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Friday, 16 December 2011

A Note to the Moderator

Dear Moderator,

Firstly thank you for taking the time to look at my blogs, it has taken alot of time and work but I hope that it's been worth it. I am very pleased with everything that has been produced and hopefully you will enjoy having a look around.

My blog is linked to the group blog and you can get from my individual blog to the group blog by following the link on the right hand sidebar. I have also included the links to my group member's blogs (Alex Thoupos, Jess Rich and Sam Szczurek). There is also a link for the class blog called Latymer Media Music Video Blog, which is linked to everyone's work. Feel free to have a look around.

On my individual blog you will find all of my individual research, initial ideas and planning prior to when we got together as a group. You can also look at my work from the preliminary task, including the final video, reflections on the development of the project as it progressed and my answers to the evaluation questions. The group blog provides evidence of the research, planning and production work that we used during the process. It shows the development from our early ideas to the final project and the influences that shaped our idea.  The finished and final music video, album cover and website have been linked at the top of each blog.

Hopefully you will find it easy to navigate around my blogs. Everything is organised in date order from the start of the project in June 2011 until we finished in December 2011. I have used labels to identify all the research, planning, production and evaluation work that I have completed on my individual blog. On the group blog, we have used the same labels to organise the posts. You can also find a label with my name showing my individual contributions. Once again, thanks for taking the time to look around.

Narishma Poonwasie - 3620

Closing Post

Our final ever media coursework assignment has officially come to an end. This time round was very demanding and alot of hard work was put in, but I also enjoyed all aspects of it.
Goodbye Blog!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Q1. In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?

To answer this question, we decided to put together a video of a group discussion, where we spoke about how we applied the theories we learnt in class (Goodwin and Vernallis) and what influences we drew upon from the music industry in order to produce the final music video and the ancillary texts. The answer is broken down into four videos, the first two being about the music video and the last two concerning the website and album cover.

Music Video Evaluation Question 1 Part 1

Music Video Evaluation Question 1 Part 2

Website Evaluation Question 1

Album Cover Evaluation Question 1

Music Video

One of the most common conventions we noticed throughout the dance DJ genre for music videos was that the DJ does not appear in the video, or at least does not a large amount of screen time. Therefore we decided that ABSYNTH would not appear in her music videos. The inspiration for what to replace her with came from a few places, including the director Spike Jonze and the Coldplay's 'Paradise' (released in 2011), as we went on to use a panda costume.

Da Funk - Daft Punk (Video Directed by Spike Jonze)

In the evaluation videos we discuss Goodwin's and Vernallis' theories, below are some further illustrations of what we were discussing.

We reference Goodwin's theory of the notion of looking throughout the entire video because we don't have any shots involving direct address until the very end. This meant that we could allow the audience to feel as if they were walking along side the panda and experiencing the action firsthand. I also think that the idea of the audience being in the panda's world and he is not playing up for the cameras, makes it even funnier.

When looking at our music video and analysing it according to the theory of Carol Vernallis, we can see how we followed conventions and also challenged them according to the four different categories she broke the theory down into:  Narrative, Editing, Camera Movement/Framing and Diegesis.

  • Narrative
    • The progression of the video is driven through a combination of the track and the narrative, however the narrative plays a much bigger role in demonstrating the journey as the music is very repetitive for the majority of the song. One of the things she claims music videos do, is raise questions but never answer them, which is what happens in our video due to the existence of the fictional panda in the real world.
  • Editing
    • We have followed conventions by cutting to the beat through most of the video and there are quite a few jump cuts that occur, such as during the train sequence and bus stop scene. These were effective as they displayed something different to the filmic narrative that had been set up prior to those shots and made sure that it was a music video and not just a short film to music. However, naturally the video does consist of some match on match action particularly during the bike scene and the group dance routine, which is because it is very narrative based and required an element of match on match action.
  • Camera Movement and Framing
    • We used alot of variation in the framing of our shots, i.e. ranging from CUs to Wide Shots
    • We did not use a tripod at all during the filming for the music video as we didn't want the scenarios to look forced or deliberate
Below is a quick video I put together to act as a virtual tour guide of the website, to give an overview of the site/highlight its main features.

Due to the fact that the music video is quite unconventional for an artist's debut video, we decided that in order to sell the artist it would be crucial to have a very conventional website that 'followed all the rules'. We have done this through the layout, general content and opportunities that the site offers.


While there are many ways in which a website can be displayed, there are certain features that are seen on nearly any website, regardless of what industry they are in, these are:
  • Navigation Bar
  • Social Networking Links
  • Institutional Information
  • Imagery
  • Website Name
We took alot of our inspiration from existing websites for other DJ's, particularly Nero and DJ Shortee (who has actually been one of the few female DJs for the last 15 years, see blog post here).

Influences....DJ Shortee's Homepage

Influenced in particular by featured news bar....Nero's homepage
After considering the idea that the website would have to be the central place for the audience to learn about ABSYNTH and have a deeper understanding of who she is, we decided that it should act as a reward to the audience member, in the sense that we have everything they would want to know all under one website.

For Dance DJs it is common to find the following sections:
  • Biography
  • News Feed
  • Tour Information
Comparison between Nero's website and Absynth's website
The main opportunities that the website offers are: Interactivity, Purchasing and Personalisation. During the construction process we made sure that all features of the website were interactive, with virtually everything leading to another part of the site. For example, each news story on the featured news bar on the homepage leads the audience somewhere else on the site.

Interactive Opportunities
No matter what website you visit, the development of Web 2.0 has meant that it is expected for a website to be fully interactive and provide social media links. Without these essentials, the website gives an unprofessional portrayal of the artist which we wanted to completely avoid. Therefore we ensured that everything on the website had a link to take the audience somewhere and everything was provided in one place.

Interactive opportunities around the website
Purchasing Opportunities
The store is a vital part of any artist's website especially a DJ because the website acts as another platform for the label to sell their music and merchandise. This is why in our store we made sure to include a wide range of products and because our target audience was both male and female, we had products that would appeal to them both. We also have a music store within the store where the audience can purhcase the physical album/single or digitally download them via iTunes.

We realised that this was one page in particular where easy navigation is essential, because on the websites we researched such as DJ Shortee, they have all of the products broken down into categories, so it is easy to find for the individual. Not only is this giving them a more pleasurable experience on the website but it also means that selling the artist and their merchandise will be easier. We applied this convention by having subcategories, like the example I mentioned before of the music store.

Most artist's websites regardless of what genre they are in, offer their target audience the ability to keep up with the latest news by signing up for newsletters or registering with the website. They allow the individual to almost make the website their own in some way and build a personal connection on some level with the artist. This is what we set out to achieve by including the following:
  • Personalisation of merchandise
    • By enabling them to create their own version of the merchandise available they can put their own stamp on it, and feel like they are all unique to ABSYNTH, rather than just part of a large crowd.
  • Various Competitions
    • Competitions are another form of interactivity on the website, however the prizes they could win, such as spending a day with ABSYNTH in her studio are much more personal. It forms that bond between them and her. 
  • Fan Page
    • Being able to leave comments and messages for an artist may be a very small feature but it can help that individual fan feel like they have a direct line of communication with ABSYNTH and therefore build fan loyalty
Album Cover
Once again, we knew that we would be selling the artist through the album cover and it would be critical for her to appear on all sides of the cover. The diagram below is my annotations of the album cover demonstrating how we have applied the conventions of album covers we discovered from class discussions and drawing inspirations from real life media texts in the dance genre.

Q2. How effective is the combination of your main product and ancillary texts?

For my response to this question, I prepared a powerpoint presentation and explained my points in the short video below. I also go into further detail below.

The text below is a summary of the points I make in the video plus some visual representations of the points I make and I also elaborate on points about each ancillary task.

Music Video

At first the music video appears to be completely unrelated to the artist and to anyone who knew nothing about her, it could belong to any artist in the dance genre. One of the main influences on this is the fact that it involves a panda costume and no appearance from ABSYNTH herself. By doing this we have created intrigue and enigma amongst the audience, as it prompts them to ask questions and want to find out more about where it comes from/what it is all about. We have incorporated the idea of the audience sharing the video with their friends themselves, therefore starting a viral video campaign. This would be encouraged by the feel good factor and the very random idea of having a panda on a journey to school, which we know from audience feedback made them laugh.

Another aspect to the video that has been a running theme throughout the video and ancillary texts is the idea that the music comes over all of the fame and attention. The entire video is shot as if someone was observing the panda making his journey to school, rather than the panda performing for a camera, this was achieved by using no tripod and having no direct address from the panda. This idea adds to the brand image that ABSYNTH has about being very passionate about her music and it always coming first, because as the camera is not focused on the panda, the track and the fun involved in the video are highlighted to a higher degree, compared to if it was shot using direct address. There is only one incidence of direct address which is at the end, where the panda does a thumbs up, however this was added for comedic values and to create a more impactive and lasting impression in the individual's mind.

Album Cover

As stated in question 1, we chose to brand ABSYNTH as the girl everyone loves. She is very cool and trendy but is a far cry from the tomboy DJ's often seen in the industry and does not dress provocatively, therefore not falling into either stereotype for the female DJ. Therefore a strong emphasis was put on the natural beauty of ABSYNTH and none of the images used on the album cover are revealing or suggest that she doesn't like doing 'girly' activities.

Once again the emphasis on her passion for music is demonstrated through the dominant headphones on the front cover and they also feature on the inside cover. Her body language and posture, with her holding the headphones demonstrate that music is her interest, not playing up for the camera. On each side of the cover we have at least one prop that demonstrates the music passion, for example: the headphones, a boombox and DJ decks.

The colour scheme is a very dominant feature that is consistent across both the album and the website, creating strong synergy between the two platforms because it is clear to the audience that the two mediums correspond with one another.


Website Homepage
  • Purchasing Opportunities available on nearly every page of the website, with banners for downloading the album
  • Album is the entrance page for the website
  • Large choice within the store
  • Portrayal of ABSYNTH stays consistent as she isn't sexualised or made to look like a tomboy
  • Colour scheme and fonts are same as album
  • WWF Charity Gig News Story
  • Lots of content acting as a reward to the viewer for searching her on the internet.
We also had a mobile version of the site so that it could be accessible in that format, as it is a popular way in which our target audience finds their information. It is continuing the theme of the website offering them the information they want, wherever and whenever.

Overall, I think that our main product and ancillary texts work very effectively together because they work together to create a strong brand image for ABSYNTH. The video has been created in order to stimulate hype about her and urge the audience to find out more. While the website and album act as what they come to find when they research her. The way she is portrayed in each of the mediums is also consistent making her the girl that everyone wants to know.

Q3. What have you learned from your audience feedback?

On Monday 12th December 2011 at 12.45 in the media block we held a focus group feedback session where we collected feedback on our music video, album cover and website using a simple questionnaire (see below). The session itself was quite intimate as you will see in the video below, as we wanted to make sure that we were selective in who we chose to bring for feedback, to ensure that we got people from different groups that had different interests, making the feedback more diverse and to give a broad viewpoint.

Below is the questionnaire that we handed out and a short video where I explain the choice of questions used in it.

Group 4 Audience Feedback Questionnaire

In total there were 9 people, it was a near even split of boys and girls, and as it was in school hours they were in the 17-18 age range. However, we did make sure that they were all in different social groups to still maintain the idea of getting a spectrum of viewpoints, which later proved successful and helpful from the completed questionnaires.

Some of the completed questionnaires

After the main session we asked two individuals from the group to stay behind and give some more in detail responses to the video and the ancillary texts, which can be seen in the video below.

Once the questionnaires were collected, we got together as a group and discussed what we could learn from the lunchtime focus group. Below is a video of the meeting/discussion.

Key Points that I have learnt from the audience feedback
  • The video succeeded in portraying that feel good factor and making people smile/happy
  • Both the website and album looked very professional and were aesthetically pleasing, with most people agreeing that they could imagine them being released in the music industry
  • Quite a few people agreed that the website should have the option for volume control on the music player, as well as having some more tracks to play rather than just repeating the same audio
  • There could have been a stronger link between the music video and the ancillary tasks, through maybe a cameo appearance of ABSYNTH
    • While it was a point raised by people, from the detailed interview session we learnt that the fact that ABSYNTH does not star in her videos, creates a sense of enigma and urges the audience to go and search for her on the internet to find out more about her. This meant that viewing the website almost felt like a reward, which is what we aimed to create. 
  • The video appeals to a younger audience than we anticipated, i.e. young children
    • From the proposal stages we decided that we would be targeting males and females around the age of 16-24, mainly those who are at university and regularly like to go out clubbing with their mates.
    • However, we did have the family audience and children as our secondary audience which we set out to target them through ABSYNTH's quirky and unique videos. Therefore, in many ways we could view the video as being successful in achieving this purpose.
  • The improvement that most agreed on was the fact that it was hard to read the album name on the front cover due to the colour of the text

Q4. How did you use new media technologies in the construction and research, planning and evaluation stages?

Throughout the duration of this project we have used a wide range of new media technologies in order to produce the end result. The most significant tools that enabled us to complete each task in my opinion was Web 2.0, Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe Photoshop CS5 and the Sony HVR A1E Camcorder. Each stage required different skills and different technologies which contributed heavily to the amount of technologies we ended up using.
Research and Planning

Web 2.0 was extremely useful in the research and planning stages because it enabled us to organise roles, communicate with one another and gather inspiration from existing examples in the industry. Social Networking sites, Twitter and Facebook in particular were helpful to us, as we used them to organise group meetings, assign tasks and gather actors for the shoots. Most of our communication outside of the media block was done on the facebook group that we had set up at the start of the project and has been used regularly throughout. YouTube played a big role also in the research stages because it enabled us to draw inspirations from videos that had already been created in the industry and in the dance genre.

Utilising Social Networking sites such as Facebook
As the project went through several changes we used various cameras over the course including the Sony HDV 30 and we had the opportunity to use the Sony HVR Z1E on our first shoot in the park (see pictures below). In terms of gaining more experience, I found that I learnt alot more from using the Sony HVR Z1E because we played around with manual focus, it was also the first time I stepped out of my comfort zone by not using the tripods.
Me using the Sony HVR Z1E

Music Video

To film the video we were lucky enough to have access to the Sony HVR A1E Camcorders which allowed us to record in HD, making the footage look much higher in quality. The cameras were very light which made it easier for us to use them steadily without a tripod. For the shots where the panda is dancing in the middle of the road, this was extremely helpful because Sam was sat in the back of the car in order to make the track smooth, but the success of the shot depended upon his ability to keep the camera still.
Sony HVRA1E Camcorder
In order to edit the video and finalise it we used the software package Adobe Premiere Pro which we have used in previous years for coursework projects. One of the features that we discovered this time that allowed us to be much more productive with our edit time was the option to scene detect when capturing footage. This allowed us to leave the camera to capture itself, as the computer would automatically capture footage in chunks according to when recording was started and stopped. This meant we could then focus on something else and when we came back to it we wouldn't have to go through all of the footage to find the parts we wanted.

Scene Detect

Brightness and Contrast Effects

Colour grading was also another important job with the video because the footage was spread over time and nearly all of the footage was taken outside, meaning that the lighting was different in different shots. Therefore we used the brightness and contrast tool along with the three way colour corrector in order to give the video a consistent visual look. Below is a video where we explain the process of how we colour graded the footage.

Album Cover
On the promo shoot we used a Cannon 550D which at first we found tricky to use due to the variety of settings we could use and it took some getting used to. However after about ten minutes of trialling the camera we knew what we were doing and how we wanted to proceed with the shoot. The quality of the images were extremely high and this made them look quite professional.

Cannon 550D used on the Promo Shoot

For the creation of the album cover, Adobe Photoshop CS5 was used for both editing all the images from the promo shoot and putting together the final album cover. The majority of this task was completed by Jess as she has the most experience and talent in Photoshop, and this was helpful as it ensured that we ended up with professional looking images. However, from helping her with this task I learnt quite alot about photoshop in a short amount of time. This was mainly concerning various keyboard shortcuts that saved alot of time editing the images, for example CTRL + T enabled me to transform/edit the images without having to constantly make them appear manually. Another feature I learnt about was grouping layers together making it much easier to organise the different sections of the album cover.


To create the website we used a website called WIX.COM which was extremely useful because it made it so much simpler and easier for us to use compared to if we had to learn html and use dreamweaver, which would have taken a much longer time also. I found it to be an extremely useful tool because you could do so much with the website that made sure that it didn't look unprofessional or as if it was a student project which i was impressed by. Sometimes it didn't allow us to create certain features that we wanted to include, and at first we found creating the featured news section challenging, but on the whole I think that it allowed us to be creative within reason and helped us produce a professional and visually appealing website. Below is a video I have made to demonstrate the basics of Wix and how easy it was to use.

I used Adobe Photoshop CS3 (this is what I had available at home to use) in order to create the Hoodies that you can see on the store on the website. These were relatively easy to make as once I had made one version, I recreated others by altering the colour of the jumper.

Of course the main tool used for the evaluation stage of the project is Web 2.0 in the form of blogger as that is how we are able to publish our responses to the questions. However in addition to this I have used a software package called Camtasia, in order to create the tutorial videos, the virtual guide of the website and the spoken presentation.

Camtasia Screenshot with annotations of the basic features
Once again we used the Sony HVRA1E Camera in order to film the focus group session and the interview afterwards, so that we could capture their reactions and responses to the video, website and album cover.
Overall, I think that the most significant tool we have used throughout the project is Web 2.0 because essentially it is allowing us to pull each of the different texts together into a central place, both on the blog and the website.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Inspirations - Flash Mob Scenarios

Beyonce - Move Your Body (2011)

This video was created in order to promote the 'Flash Workout' that Beyonce is part of promoting. It surrounds the idea of a flash mob taking place in the middle of a school canteen at lunch time. It starts off with two young boys, then beyonce joins them and the numbers gradually grow throughout the video.

XELLE - Party Girl (2011)

While this video isn't the best, it was shot on the subway in new york in one take and they did so without permission. I think we can draw some inspiration from it because in order for them to complete it in one take it must have been simple to follow but also rehearsed extremely well. This would be extremely helpful for our project if we are going to utilise our time on the shoot(s). I think it also brings to light, the fact we need to consider the space we want everything to occur in and plan the dance to fit in that space.

Glee Cast - Barbra Streisand (2011)

Click HERE for the music video clip.
This flash mob was featured in an episode of Glee where they performed Barbra Streisand by Duck Sauce.