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Challenging Video Conventions

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Media Coursework

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Challenging Video Conventions

  1. 1.  Whilst analysing existing music videos, we gained inspiration on how other artists used shots and misé-en-scene in order to portray a particular message or narrative. Firstly, we watched Miranda Lambert’s “More Like Her” video as, like our artist, she is part of the country genre. The video opens with a montage of close-up shots of her playing the guitar, with the dissolve transition being used between shots. We liked the idea of this, and so used it so that our music video would flow with more fluency. The dissolve effect also showed the passing of time throughout the narrative in Miranda’s video. Therefore, as our video also holds a narrative, this was another reason why we used this effect.  Miranda was dressed in casual outfits, reflecting the simplistic tone of the song. No flashy or over glamorised costumes were used so that the audience were not distracted away from the lyrics and narrative. We also decided to use more casual clothing on our artist so that our audience could perhaps easily relate to her and her story.  We decided not to apply the split-screen effect used in Miranda’s video because we felt that this would not fit with the narrative or lyrics within our music video.
  2. 2.  We also decided to analyse Ashley Monroe’s music video for “Like a Rose”. Throughout this video, lots of natural imagery is used to create a rural and countryside effect whilst relating to the lyric “rose”. This gave us inspiration to do the same. The first shot in the video is a close up of some roses, immediately introducing the theme to the audience. This is something we developed when filming our music video; the natural imagery of the country fields and the horse sets the tone.  A common convention used within the country genre is a strong narrative relating to the lyrics in the song. Both Miranda and Ashley used this, linking to the lyrics in the song. We wanted to fit in with this genre and make our song recognisable and memorable to audiences, who are able to understand the message and sole meaning of the song. Lip-syncing and scenes of the artists performing are also very popular.  We wanted to use this convention as we found that this was what our audience wanted to see; our primary research told us that 63% of the people we asked in our questionnaire said that watching the artist/band perform and sing is what they enjoy about music videos.
  3. 3.  In order to gain a broader knowledge and understanding of how music videos connect with their audiences, we also analysed artists of a different genre. For example, we watched the video for “Lay me Down” by Sam Smith – a pop artist. The video looks as if it is shot all in one take; with no obvious cuts. However, it still includes the artist lip-syncing and a narrative. The camera moves around the scene fluently, drawing the audience’s attention to particular things – such as people holding hands etc. The artist also looks directly into the camera. We felt that this made the video more personal, as if Sam was singing directly to his audience. We wanted to use this in our video so that our audience could too be involved with the song and its meaning.
  4. 4.  We also looked at the video for “Settle Down” by The 1975 – an alternative/indie rock band. This video is filmed entirely in black and white, giving us the idea to use a filter in order to represent the past. In our video, we used ‘sepia’ as we felt it corresponded with our vintage, country theme. It also set our character’s friendship apart from normal day life without each other. Another way in which we wanted to represent the past was to put some of our footage in slow motion.  We got this idea from the “Settle Down” video as we felt it made the overall feel more emotive; allowing the audience to connect with it. The sepia and slow motion were the quintessential representations of a friendship which needed to be emphasised in a special way whereby we felt that would work best.
  5. 5.  Alternatively, we looked at modern rock – country music videos to help us develop a flavour for the sub genres of country music. We found that the conventions within these videos have vague differences to that of classical country music videos such as, ‘more like her’ and ‘like a rose’. However, one particular thing we picked up on was the use of corresponding imagery and colour, ultimately reflecting the lyrical atmosphere. Blake Shelton’s ‘Honey Bee,’ we felt, was the best representation of this effect and so we were highly influenced by it. In regard to images that correspond with the song lyrically ‘Honey Bee’ used a bitter – sweet close –up shot of multiple honey jars. In our case, this concept inspired us to use the moving image of the artist walking on a ‘journey’ to reflect the song lyrically. In regard to use of colour, for the purpose of setting an atmosphere, Honey Bee used a summer setting with a slight tint of yellow and orange to represent the summer colours. This is reflected by the shot of the artist singing in a shallow, yet highly contrasted light to pursue the idea of the strong – southern sun and the heat. The Mise- en-scene also portrays this effect when we examine the clothing and natural setting of the house he is in. Also, Tina Fanjoy adds slight humour to the shot with the use of the dog who is comfortably sitting next to Blake Shelton, possibly to reflect the neutral nature of the song and the happiness of summer. We were influenced by this effect but we used the season of winter, so this ultimately differed from the tone of Honey Bee. However, this caused a slight problem for us because we still wanted an element of warmth and light, as the song clearly has an optimistic nature weaved into the lyrics. As a result, we found an alternative solution and this was with the use of the fire in the distant background. This image conveys that the artist is keeping warm whilst reflecting on a sad moment, but also symbolises the idea of warmth and hope.
  6. 6.  Finally, we studied the classical Country & Western music videos following back to the first women within country music. By doing this we found many examples of simple yet stunning videos of the artists casually playing their songs acoustically to an audience, whereby they directly address the viewer. The queens of country music themselves use this convention in numerous of their videos for example, Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn and Crystal Gayle.  The absolute significance of this in our video almost praising these fine artists as the artist herself was profoundly influenced by these women. We also wanted to reflect the depressed colour used in the older and legendary pieces of art and so we used a shade of lighting that was slightly dull for the last chorus in order to leave a slight message in praise of Parton and Lynn. For us this challenged the modern day convention of a country music video because our video, unlike many contemporary texts, do not have an element whereby they shadow the previous works or foundation of the country music video.
  7. 7.  Through audience feedback, we were commonly asked about the meaning or significance of the horses. To our defence, we used the images of horses to metaphorically symbolise other life forms that also go through the process of loss or standing strong in situations. Jewel Kilcher’s ‘What’s Simple is true’ video uses the imagery of an owl that symbolises the aspects of new life form, the reincarnation of love and philosophical wisdom.  Miranda Lambert’s video ‘Over You’ however, uses the concept of a calm natured house which mirrors the settlement of death and mourning. The use of the white horse in her video dissimilarly, symbolises a hero and within context we know that the song was written about the death of a hero. We used this idea in our video, as reflected with the use of two horses that are grazing in a field to portray the essence of final destination, enlightenment and settlement. In our shots we used sepia and shallow focus to portray the idea of a wondering mind, which is to some extent disillusioned from reality.
  8. 8.  You will also notice that the use of winter colours of white, blue and grey sets an empty and sorrowful tone within Jewel’s and Miranda’s video. Because our video was set in the autumn / winter, we wanted highlight this element in our video. Therefore, we used the shots of the character walking through the field whilst she is reflecting on the iconic times she spent with her friend. These captured moments, in the video, reveal tainted colours which mirror the tainted memories of the friendship that will be remembered by the artist.  In conclusion, our media product both challenges and follows the codes of the country music video genre. It is important to note that we wanted to have a simplistic narrative in our video to mirror the lyrics of the song but also emphasise that the artist is a country singer. Alternatively, we challenged the codes and conventions of the country genre by using vintage, depressed images, which are extremely rare to find within most country music videos.