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Media Conventions

Explain the most significant ways in which your media productions were informed by your understanding of real media texts. Refer to a range of examples in your answer to demonstrate how this understanding developed over time.

Plan:

Genre features: Last year I only watched The Machinist and followed the conventions that I’d found from this film. Then, when making my film I realised it didn’t suit the general layout of thriller films as it started with a flashback, when films such as Silence of the Lambs and Shutter Island do not. This year, I made sure to watch plenty of short films so I could get more of a feel for the kinds of things that were shown in them. Focus, From 1994 and Full Circle -only featured a few characters, and are a visual medium – mine is – Sunlight/ 4 characters

Format: based on the one film-  mostly just initiative, featured credits and idents. This year watched short films Musca and Focus and made detailed notes- titles lasted for different amounts of times, showed on black screen/over film – replicated the general rule – showed titles for 15 seconds

Stereotypes: last year tried to create the stereotype of a young girl but our own interpretation – didn’t feel the need to do research. Turned out in our characters not being that realistic. This year watched Gone Girl and A Good Marriage to see how dysfunctional relationships were presented – more convincing

Director: This year followed style of a real director – researched into his typical techniques – hands in grass, two shots, ‘magic hour’ and shots of nature. Last year loosely followed genre let alone director – didn’t really have a particular style

Essay

As of last year’s AS media project, my understanding of real media texts have been greatly developed which in turn has improved the authenticity of my A2 coursework, Green Fingers. Through having a deeper understanding of common conventions, I have been able to create more professional looking film projects.

Last year, I only watched one film opening as I thought this would be enough to inform my groups perception of what was included in the opening two minutes of pre existing media texts. I watched The Machinist, which although contained idents, several credits and very little action, I later found out that it was quite dissimilar to the format of other thriller films. In hindsight, since having watched Shutter Island and Silence of the Lambs I realised that flashbacks were very uncommon to thriller films and they mainly began with exposition of the characters. A flashback didn’t suit the plot of Mummy’s Girl (my groups AS coursework), and ultimately we found ourselves creating a film opening with very little understanding of what actually happens in the opening two minutes. This year for the production of Green Fingers, I made sure to watch plenty of 5 minute short films so I could begin to understand what, in terms of plot, actually happened in the short time period. From watching Focus, From 1994 and Full Circle, I could see common features between all of these films. They only contained a few characters, maximum four, and they are all some kind of visual medium as they were each very interesting to watch. Through watching these 3 short films, I was able to translate these features from the media texts into Green Fingers and made sure that the start of my film was aesthetically pleasing to watch. I feel that this was achieved by the sunlight and the way it flares on the lens, making my film look quite beautiful. I also only included four characters, so that the plot wasn’t confusing to follow. Through watching multiple media texts, I feel that my understanding was much deeper than it was last year which allowed me to create a more realistic short film.

When deciding on the format for Mummy’s Girl, a lot of it was just based on initiative which was informed by films we’d seen in the past as we only watched the Machinist, so most of our ideas came from that film. This lead to a lot of time wasted on deciding when the idents and credits should show and for how long, and also whether or not our opening two minutes should show a title. This meant that time was spent making decisions when it could have been spend editing, and also that out film opening didn’t really replicate the sequence of a professional film. With this in mind, when planning Green Fingers I watched and made detailed notes on multiple short films, such as Musca, The Laundromat and again Focus and from 1994, to help develop my understanding of the conventions found in real media texts. From this I realised several common themes: there are always credits at the end and I made sure to include which credits were given so that I could do the same. Also, the title shows for around five seconds and it can either be shown on a blank screen or on top of the film, and there aren’t usually any idents shown. This helped me to understand which aspects of short film format varied, such as idents, and which aspects stayed the same, for example the credits that are shown. The development in my understanding from As to A2 of the format of professional films allowed me to create a well ordered short film which was in keeping with standards set by the industry.

When creating Mummy’s Girl, the plot was mainly developed by our own creativity and we didn’t really follow the style of a particular genre or director, only thriller films we had seen before such as Gone Girl and Inception. Since we weren’t professional film makers, the plot seemed to be a bit weak and didn’t have anything particularly interesting about it, which which was common in the films we had previously watched. As I wanted to make my short film as interesting and as successful as possible, I chose to follow the style of Terrence Malick as I found his films really beautiful to watch at points. When watching The Thin Red Line, I noticed that there were a lot of shots filmed in ‘the magic hour’ which lead to a golden hue around the actors, making the film a visual medium. Malick also included a lot of two shots in The Tree of Life rather than the typical shot reverse shot. I found this made the film more immersive and I wanted to translate this into Green Fingers. I feel that through watching films by Terrence Malick and specifically attempting to replicate his style at times, rather than just using my own style, I was able to create a plot that was interesting to watch. This development in my understanding of directors ensured that the style of my film was a visual medium, just as Malick’s films are.

Ultimately, I feel that through doing deeper research into the conventions and styles used in professional media texts, my understanding has allowed me to be able to create projects that are in keeping with typical film conventions. The development of my understanding has also meant that Green Fingers was a well structured and executed film.

 

 

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Research and Planning Essay

Explain how your research and planning skills have developed over time and how they have contributed towards your media production outcomes. Refer to a range of outcomes in your answer.

Plan:

Story boards – Didn’t do them accurately last year which mean that we were unsure of which shots to film. This year did them as if they were exact shots which made filming more clear. Also created animated story boards this year to get a sense of the pace of the film which mean that I had a clear image of what I wanted to portray before filming. Added music over top to see whether it all worked, saved me time in post production. In AS did music research whilst creating film.

Shooting schedule  – didn’t have much of an idea of what to film as didn’t fill full time- winged it? Made story boards in more detail and very clear shooting schedules so I knew what I was doing – researched shooting schedule from I Have Never (professional)

Location research. AS filmed in Megan’s house – we all struggled to imagine filming there as we hadn’t done the location scout. This year I went to the allotment myself and took photos from different angles to help plan – did the after storyboards so I had an idea of what to film

Filming techniques – last year researched the ‘through the wall shot’ – took a lot of work as no online tutorials for the equipment we had. Was a struggle and took lots of practice – used this skill developed in my film this year which meant I spent less time researching so could include other camera techniques. Hitting someone over head with shovel – used Film Riot, by using online tutorials could visually see how to make it work.

Research into makeup. Last year my group created bruises on a wrist- used the skills last year to create a dead looking finger. Meant that I could adapt the technique of bruises by using darker makeup for the finger.

Essay

Explain how your research and planning skills have developed over time and how they have contributed towards your media production outcomes. Refer to a range of outcomes in your answer.

My media production has hugely developed from my AS film to my A2 production, due to the refinement of my research and planning skills. When planning for out AS production, the storyboards my group created weren’t very accurate and didn’t exactly replicate the shot we’d hoped to to film. This led to us being unsure of what to film, as if we were creating from the storyboards we’d created, each shot would have been face on and therefore very boring. The inaccuracy of our story boards led to a lot of wasted time of the day of filming whilst we were planning what shots to film next. With this in mind, I was more conscious when planning and creating the storyboards for my A2 project, Green Fingers, so that this didn’t happen again. To improve my storyboards, I spent a lot more time on them so they looked exactly like the shot I wished to film. This saved me a lot of time on the day of filming as I knew exactly how to set up each shot, meaning I had more time to repeat each shot, leading to a far better short film. This year, I also planned the pace of my film by inserting my storyboard images into final cut and creating an animated storyboard. After last year, I felt this was essential as a lot of time was wasted in editing to try and make the shots flow smoothly. I found that by creating an animated storyboard on Final Cut Pro X before filming, I was able to see which parts of my film needed refining to ensure the pace and frequency of my film made it interesting to watch.

When researching locations, last year my group spent very little time at the location. Only one person went out to view the area we filmed in, so I personally didn’t really have any idea what the location looked like, besides the pictures that were taken of it. I felt like this was a big flaw and led to us being unsure of the area we were filming in, which slowed down the planning process as it was difficult to visualise how our film would look until the day. On the day of filming our AS production, Mummy’s Girl, a lot of the shots were improvised as we’d found an area in the location that we thought may look good in our film. This year, I made sure to spend a great deal of time at the allotment were I filmed to ensure that I was fully aware of the surroundings and how to utilise them to drive my plot. From my groups mistakes last year, both my research and skills had been improved as I was able to create a more immersive film with very few improvised shots which made my final media production look a lot more professional.

For Mummy’s Girl, my group and I planned to preform a shot where the camera moves through the wall. This took a lot of research and we struggled to find much in terms of online help, which meant that we needed to take a more practical approach. We recorded a practice shot in the class room which was successful, but when it came to filming in a different location, the layout of the room was different and therefore we couldn’t exactly recreate the shot we had researched and planned to do so. Due to this, when planning to film Green Fingers, I wanted to film a murder scene in which a woman is hit with a shovel. I didn’t initially know how to create this effect so I researched this on YouTube. I then practiced my findings multiple times to ensure I could re create it effectively. I feel my planning and research skills have been improved since last year, as I accounted for any possibilities where things could change or go wrong through practicing this shot using my two actors and the spade I planned to use in the film. This meant that very little had changed between the practice shot and the actual shot, meaning very little variables would effect my final production.

For Mummy’s Girl, we wanted to create bruises on the daughters finger to make it appear as if she had been tied up. We did research into bruised makeup using Pintrest and YouTube, but didn’t practice how to apply the makeup until the day of filming. This was due to poor planning and meant that it was rushed. This year, I wanted to create a dead looking hand which required a great deal of makeup to make it appear realistic. My planning skills have developed since Mummy’s Girl, as I practiced applying this makeup several times before the day of filming, meaning that I was confident with how to do it on the day and that I wouldn’t be rushing it, as I could plan for the amount of time it took to create.

Ultimately, my planning and research skills have been hugely developed since preparing for my AS coursework, as I have learnt from my mistakes and been able to account for any problems that may arise.

2nd Draft:

My media production has hugely developed from my AS film to my A2 production, due to the refinement of my research and planning skills. When planning for out AS production, the storyboards my group created weren’t very accurate and didn’t exactly replicate the shot we’d hoped to film. This led to us being unsure of what to film, as if we were creating from the storyboards we’d created, each shot would have been face on and therefore very boring. The inaccuracy of our story boards led to a lot of wasted time of the day of filming whilst we were planning what shots to film next. With this in mind, I was more conscious when planning and creating the storyboards for my A2 project, Green Fingers, so that this didn’t happen again. To improve my storyboards, I spent a lot more time on them so they looked exactly like the shot I wished to film. This saved me a lot of time on the day of filming as I knew exactly how to set up each shot, meaning I had more time to repeat each shot, leading to a far better short film. This year, I also planned the pace of my film by inserting my storyboard images into final cut and creating an animated storyboard. After last year, I felt this was essential as a lot of time was wasted in editing to try and make the shots flow smoothly. I found that by creating an animated storyboard on Final Cut Pro X before filming, I was able to see which parts of my film needed refining to ensure the pace and frequency of my film made it interesting to watch.

When researching locations, last year my group spent very little time at the location. Only one person went out to view the area we filmed in, so I personally didn’t really have any idea what the location looked like, besides the pictures that were taken of it. I felt like this was a big flaw and led to us being unsure of the area we were filming in, which slowed down the planning process as it was difficult to visualise how our film would look until the day. On the day of filming our AS production, Mummy’s Girl, a lot of the shots were improvised as we’d found an area in the location that we thought may look good in our film. This year, I made sure to spend a great deal of time at the allotment were I filmed to ensure that I was fully aware of the surroundings and how to utilise them to drive my plot. From my groups mistakes last year, both my research and skills had been improved as I was able to create a more immersive film with very few improvised shots which made my final media production look a lot more professional.

For Mummy’s Girl, my group and I planned to preform a shot where the camera moves through the wall. This took a lot of research and we struggled to find much in terms of online help, which meant that we needed to take a more practical approach. We recorded a practice shot in the class room which was successful. We filmed the camera moving behind a ridge in the wall, and then it coming out of the ridge facing in another direction to make it appear as it had gone behind the wall. When it came to filming in a different location, the layout of the room was different and there weren’t any ridges we could use; therefore we couldn’t exactly recreate the shot we had researched and planned to do so. Instead, we just passed the camera through an open archway and adding a blank screen in between. Due to this, when planning to film Green Fingers, I wanted to film a murder scene in which a woman is hit with a shovel. I didn’t initially know how to create this effect so I researched this on YouTube. I then practiced my findings multiple times to ensure I could re create it effectively. To film this shot, I recorded a shot of the spade against the persons head, then swinging it backwards quickly. Then, in post production, I reversed the shot to make it look as if the spade was being swung towards her head. I feel my planning and research skills have been improved since last year, as I accounted for any possibilities where things could change or go wrong through practicing this shot using my two actors and the spade I planned to use in the film. This meant that very little had changed between the practice shot and the actual shot, meaning very little variables would effect my final production.

For Mummy’s Girl, we wanted to create bruises on the daughters finger to make it appear as if she had been tied up. We did research into bruised makeup using Pintrest and YouTube, but didn’t practice how to apply the makeup until the day of filming. This was due to poor planning and meant that it was rushed. This year, I wanted to create a dead looking hand which required a great deal of makeup to make it appear realistic. I achieved this by applying pale makeup to the skin, and making the nail look rotted by using liquid latex and dark purple coloured face paint. My planning skills have developed since Mummy’s Girl, as I practiced applying this makeup several times before the day of filming, meaning that I was confident with how to do it on the day and that I wouldn’t be rushing it, as I could plan for the amount of time it took to create.

Ultimately, my planning and research skills have been hugely developed since preparing for my AS coursework, as I have learnt from my mistakes and been able to account for any problems that may arise.

 

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Critical Perspectives in Media Exam

To help our understanding of the exam before we get into the theory side of it, we were shown an example exam paper from 2012.

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The first page gives the same instructions as any usual exam paper, and I’ve highlighted the most important bits so that when I come to prepare for the exam I’ll know what to expect. The exam lasts 2 hours and the frond advises that my time is equally split between both section A and B, therefore I shall spend an hour on each. It also explains that both parts of section A are to be answered, but only one question from section B.

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Section A stays pretty similar throughout each year’s exam, and the only aspects that really change are the parts that I’ve drawn brackets around. I’ve then written on the exam the variations of questions, so that I can prepare for every eventuality in the hope of achieving the best grade possible.  In question 1(a), I will need to talk about my AS and A2 coursework, as well as any other filming tasks I have taken part in to help answer the question. For question 1(b) I am only to refer to either my AS coursework OR my A2 coursework.

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For section B, there are 12 questions to chose from, however since there is only limited time in the year we will only be focussing on the contemporary media regulations section in bold. To answer one of these questions, I will need to refer to case studies involving both film and video games which have been released in the past five years. This question also involves film and video game regulations in history, the current day and how this may change in the future.