Thursday, 15 December 2011

Note to the Moderator

Hi there and thank you for taking the time to look around my individual and Group Blog!

Our finished video for 'Stripper' is positioned at the very top of this page.  Underneath is a banner for the website (which you can click to visit) and the album cover (which you can click to enlarge).

You will find both links to the group blog and the main teaching blog (with links to all other individual and group blogs at my centre) on the right hand side of this page. There is also a labels list and blog archive in order to make navigating around my blog as easy as possible. 

This blog contains any independent research undertaken, my individual initial idea and answers to the four evaluation questions. On this blog you will also find any work I did for my preliminary task, including the evaluation.

On my Group Blog you will find the work I individually contributed towards the development and production of our music video by clicking on the label 'Charley', along with the work we all produced together. 

All posts are organised chronologically, dated from June before the summer holidays (prelim task) up to December of this year (main task).

I hope you enjoy browsing my individual and group blogs and that our enthusiasm for this project has been reflected in the work we have produced. 

Charley Packham, Candidate no. 3565

This blog is now closed!

It is with regret that I have to leave Xanthe and her pink hair behind... I have thoroughly enjoyed this project and I hope you enjoy reading about and experiencing the world of The XYZs as much as I have enjoyed living in it!

Evaluation Question Four- How did you use new media technologies in the construction, research and planning and evaluation stages?

Research and Planning

In addition to our regular group meetings which we drew up in school, we also used a number of platforms to share information with each other throughout the project. Initially we browsed on websites such as Hype M,, YouTube and scoured Spotify and our own iTunes playlists to decide on a song.

We created a message on the smart phone app WhatsApp in order to converse instantly any issues or ideas about the projects and finalise and share photos and videos with each other about ideas for costumes or locations or props.

In order to brainstorm ideas for costumes and styling we looked to websites such as as fashion blogging is an increasingly popular way to keep up with trends as well as being a site popular with our target audience of teenage girls. We used Adobe Photoshop CS5 to make moodboards of influences and serve as tear sheets for potential ideas for our band image.

We also used the internet to research existing band websites to brainstorm ideas of what we needed to include on our own and the different ways different artists are marketed.

We also tweeted each other and used the website TwitLongr for anything longer that 140 characters. Using the web to communicate was helpful as we were able to link ideas, for example, Odelia referenced a few photoshoots that we used as inspiration for our album cover and promotional shots.

We also used several websites in order to source props such as the old fashioned microphone. In some cases I had to email the companies to enquire about the look and price and received emails with photo attachments.


Music Video

The construction of the video however was where I really feel we excelled in using new media technologies and I feel I was really able to advance my technical skills, using professional software and equipment to create finished products we were proud of and showcased the skills we had picked up on along the way.

The original song was 3:47 in length so we decided to cut it down to 3 minutes using Premiere, which clearly displays the audio waveforms so we could seamlessly match it.

You can here the original song and our edit here, uploaded to SoundCloud.

Group 6 JOC- Stripper Cut by thexyzs
Original Sohodolls - Stripper by thexyzs

We used a Sony HDV 1080i 3CMOS camera to film both the narrative and performance. We particularly wanted to use this model since it allowed us to use switch the focus and experiment with fast zooms very easily. For the shots we were not all in together, such as the master and some freehand shots, we took it in turn to film each other, however for group shots we instructed our camera operator Michael on how we wanted it filmed. For some shots in the performance, the camera was positioned on a tripod on top of a trolley and wheeled from side to side to create a fluid, jib-type movement similar to that used in our Five workshop in the Summer term.

In addition to the flood lights we used for the narrative and redheads for the performance, we also made use of the extensive lighting options in the Seward Studio and I was taught by technician Chris how to rig the lights in order for each band member to be well lit and not overexposed. We checked this on the camera itself by enabling the 'zebra' function which displayed on the screen in the form of black and white stripes the areas of exposure ensuring that we would have the best quality footage as the outcome.

We began post-production by capturing the footage into Adobe Premiere Pro CS5. This was the first time we had used the CS5 update and allowed for greater possibilities when it came to editing. However, harnessing what we had learnt from our AS project, continued to use multi-track editing, the razor tool to make simple cuts, as well as transitions such as cross dissolves (to create the fade to black effect) and changing the clip properties to reverse and speed up/slow down some shots.

Concerned with the overall look of the video we wanted to create a really eye-catching colour grade. After experimenting using the Three-Way Colour corrector tool on Premiere we decided to play around in After Effects using the plug-in SA Colour Finesse and curves to create a high contrast, slightly pink effect to connote the glam rock genre.

We added a vignette and radial blur on the edges to make it even more stylistic and create a kind of voyeuristic- peeping through the keyhole feel.


We created our website on Wix which uses flash which makes it really interactive and visually engaging. We really wanted to harness new media technologies in order to create the most interactive website for our audience so we used HTML to code a mailing list form where you can enter your email and a QR code. You can see exactly how it works here:

We wanted to present a multiplatform strategy rather than just a standalone website so also created an XYZs Twitter (@theXYZs) as well as individual twitters for each member (@XantheXYZ), a Tumblr, a Facebook page and a simplified mobile version of the website (using Wix).

However we did encounter a few problems since the Wix format could at times be restricting in what we wanted to do so we often had to incorporate our own HTML into the standard format which took us a while to get used to. There were also problems with the school servers during the production period, however we found that when we switched to web browser Google Chrome there were no longer any technical issues.

Album Cover

For the album cover we used Photoshop and although we were all familiar with the software we really developed our skills, particularly using layer blending options (such as overlay), gradients to create the black, white and pink pictures on the back and the rulers and guides to ensure we kept within the digipack template, allowing space for images to run off into the bleed.

Our promotional and inside album photographs were shot using a Canon 550D 35mm lens and were taken in the Media department classroom with a simple lighting set up and black backdrop.

One striking feature of the bands image was Xanthe's (my alter-ego) dip-dyed pink hair. In the video shoot we used blusher to create this effect however on the album cover used the paintbrush tool with a low opacity and color overlay to bring it out even more. We used abstractfonts and dafont website to choose edgy fonts that suited our overall image.


All group members are active users of Web 2.0 and we all have Twitter accounts, Facebook and regularly use the website Tumblr. This was particularly useful during the evaluation stages of the project since we were able to promote our video across multiple platforms.

We wanted to get a diverse range of feedback however and harnessed the global nature of the internet and wider web community, so as well as receiving feedback from our immediate friends and family we were also able to ask opinions of those in different countries all over the world by creating a questionnaire on website SurveyMonkey which also provided us with visual presentations of answers to questions e.g bar charts.

We used the website to pin point exactly where the survey response had come from, revealing results from Switzerland to Canada! Odelia embedded our video onto her Tumblr page, where it was reposted by several other bloggers, gaining wider exposure. I encouraged my cousin who works as a graphic artist and animator to share the link on a web forum and my sister to show the video to colleagues in the office of the experiential marketing agency where she works, thereby being able to receive professional feedback.

Me and Eoin edited together a short promo video on Premiere to encourage pupils at Latymer to come to the screening which was then placed on the school Intranet.

We also created a Facebook event to drum up viewers. We all posted our video onto Facebook and Twitter, encouraging people to share and retweet. We analysed the data statistics on YouTube to see who our video was most popular with. Uploading the video onto YouTube meant it was easily shareable and accessible from web devices, as seen in the viewing data.

Evaluation Question Three- What have you learnt from your audience feedback?

Genre's of music our target audience listen to
Our target audience was predominantly teenage girls around the ages of 14-19 who would associate with the band aswell as finding them aspirational. We employed a multiplatform strategy in order to promote our video and gain feedback from our core target audience and a wider range of music fans and friends. Facebook (posts, shares and likes), Twitter (retweets), Youtube (views and data), Tumblr (notes and reblogs), Focus Groups, a Premiere Screening, web forums and and online questionnaire all helped us collect information on audiences opinions of our music video.

Examples of response to online questionnaire

Here is a screencast of me explaining some of the feedback we received via the SurveyMonkey questionnaire:

We also asked a small group of A2 media students what they thought of the video. Although they were mostly male and were not our core target audience, we still thought it would be valuable to gain another perspective, and in some cases a more technical and discerning analysis of what could be improved.

In summary:

What works well?

  • Colour grading “The colours were bold and fun” “Love the black/pink/white” "I really liked the colours of the video... the pinks and blues could have hinted to the theme of girls vs boys, as semi-explored in the video”
  • Well synced
  • Camera angles and shot types “The camera shots of the faces, lips and eyes"
  • Speed of shots (slow-mo to fast)
  • Overall concept “The concept was fun"
  • The staging “Visually, it was amazing”
  • Narrative part fitted with lyrics well
  • Performance set up
  • Performance “The performance was really believable.” "Lots of attitude”
  • Having both a narrative and performance
  • "Hot cast"
  • Different shot types “I loved the side shot on odelias hand while she sings into the mic”
  • The pace of editing “It was fast and upbeat, similar to the music” “Set the pace and tone for the video” "The cuts were good and pacy and at the right moments overall.”
  • Original idea
  • The gender roles and portrayals “I liked the fact the woman were breaking stereotypes.” "The idea of the girls being in control fit the theme of the song well”
  • Mise en scene; use of colours and lighting also set the pace, tone and mood.
  • Lighting in the performance
  • Look of the band “You look like rockstars!”
  • The song title with the storyline
  • Dynamics of the action “Cutting from just one girl singing to all three, switching from various shots”
  • "The cutaways of the paint and brushes etc.. reinforced the narrative nicely"

What could have been improved?

  • Clearer narrative “Needed to make it clearer that they weren't actually interested in him” “End could have been less rushed. We get that he's been stripped but its over too quickly”
  • Better song.
  • Better lighting
  • Editing 'Was a little quick in some parts, might be hard to keep up with action to some” “I thought some shots were cut a little too fast, which confused me slightly. But, I understand how and why these shots were used to create the pace.”
  • XYZ sign could have been bigger or less blank space around it
  • End of the song could have been at the same time as the end of the video?
  • A more developed story line could be an improvement.
  • Lipsync “Some of the lipsyncing wasn't great but then neither is Britney's”
  • More narrative vs performance
  • Better quality of shot
  • Maybe emphasise the guys expressions a little more, might bring more humour to the video if he was more enthusiastic?
  • The grading didn't look quite right in places

Data Analysis

We also used the data from our YouTube video to monitor the demographic of the people watching our video. As well as displaying the geographical location and noticing that our video was being watched in a number of countries we also observed that the majority of viewers were female. The latest statistics [at the time of posting] showed that our video was most popular with:


This data shows that we have successfully appealed to our core target market of teenage girls however we did not expect it to be so popular with 25-44 year old men...perhaps from this we could conclude that they are a possible secondary market, therefore creating the mens T-Shirts and merchandising was a good idea since it will appeal to them.

We also from this data noticed that nearly 43% of the total views came from mobile apps and direct traffic, and 24% of playback locations were from a mobile device. Therefore the decision to make a mobile website was a very good idea since our target audience clearly use these devises prolifically.

Evaluation Question Two-How effective is the combination of your main products and ancillary texts?

Final Logo
We wanted the music video to promote both the website and album cover enticing the audience to buy and visit both ancillary texts. For this reason we thought it was important to present a consistant brand image across all products.
Original Logo
We already had ideas about the paint in the video so decided to incorporate this into our logo with the pink brush effect. Initially we thought our logo was far too mainstream girl band and I suggested perhaps having 'XYZ' in a scrawlier, rockier font. Once we were happy with our logo we applied it and our band name to every possible element in the project. One way we could have perhaps improved the synergy across the texts is to have painted our logo in the type face on the wall instead of just hand-painted as this may have looked more professional and would have been immediately recognisable as our logo. 

We had decided on a colour scheme of black, white and pink in light of our dress code and styling denoting our genre of glam rock. This decision affected our editing and colour balance on photoshop, our grading on After Effects and our hex codes for the website. We had a particular hex for the pink we used for the logo so every pink you see on the website will be the exact colour used in the logo #EE1C7A. We tried to replicate this colour scheme throughout and as you can see by these swatches the general palette is pretty similar.

We derived the name of the band from the song itself "You can call me X, you can call me Y, you can call me Z" so we knew it would be important to continue this theme throughout. We amplified the 'alphabet' theme across all products, not only was the ECU of the mouth saying this line a visual motif and hook but our website featuring an alphabet T-shirt in our online store and the album was called 'Exhibit A' in reference to this and the fact it is our first album.

I created a logo for our fictitious record label Walkout Records, featuring heels integrated into the typeface. We reference this in the video with close ups of our feet right at the very beginning just as how in my initial research I noticed how Natalia Kills has badges of her record label in her video.

Other links:

  • Walkout Records logo is on album and website and features links to both.
  • QR code is on both album and website and links to the Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook and website of the band.
  • Our Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook and website contain links to each of the other platforms as well as YouTube links and embeds. 
  • The video and song can be heard and viewed on our website.
  • The online gallery has pictures taken from our music video shoot aswell as the promotional shoot.

We also created a synergetic campaign with Tommy Hilfiger's Loud fragrance. The colour scheme for these adverts were black, white and pink which complimented our image perfectly. In the video I wear Tommy Hilfiger dungarees. This was influenced by the ways in which girl bands like The Saturday's for example have tie ins with cosmetics chain Barry M- featuring their products in the video.

Above all it was clear from our research the importance of fan interactivity so we wanted to ensure it would appeal to our target audience and have plenty of ways to get in touch, via mailing list, the scrolling Twitter feed embedded on the home page and links to other mediums of interaction. We decided not to include a forum or comment box since these seem pretty outdated due to the rise in popularity of other social media platforms.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Evaluation Question One- In what ways does you media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?

Music Video

Our final video uses and develops on typical forms and conventions of music videos but also challenges them too, particularly in the context of gender roles and objectification of women.

As a girl band, styling was very important in order to present the band so that they would appeal to our target audience of teenage girls and traditionally, a girl band’s image is exploited to sell. We did a lot of research into our styling, creating various moodboards and putting a lot of thought into the clothes. Glam rock in the past has been noted for its sexual and gender ambiguity and representations of androgyny, however we wanted to present ourselves as very feminine but still very empowering. We also wanted demonstrate characteristics of the pop rock/ glam rock genre through our dress code, make up and other visual signifiers and therefore decided on a trendy but rocky dress code of glam goth, meaning lots of black and heavy jewellery but with touches of girliness e.g the metallic top, platform heels and pink dip dyed hair and a black, pink and white colour scheme throughout.

We looked at videos from the Runaways, a source of inspiration from the start of the project, in order to influence our performance and style, taking note of the enthusiastic front woman and the fishnets and high heels.

After a class discussion on gender representation earlier on in the project we all agreed we wanted to challenge the portrayal of women in music videos. After learning about post modernism and pastiche, referencing videos such as Pink’s ‘Stupid Girls’ (see blog post here) we decided the best way to make a statement would be to play on how the female body is usually treated voyeuristically in music videos. Our video has a strong reference to the notion of looking, as outlined in Goodwin’s theory of analysis. In our video we wanted to create a scopophilic quality through the character of Josh and then humiliate him for it. We used a vignette on the edges of the video to create an almost, 'peeping tom' effect- as though the audience too is looking through the keyhole. We wanted to employ power relationships on display by having him sit down, physically emasculating him and making him the vulnerable one in the situation through the use of high angle shots and proximics.

In doing so, we have employed ideas from other media, such as the films Charlies Angel’s where the agents exploit their sexuality in order to distract the man, thereby furthering their own interests. They are powerful since they are in complete control of their bodies, and it is only because of this that they are able to act in this way. They tease the men in the video to get their way, similar to how we tease Josh.

The ending of our video also references Madonna's 'Justify My Love' video. In both videos, the artist is seen running away from a shirtless man cheekily laughing and smiling to themselves. Madonna has been cited as very influential in her empowerment of women and the female body. By referencing her we are establishing our identity and motives by replicating someone who has done it successfully before.

We included lots of visual hooks in our video, for example we included beauty shots of each band member with most screen time devoted to Odelia since she is the lead singer. This would typically be a demand from the institution or record label they are employed by, something we learnt early on in the workshop project whilst talking to director Jake Wynne. We wanted each girl to have their own identity within the band, individual personalities that girls could associate with, an idea best exemplified by the Spice Girls, one of the most successful girlbands of all time. We tried to portray this through the relationship between lyrics and visuals serving as a motif on the lines ‘You can call me X, you can call me Y, you can call me Z’ the letters relating to our first initial: Xanthe, Yvie and Zoey.

As it was a debut video we felt it really important to make a statement and have a strong look that remains memorable. We decided to use the idea of painting our band name on the wall which can be seen in other debut videos, for example the video for Bitch by the Plasticines that we looked at initially. Not only are we making a statement and promoting our band but by including paint, we are referencing the idea of DIY- doing it yourself, which in this case has a wider significance beyond the narrative for its female empowering quality. By featuring us doing ‘traditionally’ a man’s job as painters or decorators, we were harnessing feminist theories of women being also professionally equal to men.

When it came to editing, we employed many typical music video conventions as outlined by Vernallis and demonstrated in this video here:

Applying Goodwin's theory

Our music video develops this theory:

  • Through the relationship between lyrics and visuals- illustrative and at times amplifying.

“I've come here to stare”“But I wanna touch”“Walk through the door”

Audio Waveforms helped in cutting to the beat
  • Cutting to the beat
  • Change of pace in editing influence by music (as first observed in my early research of director Saam)
  • Solo instrumental parts illustrated by video e.g my guitar solo, ECU of bass on bassline

Although the editing was classically foregrounded and typically non-naturalistic (a typical convention of music videos) we also challenged this by featuring some aspects of classic hollywood cinema conventions and realist narrative.

In our narrative:

  • A problem is set up which is resolved
  • Events occur as a result of human actions
  • The motivations and actions of these characters govern the chain of events


For a successful website we knew the importance of including the key ingredients such as:

Merchandise- Purchasing Oppurtunities

  • Music Video
  • Album and Album cover
  • Live Performances
  • Tours
  • Artist Biography
  • Purchasing opportunities for music
  • Merchandising
  • Facebook Page
  • Twitter
  • Photos and video clips
  • Downloads: ringtones, wallpapers etc
  • Viral videos
  • Viral competitions
  • Tie-ins with other brands
  • Appearances TV shows, functions album signings
  • News and info
  • Reviews
  • Word of mouth
The flash design of the website meant it was visually very eye catching and also challenged our genre conventions since most glam rock/pop rock band websites in our research had scrolling pages rather than a fixed layout.

Album Cover

We really wanted to create a strong and powerful brand as well as band and decided up on a logo and rough colour scheme of black and pink to run throughout, with signifiers of the glam rock/ pop rock genre. Tying ourselves to a particular colour can be very effective, as noticed from earlier research into Joss Stone's album cover and demonstrated by band's such as The Pretty Reckless using black, white and red across their website and album.

The Digipack styling stuck closely to the rest of the image created through the music video and website. We featured a large picture of ourselves on the front cover as our image is a crucial part of our band's appeal and the shot is direct address to further entice the audience in. All of the relevant institutional information is included such as barcode, record company label, website and track listing. We also featured intertextuality by referencing 'Trip Fontaine' in one of our song titles, a character from the novel and film 'The Virgin Suicides' a cult hit and popular with and relevant to our core target audience of teenage girls.

Original Idea for Album
We wanted to portray the image of girls who 'rock'. We knew a great visual signifier in the video would be our performance style, attitude and the fact we play instruments, therefore we decided to include pictures of us playing instruments on the front and back cover of the album too. We thought it would be a good idea to have a change of costume for the album and the video however, the album cover shots, done in a more editorial style looked a bit too typically girl band like and this was only reinforced by the title 'Material Command'. We changed the title and decided to use photos taken on the shoot days for the front and back of album and the more classic, sophisticated shots on the inside.