Below is a download of the evaluation of my final media product, I’ve also included the evaluation as a post so you can either read it straight off the blog or download.
Media studies evaluation
In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms or conventions of real media products?
For my two-minute opening I have chosen to set my films genre as science fiction creating an action/science fiction homage to the weird but consistently wonderful world of 80’s cinema, a seemingly challenging genre and theme due to its vast range of set expectations, codes and conventions all of which can be developed and challenged to produce an innovative final media product, something I will be aspiring to produce. Whilst challenging forms, codes and conventions is key, I also felt that to an extent, conforming to some conventions and codes of a real media product belonging to the science fiction genre would be essential in establishing my two-minute opening as part of said genre. As an easy to follow narrative had to be established in the first minute or so of my opening scene allowing time for the audience to identify specific characters as good or bad setting the film up for possible plot twists, flashbacks or the general continuation and progression of the films narrative. I found that Vladimir Propp’s theory of how each character has a narrative function was helpful with identifying who each character is i.e. the hero, the villain etc. Now as my “film” is only actually going to be the two minute opening I think that the early establishment of every character wouldn’t be an effective use of Propp’s theory and so with I have incorporated some enigma codes to create some mystery surrounding each of my characters in particular my protagonist Thunder Eagle as I don’t want my audience knowing if he’s a good guy or a bad guy from straight off the blocks. However in some other cases such as the Detectives, I will be using some obvious mise en scene techniques and visual codes to present the character as a ‘good guy’ i.e. the patterned shirt and rolled up sleeves etc. making him easily identifiable to the audience but still retaining an element of mystery for example ‘how do they know each other?’ and so on, I feel that these enigmas are key to a films opening scenes success.
In order to use, challenge and develop conventions of real media products I relied heavily on the research I conducted at the start of my blog, Identifying typical features of the science fiction genre. An example of how I used a convention of the science fiction genre in my final media product is through the mise-en-scene, more specifically the futuristic eyepiece worn by my protagonist and focal point “Thunder Eagle”. As a typical convention of the science fiction genre is the introduction of futuristic and innovative technology for example fingerprint scanners have replaced doorknobs in Back to the Future part two, I decided that the inclusion of a futuristic technological aid operated by my protagonist would effectively establish my opening scene as part of the science fiction genre whilst also establishing the main antagonist as a rough, tough and rogue one man army. To further develop this conventional aspect of the mise-en-scene I added a point-of-view shot from thunder eagles cyborg eye at “1:04” I felt that this would be an effective development of a standard convention as it acts as a visual reminder of how Thunder Eagle is more technologically advanced, whilst also allowing the
audience to see things from the protagonists perspective suggesting that he is the main or one of the main characters/focal point but also a character that can the audience can sympathise with.
Another convention I un-earthed in my research was the interesting use of lighting to convey different modes and tones, referring to the research I conducted on the mise en scene in the film blade runner 1982 I found the film had used a great deal of blue had been used in each frame setting the mood as quite calm and peaceful, accompanied by the music and slow motions shots which further enhanced the mood in this particular scene, all this light was a result of the large, neon corporate signs in the background this idea of corporate structures being dominant is a typical convention of most films that feature a dystopian future. Referring to this, I decided use the convention of strategically placed lights to achieve mood and themes in my film, most noticeably at “1:02” as Thunder Eagle walks down the hallway preparing to eliminate the villains. In the background is a long LED strip of light producing an ominous red glow, I used this to convey a dangerous mood and to visually warn or allow the audience to become aware of the action that was about to ensue. Furthermore I found the point of view shot used at “1:04” was effective as once again the red frame symbolises the danger that Thunder Eagle represents accompanied by all the small numbers, target and digits which also reinforce the idea that he is more technologically advanced and a threat to those who oppose him. I found this to be an effective way at conveying tone as it relays on the visual aspect as does much of my film which makes it easier for the audience to identify specific themes, people and places, this was a common point with my focus group as they displayed interest in the film being visually pleasing, and so in that respect I feel that the alteration of the background colour effectively displayed the mood and its connotations to the audience. If I had the chance to further improve my media product I would do so be adding more lighting with different colour filters as I feel that this is a subtle but effective way of conveying the mode of the scene.
Similarly, another convention that typical of any fast paced action / science fiction film is the editing and cinematography. From the research I conducted I concluded that intense action scenes tend to use a range of different shots and angles but incorporate quick cuts between each to build tension, for example I conducted some research into the gas station scene in Robo Cop 1987 and found that when the thug falls off his bike and into an oncoming car, the camera tracks him (bad guy) using a range of different shot types in a sequence such as the medium shot > close up > long shot as the camera pans right, the editing of the clips leaves the result as a quick and hair raising scene. This effectively presents the carnage of the car crash and amplifies the speed at which the collision occurred whilst also building tension as it leaves the audience eager to see the result or outcome of the event. An example of was I used quick cuts and different angles in my final media product was essentially the entire first portion. I used quick cuts as I felt it was an effective way at establishing the mode of the scene, the fast pace of the scene suggests its tense and rushed, this is further shown when sections of the mise en scene are added such as costume and setting, however the quick cuts also allow for some enigma codes as its fast pace doesn’t allow the audience enough time to completely see what’s going on. This effectively established my opening scene as fast paced and tense something that my focus group expressed interest in and something I therefore regard as a success.
How does your media represent particular social groups?
The representation of social groups in my final media product is reasonably stereotypical with reason. Media tends to create stereotypical representations of social groups in order to allow their viewers to easily understand who is being identified. In my media product I represented a few social groups, they were gang members, the police force and my protagonist Thunder Eagle.
I thought that following the stereotypes and ideas of the social groups that I was representing back in the 80’s would be an effective way at identifying the film as a homage to the 80’s science fiction/action genre. I felt that casting a strong lead actor in the role of Thunder Eagle was almost essential, as I wanted the audience to understand that my main character was super human much alike the 80’s action hero’s such as Rambo or Arnold Schwarzenegger in countless action films, so I was sure to keep this in mind when casting my male lead actor. Another way in which I represented different social groups in y final media product was the portrayal of the detective on behalf f the police force, rather than identifying my detective as a strong character a role that typically occupied by main characters or very strong sub-characters I decided to challenge this stereotype by applying Propp’s narrative theory by making the detective the dispatcher who sends Thunder Eagle on his quest, also to ensure that the detective didn’t come off as a stronger actor than my protagonist I filled the role of the detective with a weaker actor who is obviously below Thunder Eagle in terms of strength and authority, I felt this worked effectively as it further establishing my lead character Thunder Eagle as the indestructible character that I was going for and also successfully challenging the stereotype of the detectives role.
Similarly, another way in which I represented social groups in my final media product was through my representation of the countless gang members opposing my protagonist. For this social group I felt it was key to portray each gang member as stereotypically as possible in order to effectively establish the characters as bad guys, naturally avoiding any stereotypes that could lead to offence, I took a more general approach dressing my actors in clothing that widely associated with thugs or ‘rough people’ i.e. hoodies, low hanging trousers etc. Furthermore I felt that if all the bad guys looked similar it would allow the audience to visually identify the bad guys as one mass also giving them no personality or reason for their evil doings allowing the audience to sympathise with the characters eliminating them (the detective, Thunder Eagle) rather than sympathising with the bad guys. In each of the roles for the bad guys I cast ordinary people who were all of a similar stature to further the visual image of all the bad guys being one mass, I felt this was effective way at visually presenting the bad guys and a successful way of allowing the audience to sympathise with my protagonist.
What kind of media institution might distribute your media product and why?
When distributing my film, I thought of innovative and new ways of getting it across to my target audience. After a reasonable amount of planning and research I found that in order to reach the younger section of my male dominated audience who range from 13 – 20 years of age, I found that using social media platforms would be an ideal way at advertising and marketing my film as its very popular with people of this age range and used by a wide range of people, and then using other social media viewing platforms such as YouTube but, but in the spirit of innovation I looked at some other sites to distribute my film, I found that other websites such as vimeo did a similar job to YouTube. The use of social media networks and platforms, I felt would effectively distribute my film as it links with my target audiences interest in the online world whilst also being specific to the genre my film is categorised under ‘science fiction’ involves lots of technology one of the conventions of a science fiction genre film is the introduction of new and innovative technology, so I felt that making use of modern day technology would be an effective way of distributing and advertising my film. Similarly, in order to successfully reach my audience I felt that tagging the video with particular words associated including the name of the film, the director, actors, genre etc. making it easier for the audience to find the film hopefully becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy i.e. as the film becomes easier to find more people watch it, boosting its popularity and making it more well known. As well as 13 – 20 years of age, I also have an older target audience of from 39 – 50 years of age, due to the fact that this age range of people were alive during the 80’s and were in their youth similar to the younger audience I am aiming my film at, to ensure that my film is reached by these people I have decided to use tags on the social media platforms such as ‘1984’ and ‘80’s sci-fi’ to hopefully attract the my other audience. I will still be using the Internet to distribute and advertise my film to the older generation as I feel that the social media forms popularity is not just with the youth but also with the older generations, I conducted some research into how many people of my target audiences age range use the internet and other social media platforms and I felt that the results I had collected were enough for me to continue with my plans to distribute and advertise my film to my other target audience on social media platforms.
As previously stated, my main target audience is men and women aged 13 to 20 but on the side I am also aiming my film at those who lived through the 80’s 39 – 50 years of age, the second target audience I am aiming mu final media product at is more like research I’m hoping to see what they think of it and gain some feedback of how its similar to the decade they lived through, id also like some criticism to find ways I could improve it. Back to my primary audience, I found in my research that the target audience of action and science fiction films to day are those belonging to my target audience men (predominantly) aged 13 to 20 the reason for my audience being mainly made up of men is due to the stereotypical view that men enjoy action and violence whereas women enjoy romantic comedy’s and so on. Something I picked up on in my research is that the media industry is reasonably gender specific and so I picked on this when deciding on my target audience. In order to attract this audience I distributed my film on social media platforms such as YouTube and Vimeo as its most commonly used by my target audience, I released a short trailer on YouTube to wet the appetite of my target audience, it displayed all the typical conventions of a film from the science fiction/action genre, I also advertised and marketed my film on other platforms such as Facebook and Instagram which once again are used by my target audience. My audience research helped me when deciding on what media institution might distribute my final media product as it allowed me to identify what age range corresponds with my film genre and using this age I identified what was the most popular way of reaching my target audience which just so happened to be via social media and other platforms of a similar status.
Who would be the audience of your media product? How did you attract/appeal to your audience?
The target audience of my media product teenagers aged 13 – 20 (mostly male, but some female) I identified my target audience as this age range for a reason, I believe after conducting a substantial amount of research into it that this age range I concluded that it is the most popular age range when it comes to science fiction as they show the biggest interest in the genre. The reason I chose boys but didn’t cut girls out is because stereotypically boys are more violence and action than girls who stereotypically prefer films with more of a happy story line. I also identified this age range as my target because of the distribution factors, most notably the popular use of the Internet and social media platforms by teenagers. I found in my research that teens of the age range I had identified are the most popular users of social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, meaning marketing and advertising would be more effective and reach my target audience with more ease if it was distributed and marketed via these social media platforms, as its free and easy to put things online today, I concluded that this would be the most effective target audience and the easiest to distribute to.
To appeal/attract my target audience I relied on the research I had conducted, the research I valued the most when it came to attracting my target age range was the audience research including the one on one interview and the focus group. The interview gave me a true understanding of what appeals to my target audience and allowed me to obtain truthful and honest answers, the questions were structured to identify specific questions such as “what would you say is key to a films opening sequence?” this allowed me to identify specific things that my audience would like to see in my opening sequence allowing me to attract/appeal to my target audience. Similarly the focus group allowed me to identify specific things that the group/mass of people would prefer to see in a science fiction film, these answers gave me more of a general idea of what is sought out for in a film of this genre I then used both of these pieces of information to attract/appeal my target audience and draw them top my film.
What have you learnt about technologies from the process of constructing this product?
I learnt a lot about technologies when filming my final media product, both real and fake. As my film was set in the future technology played a large part in the execution of the film, one of the most significant technologies I learnt I believe is the camera and lighting equipment I used to record my film. The camera I used was a Canon 7D, this was a jump from using other canon cameras such as the EOS rebel T3i and other cameras of this range, when compared to the 7D the EOS rebels don’t produce as good a final product, it allowed me to film in the dark and not produce a lot of noise or static on the final product which was successful as my first attempt at making my final media product was awful, the final product was covered in static and grain I believe this was due to the use of the Eos Rebel T3 which is considerably worse than the 7D. The higher frame rate allowed me to slow some of the footage down in postproduction without the final outcome being glitchy which was effective in some scenes most noticeably toward the second portion of the final product when thunder eagle is chased down by the thugs. Finally the camera shot in Raw which although looks bad when reviewed on the camera screen, its actually helpful when in post production as it gives a natural look allowing me to use colour correction to change the final look, boost the saturation or exposure in darker scenes and change the overall tones of the frame to brighter colours. I wasn’t completely acquainted with this camera and I found that I was learning more about it via help from my friend who owns one himself. Adjusting specific features such as the RAW footage and the aperture.
I also found that my cinematography skills had improved by the end of the project, throughout the duration of the filming portion of my project I concluded that my filming skills had improved, looking back on some of the older work I had conducted and comparing it with my most recent project I found that things such as angles and framing had been more carefully considered and the movement of the camera and the mood that different angles create.
As previously stated I used some lighting rigs throughout the duration of my film which I now feel I have learnt a lot about, I used a 20 strip LED light which was attached to my camera and the frame I used, this was helpful to me most notably in the fist portion of the film as thunder eagle and the detective are talking, the bright light worked effectively here as it was close quarters and I feel it illuminated the scene very well. However in the second portion of the film, which included a wider background, the light didn’t work as effectively as everything was further away and the light wasn’t powerful enough. However I feel that this may have worked in my favour, as the second portion is much darker in theme as thunder eagle is fighting for his life, or maybe the lack of light works? You tell me.
To edit my final product I used Final cut pro X, an editing software which I am very comfortable with and have been using for a long time, I have learnt how to use this software over a sustained period of time but still found myself learning more about it with this project. I feel that the software I sued to edit my product was successful as it allowed me to use some of the skills I had learnt on Final Cut Pro and adapt them to Final Cut Pro X such skills included editing the colour of a frame and adjusting the saturation and exposure etc. also the introduction of other clips on top of other clips and then merging each of the clips together via the screen option, However as stated I did learn some new tricks such as the better quality option over the better performance option which made my final media product more HD rather than better A lower quality of footage.
I also learnt a lot from Photoshop, as I used a newer version of Photoshop and was only briefly acquainted with the older version, I used Photoshop to edit my titles and the production company logo, it allowed me to learn a lot about this editing software. New features had been introduced and although what I had learnt on the older version of Photoshop I still found myself learning new shortcuts ad ways to edit a photo. An example of how I used Photoshop in m final media product is through the production company logo, I used Photoshop to create all the different composites for my production company logo, which is visible in the opening section of my film.
In conclusion (of this section) I found that my greater understanding of technologies has improved from the process of constructing this media product. I have taken a more careful view and considered and contemplated specific angles and viewpoints and what connotations they have. Looking back on the preliminary task which shows limited understanding of basic media concepts, I feel that I have advanced from this state and now have a larger understating of specific things such as the order of which each name involved in the production goes in the opening credits and how to properly composite a frame to make the audience think a specific thing. Finally I feel that my overall knowledge of the 4 basic and most common concepts of media (mise-en-scene, cinematography, editing and sound) is more informed.
Looking back at your preliminary task, what do you feel you have learnt in the progression from it to the full product?
When reflecting upon my preliminary task I feel that I have progressed and gained a greater understanding of typical media concepts, the research I conducted into different aspects of real media products including genre, codes, conventions and marketing etc. which is visible on my blog, gave me a greater understanding of how other, more popular films of the same genre made, produced and marketed their own films which then allowed me to take this on board and work in a similar way.
My understanding of framing and the importance of composition became greater, as I found that framing things in a specific way can produce specific connotations which can be perceived by the audience, also the themes and mood the composition of a frame can create i.e. a close frame of an intense scene can create tension as the audience cant get a full understanding of what’s happening all they can see is the fast paced action from a distorted point of view. Similarly I learnt the importance of establishing shots when changing the location of a film and also when setting the mood. This is evident in my final media product as it goes form uptown LA to a grotty bridge in downtown LA.
Similarly, I gained a greater understanding of how important lighting is when creating mood and atmosphere, I found that using real lights in the shoot and changing some of the overall tones/colours in postproduction gave each scene a strong atmosphere, an example of where I used light to create mood was in the scene where Thunder Eagle walks down a hallway and toward the enemy, I used along strip of red LEDs in this scene to create an ominous feeling of looming danger. This new found understanding of the importance of lighting fixtures in film has improved since the preliminary task, as no lighting was used in said video, the mood relied solely on the audio and visuals.
Another aspect I feel has improved since my preliminary task is my editing, in the preliminary task I used IMovie, which is a basic and consumer friendly editing software and isn’t very good for editing a serious film. When editing my final media project I decided to use Final Cut Pro X another apple editing software which was more specialised, this is an aspect of my work that I feel has improved as I have learnt to use a more specialised editing software to the point that I produced an effective final media product.
To conclude this long essay, I have found that when comparing my final media product with my preliminary task there are a lot of aspects of my work that have improved my general understanding of media has improved drastically as I am now more careful and considerate when compositing a frame and adding in lighting to create a specific mood etc. Thanks to my research I now also have a greater understanding of real media products and how they are distributed, marketed and made allowing me to successfully do the same with my media product.