Narrative Essay (Timed)

Hand write this essay in times conditions (30 minutes or 37.5 minutes)

‘Describe how you used and applied conventional or experimental narrative theories in one of your products’. 

Narrative Essay Structure suggestion

You can choose your music video if it has a suitable narrative or your thriller, which might be easier to dissect.

Link to exemplar answer by a candidate on narrative in their music video.

Example Essays

It would be best to handwrite it in timed conditions but you can type it and submit it too, so that you can redraft it more easily.  Again, try and type it though in 30 minutes after 5 minutes planning.

Mrs Cobb would prefer typed ones submitted through the classroom post.

Good Luck.

Narrative & The Music Video

Narrative definition:  The contents (events, action) and the way these are structured together form the basis of any narrative. A story can be relayed using any combination of communication i.e. visuals, words, drama etc.

If narrative comes up in the exam, you can choose which product to talk about – think carefully about whether your music video or thriller ‘tells’ a story that can be analysed.

This framework is useful for nailing down the specific moments in your thriller or music video narrative where you can apply the terms and theories.

Skills – 1a

Lesson 1 + 2

Big Fat Skills Quiz

Fully Complete your Skills template in classroom. In particular focus on RP (this will be your mock question).  Remember some of the stories you have already done for PP and DT could be used here – don’t make work for yourself.

Do not complete the Conventions section yet.

Always remember the skill needs a starting point and a finishing point.  This can be anywhere in the course but each skill story needs to show progression.

The most important aspect is that you evidence how the skill impacted specifically on the product i.e. not just that it made it nicer, more professional. What do you mean by that. How did the colour filter directly impact on the anarchic, grungy star image? How did  the transition develop the narrative disruption for the story?

Remember to use the name of the tools, techniques.

Revisit your essays for excellent examples and revisit classroom for exemplar paragraphs that others have submitted.

Write like a media student: use terms from across your media learning.




Genre – Concepts 1b

Lesson 1

First of all – try and write a definition of Genre in one sentence.  This could be your opening sentence for your concepts essay, if Genre comes up.  Share your ideas with the class.

Just to recap – how much can you remember about Genre and the theories, theorists that accompany this concept?  Take the quiz.

Big Fat Genre Quiz – to recap on structure and basic theories

Revisit Genre

Victoria Sponge

Read this presentation on your own for 10 minutes & familiarise yourself with its contents.

It has everything you need in it for the Concepts section of the exam.

Genre Framework – you can use your Thriller, Music Video or Digipak.

Concept Essay Structure

  • Think about all the work you have recently done on Conventions for your Evaluation Questions.
    • The answers and ideas are all in there.
    • So revisit your blog posts about Genre.

And now revisit the quiz. How much more do you remember, know now than at the beginning of the lesson?

Lesson 2

Now that you have revisited and refreshed your memories about Concepts and in particular Genre, you will write up an essay in this class.  You can use your notes or refer to the blog for ideas but you will only have the allocated 25 minutes. So the first 15 minutes of the lesson you can prepare as well. Those of you who have extra time can have the whole of the lesson so do some prep before or you can complete the question at home.

The question will be:

  • Apply the concept of genre to one of your coursework productions. – June 2014

Audience Feedback on final products – preparation for Ev Q 3

‘What have you learned from your audience feedback?’

In order to prepare for Evaluation Question 3, you will need to do a final evaluation of your products based on some summative feedback from an audience.

You will need to focus on the following areas:

  • The degree to which you communicated a specific genre of music?
  • The values, attitudes and belief (ideology) of your band/star.
  • What is the audiences’ reading of your texts and do they match your preferred reading?
  • What is the meaning/sense in the narrative?

Linked / embedded into the questionnaire will be the products for the audience to consume and respond to.

To complete this, you must work with your group to set up a questionnaire of 10 questions in Google Forms.

Each class will then send it to your allocated media students (see this list for who to send it to) in other classes, so that you will get at least 10 responses. However, you should also circulate the questionnaire to some target audience members too, in order to get 10 responses.

This means that you will all have to spend regular time checking your gmail and helping your peers out by filling in their submissions.

The results can then be collated and summarised in your response.

Task 1:

Brainstorm 10 suitable questions with your group. You will need to get a variety of question types and in particular, include some that will encourage the audience to describe their responses and reactions using adjectives (perhaps give them a choice of adjectives including ones that encompass a negotiated or oppositional reading).

Task 2:

Set up Google forms.

Distribute to your allocated recipients plus others you can think of.

Task 3:

After 1 week, collate the responses.

Task 4: 

Use the results, along with your ongoing feedback to respond to Evaluation Question 3, details of which to come later.

This is a link to a questionnaire from last year – not necessarily brilliant but an idea of how you should structure it.

These are some possible questions:

  • What genre do you think is communicated by the front cover of the DP – pop, rock, reggae, ska
  • What aspects of the narrative make you want to watch the video again?
  • What 3 adjectives describe the star image of the lead singer? (give a choice perhaps using a semantic differential scale)
  • What themes are included in the narrative? (give a choice of binary oppositions – conflict pairs)
  • Do you understand the narrative? (Short response)
  • How conventional is the performance section – MES, location, performance style, editing, filters etc?

This must be done ASAP so that you have time to get responses – WHICH IS WHY YOU NEED YOUR FINAL PRODUCTS.

Media Language

In part, Media Studies is the study of ‘media language’.

Any given media text (form) is a series of codes or signs which communicate meaning.

A sign, according to media language theory, is made up of two parts:

  1. A signifier. That is, ‘Something in a media text which carries meaning’.
  2. The signified. That is, ‘The meaning carried by that something’.

Your job as a media student it to identify the signifiers and analyse / argue what they signify.

Here’s Mr G explaining:

Here is slideshow which tries to explain – the last few slides give you an approach to your text.


Complete a detailed media language analysis of one of your media products.

You should use this document to help you cover the key ideas.


Here is an example essay

Digital Mock up + Feedback from target audience

You need to create a digital ‘PHOTO MOCK UP‘.

For this exercise you can borrow images.

It is this version that will need feedback.

Exemplars here and here.

  • Place the BORROWED photos in a clear CD cover and take photos of how it looks. You will need to collect filmed feedback on it from your class.  Remember, you are asking them for their preferred reading, do they recognise the genre, what is the star image of the performer, what is encoded in the design?  You could ask a focus group to decide which adjectives best describe the performer, band in terms of the star image communicated by the DP? Ask them to choose a genre that it conveys and give them a list of possibilities.

We will be moving on to Production Meeting Agendas, Risk Assessment and first shoots very shortly so make sure you have caught up on all your Music Video posts.

Digipack Hand drawn Mockup

Please use the next lesson(s) to produce a hand drawn mock up of the digipack you are going to make in the next 2 weeks.  Collate the best ideas from your moodboards.

You should:

  • Drawn, mock-up design of digipak – 4 panes on A3 paper.
  • Annotated with conventional and technical features.

dp mock updp mock up 2

Annotate the designs with the conventional technical elements (barcode, song titles, publisher etc) but also label the designs with how the Media Language of print will help encode the star image and metanarrative of the performer – font, colours, design, graphics, illustration, framing etc. What are the conventional design features for your genre that you will be including? What are you using to encode meaning – what media language will you be employing – font, text, colour, images etc?

In your introduction remember to use the terms for genre, star image, encoding, decoding, preferred readings etc. The more you use the terms now, the easier it will be in the exam to talk about the DP in the Concepts section 1b.

PDF the design into your blog.

Digipak – Previous Students’ Work – Print Assessment Criteria

Choose a DP cover from the display on the wall.  Mrs Cobb will point out the ones that achieved Level 4 as clearly it is this level that you will be aspiring to achieve.

Then search for that blog so that you can use the images in your post.

Go to and search for the site in ‘blogs’.  There are some paper copies around but you will still have to find the images on their blogs to copy and embed.

Using the four general assessment criteria in the slideshow below, explain how the students skills are evident in their digipacks. Be specific with examples from their texts and what they have done.

Digipak analysis – conventions

We now need to have a look at how digipaks and adverts are designed to work alongside videos to support the promotion of a new album.

Consider digipak covers. What do they have in common? What are the conventions?

Here are our notes on the conventions of a digipak. Read them when you get stuck.

Now you must find a digipak cover from the same genre as your music video and annotate it for the design conventions. This must be uploaded to your blog. Make it detailed and use the terms from the sheets below. If you can find the back of it too, that would be great for some of the technical conventions i.e. barcode, publisher logo etc.

Here is an example analysis

You should focus on: images, graphics, illustrations, font, colour, technical conventions (barcode, parental advisory, album title on spine, tracks on the back), register of copy, mise-en-scene, composition, intertextual references, how does the cover communicate meaning, denotations and connotations, image manipulation, filters, generic conventions, how can it be ‘read/interpreted’ by an audience, star image, metanarrative, representation?

This is a textual analysis – decode it!  Use connectives like connote, infer, imply, represent. This is another way MEDIA LANGUAGE is used to communicate an idea, message, image etc.

In the introduction to the blog post we want you to do a bullet point list of the conventional and technical features that are common to digipaks too – include the spine, inside covers and back cover – what is commonly featured? Bar code?  Parental advisory?  Name of the album and performer on the spine?  Song list on the back? etc

Representation Essay

‘With examples, discuss the central figures in one of your media products and consider how they are represented in the text.’

Use must use the essay template and use the theory booklet.

Remember you are A2 students so need to reflect, analyse and argue, not just regurgitate theories; apply them to specific examples in your media product.

Some help with the theorists for this essay:

Barthes Summary by Mr G
Dyer summary by Mrs C

Click to view

Hall Summary by Mr G

Some More Help

What is representation and what general approach should I take?

Here is some example extracts from previous students’ essays

Narrative Planning – storyboard


You need at least 40 post it note on A2 paper so that you can really sort out how you are going to shoot your narrative.  Think of all those skills you used at AS – match on action, shot reverse shot, framing, 180 degree rule, pull focus, DOF, framing, angles and distances to help tell your story.

Here is some background reading to help you understand the purpose of storyboards and how they are designed. How to Use a Story Board

Here is a template for you to create your storyboard. You may use drawings or take photos to complete these. BFI Storyboard Template or you can use the post it style so that you can move your images around.

They need to be as detailed as possible and you should take a photo of them out on your shoot so you don’t miss a shot.

Remember to take inspiration from professional videos. Narratives tend to be more thematic and an amplification of the lyrics. Rather than an illustrative full story.

Happy planning! 



CONCEPTS – Audience Ideologies – who is your target audience?

In order to understand audience you should understand what makes them tick, especially what reasons they have for consuming media at all. A couple of theorists who considered this were Blumler & Katz, who suggested that there were four reasons collectively known as Uses and Gratification. Their theory describes the active audience and suggested that four reasons for people to actively seek out and consume media:

Information Self education to suit personal needs; advice on practical matters; information on events or issues of personal interest; curiosity or general interest
Personal Identity Media reinforces personal values; models of behavior; content explored to challenge, adjust or affirm sense of self
Social Interaction Identify with others to gain a sense of belonging; find basis for real life interactions; substitute for real life relationships
Entertainment Escape; diversion; emotional release; filling time; aesthetic enjoyment

Here is a powerpoint on Stuart Hall and his ‘Reception Theory’. Consider what he says about audience.  He argues that an audience decodes what the producer encodes in a text. However, how they read the text will depend on their demographics and psychographics and general cultural competence.  Here is the Theory Booklet with all of Hall’s ideas on Pages 11 and 12.


In order to pitch, produce and promote a music video successfully, you need to know your ‘target audience’ and why they are going to buy into your product, the artist. After all, if you don’t understand your target audience and their preferences your music video will not be a commercial success.

As a group consider what broad groups they fall into (Gender, Age, Occupation, Marital status, cultural background) as well as: other bands/artists they would be into, other media they would consume, fashion tastes, musical genre preferences, and then finally some of the attitudes and beliefs they hold about the world including politics. Think also of which ‘communities’ you are hoping to attract. Where do they live, work and play?  Consider their DEMOGRAPHICS AND PYSCHOGRAPHICS.

Here is a handout we gave you last year which describes different audience groups / communities which might be helpful in reaching some conclusions.

Task – Design your perfect audience member

Use the blank Facebook template to describe the ideal audience. Give them an image, name, gender, relationship status, groups, status, likes, dislikes…all of this should be through the filter of music and should help describe your audience profile. Make it as detailed as possible – why not consider someone you know (do not actually use them) who likes the music, is a fan of that music/band and use them as inspiration.

Facebook template – word – take a copy and annotate accordingly

Each group member should complete their own ideal fan .

YOU SHOULD ALSO USE THIS WEBSITE: and mention it in your introduction or even better, take a snipping tool screen shot of the profile target audience for your performer. Scroll down to yougovprofiles when you can put the name of your artist or a similar one to find out lots of data about your target audience.  For example this link gives information about fans of Beyonce.

REMEMBER TO USE TERMINOLOGY IN YOUR BLOG POSTS AND TASKS! – preferred reading, encode, decode, oppositional reading, demographics, psychographics, cultural experience, uses and gratification, target audience, producer, target audience, entertainment, education, social interaction and personal identity etc.

Representation of your Star Image

How the star/band/performer is represented in your video and on the digipak and poster is really important.

Music videos are made primarily to promote the star, in order to sell their music, in order to make money…simples!

Star image is crucial in terms of raising a star’s profile in the media. They should be studied as ‘products’ to be advertised, publicised and be ‘sold’ to the fans. They have to remain constantly interesting to keep the fans intrigued – the star evolves! It could be seen as its own special kind of ‘species’.

Richard Dyer Handout

Richard Dyer is a theorist you need to learn about. He came up with some concepts about how ‘star image’ works in the media. Here is a Theory Booklet about his ideas – go to page 7:

PINTEREST/GOMOODBOARD.COM TASK – STAR IMAGE (you can use any other collage app of your choice but you must be able to annotate it)

Your task is to take the ‘star’ (performer, duet, band, group) you analysed with the music video and digipak and create a ‘pinterest page’ on how they are ‘represented‘. Find examples of news stories, incidents, events, digipak covers, music videos, articles, blogs, tweets that all contribute to their ‘star image’. The way they are represented is called their metanarrative (over arching story about them).


Image result for pinterest

And remember, just as you did in your TV drama representation – you must add ADJECTIVES to how they appear through that particular event, story, picture etc. You can do this task as a group but must all equally contribute to the page.

This is a link to an excellent example. You should have at least 15 – 20 images and comments.

Genre (1b Concepts) Research

Genre is simultaneously an act of similarity and difference.

Two of the theorists you should understand and be able to quote, apply and analyse for the Concepts 1b section of the exam are Lacey and Altman (Page 13/14 of the Theory Booklet). You may get a question on genre and how one of the products was ‘generic’ i.e. it followed set patterns, conventions and ideas to fit the genre of music in order to appease its fans.

Lacey’s ‘Repertoire of Elements’ (recipe of ingredients) contribute towards the following ideas of how genre is classified according to Altman.

  • Blueprint 
  • Label 
  • Contract 
  • Structure

TASK (this is collaborative so you can submit the same document but you all have to equally contribute).

Create a Slideshow with a voice-over or a Voicethread focusing on the Repertoire of Elements necessary for your particular band /artist to be generically conventional.   You could also use Screencastify to record your narration. You can then embed it in your blog. You should also mention print design.  You can probably already use a lot of your ideas from your song pitch but be careful not to just copy this but instead use it as a foundation for exploring the genre of your song and how this will impact on the video and the digipak design.

Some of the suggested areas to cover are on the sheet provided but you should consider too: iconography, camera and editing, sound, narrative, star image, performance and Digipak designs.

Find generically similar artists.

  • Discuss who they are, what do they wear, how do they style themselves, where do they perform, who are their fans, how are their digipaks / videos similar, what common features are there in their music videos (fast paced editing, hand held camera, filters, locations, authentic/live performances, produced performances etc). Use your performer too in amongst the analysis.

Ensure you get the following terms in to your PRESENTATION and also your introduction and reflect on the value of the task in the blog:  

  • Repertoire of elements
  • Conventions
  • Blueprint
  • Predictable pleasure
  • Contract
  • Label
  • Target audience

Consider ‘genre’ as you produce your video and it will be so much easier to talk about if it comes up in the exam in Section 1b. 

This is an exemplar from last year: look for Genre Analysis in the Music Video category

Victoria Sponge! One way of remember what ‘genre’ is all about.

MV – Your music video ideas (Synesthesia) – links to music sites – INSPIRATION

Synaesthesia is a way of generating ideas from music – effectively ‘seeing sounds in your head’.

It is a really helpful technique to use when listening to music in order to come up with visual ideas.

When listening to a piece of music you should concentrate on each of the following features in turm:

  • Sense of subject matter
  • Grain of voice
  • Arrangement
  • Suggested Stories
  • Cultural references

Here is a Prezi which explains and illustrates these ideas:

Task 1 (done collectively)

  • You will listen to two songs and write down the images, ideas, colours, adjectives, themes, subjects that come to mind when listening to the lyrics, beat, grain of voice, tempo etc.
  • Then we will watch the videos and see how close you were to how the music was interpreted in visuals.

Task 2: you have @ 5 lessons and independent study to complete this.

Independent Study – Develop and present a music video idea for one song.
You need to short list some songs (see below the guidance on choosing songs) and, using synesthesia, develop some tangible ideas for one of them.
You should present your ideas as a inspiration board of found images / videos. It should include:
  • The genre of music & repertoire of elements associated:
    • The look of the band / lead singer
    • Locations for performance / narrative
    • Style of Performance
    • Costume / Make Up / Hair
    • Instruments
    • Colour Palettes
    • Narrative Events
You may use whatever digital format you like: Google Slides, Prezi, Pinterest, Photoshop, InDesign…or something else…(please check with your teacher)
Choosing a Song
  • Start with thinking, ‘Who will perform this?’ and work from there.
  • Perhaps opt for a solo performer to make organisation easier
  • Don’t choose a song by your favourite band/star.
  • Don’t choose something that is well known.
  • Don’t choose something too long, 3 – 4 minutes is plenty.
  • Album tracks or cover versions are useful options
  • Beware of Warner Music Group and its associated record labels

Please listen to music on these site for inspiration:

This presentation should include:

  • a moodboard – to encompass genre and star image
  • annotated lyrics (like you’d annotate a poem – with visual / thoughts / themes)
  • an embedded mp3
  • extended step outline in terms of a description of the narrative
  • Introductions of your ideas for narrative and performance to include key terms for genre and star image and narrative (use the terms in context and refer back to previous blog posts for theorists, ideas, concepts).

MV – Star Image for the Dummy Mash Up

Create a shared pinterest post on how a star of a similar genre to your DMU section is conveyed in the media. How do they come across in their music videos? How are they represented in the media? on Twitter? On Facebook? On fanzones?  On websites? In interviews?  All of these ideas should help fuel how you are going to represent your star in your section.

How are they connoted, portrayed, represented?  This is their star image; Their meta-narrative.

See the sheet below for some theory on star image, representation and meta-narrative and The Paradox of the Star:

Richard Dyer & The Star Image


Here is an example Pintrest Board for Michael Jackson


MV – Dummy Mash Up – Genre analysis

Your group will now have been allocated a specific ‘generic’ section of the Dummy Mash Up that you need to research, plan, film and edit.

Taking your ‘genre’ (acoustic, pop, rap, indie rock, girl band etc) you must now research what are the conventional features that are associated with this genre of music video? This ‘repertoire of elements’ (recipe of ingredients) is something you will need to research in your own video and be able to write about and analyse in the exam, so the sooner you start thinking in media term and focus on genre, the better.

Conventions are Crucial. Why? They give predictable pleasure to the audience who will have certain expectations that they want satisfied – the music producers will follow a pre-established ‘blueprint’ (map) that they follow which will form part of the ‘contract’ (mutual agreement) with the audience. However, audiences demand novelty and in order to be creative and to ensure that the video is watched again and again, there has to be something that goes beyond conventional boundaries in order to make it watchable, entertaining, intriguing – new.

Genre document – terms and theorists

Task 1:

Create a collage of images taken from music videos of similar artists of the same genre. Find conventional features – what style of costume, narrative (themes), location, performance style, cinematography (camera & lighting), editing regularly feature in music videos from this genre of music? A clear understanding of these conventional features will inspire you for your Dummy Mash Up section.

Annotate your collage with appropriate adjectives, nouns, adverbs that relate to that genre – edgy, rebellious, emotional, romantic, canted angles and any other words that you associate with the genre I.e. Bass guitar, ripped jeans, festivals, live performance, cover versions, countryside  etc.

Once you have done this, discuss your findings with the group so that you can start to iron out and focus on how to make your section ‘conventional‘ yet ‘contemporary‘ or in other simpler terms, ‘the same but different’?

Here’s an example:

Elements of punk, grunge, indie & rock.

MV – Conventions and detailed contents analysis

Here’s a music video we’re going to complete a close analysis of, Katy Perry – Chained to the Rhythm:

You should type  up that analysis and embed it into the post called Close Analysis of Music Video.

Here is a blank version of the form you can use.

To supplement this, you must do your own close analysis. Choose another video from the list suggested and use the sheet attached (make your own copy) and do your own analysis.

This work is important as it shows that you are able to deconstruct the narrative, performance, star image and generic & technical conventions of a music video. This will help inform your own production ideas and help prepare you for the exam by starting to use all the terms that you need.


Radiohead – Just

Kodaline – Love Like This

Lana del Rey – Born to Die

Muse – Time is Running Out

Taylor Swift – Wildest Dreams

Christina Aguilera – Say Something

Foo Fighters – Pretender