Music Video Comparison Essay

In this essay I will be comparing two different music videos from two different artists and explaining why they were made that way, any theories that apply, and the differences between them. The music videos I will be comparing are Elastic Heart by Sia, directed by Sia herself and Daniel Askill. The other music video is Dance Dance by Fall Out Boy, directed by Jeff Seibenick.

Format

For Sia’s Elastic Heart, the format is concept based. This is because the music video ties in with the meaning of the song, but the music video doesn’t directly follow the lyrics and is not literal. It is a simple music video, showing two characters (Shia LaBouf and Maddie Ziegler) dancing a complex and meaningful choreography in a cage. The song Elastic Heart is about an inner battle that Sia faces with herself and debating what she feels, and the strength it takes to leave a crushing relationship. I think that Sia used this format of video because she wanted to illustrate the emotion of the song. A concept format allows for a lot of creative expression which Sia used to her advantage.

Fall Out Boy’s Dance Dance music video is both in the format of performance and narrative. In the music video, the band are performing the song as a band playing at homecoming. The camera focuses on them heavily in the song. They are also performing as ‘nerdy’ students attending the party – Pete Wentz, founder and bassist of the band, is also performing as part of a couple and has multiple dance offs with other students and wins. Both of these types of performance presents them in a protagonist position, linking in with Andrew Goodwin’s theory of music videos consistently showing the musician as the protagonist. In addition to this, the format of the video is also narrative, as the song is about dancing and the music video takes place at homecoming. I think that Fall Out Boy chose these formats because together they make a strong music video, it is intelligent and it allows for the music video to stand on its own as a creative media piece. It also caters to the audience to turn the songs meaning into a literal music video format, as a dance at homecoming is relatable to the teen audience.

Style

Elastic Heart by Sia is created in an impressionistic style. This is because the video is abstract, displaying two characters (a child and a man, perhaps a father and daughter) dancing a very specific choreography to illustrate emotions and fighting. It is set in a big, bird-like cage, further interpreting the meaning of the song. The song talks about an inner battle with feelings, so the dancing is impressionistic of the two feeling’s Sia feels, and being trapped with them (represented by the cage). I think the artist chose this style, as her music has a youthful but deep image and this style of music videos continues that theme. In addition to this, music videos that have deep meaning through visuals often gain large amounts of popularity.

Dance Dance by Fall Out Boy is created in a narrative style. Like the format, the song is directly about dancing and romance, and the music video is set at a homecoming, with band member Pete Wentz attending the homecoming with a girl, trying to win over her affection. The pace of the music video keeps up with the pace of the song, interpreting the energy of the song and turning it to narrative. In the beginning, as the energy of the song increases, so does the mood of the music video. We see the crowd get increasingly excited the more the song plays. During the chorus, the pace of the music video is at peak and the dancing gets faster. Then, while Pete debates whether to show off his dancing in front of the crowd, the music is suspenseful. In the music video, The lyrics also fit with the song – the opening lyrics ‘She says she’s no good with words, but I’m worse Barely stuttered out a joke of a romantic stuck to my tongue‘ reflect the opening of the music video. Before the song starts, romantic couple featuring Pete Wentz exchange awkward conversation before entering the hall, which is when the music kicks in. Every piece of the video has been put together to show a narrative.

Conventions

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Lyrics to Sia’s Elastic Heart

In Elastic Heart, the lyrics have been interpreted and amplified into the dance sequence. The lyrics to Elastic Heart demonstrate the conflict of how Sia feels –  it goes into detail about how she wants to feel the love – ‘but why can I not conquer love?‘ and ‘I wanted it and I wanted it bad‘, but then not show how it affects her – ‘but you won’t see me fall apart ’cause I’ve got an elastic heart‘. The lyrics show the back in forth in how she feels and this reflects within the music video through the setting and the dancing. The meaning of the lyrics is reflected through the setting, which is a room with a large cage in it. The cage represents being consumed by her feelings, so when dancer Maddie Ziegler leaves the cage, it represents her being free of those feelings. The lyrics reflect the reluctance Sia feels, so in the beginning, the dancers are wary of each other and spend a portion of the video running toward and away, whilst Maddie retaliates and tries to ward of Shia.

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Lyrics to Fall Out Boy’s Dance, Dance

In Dance, Dance the lyrics contradict what is happening in the music video. The lyrics are negative and cynical in comparison to the music video – the lines ‘tonight it’s it can’t get much worse versus no one should ever feel like‘, ‘we’re falling apart to halftime‘, ‘this is the way they’d love if they knew how misery loved me‘, and ‘I’m two quarters and a half down and I don’t wanna forget how your voice sounds‘  reflect the cynicism the writer feels about a relationship they are in. The lyrics illustrate that the writer may be fighting or breaking up with a partner. The music video contradicts this as it is set at homecoming, where there is lots of dancing, laughing, and romance. In addition to this, it is cliche that homecoming and prom are times when romance comes together – mentioned in the music video by Pete – ‘One night could change it all!’ This highlights what is happening in the music video and contradicts the lyrics and meaning of the song.

Techniques

In Sia’s Elastic Heart, the first camera shot we see is an establishing shot. We see the full picture before the music starts – the room, the cage and the dancers within it. It introduces us to the scene, but also could symbolise the beginning of Sia starting to feel the feelings that she talks about in the song. Then, when the music starts, the dancers start to edge toward each other and begin to fight. When this happens, the shots vary from zooms, tilts and pans – the camera zooms in to show their expressions, or when the dancers try to intimidate each other, emphasising the aggression they represent. There are also mid and long shots when they chase each other which shows both of their reactions and movements.

The editing is fairly even paced throughout the video – this could be because each movement the dancers make is long and that they want to show the full action. However, the editing does differ in places slightly – when the dancers are moving slowly and are wary of each other, the editing is slow and this reflects the unease. The editing is also slower when they accept each other, reflecting the tenderness. In addition to this, the editing speeds up when they fight and chase each other making the scene more intense. The editing here shows the contrast of Sia’s feelings showed through the dancing.

The lighting in the music video is natural, coming from lights above and windows. The natural lighting effect could represent the bareness of the feelings Sia writes about in the song.

  • What are the similarities and differences between the camera, editing and lighting techniques used within each video? Fully explain how these techniques affect the relationship between the visuals and the music.  Do any of these techniques consolidate the songs meaning? Explain why.

In Fall Out Boy’s Dance, Dance, the lighting used is low key lighting. This adds mood to the music video, and the warm colour of the lighting gives a positive vibe. The camera shots used are varied, making the video more interesting and adding energy. There are high angle shots looking down from the perspective of the band to the audience which adds perspective. There are mid and close up shots of people when they interact – for example when a boy asks a girl to dance – it shows their reactions, and it also takes us away from the song and drives our attention to the scene. There are also long shots of the crowd dancing, which shows how busy the event is and creates energy.

The editing used is fast – there are a large number of jump cuts used, flitting from scene to scene and showing us everything that is going on at the event. The editing also matches the rhythm and beat, keeping the energy levels up and reflecting the mood of the song.

 

 

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Magazine Cover Comparison

 

The first magazine I’ll be analysing and comparing is Bella. This magazine is aimed at women from the age of 25-44. They’re very likely to be mothers that want to take breaks away from their busy life to relax and enjoy gossip and a motivational boost. The other magazine is Car. This is a very masculine based magazine aimed at male car enthusiasts that are invested in the latest luxury models. The age range is versatile, as cars are a versatile interest, but the age range is likely to be around 25-40.

The cover of Bella is bold and sharp on the eye. The words and phrases used are informal and chatty, and each word is used to amplify dramatic effect – e.g, ‘My IVF Horror’, ‘shock rumours’ and ‘as she splits with boyfriend’. The images used in Bella appear to be stills from scenes that have already played out – two shocked faces adds dramatic effect and enhances the gossip like theme of the magazine. The fonts used on the magazine are varied – some are bold, some are italic, and they’re different colours. This is to make the words stand out from each other, making you pay attention to each sentence. The colours are very bright, using mainly pink, yellow, blue and white which stand out to the eye. In addition to this, these are typical ‘women’s’ colours, so it targets the correct audience. In terms of layout, text and images are in boxes that overlap each other, making the page seem more busy and jam packed with content.

Car magazine is sleek, mature and more cinematic than Bella. The words and phrases used are varied. There are statements, questions and single phrases used. The question asks can the Ferrari beat the McLaren F1 – therefore engaging the audience and making them feel involved. The statement ‘Voted The UK’s Best Vehicle Magazine’ adds impact and gives them credit. There are two images used, one of the Ferrari and one of another lower ranked car. The images catch the attention of the reader as there is only two images to focus on. The contrast between the two types of cars also suggests the versatility of the magazine. The colours of the magazine contrast each other – the blacks and greys allow for the red car to stand out, and it also represents the typical masculinity of the magazine. The fonts used are bold and simple – this is more likely to appeal to male readers than fancy, curved italic font would. The layout is also simple, with most content aligned in horizontal format, making it easier to read. There is only one feature presented in a canted angle, which would be to add creativity.

The two magazines have been constructed carefully to appeal to different audiences. The words and phrases used by Bella, which are more informal and chatty, and appeal to the typical female audience as they enjoy gossip and drama. In comparison, the words and phrases used in Car magazine are more formal and articulate as it appeals to the typical male, well informed audience. The images Bella use are of people, the majority women, and of their shocked reactions – this appeals to the audience as it enhances the drama that they are seeking. To contrast, Car magazine use fewer images and they are of the cars featured in the magazine – the image is more sleek and appeals to the audience because it is more refined. The colours Bella use appeal to their audience as they are bright, bold and feminine – targeting the female audience. In comparison, Car magazine uses black and grey as it’s subdued and masculine, and then chooses a red car as the focus point which stands out against duller colours. This appeals to the audience as it is bold in a different, more typically masculine way.

To summarise, the aspects of Bella appeal to their audience because they are bold, chatty and feminine which reflects the character of the reader. Similarly, Car magazine’s aspects are subdued, minimalist and sleek – which again appeal to the character of the readers.

How Music Videos Benefit Artists

Music Videos as a Form of Promotion

Concert/festival tickets

Music videos are a good method for promoting an artist’s music. They often include footage of their concerts, which helps show the audience the energy in the room when they perform live and show what it would be like to attend. For example, the band Twenty One Pilots use a lot of concert footage in their videos, especially when there’s a fluctuation in the music and shows the crowd going wild. In Lane Boy and Car Radio, there is footage of the concerts and the crowd doing Mexican waves, showing audience involvement. It also shows that the artist cares about giving their audience a good show For a major artist, concert halls or festival stalls are often larger than smaller artists, showing the scale of the artists success. Smaller artists will use them to fill up time in a music video as budgets will be much smaller.

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Twenty One Pilots ‘Car Radio’

Merchandise

Music videos are a huge benefit to the sales of merchandise because often artists have different themes for different songs or even albums. Concept albums where the artist come up with an image to parallel the music are becoming more common and are successful ways for an artist to not only promote themselves, but also their merchandise. For example, Marina and the Diamonds uses a different visual theme for each album. Her recent album was titled ‘Froot’ and the concept of the album was regal and fruity themed and so therefore the merchandise was also in this style. Also, major artists often wear something nice in their videos that is then remade to be sold on their shops. For example, Lady Gaga’s pink hat.

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Lady Gaga’s ‘Million Reasons’ music video

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Lady Gaga merchandise hat

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Marina and the Diamonds ‘Froot’

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‘Froot’ march hair pins

Self Promotion

Music videos benefit musicians greatly because it allows their product to be shown on another platform. This means the music gets more exposure than it would have without the music video. For example, music channels such as MTV, 4Music, and Viva promote the music by showing their videos on their channels. In addition to this, having a music video that mirrors the theme or meaning of the song visually helps to provide the audience with understanding the meaning and so therefore they will appreciate the song and artist more. For example, Halsey’s ‘Hurricane’ music video reflects the sombre tone of the song. The editing and the tune are both slow and nostalgic.

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Halsey’s ‘Hurricane’

Music Videos as an Extension of Income

What impact do music videos have on the sales of music?

Music videos have a very large impact on the sales of music. One way they increase sales is through exposure. It gives the music a bigger area to be broadcast and so therefore will be received on a larger scale. Music videos that include synergy increase sales because there is more than one link. Music videos with a strong concept increase the sales because it sells the story. Together, all the methods explained in this essay helps to increase sales on a big scale because each method has a different advantage. In addition to this, music videos that show something unique increase sales because it draws the public’s attention. One example of this is Miley Cyrus’ ‘Wrecking Ball’ which had a large sales number due to the nature of the video. The video was provocative, through her clothing and mannerisms which caused controversy as she was accused of trying to just gain attention.

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Miley Cyrus’ ‘Wrecking Ball’

Music Videos as an Extension of Outlets

How do music videos increase the exposure of an artist and therefore increase the availability of their music?

Music videos increase the exposure of an artist because they provide another format for the music to be shown on. The more forms of access to the music there is, the more it is available as there are more options. Music videos streamed on channels such as MTV, Viva and 4Music increase the exposure as the viewers then have other ways to access the music. In addition to this, companies such as YouTube regularly make mixes of new songs on the block that more often than not include a video.

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YouTube regularly make promotional mixes

Music videos as a form of Synergy

How can music videos have a direct link and promote films, TV, or other entertainment products?

Music videos can include synergy to increase sales for the musician and other musicians or brands. For example, the music video can feature products being promoted. For example, in Lady Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance’, there is promotion for a brand of alcohol and Beats products. It shows multiple close ups of Beats computers which was heavy product placement. Beats is owned by Universal and so is Lady Gaga. Major labels will often feature artists promoting products of the same label. In addition to this, music videos can also link to other forms of media. Kendrick Lamar produced the album for 2018’s ‘Black Panther’, a highly acclaimed film for its strong representation of black culture. This helps increase sales for Lamar as it shows that he stands with this equality as well as financial profit. The film company Marvel also benefit as Kendrick Lamar is a highly acclaimed artist so it means the product will reach more people.

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Kendrick Lamar’s ‘All The Stars’ – music video celebrates black culture and diversity through multiple dress ups, slow editing and focus, and dances with black people

Independent VS. Major

Identify and explain how music videos can be used to help self-promotion for independent artists and labels?

Music videos provide self promotion for independent musicians and labels because they help increase the exposure and availability of the music. It is harder for smaller brands to sell themselves because major labels control a large amount of features we use, so for independent labels and artists to have a music videos it increases their chances to gain a following. If your music video touches on a controversial or powerful subject, you will gain recognition for it which greatly increases the likelihood of success in terms of music, and also getting a message out. For example, Hozier’s ‘Take Me To Church’ speaks about LGBT issues which brought him a lot of success. Also, independent music videos are often lower budget so it is an opportunity for them to promote their concerts, merch and other features.

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Hozier’s ‘Take Me to Church’

What are the differences between how a major and independent record label will use an artist’s music video?

Major record labels will use an artist and their music videos to promote their company and gain large sales. When artists sign to these big labels the music they make becomes more the labels vision than their own, and the label will have large marketing areas that will target current trends in music and follow it to gain revenue and publicity. The music videos will have a large budget and have strong artistic vision. In addition to this, they may also work with the artist to come up with a video that gains a lot of attention, such as Nicki Minaj’s ‘Anaconda’. Big label songs will take up a large portion of the charts giving them a lot of space to broadcast the video on channels such as MTV.

Independent record labels will use music videos to promote the artist and label. Often on YouTube, record labels will have channels with music videos from all their artists on them, rather than separate channels for each artist. This way it promotes both the artist and label equally. For example, Rough Trade Records have a channel featuring all of their artists. They will also use music videos to promote events such as gigs and festivals – independent music videos often feature live music footage which promotes these events.

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Rough Trade Records channel

Music Videos as a Creative Media Product

Could music videos be considered an alternative medium for the artist(s) to express themselves?

Yes, music videos can be an alternative medium for expression. Music is more often than not based on true emotion, concepts, ideals, etc. A large majority of songs are based on romance because that might be how the artist feels about it when they write, or they might be angry about something, or have an opinion to share. They can communicate this visually as well as acoustically. It can be a healthy way for artists to channel their emotions and communicate with their audience. For example, Beyonce’s ‘Halo’ has a strong exposure and the colours are very light and the editing is angelic like. It conveys the mood of the song visually and emphasises the meaning.

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Beyonce’s ‘Halo’

What impact can a music video have on an artist(s) image?

Music videos can have a huge impact on an artists image. The content will reflect the artist, so as a label or musician it is important to consider what you want to show the world because it all comes back to you. One the one hand, music videos can have a positive impact on your image. For example, if your music video features representation, stands for a positive statement, reflects happiness or awareness etc. your image will be impacted positively as viewers will appreciate it. For example, The Script’s ‘Hall of Fame’ had a positive impact on their image because it had a positive message.

On the other hand, music videos can also have a negative image impact. If people take it negatively, or if it has negative image or includes offensive imagery, it can have negative impact. For example, The Prodigy’s ‘Smack My B**** Up’ had a negative impact on their image because it featured obscene content.

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The Script’s ‘Hall of Fame’

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The Prodigy’s ‘Smack My B**** Up’

Could a music video be considered as a ‘stand alone’ creative media text?

Music videos can be considered a stand alone creative media text because they are versatile products that can be used in different ways. There is no limit to what you can include in a music video so it is very possible to make it a stand along product. For example, Fall Out Boy released a series of music videos from their album and constructed a narrative that didn’t apply to the album concept. They then brought all the videos together into one long movie-like video – making it a stand along creative text by itself.

Critical Approaches Report

Bella

History and Aims

Bella is a women’s lifestyle magazine, first founded in 1987. It published first in the United Kingdom by H Bauer Publishing. The first copy was published on the 5th October 1987. It is one of the best selling women’s magazines in the UK – loyal readers from when it was first published decades ago will still read it, and a new generation of readers also. This combined gives the magazine a large revenue. In the beginning of 2013, there were estimated over 200,000 issues circulating.

It aims to be a youthful in between bridge for young celebrity gossip magazines, such as Heat, and older women’s magazines, such as Woman’s Weekly. It aims to reflect the topics and stories going on out in the real world that their readers will be talking about. On the Bella pack, it reads, “The magazine has one aim in mind: to entertain the readers and give them a brief escape from their busy lives.” This means that the magazine aims to be indulgent – it wants to spread optimism and give the readers happiness. The magazine also aims to be affordable – costing just 89 pence. The magazine has a strongly specific target audience, meaning it is professional and focuses on providing an enriched magazine for its audience.

The magazine covers these topics:

  • Health and beauty
  • Dieting
  • Food
  • Travel
  • Gossip
  • Real life story columns
  • Fashion

Target Audience

The target audience for Bella magazine are young to middle aged women, around 25-44. They are primarily mothers, who will read the magazine to take a break from their busy day to day life of looking after the family and kids. They will be seeking a youthful but mature magazine to indulge in. Their socio-economic status would be around approximately B, C1 or C2 – skilled working class, lower middle class or middle class. They will be searching for luxury on a budget – how to make great meals for low costs, ways to keep fit at home, how to recycle old goods and stay glamorous, fashion and effective beauty on the high street, and the latest celebrity gossip. They women that are very busy but will always make time for themselves and friends, and will read Bella and tell their friends about it’s contents. For example, they may buy an anti ageing skin product featured in the magazine, buy it and tell their friends all about how effective it is. The magazine pack states that they are likely to enjoy coffee and wine, watching TV (shows they are likely to watch are Loose Women, This Morning, etc.), and texting. Overall, the target audience for Bella are women who are busy but confident in themselves, looking for a weekly boost of inspiration.

Target Audience Research Methods

In order to build the character of their target audience, H Bauer’s Bella magazine company will have to use several different methods in order to create the perfect audience profile. The first is questionnaires. Brands will come up with a survey filled with questions that are relevant and specific relating to the brand image Bella want to create. This will consist of both open and closed questions – open questions ask for an extensive answer and allow the audience to freely write in depth. Closed questions are simple yes/no or multiple choice questions. For instance, in order to gain the answers they need to come up with a strong brand image written on their media pack, they would be asking questions such as: how do you spend your free time? Are you interested in healthy family recipes? What is your budget for magazines, if you read any? etc.

In addition to questionnaires, H Bauer will conduct focus groups also. This is similar to a questionnaire in the sense that the both asks questions to a group of people in order to gain relevant answers. However, focus groups are real people who will be gathered in a group with a company representative and asked about their life – it will be similar questions to the questionnaire except they will be more detailed.

The Importance of Target Audience

It is important as a brand to have a clear defined target audience, before you begin producing you magazine. There are two main reasons for this – both concerning profit. One is that without a clear target audience, the number of customers that will buy your magazine is limited. When readers look for a magazine to buy, the likelihood is that they are looking for a specific genre and specific content. If for example, you’re a car magazine with diet tips on the front, the likelihood is that nobody/very few will buy it because it’s too mixed and doesn’t offer what the reader is looking for.

In addition to this, the same applies when it comes to advertising companies. Companies will buy spaces in magazine for advertising for large sums of money, so they have to know that if their advert goes in your magazine, that it will sell and that they will gain a high profit more than the sum they paid to advertise. Therefore, it is extremely important to have a sharply defined audience so that advertisers can trust that their product is going to sell. If you’re a lifestyle magazine but also have columns on golf and rock star interviews, it’s very difficult for advertisers to want to take a spot because they don’t know who they’re catering to or if the majority would be interested in the product. For example Bella magazine would contain advertisements such as H&M, Weight Watchers, Mothercare, etc. because these are the kind of brands that appeal to the audience. Without readers and advertisements, your magazine will struggle to gain profit.

Because of this H Bauer takes long measures to define their audience, conducting first hand research and building a strong image for their magazines. They are the one of the largest publishers in the UK, and are reliable and trustworthy because of their level of professional status. They will work hard to maintain this, spending large sums of money to make sure that all of their magazines are targeted properly in order to make maximum profit.

Technical Conventions in Audio and Post Production

 

In this essay I’ll be explaining the key conventions in audio and post production –  I’ll go into detail about how sound is recorded, how to effectively record sounds, and legal terms on audio production.

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Types of Studio

Depending on the style of audio you want to create, there are two types of recording studio to choose from. The first is called a project studio – these are small, used for recording smaller projects, tests and demos. If the person would like to create something that sounds homemade, this type of studio would be suitable. For example, many modern punk and indie bands use these kinds of studios to record their albums, e.g. PUP and Moose Blood.

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Project Studio Layout

Features of a Control Room – Project Studio

Acoustic Panelling

The layout of a project studio is split into two sections – the control room and the live room. In the control room, there are six core features –  the first is acoustic panelling. Acoustic panels are objects that are mounted to the walls of a studio in calculated areas in order to absorb or diffuse unwanted sound, such as reverberation. They are often made out of foam, or other absorbent fabrics.

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Acoustic panelling – image provided by Yanira Rodriguez

DAW

In addition to this, control rooms will need computers with a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) installed on them. They are software or devices that can produce, edit, adjust or record a large variety of audio. DAW’s are what turns audio from ideas and/or a collection of recordings to a layered, professional and good quality product. They can be used for a range of functions such as music, radio, podcasts, multi media platforms and TV. The majority to all musicians will use DAW software today, from punk artists like Green Day to Pop artists like Katy Perry. There are a large number of different DAW’s, such as Reaper and Steinberg Cubase.

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DAW

Audio Interface

Another feature of control rooms is the audio interface. These hardware are designed to improve the sound capabilities of devices such as computers. When you plug an audio interface into your computer the audio will then be able to transmit louder and clearer than originally. For example they can be used in production in order to hear the true quality of your product, or to play professionally such as at a gigs.

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Audio interface

Acoustic Sound Proofed Walls

The control room will also need acoustic sound proofed walls. By using the same type of materials used in the acoustic panels on walls, ceilings and floors, you can reduce the amount of noise leakage created by the audio you create. This way, you can avoid disturbing the neighbours!

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Acoustic soundproofed room – the foam on the wall soundproofs it

Live Room – Wooden Flooring, Acoustic Insulation, Stage Box

For the live room in a project studio you’ll need three things, wood flooring, acoustic insulation, and a stage box for cables into an audio interface. The purpose of wood flooring in the live room is that it absorbs any unwanted noise, but keeps the pleasant remaining tone. Acoustic insulation is also another material needed in order to sound proof and improve the quality of sound within a studio. The last core thing your live room in a project studio needs is a stage box, which is a device used to connect cables to other multiple devices, such as the audio interface.

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Studio with wooden flooring

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Acoustic insulation

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Stage box

Professional Studio

Isolation Booth

The professional recording studio is similar to the project studio, however they are far more upgraded. In a professional recording studio, there could be a a control room (for the  producers and engineers), a live room (for the artist/spokesperson), an isolation booth, and vocal booth . An isolation booth is a room within the recording studio that an artist, such as a drummer, can use in order to reduce extra unwanted noise, often whilst another person is recording in the live room simultaneously. The materials used, such as drywall, help to airtight the room so that extra noise that would be unpleasant or cancel out other parts of the audio can’t escape. That way all features of the recording can be heard in equal balance. An example of a recording studio that uses an isolation booth is Real World Studios in Bath, a very popular studio that has worked with many artists such as Sia and Coldplay.

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Isolation booth

Vocal Booths

The vocal booth is very similar to the isolation booth – however the main differences are firstly that they are solely used to record vocals rather than drums and other instruments, and secondly to cancel out noise coming from other areas that would disturb the recording.

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Vocal booth

Extra Equipment of a Professional Studio 

A variety of the same equipment in a professional studio will be the same as within a project studio. They will be equipped with a DAW, stage box, and audio interface. However there are likely to be a few more additions. One of these would be plates – these are sheets of metal that hang in a box, so that the reverberation of the sound made echoes through them giving a pleasant tone. In Abbey Road studios, they have a famed plate room. Another is there will be specific jacks for cables – a XLR with a 3.5 mm size. In addition to this, there will be plug ins to improve sound effects, and outboard effects to aid signal.

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Formats for Recording and Playback

There are two main forms of playback and recording format. On of these is WAVE, also known as .wav. This is an uncompressed format, meaning it is the purest form of audio and the least untrue. Because of this they are the most common form of playback format, and the industry standard for putting to CD. The file size are large, but as the digital age moves forward this problem is becoming smaller. The other form of playback/recording formats are Lossy formats, such as MP3. It was created by Alfred Mayer in 1993. He discovered that audio files contained unnecessary and unheard frequencies that could be taken out to reduce file size, however this reduced the quality of the audio at a 128/kb/s compression rate.

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WAV file

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Lossy format – MP3

ISDN

The ISDN is the Integrated Services Digital Network. It began in 1988, and it was an improved communication network from the regular telephone line service known as analogue. The ISDN allowed for clearer audio to be given and received, and it offered more methods of transferring information such as through voice, video and data. To transfer data you would use a telefax machine – this was a service used by officials by phoning a specific number, sending a printed document through a machine which was then deciphered by the telefax machine on the other end, and printed again.

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Tele Fax machine

Profanity, Blasphemy and Delay Lines

Profanity and blasphemy are forms of offensive language that can be considered as obscenity if used in the wrong place. Profanity refers to swearing inappropriately, such as using f bombs in a PG film. Blasphemy means to insult a religious practise. If such content is aired, such as on radio station, the show can be taken off the air or delayed. In 2006, Radio 1’s presenters Chris Moyles and Scott Mills swore on multiple occasions during their shows, and OFCOM threatened to take regulatory action.

Radio stations will have a device purposefully for this, known as a delay line. A well used delay line within the industry of radio is the Eventide BD 600. As you can see, there is a PANIC button which lets WAV files be played back whilst the delay is rebuilding. You can also adjust and customise how long you would like to delay for using the DUMP button – up to a full 80 seconds!

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Eventide BD600

Broadcast Effects

Effects are changes made to audio, used to manipulate the way sound is heard. For example, you may want to add in extra bass effects for a more urban beat or amp up the treble for a classic effect. You can do this in many forms of software, such as DAWs. An example of an effect you may want to add in is reverb. Reverb is when sound continues to travel and be heard even after the sound has already been emitted, like an echo. You could use this to be more dramatic. In addition to this, another example of an effect that could be used is compression – this is where the dynamic and force of the sound is reduced to be less sharp. You can use these effects in production, and also after.

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Reverb plug in

Post Production and Production Stages

There are four key stages to audio production – planning, recording, mixing and mastering. Planning is where scheduling for certain elements for the project are sorted. For example, you might want to plan which studio you will record at, what equipment you will bring, where and when you’ll mix it, when it will be completed by, etc. By being organised and planning how you will conduct the project the more likely the project will be successful.

Recording is where the actual project production begins. This is where you create the material you wish to produce and save it. You could record it all in one go, for instance a band, or record each element individually, such as two singers. For example in Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, there is a back and forth which would have been recorded separately.

Mixing is the editing element of the production. This is the stage where levels may be adjusted, compression or reverb added etc. It is the stage where a production goes from a collection of recordings to a final piece.

Mastering is where a project is finalised, also known as bounced. It will be converted to a WAV file, though equipment that is high quality ensuring the quality of end product and that it is fit for commercial use.

Roles Within Studio Audio Production

There are five core roles within studio audio production. One of these is the audio engineer. They are in charge of technical aspects of the recording process. They will record it, be in charge of the technical functions in the studio, and adjust the sound as it’s being recorded e.g. auto-tune. This role is important because without the engineer the recording could be faulty and not produced effectively.

In addition to this, there is the producer. The producer is essentially the director of the production – they will guide and instruct the engineer and artist on what they should change, what they should continue with, etc. This role is important because it ensures the project turns out clear and good quality.

The third role is the studio assistant. This role is where a person assists the engineer, doing what they ask and setting up equipment such as leads, microphones, stands etc. The role is important because without the assistant the other roles such as the producer and engineer would have to oversee, this which would be time consuming and less efficient for the project.

The fourth role is the mixer/editor, this role is where a person takes the recording and edits and mixes it, adding layers and sound effects until it sounds perfect for commercial distribution. This role is important because without the mixer, the project will sound unfinished and less professional.

The last key role within studio audio production is the booker/studio manager. This person oversees the business and booking of the studio, arranging and scheduling for people to use the studio and making sure no bookings overlap. This role is important because without the manager the arrangement wouldn’t be efficient and people may end up confused.

Legal Issues

Copyright

In order to protect and have the rights to your musical composition or other form of audio, you will need to copyright it. Copyright is a law that gives you the right to have say in what others do with your work – they are only allowed to copy it, or elements of it, with your full permission. It means that nobody can copy your work without being sued, giving you the protection that your work can’t be copied without the other person undergoing consequences. For example, Vanilla Ice copied the beat from Queen and David Bowie’s ‘Under Pressure’ for his track ‘Ice Ice Baby’. He was sued heavily, and made no profit from the song.

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Cover of Vanilla Ice’s ‘Ice Ice Baby’ single

Performing Rights

The right to play music in public comes under a section of the copyright law, known as performing rights. In order to perform someone’s song publicly and also live (instead of playing the track) you will need to gain the permission of either the copyright holder/artist or a collective rights company, such as BMI, ASCAP, SESAC, etc. That way you can perform someone else’s music legally without being sued.

Licensing

Music licensing is where you have to obtain a license in order to play someone else’s recorded music – if you are a radio station, you will have to gain permission from each artist or license company to play the songs on air. This is why you hear the same cycle of songs if you continually listen to one station – those songs are the ones the station can afford to gain the license from. All businesses will have to do this – from shops, to radio, to TV, etc.

Contracts

A contract is a written agreement between two parties, used for business deals. It details what the two parties will fulfil, deadlines, health and safety, and anything else that is essential for both parties to agree on.You would need one for many kinds of deals – for example, an actor would sign a contract with a film company to say that they agree to work with them, and might agree to play the part for more than one film/show. In terms of music, contracts would be made between musician and record label, musician and distribution companies such as Spotify, YouTube, etc.

References:

PUP Wikipedia Date used: 7/2/18

Moose Blood Wikipedia Date used: 7/2/18

Acoustic Panelling Explained Date used: 7/2/18

Studio Monitor Wikipedia Date used: 7/2/18

DAW Wikipedia Date used: 7/2/18

DAW Google Search – Examples Date used: 7/2/18

Audio Interface Explained Date used: 7/2/18

Stage Box for Audio Interface Explained Date used: 7/2/18

Recording Studio – Isolation Booth Wikipedia Date used: 8/2/18

How to Build a Soundproofed Home Studio Date used: 8/2/18

How to Build an Isolation Booth Date used: 8/2/18

Real World Studio Wikipedia Date used: 8/2/18

Vocal Booths Explained and How to Design Date used: 8/2/18

Plates explained Date used: 9/2/18

IDSN simple Wikipedia Date used 9/2/18

Eventide BD600 explained Date used: 9/2/18

Profanity vs blasphemy explained Date used: 9/2/18

BBC1 presenters threatened by OFCOM Date used: 9/2/18

Audio engineer explained Date used: 9/2/18

Copyright explained Date used: 9/2/18

Performing rights explained wikipedia Date used: 9/2/18

PPL explained Date used: 9/2/18

Music licensing wikipedia 9/2/18

2D Animation Essay

Stop Motion Animation

Stop motion animation is the original form of animation, dating back to the early 1800’s, which is a method still used today. This form of animation composes of a series of images, one after the other, captured frame by frame. By stitching together picture after picture in a very short time period, it tricks the brain and gives the optical illusion that the subject is moving. This brain process is called the persistence of vision, based on the theory that the brain and eyes work together to retain the memory of the frame we last saw and patch it up to the next one, and so on.

To create this optical illusion, the brain needs to see approximately 15 FPS (FPS – Frames Per Second), meaning that for every second of the animation there must be at least 15 still images. The smaller the amount of frames per second, the less smooth and believable the animation becomes, so for a smooth, good quality animation at least 15 FPS is needed. For a professionally smooth animation, such as in cartoons, you would need to use 24 Frames Per Second.

Early Forms and Pioneers of Stop Frame Animation

John Ayrton Paris – Thaumatrope

Some of the early forms of animation were the thaumatrope, zoetrope, and the mutoscope. The thaumatrope consisted of a circular disk with an image on each side and a string through the middle. When rotated at a fast speed, the images appear to blend together. For example on one side there could be a person with their arm to their side, and on the next in the air so that when spun it appears as though the person would be waving. It was invented in 1824 by British physician John Ayrton Paris.

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Thaumatrope

William Horner – Zoetrope

Another early form of animation device was the Zoetrope, invented in 1834 by British mathematician William Horner. This device was a cylinder that spun with slits in the side for viewing and a sequence of illustrations on the inside. As shown in the gif below, the image sequence could be a bird flying and as the cylinder spins, you can look through the slits so as it spins it shows the images in sequence making it appear as though they are moving.

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Zoetrope

W.K.L. Dickson and Herman Casler – Mutoscope

In addition to this another early form of animation was the mutoscope. This device was Victorian and was invented by Scottish inventor W.K.L. Dickson and American inventor Herman Casler. It was a series of cards (about 850) attached to a circular core much like a rolodex. The viewer would put in a coin and crank the machine and it would roll through the cards at a fast speed, like a flip note. It could only be viewed by one person at a time.

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Mutoscope

Eadweard Muybridge – Chronophotography and the Zoopraxiscope

One of the earliest pioneers of animation was a man named Eadweard Muybridge. He lived from 1830 to 1904 and collated together photographic images of animals and people moving, frame by frame, stitching them together creating some of the earliest stop motion animation. This technique is known as chronophotography. To do so he invented his own device known as the Zoopraxiscope, a key predecessor to the movie projector. It was made up from glass disks with images printed on them that move in sequence as the device was cranked by hand.

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Eadweard Muybridge’s horse photographic animation

Developers of Stop Frame Animation

Walt Disney

Walt Disney was born in 1901 in Illinois and was an American pioneer and developer of cartoons. He was an animator, voice actor, film producer and entrepreneur of Disney Brothers Studios. He started his career as a professional film producer developing different directions that animation could take, from comedy to romance. His animation form was stop motion animation using cel animation. In the 1920’s he developed the infamous character Mickey Mouse which he himself voiced, making comedy sketches designed to make people laugh. These were short and though rewarding, Disney wanted to go further and make full feature length films in technicolour that could make the audience feel a wide range of emotion. The first feature length animation he produced with this goal in mind was Snow White. When it premiered in 1937, the audience found themselves captured by it’s many emotional turns. The film was a huge success, and so Disney went on to produce many other feature length films during this period such as Bambi, Pinocchio, Fantasia and Dumbo. Since then his brand has become one of the largest brands in the world, winning many awards and some of his films are included in the National Film Registry.

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Snow White (1937)

Willis O’Brien

Willis O’Brien was an American animator and special effects pioneer, born in California in 1886. In his early years he worked as a marble sculptor. He crafted a caveman and dinosaur and in his spare time, with the assistance of a local camera man, created a 90 second stop motion animation. It was viewed and praised by Herman Wobber who then commissioned him to make The Dinosaur and the Missing Link: A Prehistoric Tragedy. Thomas Edison hired him through Edison Films after being impressed by the film. In 1917 he then worked on the first animations to combine stop motion models with real actors – Nippy’s Nightmare and The Puzzling Billboard. He then produced the effects for, wrote, co starred and directed The Ghost of Slumber Mountain earning a box office sum of 100K. He worked on other films such as The Lost World, and after several cancelled film plans, developed King Kong in 1933, a well known film and concept in the cinema world.

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Willis O’ Brien working on an animation

Contemporary Animation

Aardman Animation

Aardman Animation formed in 1972 when David Sproxton and Peter Lord came together as school students with the ambition of becoming animators. They worked on small productions such as Take Hart, before being commissioned in 1982 by Channel 4 to produce Conversation Pieces. Then after they worked on a film called Early Bird, giving them the platform to show that characters can parody real people. In 1985, Peter and David met Nick Parks who joined Aardman full time, when he was working on the debut Wallace and Gromit film A Grand Day Out released in 1989. Working together with the direction of Nick Parker, they made many more Wallace and Gromit films, such as The Wrong Trousers and A Close Shave which were both extremely successful and won awards. Since then, Aardman Animation has made many more films and won many awards with the partnership and funding of DreamWorks, such as Chicken Run, Flushed Away, and The Curse of the Were Rabbit. Awards include BAFTA’s, Academy Awards and Oscars.

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Wallace and Gromit

Genres and Forms of Animation

Flick Book

There are many different forms of animation depending on the effect you wish to create, or the time period it was made. One of these is flick books. Flick books are a compact form of animation, much like the mutoscope. It consists of a book with a large number of frames, each page containing a different frame, so that when the book is flicked through the images mould together in sequence giving the illusion of movement.

Flickbook

Rotascoping

Rotascoping came about in the 1800s, when Eadweard Muybridge painted his chronophotographic images on disks. The art of rotascoping is where real motion picture is traced over as animation on glass panels. It is done frame by frame, and when the panels are put together in sequence and played on a projector or other device, they play out as an animation. It was developed by Polish-American animator Max Fleischer.

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Rotascoping – the B/W images are photographs, imitated in drawing for Peter Pan

Drawn On Film

Drawn on film animation is where animators draw and create images directly onto film strip. The film strip can be black, which must be already developed, and is either etched, sanded, scratched or punched. The film can also be blank – if it is blank it will be undeveloped, and can be painted, drawn on, stamped, or even glued. It is done frame by frame, so when it is produced it is shown in 2D sequence. Some famous practitioners of drawn on animation are Norman McLaren and Len Lye.

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Drawn on Film

Claymation

Claymation, also known as clay animation, is a malleable form of animation in which the subject is made from clay or sometimes plasticine. A set will be built (likely to be built from clay also), and the subject will be moved gradually, and a photograph will be taken for every frame. Then it is stitched together so that it looks as though the film is moving by itself. Some examples of famous claymation projects are Wallace and Gromit, and Shaun the Sheep.

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Shaun the Sheep

Cel Animation

Cel animation is a traditional form of animation. It is a hand drawn format, using transparent/translucent sheets of paper that can be drawn on and layered over each other. To save time and effort, the backdrop, and other elements that would be stationary for the scene, will be drawn first and then the characters will be drawn on other sheets and traced for each frame. It is very time consuming, so in 1937 when Walt Disney released Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs the artists were pushed heavily for time to meet the release deadline.

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Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

Time Lapse

Time lapse animation is where a large number of photographs are taken and compressed together into a short space of time. Cameras will have a function that allows a constant stream of photographs to be taken at once, without having to press the shutter every time for each shot. This can save time and the subject can move continuously without needing to stop. If you were needing to make a 30 second time lapse, you would need 24 frames per second to be professionally smooth, equating to 720 shots, so this function is highly useful and saves a lot of time. If not, each shot can be taken individually.

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Time lapse of a rose

What are the ways in which animation is used, and what form is best for each use?

Animation is a versatile form of imagery. It can be used to be both entertaining, and also educational. It can be used to make us laugh, cry and provide a platform for us to escape to and be imaginative. In terms of entertainment, you can find animation in television, cartoons, films, music videos and many more formats. On the other hand it can be used for educational purposes, to illustrate how things work, for example in primary school a teacher may use animation to show how photosynthesis works. It makes the lesson interactive and more engaging for kids.

Idents

There are many different uses and functions for animation. Idents are short animations of usually around 5-10 seconds that a TV channel will use in between airing programs. They are often used when a narrator announces the next program as an entertaining visual whilst they speak. They are also a form of identity – what the ident shows is often synonymous with the nature of the channel – it gives identity to the kind of content a channel shows. For example, the BBC 2 ident has a more formal relaxed image than the E4 ident – BBC 2 shows an animated ‘2’ that has shown different forms, to a tent opening shape or a robot. It targets the audience that is aged around 30 – 50. The E4 ident is a lot more active and fun because of the younger 15-30 demographic. It is a purple robot, but the difference is that this robot has been given a clumsy personality and features, making it more youthful for the audience.

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BBC 2 ident

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E4 ident

Children’s TV

Animation is a highly used form of entertainment on children’s TV. Animation as a visual style is exciting and often colourful, and so it is very engaging for children to watch. In addition to this, when it comes to animation, there is no limit to what you can create. You can create any character or setting in any style or appearance, so it gives a large space for creativity and imagination that couldn’t be used or found in the real world. Some examples of current children’s animation are Paw Patrol and Spongebob. They are popular amongst children because they are colourful, fun, engaging and funny for kids.

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Paw Patrol

Computer Games

Much like children’s TV, animation is consistently used in computer games as graphics. Computer games are very complex and require different actions for each choice made by the player, so it is far simpler to animate computer games than to film real actors. By using animation, there is no limit as to what the creator can make. The benefit of using animation over real image is that it can be as colourful and surreal as the creator wants. The more creative the more the audience will enjoy it, as many play video games as a form of escapism. In addition to this, as technology gets better, the better the graphics get and therefore more entertaining the game gets, and the more profit the game company gain.

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Skyrim (Bethesda) after being remastered – before and after

Music Videos

Animation can be used in many different ways in music videos to give the audience different vibes and show different creative flares in the artist. It might be used because the theme of animation runs in the song, or that the song has an imaginative twist and the animation represents that, or that the colours reflect or contrast the song. The reasons animation may be used in music videos are almost endless. Animation is a very versatile form of entertainment and art, so it can be used for many different functions such as music videos. For example, the Arctic Monkeys used animation as their music video for ‘Do I Wanna Know’ which reflects the grunge and sombre tone. This targets their target audience of around 15-30, focusing on mental heath and relationship issues.

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Arctic Monkey’s ‘Do I Wanna Know’

Software

To create modern digital animation, you may want to use a modern animation software. For example, this could be After Effects, Anime Studio, Toon Boom Studio, etc. These software pieces are affordable for the general public and are capable of producing high quality, professional level products – Adobe After Effects costs just $19.99 a month as a single subscription. These software are very versatile, offering hundreds of different functions and ways to make your project even better. They are easy to navigate and any mistakes are easily rectifiable – with just a few tutorials and exploring, anybody can create a well rounded piece of material with these software.

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Adobe After Effects

Summary

In summary, animation has grown in leaps and bounds since it first began in the 1800’s. It has grown from Eadweard Mubridge’s chronophotography to the work of Willis O’Brien to modern Disney, producing multiple films in short spaces of time such as Moana and Inside Out. The advantages of making stop motion animation is that it is a lot less time consuming, because of the introduction of software such as Adobe After Effects and Animate, where the program does the animation for you. Prior to this the introduction of digital cameras made it possible to photograph clay models, (e.g. Shaun the Sheep) and each movement photographed creates a sequence.