Friday, March 18, 2011

Who would be the audience for your media product?

The audience of our media product is middle aged. We determined this by conducting a survey using survey monkey and we found that more middle aged people preferred movies with in depth meaning rather than elaborated sound effects. So with the survey conducted we now know that our movie will be watched by the middle aged audience as well.

The above survey shows that the teenage audience do watch drama films and they usually see females as a protagonist in those movies. According to our target audience, as this survey was mainly filled by students only, we know that they will watch a drama film if they find a good sound and creativity in them.

Response by teachers on the premier.
After making the first version of our movie we showed it to our target audience i.e teenagers and middle aged audience. In the premiere A levels students aged between 17-18 and teachers were present and after showing the movie to the students, we got mixed responses. Where teachers liked the movie and the found the title quite intellectual, students found the sequence slow and the title confusing nevertheless interesting. Therefore our next survey shows that the drama  sequence where we are representing different social class will be watched by teenagers and adults.

The movie will be more watched by the female teenagers and middle aged as we got more positive responses from females and the teachers who answered our questionnaire were all females. All teachers obviously along with one principal belonged to the AB category of the socio economic model that means that our middle aged audience will be Teachers, Senior managers, Engineers, Doctors etc.

Response received from students on premiere
Response received from teachers on premiere
The women in Pakistan prefer movies which are more educating and entertaining at the same time. Men do not prefer watching drama movies as much as women do here. This is because most women are light workers as they are mostly housewives and they have more time to watch movies and shows at home than men do.

In our final movie we are representing two teenagers and the issues of being classified into different social groups. Therefore we are targeting teenage audience here as we are representing teenagers. Teenagers belong from the E category in the socio-economic model therefore our audience will also include teenagers and unemployed. More female genders will be encouraged to watch drama movies as we received more positive feedback from the girls during the premiere.

According to the graphs in Wikipedia there are 66 percent of males and females between the age group of 15 to 64 (which is our target audience). Our movie represents a Pakistani society which is also similar to the Indian society therefore we feel that more south Asian immigrants living there will be attracted by our movie as they would be fascinated with the social division we represent in our movie.

Source Demography of UK - Wikipedia
This is one of a potential viewer of our movie.

Her name is Sneha Tilwani and she is 23 years old. Currently she is a student doing MBA (Masters in business administration). She lives in Mumbai, India.

She watched television everyday but for 2-3 hours. With her hectic schedule she takes out time to watch movie at least twice a week in cinema or at home. Her all time favorite movies are Shaw shank Redemption, The Matrix, Face off and Munna Bhai MBBS. She would watch drama films only if they are meaningful and entertaining at the same time. One of her favorite drama movie is 'Three Idiots'.

On watching our modified version of the movie she was impressed and found the topic and the whole concept interesting. When she was shown our previous version she still liked it but preferred the later version as she found it more exciting.

Monday, March 14, 2011

How does your media product represents particular social groups?

Our movie represents the different kinds of  social groups one meets  in college life and in our opening sequence we show the morning routine of two people from two entirely different kinds of social groups. Genrerally In teen films students in college life are categorized into groups such as athletes, geeks, popular, loner etc. We show the first character dressing up looking sad and gloomy and the second person is shown to be more energetic and wealthier. The first character is portrayed as a loner and I suppose he’s somewhat like the character shown in the movie ‘Karthik calling Karthik’. 

 With the facial expressions we try to show that the first character is sad and depressed. This is because he represents the lonely or quiet students of a middle class college. 
His clothers are simple and he dresses up simply which indicate that he is is from a lower class. His clothes also show some light on his personality and we can tell he is passive and compliant. The way he makes his hair messy show that he does not care how he looks like. The mise en scene is very plain and sensible. In the reflection you will see a chair and some notes stuck on a wall which may show that he a serious person and prefers working. This may also mean the he doesn’t prefers socializing as well. He is a teenager who is starting his college and so his age will be 17.

Our other character represents more affluent classes in Pakistani society. Here we try to connote that in comparison to the first character, he is more well off and also more social. However we did not distinguish  their race and ethnicity because the ethnic group is not at issue in our film.  

Another social group that is being represented is teenagers. This movie is basically about two teenagers dressing up for college. The age is represented by using appropriately aged actors.

Our movie is representing two male students and we will be showing the issues teenage college going boys face in life, females are not represented in very much depth. Both characters are approximately the same age, and have the same occupation, but a different social status and entirely different personality types. 

In this opening title the only gender which is represented is male. The  representation of males may be stereotypical but at the same time the contrast between the two characters brings out slightly different potentials for representation.

 Men are rarely shown as weak, quiet and gloomy so here we are presenting a reverse of what is normally presented. In teenage moves, popular and dominating students are shown to have a bigger physique while the loners are smaller in size and are intimidated by the big guy. Here we are following that stereotype of showing popular boys as bigger and intimidating. An example of as such a stereotype is shown in the movie 17 Again.

Alex O Connor from the movie 17 again. He is the intimidated and a loner

Stan in the right from the movie 17 again who bullies around on Alex.  The costume, and expressions differ as they both belong to different social groups

Our representation links in to the target audience as our movie will inform our target audience ( ranging from 18-35 ) about the different kinds of social groups one encounters in college and also about how the things are currently in Pakistani college lives. Teenage audiences will be able to relate to the characters in our movie or compare them to real life people they know.

Looking back at your preliminary task, What do you feel you have learnt in the progression from it to the full product?

Left to right: Me, Arif and Sama brainstorming different ideas

To make the final movie we   researched different genres, and even tried shooting in different styles. We started this project by researching  spoofs and were pretty fixed on this genre for our film, we got as far as the storyboard and then we realized that this was not such a good idea after all as we needed a lot of resources and a lot more work for this kind of project. Therefore we started our research again and this time thought about suspense, drama and comedy genres.

Left to Right: Me, Arif, Sama and Fatmah listening to our
 teacher's suggestions.

After shooting the preliminary exercise, we became familiar with the process of filmmaking; making treatments and scripts for a short film. So this exercise sounded easy but we felt that the research was unnecessary. However it turns out that we were badly mistaken and actually making treatments and storyboards made us more organized and prepared for our shoot. We realized this because we tried shooting a few scenes with just a script but no storyboard and this quickly became problematic as we had no idea what shot and angle will suit a particular scene and therefore we ended wasting time arguing about shots which made the work even more time consuming. Therefore to make a short preliminary video of the crazy lab assistant, we searched over the internet to figure out how females who belong to the working class dress for work. Therefore to make it more realistic we made the lab assistant cover her head as it is done by most Pakistani females. Also we learned through the mistakes we made in our preliminary video. Therefore for the final project we tried to be more thorough with our research. Our first idea was to do a spoof which sounded quite challenging but the idea did not work as after the rsearch we realized that we do not have sufficient time and resources and by the time we came up with a script, it stimulated a negative response from our class fellows. Therefore we dropped the idea of a spoof and then began to research drama and comedy as possible genres we could work in. We also planned on doing a suspense film as that would be relatively easy  (we thought) however we dropped this idea.  Finally we chose to make a drama/comedy. During the planning phase we first searched for different drama films and and looked at what and how they tell stories. After analyzing several drama films, we got a broad sense of what drama usually is like and how the characters are portrayed. On researching about the institutions which distribute drama films, we also got a clear perspective of different categories of drama films and what are their codes and conventions. After choosing the institution and analyzing movies made by that particular institution gave us a broader spectrum of what we want to represent in our movie.

Therefore to make a short preliminary video of the crazy lab assistant, we search over the internet on how females who belong to the working class dress up for such kind of work. Therefore to make it more realistic we made the lab assistant cover her head as it is done by most of the Pakistani females. Also we learned through many mistakes made in preliminary video. Therefore for the final project we did a thorough research on 2 different genres. Our first idea was of a spoof which sounded quite challenging but also at the same time more grasping as it was a new idea used for a preliminary exercise and the positive response from our teacher and class fellows made us even more enthusiastic to make an opening title of a poarody. However the research was tedious and during the course of research we realized that we do not have sufficient time and resources and by the time we came up with a script, it stimulated a negative response from our class fellows.

Therefore we dropped the idea of a spoof and then search about drama and comedy. We also planned on doing suspense as that would be relatively easy however this idea was already taken and well all were determined to work on a very different genre.  Therefore we chose drama/comedy as the next genre. During the planning we first searched about different drama films and what and how they represent the text. On analyzing several drama films, we got a broader perspective of what drama usually is and how the characters are portrayed. On researching on the institutions that distribute drama films, we also got a clear perspective of different categories of drama films and what are their codes and conventions. After choosing the institution and analyzing movies made by that particular institution gave us a broader spectrum of what we want to represent in our movie.

In our preliminary exercise we learnt about match on action, reverse shot, 180 degree rule and with the mistakes made and shots redone we learnt about mid shots and how to keep characters in the frame according to the mise en scene.

I am at the pyramid studio practicing on 'Adobe after effects'.

Using storyboards was especially useful as it helped us to visualize what kind of movie we want and that idea made the shooting go more smoothly. Rom??? our preliminary exercise, we learnt that by using fewer  dialogues we can control the background noise which our inexpensive audio equipment produced and since many drama movies have few dialogues in the opening sequence and only use a single track to define the scene therefore it made it possible for to us to avoid  bad sound quality. The use of editing software such as premiere for the preliminary task made us even more confident in using that software for the final editing. During the research stage we also learnt about more software we could use such as Sony Vegas, Adobe After Effects, and Audacity which helped us further in our final movie.
Me and Afia trying different effects on Adobe After effects.
For the preliminary task we finished the shooting in three days shooting in short spurts and therefore this affected the light and the white balance in the shots which was bad for continuity. So for the final task we learnt how to improve the lighting and the practise we got from the preliminary task allowed us to improve the quality of our final project further as we knew we would need to add filters.
Raw still of the crazy assistant footage before editing 
Still of the crazy assistant after editing
Our final video with and without the sound added was also shown to groups of test audiences comprising of our friends who admitted that the sound certainly made the movie more approachable. During the premier or our film in school we were able to evaluate the reaction of audiences of different age groups as we had teachers and students in the audience. The students had mixed views about our film where some people wanted to see the rest of the movie while some thought they had seen enough. However we got a positive response from the teachers and our Principal liked the opening sequence too.

Shooting and editing also taught us about different formats of videos as well. In the preliminary task we were familiar with mp4 and flv formats only but reconverting and rendering into different formats gave us an idea about how to maintain the best quality for viewing and uploading. Note the difference in quality of the stills below.

Raw shot. The video is in MOI format.

Video in FLV format
Video in AVI format

Video in MPEG 2 format
Video in MOV format.

Our mid shot has certainly improved and we have also learnt about placing characters on the side instead of in the middle so that the mise en scene was visible . We learned this was from our preliminary video where we placed the assistant in the corner of the shot so that the lab is in view. Such shots were also used for our final project where the main character is looking in a mirror and you will notice that he is not in the middle of the screen.  Also we were more confident in using hand held shots for our final film.

How did you attract/address your audience?

Our audience is aged between 18-30. This movie represents college life therefore it would appeal to a teenage and pre-teen audience as they can relate to  this movie. This movie represents how social groups collide amongst themselves. In Pakistan, serials aired on television are representative of the society and are watched in every home therefore we believed that a movie, which represents local society will be of a great interest to them. 

There have been hardly any movies that represent young teenage from Pakistan and the social issues youngsters here face therefore teenagers may particularly enjoy this as our movie will talk about different people conforming and rebelling against the norms of Pakistani society. In teenage life when we enter college there are different social groups and they vary slightly from place to place. We thought our movie might strike the audience as being different because it depicts eastern society.

Young adults aged 20 onwards may particularly like our movie because it educates and informs the public about issues important to society and therefore more intellectual people will be encouraged to watch this movie too. In our movie we are representing class division amongst males, which is rarely portrayed by the media so more teenage boys and adult may enjoy this movie as they can relate to or distinguish themselves from the existing characters. For example the character who is shown to be more social is very well off and many people may wish to be like him however only  a few people know the cons of being popular or at times the cons are speculative and drastically exaggerated in our film, for example in our society when we see a popular person, we automatically interpret that he is cool and wish to be like him/her. Or someone would automatically presume that since he is rich and well of therefore he is probably also, snobby or pompous. Similarly a depressed person who is a kind of a loner is automatically classified as a loser and therefore no one approaches him. The camera work shown in our film is quite simple and focuses on the characters’ ordinary routine. However we have shown the second character as more imposing than the first.

The Middle aged audience may also enjoy our movie as this will also inform them about what kind of challenges teenage students in Pakistan have to face. Societies evolve as time passes and parents may still be unaware of the difficulties their children face as part of Pakistani college life. Due to traditions and conservative ideologies of most parents, children are usually close mouthed about their individual problems. This will educate parents in Pakistani societies as well about the life of their children in schools and this can be helpful in parenting.

With the survey we conducted we know that our target audience will be attracted by the sound therefore we have kept a sound track that increases and catches the tempo. Since we are representing college life we have kept the font catchy and fashionable. We have kept no dialogues and we have made the title slightly fast paced to hold the attention of the audience. After the viewing of BBC logo, the name of our production house appeared along with the techno music which can grab the attention of the audience. In the last we have shown a split view of two characters getting ready and here audience will be able to differentiate the difference and also anticipate what is to happen next.

We also thought that our movie might attract British audiences as well because like BBC movies it, our film also informs, educates and entertains. There are movies made by BBC such as East is East which talk about eastern cultures and their traditions. So our film does fit with the kinds of films the BBC makes.

Like all drama opening sequence, we made the beginning meaningful to hold the attention of the audience. Our opening sequence consists of two different morning routines and here audience will not only compare but also anticipate of why are both morning routines shown simultaneously. 

The mise en scene we have used also further defines the characters personality and where they currently stand. Hammad is portrayed as a serious, depressed character and his room has simple and plain furnitures whereas Karar's room is far more comfortable and posh. To attract audience we have kept a rich mise en scene for Karar. Karar himself is portrayed as a high class and a popular college going student and young teenage audience will be fascinated with his characters as they will also want to be rich and popular just like him. 

Another aspect we want to show in our movie is how fast we are adapting the western culture. Therefore British audience will be fascinated by a fusion of western and eastern culture amongst college going students. Also the location of our movie is in Karachi and BBC has rarely made movies which have been shot in cities of Pakistani therefore British audience will also be fascinated by the representation of a metropolitan city of Pakistan from a Pakistani film maker's perspective.

Our product will be very different and unique . British cinema's encourage independent films and there are many viewers who watch independent films which have depth in them. Our movie is unique because we are representing totally a different culture, and the location and places we have used are typically found in commonwealth countries such as Pakistan along with the camera work and the sound we have made the opening sequence attention grabbing. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

What have you learnt about the technologies from the process of constructing this product?

Use of technology has made it possible for us to construct a proper and a meaningful opening title. Technology has been used extensively from the beginning when we were doing research for our project and we tried to exploit technology to its full potential. For the research we surfed websites such as Wikipedia, IMDB, and used Google search engine to visit various websites which were helpful to us in planning our final project. The Internet was heavily used from the beginning and we also gained a lot more skill in using the editing software through tutorials available on You tube and other sites.

The website, IMDB had a list of British movies produced by the BBC and from there we could also see them classified into different genres.

Wikipedia had a lot of information about institutions and it was a great resource. A disadvantage of using Wikipedia is that the information found there is not reliable and inaccurate information can be updated by users. Therefore to confirm the authenticity of the information we found, we searched other websites e.g Britannica where there were more chances of obtaining reliable information.

To look at real world examples of opening titles we had online streaming video sites such as Youtube  where we could see examples and get a basic idea for our final project. Also we could easily embed videos and post them on our blog. Youtube helped us with our research as we were able to see the examples of movies and also read the comments made by various viewer under them. My group members and I also made a private group for media studies on Facebook where we could together discuss about the final project and share any useful links. Facebook also accommodated privacy settings and because of that, our group discussion and progress was kept secret from our other class fellows and our posts and comments were saved there. To conduct our survey we used survey monkey and it was easy to reach a bigger audience as more people came online on Skype and Youtube and it was easier to give them links. Plus people find online surveys far easier and more convenient. However a disadvantage of using survey monkey is that we cannot get bar or pie charts automatically generated without any costs and we had to pay in order to obtain proper reports of our survey.

Using blogger is convenient and fun as we were able to update our progress reports and also personalize the blog the way we wanted. In blogger by using stats gadget, I could find out how many people have seen my blog. I can also share useful links and videos on my blog as well.

However there are also negative sides of relying too heavily on the internet for the final research. If the server or connection temporarily goes down, due to some technical fault then the whole of the research comes to a halt. Also while Facebook can be extensively used for communication during media work remaining logged in on Facebook is quite distracting. On blogger if more videos and pictures are posted on a single page then it takes a long time for the page to load. While searching other websites there were also threats of viruses on opening any unknown link. Another disadvantage of using the internet was that  as it allows for fast updating and quicker research, our practical teacher expected us to blog more frequently and research more often which made our lives more hectic.

After using the Internet, the next technology we used was a camera and camcorder. As we had the SD card camcorder it gave us more memory to record the video. The JVC camcorder had a longer battery life and the resolution was sharp and good. Also the camcorder was portable so we easily carried it form one room to another. In the camcorder we could delete any unwanted video right there with a single click and some amount of white light was controlled with some preset options in the camcorder. However while shooting with the camcorder we did not have a good quality sound and there was too much background noise recorded as well. We learnt that in our preliminary exercise that to obtain a good sound for the movie, we should use less or no dialogues and just music and diegetic sound effects. 

For the editing we used Premiere. Premiere was user friendly and compatible with windows XP and vista, which are widely used here and is found in almost every home. In Premiere we were not only able to edit, we also had the option of adding filters to make it look more professional. For example in our preliminary exercise we transformed the color tone of a picture so that the color balance was even throughout the video. Similarly in our final video, some shots were too dark and we applied color correction and brightness effect to improve the quality. Similarly we used Adobe After Effects to make the opening title and the logo of our final movie and different transition and glowing effects were used to make it look more attractive. However we learnt that using such  effect required more RAM  and the computers we use in our homes are not able to facilitate the smooth running of these softwares. They usually crash and a bigger RAM and faster processor is needed to run media software. These software become user friendly once you practice with them and therefore we had to spend a lot of time editing videos to obtain mastery in using them. In Premiere using the sharpness and the fast color corrector effect, we were able to lighten up the shot of the beginning of the sequence as the raw shots were too dark. Using fast color corrector, auto contrast was applied on every video along with 40 sharpness which improved the color and quality of the video.

After experimenting different effects on premiere and After effects, we chose to do most of the editing on the after effects as the quality came out to be even better. On Hammad's shot a blue filter was applied and in all shots, cool filter from After effects was applied where the blue highlights were increased and shadows reduced to make the picture appear more clear. White balance was increased in almost all the shots of Karar. In the split screen shot the lights were exaggerated and Levels effect was applied. 
Adobe Premiere

The fresh user will find the interface very confusing and difficult. Softwares like Audacity and Sound Forge helped us in  sound mixing as we wanted to show the combination of two social groups and so it was possible for us to make a fusion of two different sound tracks.

Xilisoft media converter
Overall technology has been a blessing as it made the whole work relatively easy and convenient. Editing was approximately done in a day or two and with technology it was possible to for us to try and shoot some of the shots to see which idea suited the best. We had a lot of space to store all the data and raw and final shots in our own computers. With the small premiere on projector it gave all the students  a theater like effect while they were watching our movie therefore the could well analyse it. Technology is easy, portable, cheap and convenient. Errors could be easily fixed and  we always had a backup in case we lose any footage.

What kind of media institution might distribute your media product and why?

The media institution that might distribute our product is BBC as it chooses to make films that are more meaningful than glamorous. The BBC films company make movies which mostly have depth or a message or represent issues which are important to societies. The BBC is funded by the money of taxpayers living in Britian.

BBC usually makes independent and low budget films which are funded by the UK film council and made by the independent directors.

Movies that the BBC has distributed in the past which are similar to our movie include 'Fish Tank' which represents a rebel and a loner who excels at hip hop dancing. Movie 'An Education' talks about what society was like in 1960 where a girl could easily be charmed by an older and more charismatic man.

BBC is a public service broadcaster which means it makes movies which are educating as well as entertaining. This also means that such distributiin houses wil distribute movies which are meaningful and representative of society issues but  havent been distributed due to less profit or revenue generated. Our movie is not glamorous and will target a niche audience as specialized films usually do.

Therefore we thought that BBC might distribute our media product. BBC has made movie such as West is West which talks about South Asian society and this shows that the British audience might also find some interest in our movie and BBC has been making movies related to this subject, so it makes sense for them to make our movie too. Also our movie represents a Pakistani society and there are places in Britain where Pakistani and Indian immigrants live so our movie will be representative of their culture amongst the teenagers in a modern society while representing two different social groups and the issues created amongst them due to their social classification. Our movie does not only include a meaning but will also entertain the audience as movies made by the BBC tend to be educational and entertaining at the same time. Teenagers living in Britain are from mixed background and ethnicity and the British teenagers can compare or contrast their Pakistani or Indian friends with the characters in our movie and also the Pakistan and Indian teenagers living in Britain can relate or distinguish themselves with the characters in our movie.
Source  Demography of UK - Wikipedia
Source Demography of UK - Wikipedia
Fish tank which also represents a lonely teenager as we do in our movie has a high rating on websites such as Rotten Tomatoes and on IMDB.

The movie An education also represents a teenage and this movie is highly rated as well although the main character was played by a new comer who is now well recognized. Our movie also has new faces the personalities of two characters has been shown interesting as it represents two different people where the loner may categorized as a ‘good guy’ and the socialite may be categorized as the ‘bad guy’ However both end up becoming good friends in the end. The personality of the ‘bad guy’ with his quirky sense of humor and sarcasm can also add an element of lighthearted comedy and may appeal to many teenagers.

The difference between them and how they tackle  it may appeal to the older audiences and the personality of the characters may amuse the teenage audience.