361MC: – Final draft of Little Rag Doll music video, analysing my work & distribution

Above is the second and final draft of the music video for Little Rag Doll by Six Broken Sticks. I have added a disclaimer at the start of the video for the level of violence which was requested to be added by my tutor and I have also tightened up a few shots as per the band’s recommendations. I believe that this serves as a much more professional video as the last draft as the disclaimer shows a level of professionalism and practice that is used in mainstream music videos.

When looking at the video and analysing it, I have to ask the question as to whether it accomplishes what I originally set out do to and in what ways does it compare to both professional and amateur music videos in the same field of production. First off, any music video’s goal is to promote the band and the song and in this instance I feel that my music video has been a success. The band uploaded the video to Youtube on April 25th which has reached over 1000 views in the last 5 days as well as submitting the video onto BlankTV, which is another platform to submit music and videos, as well as LastFM.

http://www.last.fm/music/Six+Broken+Sticks

Six Broken Sticks also helped generate hype on their own Facebook page by releasing screenshots of the video a couple of weeks before the video was posted which allowed enabled a great amount of interest from their existing fans. Once the video was posted, the band re-published the video every few days incase any of their fans had missed it. On their latest re-posting there have also been fans asking when their next music video will be released, therefore showing that my music video has sparked a huge demand for this visual medium of their music in the future. The general consensus from the band and the fans are that my music video has been very well received which is nice to hear that my first music video I have ever filmed and edited managed to be somewhat successful in accomplishing the intended goal.

In terms of looking at my work in comparison to what others produce in the same field, I have to look at my work in comparison to professional mainstream music videos, as well as amateur music videos. When looking at the visual quality of the image of my video compared to the mainstream, my video is considerably lacking. This is because high-end music video productions have professional industry standard equipment totalling many thousands or sometimes even millions of dollars depending on how popular the artist is. As such, my video pales in comparison to music videos that you will currently see rotating on music channels due to the massively limited budget I had and fairly primitive equipment of three 5D cameras, tripods, shoulder mounts, three dedo lights and a glide track. Industry standard equipment for professional music video shoots often involve huge machine operated cameras, cranes and many powerful lights. Although I genuinely believe that me and my team did the utmost best with the equipment we had, the visual quality of the video itself is significantly lacking when put side by side with a mainstream music video. An example in my mind of a truly professional music video can be seen below:

However, in terms of music videos that you would find on Youtube made my amateur artists or the band’s themselves, I feel that the video is successful in both look, shot variation and editing. By comparing it to non-professional videos that are often made by the band’s themselves in order to further their online presence, it puts my video on the same playing field of equipment and budget. An example can be seen below of an amateur produced music video:

Comparing my video to one such as this allows me to have a lot more confidence in my product. The above video lacks any of the fast energy that is evoked in what is in my opinion a very good song. All of the shots are static with no momentum or sense of movement to enable the pace or power of the song to translate through into the video. Instead, camera shaking effects have been added in post which does not allow for the same effect. There are also a significant lack of variety of shots, which is usually understandable for amateur music videos, but ultimately feels repetitive and non-engaging to the viewer. The purpose of the music video aside from being a tool of promotion is to take the viewer on a visual experience which heightens the song and adds a visual picture to the attitude and ideas expressed in the song itself. This seems somewhat lost in this particular video, although the pace of the shots translates well to the song. With my video, I feel that the inclusion of the narrative helped the video stand out more from other amateur music videos that do not tend to bother or include one as the main focus is usually on the band itself and also allowed my video to have a fairly unique look to it. Whilst the band still featured prominently throughout, the balance between narrative and the band was always at the front of my mind during the editing process.

For all of these reasons, I acknowledge that my music video cannot reach the truly professional standard of videos in the mainstream due to a limited budget and lack of industry standard equipment, but I feel that in terms of editing and the time taken in bringing the narrative to life elevates it above the general standard of amateur videos that are typically self-made by the band themselves.

Unknown. 2009. Meat Loaf – I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That). Available at: https://youtube.com/watch?v=9X_ViIPA-Gc %5BAccessed: 01 May 2014].

Unknown. 2011. ReinXeed – We Must Go Faster. Available at: http://youtube.com/watch?v=SSpw-yN4_hc [Accessed: 01 May 2014].

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361MC: – First draft video & Screening feedback

After completing my first draft, I was anxious to see what others would think of the work I had produced, especially considering it was my first music video. As an editor, I know how important it is to receive feedback on each draft of your work in order get an outside opinion, as others will always point things out that you have missed or could improve upon. I was fairly happy with what I had produced but I was open to all feedback if it meant it would improve my product as a whole.

Praise was drawn towards the editing and how it was all put together, as well as the contrast in colour pallet between the narrative and band sequences. Visually the video was well received as well as the voodoo style of the set and the look of the characters. There were really only three pieces of criticism that were voiced by my tutor.

Firstly, the audio quality of the song. Unfortunately, this was something completely out of my control and power to change. The version of the song I used is the only version of the song that is available, and it would not have been possible to record the song live on set as it was played impossibly loud in the studio that the audio would have constantly peaked.

Secondly, the text that appears on-screen at the beginning with the song title and the band’s name was recommended to be removed. I incorporated this text in my video as nearly every professionally made video I watched as part of my research begin with text appearing in the bottom left hand corner, with the song title, artist and record label. This was something I tried to emulate in my music videos as I thought it would make the video look more professional and similar to the style of mainstream music videos. Perhaps the reason for removing this text was because my music video isn’t a mainstream video and makes it look like a cheap copy.

Finally, the biggest criticism was directed towards the level of violence in it. As the song builds at the end, the video ends with the voodoo queen character stabbing the main character to death; cutting between the character being stabbed along with the stabbing of the physical voodoo doll. When myself and the band were discussing ideas, we knew we wanted a violent climax to the song and the band were very happy with how the first draft turned out. However, the argument that was given at the screening is that because of the extent of the violent content, this would severely limit the distribution of the video, as music videos are meant to reach as many people and age groups as possible in order to promote the song and band to a wider audience. In terms of distribution, this would mean that should the band eventually upload the video to Youtube, Youtube would most likely require them to add an age filter on it due to the mature content of the violence. Although this isn’t technically a problem, it does mean that the video will be limited from the very beginning on how many people it reaches. Although there are many mainstream music videos that have ‘Explicit’ versions, there is often a more ‘family friendly’ alternate version of the video that is produced that is screened to the masses, with ‘Explicit’ versions usually only available on the internet as opposed to music television. The most recent example of this is probably Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines which produced a very controversial explicit version of the video which contained three topless women dancing throughout the whole video. The paradox of this, however, is that most ‘explicit’ versions of music videos tend to gain this title from either added profanity (such as Cee-Lo Green’s altered and more family friendly song title of ‘Forget You’), added or more prominent sexual content, or drug use. Ironically, violence seems to always still be looked down on or not included in music videos at all, including explicit versions, despite everything else that can be included.

An interesting point was raised about my video though. At the end of the narrative, the female character is the one that stabs the male character to death and not the other way around. This raised the debate as to whether it is more acceptable in our media world to see a woman inflicting violence on man, rather than a man inflicting violence towards a woman. Our initial reason for switching the roles was because we did not want to appear misogynistic or offensive towards women and so had the female character be the one that controls and eventually murders the male character. But this does create a moral grey area in terms of our perception towards this issue in the media and why we so often accept this double standard. Perhaps it is because in our modern age we have broken away from the old Medieval idyllic tales of men having to save a helpless damsel from peril, and female characters have become a lot more independent in how they are written and perceived nowadays. As for violence, this could harken back to how many male characters we see die in films, such as the action genre. In the 1980s boom of the action movie, with the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone in films such as Commando and Rambo respectively, one of the main drawing points was to see a huge body count, which nearly always consisted of carbon-copy faceless and voiceless male henchmen that the hero had to wade through. However, with the focus of the slasher horror genre of films of the late 1970s and 1980s still being centred on the selling point of an ever-increasing body count from film to film, these often featured a female protagonist that would come out as the only survivor by the end of the film (such as the original John Carpenter’s Halloween and Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) despite the films usually containing violence and murder of women. As such, it is hard to define why we as media consumers tend to be accepting of violence towards men but considerably less accepting of violence towards women and still remains one of the most heavily debated areas in the media world.

Following this feedback, I relayed everything that was said to the band and I suggested editing a version which removed all of the scenes of violence to keep it more ambiguous for the viewer. Despite this, the band were adamant that the violence stayed in the video but were willing for me to place a disclaimer at the beginning of the video to warn viewers of the strong violence. In order to remain in line with general practice of professional music videos that carry mature content, I placed a warning at the beginning of my second and final draft of the video which will serve as a way of acknowledging the content of the video and the context of how music videos have to be distributed.

361MC: – Little Rag Doll editing process

The editing process is my favourite part of any production as I like to be able to craft the final product of what the audience will see and perceive. I had a clear image in my mind of what I wanted the video to look like when I made the most recently outline with the time-stamps and shot plan, as this made it very easy to visualise the sequential order of how the narrative of the video would progress. My approach to editing is a very linear practice and I have always tended to go directly to the final-cut stage when it comes to post-production as I find it easier to track my progress and monitor the pace and look of the video from beginning to end. As such, I usually always in all of my previous projects skipped the first two stages of the editing process; the assembly and rough cut stage, which are both forms of the barebones framework of the order of the shots, which are refined for the rough cut stage and further worked on to professional standard for the final-cut stage. However, as I am now producing my FMP and want it to be professional as possible, I wanted the whole process to be to a typical professional standard and so I decided to change my approach to the editing stage. After reading the section The Practice of Video Production: Post Production from the book Video Production: Putting Theory Into Practice by Steve Dawkins & Ian Wynd, I found that “they are the accepted 

industry process” as well as allowing for it to become more of a developmental process…and, as a result, well-informed decisions to be made.” Finally, it also “forces you to learn the value of the balance between work and reflection.” ( 2010:109) As such, I decided to adopt this professional practice and crafted an assembly and rough cut to begin with. In hindsight, this was definitely the best thing to do as the sheer amount of footage that was taken from the narrative, despite being renamed, was incredible difficult to navigate. By creating an assembly cut first, I was able to construct all of the narrative in sequential order which saved me hours of editing work, as opposed to my old practice of focussing on the video with the mindset of it being a final cut. Especially with a music video that continually cuts between the narrative and the band, this would have been near impossible to edit without first having the narrative laid out on the timeline in order.

Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 18.01.59

The narrative sequences went on a lot longer than the length of the song and so I then removed all of the clips that were unnecessary, but taking into consideration that the narrative still made sense without them. I then began to trim clips to further shorten the time of the current length of video. With the video shortened as much as physically possible, I began to decide on certain parts of the video to place shots of the band. My biggest focus for the video was to successfully balance the screen time of the band and the accompanying narrative. However, this proved difficult as the narrative still exceeded the length of the song.

Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 22.08.00With most of the band footage in place, I then chose to remove certain shots of the narrative in order to just take the cliff notes of the narrative, but ensuring that the story still made sense and served the video well. The video was a challenge to edit as the pace fluctuates from being very slow but building to a wild crescendo. This was a feeling I wanted to evoke to the audience by editing together an incredibly fast montage at the end to generate this sense of adrenaline. The song can only take the mood so far, but the video must always compliment the song and be set to the appropriate pace and mood of the song which is something I believe I achieved well.

Overall, the thing I have learnt the most from editing this particular video is the process that a professional editor must go through in order to achieve the desired result. Although at times it is acceptable to work on a project by editing it first as a final-cut, I was able to see the benefits of going through the assembly stage and the rough cut stage first, which is a practice I will use for the next two editing processes for my final two music videos for my FMP. With the first draft of the video finished, I can now wait for the eventual screening and feedback session for it incase there are any changes that need to be made.

Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 18.02.40

References:

Dawkins, S, Wynd, I, (2010). Video production: putting theory into practice. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.

 

364MC: – Speaking with my Sixth Form media studies teacher

Whilst I had directly looked into the areas of freelancing and editing as part of a company, I thought it would be beneficial to speak with my previous Sixth Form media studies teacher in person who might be able to highlight an aspect of a career in editing I may have overlooked or not even thought of. Although I don’t intend to pursue the career as a media studies teacher, the school still provides great experience for me both in terms of my people skills and also trains me up on software I don’t use all that much, such as Final Cut Pro X and Photoshop and Dreamweaver. I have worked at the school as a media assistant during my time at Sixth Form, I have continued to go back and help just before the Summer season to help the students during their deadlines with ideas generation, filming and post-production and was the place I went to work for my professional experience.

I had a conversation with my former teacher and talked about my plans after university and if she could give me any advice for not just a career in editing but breaking into the work environment in general and what skills I might be required to have in that line of work. She said that first and foremost, standing out from the crowd and making a good impression should be at the front of you mind when going into any line of work as you are up against hundreds or thousands of others in a very competitive line of work. As well as this, she also pointed out that aside from knowledge of various types of equipment and software, you must also have incredible people skills and carry yourself professionally, especially as so much of media is based around collaboration and working as a collective team. Especially when I come to setting up my own freelance network, this will be important when I have to liaise with clients and have discussions with them about their project in order to get a sense of the overall creative vision. I never used to be incredibly confident around people and usually always had a huge inferiority complex, but this is something I have worked on over the years and working at the school has helped this out tremendously as I’ve had to cover for classes before and speak to the students as equals and have a laugh with them.

Overall, I’m confident that I have the right list of skills to eventually achieve the career I want but that it’s mostly the online identity and networking that I am currently lacking. This will be something I seek to amend as I continue with my professional practice.

364MC: – Research and advice into freelancing – video interviews

As part of my research I thought it was necessary to see what people in the freelancing profession of video editing have to say about it and what advice or guidance they can offer to achieve this position. Whilst I have read up on the key skills that are needed for an editor and what the work typically involves, it was important to hear directly from people who managed to make it as freelancers and are making a living from it. The first video I managed to find can be seen below:

The most prominent thing that I have noticed in this video is that breaking into the editing business and especially freelancing is completely different to any other conventional method of getting a job. Whilst a person could potentially just walk into an editing company and throw down a CV and a portfolio and hope to get a job that way, it is much safer and realistic to try to make your own way and create a prominent identity for yourself which is broadcast online as well as through business cards to people. Marvin explains in the above video that following university he continued to film and edit events for clients which eventually led to someone taking his details at a wedding he was filming. This has led to a snowball effect which has launched him into a place at a company where he is now a camera operator as well as an editor. This harkens back to the old saying ‘not what you know, but who you know’. Networking is of paramount importance if anyone is to even hear of you and eventually want to hire you.

This point is also stressed in the video above and expresses the necessity to not just take down contact details of other editors and directors, but anyone that you physically can. The snowball effect is highlighted that through the fact that producers, lighting technicians or literally anyone on set will have their own list of connections which they may put you in contact with in the future if you prove to be a capable and professional worker. This can then obviously jump start a career in many different avenues and a career can be built from there. In this respect, freelancing is usually the natural starting point of any editor and it’s just a matter of working on as many projects as is physically possible until you stumble on that one contact which can launch your future career or put you in contact with the right people. It’s just simply a process of talking to as many people in the industry as possible.

I also researched into the best ways to find work based on the site below:

http://www.sfep.org.uk/pub/faqs/fwfree.asp

Once again, personal contacts and networking topped the list, but advertising also caught my attention. Advertising can be done through business cards, a newspaper ad or a personal website. As of right now, the only link to my work I have is my own personal Vimeo page which will not be enough to make me stand out from the crowd. To help my own online identity and to help me grow professionally, I will create my own website which I will continue to use, add to and develop after I have finished university and pursuing my career.