Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Looking At Your Grades

Many of you should be looking to go up a grade from your result this year. Please look at the marks you got and then the information below so you get a good idea of how much harder you will need to work this year in order to achieve this.

Media Dictionary

Monday, 25 August 2014

A2 Deadlines

Here are the deadlines - Task: please print off and add to your exam folders if you don't already have a copy. Note - the exam is 5th June in the morning. Please add this information to your print out.

There is a lot more work at A2 than at AS so all coursework and homework deadlines will need to be adhered to. You will be graded for the work you produce on the date of the deadline - if no work is handed in, you won't get a grade.
 The lessons relate to the order of the posts on this blog. The titles given in this lesson plan will match the titles on the posts.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Audit of AS Work

 As part of your exam paper for Section A Question 1a, you will be expected to evaluate the coursework you did at AS and A2. Whilst it is still fresh in your mind it would be important to evaluate your AS work so that you can refer back to this later in the year when you have to do mock exam papers on this. OCR summarise this exam task as:

Section A – Question 1a: Theoretical Evaluation of Production

Describe and evaluate your skills development over the course of your production work, from Foundation Portfolio (AS) to Advanced Portfolio (A2). The focus of this evaluation must be on skills development, and the question will require you to adapt this to one or two specific production practices. For example, Creativity is often tied in with one of the other topics e.g digital technology or production.The list of practices to which questions will relate is as follows:

•Digital Technology


•Research and planning


•Using conventions from real media texts

Task: Create 5 posts called ‘ Audit of AS skills followed by one of the 5 bullet points listed above’. Evaluate each of these in terms of the Research and planning/Production/Post production. Create subheadings for each post (R&P, Production, PP) so it is clear which stage of the film making process you are discussing. 

Print off your 5 posts and put in your exam folder under Section A: Question 1a

Explanation of A2 Course

Task: Summarise the A2 syllabus into your own blog so you can easily refer back to it and constantly remain informed about what you will be doing.

Definition of a Music Video

Task: Write down the definition of a music video and add the quote below from Goodwin (a theorist we shall often be referring to).

A music video is a short moving image product that is shot for the express purpose of accompanying a pre-existing music track. This is done to encourage sales of the music in another media format. 
Hence Goodwin’s quote:

"Music video is not primarily a commodity form but a promotional one."

Andrew Goodwin 1992

It could be argued that music videos are also:

·    1. Part of the construction of the image of a particular band or performer (part of the    
         process of constructing stardom).
2. A creative artefact of interest in itself.   
     3. The raison d’etre for music channel videos.
     4. Marketing for other media products, for example film.    

     Pop music deals with popular culture - it forms the way people dress, talk, how they wear their hair, and, possibly, other behaviour such as violence and drug use. It is the expression of the here and now, it’s how artists feel about current affairs and issues, and as such can be used as a cultural measure to describe the times: the protest songs of the 1960s, the punk of the late 1970s, hip hop today. When advertisers or movie producers want to create nostalgia for a specific place or era, they immediately go to a pop soundtrack. Popular music can be the essence of the zeitgeist, especially when it is created and performed by artists who have strong political feelings. It can radicalise and empower the youth — and can also be blamed for "the problem with young people nowadays". Pop music has caused numerous moral panics during the past few decades.



The History of Music Videos

Task: Create your own timeline of the history of music videos. Write more extensively about the key moments in time. Important items to include in the timeline would be:

The Invention of the gramophone
The first film with sound
MGM musicals
Elvis Presley
The first ever UK music TV programme ‘Ready Steady Go’
Top of the Pops
Queen: Bohemian Rapsody
The launch of MTV
Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’
MTV Europe
Madonna’s ‘Vogue’ by the influential director David Fincher
REM with ‘Everybody Hurts’, directed by Jake Scott, wins best director award
Fatboy Slim with ‘Praise You’ wins best director award for the influential Spike Jonze
EMAP (music magazine publisher) launches 4 music channels – more channels follow (BskyB, Channel U, The Vault and Chart Show FM, Classic FM and nine channels from Viacom who developed MTV and Zee music. .
This amount of channels created fragmentation resulting in MTV getting sponsorship to launch their own programmes. 

Must's For Promos

Task: Make sure you add these tips to your own blog in your own format.

Grading of Music Videos

Look at the music video projects in the link above and compare against the levels provided.

Task: Embed three of these videos into your own blog and evaluate what grade you gave them and why and if this met the marking criteria. Explain how this exercise has informed you of the task ahead. 


Task: copy the first paragraph below only and place it directly into your blog.

The examiner's report
“For music video, permission should be sought from the artist for use of the audio track.’ Where this rule was breached, centres either didn’t comment on the use of found material, or acknowledged its use but did not reflect it in the marks allocated. In these cases significant adjustments were made to construction marks which potentially jeopardised the order of merit in a centre, thereby affecting the outcomes for those candidates who had followed the requirements of the Specification; such a situation may also result in all work being returned to the centre for remarking.”

Really Important Information on Considering Your Sound Track
In many ways using unfamiliar material is easier than tracks that you know well. Make sure you change the name of the artists and band so they become your own. Make sure if the band are well known you alter the theme and style of the band so the concept becomes your own. We are not after creating replicas, but your own ideas and styles. Don’t borrow material from other music videos or copy. You could try shooting a local band or writing to production companies asking if there were any bands after videos to be made but not yet signed by their label. Your final music video should be no shorter than two and a half minutes and no longer than three. Any deviation from this will cause a loss of marks. If you are looking for unsigned bands then go to or

Independent Research

Task: Watch the video and then embed it in your blog. Create posts on each of the following questions written below and use the video to help inform you. This will only help scratch the surface, you will need to perform your own research into these areas as well. Be sure to add links to articles, books, scribd, other videos etc. The media department are also well resourced with books on music videos and the library has media magazine (media magazine created by exam board), which has lots of relevant articles on music videos.

1.     Why use promo’s?
2.     Relevance of promos now and who makes them? Big bands or independents?
3.     Well known promo directors – who are they and what makes their promos good?
4.     MTV VS Viral?
5.     How has digital technology opened up the opportunity for more people to make their own promos?
6.     Advantages of promos for sales/profit.
7.     Future of promos.
To get you going here are a few links to articles that will help:

Genre ('Music Video Styles')

Print off and add to Section A: Question 1b of your exam folder.

While some music videos transcend genres, others can be more easily categorised. Some, but not all, music channels concentrate on particular music genres. If you watch these channels then over a period of time, you will be able to identify a range of distinct features which characterise the videos of different genres. These features might be reflected in types of mise en scene, themes performance, camera and editing styles. If one were to summarise these different styles one could say they can be broken down into the following three styles:
       Concept based 
     Task: Please change the heading I originally gave you for this post of ‘Genre’ to ‘Music Video Styles’. Then write up a post on the basis of the links below, but use your own music videos to illustrate the different styles. Categorise each of these styles into performance, narrative or concept based as these are the three main categories of music videos (subheadings stating performance/narrative and concept based would help).


Key Features of Music Videos

Task: In your write-ups start using the key terms illustrated below. Write up this information in your own post so you can refer to it. Post videos on your blog that illustrate, amplify and provide disjuncture from the lyrics. Analyse under each embedded video how this is.

Task – Exam Help

Task: Go back to your AS blog and print off all posts you did on digital technology and conventions (for exam Section A: Question 1a) and all posts on genre, narrative, representation, audience, media language (for exam Section A: Question 1b). Be sure to label them AS posts at the top of the print out and put them into your exam folders in the correct sections of your file ie Question 1a or Question 1b.

Frequently Asked Questions

The exam board provide a list of frequently asked questions, this is essential reading as it ensures you work within the remit of OCR's specifications for the coursework. Steering away from any of these specifications will loose you lots of marks.

Genre of Music

Print off and add to Section A: Question 1b of your exam folder. 
Task: Summarise the information below, find links to sites that may add to this topic and post.

 It is because genre is an exam question from Section A, Question 1b we will need to look at this topic in depth.

Genre means classifying a text according to its content and style as well as its structure and way of production. From all various media, pop music most depends on genre. It also includes the most varied genres of texts. People always invent, cross and revisit genres, and categorisation important for the fans and producers. Some of these categorisations contain a complex set of definitions that are strongly enforced by aficionados (for example the sub genres of house).

Generalising, most music can be divided into these categories:

  • Pop
  • Classical
  • Dance/Techno
  • R&B
  • Hip-Hop/Rap
  • Rock
  • Metal
  • Country
  • Jazz
  • Blues
  • Reggae

Each of them contains a variety of sub-genres, as well as hybrids and mash-ups. However, each of them has specific characteristics (instruments used for melody, rhythm, lyrics and vocals), and can be connected with other things, such as fashion, hair and lifestyle. Each genre has specific ways of institutional support, including performance venues (e.g. nightclubs), radio stations, record shops, festivals and magazines.

Image is crucial for music genre, and an artist's look categorises them before they start performing. For an artist or band to truly fulfil a genre category, they must be represented visually, on records, photos and music videos.

Looks can be as generic as sound: it is hard to differentiate between many hip hop videos, all showing baggily dressed homeboys sitting on porches or outside houses in a generic 'hood, swinging their arms and grinning at the booty passing by. Or maybe driving slowly in big old open-topped cars around a generic 'hood, swinging their arms and waving at the booty they pass by. Similarly, all girl or all boy groups go for videos in a warehouse, or other similar setting, showing them dancing in formation. If the look works, wear it.

Adele, whose music is inspired by classic pop styles of the 1960s and 1970s, is often photographed wearing classic or retro clothing that connects her with her role models Aretha Franklin or Dusty Springfield and makes her seem a serious, soulful artiste in old school mode. Lady Sovereign, on the other hand, identifies with her genre of music through an outsize baseball cap, weird sunglasses and neon colours.

As well as publishing overall sales figures, the Billboard chart is divided into more than 43 different music genre categories.

  • Billboard Magazine Music Chart

Genre has always been a cornerstone of music business because customers often dedicate themselves to a certain style of music (eg hiphop, R'n'B) and are not interested in buying outside of it. Go into your local HMV and look at how it is organised along genre. Although many artists resent being categorised into a particular genre in this way, there is no doubt that retailers and customers rely genre to make their choices. Online music streaming services (like Pandora or Spotify) take into account your past genre choices in order to keep playing you new music that you may be interested in buying.

Genre and Sub Genres

Task 1: Create a spider diagram of all the genres of music you can think of. Extend the diagram to show the sub genres of these. Each genre would have its own specific conventions. Pick three genres you are interested in and note down the conventions for each e.g in R&B videos a convention (often called a 'Distinction' as well) is for the artists to be surrounded by desirable women and for wealth to be idealised.

"It is important to note with pop music that genre as a concept, needs to be applied differently to
music videos than to, say, film or television programmes. Whereas genres such as sci-fi or thriller
are found across different media forms (film/ TV/ radio drama…), it is rare for a music video to use
genre in this way (except, perhaps, as an intertextual device, such as REM’s use of the Western in
the video for ‘Man on the Moon’). However, an alternative and more useful way of considering genre
is to look at musical genres. Andrew Goodwin’s theory that there are conventions that exist within
music videos according to musical genre (performances in rock videos; choreography in pop) is a
useful way of understanding your video."

Print off the post you create on this and add to Section A: Question 1b of your exam folder. Also print off the resource below which will be helpful in answering Section A: Question 1b

Genre Theorists

 Print out your post when done and put in your exam folder Section A Q:1b
Genre Theorists

Task 1: Summarise what each of the theorists below state about genre and then select three theories which you think will be most relevant to making your music video and easiest for you to refer to in the exam (Section A Q:1b on 'Genre'). Expand your writing on the three you have selected. Use the link above to get you going and the first powerpoint below. Make sure you use ICT, but that the information is easily transferable to your exam folder.

Task 2: Look at the last powerpoint on this post and create your own post called 'Genres Change Over Time'. Use my powerpoint to create a more condensed version. 

  • John Fiske – genre as ‘convenience’ for producers and audiences
  • Henry Jenkins – genre constantly ‘breaks rules’ e.g. evolving hybridization
  • John Hartley – genre is interpreted culturally
  • Daniel Chandler – genre is too restricting
  • Steve Neale – genre as repetition and difference
  • David Buckingham – genre in constant process of negotiation and change
  • Jason Mittell – industry uses genre commercially
  • Barry Keith Grant - on sub genres
  • Rick Altman – genre offers audiences a ‘set of pleasures’

 We have already met the theorist Warren Buckland regarding genre during your AS coursework where we learnt that:
"Genres are not static but evolve. Therefore, their common attributes change over time. Most films are hybrid genres, since they possess the common attributes of more than one genre."Warren Buckland

Genre in Detail


If you are aiming for an A or B grade then read the document below to learn more about music video genres. (admittedly long, but fantastically interesting with theorists we cover and good terminology to start adopting) I have highlighted the start of the chapter to help you on your way - picking out key points till the end of the chapter is down to you. Once done put the information into a powerpoint. Write in short paragraphs and bullet points summarising the key elements – Create a new post called ‘Genre in Detail’.

From the book - Music Video and the Politics of Representation by Diane Raiton and Paul Watson 

Print off and add to Section A: Question 1b of your exam folder. 

What Music Means To Me

Useful website for music
How Do You Consume Music?
Do you have a daily music routine? 
Is some music more suitable at a certain time of day than another?
Where do you go to listen to music? clubs, bedroom, gigs, car?
Who with? Do you share your music or is it an individual experience?
What format? Radio, computer, ipod, tv, live, dancing, homework, getting ready ie doing other things - background wallpaper.
Why? What are the pleasures associated with music consumption? What does it offer the audience and what needs does it gratify? Has the way you listen to music changed over time and if so how?

Write down the favorite lyrics and say why. 

Possible reasons for listening to music:
  • escapism
  • create mood - romance, melancholy, upbeat
  • cheer you up
  • get you in the mood to go out
  • add atmosphere to a gathering
  • help you sleep
  • distraction
  • companionship - driving, traveling
  • shared experiences, social
Influences On Your Music Consumption
Friends, being part of the crowd
Parents, siblings, cousins
Easily accessible music
Music packaged to appeal to kids - NOW CDs, TOTP

This changes as you get older
Lyrics become more important
Develop own tastes - more independent
Either become broader more open minded or more specialist
will take more risks with music
more global
prepared to try out the unfamiliar

How Is This Work Relevant To Your Project?
Understanding audiences is crucial and this can be done by understanding how you consume music.
For your music video it is crucial you understand who your audience is and so how to target them,
recognising their needs and tailoring your productions to them.
Awareness of the role of constructing an identity, visuals and persona - this is appealing and needs to connect with the audience.
Recognition that the audience needs to connect emotionally with your video/song is key to creating a good media product - humour, pathos, shock value etc

Task: Pick 3 tracks that mean something to you and embed them via soundcloud. Choose tracks that are in some way are a reflection on your life and briefly discuss this. One track should be from your childhood, one from your early teens and one that means a lot to you today. The purpose of this task is to get you to think about the significance of music personally, culturally and socially for your target audience. Also discuss how you listened to this music – record, CD, radio, MTV and whether you bought a copy and if so in what format. Consider all the information above when writing this post - if you want to extend this post into two posts feel free.

Media Theory

Media theorists will need to be added to the exam questions in Section A for both question 1a (2 theorists in brief) and question 1b (several theorists in more detail). So for any post that relates to the topics of:
Question 1a:
·      Digital Technology
·      Creativity
·      Research and Planning
·      Conventions
Question 1b:
·      Genre
·      Narrative
·      Representation
·      Audience
·      Media Language
start adding theorists to your writing. I will obviously guide you on this. For further help see the resources below.

Print off resources and add to Section A: Question 1b of your exam folder.