Ways in which Codes & Conventions are challenged/developed/followed
Codes and Conventions are an extremely important part of any media product and they form the basis for making texts look more engaging to the target audience, they ensure that the target audience’s wants and needs are fulfilled. To ensure that I gained an increased level of understanding and of how I should go about producing a piece of text which is both achievable but also one which is of high enough standard to warrant a professional finish, I had to conduct a lot of research into existing media texts such as the studying of the trailer and post for the film The Strangers, by studying both the trailer and the poster I was able to recognise a symbiotic link between the two, thus helping me to produce texts with a similar symbiotic link.
Typical ways in which I had followed codes conventions in my ancillary task include the use of a limited range of colours on the front cover of the magazine, limiting the number to around 4 different colour variations, mainly primary colours such as red and blue were used. Conventions used on the magazine front also include the use of sell lines positioned in the common left hand side of the page; also I decided to use a banner on the front cover, something which is common among magazines of this genre, since it is designed to entice the potential reader/audience to buy the magazine. The colour seemed to be a popular feature among magazines when relating the feature to the horror genre. An example of this use of colour can be seen in this horror magazine below, called Fangoria, as you can see the main colour used is Red, this is because this colour can often be associated with Blood and ultimately death, it can also have other connotations such as its relation with the devil.
Commonly on movie magazines the main cast member is featured on the front cover of the magazine, this character is often male, this is because films all too often portray the lead characters as male because they are seen as possibly more powerful, and controlling, for my magazine front cover I decided to go against this idea and I therefore opted to have the female lead present, although the female character is still portrayed as less dominant, by taking up less of the overall image it is however still a reasonable step outside more traditional portrayals of a female character.
One particular convention which nearly always occurs in the production of a magazine, poster and trailer, as a media pack is that there is continuity between these three pieces of media something I strived to achieve on the magazine by adding the text font used on the poster along with the colour, also I used the same character with the same clothing to ensure audiences recognise the connection.
The movie poster also presents a number of common codes and conventions such as the use of the production company’s logo, also one of the main aims of a film poster is to be simple but to also be effective, therefore it needed to be minimalistic, keeping with this idea only necessary text was used, common text such as the tagline, name of the film, release date, and production company logo (highlighted in yellow below).
This example below is of a typical film poster, featuring the key items needed for a film poster as mentioned above, I then used posters like this which I analysed helping me to ensure I was producing a poster to a near professional quality.
Continuity was achieved by making certain that the font type and colour were identical to the Magazine, but that it also had a similarity with the font used in the trailer. The female character pictured on the front of the poster could also be considered to follow the continuity guidelines considering that the expression used are both very similar, one which signifies that they are alert and also aware of possible danger, but that they also appear to be scared, such as in the poster where the character has her arm close to her body and uneasy stride they are taking similarly on the magazine poster the character is clutching onto a tree as though it is a form of defence.
The movie trailer that I produced also features a number of codes and conventions, the first being that I used a number straps to inform the viewer about the film to help make sure they know what it is called and any other worthwhile information which might help to sell the film to an audience therefore enticing them to go and see it at the cinema or to buy it on DVD, one strap mentioned that the director of ‘The Strangers’ are also the director in this film, considering The Strangers is in a similar territory to ‘The Followers’ and the film was reasonably popular some of the audience may go and view the film on this basis. A still showing the strap used in the trailer (below).
The end of the trailer features what is now considered very much a convention of film trailers, an ending clip after the trailer comes to a halt appears giving the audience a thrill/scare if it is a horror film, this can often be enough to pull people in since the object of a horror film is to thrill and excite an audience something which the sting often promises to viewers.The still below is the one featured in sting at the end og the trailer where the killer walks in behind the female character.
Also the speed of the editing in the trailer; although slow at the beginning, does begin to pick up as trailer reaches the middle before slowing back down again at the end, where it reaches the sting, this is a common method associated with trailers especially of the horror genre because it is designed to enable the audience to have a snap shot of what the film is like.
Propp who is a specialist in narrative structure suggested that all films/pieces of media feature several different character types although they may not all feature inevitably some will, in my film this is also the case since a ‘hero’ (the central character), and a ‘villain’ (this being the killer) could both be considered a part of the film, the narrative of trailer features these too character types. The hero being the female character which tries to solve the problem of the villain/murderer by dispatching them. Another theorist that I could relate to is Robert Warshow who ultimately believes that specific guidelines have to be followed to ensure the intended experience of a piece of media is not negatively altered in some way, he does however say originality should be a part in the construction of a piece of media. I could say I have followed his advice in the sense that I use a traditional male killer, but I could also say I have created a degree of originality by making the female character more independent and stronger than the killer.
Effectiveness of the Promotional Pack
The promotional pack created (collection of the trailer, magazine, and poster) will enable the film which it is for to be promoted to audiences so that ultimately it generates revenue from ticket sales as a result of publicity. To a certain extent collectively these pieces of media should work relatively well together, one reason being for this is the symbiotic link created between them so that when audiences see each piece of media whether it is unconsciously or not this relationship between them will help to reinforce peoples knowledge of the film each time they see each piece. As mentioned earlier in the evaluation the link created by the use of the same colour red on piece in the promotional pack, also the use of the characters, wearing the same clothes, the use of the film title on the magazine and poster creates a link between the two. Also the production company logo is present on the poster and in the film trailer at the beginning.
The simplicity of the poster and not being too cluttered means it may be more attractive to look at by the audience, keeping any spoilers out of the trailer means audiences will want to go and see the film to find out what happens, the magazine uses a similar image to the poster creating a symbiotic link between the two and it also means the film has an identity created.
The target audience will inevitably demand a film similar in style to other films such as ‘The Strangers’ or ‘The Others’ and in some ways the setting used in each of the pieces of media successful achieves this, the image used on the poster and magazine appears to be in an isolated setting with no one around, the trailer only features two characters who appear to be in a house on their own in a remote location. The image below shows how the character is on their own in the middle of a field/park, the dark setting adds to this feeling of isolation.
What I have learned from audience Feedback
My intended target audience for the film are between the ages of 18 to 35 years, they are either a student or are in a successful career, they actively socialise and their favourite film genre is Psychological Horror/Thriller.
For my post production research into audiences I gathered a small sample of 8 people who were then willing to answer general questions on the trailer, they were given the opportunity to view the trailer first along with the two ancillary tasks (poster & magazine) which I printed out for them, the focus ground ages were made up of 18, 21, 22, & 23 year olds, unfortunately it was not possible to have anyone from the ages of 24 and up which may have affected the possible focus group outcome although the answers gathered were all very enlightening and varied.
From the research gathered from the focus group I discovered a number of different things people mentioned about the promotional pack, a few people in the group made similar points about the good use of sound in the trailer and that it seemed to match with the trailer although at a few points in the middle of the trailer they said that the sound appeared to be slightly out of sync, positive remarks were made about the sting and the straps in the trailer including that it was professional looking however some felt the ending strap which zoomed in from nothing appeared to look a little out of place and did not match the rest of the trailer. One person in the focus group admitted that they did not know what was happening in the trailer and suggested adding info to the straps, although this is how some trailers work they made a valid point. Repeated viewings of the trailer were also necessary to ensure that the audience were able to give a range of feedback. Other elements which were successful in the trailer were the use of equipment to create the smoke effect in the trailer, the use of the production company logos at the beginning and how they tied in with the soundtrack were also highly praised.
Regarding the ancillary tasks, the film poster appeared to have a positive reception, the use of font and the red writing & style for the film title was well liked, also they liked the use of the Universal logo in the bottom corner although they did say that sometimes film posters have one on the other side. A few of the audience picked up on possible unwanted things in the background of the picture such as house lights on, although this was not a major issue. Comments were also made about the lack of credits on the poster although since I decided on producing an early release poster and therefore on early release posters little information regarding those working on the film is usually published as some employees may possibly not be confirmed. Positive remarks were made regarding the tagline as it allowed them to have a sense of an idea of what the film will possibly be about.
With the magazine front cover both positive and negative information from the focus group was received, the use of font for the Masthead was praised and people said how it looked realistic and like a magazine, however there were a few concerns over the placement of the sell line, and the lack of other sell-lines, another suggestion was made regarding the banner which should be changed in terms of the colour as they felt it did not fit with the rest of the magazine cover. Positives were made regarding the actual layout of the magazine and use of an image similar to the film poster.
I learnt a number of things from the feedback received mainly the fact that there is always room for improvement when producing pieces of visual media, also I learnt how audiences perceive things differently to how I might perceive things in terms of how a piece of media is read. Also I have recognised that although I still have lots to improve on as a media practitioner I feel I have made improvements on last year regarding the production of my practical work. Originally I realised that there were a number of mistakes with my piece of work however on closer scrutiny by others I begun to recognise that there were also areas where I had excelled.
How I used media technologies to construct Plan, Research and Evaluate
During the research and planning stage I used the opportunity to show off my skills by using a range of different types of software which I felt were best to show how I could succeed. I used technology such as Adobe Premier Pro in the production and editing of my film trailer so that I could achieve the best professional appeal, it also enabled me to use its vast range of features such as being able to create straps for the trailer which moved, transition between each scene was achieved by using edits such as fade, and cut. Along with the Premier Pro software I used a camera and filmed each scene separately and recorded onto an SD card which went into the computer to be uploaded and then imported into Premier Pro for editing. The vast range of features on Premier Pro ensured I had a range of ways to create a professional looking trailer for an audience to enjoy. The resulting end footage was then uploaded to the blog through Google’s You Tube service, therefore being able to be viewed online.
When creating the ancillary pieces of the promotional pack I used Adobe Photoshop which has long been considered the industry standard for the editing of images by professional outlets and amateurs. Images were taken using a digital camera; this image was then uploaded to the computer using the SD card which recorded the images, these could then be imported into Photoshop itself for further editing to create the poster and magazine front cover. Photoshop is as impressive as Premier Pro with the range of elements available to use.
Other media technology that was used during the Advance Portfolio was a Blog where all my work was placed, including this evaluation. Using technology such as this blog allows me as a media practitioner to make full use of my skills by embedding videos, and uploading images to help create a more visual and interactive experience as this is often what media is about- the interaction the audience with the media itself.