Our project constisted of one primary product (the music video) and two ancillary texts (advertisements & digipak) that went along with it. In addition to this we also created a company website and drafted a vinyl edition of the album. Now due to the fact that we creating different forms of product, each one has different codes and conventions that they follow/challenge.
But at the same time, together they basically form a package that work alongside each other. This will be discussed more in another question, but it is worth briefly mentioning that the fact that general motifs and imagery are shared throughout the products, is a convention in itself. Building up conventions of what you expect to see a company's products is essential to branding the band.
I will begin by discussing our music video as it is our primary product. As previously stated music videos have their own set of conventions that we were aware of when creating our video. Again these conventions are not exact as genre creates variation. Music is no longer easy to categorise, with so many bands falling into so many different genres and sub-genres, that the conventions of their music videos are often hugely debatable. Likewise the need for genre itself is a debatable subject. Genre is a way for bands to market themselves as being individual and try to make themselves stand out in a competitive market - as is breaking codes and conventions.
Music videos are often divided into three areas (although again some are a combination of the three!). The three categories are as follows:
- Performance - This is often seen in rock bands and smaller local bands, but not exclusively. They are the quickest, cheapest and easiest style of music video to make, so unsuprisingly they are the most commonly seen, dating all the way back to the birth of the music video. Often incorporating fans into the live footage, they help establish a band's energy.
Narrative - These videos instead try to captivate the viewer into watching a storyline unfold, and thus listen to the song that goes with it. It is very common for some aspects of narrative to be included in a performance video.Very often the plot links to the lyrics in some way, and the video actually almost acts as a short film.
- Concept - They often focus on a particular idea, which is often not seemingly linked to the lyrics. They provide the director with the most freedom of creativity, and in the end can play back almost as art films. In many ways the visuals can be just as important as the band and song itself. Recent years have seen small bands using eccentric concepts to gain success through viral marketing.
Our video falls somewhere in between the narrative and concept formats. Whilst our video is narrative to an extent we chose to heavily focus on the theme of addiction. There is no clear storyline to our video, just slight signifiers for the audience to pick up on. Narrative enigma is something very often seen in music videos, as unlike films/tv they are intended repeat viewing so a little bit of ambiguity often provides the element of interest.
The following is an annotated version of our final cut of our music video done using Youtube's annotation tool:
Further than the three categories of music videos, there are also general expections of videography. These can be broken down into the following:
This is certainly something we made sure our video covered as the emotions of our protagonist were of huge significance. There is a huge contrast between the cold-turkey scenes of the video (which features extreme close-ups) to the outdoor isolated footage on Malham Cove and in Leeds carpark.
Editing (and Continuity Editing) - Whereas film and television often tend to use eliptical editing, music videos often have non-linear narratives. Jump cuts become essential in switching locations, as do transitions. Again pacing is an issue, as in slower sections the editing is often more relaxed than in high tempo sections where you would expect much more quick cutting of shots.
Due to the amount of locations in our videos, experimenting with ways to inter-cut between them was important.We made good use of transitions between scenes, with fade outs and cross merging being of particular usefulness. When cutting between different scenes, we were careful to pick shots that would allow the video to keep flowing at a good pace (an example of this is the spinning shots scene on the street and in the woods). In certain scenes we also found it relevant to cut the editing to the beat of the song (as in the underpass scene). This is another commonly used convention of music videos.
Camera Movement - Again to keep the video interesting visually, panning and zooming are often used.
We used a variation of camera movement featuring still frames and shaky frames, to signify the socio-realist element to the video.
This was an area we didn't have total control over as a lot of it was filmed outside (though these locations were chosen with great care). However we did cast and dress our protagonist with great detail. We were signifying our protagonist as being similar to Ian Curtis so objects like the grey overcoat and cigarettes carried certain connotations such as his huge addiction to smoking, and the coat becoming iconic of the whole post-punk scene. We didn't want the video to look out of place in the 80's or today so any attempts to signify a certain time period were avoided.
Lighting - Using appropriate lighting can be a huge element to be considered when making a music video. Dance videos and heavy metal often use strobe lighting and flashing imagery.There are certain regulations that directors must adhere to. Keeping a neutral sort of lighting throughout can also be important.
Lighting became very important for us, largely due to the cold-turkey scene. Here we were originally planning on using a strobe light but found issues with the quality of shots we were getting. So we opted for a manual lamp instead. Experimentation was the key to success for this scene. Likewise we had little control over lighting outdoor locations, so it was important to set up our camera to utilise the natural lighting to it's full extent (as shown by our bridge shot featuring lens flare).
Use of sound - Though the main sound for a music video is the song itself, is quite common to include aspects of diegetic sound. This just helps create a link between the song and the visuals, making them work together in effect. They can sometimes offer just that little bit extra of exposition.
Our video begins and ends with diegetic sound. The opening helps signify the road below, and the location before the character even enters. It is used to the same effect at the ending, just helping add to the narrative enigma of the closing shot.
Due to the fact Joy Division only have two music videos (one of which was made after they split), our research into the genre as a whole would be much more useful in helping us establish some codes and conventions of the genre. Joy Division are well known for being one of the pioneering acts of the Post-Punk scene of the late 70s/early 80s.
We looked in depth at the videos of Echo & The Bunnymen, as well as researching bands such as Bauhaus, The Cure and The Fall. Another band we looked at thoroughly were Depeche Mode, who were of particular use for mainly working with director Anton Corbijn (who also directed Ian Curtis biopic Control).
From looking at these bands I established some aspects that were common throughout their videos:
- A lot of the videos are performance or concept based. Many combine the two in some manner.
Our video is not performance based, but does include concept elements. We felt that we could much more strongly create a narrative/concept video than a performance video. We wanted more freedom so this gave us that opportunity. Though this challenged the conventions of post-punk, Anton Corbijn often made narrative music videos for Depeche Mode.
- There is a lot of use of flashing imagery.
Our video makes use of flashing lights in the cold turkey scene. We felt that this would create a sense of disorientation as well as slightly signifying Ian Curtis' epilepsy. It works on both levels, so whilst the viewer may not follow the preferred reading, they can follow it on some level.
Like previously said, this was the best way we found to switch between locations. Multi-layering was also used to show the strange feelings of the protagonist, as well as lately in the video linking to the lyric "I've got the spirit".
- Whilst the videos often use slow paced imagery, quick cutaways to close ups are used to keep the video flowing.
After seeing this technique used through the genre, it became hugely influential on our work. We used it to create contrasting emotions and scenes. And it was also used to give the video a flowing pace, which the viewer could find interesting.
As well as featuring run-down, urban locations were also went for a few that challenged the code. We used more rural locations such as the woods and Malham Cove to help create an extreme sense of isolation. This also links to the style of Depeche Mode's video for "Enjoy the Silence". Using a combination of locations, helped us create a large rang of emotions, and it became something that reoccurred throughout all our work.
- Use of colour filters, especially black and white.
Again this is something we used. Corbijn in particular was again inspirational in both his videos for Joy Division's "Atmosphere" and also his feature length film "Control". We also used the tool "chroma key" at the beginning of the video to highlight the orange of the embers of the cigarette, instantly signifying it's importance.
- Lots of camera movement to help keep the visuals interesting.
The camera movement in our video was also used to signify a socio-realist element to the video. Like the cutaway shots, it was used to help keep the video flowing and interesting.
Though not particularly relating to the lyrics (we actually thought of the concept before choosing the song), our video revolves around the theme of addiction. The cigarette becomes a signifier of this, although the addiction does not necessarily apply to smoking.
- An emphasis on the cold and dark to signify the mood of the band. Characters often seem very deadpan.
All the locations and mise-en-scene were used to help create this mood. The smoke you see coming from the cigarette links much to the style shots used in Bauhaus' "She's in Parties". Joy Division were an extremely dark band, so we felt it was hugely important to signify this in our video.
The use of cigarettes & smoking in our products is a debatable topic, with many people arguing that they shouldn't be allowed. The inclusion of them in our work and breaking the convention was risky but we think worthwhile. In this video I debate the subject:
Digi-paks are slowly becoming a replacement for the standard jewel case packaging for CDs. Having looked at a range of samples, we have found codes & conventions for them too. We found that the vast majority featured:
- Band name - On the front in a prominent place. Often can be a band logo rather than a font.
- Album name - Somewhere close to the band name. Slightly smaller font, but generally similar.
- Track listing - Nearly always on the back of the album (although Linkin Park's Meteora has it on the front too).
- Bar code - Often on the back of the album, out of the way.
- Record Label info - This is also normally on the back of the album, and can sometimes come in the form of a logo.
- Copyright Information - Very important. Generally in a small serif font on the back cover. (P) means copyrighted sound recording. Certain things have to be mentioned as part of regulatory practice.
- CD - In digipaks it can be either in a plastic tray, or in a sleeve. The actual CD often features imagery in a similar style to the rest of the album.
|Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures (1979)|
As an extra bonus we also added in a double sided poster and a bonus DVD featuring the "Disorder" music video and other bonus material. The poster was an alternative to the classic booklet design, but we felt breaking that convention would work well for a limited edition release - as shown by the re-release of Pearl Jam's Ten.
In this video (below) Callum and I take you through the contents of our digipak:
Advertisements, too, have their own codes and conventions. They can be a range of sizes such as double page, half page, quarter page, etc. This is often dependent on the size of the band/ company being advertised. As Joy Division are a fairly large band, with a substantial legacy we produced three different sized adverts that would feature throughout different magazines. Again we found advertisments generally included:
- Band Name - Largest font on the page, often centered and at the top.
- Name of Release - Second largest on the page, often the font is consistent throughout the whole advert.
- Date of Release - Normally towards the bottom of the page.
- Images (relevant to band) - either artwork, a photo of the band or the album cover.
- Record label - Either a logo or simply named, this is often accompanied by a website address at the top or bottom of the advert.
|Our functional QR code - Give it a try!|
By keeping the adverts fairly simple, it creates an almost campaign style appeal to them. This is often seen by bands reforming or re-releasing to help create a hype about them. They often give the reader very little information, so they have to search the internet for it themselves. Thus the inclusion of the QR code is very useful for offering the reader the best of both worlds - Minimalism/hype but also the information can be accessed quickly using the code.
As we were targeting both youth and the original older Joy Division fans, we had to be careful when applying codes and conventions to our work. Whilst maintaining the classic Joy Division vibe completely, you wouldn't attract a huge amount of a younger audience, whilst going too far the other way would be hugely criticised by existing Joy Division fans. We had to stay close to the old style of the band, whilst breaking a few conventions to appeal to a younger audience. The feedback we had suggested we did this well. Breaking a few codes and conventions can be essential in making your product stand out among the rest.