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

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Summer tasks

To commence the A2 we resume lessons to explore the conventions of the music video format, and plan your initial idea.

If you wish to engage in some independent reading over the holidays, then see this post for suggestions - but of course my 3 main blogs for the A2 would be useful! The book Money For Nothing is especially recommended as light reading that links into industry, audience and audience, and should help you with some ideas too (especially if you look up some of the videos or directors discussed in it).

ALL my blogs are listed here, with links for YouTube coursework playlists by year in this post. Student blogs here.

For 2017 the focus is on advancing your main proposal. To this end you should return with:

  1. Your blog set up and formatted as instructed.
  2. Initial Posts completed (see below for details)
  3. Posts on a minimum 5 videos you've analysed. See 'Conventions Research' below for details, and go through this guide before completing these posts. OPTIONAL: work on the initial general video conventions vodcast. You could also begin OPTIONAL posting on the industry or any other aspect.
  4. Posts on your idea/pre-production planning - see the list below. You should return with some sample footage and a highly detailed revised pitch, backed up by the specific posts listed below.
  5. If for any reason you cannot finalise a clear idea at this stage, you must then complete the general conventions posts + vodcast AND the industry research posts and vodcast.

Follow instructions here. Note one change: use the 'simple' template. NOT picture window. There are lots of minor changes to follow through, so read the post carefully.

1: Welcome to my blog! OR And so it begins again!
[whatever you want to call it] Introduce yourself. Address the following:
  • say a little about yourself and your media profile: experience, skillsets, strengths, interests, ambitions.
  • your hopes for the A2
  • 5 key lessons/things you'll approach differently from the AS
  • embed your AS opening + link your blog

2: The Brief 
music promotion package  A promotion package for the release of an album, to include a music video (major task), together with a website for the band and a digipak for the album’s release (minor tasks).
3: Thoughts on some past A2 Media Coursework
View and reflect on at least 1 past (IGS or StG) final video - as we will view chapters from my 2014 documentary on the 2014 work, they (Storm Queen, Faithless, Atomic Kitten) might be a good choice (blogs; YouTube). The 2016 StG A2 videos are here (blogs here). 
  • embed each video being discussed, and provide student blog links
  • did they make any mistakes you can learn from?
  • are there any clear differences from AS film brief to A2 music promo package brief?
  • were you impressed/inspired by any feature of each vid?
  • does your developing editor's eye see anything you could improve?
  • any other thoughts/points?
  • sum up: what do you think you'll need to work on to create a successful music promo?


Blog on minimum 5 videos from multiple genres + create a summativeGeneral Codes and Conventions of Music Video Format vodcast [2017: vodcast is optional]
Use this post to see guidance and examples of how to blog on videos, what to look out for and analyse (not forgetting the all-important denotation, and screenshots).
You must do at least one highly detailed analysis (test and show your continued semiotic skills), but could pick out points from a much wider variety than just 5 rather than doing multiple detailed analyses.

Start with The Pixies' Bagboy, in many ways a countertypical music video - it is useful and important to make notes on the unusual as much as the typical; such examples might help you justify non-generic choices (and to add examples to exam discussion points). I have blogged on it, and you can look at my post once you've analysed it yourself and drafted your post. I have done an artist case study of the band here, and compiled a longer selection of videos I've blogged on here (plus highlighted some on the topic of hetero-normative representation here) if you need further inspiration picking out examples.

[2017: vodcast is optional] The vodcast must cover a minimum 10 key conventions, with at least 2 examples for each convention evidenced, feature your own opening title (which you can then re-edit for future vodcasts), and provide clear titling to state which artist/track video is being referred to, with audio quality/volume tested.

For AO4 you are marked on research and applying knowledge from this in the areas of:
  • conventions
  • audience
  • institutional factors

(for 2017 the main task is to advance your idea planning; 
for Initial Posts and Conventions Research details scroll further down)

POSSIBLE IDEA1 - numbered posts with brief outlines of initial ideas, the video embedded and the genre + target audience clearly denoted.
MAIN IDEA1 - once you've settled on a 'final' choice, start a new numbered series of posts. Summarise in this post:
  • Synopsis: your narrative idea in one sentence
  • What target audience/s (primary, secondary) you intend to aim for
  • Links between lyrics and your idea
  • Role of performance (including locations, costume, casting, instrument playing/dancing + verisimilitude)
  • Narrative outline: some further detail, with brief consideration of Todorov, Propp etc
  • Initial brief summary of genre conventions you intend to reflect
  • Main influences and any intertextualities
  • How you might include a viral element to help link video, digipak, website
  • Summary: why you've chosen this song; what makes you confident it will lead you to A-grade coursework productions
From here, you can keep adding new posts as your idea evolves or changes. You should also then break the key planning down into individual posts - see your coursework pack. That includes more detailed posts on the following - which do overlap:
  • Influences and intertextualities
  • Genre signifiers [can combine with above]
  • Performance initial planning [fuller detail on casting, costume + make-up, locations, props including instruments/mics/speakers/decks etc, any planned diegetic FX (eg smoke, coloured powder, underwater filming), directing strategies [eg will you film/edit clips to guide movement/body language you want?], challenges]
  • The track [analysis of lyrics - this will need research as well as your own thoughts and any existing video/s]
  • The artist [a history]
  • Their videos [for now, assemble or find a complete YouTube playlist and provide at least some bullet points on distinctive features or themes - made into a vodcast after summer]
  • Narrative characters and their costume
  • Narrative locations + scenes [an initial list of possible scenes you could shoot; a bullet point list is fine, you don't need to detail scenes, just sum up in a phrase or short sentence]
  • How I Will Target My Audience [summarise some of the above, this time being clear on how these choices will be appropriate for your target audience/s]
  • Pitch (ties all of this together, and is a starting point for review in September to consider where any changes or further detail is needed. Pitch needs a detailed video, with titles where relevant, you either talk over live or record a loud/clear VO for)
You must also include evidence of at least practice shoots (you get more advanced than this):
  • Sample Scene1 [with description of what it is in post title. At least 30 secs of the track cut to your footage, which may be very rough at this stage and missing many preferred reading elements]
OPTIONAL: The following will be to complete in September, you may wish to get ahead on these:
  • Final casting and rehearsals
  • Animatic
  • Storyboards
  • Initial production schedule
  • Audience research + vodcast
  • Artist: record label and distribution
  • Track/artist: UGC/fan-made videos (and widened out to other examples on this artist)
  • Artist vodcast (quite short)
  • Genre vodcast (longer)
  • Sample scene2 (now minimum of 60 secs)
  • Backdated podcasts

In your initial conventions vodcast you will be making progress on 2 of the 3 main research topics; this task is to get you started on the 3rd - central for some of your Evaluation questions as well.

Research the music industry, gathering the notes, quotes, screenshots, images or clips needed to complete a summary vodcast in the 1st full week back, and reflecting this research in one or multiple blog posts. This includes consideration of:

  • Digitisation and web 2.0: how have these caused ‘disruption’ within the industry?
  • Piracy: what are the figures and arguments on both sides? Do the industry exaggerate the revenues lost? Do your peers tend to engage in piracy? What are the consequences?
  • Streaming: why is the music industry unhappy with YouTube (and others)? What is VEVO?
  • To what extent have physical media sales dropped? Do streaming revenues make up for this?
  • How and why is vinyl making a comeback?
  • What new strategies are artists/labels using to monetise music brands?
  • What new technologies are being used to create and distribute music video?

Use these posts to identify some initial reading, but if you read sites like Music Guardian you will come across newer examples I haven't blogged on.


No matter how little you do on this, spending some time thinking about possible ideas would be useful. You can blog on each idea; start compiling a playlist of videos that might influence your work in some way; go location scouting; shoot sample footage; try out cast or costumes; simply experiment with camera techniques you could use.

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