Evaluation of media products
It is important to have use, develop and challenge forms and conventions across all three media products: trailer, poster and website. Without the use of any conventional elements it is highly likely that the success rate of the product will be exceedingly low, in comparison to a product that consists of conventional elements that unite together with other elements that develop and challenge current media products.
1) In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of a real media product?
From the beginning of the teaser trailer we can clearly see that the use of institutional information has been maintained within the product. The green audience approval screen is the first sign of the maintenance of institutional information; following this I have also inputted the credits to the institution that I have decided that would be beneficial to produce my film: Lions Gate Entertainment. Another conventional element that I have utilised is the use of low key lighting within the handheld video footage at the beginning of the trailer. Low key lighting is one of the most crucial elements when considering the horror genre, without the use of low key lighting in my trailer I would not have been able to reveal a limited amount of narrative to the audience, this would have lead to the audience being exposed to the answer’s of the questions raised when a enigma is formed, thus reducing the ‘scare factor’ that a trailer should maintain. As discovered through the planning process of my brief, low key lighting should create a sense of absence and distortion, the low visibility within the early stages connotes this feeling of absence and distortion predominantly through the low visibility of the mis en scene. Other ‘uses’ of conventional elements such as the use of captions have been put in place to separate the trailer in order to build suspense and have a greater impact on the audience when a point of climax is displayed. I have also used a diegetic sound to emphasise the paranormal phenomena that the character is experiencing, the door slamming during the second act is similar to the way that it happens within a real media product such as the trailer ‘Paranormal Activity’.
Firstly I can confidently say that I have challenged real media conventions through the use of an audio radio narration which is heard over a black screen, it is unconventional for a trailer to use a blank screen in this way as it usually leaves the audience unsatisfied for a long period of time. However after receiving feedback the changes that can be made to maintain this challenge was to reduce the duration of the narration and to add images of the two girls whilst the audio is heard by the audience. I have also challenged the conventional ‘dark woods scene’ which is present within real media products such as ‘The Blair Witch project’; the woods scene within my trailer is set during twilight. The connotation that I have created through doing this is that danger can also exist during a time period where visibility is average and becoming poor, what we perceive as safe may not be as safe as it seems, thus making the audience feel on edge at all times. In terms of the character roles within horror films the film usually tends to be male, however within my film one of the characters who is perceived as the victim soon turns into the villain. Challenging this element within my trailer is a risk that I took; however I personally feel that this risk has benefited my trailer as the stereotypical representation of a male being the villain has been broken now that a female is playing that role, due to this reversal of roles the trailer seems to have a stronger psychotic feel to it. Another element that I have challenged is the typical consistent location usage within real media products. Products such as ‘The Blair Witch Project’ (woods), ‘Quarantine’ (sealed off apartment complex), tend to set there trailer in an abandon location that is almost aphotic. My decision to set act 2 and 3 of my trailer within female B’s house was a contrasting location to the conventional locations, the idea was derived from the film ‘Paranormal Activity’. The basic concept behind setting my film/trailer in this location was to convey to the audience that places that we consider as a ‘safe place’, such as our homes could possibly be the places that we are most at danger, this element is intended to disturb the audience in a psychological manner. I also have developed this conventional element by including 3 locations within my teaser trailer in comparison to 1 or maximum 2 locations that are usually displayed within a trailer, (which was learnt from my textual analysis), not only does it make the trailer more diverse it allows the audience to familiarize themselves with the different locations within the film before viewing the entire content .I have also challenged the edit used after the quotation found nearer the end of the trailer that reads; ‘The most disturbing and twisted film of the year- bloody-disgusting’, the usual edit consists of a ‘cut’ however in this circumstance I have decided to use a ‘fade in fade out’ edit in order to emphasise the fact that the film is ‘disturbing’ through the alarmed facial expression of the true victim.
Other conventional element that I have challenged and developed within my trailer is the use of a climax after the institutional information at the end, the climax is usually found within the middle of the trailer rather than the end for example in ‘Paranormal Activity’ after the institutional information the trailer comes to an end. Other developments I have made are the use of video transitions such as cross dissolves in order to create a black flash effect to increase the pace of the trailer. This development is crucial as it restricts the audience from being revealed to the entire narrative. The use of a negative effect on the ending shots whilst the victim is repeating ‘help, help, help’ could also connote the psychological disturbance that she has suffered due to the paranormal phenomena, this can be further linked to the tagline on the website which warns the audience that the footage could be ‘psychologically disturbing’ .
The consistent use of the two typefaces is a conventional element that I decided to maintain and not challenge. I have used the typeface ‘Np naipol all in one’ for the film title and the typeface ‘American Typewriter’ for the captions and tagline on my website. The use of the sans-serif ‘Np naipol all in one’ typeface was chosen because the clarity in comparison to a serif-ed typeface is much higher; this makes the typeface much more ergonomic for the user i.e. the audience. I chose to use the serif-ed typeface ‘American Typewriter’ in order to make the trailer seem more like a ‘case’ or ‘investigation’ which contributes to the sense of realism that the trailer is trying to convey and question within the audiences’ mind. The decision I made to not challenge this element was solely reliant on the concept of consistency. If there is no consistency within a line of promotional materials then the overall product that is trying to be sold will not be familiar to the audience thus the promotional material based around the main product will fail the purpose of it’s production. Another conventional use that was maintained from a current real media product was the enigmatic tagline displayed on the left hand side of the poster. The tagline outlines brief parts of the narrative, the aim is to draw the audience in and leave them questioning the action/narrative that follows, this is one of the most important and essential elements that are present on a horror film poster. To some extent I am able to say that I slightly challenged and developed this element, the tagline on a horror film poster tends to be short and snappy however I decided to gain inspiration from the poster ‘Quarantine’ and reveal an additional amount to the average allowance. Other conventional elements that I have decided to maintain is the: close up image, institutional information, billing block and website information. I chose to leave these elements in there own place because this tends to be used on all posters despite the genre, the broad consistency would be too difficult to challenge.
This particular media product has one main challenge against real media products such as ‘Paranormal Activity’ and ‘Quarantine’, the challenge being the use of black dead spacing on the left hand side underneath the tagline. Although there may be dead space here I feel that the connotation of absence is exemplified and there is great prominence on the intricate close up image of the victim, the use of this spacing diverts the audience to the focal point i.e. image and tagline. The main development made on the poster seems to be the positioning of the release date, the conventional location for this element on a real media product would be at the bottom nearer the film title however in this case I have decided the release date should be obvious to the audience as it has link to the narrative (the day of the disappearance of the teenage girl and 3 years later is the same month and date as the release of the film). The audience will therefore be more suspicious thus more anxious as this sense of realism is exemplified further, this is similar to the way that the film ‘Friday 13th’ was released on Friday 13th.
As mentioned before the conventional elements that seem to be generic through all three media products and through real media products is the style of image and institutional information. I have also decided to use area links on my website as discussed in my textual analysis in order for the audience to be able to learn more about the film through the help of designated areas. The teaser trailer of my film is also embedded onto the homepage of my website.
Previously looking at ancillary texts and trailers I established that it is conventional for a tagline to be across all promotional material, however shortly after establishing this I decided that the tagline on my website should differ from the tagline on my poster. The reasoning behind this was purely tactical and intentional, the poster is usually the first ancillary text that the audience witness therefore the tagline must draw their attention, after capturing the audience I decided that maintaining their interest within the film would be the next objective and by repeating the tagline that they have already seen would be disadvantageous therefore I decided that some kind of tagline that would give them a boost of adrenaline would be the best option, thus the creation of a new tagline on my website would be beneficial. Another element that I decided to develop is the balance between conveying the realism of the film and informing the audience that the film is fictional. For example in the area links on the website of ‘The Blair Witch Project’ they tend to connote that the film is real through the use of headings such as ‘The aftermath’, however on the other hand film’s such as ‘Quarantine’ inform the audience that the film is fictional through headings such as ‘About’. I decided to maintain the balance between the two and perceive the film to be realistic however also conveying the fictional side to the film due to the certificate given.
2) How effective is the combination of your main product and ancillary texts?
The use of two consistent typefaces’s for the film title and captions makes the combination of the product and ancillary texts effective. As mentioned before the film title typeface: Np Naipol all in one and the captions and tagline on website ‘American Typewriter’. However although they are consistent a criticism of the usage of the typeface of the film title is that within the trailer an effect ‘bad film’ has been put onto the film title, this ‘bad film’ film effect has now differed the brand identity of the film slightly, this could have been critical however the static effect on the trailer connotes the definition of paranormal and still shows some consistent elements to the typeface usage on the ancillary texts. ‘American Typewriter’ typeface has been used for the captions within the trailer, the caption ‘And you start experiencing paranormal activities’ has been manipulated so that this ‘bad film’ effect is present. The caption is almost static and has a similar effect to the film title at the end. Linking this caption effect to the website tagline ‘You are about to experience the most psychologically disturbing footage’ reflects this idea of the experience of paranormal activities. The audience further contemplate whether this effect is apart of the trailer or question themselves of whether it was a figure of their imagination.
On my poster the image is a close up (CU) of the victim, on the website the image of the victim is shown from a different angle in a medium shot (MS). The handheld documentary grainy style of the image was edited on the software imovie using the transitions to give this amateur effect; however my trailer unfortunately does not follow this consistently due to a technical issue of the video filter not being available on Final Cut Pro during production. However the image that has been used on the poster and website does feature unedited within the trailer towards the end when the camera movement is zooming into the victims face. The audience tend to see a film poster before the website therefore I chose to use a close up image on the poster a medium shot on the website, each piece of promotional material reveals slightly more of the identity of the character. The use of actors within my trailer and ancillary texts are consistent, within my film I have used two main characters of which both are of the female gender. The main character within the film; female B is the ‘face’ of the ancillary texts, due the fact that her sphere role (according to Propp) of being the ‘victim’ is maintained within the film, the audience are able to build a relationship with this character, from the beginning all the way throughout the film to the end, from the audience’s point of view there is no sense of portrayal or deception as this characters sphere is not reversed like the other.
Although some of the points mentioned above seem an effective combination throughout my media product’s there were elements within my media product’s that were proven not effective such as the institutional information. Lions Gate Entertainment and Haxan Films together produced ‘The Blair Witch Project’, as mentioned in my planning I chose these two production companies to produce my film. Firstly a criticism of the placement of institutional logos on my media products was that I put the ‘Artisan Films’ logo onto my poster and website forgetting that in 2003 the acquisition of Artisan Films by Lions gate Entertainment meant that ‘Artisan Films’ was no longer in operation. The second criticism in terms of the ‘Artisan Films’ institutional logo was that I had included it within my ancillary texts however I had excluded from my trailer. Even if there was usage of a production company that no longer exists there was still no consistency within the three products, thus reducing the effectiveness of the combination of the products. However on the positive side I can confidently say that the placement of each logo on the poster and website are off an equal distance apart from each other, they are also in the same order on each media text, however Lions Gate Entertainment should be shown before the Haxan Films logo as shown in the trailer.
Within the ancillary texts there is a strong sense of enigma (Barthe) which is generated through the use of a tagline ‘no leads, no witnesses, no body…until now’. Although the ancillary texts are enigmatic I think that the trailer itself reveals too much of the narrative (action code). The audience know by watching the trailer that it is her friend who went missing that is triggering the paranormal experiences to occur. A strategy to improve and overcome this could be to reduce the amount of narrative within the trailer e.g. cut out the seconds where the audience have to watch female B sleeping within the third act nearer the end of the trailer. Making this improvement would make the combination of the three media products seem more enigmatic.
3) What have you learnt from audience feedback?
- Going to carry out focus group interview
- Posted trailer onto Facebook
- Maybe post ancillary text onto internet forum – if that’s possible?
4) How did you use new media technologies in the construction and research, planning and evaluation stages?
During the early stages of my planning I decided to start develop my work in a creative format using simplistic media technologies such as a Prezi presentation (prezi.com). A Prezi presentation is a new and improved way of displaying your work in comparison to using an ordinary dull PowerPoint. The virtual presentation allowed me to link certain ideas together using the navigation tools, import pictures, video links, graphs and charts. I used a Prezi presentation to display my book research summary, questionnaire findings and audience analysis and focus group findings.
Towards the middle stages of planning I decided that I wanted to experiment with a small video clip before I started my major trailer production. The website animoto.com allows you to produce a 30 second orchestrated unique video using your own photos, video clips and sound. At this particular point in time of planning I was researching and collating possible typeface’s that I could use for my film title. I managed to reduce the large number that I had collate down to a chosen 5, the style of typeface I was looking for reflected the findings from my textual analysis of the three focus films I had chosen. Using the renowned website dafont.com I download the typeface’s and manipulated them on Adobe Photoshop and imovie. I put together this 30 second clip which I decided after producing was to short to display the typeface’s and names of typeface’s that I had chosen. For this reason I structured the same clip on another program: imovie. After successful experimenting with animoto.com and imovie the decision to present my original image’s of props/character and location in the same creative way was also successful and helped me improve my editing skills and confidence to put a short clip together.
New media technologies come in many forms; film advertising in the current time period is heavily reliant on advertising on social networking websites such as Facebook.com, twitter, Bebo etc. the beauty of advertising on social networking sites is that there is diverse mass audience worldwide therefore even niche films are able to attract there target audience. In terms of my planning I decided to create a poll on polldaddy.com and link this to facebook.com for my target audience to give me feedback on the question: ‘What gender do you think the victim of a horror film should be?’ Utilising internet sources was a valuable and beneficial way to conduct research. New media technologies such as internet forums receive astounding response rates from people worldwide. For this reason I decided to post on three forums asking for advice on conventional elements for my trailer:
- Lbfhfs.proboards.com (Low Budget Horror Filmmaker’s Society)
New technologies were essential during the construction stages of the brief. The basic equipment that I used was necessary to capture my footage for my trailer was a canon tape video camera, tripod, wheel steady camera and an external microphone. The video camera on a whit balance setting was no doubt the crucial piece of equipment throughout the entire construction stage of my trailer however other equipment such as the tripod assisted the recording of the third act where the location was in female B’s bedroom, the wheel steady camera was helpful during the footage which was recorded in the woods, it enabled me to maintain a equal balance between the visibility and the jerky handheld movement whilst filming. The external microphone was beneficial during filming act 2 and act 3 as I wanted certain sounds to be captured such as the slamming of the doors, and the reactions of female B in act 3 etc. Although I used a external microphone also utilised the 16 bit sound function on the Canon Video camera itself during the recording of the first act where the location was the woods, I decided not to use a external microphone here and to use the 16 bit function available on the video camera in order to maintain this documentary style effect through the absorption of the natural atmosphere within the woods.
During the editing stages of construction the use of new technologies such as Final Cut Pro were crucial and beneficial to the success of the production. The software gave me the ability to deconstruct linear footage and reconstruct it in a non–linear sequence in order to utilise the best footage. I found that this new technology aloud me to input video transitions such as cross dissolves and fade in fade out edits into the trailer. Other features of Final Cut that I used were video filters such as ‘bad film’ and ‘negative’ in order to give the captions and some shots a psychotic and static feel. The ‘bad film’ effect is obvious at the end of the trailer when the film title ‘Possessed’ is shown in this decayed and unsustainable format, the use of negative was placed within my trailer however after deciding that the particular shot that it was used in was not necessary for the ‘teaser trailer’ I removed it from my final product. Modifying the speed using final cut from 100% to various amounts ranging up to 1000% enabled me to create this zooming in digital fast forward effect towards the end of the trailer of the victim.
The use of Garageband was yet another new technology that I have picked up skills upon. I used Garageband at first to record and edit my radio narration/radio news report. Within the recording I decided to use some of the effects that Garageband offered, I decided to utilise the podcasting effects: male narrator noisy, telephone line, male narrator, isight microphone female. To create my non-diegetic sound I decided to use the loop ‘pulsing sweep’ over the entire duration of my trailer, a heart beat through the majority of my trailer and a synth zap impact to emphasise certain climax’s during the trailer such as the doors paranormally opening and closing.
In order to create the captions for my trailer I typed the text up onto Microsoft Word in order to make sure I had correct spelling and grammar and punctuation up to standard. I then used the film & video size PAL D1/V setting on Adobe Photoshop to place my written captions and manipulate colour and style of text. Adobe Photoshop was also used to construct my ancillary texts: poster and website. Features on Photoshop such as drop shadows, grids, rulers, saturation and hue adjustments, brightness and contrast etc. assisted me a great deal on producing this decayed and aphotic effect. The use of a still Nikon D90 SLR (single lens reflex) digital camera was crucial during the capturing of my images for the ancillary tasks. I feel that without the use of this high quality resolution camera I would not have been able to pick up the intricate detailing of the close up of female B’s facial expressions used on the poster product, the camera also captured the fine detail on the medium shot which I used on the homepage of my website.
Use of new technologies explained after construction in creative format.