Sunday, 24 October 2010

Conference 21 October

What a great day! We all really enjoyed ourselves and felt a great atmosphere from the whole event. As I get them, resources from the day will be added here.

The day began with an excellent presentation by David Buckingham deconstructing the attacks on Media Studies which often appear in the media. The presentation is here

This was followed by Julian McDougall's presentation in which he encouraged students to take on a critical role in relation to theory and applying it to mainstream media. Julian emphasised the political nature of claims about democracy in the media. His presentation is here.

My presentation after break was made easy for me because I had so many great bits of student work to show to illustrate my points (and one or two not so great bits). Most of what I said is covered in previous blogposts but I have also added the written bits of the slides here and one of the videos.

Annette Hill's presentation on media representation of the supernatural was very interesting and her book is linked here.

Jenny Grahame gave an overview of how you might develop your skills as a student of media and how MediaMagazine might help.

View more presentations from petefrasers.

The panel session at the end of the day was very entertaining, with some lively questions from the audience and some good advice from our panellists. Paul's advice was to always be on time, Lindy's was to not be fearful of getting knockbacks and Ed advised to really know what you want to do and be focussed.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

The Media Magazine Conference: Getting inside the Media Industries

At the conference on Thursday, I will have the privilege of chairing the afternoon session where three creative people from different media fields will be talking about their work and showing us some examples of what they do. This blogpost is a taster for the session to give some background on the three panellists and to show some clips from their work.

Edward Stern

Edward is Lead Writer at Splash Damage, a game development studio specializing in multiplayer First Person Shooters. Splash Damage has won over 200 awards and nominations and has an average MetaCritic rating of 87. He studied A Level English, History and Economics, and then relieved Glasgow University of a M.A. Hons in Modern and Medieval History, while being heavily involved in student radio, theatre, and music. In 1996 he moved to Hong Kong where he worked in business news television, then moved back to the UK in 1999 to work for a variety of doomed dot.coms, eventually ending up making television about games. He got hired by new startup game studio as freelance writer, then part-time, then full-time, then designer-writer, then senior designer, working on Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, then Enemy Territory: Quake Wars. He’s currently working on Brink for Bethesda Softworks, to be released next year.

You can see an interview with Ed here

Official site for Brink here

Paul Harding

Paul has been a full time professional photographer for 12 years, working in sport for the last decade. He spent a year with Allsport (now Getty Images) before leaving to go freelance for a while, then took on a staff position at Action Images sports photographic agency and has been with them ever since. Originally he joined as a member of the picture desk, shooting mainly features and studio assignments but slowly taking on more sport and working less in the office.

During this time he has covered many different events in all areas of sport ranging from the obvious (football, rugby, tennis etc.) to the strange (bog snorkelling & toe wrestling!), and all areas relating to sport (sponsorship, events, awards, PR) and has worked for many prestigious clients including FIFA, UEFA, Powerade, Lucozade, Barlcays and the WTA.

Some of Paul's pictures:

Lindy Heymann

Lindy’s second feature film, KICKS was released theatrically in the UK in June 2010 and is due out on DVD in November. Her live concert film for legendary British band The Specials to celebrate their 30th Anniversary Tour was released on DVD in March 2010 and has been nominated for a UK Music Video Award for Best Live Coverage.

She has a prolific career in Music Videos, directing well over one hundred to date. She has worked with artists and bands as diverse as Take That, The Charlatans, Suede, John Lydon, Sinead O'Connor, David Gray, Paul McCartney, Leftfield, Terry Hall and Faithless. She directed both Suede's first video and their last, which starred the veteran British actor John Hurt.

She has recently completed the screenplay for her next feature, IN CLOSE UP, which she has co-written with Ben Bond, having been awarded development funding from the UK Film Council.


Suede- final video starring John Hurt

Take That- behind the scenes

Kicks site

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Music Video: Rich Mix presentations- Liz kessler

Material from two sessions at Rich Mix in Shoreditch 9/11 and 18/11. These videos were shown by Liz Kessler from academy films



Will Young


Friday, 1 October 2010

Magazine work for A level

One of the most popular coursework tasks at A level is to make all or part of a magazine. For the OCR specification, this involves producing the front cover, contents page and a double page spread from a new music magazine. Usually, the task is done individually. You can work in a group of up to four people, but if you do, you have to produce the equivalent number of editions of the same magazine in a 'house style'. What I cover here is particularly of relevance to the music magazine task, but the ideas could be applied in relation to other types of magazine assignments.

Many centres choose this task because they think it will be easier to manage than video work, which may be the case, because more of the task is 'desk-bound'; this is probably true, but in my experience this task is extremely hard to do well and needs a lot of careful planning, organisation and preparation, as well as the ability to stand back from your work, take criticism and admit when you have got it wrong.

Lots of students do lots of good research for this task, but very few seem to be able to carry that research through to the final production to make something that shows they understand conventions. I think for this task, you need to consider both the magazine as a whole and the three components you have to make. So that means looking at the overall style and conventions of real magazines but also looking closely at the specifics of front covers, contents pages and double page spreads.

You might start with magazines in general and then home in on music magazines more specifically, but you need to end up looking at the sub-genre for the target audience at which you are aiming. It is very easy to get it completely wrong by trying to replicate the conventions of one sub-genre when really your audience belongs to another.

A search through google images for 'music magazine covers' gives you a good range to look at- though be careful, as you can see, some of these have been mis-filed!

The same is true for contents pages and double page spreads, though what you begin to notice is that this search also includes examples of student work, from their A level blogs!

It is really important that you look carefully at all elements of the magazine that you are being asked to produce to ensure that you really understand exactly what the conventions are and why they are there. A good way to do this is to annotate your research material as research evidence. But remember when you come to produce your own, use that annotated model and really look at it, rather than just forgetting it!

Here's a basic annotation of a cover from a student blog

Covers are usually the easiest bit to get right, but you still need to think carefully. Where is your masthead going to be? there's a reason that they tend to be at the top and from the left- that's to do with how the magazine will be displayed in a rack in the shop. If you put it elsewhere on the cover, in effect your logo/branding becomes hard to find. Why do we need a barcode and a price? What's the point of a strapline and how many of the features need to be flagged up for us on that cover? If you look at a few different magazines, certain patterns start to emerge.

Look at the colourscheme and the use of fonts- how many different colours are used on the text and how many different fonts are used? They may be different sizes but they don't vary that much. Look at the picture chosen- usually the model will be looking at the camera and in turn the viewer. Think about how that image has been posed and the probability that many images will have been taken to select from. Then consider the layout of the whole thing. How much can the model overlap the masthead without a loss of identity for the brand?

Contents pages often go wrong, but again a few simple observations will help you a lot.

This edition of Q magazine is quite typical. There is a main picture of a band from one of the lead articles and a smaller one of Nick cave from another section, so a visual sense of some of the variety to be found that month. There is a lso a list of what's in the magazine which extends to at least fifteen examples, with several elements to the 'Oasis Special!'. This gives us a sense of the value for money that we will get from the magazine. Surprisingly often, a student contents page will only feature half a dozen items, but who would pay good money for such a small publication?

Note also the use of colour and font here- it is clean and limited- simple, despite the amount of detail. The whole layout is in columns, with boxes being used to guide the reader's eyes. Your contents page needs to do the same, whatever genre of music you use. There is also repetition of the logo from the cover, smaller, but a reminder to the reader, as well as a link to the magazine's online presence at the top. All this needs to guide your thinking when you make a a magazine.

Finally, the element where most students 'come unstuck' is the double page spread. there may be a lack of clarity as to what this might mean, as some students just seem to see it as an opportunity to make any two random pages from the magazine (I've even seen a horoscope page!). What it should be is a feature article which gives you the opportunity to show what you can do with text, image and layout.

Throughout the process, you should keep full records of everything you do- all your research, your planning step by step, revisions and drafts. As much visual material as you can gather will hold you in good stead.

Have a look at the student blogs here and here for some really good examples of how you might work and what you might produce!

Good luck!