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Progression From AS To A2

How did you use media technologies in the construction and research, planning and evaluation stages?

In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?

In the above sound clip, I outline my initial thoughts of how I have progressed from AS to A2.

I personally feel that I have made substantial progress from the beginning of last year to this year. I began the course with a limited knowledge of most industry standard software packages or how to correctly frame shots to create an effective media text. Not only have I gained this knowledge, but I also learnt fundamental skills such as working within a team and meeting important deadlines. My research into the noir genre this year hs given me a sophisticated understanding as to the ideological motivations behind the director’s intentions to create their films they way they do. I would have never perceived a media text in this way before, despite having taken Media Studies at GCSE. I also never obtained such a sophisticated understanding of the horror genre either in my opinion and that is hopefully a testament to my own work this year to gain a wider interpretation of the repertoire of elements in the noir genre.

Thus, I feel that the production of the three media texts and the creation of this blog has been extremely important to the way I view the media and this will be a skill I can take with me beyond my A-Levels.

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Research Into Planning

I spent considerable time researching noir in order to create the most effective trailer as possible. This ranged from examining the trailers of existing noir films or creating my own poster as part of the practice ahead of making the poster of our film.

For example, the very first noir film I ever examined was the 1946 classic-noir ‘The Postman Always Rings Twice’ (Garnett). From examining parts of this film, I gained an insight into the stereotypical elements of what makes a noir film. This helped me shape the plot of the noir film with my other group members. This was developed further by watching the documentary on Film Noir and some of the thoughts of its notable directors. This also gave me a wider perspective on the patterns that appear when making a noir film. I conducted a similar exercise when viewing a video with interviews from Shane Black and Brian Helgeland who gave their thoughts on their inspirations of noir. This showed me the motivations of some of film noir’s more notable directors and I hoped this would influence our trailer by channelling the same thoughts and ideologies.

Once I had gained this basic understanding of the genre I began to look in more depth at singular film trailers. The first one that I examined was ‘The Long Goodbye’ (Atlman, 1973). This confirmed to me the existing semantic elements within noir. Some of these elements include; cigarette smoke, claustrophobic camera angles, low-key lighting and shadows across characters faces. By identifying these features, I could then ensure that I used them when producing our own noir trailer. We included the claustrophobic camera angles when Mark is hiding in the cupboard, which also included low-key lighting. I also conducted an exercise into examining the differences between a trailer and the actual film itself. By doing this I could then discern what features of the plot of our film needed to be included in our trailer.

It was at this point I began to take a more advanced look into some noir trailers. Within class, we have come to the realisation that trailers are formed of five key scenes, as otherwise, it makes the trailer feel more like a ‘best-of’ montage rather than an advert for the actual film. To refine my understanding, I looked at two more trailers; Nightcrawler (Gilroy, 2014) and Brick (Johnson, 2005). By examining Brick I took away some principals about the use of sound and editing within a trailer. Namely, that you do not have to have one continuous track throughout your trailer and you can use the transition (i.e.-silence) to create tension. I also discerned that you can use the audio of one scene over the top of another. This, in turn, will be used within our own trailer when the audio of Rosette saying “come back to bed, I’m sure it’s nothing” is used with the shot of Hans’ feet. Furthermore, the examination of Nightcrawler I discovered that it had a very similar opening shot to our own, which was of Lou during a job interview (of sorts).

Finally, once we had a detailed plan of our own film, I looked at the trailers for two more films in order to confirm to myself that we were heading in the right direction. One of the films was LA Confidential (Hanson, 1997). It was immediately eminent to me that this filmed had not aged very well. The voiceover used is nowadays seen as a cliche and the use of music was not particularly effective in my opinion either. Although it did show to me how to frame and dress a femme fatale, it was mostly an exercise of what I didn’t want our trailer to be. The second film I examined, Pulp Fiction (Tarantino, 1994), was far more useful. Namely, its use of music was very effective. I would seamlessly use transitions to switch tracks and placed a lot of emphasis on the reveal of the title. I took this idea of the gunshots revealing the title of the film for our logo of ‘The Widow’s Web’.

Overall it is clear to see that over the course so far there has been a clear progression in my understanding of the noir genre. I hope what I have covered will positively impact my own trailer during the production stage.

Skills That I Need To Gain This Year

Throughout the production stage this year, I need to develop my skills in several areas; Photoshop, Premiere, the DSLR and After Effects. Whilst I used the first three of these last year for my practical- for A2 I will need to gain more advanced skills within these pieces of software.

For example…

Adobe Photoshop:

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In Photoshop this year, I am going to need to be able to produce a film poster and magazine cover as part of my ancillary tasks. In these tasks I made be called upon to use the following image manipulation tools:

  • Lasso tool: Used for drawing freeform segments of a selection border
  • Quick selection tool: Allows you to select part of an image to perform transformations on it
  • Eyedropper tool: Allowing you to select the colour present on the image
  • Airbrushing: This alters and conceals facial features to make them look more ‘photogenic’
  • Content aware tool: This allows you to remove parts of a background using colours and objects that surround it
  • Spot healing brush tool: This is very similar to the content aware tool but can be used for more specific facial blemishes
  • Inverse selection:

 

Adobe Premiere:

We used Premiere to a fairly advanced level last year to produce an opening sequence for a horror film. We used the chroma key features and many standard clip manipulation tools. This year, to improve our understanding we may need to use the following tools:

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  • Colour correction: Allows you to change the colour palette of a certain shot
  • Keyframing: Used to pinpoint a certain point of a shot to perform a manipulation of it
  • Distortion: May be used for a flashback shot
  • Warp Stabilisers: Used to stabilise any shaky shots
  • Advanced Transitions: Transitions that involve more than just moving from one shot to another

Adobe After Effects:

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We did not use Adobe After Effects last year during our piece. This year, we may use this piece of software to produce the titles of our trailer using custom fonts and keyframes rather than static text made in Photoshop.

I will hopefully come back to these features at the end of my piece to see how many of these tools I used and what other new features I learned how to use. This will be to create the most professional media texts possible.