Filming is (hopefully) complete!

28 10 2007

Here’s a tip from me: always assume the worst is going to happen.  That way, if it does, it won’t come as too much of a shock.  If it doesn’t, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Today was one such case.  The weather forecast gave me the impression that it was going to rain all day.  Instead, it stopped raining ’round about midday, so we managed to get a decent amount of filming done.  When I say “we”, that’s me with a lot of help from my mum (and a little from my brother).  Basically, I worked out the camera shots and got them to film them for all the shots I was in.  For the shots that I didn’t appear in, I did the camera work myself.

Of course, I don’t know how much of the footage will prove usable.  I guess I just have to wait and see what it looks like when I’ve captured it.  From what I’ve seen of it so far, I look like a complete idiot, but that’s nothing new.


How NOT to make a music video

27 10 2007

Today I had everything planned out.  I would finish my first English essay (which currently resides, unfinished, on my computer) and make a start on the second one early (still unstarted) in the morning.  Then I would go out with my brother and one of his friends who happened to be visiting and film the video.  We went up the hill to the common, each of us carrying some equipment, except my brother, who gave me the CD player because he was unable to carry it without tilting it and spinning the disk.

Unfortunately, I had done something VERY stupid in not checking the camera before hand.  I knew how to use it, and why should there be anything wrong with it?  This was a Mistake with a capital M, and very probably a capital I-S-T-A-K-E as well.

“Hey” said my brother’s friend.  “I sure hope this camera runs off batteries.”

I paused.   “Why would that be?” I asked.  Time seemed to have frozen.

“Because this thing has been switched on the whole time it was in the box.”

I must confess to having said a rather rude word at this point, which I think was probably understandable given the circumstances.  So the camera is now charging, I have to return it to the school Tuesday, and, due to Music Tech, I’m not going to be able to get any filming done that day.  And it’s raining tomorrow.  Whoopee.

The really daft thing, which only really clicked when I got back, was that I’d left the film in my bedroom anyway, so we wouldn’t have been able to film anything even if we did have power.

The moral of this story is probably “check your camera before you try to film anything with it, and especially before you force people to trek up a hill laden with junk, which they will not appreciate.”

In my defence, I was tired and I’m stupid, but nevertheless, heed my warning.  Don’t let this happen to you!

Now I’ve got to figure out when I will be able to film this.

The ultimate stop-motion music video

23 10 2007

I’ve just been watching Radiohead’s “There there. (The Boney King of Nowhere.)” music video.  It’s bizarre and dreamlike, but also kind of fun, in a strange way.  It has got to be the ultimate use of stop-motion in a music video (for those who don’t know, stop-motion is the animation style where lots of individual photographs are put together to make a film, as used in claymation and in old pre-CGI monster movies).

 Check it out on YouTube here.

Music videos – what have I learnt?

21 10 2007

Let me see…

1.  Noodle dies in the El Mañana video – but she’s not really dead, because the video was staged. Look, you can see the parachute

2.  Redheads don’t deserve boyfriends, so it’s OK to ruin their dates. Hrmmm.

OK scrap that; let’s try again, seriously this time:

1.  Sometimes, simplicity is the most effective tool.

2.  However, a balance between performance and narrative is popular.

3.  Cuts are a valuable tool.

4.  So is synching – and not just lip synching.

5.  Not all videos are arty or unusual, but many of the more famous ones are.

That said, the most watched music video on YouTube is “Girlfriend” by Avril Lavigne, which is hardly groundbreaking.  In other words, making a decent music video should be a piece of cake.  Uh, providing I don’t get too complacent, that is!

I leave you with this masterpiece of a music video.  I’m not going to attempt to analyse it, but if you haven’t seen it yet, you HAVE to watch it: “Rabbit in Your Headlights” by UNKLE.  Sure, it’s weird, but it’s also sheer freakin’ genius.  Trust me, you won’t regret it.

A Questionnaire

13 10 2007

Here it is: the questionnaire of righteousness!

Well, OK, not really.  Actually, it’s for a school project, and it aims to find out whether the rise of the sci-fi/fantasy drama has coincided with or caused an increased public interest in science fiction and fantasy.  I would be delighted if people would use the comments form to answer it:

1.  What is your opinion of the following: television drama, science fiction and fantasy? (like?  hate?  worship?  couldn’t care less?)

2.  What is your opinion of the following: Battlestar Galactica (2004 redesigned series), Doctor Who (2005 revived series), Lost, Life on Mars, Heroes, and Torchwood? (follow?  watch occasionally?  switch channels the moment you hear the opening jingle?  never heard of them?)

3.  What other TV dramas do you enjoy (if any)?

4.  What other fantasy or science fiction stories, works, series, books, films, comics, animé, video games, role playing games, etc. do you enjoy (if any)?

Replies are welcome even if you aren’t into any of the shows mentioned above, in fact I’d be really glad of any responses since all of it is useful to my project, and I want to get as wide a demographic as possible.

Please respond!

Thanks ~ B0bby

Media: Where am I now?

12 10 2007

I’m fully aware that the last post was nothing to do with media; I can’t stop thinking about “pop culture” versus “high culture”, especially since my English teacher wants me to read some “high literature” (whatever that might be) every day.

I think it’s time I stepped back and had a look at where I am now, both with my music video production and with my critical research “journey”.

As far as the video goes, I still haven’t done any film work.  I’ve decided that “Scatterbrain” will be too difficult to do a video of, so I’m considering doing “Lurgee” (from Pablo Honey) – I’ve been advised to stick with Radiohead rather than choosing someone new, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop looking at videos other bands have made.

As far as the journey goes, I’ve given the work in to Adam.  I’ve also devised a questionnaire, which I will probably put online at some point.

Why is classical music so unpopular?

6 10 2007

It’s been a while since I’ve written a decent length rant about something, so it seems to me that the time is ripe to post a look into classical music and why in the eyes of so many people it’s so, for want of a better word, lousy.

Now let me first clarify a couple of points.  Firstly, when I use the term classical music here, I’m using it very loosely.  As a genre description, “classical music” is probably one of the most vague (second only to “world”, which seems to refer to all music, folk or modern, that is written in a language that isn’t western European in origin).  Its use is fairly nonsensical, since describing Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Philip Glass and Henry Purcell as belonging to the same genre would be like saying that the Beatles, Public Enemy and Michael Jackson all belong to the same genre.  I’m sure any music teacher would point out to me that I’m actually wrong, and that the term “classical music” refers specifically to a style of music that was produced mainly by the European upper classes in the mid-to-late 18th and early 19th centuries, but most of us don’t make that distinction.  There are other blanket terms in use such as “art music” and “erudite music”, but both of those seem to imply that the music they describe is somehow more sophisticated than other styles, a view which I disagree with completely.

Secondly, I would like to point out that I am by no means an expert on classical music, and that I’m more comfortable listening to Red Hot Chili Peppers than Beethoven.  I enjoy (some) classical music, certainly, but it’s just not my usual choice of listening.  I’m perhaps out of my depth completely here, but I am generally a lover of music of all descriptions, so I think I know what I’m talking about.

So let’s get straight to the point – classical music is not popular.  It is not remotely trendy.  I know people who think it’s more normal for me to listen to a Mozart piece being butchered by an enthusiastic electric guitarist than to listen to the original piano version.

I can imagine it would not be too hard for someone with a passable vocal ability, a pretty/handsome face and Pop Idol credentials to start singing traditional folk music and make it popular with 13 year old school girls, but classical music?  Not a chance.  Classical music seems to exude a kind of stuffiness that makes it incapable of breaking through to a mainstream audience.  True, the occasional rocker will take a Mozart song and transform it into a virtuoso guitar piece, and it’s not unheard of for a techno composer to take the most recognisable part of a famous Grieg or Beethoven tune, play it on a synth and loop it over a beat, but even then the songs don’t tend to have any chart success.

This is not to say that the classical community hasn’t made some attempts to attract a broader audience.  Often these attempts take the form of getting a well known writer of popular music to compose something for an orchestra, but these tend to fall flat for two reasons: (a) just because they’re good at one style of music doesn’t necessarily mean they’re suited to another (can you imagine Sir Harrison Birtwistle trying his hand at freestyle rap?) and (b) just because you listen to a pop musician doesn’t mean you’re interested in hearing that musician’s attempt at opera or ballet.

I have also heard of attempts being made to encourage young people to like classical music by making the concert as similar to a rock concert as possible, including modern instruments and influences, and allowing the audience to chat and dance about.  I’m really not convinced that this is the way forward; hilarious as it would be to see the viola players get bottled, something tells me that the sort of people who like those kinds of concerts aren’t the sort who are prepared to pay money to listen to what is still, essentially, classical music, what ever pretences it might be making.

The thing is, the problem is clearly not that the music itself is rubbish; it isn’t, and in actual fact some classical composers and musicians, such as Franz Liszt and Niccolò Paganini, were superstars in their day, similar to today’s pop musicians.  The Three Tenors notwithstanding, this doesn’t seem to happen anymore.

Perhaps the problem is not with the music itself but with the people who play it and listen to it.  I’m not saying all the people who listen to it are problem, just the community who see classical as the only worthwhile music around and all other music as pants.  This, I feel, is the core issue.  For too long, devotees of classical music have taken the view that there is no point in attempting to appeal to a wider audience because the public at large are uncultured plebs who can’t handle music of the complexity and calibre that the western classical tradition is built upon.  This elitist attitude is pure snobbery, of course, and I’ve never met someone who can provide a good reason why classical music is so much better than any other music – apparently, it just is.

The pop audience consequently believes (perhaps only subconsciously) what it has been told for centuries – that classical music can only be appreciated by listeners with “refined” tastes.  In the early 20th century, this gave rise to the notion that it is the music of “high” culture, to be contrasted with “low” music such as blues, rock and jazz (suspiciously, most of the styles that were disparaged in this way seem to have been African-American in origin, perhaps hinting at a more sinister form of snobbery in the classical community of the day).  This, in turn, has given rise to the misconception that all classical music is deeply serious stuff, written with highly serious intentions, and fit only for play at serious occasions.

Some classical music, it has to be said, is deeply serious, such as the music composed for religious worship and state occasions.  On the other hand, some of it is very much entertaining, even fun, such as countless ballroom dances and comic opera songs (one of Mozart’s lesser known pieces, K. 231, is a song entitled “Leck mich im Arsch”, which is the German idiom equivalent to “kiss my ass”.  You can’t honestly claim he was being serious when he wrote that!).

Classical music is not necessarily stuffy or dull, but this is a perception that has existed for many years, and the classical community at large does not seem to be doing anything to alter that perception.  This being the case, it is no wonder that the music has virtually no mainstream appeal.

I’m off to listen to Bach, or possibly Linkin Park – with so much great music around, sometimes it’s difficult to choose.