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Website Terminology

As expected, before we set out to design a website, we need to learn the conventions of a website or more specifically, a website that promotes the music artist(s). By knowing what are the conventions and proper terminology, we have a better chance of creating an effective website of conveying the band while offering the fans easier access to purchase merchandise and see tour dates. The more effective the website is the more revenue is going to generate, which many consider it as a sign of success. After learning a few and their purposes, we have been given the simple task of annotating a website with its conventions. No analysing, yet.

Overall, some of the terms are quite similar to the ones we used when we were producing music magazines. Instead of a main cover shot, its a “hero shot” while a masterhead it’s a “leaderboard”. Being quite similar, its not going to take a lot of effort to get these terms into your head. With similar terms and similar themes (the aim of the website and the magazine are to conform to a target audience in order to sell), making an effective website won’t be that tough, as we already had practice making a something similar in the beginning of the course.

Below is Foo Fighter’s website and its conventions listed.

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Digipak Draft 1

 

After changing our ideas for the nth time, we finally got a draft. Here it is below.


We have received some feedback from our teacher, which is right below.

Her feedback was:

The Good

  • General typeface is appropriate for the genre.
  • The front and back are pretty good as well.
  • Using a border at the back page was a great idea as it breaks up the white background.

Things to Improve on

  • Maybe implement a similar border that’s at the back at the front, so that the placement of the border isn’t so random.
  • The images at the front and back require the same colour and contrast in order to keep the same colour palette.
  • Right align the music tracks away from the band members, this makes it line up with the border nicely.
  • We need to to do a spine.
  • On the inside cover, its hard to see the harness of the rock, which much of the digipaks subtexts relies on. We’ll have to get a image that represents the pet rocks much clearer.
  • The second inside cover is quite bare with all that empty space. It’s been suggested to add a collage of protest signs that fills up the screen.
  • Add record labels and copyright mumbo-jumbo at the back cover.

We also asked some of our friends and classmates of some feedback as well. Generally they said the same except for;

  • The second image makes no sense at all in terms of themes. A potential customer would look at the outside covers of half-naked men in strange positions, expecting something similar inside. Inside they’re greeted with a rock on a man’s lap and protest signs. The customer will be quite confused, and thus unlikely to purchase the album has they don’t have a clear image on what they’re buying.  Either we change the outside by implementing some pet rocks or change the inside entirely.
  • Some said that they could not recognize between band’s title and the tile of the album. Its probably better to move the titles away from each other.
  • Better music tracks, they’re not want you except in indie rock album.

For the next draft, we have some targets

  • Make a spine.
  • Get the outside covers consistent in terms of colour, and the pages inside to have consistent themes. I personally think we should drop the pet rock theme altogether, as I don’t see a possible way of combing pet rocks with the front covers. So far the outside covers are pretty good with the colour, framing and content. Adding pet rocks will be intrusive and out of place. Instead of having a rock theme, we’ll replace it with a body art theme. We still have some good photographs from the body art shoot that we can implement on the inside covers. However, implementing this might break the indie rock convention of the band members being mostly absent from the album imagery, with this they’ll be present a lot. I’ll have to discuss with my partner.
  • Sort out the album and band titles, separate them a bit.
  • Sort out the music track font and naming.

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Evaluation of Shoot

Now that all of the photo shoots have been done, we have the time to reflect upon on what went well and we can improve the next time we do photo shoot, either in education, work or as a hobby.

Overall, the most of the photographs did succeed in achieving the objectives that were set out at the time, however we made a few changes to our design of our digipak, leaving some of the shots useless and wastage. For example, the photographs of our first shoot we are not likely going to use them, as we’re no longer having men in formal white t-shirts anymore, its not as cheeky has half naked men posing on a bench.The intended lesson here is to have a clear image of what you’re going to photograph, and don’t just only experiment with a variety of angles and framing but with content as well. If we experimented with the shirts off at the first shoot then at the third shoot, we would have saved a week for more editing.

We also did not have shot list as well, all we had was a vague ideas of what we needed, a shot of 3 people on a bench holding pet rock in their hands with some different angles and framing being experimented very know and then. Thinking about it know if we had a concise shot list with us, we could have avoided the problem of noting a clear idea of what we wanted, as planning a shot list would have easily allowed us to visualise how the image would have turned out on the digipak. If we had done this, I think we have also saved us some time.

Despite the early shoots considered useless, its possible to salvage some of the images too, while we cannot use them in the digipak, we can use to them in the website, especially one with the rock pets.

In terms of good individual photographs there some good examples were have produced.

This one is quite artistic it is content, its unique, making it easy for a brand to be identified with this.

Due the rocks, there’s a feeling of absurdity and cheekiness being emitted from it, which the band is trying to be. The colour can also be praised too, the rocks are the most brightest thing against a drab backdrop. As rock are supposed to be synonymous with the band, this will represent the band as colourful in a world of grey, dull colours.People can also interpet this as rocks being restrained by bars, this hints that the band is rebellious and wild. Its also pleasing to eye, there’s frames within frames. If this was flipped/rotated around, its possible to line up music tracks with the bars, making it a creative use of music track presentation.

Simply put this one communicates the three common features of the band, which are unity, absurdity and cheekiness.

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Production Skills Evaluation 3

As expected, I have learned several new things since we started to to make digipaks, as well improved my previous skills.

After learning that we could not download and install new fonts from the web as we done when we designed our music magazines, we had to improvise, as the available fonts on InDesign aren’t good enough. So we returned to Adobe Illustrator. With Illustrator one could create custom fonts by the many tools available. Another bonus is that its in vector format, meaning that the files from Illustrator won’t show up as pixelated, making sure that the digipak will look much nicer. Messing around, we created this typeface.

We achieved this by using one of the tools on the side.

Using the one on the far right end, “wrinkle”, we attempted to manipulate text to look more wrinkled, however when tried it, ti always came up to wrinkled.

After messaging around the settings, we found that the intensity was put into 100%, an overkill. We toned it down to 50%.

Turning this down allowed to create the masthead.

We feel this appropriate to digipak. Being an indie rock band, connations such as energy and rebellion need to be present. The wrinkle tool allowed us to create a masthead that’s seems to be surging up with energy (pun intended), and a one step further interpretation is that its ready to blow, just like the degenerate society they’re up against.

Gaining to grips with Adobe Illustrator again might benefit us in the future, as for the website we could create any type of font we want to, if the available font selection is poor. Having some skill in Illustrator allows more creative freedom, we’re no longer constrained by font choice if we can create our own.


During one point in making a draft, we had the idea of adding an abstract background as the digipak is from the indie rock genre and its not unusual to see one have an abstract background. As we cannot take an image from the web and claim as ours by putting in the digipak, we have to make our own. After messing around in Adobe Photoshop, I managed to do something like this.

First off, I got an image of the “band sandwich”, with the background cut out.

Then I applied the crystallize filter, and turn the cell size to a big number, I think changed it to 300 approx.

After thats done, select the empty space around the image using the magic wand tool, right click and select fill…

leave it as normal and press OK…

and voila, you now have an abstract background.

The outcome largely depends on the settings and content available. Here’s some more examples.

The second specifically is an example of using multiple layers, the background was created by an normal picture “fill” picture of the model, while the green one is just a copy with the darken option in “fill”. However, in the end, we did not use any of these images, at least in the first draft. This is because no of them really fit the themes we want to express. The crystallized abstract background, although its a convention of indie rock, the messages communicated by it does not fit the overall theme. It suggests a minimalist band due to the lack of colour and shape. This is not the case, they’re a lively, cheeky band. The third image might work though, its absurd, cheeky and abstract due to mirror images of the model. It will probably work best for a biography part of the website, with each member has a biography accompanied by a portrait shot of themselves.

Another neat thing we discovered by pure accident is the reverse eraser tool, hidden away in plain sight. Its quite useful, as sometimes the magic wand tool and quick selection tool ignores an area or acts unreasonable, thus using the eraser tool manual will lead to better results. In the past, if I accidentally erased part of the picture, I had to undo and do everything again. However, by pure accident I held alt while using the tool, resulting in erased content coming back. As another example;

Erased….

Then using alt – eraser tool…

Its back, well some of it, I didn’t bother filling it back up for an example.

This will certainly help much later on in the project, I’m certain that I’ll have to cut out more objects out of a background. The major thing I’ve learnt here is that try messing around with some keyboard combinations, there’s probably more hidden tools in Adobe software that can be used.

This is a good example that with Photoshop, you can create anything, all you have to do is mess around with a lot of filters, options and layers to come up with strange imagery.


Overall, I’ve learnt a few more skills in this project so far, allowing for more creative freedom (knowing how to create our own fonts), more ways to produce abstract imagery (from messing around in Photoshop fill tools) and much more time efficiency (I’ve no longer to undo eraser mistakes). With this new skills, I’m more confident in creating a successful digipak and website later on in the digipak.

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Contact Sheets

Now that we have taken some photographs in our various shoots, its time to evaluate on how well we have done them.

Above is our first shoot, we aimed to create the front cover and hopefully some for the other pages and maybe for the website. Overall, the shoot was a success in its aims, we experimented with many angles, framing and actor’s positions. We got our actors to bring a white shirt, black trousers and black shoes, we brought the ties and rocks for them. By wearing the same clothes, it would show their unity as a band. If this wasn’t mentioned before, the purpose of the rocks is to construct a running subtext; that people are worshiping, paying too much attention to worthless things. We felt this was a subtle way of protesting about the society, both which are conventions of indie rock.

We also tried to replicate the bending over the bench, however the actors weren’t flexible enough, and the bench was appropriate to bend around it.

Although most of the photographs are pretty good, there have been some mistakes. As mis-en-scene is important for such as genre and with subtle subtexts, we overlooked the background, leading to some shots having a bicycle in the background, damaging the fragile balance of the mis-en-scene. We can edit them out, although that’s time wasted doing some polishing.

In the next photo shoot, we aimed to take photographs of angry protesters. This time we aimed for a low angle, a depth of field present, photograph showcasing the unspent anger which contrasts against the absurdity of it. Who protests about rocks? This shot would have continued the theme of society protesting and wasting their time about worthless things. We had some trouble getting the lighting correct, but we managed to get in the end. We also tried to attempt a unique shot were the camera was placed on the ground, with the angry protesters towering over it with their signs. This would maximize their unspent anger and power. Overall, the aim of the shoot was successful.

In the third shoot, we decided to redo the first shoot as we changed our ideas a bit, and we bumped up the absurdity even more. This time the actors were nothing except trousers and shoes and performed “body art”, creating shapes using their bodies. We managed to do the bending over we tried to replicate originally, and then later we got them to lay on top of each other. We also experimented with cups as well, we recreated the saying “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”. This is shoot was personally my favorite as the photographs is quite unique, I’m pretty this hasn’t been replicated at all (in this school anyway).

 

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Photo shoot/Production Meeting and Risk Assessment

As usual, we need to do a Production Meeting Agenda or risk the chance of people forgetting to bring their stuff, thus ruining the shoot and potentially the digipak itself. Below is the PMA.

Following the feedback we have received on our mockup, we have might a few changes to our intended shots. For the back cover, we’re no longer doing the man hitting his head against a wall, as it has connotations with punk rock. Instead we are doing a medium/long shot of a group of deranged people chasing a man carrying a pile of rocks. The music tracks are going to be present on a wall as the man is chased. We feel it continues the established subtle theme of people valuing worthless things, unbridled energy and absurd imagery. For the rest of the pages we’re keeping the same, but of course we’re going to try many different angles as well. For example, we’re going to experiment with a depth of field on the bench shot. Having a variety of differently framed shots will give us a high mark.

Oh and here’s the risk assessment.

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Feedback on Mock-Up and Targets

We then set out to ask our fellow students to guess which genre our digipak looks like it came from. The majority (17) had concluded its from the indie rock genre, so we’re definitely doing something right. Some have the the second biggest majority (3) had voted pop punk, so there’s still room for improvement. The reason for this is we think is the the black and white colour palette and the typeface of the band’s title, which is quite like graffiti, which is convention of the pop punk genre. As stated before, the typeface is a placeholder as we can’t use the typeface we want. Another reason is that the imagery has a lot of connotations similar of the punk genre. There’s rioting about society, hard and brittle wall and an image of an abstract shape of  man’s head filled with basic consumer needs bashing his head against a wall. These would explain the votes on pop punk. As we got to make sure that the digipak conforms to the correct audience by representing the correct genre, I think we have to do tone down some of the rebellious imagery, as some described the digipak as “questioning social norms”, as representing by the rioting and man bashing his head.

Another thing that people have commented on is the contrasting music tracks. There’s some with obvious religious denotations (“Heaven”, “Symphony” and “Baptism in Fire”), one is political themed (such as “Austerity”)  and two of them are terms straight from a Geography GSCE book (“Abrasion” and “Hydraulic Action”). The themes are all over the place, this would certainly give confusion to the audience. We should really consolidate a consistent theme in the titles of the music tracks.

In terms of positive feedback, many of the terms they used to describe the emotions and feel of the digipak are the things we aimed for. Some called it “cheeky”, “witty” and “amusing” ,two groups actually laughed when they viewed the second page! So we are doing alright with the cheek factor, so we should keep the current content. People also described it as “energetic” “dramatic”, “different” and “rebellious”, again things we aimed for, so should retain the water and the activists.

However, people described with things we certainly not aiming for. “Grungy”, “edgy” “brainwashed” and “dystopian” are prime examples. The reason for these words is the overall colour scheme, 3/4 of pages are in black and white. As the indie rock genre is not recognised for such things, we should brighten it up in terms of colour.


Targets

  • Consolidate a consistent theme in the names of the music tracks
  • Add much more colour, its too “dystopian”
  • Cut down a bit on some of the rebellious imagery, make looks like its from the punk genre

 

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Digipak Photo Mock-up

Before we commit to taking photographs that might turn out to look terrible on the digipak, we were tasked to make mock-ups of what we have in mind by using third-party imagery, in order to check whether our ideas will look good on digipaks. In order to make sure that we’re not going off on a tangent and making a digipak completely different to our genre, we were also tasked to go around asking fellow students which genre does our mockup looks like it’s from. We have been also tasked to ask what emotions are being invoked from the digipak. Below is our mock-up.

I would say we diverted a bit, its certainly less industrial and dirty, but we made much more artsy, which is a convention of the indie rock genre while still retaining some of the ordinary aspects of the band. We found the our original ideas of waves and industry clashing together to be too difficult to take photographs, this new route is much more suited to our skill sets and the indie rock genre. We amplified the cheekiness and banter of the band by using more absurd imagery, such as the band having pet rocks and the bands protesting about the rights of rocks while they’re sprayed by water. On the second inside cover, a photograph of a man spouting water onto the rioting activists, suggesting that maybe these outrages are constructed. This sort of imagery shows them as socially and morally aware, while having some cheek. The violent waters and raging activists should give connotations of wild energy, a trademark of indie rock. On the back, an abstract outline of one the band members is bashing his head against a brick wall, with imagery of the modern’s man (actually its the C2D audience) needs, again this gives the idea that the band is artistic and aware. We have the band present as ordinary and extra-ordinary.

 

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Digipak Moodboard

With a broad idea of what to aim for, its time to brainstorm of what the digipak is going to look like. Following the strategies we have described, we tried to visualize the themes and imagery that we expect that are going to appear using two moodboards, a digital one and a physical one. There’s a few consistent imagery we have visualized, waves crashing on rocks, industrial ports, downtrodden objects and some form of cheekiness.

Waves crashing on rocks has several connotations. Unbridled energy, fury, nature crashing down on a harsh, unsympathetic hard wedged rock. The columns of hard rock could represent many things, a harsh, established authority or society. As everyone who has done GSCE Geography, the waves will eventually break down down the rock due to hydraulic action. This sort of imagery (an oppressive authority breaking down) fits well with the conventions of indie rock and the target audience’s demands.

In our physical moodboard, we threw in some images of tattered sofas, boats and broken glass bottles, general  these represent the ordinary life that the gang had, as according to our marketing strategy the band has strong roots in their city of Hull. As we got to present the band as extra ordinary and yet ordinary, this set of imagery will help to cement the ordinary of the band. We also hope the random inclusion of some of these objects will be see comedic, in order to represent the cheeky nature of the band, which will satisfy the demands of our target audience.

As its an indie rock genre, the band such not be present on the digipak because of conventions. We had the idea of presenting the band in a more abstract way, such as buttons as shown by the physical moodboard. At this time we the buttons don’t represent anything but the bands, maybe in the future we’ll use objects to represent the band while still communicating an idea.

We also thought about the title of the band and how it’ll look like, as it communicates ideas about the band. Being a indie rock band, we looked for bold yet somewhat degrading and/or wild (representing the industrial port and wild nature of the band/genre respectively). We didn’t go for a wave-like font as the available fonts didn’t look as bold as the others and we’re trying to create a band title that will be used consistently, no matter the theme of the album.

The piece of fur is supposed to represent the bands masculinity, as animal ferocity is recognised as a connotation.

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Digipak – Previous Student’s Work

As expected, we have to analyse and critique a previous student’s work, in hope that we can get some inspiration and a general idea of what to avoid. By knowing what an examiner is looking for, we can hopefully can get a general idea of what a good digipak looks like and hopefully emulate that effort.

Using this mark scheme above, I have chosen Jack Parson’s Digipak to analyse and critique.

Photography and Photoshop

In terms of taking engaging photography and the usage of Photoshop, its not great. The range of photo composition ranges from to high level 2 mark, with the some high/low angles present, but other framing techniques such as depth of field and rules of thirds are absent, leaving sub par photographs. For example, the shot of the apple is unfocused as its slightly blurred. A major fault is that there’s one form of shots here, all of objects, which get’s quite boring after the first two shots, thus there’s a lack of variety. In terms of distance variety, there’s some cropping done, two of the pages are uncropped, or at least have an actual background in the photograph. For this they achieve a low level 2 mark. For Photoshop, its not great either. The edges of  the star’s hair are sharp, it should be much smoother. They can certainly put text on images, but they can’t necessary make them look like they’re natural. On the last page, shouldn’t the text follow the vertical line of the folders, not the digipak? For this I give a high level 2 mark.


Mise-en-Scene

The mise-en-scene here is hampered by the second page. The mise-en-scene conveys an idle (the model laying down, paper being scribbled on and half chewed apple), but a bright (the range of colours) school life. However the second page doesn’t quite fit in, its quite dark and rough, and depending on how you interpret “Nice floral – Top loser”, it could range from innocent teasing or bullying, which the latter interpretation goes against the rest of the established mise-en-scene. It feels like its from an digipak of a school emo band. It does not fit in at all to the themes present here. If it was accompanied with colourful school doodlings, then yes it would feel like it should deserve to be there. On the third page, the background colour is quite drab, again goes against the themes established. I also feel that the cover of the digipak, although it introduces us to the theme of idleness, it does introduce us to the them of school, which is a major theme present here, its quite lacking in mis-en-scene I feel. In terms of marks, I’ll give a low level 3 mark for mise-en-scene selection. In terms of conventional features, there’s the tile, artist, music tracks,record label and barcode, however since there’s one model, I’m forced to give it a high level 2 mark.


Choice of Words

In the terms of the media copy, the language and register does feel like they have a specific audience in mind, some form of highly social school girls. “I’ve Got A Secret” sounds like the beginning of a discussion on gossip, while “My Best Friend Is You” sounds as if its one of those heart-to-heart scenes in teen dramas. However, I feel like “Do Wah Doo” feels less then a secret phrase for a school club and more like a baby’s first unintelligible word. Mansion song feels out of place too, its quite blunt and I can’t imagine schoolgirls saying something the two words together. Maybe “I Wish I Lived in a Mansion” would work better. Overall I would give it a low level mark of 3.


Use of DTP

I feel the typefaces are generally consistent, except of the title. It’s bold and loud, which goes against the idle theme which I perceive. The typeface of the artist is handwritten, which has connotations of school, although I feel it would have been better to make it rougher, showcasing that the star is lazy and does not care. The serif typeface of the music tracks fit well, its reminds us of the formal school environment which the star is rebeling against by being idle. However, the size does not fit well with the folders, it feels a bit cramped. I would it give it a lower level 3 mark for typeface and fonts.

The usage of IT is rough, the star is cut out rough, the shadows of the music tracks text does not work(text does not make shadows!) and they don’t show their extended ICT skills, so I would give them a high level 2 mark. In terms of Layout and Page Design, its a low level mark 3, as the few objects are sized correctly and could be red.


These the things I thought about this digiak. It feels like there was an original idea, however production was started late and this resulted in a rather empty digipak, with the second page looking as if it was added on the day of the deadline. What I learnt from this is that make sure you don’t rush and don ‘t start late, and make sure to have some variety of shots while still retaining a consistent theme as well.

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