Hello and Welcome to my A-Level Media Blog. My Name is Vivian Oparah [0621]. On this project, I have been in Group 5 and worked with Louis Caldwell [0131], Sebastian Hodge [0330] and Joshua Brooks [0110]. To navigate around my blog, you can click any of the headings under the 'Labels' subtitle on the side of the page - this will filter posts into the various stages of the project.
At the bottom of the page, there is a link which takes you to 'Older Posts' which can be clicked on as well.
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"NTLS - Heart Skipped A Beat" Music Video

Our Music Video

NTLS Self-Titled Digipak Cover

NTLS Self-Titled Digipak Cover
NTLS Self-Titled Digipak Cover

NTLS Website

NTLS Website
Right-click the image and select "Open link in new tab" as this will take you to the official NTLS site

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

1. In what ways do you media products use, develop, or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?

The Music Video, Artist Website and Digipak which I contributed to on this project use develop and challenge forms and conventions of real media products in a large number of ways, particularly those of the Electronic Alternate genre in which NTLS falls into. Much like the professional products I will reference, the three products each use conventional ways of communicating the information necessary for their platform whilst developing and even sometimes going against these conventions yet still remaining synergistic, for a variety of necessary reasons which I will also analyse.

One of the first things we did was identify conventions of the genre as from previously looking at theory by Andrew Goodwin, we knew that music videos usually have certain specific genre signifiers. We thought this was a piece of theory which was very useful for our project because we wanted to build up our main fan base among those who already enjoy Electronic/Alternative music and so by using genre conventions which they are used to, they can relate to the video better

Performance and Narrative
The Electronic Alternative genre is commonly known for incorporating artist performance with some sort of narrative within the music video. With more established artists, there will be cuts between the artist singing the song in a performance scenario but then the same artist will be the lead role in the narrative, as seen below:


We liked the convention of having performance and narrative, however we felt using the duo for the narrative section would confuse the audience as they would think the duo were a couple. So we used this convention of the genre but developed it by deciding to have the duet singing the main parts of the song and use external actors to create narrative sections in the instrumental section and over some of the lyrics. However we made sure the performance to narrative ratio was greater for the studio sections in order to showcase the artist.

For the performance, we drew inspiration from the AlunaGeorge, particularly their monochrome Just A Touch video, in terms of how the members of the duo interacted and were placed in relation to each other and how they reacted to each other.

Close connection, similar to Aluna George but mainly trying to engage with the audience
and the intensity behind song lyrics

We then looked at how AlunaGeorge behaved when one of them was singing and the other wasn't in a dual shot:
AlunaGeorge - You Know You Like it Video
NTLS - Heart Skipped a Beat
We decided we were going to go against the way that AlunaGeorge were acting and make our movements and attitudes more synchronised. This is to emphasise the fact we are a duo and we are equal, as Aluna stands out more because of her energetic dancing and movements.

For the narrative within our music video we roughly followed Todorov's narrative structure.

However, we only used the basis of this theory because although the narrative pattern is very important, under time constraints of a 3 minute music video, and trying to showcase a new artist - we were unable to give to much time to showing the full story. However, we thought these were the three most important aspects and so we used them the most.

Strauss' theory of binary opposites heavily influenced a lot of our music video, making it more interesting and engaging to watch:

Static sombre studio shots contrasting fast fun narrative
"Juce - Call You Out" Reference

The lack of movement in the studio juxtaposes the initial parts of the narrative where the couple are still in love and everything is quite fluid and fast paced. For this we referenced the "Call You Out- Juce video" where the studio shot is quite still but the narrative section is upbeat and fast. This is effective as the pace change keeps the audience interested by stopping the video from becoming predictable.

We also contrasted emotions, most easily categorised as happy and sad. During the narrative the audience are happy when they see the couple in love and enjoying themselves, and sad when they the relationship start to break down and when they see the actual break up. We thought it was important to show many different clips from the relationship so that the audience could familiarise themselves with the couple and so feel upset when they broke up, similar to the following videos

Out of the two videos, we drew most inspiration from the Two Door Cinema Club video and so tried to create a more realistic relationship. Although members of our audience who are aged 17-21 would be able to identify with the more rebellious and dramatic aspects of the relationship shown in the We Found Love video, our target audience is those who enjoy the Electronic/Alternative genre which includes people of all ages. We thought the Eat That Up, Its Good For You video showed simple aspects of relationships which anyone could identify with and so could reach more audience members, which is what we wanted to do.

Rihanna - Pour It Up Video
High angle shots used to make her look like a sexual object and low angle shots used to sexualise parts of her body
Various male performers
Low angle shots used to make them look more powerful
Women placed as decoration next to them

We tried to avoid framing seen in the Screen-grabs from videos like the ones above as they either overly sexualised the artist or made them seem powerful using high and lower angle shots. To add to our artists relate-ability and take away any opportunity of sexualisation we made them as neutral as possible, and so placed the camera at eye level.

We thought this was going against the conventions of other music videos who position male and female in dominant and submissive positions.

Collection of our main shots 

Vernalis states that establishing shots and close-ups are very important in music videos so we used this quite a lot. She also makes a point that it is really important for a music video to have a distinct look, even with the framing and blocking within each shot. Our main shot type was therefore the ELS of the duo.

We were also inspired by how in the "Islands" video by the XX, they ensured all members of the trio were viewed as equally important by rearranging their positioning on the sofa each shot.

The XX - Islands video: repositioning the band to ensure they are all viewed
as having the same amount of importance.
We thought this was really important and relevant to our duo and so made sure both Nathan and Lulu had equal screentime.

Vernalis also states that music videos typically break the conventions of continuity editing and that it was more important for the editing to reflect the music; bringing a unique editing style to each track. Our track has a lot of distinct beats and musical patterns which provide a lot of different places to cut to. In POP videos, the cuts are quite predictable but because the songs are more upbeat, it carries the song as seen in the video below

In songs from the Alternative genre, there is a slight cutting pattern but it includes lots of suprises and unexpected cuts like the following two songs:

We decided we would have a less distinct cutting pattern like the "All About that Bass" video as our song is quite dull and needs to be brought to life by the shots and the editing. We therefore included a lot of surprises and unexpected cuts which are more typical of our genre, to appeal to the "die-hard" audience members of our genre who will recognise this and enjoy it, and new fans who wanted to see something different.

Our video frequently breaks the 30 degree rule has deliberate graphic mismatches and changes to the editing pace which serve to entertain the audience in quite a plain and simple studio set up.

Strauss' theory of binary opposites also came into play with editing. The use of HD juxtaposed with VHS footage helped show the difference between studio and narrative and also gives the overall video a more striking and stylised look, we thought this was very effective in the video below and thats why we applied the technique our own.

A lot of the videos for the Electronic/Alternative genre are quite abstract and at face-value its hard to link the lyrics to the visuals but the videos are made to make the audience think about the lyrics that link themselves.

From learning about Andrew Goodwin's theory of the link between the lyrics and visuals of a music video, we were able to use subtle parts of the performance to illustrate the meaning behind the lyrics:

Initially we thought it may be confusing for the duo to do anything which relates to the lyrics, but then we saw it was typical for artists of our genre to reflect the emotion of the lyrics and its actually quite helpful as it ties the video together, as seen below:
Telana sings "When we hung you wouldn't even kiss me" whilst closing her eyes reflecting and gently rubbing her lip with her finger, as though shes reflecting on the kiss that she never received.
We were also inspired by Vernalis' ideas of the beat and rhythm of the song in relation to the visuals. Blinks to the beat and heard turns in time with the music were incorporated into our performance choreography because of this:

This inspiration was further inspired by the Hot Chip - Ready for the floor video, where the choreography matches up with song timings

When men and women are presented in music videos together, the woman is usually submissive and heavily sexualised whilst the male appears more dominant and powerful.

Also, even in a duo there can sometimes by one artist who is propelled to the fore front. 
Aluna from AlunaGeorge gets a lot more screentime than George and looks more important

However we actively decided to challenge this convention by
  1. Having each artist in cool yet non-sexual outfits to focus in on them as artists and avoid the objectification of either of the artists
  2. Equally represent the artists, so one doesn't look more powerful or like the more important artists
  3. Giving them equal amounts of time on the screen so one gender or even race isn't considered more important than the other..

In the narrative section of our music video we conformed to gender stereotypes a bit more

however this was because we needed to clearly tell the story in a short period of time and if we started challenging stereotypes it would have become slightly more difficult to follow. Also the female members of our target audience will find a stereotypical relationship cute and the outfits they wear show the couple are alternative (like the audience members) which prevents the possibility of the video being cliché.

Iconography and visual hooks
We learnt a lot about Richard Dyer's "star" theory and from this decided to create very strong styles that left a long lasting effect on those who watched. Similar to what the artists below achieved

Since our studio set up was quite simple, we felt it was very important that the look of our artists was engaging during the video, to keep the audience interested. Music videos from the alternative genre range from having very heavily styled videos (Fka twigs - Two Weeks) to being solely graphic (Jamie XX - All Under One Roof Raving)

This made it difficult to pinpoint a style for our genre, we worked with the one thing they all had in common which was being different and so influenced by Fka Twigs futuristic style choices, we used monochrome, dots and jewellery to create a distinct look

In one theory, Goodwin discusses the demands on the record label and how ones of these demands will include "the need for lots of close-ups of the artist" So, taking this into account, we used close ups to create striking iconic images and really highlight parts of the hair and makeup.

Series of Close-Ups from the video

Strauss theory of binary opposites was also used here with black and white contrasting imagery

Two of the same shot repeated in black or white

By clearly showing iconic London scenery, like Alexandra Palace, Brick Lane and Tower Bridge, plus showing typically English traditions like eating fish and chips we made it clear to audiences that the artists were from London. and so the audience could relate more to the video and the artists as a whole.

Inter-textual References 
Our intertextual reference was using VHS footage within for the narrative sections of the video It played with the audiences expectations confusing reality and the past and instantly evokes feelings of nostalgia as most audiences can relate to watching old home movies which were on VHS, it works quite effectively in the Chase & Status - Blind Faith video. The narrative shows British young adults preparing and attending an old-school warehouse rave, but the VHS strengthens the setting and allows you to really believe the narrative.

Electronic/Alternative music videos always each have their own unique selling point, we thought ours could be therefore be the breaking of conventions using the professional camera and adopting the analogue camera for the narrative for a more artistic and interesting aesthetic.

Content and Design
A lot of Electronic/Alternative artist websites all ensure they contain the following pages or similar:

Collage of websites pages of Electro-Alt artists 

So we thought it was necessary for us to have these pages as it was what our target audience would be used to, however we noticed that a lot of these pages have just a block colour background. Although this matched our slightly more minimalistic style, we wanted to create quite a memorable website image as we are debut artists so we made the background forest themed



With every website we noticed that links to social media linked to the artist or the record label was always available through clickable links, again taking inspiration from THE 1975 and also Lewis Watson, we thought we would include all the social media links the main banner because it was easy to find to gain instant access to the social media pages.

We ensured we had links to the main social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. The good thing about these platforms is that we had excellent cross media convergence. Twitter posts can be linked to Facebook and Instagram uploads will instantaneously be linked on the Facebook and Twitter page. This meant that as well of creating symbiosis between the products, audiences would constantly see content from all socials platforms, despite only being on one of them. Another thing we recognised to be on a lot of pages was the chance to sign up to a mailing list. Although e-mail is not used as much amongst the younger members of our target audience we still thought it was worth offering 

Website banner with the social media links at the top which redirect to our social media pages

We thought our simplistic video style should also be reflected in our website so we aimed to make navigating around the website very easy and minimalist. We decided on a straight forward banner which we were inspired to do by the Dog is Dead website and by Lewis Watson.

The straight forward banners were easier to navigate around

Although artists from our genre like SBTRKT have a scrolling blog format on their website we decided to challenge this as we thought it suited us more.

We found the scrolling websites too complex and preferred 
the traditional layout.

We thought it wasn't necessary to bombard the user with institutional information because it can be slightly boring and we wanted to emphasises how NTLS were really about the music and nothing else. We found with bigger artists institutional information was very big and bold however with more alternative artists it was more concealed
The XX (Alternative Artist) industry information
Beyonce (International Pop Artist) scrolling indstry information

So we simply decided to include a footer which appears on each page of the website and some simple contact information with a map showing where Red Pigeon were based. This was more for the purpose of reminding audiences that we were British.

Artist information from our website

The album cover is what most of the other artefacts revolve around. The front covers are synergistic with what we see on the website. Much like FKA Twigs and SBTRKT,
whilst the internal covers are what influenced the monochrome effect in the video. The back cover of the album has a link to the website as a readable URL but with the popularity of smart phones amongst our target audience we also thought we would include a scannable QR code so that fans can easily access information about the artist that is on the website.

Monday, 12 January 2015

2. How Effective is the Combination of Your Main Product and Ancillary Texts?

Personally, I think all our texts work together synergistically to really showcase the artist we've created. All the texts were effective for a number of reasons. Before we started, Josh and I looked into our main inspiration for NTLS which was FKA Twigs, to see how she achieved this and summarised our findings in the following case study

Personally, the main stand out points I learnt from looking at FKA Twigs was the power of synergy. The brand she has created is so strong that it is instantly recognisable and she upholds this quirky futuristic nature in everything she does whilst making it clear what genre her music is from. From this we definitely were inspired by being as synergistic as possible.

We have used NTLS costume in the music video and in their promotional photos to show their personal style. The uniqueness of the costume is then immediately associated with NTLS. Richard Dyer star theory discusses creating an image that the audiences eye can appeal to so we played on this by making their outfits interesting and individual.

The simplistic costumes were enhanced with jewellery and makeup. The makeup they wear is unusual for everyday society. However, considering David Gauntletts theory of role models, we wanted the dots to act as navigation points which encourage people to be individual and make bold style choices. We also thought this makeup style would become something the audience would put on themselves at concerts or even their own social events.

Examples of the facial dots

The awkward and unusual stance of NTLS in the promotional shots adds to the unnatural and other-wordly feel they are trying to create, similar to FKA Twigs. It is also quite typical of Alternative artists to look quite serious and awkward in photos so it connotes the genre.
The XX (Electronic Artist)  Unusual awkward stance
SBTRKT (Electronic Artist) Unique pose
NTLS Promo Shots which feature on the website

When creating the personalities for NTLS, we were really influenced by Richard Dyers pop star theory with regards to the aspects of unattainably.
FKA Twigs video and audience commentary
We wanted the duo to come across incredibly unique and quirky as we know our target audience (fans of the Electronic/Alternative genre) respond positively to this and so happily buy into this (see screenshot below).

Richard Dyer also discussed how stars are promoters of certain ideology and so we thought that NTLS should be pioneers of the importance of creativity and individuality.

We carefully created their personalities:

We were influenced by Richard Dyers star theory where he discusses sculpting the artists image through what you put in the public eye about them. You see this a lot with the artist Rihanna:

Therefore we continue to show their cool, abstract and mysterious nature on their social media pages

Instagram feed
Twitter Feed
Consistent Style
To create a strong brand across all three texts we had to have a consistent style so that viewers could blatently see the link between all the 3 texts. We played off the simplicity of the track, going for a minimalist theme across what we created. The video is simple but strong and intense, in terms of movements, cuts and overall vibe.

The gallery shows a range of images from the video 
with time codes showing the consistency of style in the video

The features on the website are also simplistic whilst still communicating all the necessary information and the same goes for the album cover. This idea of simple but effective is something unique to us and clearly consistent across all three texts. Further, in terms of colours the monochrome colouring can be seen across all three of our texts in different ways. The studio set ups for the music video were black and white and so were our costumes. The internal album artwork and other aspects of the album artwork are monochrome and the website features white text on a black background along with black and white in various other places- with the store only stocking monochrome merchandise.

Simple but effective 
We also ensured that even minor things like the fonts were kept consistent. All pages of the website are in "Caudex" a plain sans-serif font. The font on the album cover is "Penault" which looks quite similar to the font used on the website but has an element of being handwritten which we liked.

The only colour used is those which are present in the forestry, this is again to maintain the minimalisim. Our layout on the website is very geometric using primarily squares and rectangles. This focuses the viewer on the content by framing what they look at.

Iconography was really important with making our texts work together because not only would they connote the genre, they would also need to be recognisable and individual to NTLS.

As previously mentioned in how we showcased their style, the facial dots can also work as iconography. In any text where the artists are seen, the dots on the face are also pictured.
FKA Twigs dancers, both with her hair style
Although for now they are only seen on the duo's face, in future videos this could be use for dancers just like twigs uses her unique hairstyles for her backup dancers.

When people see black and white dots on faces of fans or anywhere else, they will think of NTLS, the different positioning for male and female also really helps to push this.

Iconography like this will really help NTLS to be known outside their main fan base, the fact it is repeated across all three texts therefore strengthens this possibility.


For our merchandise, we had to consider what the target audience would wear and what they like and so we looked for inspiration for what is already successful merchandise amongst Electro-Alternative artists.

By altering the logo on the merchandise, either by enlarging, rotating or repeating the image we made the logo iconic. In high fashion brands, the logo is always looked at or remembered and so we thought by doing this on the merchandise, irrespective of whether it had been slightly altered, it would be recognisable to the band. Also, as the logo itself is very interesting, the target audience would buy the merchandise and so by them want to wear and buy it, it will promote the band itself.

The saturation of the logo across all three texts, not just the merchandise on the website, was essential in creating a symbol which was immediately associated with NTLS.

From looking at other sites such as Lewis Watsons, we saw that we could use social media as another way to market the brand. So, we created and posted regularly on a Twitter account. The instragram account was converged with Twitter and so our posts automatically were put on Twitter. The Instagram page was also embedded into the website GALLERY as a live feed so audiences could scroll through the pictures on the website, or they could go click the link and follow NTLS.
Instagram links posting to twitter
Instagram embedded in the website

We also created a Facebook page. This gave the opportunity for artists to see statuses or picture uploads from NTLS.

We wanted to link our artist to Radio 1 as the radio station usually interviews and works with alternative artists who are all about the music, similar to NTLS:
Electronic Music on Radio 1

Interview with Alternative Artist on Radio 1

NTLS BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge Website Ad
BBC Radio 1 using their Facebook, Youtube, Instagram and Twitter pages to promote a live lounge appearence (read purple text).