UjZ5THM2VnN3TzBUMjB3N1J5N3c6MQ https://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?formkey=dDM1UjZ5THM2VnN3TzBUMjB3N1J5N3c6MQ The organising of data by Google Forms ensured that the information we received was easy to interpret, whilst the high specificity of our questions meant that Tom and I weren't left wanting to ask more and more questions. A detailed explanation and analysis of our findings is here: http://blainekenneallya2media.blogspot.com/2011/02/quantitative-audience-research-analysis.html We wanted to get as many people to answer the questionnaire as possible, so as well as asking people face-to-face and providing them with a link, we posted several links to it on facebook, asking people politely to take some of their time to help us out. We tried our best to get responses from people of all ages, and although we struggled to get as much variety as we would have liked, comparing answers from adults in work and young people in education was very helpful so that we could see the 'taste-boundary' we were trying to bridge with our audience of people between the ages of 14 and 50. In an early post on Audience, I stated that: So, for Tom and I, audience feedback had two purposes:
1. We could use it to further specify our audience; to target them with more accuracy.
2. To gage the success of our products. ...audience feedback can be used to determine the success of the products. This kind of feedback is usually taken in 'test' or 'preview' screenings held by the media institutions themselves. Producers will usually be in the room when the film is shown, to gage the audience's immediate response, and will often then ask direct questions to gain a deeper understanding of the audience's reaction.
This process isn't necessarily used just to measure the success of the products themselves; it can also test whether the correct audience has been targetted. Audiences of different ages, for example, could be shown separate screenings to determine what age-group the distributor should REALLY aim to supply the product to. Short Film Magazine
Review Page Poster For the poster for our short film, the feedback was overly positive, with most of the comments revolving around the following points:
Great, classic film-poster design makes it clear what is being advertised.
The lack of explicit information makes the poster mysterious, making viewers feel encouraged to look out for further information.
The layering of images means that each time you return to look at the poster, something more is revealed to you.
After seeing the short film, some audience members felt that the poster misrepresented the film. When Tom and I asked them further questions, we found that it was the prominence of the red in the poster that made these audience members expect a film with a darker visual style. (Picture in review) Ultimately, this 'misrepresentation' wouldn't affect the success of a film in reality, because by the time the audience member realises the film isn't what they were expecting, they have already paid for their ticket. That said, Tom and I WERE targetting active viewers who would discuss the film with others, and so it is inevitable that audience members who were disappointed by what the film actually offered would talk about this to others, thus having a detrimental effect on the film's reputation, and perhaps subsequently an effect on its viewing figures. Similarly to our poster, our review was overly well-received, and the recurring comments were as follows:
The layout mimics that of EMPIRE well, so the page feels authentic. (When we asked, the page was placed inside a real EMPIRE magazine for comparison, and one person thought the page was actually a part of the magazine!)
The written style is appropriately intellectual, fitting both EMPIRE magazine and the subject of short films.
The idea to construct this as a new, permanent section of EMPIRE magazine was good, because EMPIRE readers are the sort of people who would go out of their way to watch short films, and because people who like short films would be likely to look in magazines such as EMPIRE looking for reviews for these films. For the main product of our short film, we gained audience feedback by organising screenings for different audiences. The significant positive and negative points made are shown below. POSITIVE NEGATIVE Almost all of our 'media aware' audience members said that the film had confused them, and one or two of those thought that the confusion was detrimental to their viewing of the film. We wanted the film to confuse people slightly; to the extent that they were properly engaged in trying to figure out what is going on, but not so much that they stopped enjoying the film. Perhaps Tom and I have tried to cram too much ambiguity into too little a period of time, and if we had all the time we wanted to spend on the film, we would be sure to remove some of that ambiguity by adding more specific details, and perhaps even more scenes, but this would definitely extend the running time far from the five-minute mark. Bad Confusion Some viewers who said they were confused thought that this was a good thing, as they felt this prompted them to talk about the film to others and to watch it again in their own time. Good Confusion Most of the audience seemed to like the film for the array of shots used, and there were no complaints about dodgy camera movement or bad editing. Interesting Visual Style Outside of the screening, a teacher remarked on the quality of the sound editing throughout our film, for the ambient noises, diegetic speech, and the internal monologue. With sound playing such a major role in our film, I'm glad that the efforts of Tom and I to get it right have paid off. Good Sound Is that really a film? One 'ordinary' audience member we showed the film to thought that it was, in fact, a trailer. This was partly because of the ambiguity of the film and the subsequent confusion, but also because of the use of slow 'fade-to-black' transitions, which are conventional in modern trailers for thriller/mystery features. This problem was not mentioned more than once, however, so it does not seem to be an enormous problem. Use of Black & White Outside of the actual screening, one person told us that the switch to black & white for the second scene was not noticeable enough. Again, with more time, Tom and I may have corrected this by increasing the saturation in the coloured scenes, but no-one else mentioned this problem to us, so perhaps it is not a large problem. Worked For Target Audience Most of our 'media-aware' viewers were in agreement that the film would appeal to our target audience of intellectual, active viewers between the ages of 14 and 50. They also thought that our film would work well in conjunction with the 'two-step-flow' audience effects model, whereby the audience members' discussion of a film results in the proliferation of that film and any information about it. In Summary... The film hasn't been received quite as well as I had hoped, which makes me wary of labelling it a 'success.' The film is, without doubt, more surreal than we ever intended it to be, probably because Tom and I began to take more inspiration from the films of David Lynch than we ever thought we would.
Perhaps the audience are driven to confusion because the giddy mixture of styles and influences leaves them unsure as to where they stand in respect to the film. In blurring the conventions of genre, Tom and I may well have created a peice of film that is simply too experimental for any kind of maintstream audience to enjoy.
If Tom and I had all the time we wanted, and there were no restrictions on running time, things would obviously be a lot different. If the short were extended into a longer film, perhaps lasting between 10 and 30 minutes, a more detailed narrative could be conveyed, and there would also be time for some closure on the mysteries, which might make the confusion less of an issue. Moreover, with a longer film, one genre would have surely risen to dominate over the others present in our film, and so audiences may have been more accepting of it as something they could enjoy watching. Emotional Involvement Tom and I wanted the film to be emotionally engaging, and a few of our viewers noted that dreamy, melancholic atmoshpere of the film made them feel quite sad. Words AND pictures?! Some audience members said that they found it difficult to take in all of the visual elements of the film along with the internal monologue. I have classed this as a 'negative' because a lack of understanding is obviously detrimental to a single viewing, but equally, it could be classed s a positive, because the same people said they would feel prompted to watch the film again so that they could take in the monologue. Recorded footage of some of the feedback sessions can be seen here:
http://blainekenneallya2media.blogspot.com/search/label/Feedback Evaluation The Brief Create a short film in its entirety, lasting approximately five minutes, which may be live action or animated or a combination of both, together with two of the following three options:
a poster for the film;
a radio trailer for the film;
a film magazine review page featuring the film.