Sunday, 17 April 2016

AUDIO guides on multilayering audio for dynamic sound

Thursday, 14 April 2016

CIE blog improvements summary

Research + Planning improvement points
(1) review/proofread, especially for presentation: well illustrated? hyperlinks? embedded material [not links to this]? no small text? clear sub-headings? embedded material? any 'TBC'? logical post order/date? 
sans spacing!
This is obviously a HORRIBLY presented post!!! Text should never be allowed to dominate on a blog post, especially a long one. It was worse until I at least added some space between points! [see screenshot fragment] Oh ... and tags! No hyperlinks, almost no imagery, nothing embedded (though clear sub-headings, font + colour + size variation...)
(2) ****is your journey clear?**** have you reflected on shoots, edits, feedback? posted alternative versions you tried in editing? evidenced FCPX tools you used over time? is there detail on each shoot? DETAIL on each edit (what changes, why; evidence of experimenting: short scenes with different edits [eg FX]; any feedback on this cut; how this cut reflects previous feedback; tools used; planned further changes...); have you used podcasts to anchor the sense of journey? 
(3) are post titles clear and specific? have you used a numbering system? are links lists absolutely comprehensive? (examiners often skim, so links lists really help secure marks) 

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

AUDIENCE uses and gratifications

    One influential tradition in media research is referred to as 'uses and gratifications' (occasionally 'needs and gratifications'). This approach focuses on why people use particular media rather than on content. In contrast to the concern of the 'media effects' tradition with 'what media do to people' (which assumes a homogeneous mass audience and a 'hypodermic' view of media), U & G can be seen as part of a broader trend amongst media researchers which is more concerned with 'what people do with media', allowing for a variety of responses and interpretations. However, some commentators have argued that gratifications could also be seen as effects: e.g. thrillers are likely to generate very similar responses amongst most viewers. And who could say that they never watch more TV than they had intended to? Watching TV helps to shape audience needs and expectations.

CIE EVALUATION overview with UK comparison guide

NOTE: This is formally named the CREATIVE CRITICAL REFLECTIONYou are marked not just on answering the question, but also for:
  • creativity in how you do so
  • using critical theory and self-critiquing
  • use of technology to do so
This is a 'hub' post for BOTH the CIE version of the AS Media Evaluation AND the UK (OCR) spec on which its based.  Use the hyperlinks below to find specific posts/guides on the 4 CIE/7 OCR questions. See here for CIE blog guide.
  • The 4 CIE AS Evaluation ('creative critical reflection') questions
  • A suggestion to split both Q1 and Q2 into two (though presented in one post for each full question)
  • Comparing the UK OCR and CIE Evaluation questions so you can make use of past students' responses to get pointers and inspiration
  • The 3 'AOs' (assessment objectives): how its marked
  • The level descriptions (L5 = A, L4 = B/C, L3 = D/E)
  • A list of some terms/concepts you could try to include somewhere within your evaluation
  • Ideas for 'creative' presentation and for evidencing/using a range of technologies (linked to marks!)


In practice I will consider these as SIX questions, splitting Q1 + Q2 into two; in short (click hyperlinks for individual guides): 

Q1a: how you used or challenged CONVENTIONS
Q1b: REPRESENTATIONS of social groups/issues
Q2a: how you engaged with AUDIENCES
Q2b: how might it achieve DISTRIBUTION
Q3: DEVELOPMENT of production skills throughout the entire process
Q4: how you integrated TECHNOLOGIES (software, hardware, online) in the project

So you can grasp how these will link with your FOUR questions I've plotted below how these link. In time there will be more CIE blogs to compare with, but for now UK OCR blogs are a key resource for you

SUMMARY COMPARISON (= means very similar to!)

OCR Q1 CONVENTIONS: In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?

- CIE Q1a 'how does your product use or challenge conventions'

OCR Q2 REPRESENTATIONS: How does your media product represent particular social groups?

- CIE Q1b 'how does it represent social groups or issues'

OCR Q3 DISTRIBUTION: What kind of media institution might distribute your media product and why?

- CIE Q2b 'how would it be distributed as a real media text'

OCR Q4 AUDIENCE: Who would be the audience for your media product?
OCR Q5 ATTRACT AUDIENCE: How did you attract/address your audience?

- CIE Q2a 'how does your product engage with audiences'

OCR Q6 TECHNOLOGIES: What have you learnt about technologies from the process of constructing this product?

- CIE Q4 'How did you integrate technologies - software, hardware and online - in this project?'

OCR Q7 DEVELOPMENT: Looking back at your preliminary task, what do you feel you have learnt in the progression from it to the full product?

- CIE Q3 'How did your production skills develop throughout this project?'

Thursday, 7 April 2016


you can find more on the Evaluation overall in this hub post.

***You MUST analyse your technology use in the Evaluation, including this question, in your answer!!!***
****You also MUST consider how you INTEGRATED technologies - combined and used these for multiple purposes (eg editing and YouTube for R+P and Evaluation, not just for the final film opening)**** 
Consider how YOUR COMPANY might benefit from or be penalised by digitisation - apply your exam-centred work, all that instiutional knowledge on how the highly converged, digitally disrupted film industry works...

scroll to the bottom for examples of UK-equivalent answers

creativity and technology TiP ... green screen yourself into the shots! As we did with my Media Technician John in this example:


you can find more on the Evaluation overall in this hub post.

See this post for a list of points you can consider, and also a suggested framework.
This is quite similar to the UK Q7 - have a look at Kate's answer  or Curtis' (both a plain blog post). Molly's was very thorough and more multimedia - here's her 3-part answer:

Tilly, who reflects here on having delivered an unsatisfactory AS production (she produced a new film and blog the following year), provided vodcast and well presented transcript; this may inspire you - its a simple but effective way to achieve most of the filming required, a fairly easy job to later edit in screenshots and clips etc

More guidance below the line...


you can find more on the Evaluation overall in this hub post
OCR Q3 DISTRIBUTION: What kind of media institution might distribute your media product and why?

- CIE Q2b 'how would it be distributed as a real media text'

**I've just added a lengthy post specifically using the horror distribution example...**

Tilly: blog post that needs more illustration but is fairly detailed.

Molly: blog post; good, detailed response.

Poppy: a Prezi that lacks detail, and doesn't use the tools available within Prezi (embedding, autoplaying etc) as well as she might, but gives a clear, succinct response:

Here's an example of a creative approach from the 2016-17 AS:

Use exam notes and blog posts linked to exam work, but also BritCinema blog

- from March 2016 alone here are SOME of the distribution linked posts:


you can find more on the Evaluation overall in this hub post

OCR Q4 AUDIENCE: Who would be the audience for your media product?
OCR Q5 ATTRACT AUDIENCE: How did you attract/address your audience?

- CIE Q2a 'how does your product engage with audiences'

Marketing is part of distribution, but you can also consider marketing here, explore how your film MIGHT be marketed. It is advantageous if you have set up any spin-off social media, but can also think about your blog and YouTube channel as 'real-world' means of engagement.
Consider the active steps that might have helped promote and gain publicity for, awareness of, your film.
Attracting an aud doesn't just mean using glamorous actors! How did you publicise, promote your film? Did you engage in viral marketing, releasing entertaining snippets during production? Teaser clips? Preview screenings with a sample target audience (perhaps hoping that they'd generate more publicity through word-of-mouth, as well as providing key feedback on what was/wasn't working for the target aud)? Behind-the-scenes featurettes? Interactive blog features? What social media did you use? Use screenshots from FB (just ensure you protect any personal info!!!), Twitter etc, + from YouTube showing comments/no. of views (you can include my channel too for this).

A good starting point, one you will have blogged on from existing films: how you framed (and communicated to the audience) who the central protagonist is - point-of-view shots, central framing, angles...
Have you used narrative enigma to draw in and 'hook' your audience?
Have you used humour (perhaps a false scare)?
What knowledge would a viewer need to follow your preferred reading?
Have you employed regional accents, dialect? Slang [aka 'teen skatz'; give specific egs!]?
Remember: representations are relevant here - briefly note how your choices here touch on your audience.
Presumably you've provided the audience with a 'priviliged pov' (they can see more than any single character can; s-rev-s is one common eg, but also opening est. shots), but perhaps you've included specific pov shots (or others, eg tracking) to signify the protagonist? Are we encouraged to identify and/or sympathise with one particular character (perhaps they're on screen first/more often; we get their povs?)
Is there any focus on the body? Laura Mulvey, a feminist critic, argued that audiences are typically positioned as male; the camera lingering on a female body positions us as a male, heterosexual viewer.
Have you used specific genres of music?
Have you used sound to lead the audience, but (espec for horror) also as an example of genre signifiers which much of your target audience might enjoy? Which other genre signifiers have you used?
Have you employed gore or (within the limitations of a school production) sexual content to attract an aud (refer back to the male gaze)?
Have you used intertextuality? (references to existing texts, eg posters within a room you've shot in; character names - if you want to explore some theory, this is an example of postmodernism)
You can AND SHOULD add some self-critique: 'here we tried to ... but this wasn't completely successful'

Poppy: vodcast which could be much better illustrated, but is a succinct breakdown of the target audience:

Here Poppy uses YouTube's annotation tool to good effect!

Molly: blog post that isn't so well presented but is thorough and clearly demonstrates a lot of exam-centred learning too.
Here Molly uses the YouTube annotation tool - and its a smart move to make this clear as she does!!!

Use p.12-15 of guide:


you can find more on the Evaluation overall in this hub post.

OCR Q2 REPRESENTATIONS: How does your media product represent particular social groups?

- CIE Q1b 'how does it represent social groups or issues'

This is essentially practice for the first half of your exam.
You need to apply both elements of semiotics:
  • specific and precise denotation
  • analysis of possible connotations 

Kate: a clear vodcast with a transcript provided:

Poppy: vodcast and transcript; the key strength is a tight focus on how the choices reflected genre knowledge and there intended to reflect the desires and expectations of the target audience

Molly: blog post - combines analysis of the common categories with a character by character breakdown

Work through the embedded PowerPoint below for a range of suggested theories and terms
How YOU planned to represent and have audiences respond to people and places in your film is not necessarily how they did - it would be useful to include some audience feedback and reflection on this. Where was there polysemy that enabled some audience members (perhaps of certain demographics: gender? age? nationality?) to give a negotiated or even oppositional reading?

You can approach this question in two fundamental ways: tackling one category of representation at a time OR separately analysing each character and place in turn.


you can find more on the Evaluation overall in this hub post.

CIE Q1a 'how does your product use or challenge conventions' 
OCR Q1 CONVENTIONS: In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?

Its a good idea to use screenshots of blog posts and links lists as well as from film openings - keep making it clear how much you've researched and how well you've applied this! SHORT clips from existing texts are legally fine under the fair usage copyright law, but longer clips just risk your video being blocked. Only use the sound from a clip if its absolutely necessary - and consider cutting in and out of the clip's sound, or editing the audio levels to make sure your voiceover is clear.
It is good practice to clearly identify films - but if you're covering too many it may be too time-consuming to keep adding titles. I discuss vodcast design in this post.
There are many excellent examples of UK OCR answers on the related Q1, e.g. Molly: plain post, but detailed. Poppy: vodcast + transcript. Kate: vodcast + transcript. Here's Kate's (2013):

Below: a playlist of some of my vodcasts on film openings; you can see how you can quickly go into considerable detail on seemingly small topics if you wish to.

Below: the opening shot of the trailer shows a 9-way splitscreen effect I used for my 2014 documentary film; you can use this technique for any number of screenshots/clips too (with or without a freezeframe behind)

NOTE: These aren't especially creative approaches, but both do require useful application of technology. You might want to think of more creative approaches, or simply include a segment which is creative (like an ad break during your vodcast, ads for movies from/a book on your genre etc - neatly gets across conventions?!).

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Researching your GENRE

If you are going to get marks for research and knowledge you need to clearly evidence your grasp of the genre(s if hybrid) you are working in. That would include:
  • useful genre resources: books + book chapters (or even samples through Amazon inside, googlebooks, kindle free sample etc); websites; newspaper sections; specific articles; fansites; YouTube videos, playlists, channels
  • films to analyse - and which you can actually access! Every group should look at least 10 from the genre - its a good idea to include Warp and Working Title in your search! - but the level of detail you blog on these can vary
  • history: key films, directors, stars, companies
  • conventions, including specific character types and narrative devices
  • distinct (from general examples) film opening conventions
  • typical age rating 
  • typical budgets and casting
  • box office record and critical standing
If you're working on rom-com or horror (especially slasher) then look for tags but also the blogs on these, eg BritCinema blog: rom-com, slasher.

Examine at least 10 within your group, and clearly summarise any distinctive elements or genre conventions you often see within openings for your specific genre. This often means particular narrative approaches and structures (perhaps a more detailed version of Todorov's concept - like Nowell's slasher structure) and character types (that may be also fit within Propp's model but have specific names for the genre: eg jock, cheerleader, scream queen, final girl).
You can again use a mix of detailed single film overviews and individual elements such as titles or sound.
This research really needs to be ongoing - it doesn't matter if it is simply ONE detail from a film, keep blogging on any findings that might influence your work. Editing is often improved by revisiting and reviewing openings you've looked at - if you pick up something new, add it into a fresh post, keep evidencing both your journey and how your research and knowledge is being applied.

Amazon is a good place to start a book search, so too Googlebooks ... but also your Library. Use chapter lists as well as book indexes to search for useful chapters or sections on particular films or directors. Books mostly won't use the word 'genre' in their title, so you'll need to experiment, and look at the categories your results appear in.

Its a good idea to identify Working Title and Warp movies from your genre!

Following initial research and feedback make sure you can access any films you've shortlisted to analyse. If ordering any DVDs or VoD, make this part of your film budgeting, and don't delay.
Many quality newspapers like the Guardian will have a section for articles on a particular film genre - look for links lists on my genre blogs, or search (eg guardian horror film helped me find this).

Reading box office columns (I also recommend The Guardian for this, as they cover UK, US and global) will help you find some very specific, recent analysis; is a good, reliable source; is helpful to deepen your understanding for the exam too. You can click through the column listings or try searches like guardian gant horror film.

Fansites (and social media pages) can be useful to help show how you've used and integrated a range of technology (evaluation question 4), including for audience feedback - but be aware that the level of language used on many online forums can be an issue. A sample search: facebook horror movie fans.

Be careful with the quality of sources. A search like slasher film conventions brings up lots of Prezis and PowerPoints on Slideshare - the quality is VERY variable! Make sure you ALL include some respected academic books as part of your research to ensure you don't rely on such material.

You can find the most recent, and upcoming listings by searches such as cinema release schedule 2016 and can try adding country or genre to this to narrow it down (eg slasher films release 2015). Sites you'll be familiar with like BoxOfficeMojo and The-Numbers will provide detail like this as well as all-time box office by genre. IMDB is another good source for lists. There are also many sites like FirstShowing dedicated to listing film releases. You can also look for a wider range with searches like horror films released since 2010.

You can gauge the critical standing of a genre by looking up the RottenTomatoes score of a sample, or doing a wider search.

You can dig deeper into distribution with searches like these:

Giving your film a WORKING title

From the earliest stage, any film production project needs to be given a name.
That name may very well change.
It may change more than once.
There may even be name changes for different markets (see Coz Greenop's story!) - US/UK distributors often use different titles.
But there is ALWAYS a working title by which to refer to the project.

There are many famous examples of movies that changed titles at any point in the pre-production, production, post-production or distribution phases (a distributor is staking money on successfully marketing a film, if they think the title is harming the branding they will change it):
  • Halloween was conceived of as The Babysitter Murders - the producer had the idea that everyone experiences babysitting, and managed to get John Carpenter to come up with an actual script for this very basic idea
  • Scream was initially Scary Movie - a name then used for the postmodern satire on Scream
  • Huge hit and franchise starter Alien may well have flopped if its working title had been retained: Star Beast!
You can find many more examples (including from your specific genre) through a simple search (which you can trying modifying for narrower results).