Critical Reflection Essay

Amber Mauger (4126)

A promotion package for the release of an album, to include:

  • a music video (major task)
  • a social media page (minor task)
  • a digipak (minor task)
  • How do the elements of your production work together to create a sense of ‘branding’?
  • How did your research inform your products and the way they use or challenge conventions?
  • How do your products represent social groups or issues?
  • How do your products engage with the audience?

The front pane of my digipak

Branding is a lifestyle or a story about the nature of your artist; a set of values, attitudes and beliefs; an ideology. It also includes a recognizable name, symbol or design. The brand ‘lives in the minds and gut reactions of your audience’ as stated by Marty Neumeier, author of The Brand Gap. Our artist’s mission statement includes her key ideologies– self love and female empowerment. Our star leads a very active role in her audience’s lives which fulfills their uses and gratifications. Our design elements are coherent across our multi-media package and work together, creating a cohesive representation of our star and her star image. They all communicate meaning, our brand values which consist of confidence, emancipation and growth. We’ve encoded our multi-media packages so our audience can decode and gain their preferred readings. Hall describes that encoding a media text is vital in order for the audience to gain a preferred reading, because if the repertoire of elements isn’t what the audience expects, they could have an oppositional or negotiated reading.

A screenshot of my Social Media Page using Twitter

The star image that my audience would expect to see would be powerful imagery to co-inside with her female power, evident across all of my multi-media packages. My music video signifies the power through varied shots and poses, typically where she is centre frame in combination with the setting representing her confidence, elegance & sophistication. In my digipak the bold, yellow sans-serif typeface and pink satin sheet create a complimentary, aesthetically pleasing, artful colour palette and the mise-en-scene used fulfil the audience’s expectations as they imply the star’s key ideologies. In our social media page we made sure to continue the complementary colour palette in our cover photo. The music video and digipak products were thoroughly promoted in our social media page through the type of posts we posted, such as exclusive teasers and a live chat to discuss the music video, and a promotion of the digipak when the album was produced, all of which fulfilled our brand values for our audience to decode and gain interactions. 

A screenshot from my performance music video

After researching professional R&B music videos, we discovered that they’re edited at a fast and energetic cutting speed, elegant & stylish framing and are typically all performance. They used conventional mise-en-scene such as naturalistic makeup, stylish hairstyles and artists wore dresses. In particular, I watched Doja Cat’s video ‘Say So’ which is a performance with the generic conventions of R&B music, such as primary, bold colours and a sexually stereotyped representation of women. We used some of the same generic conventions from ‘Say So’ in our music video, like naturalistic makeup which is complimented by the colours of the outfits our star wears. These are called the ‘repertoire of elements’ defined by Lacey, a group of generic elements. He suggested that these elements are what the target audience expects to see. Altman described genre as the ‘blueprint’, which is a map of what’s going to be constructed in the video and suggests that genre is also a contract with their fans, where the audience knows what type of music and videos they’re going to get from the artists they like, and they will be disappointed if their gratifications aren’t fulfilled. This is known as predictable pleasure.

A screenshot from my performance music video

In our music video, we decided to use some of the same generic conventions such as involving similar themes like naturalistic makeup, stylish hairstyles and generic tight dresses. The style of filming was generic to our genre, as we included a fast paced cutting speed in our video and made sure our shots were all typical angles of the R&B genre, such as wide angles and rule of thirds which placed her firmly in context with the location. We filmed in two upper class and prestigious locations, with high key lighting. Our star performed straight to the camera, which is a direct address to the audience, typical of our genre, representing the star as bold, successful and powerful.

The front pane of my digipak

Representing our star in an original way, in all of the products was essential to creating a successful package. Our star is known for her powerful and glamorous nature, and her metanarrative exposes the seductive side to her too. This evidences the extraordinary aspect of Dyer’s paradox of the star, as she displays a few different personalities – she can be glamorous and present herself as captivating, but can also show the seductive side to her which references an alluring nature; both of these sides are represented in the digipak. Our star is very present in her audience’s lives, through social group chats, styles and identities. 

The back pane of my digipak

In our digipak, we wanted to represent our star through our themes, female power, success and glamour. We photographed her in soft, high key lighting where she was lying on a pink satin sheet. This represented her as powerful and influential, as well as glamorous which are key themes, due to the mise-en-scene included. Barthes would suggest that these are semic codes which are units of meaning in reference to lighting/camera angles and colours. We have used lighting as one of our semic codes, and have portrayed our star as glamorous. This type of lighting infers positive messages and female empowerment, which is what we are trying to portray to our audience. The pose of our star on the front cover of our digipak represents her feminine confidence, due to her looking directly at the camera which is another use of semic codes, implying confidence and a direct sense of engagement with her audience. The fragmentation of her body on the inside panels is conventional to our genre, as female bodies are normally quite sexualised and provocative in the R&B genre, however we didn’t sexualise her, subverting the convention as we portrayed her as powerful and confident. 

A screenshot of my Social Media Page using Twitter

Engaging the audience is our main aim of marketing, and advertising campaigns without audience’s buy -ins means the success of my product launch will be minimised as the social media page is full of opportunities to engage the fans of our star. The function of a marketing campaign is to raise awareness of new products or to capture feedback and buzz and excitement, as they are organised efforts to promote a goal.

Our star’s merch to assist her branding

In our social media page, we were conscious of the uses and gratifications audiences seek from media as defined by Blumler and Katz, and which specific media satisfies their needs. We included a live chat on Twitter which gave our fans the opportunity to socially interact with other fans of R&B but also fans of the star. We created merch, as part of our marketing campaign to endorse our star and her fans. Audiences will signify themselves as a fan of a particular genre of music, known as the ‘badge of identity’, which links to merch as it gives the opportunity for the audience to dress like their favourite star. Merch is all about personal identity and is one of our key calls to action. The goals of this campaign was to attract, interest, desire and create a call to action, making up AIDA, the marketing mantra. We attracted fans to our social media page using the face of our star in the profile picture, in a glamorous and languid close up. Our star’s face is really central which gauges her importance and her confidence as an individual. We contained the same colours from our digipak, the pinks and yellows, creating a sense of desire for our audience, who may wish to emulate our star. The pink colour provides a bold and powerful impression; a code that the demographics of the target audience, young females, would relate to as her genre is R&B. It’s important to include all relevant information and entertainment for the page, like links to other media so our audience’s uses and gratifications were fulfilled. We also included a teaser of her music video and a tour poster to drive interest and engagement. 

Critical Reflection Prep

Preparation for essay

PDF file of document attached to first image.

In order to prepare for our essay, we created a planning document where we embedded our ideas into the critical planning sheet. I carefully constructed my answer to each individual question, making sure to include the specific terminology for each part to the question and I made sure to answer the steer of the question too. I included the theory for the question too, and spoke about the key theorists in relation to each part of the essay, as different theorists were needed to be included for different aspects of the question.


Design Skills 2

We have used Premiere Pro to edit the clips and put them together to form our music video for our media coursework.  This means we have learnt many new skills and ideas on how to piece the video together so that it conveys the correct message to my audience.

We filmed our clips for our music video in landscape on our phones for our second shoot, which helped when editing the clips as all we needed to do was zoom the clip in, and it didn’t go blurry as it was shot in landscape. However, we have learnt that if we wanted to use the clips from our first shoot which were filmed in portrait, we could use the gaussian blur effect to layer our portrait clips on top of another to fix this issue.

Gaussian blur tool

We also discovered lumetri colour which we can use to enhance or edit certain aspects of my clips for my music video, such as enhancing highlights and shadows and editing colour. By using this wave tool in lumetri colour, we can identify which part of our video clip uses the most light, so we can change the lighting to be the same throughout the clip. We also used the RGB curves tool which is part of lumetri colour, which is a tool to change the colouring of your video. This can mean that you can change the colour of separate clips in your video, by taking the curve and stretching it up or down.

Wave tool

RGB curves tool

Design Skills 1

Working with Premiere Pro, I have learnt lots of new and exciting skills which I can include in my music video. We have used lots of different tips and tools to make sure that our first draft of our music video was good quality.

When filming our music video, Kita and myself discovered that the scale we filmed the videos in didn’t fit the frame, as we used our phones for some footage and filmed in portrait rather than landscape. This meant that we had to reshoot some videos in landscape, and do a second shoot to gain more footage which fit the scale. However, we pieced together two clips which were in portrait and put them together in the same frame, which looked pretty good so we kept it in.

Clips in portrait

We also used the speed/duration tool, in order to make our video fit in the time section we’d allocated it. We lowered the speed of the video below 100% to slow the video down. This created a better look as the video was available to be stretched out so it could fit in the duration of the section we wanted it to.

Speed/duration tool