7 December 2010

January session: Dear Moderator,

Our students have worked hard on this project and here are the links to their blogs.

To clarify, two students elected to work individually, Hasina Kara and Yousif Al-Karauli, whilst the other students split into two groups - group 1: Disha Sookdele, Francesca Collen, and Vinuri Perera; group 2: Chloe Barnham, Komal Gorasia, who were joined a little later by Evangelia Zanettou, who decided to continue Media Studies at A2 but will not be entered for this January series. Her work will be submitted for the June session.

Please note that although the groups have done their planning and filming together, each student edited their own version of the video and produced their own ancillary tasks.

Working individually:

Yousif Al-Karauli - 5005: Yousif's blog

Hasina Kara - 5115: Hasina's blog

Group 1:
Disha Sookdele - 5251: Disha's blog

Francesca Collen- 5041: Frankie's blog

Vinuri Perera - 5207: Vinuri's blog

Group 2:
Chloe Barnham - 5021: Chloe's blog

Komal Gorasia - 5078: Komal's blog


We hope you enjoy their work!

6 December 2010

Intertextuality - Everything is a Remix

(NOTE: I changed the date of this post to leave the post to the moderator at the top) Visit thecreatorsproject.com FROM their blog: Everything is a Remix is part 1 of a series by Kirby Ferguson, and it is a sort of potted history of the folk art of the remix, delivered in the form of a remix. Sure, you can learn something from this video, but you also get some great music too from Rapper’s Delight to Led Zeppelin. To sum it up, everything is just a variation on something else. Enjoy, then discuss

Everything is a Remix from Kirby Ferguson on Vimeo.

Below is a good video which explains what we mean by Intertextuality:

Evaluation - example blog

I know I posted this first one earlier but the examiners like it!

Alexander (example of voice over for question 2)
Talking to camera example (AS level but still...)


This is a link I posted right at the start of the project. We're not telling you to do all questions that way but it was noted by the examiners last year.

And at the end of the project,...
For inspiration...

5 December 2010

Evaluation - extract from Principal Moderator's Report

This is an extract from the report for last June's session, highlighting what I have already told you about being creative and using technology in your evaluation. So, from the horse's mouth...

The Director’s commentary format is potentially one of the most interesting methods for evaluating. There were two types of Director’s Commentaries. Firstly the reading from a script commentary, which actually isn’t a commentary at all! This method relies on Candidates from the group taking turns to read a pre-written script. Often this had little correlation to the events happening on the screen. The second, and much more rewarding commentary had the group members discussing the set questions (possibly using notes) and using certain points in the film to highlight points being made. The director’s commentary also allows for still images from the research and planning materials or ancillaries to be edited into the footage. Some other imaginative responses to the evaluation requirement included illustrated podcasts, video presentations, presentations using Issuu, Slideshare, and Prezi.

And another quick extract which focuses specifically on the Evaluation questions and how they are tackled:

The set question approach has worked very well. The conventions question allowed for side by side comparisons, allowing even weaker Candidates to achieve; the audience feedback question led to a range of approaches from uploading onto YouTube and getting feedback, or videoing peers’ group or individual responses, not to mention scans of endless questionnaires! The relationship between the artefacts question forced Candidates to relate their products and create a more cohesive package. The equipment question often led to endless photos of cameras, computers and images of computer screens - but also led to some excellent voice over demonstrations of software being used, for example, explaining how they achieved certain effects, for example, or debates over the use of Web 2.0.

3 December 2010

Final products ASAP and update.

You must post your three final products as soon as possible. It should have been done by now but not everyone has posted their ancillary tasks.

Please remember that time management and organisation are part of the criteria.

Ideally you should be posting your evaluation tasks right now. Some of you also have some Research and Planning catching up to do; we will have to base our assessment on what's on your blog! Can I refer you again to your assessment booklets to check your criteria and the notes I have made about what you have to catch up on individually.

Finally can you amend your blog title to add your candidate number and name please. This is a request from the examiners to ease their task and avoid mistakes.

1 December 2010

Thursday 2.12.10 - presenting your three products!

Dear all,

Tomorrow Thursday you will be presenting your three products to the class and get feedback which you will need to record carefully. Remember that you'll will get 'What's great / what could be improved next time' comments but you might also want to prepare a few specific questions to ask the audience, as material for question 3.

The lesson will go ahead either with Ms Lyall or myself.

The rest of the lesson must be spent working on your evaluation, particularly if you are recording / editing a director's commentary or something similar.

Nearly there!!!

28 November 2010

Getting audience feedback on your final products- Evaluation Question 3

Think of using YouTube, Vimeo but also Protagonise (see below). Of course you could organise a screening with a questionnaire for your audience to fill in. Aim to shape the responses, asking people to comments on strengths and weaknesses and what image they get of the band/artist. Do your products fit together? Can they recognise the genre and are the conventions working in your products.

The more constructive comments you get, the better the quality of your discussion in Question 3.

Example of Feedback on Protagonise here.
Example of questionnaire at screening here.

If you're struggling with ideas to promote your artist...

... then look at this link. You could use these headings to organise your own strategy.

26 November 2010

By Tuesday... and on Tuesday (30.11.10)

By Tuesday / Home Learning:
You need to come to the lesson with your rough (or finished!) digipack and magazine advert. You'll be finishing this task in the pod in the first lesson and post it on your blog.

You need to have started on Evaluation question 1. At the very least, you should all have filled in your grids using Goodwin's and Vernallis' ideas to analyze your own video (double-sided hand out distributed in class; if you've lost the sheet, don't wait till Tuesday to tell me). The accompanying recommended activity for question 1 is the idea of the 9 frames with comments. Refer to your booklets for examples.

On Tuesday:
You will be finishing / posting the first evaluation task on your blogs on Tuesday as well (second lesson) if not already finished at home.

Finally I expect most of you will have started/completed at least one more evaluation question / activity by the end of the triple.

The rest of the evaluation tasks will be completed on Thursday and at home.

You are running out of time now so it should be a fairly intensive week to finish by the deadline! We know you can all do it though.

Reminder about other 3 evaluation questions:
2. How effective is the combination of your main product and ancillary texts?
3. What have you learned from your audience feedback?
4. How did you use new media technologies in the construction and research, planning and evaluation stages?
Copy of the Assessment booklet for Evaluation with examples from other students - see link on the side.
Here is a help sheet to help you think about and discuss audience and your video.

UPDATED - Finished (and not quite finished) videos

Thank you to those who have uploaded the videos. We can now start assessing them. Do watch them!

25 November 2010


We only know of two of you who said that the video could only be finished by Friday. No one else has contacted us. Not only is it disrespectful, it is also likely to affect the marks given for time management and organisation.

The deadlines are there to allow us to assess the different parts of your portfolio fairly and to moderate. It is crucial that you abide by deadlines or at the very least discuss your circumstances.

As previously stated, we will contact home by tomorrow afternoon if your final video is not on your blog and you haven't contacted us.

23 November 2010


Since one person at least had to do some last minute filming, and due to the fact that some of you have been absent, can we all agree that all music videos will be finished and exported by the end of Thursday (25th November) and embedded in your blog? Yes, that's pushing back the deadline a little further so please, stick to it...

If you know of a good reason why it won't be completed, please let Ms Lyall or myself know by the end of Wednesday (tomorrow); otherwise we will need to contact home.

The work so far is really promising. You just need a last push to get it done and dusted. I'll be around on Thursday, and in the pod in the afternoon.

Remember that your ancillary tasks must be completed ASAP.

16 November 2010


Ms Lyall and I will be updating comments / assessing work so far. Have a look at criteria and aim to evaluate where you stand and what should be priorities. We'll distribute additional sheets if necessary for the Research and Planning section. Get a parental signature.

Deadlines and work ahead

Can I please urge you to use your Assessment Booklet to remind yourselves of deadlines (though some are slightly extended) and start on your Evaluation questions, particularly Question 1.


By the end of this week : Deadline Final Cut of Music Video.
However in the light of the fact that some groups have had to reshoot, we are extending this to next Tuesday (23rd November) - video exported by 5pm and embedded as an mp4 (or .mov) on your blog.

Please keep in mind that the first lesson will not be in the pod as we will look at magazine adverts and how to tackle the second Evaluation Question.

Deadline Ancillary products - Tuesday 30th November (slightly extended)

Deadline Evaluation / Coursework (ready for moderation and assessment the following week):
Sunday 5th December - 10pm.

You can (should) get started on your Evaluation now.
Evaluation Question 1 - In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products.

See booklet for first task and students' examples. Nine frames with comments.
Additionally complete an analysis of your video using the double-sided sheet distributed in class (using Goodwin on one side, Vernallis on the other).

Other questions to start thinking about:
2. How effective is the combination of your main product and ancillary texts?
3. What have you learned from your audience feedback?
4. How did you use new media technologies in the construction and research, planning and evaluation stages?

9 November 2010

Refining your marketing strategy

You need to start thinking about pulling all the threads together in terms of your marketing campaign / promotional package. Use the research you've done on labels on music TV to work out which would represent / play your artist. Think about your Digipack and how it will tie in with your audience research. Use the work you've done on established artists to help you map out everything.

Below you will find bits and bobs to help further hopefully:

Think of labels for your music genre / type of band or artist.

Remember to work on your CD cover and digipack:
Think about:
1. images used (layout, colour, style etc) text (fonts, size, positioning, colour etc) The relationship between text and images - how do they work together i.e. anchorage, differing functions of the front, back, inside sleeve
2. how the iconography represents the band, the genre of music and their overall image.
3. are there any signifiers exclusive to the band/genre
4. what the cover says about the institutional context of the music ie the label, mainstream, underground, first album etc
5. what can we learn about the potential/target audience from the cover ie specialist, niche, familiarity with the band, compilation, mainstream etc.
6. and anything else of relevance, including influences from similar (real) products.
You will have a lesson on Magazine adverts next week but you could start thinking about where a magazine ad would appear.

Finally, remember to refine your audience research using the technology available.

Creating a form

You could try and use this site to build a form for audience research and feedback.

Look at this example from another school; this is a good exercise to plan your marketing campaign. I don't have access to the results page however since I did not create this one!

7 November 2010

Student blogs - level 4 for research and planning (and just got into level 4 for evaluation)

Look particulalrly at the Audience Research conducted.

You might also want to take a look at this one:

Finally, this one was noted by examiners for documenting the "whole journey" very well:

4 November 2010

Linking video and ancillary tasks - an example

Pete Fraser has posted an example of how to evaluate how well your promotional package works; this is not to say that the digipack and advert are Level 4 (they're not) but merely to illustrate how it can be done.

Of course you could do something similar for a different evaluation question (except question 1)
Can I also refer you back to one early post on this blog? And at the end of the project,...
Remember that the 4 evaluation questions are:
1. In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products ?
2. How effective is the combination of your main product and ancillary texts?
3. What have you learned from your audience feedback?
4. How did you use new media technologies in the construction and research, planning and evaluation stages?

2 November 2010

Adding a poll to your blog to get feedback from peers

There are many ways you could use a poll though below I'm only looking at a simple multi-choice question, for example to get feedback on different ideas for CD Cover.

The easiest way is to upload the photos you want people to choose from in a new post then add a gadget on the side to allow them to vote (Design > Add a Gadget > Poll)

If you want more options and to insert your poll within a post, you'll have to prepare a form then embed the code.
Go THERE for instructions or simply straight to http://docs.google.com then Open a new Form.
Again make sure you had your pictures / rough cut etc... (whatever you want feedback on) and make sure to direct your friends to your blog post through Facebook or Twitter.

Could look something like that:

30 October 2010

Hurtwood House Music Videos

Have a look at other students' work and discuss in your group what works well and not so well. You should select 2 or 3 as a group that you think might inspire your own work in any way and embed the relevant clips.
Or try this link and scroll down a bit (some have 1000 + views)


We need to see more planning on your blogs...
Too many gaps - record: 4 weeks without an update... not good.
Evangelia, is your blog up yet? We need a url.

26 October 2010

Great album covers - Have a look!

100 obscure and remarkable album covers
35 beautiful music album covers (and some links to Photoshop tutorials on the side)

Example of ancillary tasks - Level 4

Have a look at this group's work on ancillary tasks. They achieved level 4.

The magazine advert:

Here is their 6-frame digipack:

21 October 2010

Pete Fraser's advice - A2 Music Video

Here is the post from Pete Fraser's blog mentioned today at the conference. I told you to try and do an animatic...

Pete Fraser's post on A2 Music Video

Lindy Heymann

Here is the video mentioned at today's conference - Suede's Attitude.

This is 'The Making of Said It All' by Take That, the video which we watched today. Look at the research they've done!

Here is the link to Faithless' Insomnia.
And here is her videography on mvdBase.com though not quite up to date.

16 October 2010

Preparing for the Media Conference

Please click on this link to take you to the post on the Gateway. There are a few things to look at ahead of the day. A little preparation will enhance your understanding of the topics covered.

Preparing for the Media Conference
Maps and details from there.

12 October 2010

Marketing a Star - website

Below is a student's research based on Katy Perry's website (minus the pictures). This is to provide you with a model for the fans/marketting task set last week.

The first thing when we see on Katy Perry's website is a banner with artwork from her album Teenage Dream, which features on the front cover of the CD. Katy Perry's name and the album title is in a candy font, which relates to the first single from the album California Girls which was inspired by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the game Candy Land. The fun theme runs through the site, with pink and blue colours.

BRAND IDENTITY & TARGET AUDIENCE: Katy's image is very sexualised through all her work, appealing to both men and women as she is a female singer. She markets to a worldwide audience as she is a mainstream popstar, who frequently appears in the charts and on radio. As we are in the UK, the wesbite automatically loads in a British format, but there are other options available for lots of other countries, allowing a wide audience to buy into Katy and her music.

APPEAL TO AUDIENCE: The website works in synergy with other sites like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter etc which shows the technological convergence which allows the site to broadcast to many people. Katy has a live twitter feed which shows her tweets and other people that have mentioned her. Most celebrities use Twitter now, which allows fans to follow their every move and even interact with them.
The website is very fan based, with links to watch parodies that fans have made. This benefits the fans and Katy, as both are working symbiotically as people can view fans interpretations of her work.

STRATEGIES TO BUY INTO ARTIST: There are many ways to buy into Katy Perry, the main one being to buy her latest album Teenage Dream, with 'available now' and 'available everywhere now,' repeated all over the place.

The audience can buy ringtones, visit the store to buy merchandise, view tour dates and buy tickets for live performances. There are links to specific songs and some are from her EPs and previous album, which shows that the website is allowing the audience many options. Again, there is an appeal to an international audience with a UK and US store.

INSTITUTIONS: The record company behind the website and Katy's new album is capitol records, who are featured at the bottom of the page. Katy's website doesn't advertise for other institutions like clothes shops, which perhaps shows that she doesn't need the extra money from advertising as she is so successful or perhaps that she wants the fans to focus on her instead of other things. There are photos of the artist, videos, songs and many other things to appeal to the audience as they have visited the site for her and not anything else.

Hope this helps and inspires you.

CD Cover analysis, planning and Digipack templates

Following the lesson on CD covers' conventions and the sheet distributed to help you deconstruct CD Covers, you now need to do your own research and planning.

1. Analyse CD covers (front, back, inside pages) using the guidance notes and the models. Focus on CD covers that you feel inspired by or would like to emulate.
See student's example here. And here.

2. Develop your own ideas for the CD cover of your chosen track and prepare a presentation to be given in class in the 2nd week after half-term.

3. Design your rough pack, then, after audience research and feedback, prepare your final version. Templates for CD digipacks can be downloaded here.
See a student's work here.

Have fun!

11 October 2010

Transforming Komal

Post your work, based on the class activity, on your individual blog. Aim to show what you've learnt in the process!

How will you apply that to your own artist?
What is you artist's name?
What's your marketting strategy?

10 October 2010

Home Learning - Research and Planning

You should be in the midst of research and planning, particularly focusing on your treatment and storyboard, locations and costumes etc. As ever, illustrate with lots of screengrabs or clips. Take pictures to show progress, thinking, make up and costumes, props and locations. Start taking pictures of or scanning storyboard frames (particularly effective if compared to existing shots from videos).

Use the sheet with two sides (Goodwin / Vernallis) to plot your ideas / treatment against the different items listed there. You will do this again later with the finished product.

Do remember your Pitch feedback and Audience Research. Refer to work set in class.

Two of the Required Reading extracts carried questions - these should be completed and the answers posted on your blog before half-term.

Please keep referring to your Assessment pack and plot your progress where indicated; also keep referring to the Criteria. We will have a look at your Assessment packs on Tuesday and parents / guardians must countersign at least once before half-term.

Record Labels Research anyone?

Please catch up. Maybe focus on specific labels looking at the kind of artists they represent. Contrast two or more. Finally, link that to your own track - who is likely to sign your act etc.?

3 October 2010

The Media Conference - AS and A2

Please see post on main Gateway blog and copy of letter. Bring payment and EV7 as soon as possible.

1 October 2010

Due in on 5.10.10

- Pitch (see post below)
- Music industry research started last week
- Bring your favourite CD cover(s)!

Transforming Komal...

Remember that you have been assigned an area to research in order to launch our very own Komal straight to fame; have this ready for next Thursday!

H/L: Extending the work done on star-text and star evolution - Fans and Marketing

You have been studying the changing image of the band/artist as it has developed over time. Now investigate the following questions (keep the same artist). It will help you follow the same process for your own artist / band.

1. Who are the fans? Do you have any sense of how the music companies have segmented the audiences? To what extent has the branding of the artist / band been linked to target audience?
2. What marketing strategies can you identify? What kinds of strategies can you list?(any unexpected promo stunts?). List any examples of the use of synergy with other industries to promote other media/products in connection with the band/artist.
You could compare and contrast these strategies to those used to market a different artist.
3. Add any relevant links to your blog, especially Myspace page/ music video channels/artists' official websites etc.

Preparing the Pitch

Next Tuesday you will pitch your ideas to the class for feedback.

You need to have done several things before then. Firstly, agree and post the following as soon as possible if not already done:
1 who the band/ artist are, their name, their image/ identity
2 an outline treatment for your early visual ideas
3 Detail on the target audience – see last week's task and use some of the audience reseach methods mentioned in class (use Web 2.0 for instance)

Next week, you will need to present the following:

1. The track itself
2. What you know about the track, and the original band/artist
3. The genre of the music and the signifiers of this (within the music and/or linked to the artist)
4. The target audience you intend to appeal to
5. Your treatment for the video which should include visual references (stills and video)
6. Your treatment should give a strong sense of the overall style, mise-en-scene, mood and theme of your idea.
7. You should be able to discuss your treatment in terms of Goodwin's points (and
if you can, try to reference Vernallis' ideas)

Aim for 6-10 minutes. Use your blog for your visual aids, BUT your treatment should be printed in colour as a handout. Be prepared to answer questions, discuss feedback, note it down and adapt your treatment for Thursday's lesson.

Project Stages - Are you on the right track for a level 4?

Use the list below to help you see whereabouts you are on your way to a successful Advanced Portfolio.

Stage 1: Individual research tasks, including
- research for potential tracks and comments ... Final choice +reasons
- research into similar products (artists and record labels, album covers, artists websites, music videos)
- exploration and analysis of the forms and conventions of similar products
- target audience research

Stage 2: Group or Individual research and planning - the focus by this stage should be specifically on the choices you are making with your track including:
- the style of artist you are intending to work with
- the type of music video and other materials you are planning to produce
- the genre of music you are intending to work with
- the audience you are planning to target (demographics, tastes and habits, pleasures, other music/media consumption etc). Think about all the ways to conduct Audience Research discussed in class (and remember it is usually an area of weakness for many students)
- the actual track you have selected - genre, tempo etc...
- your ideas for branding your artist or band
- your ideas for mise-en-scene, location, special fx, costume, actors etc

Stage 3: Group or Individual Pre-production - your plans and ideas must be firmed up. - - Pitch
- Treatment, storyboards, photographs, shot list, a shoot schedule, emails sent / received etc.
- Search for locations and recce shots
- Test shots and comments
- ideas dor costumes, props etc and pictures of all this.
- list of (who? what? where?)
And anything else to lead to a smooth shoot. Take pictures along the way (kind of behind the scene...)

Stage 4: Group Production/post-production:
- shoot and edit music video,
- shoot publicity stills, (make sure you do a photo shoot of the artist / band on the day of the shoot; you might need it for the album cover or the website)
- design album cover,
- designadvert/website

Stage 5: Individual Follow-up work.
- Audience feedback at several stages, including after pitch
- Evaluation activities.

Note that some of your evaluation answers can be posted at any time during the project. You can add to your responses as you go along (alonside other stages) which could be a much more effective way of tackling your evaluation than leaving it until the end of the project. Particularly look at Audience Research and Audience Feedback.

Your Assessment booklet contains all the evaluation tasks as well as examples.

27 September 2010

Music Industry Research on Tuesday

First an interesting post from Pete Fraser's blog about the music industry / media in the online age to get you thinking about the ways we buy / consume music.

Next, for your research tasks on music channels and the music companies, use the useful links on the right. You'll find all the answers there. Also use the suggested links on the worksheet and answer all the questions.

You can work in pairs or share the task as long as you share your findings; you'll get a lesson to research and feedback.

21 September 2010

Home Learning set 21st September due in week beginning 27th September

1. Complete the required reading. We will be discussing key points over the next two weeks.

2. Complete the research task on Audience (sheet distributed in class) - TO BE COMPLETED FOR TUESDAY LESSON

3. Complete a couple more detailed video analyses using Goodwin's ideas and post on blog. Look into 'similar products' or at least distinct music genres, preferably the one you've chosen. Alternatively, you might want to deconstruct a video which contains visual ideas you'd like to replicate...


4. PLANNING: Update your group blog (individual if you're working on your own) about decisions made, spidergram of initial ideas, stills from other videos which are inspiring your group, etc...

General progress

I thought the presentations on music directors this morning were very interesting and hopefully they will prompt you to look at the work of these key directors and to ask yourselves why they are successful - is it just that the videos are clever and well-shot or are there other factors, including music genre, artists, and socio-economic factors?

Your blogs are coming along well. We are really pleased that the majority of you seem so focused.

Aim high and keep working hard.

14 September 2010

Home Learning set 14.9 due in week beginning 20th September

- Read the chapter from Vernallis’ book (required reading pack) for next week

- Update individual blog about choices made. Start Group Blog and send url to HO – make sure that everyone in the group is linked properly.
First post should be about the selected track and the reasons behind the choice as well as initial ideas emerging from group discussion.

- Design a mood board from the music genre you’ve selected, including images from videos you are particularly inspired by.

NOTE: 1. Books can be borrowed: Goodwin, Auzterlitz, Vernallis
2. Your presentation on a music director of your choice should also be on your blog and presented in class next Tuesday.

Your detailed music video analysis using Goodwin's ideas is to be ready for Tuesday 28th September. This is to be an analysis of a video of your choice / similar product to the song your group ends up picking – Doesn’t have to be a PPT but might be easier to present it that way; it must contain annotated screengrabs.

6 September 2010

Home Learning set 7.9.10

1. Complete your reflective post on the practical tasks so far. Use screengrabs to illustrate. Use the points below for guidance.
a/ Sum up the practical tasks you've completed in Final Cut so far for the Music Video project and why they were useful. What editing skills have you learnt? Why are they important?
b/ What did you do successfully during the planning / shoot / editing respectively? (focus on karaoke task and Britney task). What mistakes did you make / problems did you have at any point and what would you do differently next time?

2. Prepare a pitch for your chosen track (your final choice). You'll have to pitch it to your group. Chart your decision-making on your blog; consider good points and bad points for each of your short-listed tracks (should be 2-4) and how and why you made your final choice. Bring lyrics and track to next Tuesday's lesson to play it to your group / teacher.

22 August 2010

Required Reading: Introduction to the book 'Money For Nothing'

Get stuck in now! You will get a printed copy of this Introduction and you will be able to borrow the book from us. This is part of your required reading. You will get a few extracts from key books to help you with the theory side of things, in order to stretch your understanding of the genre, analytical skills and to improve the quality of your evaluation.
Money for Nothing Intro

Below is a short extract from the book focusing on some of Britney Spears's videos, since we started by looking at "Baby One More Time". It's a good example of what can be said about a video clip.

And finally, watch the video for Toxic here or here.

Remember to use the links on the right side to help with your research and analysis. The analysis from the BFI of Eminem's Stan should really give you some ideas in terms of what can be said about a video.

19 August 2010

AS Results!

Well done, everyone!

We are really pleased with so many good results and wanted to say congratulations!!! 100% pass rate.

H.O'Shea and A. Lyall

17 August 2010


Dear all,

Do remember to select your background before adding your gadgets otherwise you will have to start all over again.
You need to add a link back to the main video blog to allow examiners / moderators to navigate our sites easily.
Other gadgets will include relevant links or articles, particularly sites that you need to go back to frequently. For instance, you might want to link up the Park High YouTube Channel to look up recommended videos or explore the work of a specific director.
Finally, you need to use labels, once again to facilitate navigation; for instance, you could use Research or Track Selection... Later posts will be about Planning and the last ones will be for the Evaluation. Do start using labels! You can add them to existing posts and you can add more than one label.
Finally, remember to document your search for suitable tracks on your blogs, and to come back in September with your top 2-4 possible tracks. Email if you have any questions about that.

27 July 2010

Other examples of student blogs... for inspiration...

This is not perfect but demonstrates well how to embed technologies and really document your journey over the whole production process.
See Emma's music video blog.

This blog got a top level 4 for research/planning and for evaluation. Do have a look.
Alex's music video blog.

20 July 2010

Key features of Music Video - Starting points for your analysis of music videos

The points below should help you to analyse your chosen videos in a more focused way. Use them to get started. Start building up marks.

  • Music videos work around 3 codes - music, lyrics and iconography. The relationship between these codes is key to understanding how music video work. Take some time looking at whether the video illustrates the lyrics or not, and in which ways, as well as whether the video helps you to understand the lyrics better or not, and in which way. Does the song belong to a particular music genre and does it come across in the video?
  • Music videos are designed to provide pleasure in order to keep the viewer (particularly the intended audience) watching and to encourage repeat viewings. How is it achieved? How are the performers shown? What do YOU LIKE about the video? Can you screengrabs favourite shots and comment?
  • Explain whether the video is primarily performance-based, narrative-based or concept-based, or is it a hybrid? Explore how it is done and presented. Look at Lauryn Hill's Everything is Everything for example.
  • Does the video refer to / draw upon other texts (book, film, other video, advert...)? Is it a parody or tongue-in-cheek video?

Getting started now - UPDATED

Having read the great advice from Pete Fraser, it is imperative that you start your research now over the summer. You also need to start your Video project blog to chart your early thoughts, which bands / titles you have in mind (remember the advice about using MySpace to find bands). Discuss which genres of music you're interested in working on and find existing videos for this particular genre so that you start getting a feel for its conventions.

You should upload music videos that you like / are relevant and explain why.

As usual, start your blog and send me the url so that I can link it to the main blog. Remember to also put a link back to the main video project blog. Add a picture of yourself to your profile. Add any interesting links that you use or find useful. You probably don't need the Followers gadget, so get rid of it for better clarity. Do use labels to organise your posts more clearly and to allow the moderator to navigate your blog more easily.

You will be expected to come back in September with a selection of 2 to 4 titles so that you we can discuss them and agree.

To sum up, what you need to do now and chart on your individual blog is:
- research potential tracks - link them to your blog; explain why they would be good choices and what the bad points might be;
- research into similar products (artists and record labels, album covers, artists' websites, music videos, artists' looks/ fashion and iconography)
- exploration and analysis of the forms and conventions of similar products
- research target audience for existing artists / videos / music genres, particularly the ones you're interested in.

Your selected track must conform to the following:

- it should have plenty of scope for creativity;
- it must be available as a digital download or CD, and have been mixed and recorded to a high standard;
- it must NOT have been promoted successfully (in the last 10 years) by a professional music video;
- it must be clearly identifiable as a genre / sub genre;
- it must have a clearly definable audience;
- it must be suitable for public broadcast so no swearing, no sexually aggressive language / imagery, no drug-related lyrics.

We are aimimg to submit the coursework for the January session and therefore will need to get things under way very quickly.

PS: MySpace is full of new artists who have a webpage very much like the one you might choose to do as one of your ancillary tasks. Start searching here for instance.
You could also investigate less well-known song covers. See links on the right.

19 July 2010

And at the end of the project,...

the evaluation! It's important to keep the 4 questions in mind throughout and to start addressing them as early as possible. No essay-type evaluation this time; instead 4 activities/ tasks to complete. This young man has gone a step further and put it all in one film to accompany the work completed on his blog.

Evaluation- Elliott from cmdiploma on Vimeo.

Remember that the 4 evaluation questions are:
1. In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products ?
2. How effective is the combination of your main product and ancillary texts?
3. What have you learned from your audience feedback?
4. How did you use new media technologies in the construction and research, planning and evaluation stages?

18 July 2010

Watch, watch, watch...

Watch as many music videos as possible from a range of genres.
Use the links on the right, including the playlist from PHMedia's YouTube Channel.

16 July 2010

ESSENTIAL READING Top 10 tips from your Chief Examiner

I will not leave this on the blog for too long as it is an article from the Media Magazine. Let's say it's inspired summer reading... We do have a subscription to this fantastic magazine... Do read it.

Ten tips for...
making your own music video
Two or three years ago, Pete Fraser wrote a piece for the very first issue of MediaMag with tips for students on making a music video – probably the most popular task for OCR A2 coursework. Since then, changes in technology have led to some opportunities to help make your music video project even better... Here he is again with an update.

Step 1: Choose a track
Ideally your track will be provided by your teacher as part of a selection for the whole class to select from. The most successful choices are usually unknown or semi-unknown artists. It is rare that moderators see work featuring tracks by very well-known stars; often choosing your favourite track or favourite artist leads to self-indulgent work.
MySpace is a good source of material; if you (or a teacher) search by genre, you can quickly find a range of stuff. You could even search by genre and by geographical area to give yourself the opportunity to find local bands who might even be prepared to appear in the video.
Make it short! Tracks that last five minutes rarely make good videos. It becomes very hard work to sustain the audience’s attention for more than three minutes and it means an awful lot of planning, shooting and editing. A really well edited two-minute video can earn much better marks than a long video which contains lots of padding.

Step 2: Write a treatment
In your group, listen to the track several times and discuss the ideas that it generates. Don’t just go with the lyrics – look to them to provide a springboard for ideas and soak up the atmosphere of the track. Write a pitch for the material with a strong and simple idea.
Have a clear concept which is workable! Don’t try to include too many different ideas – the more complicated you make it, the more can go wrong.

Step 3: Plan for everything
Storyboard – you can always shoot extra material but you need a very clear plan for what you are going to shoot so that no time is wasted when you get there. Plan people, places, props and costumes. Arrange every detail like a professional producer would.
Get everyone’s mobile numbers! You need to be able to contact one another easily. Aim to shoot it early, not up against deadline when something will always go wrong; if you are ahead of the game, you will avoid the problems turning into disasters.
Make sure your performers have rehearsed and know the words; it can be very embarrassing to watch something where the singer doesn’t know the words and it can ruin all your hard work elsewhere in the planning, shooting and editing. It’s part of the director’s job to motivate, so make sure your performer is motivated!

Step 4: Set up a blog
This is a fantastic way of enhancing your planning. You can use it to link to videos that influence you from YouTube, to the performer’s MySpace and to any photos that give you ideas. Take recce shots on location and post them onto your blog; put up pictures of props, costumes, instruments. The advantage is that you can add to this planning from any computer and every member of the group can contribute.

Look at relevant real examples – choose tracks from the same genre to give a sense of what the conventions are, not just great famous videos which may be impossible to emulate.
You can also do an animatic of your storyboard, where you film each of your drawings (however rough) and then capture your shots in the edit program before adding the music. This then gives you the opportunity to see how well your planning, and particularly the storyboard, is likely to work in practice. You may well find that the shot of the band you thought would look great will be revealed as lasting much too long when put with the music, indicating the need to cut the whole thing faster and re-think the storyboard. You can then upload your animatic to YouTube and paste it into your blog for feedback from others.
In effect, your blog becomes a place for all your ideas and the development of your planning as an e-scrapbook and something which can be submitted to the moderator as evidence for your planning marks.

Step 5: Know your equipment
Do test shots to try out effects. Check any quirks that the camera has; it is much better to find out before you go on the shoot than when you get back. You may need to check things like how to avoid the camera switching to widescreen mode. Do you know the edit program well enough for the things you intend to do? Experiment before the main thing!
When you do go out on your shoot, make sure you have the tripod and the attachment to fix the camera to it. Have you checked that the tape is loaded? Have you got the CD and player? If you don’t have it playing out loud on the shoot, you will find it very difficult to synch up the sound in the edit stage.

Step 6: The shoot
Make sure your location is useable for your purpose. If you are going to have passers-by going through the frame all the time, is that going to mess up your video? If you are on a stage, is it going to look convincing?
Shoot the performance at least three times with different set-ups. More, if possible, as this way you give yourself more options in the edit. Don’t forget: lots of close-ups! Shoot some of the performances with moving camera, handheld, whatever, otherwise it can end up looking pretty static. Make sure you have plenty of cutaways, experiment with extra angles and lighting changes.
Enthuse your performers – they must give it plenty! But overall, shoot more than you think you will need – there will always be shots you don’t like when you come to edit.

Step 7: Capture your footage
Label everything you capture so that you don’t have lots of files all called ‘untitled’ or just with numbers. Label by description for example, ‘close-up singer good 1’ to make it easy to find. Break it into manageable chunks, no longer than the full length of the song itself, and be selective! Don’t capture stuff you don’t need or which is obviously rubbish footage as you’ll fill up your computer unnecessarily and give yourself too much material to wade through.

Step 8: The edit
Synch up performances first and aim to get the whole picture rather than tiny detail. There is a risk of spending far too long on little moments of the video and never getting the whole thing finished: getting a rough cut which comprises just the performances intercut with one another should be an early target. Aim for a dynamic piece of work, which moves along at a pace. Cut and cut again – it’s rare that shots feel too short but common to see videos where shots drag on...
Upload a rough cut to YouTube and your blog and get feedback; it will also enable you to trace back your decisions when you come to the write up.
Do any effects work last, such as greenscreen or adding motion paths. This could be several hours work, so leave plenty of time to complete it.

Step 9: Screening
Hopefully you will have the chance for a big-screen premiere of your work at a local cinema which many schools and colleges now negotiate, but at the very least your work will be shown in class for feedback. Get feedback wherever you can and note it all down.
Upload your finished video to your blog via YouTube and look out for feedback there. Get the artist to look at it, to put it on their MySpace and give you feedback.

Step 10: Analysis
Unlike the real world of the promo director, you’ll have to write about it. Take advice about what is needed in your write up and start early. Get help with drafts of writing – get teachers to read it and comment, give it to parents or friends to help you proofread.
Make use of your blog – use it to remind you of the process and all the stages you went through.

Pete Fraser teaches at Long Road 6th Form Centre, and is Chief Examiner for OCR Media Studies A Level.

This article first appeared in MediaMagazine 19.

5 July 2010

Planning your Portfolio - getting the right song

Use the summer time to find your song and start your research. I'll give you more details shortly.

In the meantime, this is the kind of letter that you'll need to write to the copyright owner; though they might not reply to you, at least you've taken the right steps to get permission. Alternatively, you might want to ask if it would be ok to have your video posted on your school's YouTube channel.

26 June 2010

Welcome to the course!

Welcome to A2 Media Studies. Ready for the challenges ahead? Of course you are!

The Advanced Portfolio 's chosen brief is Music Video.

This will be managed in the same way as the Foundation Portfolio:
- individual blog for individual research and ideas, reflections and evaluation,
- group blog for all group research, planning and production work,
- a production.

ASSESSMENT OBJECTIVES for the coursework:
1. Apply knowledge and understanding when analysing media products and processes and evaluating your own practical work, to show how meanings and responses are created (20 marks)
2. Demonstrate the ability to plan and construct media products using appropriate technical and creative skills (60 marks)
3. Demonstrate the ability to undertake, apply and present appropriate research (20 marks)

The unit requires you to engage with contemporary media technologies, giving you the opportunity to develop in these technologies. It also enables you to develop the skills of presentation that are required for further study at higher levels and in the workplace.

Candidates will produce:
a media portfolio, comprising a main and ancillary texts
• a presentation of their research, planning and evaluation in electronic format

Brief: A promotion package of the release of an album, to include a music promo video, together with 2 of the following 3 options:
• a website homepage for the band
• a cover for its release on cd
• a magazine advert for the cd
Note: Original imagery, (including publicity stills for the ancillary products) must be included on all products. You are expected to shoot stills specifically for use on your print materials rather than merely relying on extracts from your MV footage.

Assessment: to achieve Level 4 in Research and Planning, you must demonstrate
• excellent research into similar products and a potential target audience
• excellent organisation of actors, locations, costumes and props
• excellent work on shotlists, layouts, drafting, scripting or storyboarding
• excellent time management
• excellent level of care in the presentation of the research and plannning
• excellent skill in the use of digital technology or ICT in the presentation
• excellent communication skills

Assessment: To achieve Level 4 in Production you are expected to demontrate excellence in the creative use of most of the following technical skills:
• holding a shot steady, where appropriate
• framing a shot, including and excluding elements where appropriate
• using a variety of shot distances, where appropriate
• shooting material appropriate to the task set
• selecting mise-en-scene including colour, figure, lighting, objects and setting
• editing so that meaning is apparent to the viewer
• using varied shot transitions, captions and other effects selectively and appropriately for the task
• using sound with images and editing appropriately for the task

Assessment: to achieve Level 4 in Evaluation, you are expected to demontrate excellence in the creative use of most of the following technical skills:
- understanding of the forms and conventions used in the productions.
- understanding of the role and use of new media in various stages of the production.
- understanding of the combination of main product and ancillary texts.
- understanding of the significance of audience feedback.
- choice of form in which to present the evaluation.
- ability to communicate.
- use of digital technology or ICT in the evaluation.

In the evaluation the following questions must be answered:
- In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?
- How effective is the combination of your main product and ancillary texts?
- What have you learned from your audience feedback?
- How did you use media technologies in the construction and research, planning and evaluation stages?

Where a candidate has worked in a group, an excellent contribution to construction is evident. Differences in the contributions made by individual candidates must be clearly indicated on the teacher marksheets. When marking the production, teachers must focus on the quality of the brand identity across the promotion package as a whole, as well as on the indidvidual productions.

In other words, a lot to think about and lessons to be learnt from last year and along the way.

Enjoy it!