I highly commend the web page 'Nine top tips for Media students'. From the people behind theory.org.uk, its worth a read!

Saturday, 19 November 2016

DEC 2016 mock exam

This will combine coursework and exam elements, and is important Evaluation preparation, but takes the form of a practice Section A (Q1a, Q1b). Q1a requires comparison of your AS and A2 productions, and drawing out specific examples of how these developed from AS to A2 work. Q1b requires exploring how a range of theories you've selected can be applied to your work, AS or A2 (it makes sense to use A2, so thats what I require). That could/should include some critique - not every media theory fits neatly with every media format - many narrative theories do not fit so well with music video for example. You are using your own work as EXamples (including PLANNED work at this stage: what you intend to do), but also (especially in Q1b) contextualising with EXamples from existing videos.


Assessment will apply the exam markscheme: EAA 30/50, EX 20/50 (unlike the AS exam, T is effectively within EAA).

In the exam you will have 30mins for Q1a and 30mins for Q1b. You will have the full 2 periods for this mock; those of you with extra time can have an additional supervised 25 mins. Your response will be as a blog post (including links, relevant illustrations etc), not handwritten.

If you wish to improve this afterwards, copy the post into a new post with a different title to save as draft; do not make changes to the mock exam post until you have received marks and feedback.

You can have 1 side of typed and printed A4 notes, or 2 sides of handwritten A4 notes, but these must be in bullet point form only, no long quotes or continuous paragraph-style prose.

You have two A2 exam Section A questions to answer: Q1a (CRUD) and Q1b (MANGeR) are 30mins each (but you have 50mins each today). In this mock you will answer one Q1a of your choice, plus one Q1b. The group of 3 must pick a different CRUD/MANGeR topic each, though you can of course work together on the preparation (this applies to non-groups: feel free to share examples, and discuss theories, and discuss Q1a with Yr12 partners).

At this stage you are answering on incomplete productions, but can use as EXamples points that you PLAN to include.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

2016-17 Half-term1 deadlines and to blog

I'll add to this.
Each half-term I'll post, and update, details of work.

Week 1 + 2 lesson time is for planning, filming (possibly editing) a practice video:

Friday 16th
The main summer work, including the conventions vodcast, needs to be on blogs 

Friday 30th 
industry vodcast and completed practice video

Tuesday 4th [UPDATE: pushed back to Weds]
Pitches for main coursework production. Film these and the Q+A, and blog your response, revised ideas, plans.

Friday 7th
You'll have lesson time to work through an initial production schedule - remember, the aim is to complete principal shooting (and website/digipak photography) during half-term.
You should record the 1st of a weekly series of podcasts (upload as audio or video if you want to add visuals). PODCAST1: The Group, The Idea. In this you introduce yourselves, outline what you're working on (brief detail on the idea), and your individual strengths, ending with 'and in the upcoming week we will...'. Each week hereafter record a new episode on Friday: 'in the past week we have...; in the coming week we will...'.

Weds 12th [in lesson]
REPRESENTATION: Miley Cyrus' Wrecking Ball
REPRESENTATION: Lady Gaga's Bad Romance
Reflect the Tuesday lesson work, especially theories, with a detailed blog post clearly including and APPLYING the theories covered, with appropriate multimedia/illustrations (image, gif; links for articles, screenshotted headlines from those etc).
On Weds, you have 1st period to analyse the Gaga video, applying the same theories (AND any additional theories you choose from your MANGeR pack or existing wider knowledge) and approach (ie, looking at the wider context [eg see post], not just the video text itself). You could do this as a PowerPoint/KeyNote [save as PowerPoint if using KeyNote on Mac], upload and embed (or just email for now), ready to present findings in 2nd period. Focus on the potential conflicting feminist v post-feminist positions.
Relevant theories/terms include:
male gaze (Mulvey),
feminist, post-feminist (binary opposition?)
normative; hetero-normative
hegemonic, counter-hegemonic (Gramsci)
postmodern(ism): simulacrum/simulacra (Baudrillard)
Richard Dyer's star system/theory; Chomsky's propaganda model: flak (1 of 5 filters)
Freudian psychoanalytic approach: phallic imagery
Stuart Hall's reception theory (preferred OR contested/negotiated OR oppositional reading)

Weds 5th  [UPDATE: email blog link/attachment BEFORE Friday 14th]
Treatment (see guide) + production schedule (post title: PRODUCTION SCHEDULE1: Pre-production tasks). You'll need to add multiple posts as you go: PRODUCTION SCHEDULE UPDATE1: Shoot 1 [ie, description of focus of changes/additions]. Keep updating and embedding a full schedule. Don't delete changed dates, just denote they changed with strikethrough.
strikethrough blogger tool
A great google calendar is a great way to organise this, and it can even be embedded on your blogs.
Each of you also need to email me a link (with typed artist name/track title) to a music video you will be called to present your analysis of at any point starting Tuesday 18th. Your analysis should include at least 3 applied theories from 1 or more MANGeR topics. I will go through some examples next week. My guide to blogging on examples, and this huge resource on examples I've blogged on, should be used to help with your own preparation.

Fri 21st
Present a sample scene (or more) for discussion. If you've not cast or got access to cast/costume etc, don't panic - but do film in the planned location with a stand-in. This is a crucial testing out of ideas.

The audience vodcast should bring together all research and analysis so far of who your target audiences are (primary, secondary), with clear evidence to justify the age range, gender (etc) you indicate: why are they appropriate? what evidence is there for this?* how does your propsoal reflect/target this? have you considered any audience theories? (there is considerable overlap with some genre and representation theory here).
*try to get some feedback from any social media, fan forums etc, but looking for media appearances is also smart: magazines, radio, TV stations will all generally publish an audience profile for advertisers. Keep looking out for media appearances until the coursework is finished
Have you undertaken any primary research (posting question/s on forums, but also surveys, short multimedia questionnaire, possibly with a group rather than individuals?). This 2015 (UK) A2 Evaluation answer on audience contains lots of great examples, such as this tool for gaining initial evidence to back their audience outline (which changed somewhat after this process):

Fri 28th
ARTIST RESEARCH (various - see this post)  
You will have the lessons this work to research and blog on these topics. Look ahead to the Evaluation questions when doing so, and you should see how you'll benefit both from marks on research + planning and again later...
If you have any further sample scenes ready during this week, request a screening and feedback.

You should aim for some or all shooting in half-term.
Coursework to be completed by Xmas, though more time to complete Evals.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Useful reading, viewing and links

DVD sets of autuer's work are useful
Using Amazon.co.uk links, here are some suggestions for books, DVDs, sites/blogs and playlists that will help with your A2 Media work.


  • MusiVidz is the main one, linking coursework and exam
  • MediaReg for the regulation exam topic we start after Xmas
  • ProdEval for tie-in material with the 1st half of the exam (though more is linked into MusiVidz posts)
  • Past student blogs - as the OCR (UK) is what CIE based their syllabus on, the Ilkley examples remain useful
  • Playlists - I've directly linked these in this post, or you can just browse the YouTube channel (and you can search for others beyond IGS/StG yourself).

Producer PalmPictures.com's website. A google.
Just 4 of the many video directors who have developed a distinctive individual style, leading some to label them as auteurs. The latter 3 have all directed successful feature films too - its a common route into the film business (remember that both Warp and WT emerged from music video producers deciding to take it a step on). You can find DVD sets with great extras compiling some of their work.

You will find I namecheck Corbijn especially often - there are also collections of U2 and particularly Depeche Mode music videos that he has (mostly!) directed. Depeche Mode and the Pixies' work is especially recommended if you're after inspiration to try something a little strange or different.

Recording an hour or so of music videos on any channel and making brief notes as you then watch multiple videos is another great way to quickly build up a wider range of specific examples - you may have nothing to note on some, and only 1 or 2 points on some, but the wider your range of references the better your own work will be - and the easier you will find both the Evaluation and first half of the exam.


Keith Negus' Popular Music in Theory: incredibly useful for both coursework and exam, this gives you a summary of media theories applied to music. Great for the Evaluation, but also blogging about audience; brilliant for both Q1 and Q1b of the exam. It is quite old, but still useful.

Not particularly academic but very useful for the history of music vids, + refs/analysis to/of many vids and directors you won't have heard of (but which could give you ideas), is Austerlitz' Money For Nothing: A History of the Music Video From The Beatles to The White Stripes. You can of course try a general music video (book) search, and you'll come up the likes of this. Austerlitz provides a history of the music video and how it developed over time, and mentions (details) lots of examples you won't have come across - but which might help for ideas. Such examples may also end up being used in your exam too.

Monday, 2 May 2016


I will be analyzing my A2 music promotion package, focusing on the music video for Atomic Kitten's "It's OK". A 3-piece UK girlband big around 2000, the track has a failed romance as the lyrical theme and this is reflected in a video combining two of Firth's three types of music video content: narrative (black and white footage of a young couple who are seen to fall out) and performance (using studio and forest locations and multiple costume changes). My aim was to reposition or re-brand the band for a youth audience, their original tween and teen core audience now being 20/30-somethings, so, following the basic premise of the uses and gratifications theory, I cast late-teens as my cast and performers, enabling teens to identify with and tweens to aspire to be like the cast. As Simon Reynolds argues in 'Retromania', nostalgia plays a large part in music appeal, so by keping the Atomic Kittens as youthful I hoped to appeal through nostalgia to the original fanbase too.

To paraphrase Richard Dyer, well known for his theory on star appeal, stereotypes are a way of reinforcing differences and representing these differences as natural. They can be difficult to avoid - as Lippmann argued, they are useful shorthand. For a mainstream text like mine this is useful, and clear gender stereotypes are present. Both the girlband and girlfriend character have long hair, a stereotypical signifier of femininity, with the boyfriend forming a standard binary opposition (Levi-Strauss) with his short hair. All four females are quite heavily made up with thick glossy lipstick, eyeliner and more. All five, girlband and couple, wear skin-tight jeans at some point, one of several aspects of mise-en-scene through their costume that would identify them as part of Maffessoli described as the 'urban tribe', an international youth that share common characteristics and reflect the increasingly globalised culture we live in. Specific British signifiers were avoided to help enhance international appeal.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Representation task

Using the top PowerPoint in this post, write up at least 5 detailed paragraphs discussing how some of the theories outlined (or any others from your exam pack) can be applied to your work.
To do so successfully you need to use precise media language to denote both your own and existing videos for context.

Start with notes/lists before trying to write paragraphs:

  • you need to start by stating which course/brief you will be commenting on (A2 music video) and BRIEFLY BUT CLEARLY describing this for the examiner
  • define the concept in a way that you can remember and understand (ask for help where needed)
  • list any details from your text that might help discuss this 
  • list any details from existing texts that might help discuss 
  • decide which to focus on and denote these in sufficient detail to 'paint a picture' for an examiner who has not seen the texts
  • keep doing this before writing up paragraphs
  • review your notes: can you see ways to link possible paragraphs? if so, this will suggest a structure for your essay
  • as you continue to prep the exam, it will help you if you look for links between the 5 'MANGeR' topics: you can revise fewer theories/examples if you look for links between these 5 areas and theories that are useful for 2 or more
  • NOW start writing it up

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

UK national press: initial research

You will be researching 4 factors:

  • what is the difference between tabloid, mid-market & broadsheet formats?
  • who owns the papers?
  • what is their ideological bias?
  • what is the market share of the owners and right-/left-wing views?

what is the difference between tabloid, mid-market & broadsheet formats?You can use an online search, but compare the types of stories, size of pictures, length and complexity of writing to provide evidence (Use of Examples)
who owns the papers?Name the companies (and individuals where relevant) who own them; if you can add brief detail of anything else they own Link1, Link2.
what is their ideological bias?You can use an online search/source, but use the headlines from at least 2 stories in each paper to provide evidence (Use of Examples)
what is the market share of the owners and right-/left-wing views?Use the Wiki on circulation for up-to-date figures, but use this for a quick overview.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Left-wing v right-wing ideology

You will be taking the Political Compass test to help develop your understanding of this...

Friday, 11 March 2016

Blogging on 'the journey'

Below I break down the ten steps involved in your journey:

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Lessons Mon Tues March 7-8th

If you're finished yesterday's work then either
1: Edit, with a focus on creating alternate SHORT edited sequences (or print/website elements) for focussed audience feedback
2: Using the 'industry' tag and browsing the MusiVidz blog archive (not all posts have been tagged/retro-tagged) for other relevant posts (most about a specific band or vinyl will relate to this), find resources/examples that will help you answer Evaluation Q3.

TASK Monday 7th:

1: Review + update all posts with video/vodcast content:
- is the post title clear and specific
- have you provided description/context of the video and its contents?
- is the video title on YouTube clear, specific (and following a numbering system)?
- have you provided a specific description on your YouTube channel?
- did you include tags on your YouTube channel?
- is it uploaded on YOUR channel as opposed to being embedded from someone else's in the group?
- have you got a folder of all video files ready for use with Evaluation work?

2: Review posts titles/links lists
- have you followed a numbering system for linked posts? Are your post titles clear and specific?
- update links lists to reflect changes made

3: Podcasts
- are these up to date?
- record any missing podcasts, upload and embed

4: Evaluation preparation
- pick any one of the 4 questions and gather links, images, video and notes as a draft post

5: Video research
- have you created a comprehensive playlist for any videos you have looked at as part of your research
- is this divided into two: general and genre examples? (you could add 'other media/influences' if this includes film and TV)

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Exploring web 2.0

Some posts to consider:
Maiden Minions...
Converging on Carly Rae...
Scary Little Monsters?...
Straight Outta Marketing?...
Fanbase not audience?...
Brand new Britney...

And many more through the web 2.0, UGC, fan-made video and other tags on the MusiVidz blog