Part 1: In what ways does your media product compare to real-life films?
How did your horror trailer fit the horror genre? Through the construction process of our trailer, we aimed to use as many different horror conventions that we could. The main critic behind genre theory, Thomas Schatz talks about the importance of genre conventions in his book “Hollywood Genres.” His clear theoretical view stated that through genre is the best way to analyse films and saw it as the most powerful force in films. Genre helps to sell movies to an audience of fans, clearly presenting them with clear expectations to understand the film. It also helps filmmakers to construct the product by outlining exactly what the fans of genre expect. He felt that genre only changed within its own limits being careful to keep enough variety to maintain interest but not too much that it loses the audience’s sole attention.
Some examples of the typical horror conventions we included in our own trailer are: Mise-en-scene Restricted narration is used every time Blank appears on screen. We leave it up to the audience to determine what happens to the characters after Blank has shown himself.
We used a creepy location of a woodland setting. We filmed nearly all the shots here to get across the feel of being lost and isolated.
Sound We created a very contrapuntal soundtrack to accompany our trailer. It is called “Teddy Bear’s Picnic” originally by Henry Hall. After some alterations using various music technology software, it ended up turning into a creepy, weird soundtrack which we were aiming for. We used eerie sound effects such as a heartbeat pulsing in the background and jump scared when Blank is present on screen. Editing Fast montage towards the end of the trailer where the whole pace quickens. Slow montage at the beginning of our trailer, especially shots with and inside the car. Collision cutting when the camera is focussing on Jasper’s face lying on the floor, then it suddenly cuts to Blank.
Cinematography We used many close-ups and also some extreme close-ups to create tension and to make the audience feel slightly uncomfortable.
We also included expressionist canted angles to emphasise the emotions of uneasiness and disorientation.
Hand-held shots were included when Jasper is holding the camera to face himself whilst running through the woods. This makes it seem frantic and panicky.
We tried to use some expressionist angles to create the creepy, paranormal feel from the very start. For example, this shot with the camera underneath the car before it pulls away, seemingly driving over it.
Characters & Representation We tried to create an iconic psycho/paranormal killer which was Blank himself. The audience do not ever see how or even if he kills his victims but the suggestion is there through restricted narration. By watching the full film the audience could find out the fates of his victims.
The female victims were both Lucy and I as shown here by still shots taken from our trailer.
Themes Fear of death/violence is shown by the expressions from all 3 characters. Loneliness/isolation is also included when the characters get singled out one by one and especially when Lucyâ€™s character is alone at the very end.
Narrative We decided to use an unhappy ending to fit well into typical horror films. Although the audience do not see any deaths, it is clearly connoted throughout the trailer and finishes with Blank staring defiantly at the camera. This indicates, as in real-life films such as Leatherface’s “dance of death” at the end The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1973), that the killer is alive and well and leaves an implied threat to the audience. Combining these generic conventions, cinematographic techniques with the music really helped to establish the narrative and create an overall discomforting feel for our target audience. Again, like Leatherface, our villain psycho killer wears a mask to give him a sinister appearance. Although our whole idea of a man in a suit and mask came from the internet hit character “Slender Man.” We thought this was an ideal character to fit into the typical horror conventions of a paranormal horror film.
Video game “Slender Man”
Our interpretation, “Blank”
How did your horror trailer fit the conventions of trailers? As well as trying to fulfil typical horror conventions, we also aimed to fit within real-life horror trailers. As with professional trailers of this genre, pacing is an important factor so we considered this thoroughly when producing our own. The first half of our trailer consists of longer shots, normally lasting 3 seconds such as the car scenes and when the 3 characters are walking through the woods. Having these extended shots and slow montages helps create suspense.
We introduced our killer quite early on in our trailer to help establish the narrative better, even though some would say it goes against the norm for horror trailers. Towards the end of our trailer, we use a fast montage of shots to end with a final encounter of Blank. The fast paced shots are used in conjunction with a pulsing heartbeat sound effect; this adds to the suspense and makes the audience feel on edge as their own heart beat subconsciously matches the beat of the one in our trailer. We end the trailer by slowing it down slightly by having the title appear on screen then suddenly use a jump scare to frighten the audience. The jump is of Blankâ€™s face along with the screeching which happens every time we see him. This quick shot of his face is similar to a scene in The Woman In Black (2012) as can be seen here where the woman in blackâ€™s face suddenly appears at the window before quickly disappearing again.
This type of pacing is typical in horror trailers. An example of this is the trailer for Sinister (2012) which can be viewed by clicking on the link below. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgYxydrVlDk We included inter-titles throughout our trailer to help finalise the narrative. They also link with the lyrics of the soundtrack as you can see here. We used a shake and fade effect on the inter-titles to create a visualised eerie feel as well as a sound one.
We also used props in our trailer which were the notes shown below. These link to the video game of Slender Man so we decided to include them to expand our target audience to video game players.
Many real-life horror trailers include many close-ups which is what we also achieved in ours. Here is an image from The Blair Witch Project (1999) trailer which shows an extreme close-up similar to one we used in ours of Jasper’s eyes.
We decided to create a highlights trailer rather than a scene one as we felt this would give us more leeway when conveying our narrative. It ended up being the correct decision as I feel our trailer portrayed the most exciting scenes that would appear if we had made our whole film. Nevertheless we did conduct research into various existing horror trailers, both highlights and scene to broaden our knowledge of how to appeal to a target audience. Even though we preferred the more common highlight trailers, some scene trailers can be very successful if produced well. An example of this is the Cloverfield (2008) trailer where one dramatic scene is used for the whole trailer to try and sell the film. The link below takes you to the trailer of it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvNkGm8mxiM
What auteur influence (your soul) did your bring to your trailer? Our trailer is distinctive due to the combination of real life conventions and our own auteur influence. We aimed to bring a wide variety of techniques to our trailer but the most prominent ones are the use of suspense and jump scares which are down to the editing and cinematography. A huge inspiration came from “The Master of Suspense,” the “auteur” Alfred Hitchcock. He took real pleasure in building suspense through slow montage shots. He also liked to mix expressionist high, low and canted angles with sharp sound effects, as seen in Psycho (1960). The contrapuntal soundtrack and fitting sound effects also make our trailer successful. Hitchcock also used striking sounds such as the screeching effects heard in the infamous shower scene in Psycho (1960) where Mother is stabbing Marion. We used similar excessive sounds when Blank is present on screen. It is a stabbing, screechy effect which was created by a member in our group using his music technology experience. I think my own influence can be seen in the relative power of the female characters, one of which must ultimately be the “final girl” in the full film.
Part 2: How effective is the combination of your main product and ancillary texts? What key aspects did you include in your poster & magazine cover? How/why did you include them? I wanted to create a poster and magazine cover which stood out and caught my audience’s attention through a sinister vibe. When creating my ancillary products I made use of the college photography studio and cameras. For my poster I took a picture of Danny’s eye then manipulated it on Adobe Photoshop CS6 by using parameters such as brightness, contrast and shadow effects. I added the over emphasised veins in the corners of his eye by using an image from Google, then layering it on top and deepening the colour red. The images below show the transition from before the veins to after. Although only a subtle difference, it definitely adds to the creepy feel that our trailer conducts.
I also took a picture of Danny’s hand to place inside the eye to look as though Blank is reaching out to grab you. I found this fairly hard when trying to get the proportion right in comparison to the small image of Blank inside the pupil but felt happy with how it turned out. Here are the original images.
The main image of the eye is an extreme close-up which makes the audience feel slightly uncomfortable which was the feel I was aiming for. The dark font gives it a sinister edge and works well in conjunction with the bright white text at the top. I acquired the font from Dafont.com and even though it is not the same as in our trailer, I feel it looks just as eerie. The tagline of “You can’t catch what you can’t see” is in a different font as having it in the same font as the title didn’t look quite right. The low key lighting over the whole poster generally adds to the horror mood and sets the sinister tone for our trailer. In comparison to this real life poster, the sense of emotion isn’t quite the same.
The real poster here is fairly brightly coloured but still has the dark edges to give it the horror feel. This poster could connote that what you see isn’t always what you get as if you look closely, you can see the character’s reflections in the water but with skull-like faces. This influenced my poster as you have to look hard enough to see the miniature Blank and his hand reaching out, suggesting that Blank isn’t all he seems. This link takes you to my Flickr analysis of this poster. http://www.flickr.com/photos/94397512@N03/8616775326/
My influence to have an eye as the main image came from this real life poster for “The Eye”. Although I did not use it to analyse, I found it helpful in giving me ideas.
Here you can see my finished poster next to a real life poster. Although very dissimilar in look, the connotations are very much the same.
My magazine cover was very much influenced by this real life Empire cover. Here you can see the comparison of mine and the real one.
My main image is of Danny Petts who is posing as the smug director of our film, Blank. I chose him over an image of Blank as I didn’t want to give away too much on the front cover in terms of the villain. Instead I want the audience to buy the magazine to find out more themselves. The dark background gives the horror feel and allows the white and yellow text to stand out. I began with the title and my main image and then began to add text and extra images around him, making sure he was still the main focal point. Here you can see the process on Adobe Photoshop CS6.
The iconic red title of “Empire” was a definite factor that I wanted to include. Not only does it stay to the magazine’s own typical features, it also connotes blood, staying to the horror genre. Here is the link to my Flickr analysis of the real Empire magazine cover. http://www.flickr.com/photos/94397512@N03/8678221900/
I chose Empire to base my magazine on as it entices more of a mainstream audience than others such as Sight & Sound who attract more of a classy, up-market audience. I feel it would highly benefit
being promoted in Empire magazine as we would get more of a wider ranged audience, thus creating more advertising and therefore more viewers wanting to watch our fim.
How do you poster and magazine cover tie into the style and look of your trailer? What audience are you aiming for? My poster and magazine cover have successfully tied into the style of our film trailer. I chose two very different photos to use as my main image which helps create a sense of enigma as I have left it fairly open as to what the character Blank actually does to his victims. Our tagline of “You can’t catch what you can’t see” does not feature in our trailer as we deemed it unnecessary due to the lyrics of the soundtrack featuring in it instead. Both my poster and magazine cover are in low key lighting which links to our trailer being dark and dramatic as you can see from the screenshot of an inter-title here.
As mentioned before, our target audience was concentrated to mainstream fans of psychological horrors which Empire would help promote. The combination of my ancillary products and our trailer would definitely appeal to this target demographic as many typical horror conventions are used in all three pieces of work.
By not having the villain as the main image on either ancillary product, it allows the audience to be drawn in more as they want to know who the villain character is and what his signature characteristic is. Blank features in our trailer for short periods of time to further entice the audience into wanting to watch the whole film. Below are the links to my Flickr analyses of both my final poster and magazine cover. Poster = http://www.flickr.com/photos/94397512@N03/8615468871/ Magazine = http://www.flickr.com/photos/94397512@N03/8682361598/
Part 3: How did you use media technologies in the construction, research, planning and evaluation stages?
How did you use media technologies for your research and planning? During my research and planning stages I utilized a wide variety of technologies and software programmes to obtain information and present it. When finding real-life trailers for inspiration, the video sharing website YouTube was the best source for it.
It allowed me to find many different trailers, ones which I then reviewed. For example, Cloverfield (2009) for it being a very successful scene trailer, Evil Dead (2013) for its extensive use of body horror and The Woman in Black (2012) for its clever use of psychological jump scares. These trailers can be found by clicking on the links below. “Cloverfield” = http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvNkGm8mxiM “Evil Dead” = http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxLjqazSmQo “The Woman In Black” = http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPYMUnJGURI
When I had conducted this research, I then used the simple blogging website, Blogger, to present my findings. It allowed me to create a dark, horror-like background to keep in with the given genre. I had used blogger last year so was familiar with the site and how to manoeuvre around it, however if it was my first time using it, I feel it is quite simple to understand and fairy self-explanatory. It gives you the freedom to present your bog in the style and colour scheme that you personally want.
To create and analyse my stereotypical fan image and audience mood board, I used a site called Flickr.
This is an easy to use photo management site where you can add notes and text to an image to present information and connotations of the visual. I had never used this before but soon got the hang of it. However the only thing you cannot do is to customise it. It only lets you write a note in a standard font and the colour black. This link will take you to the site where you can view my audience mood board as an example: http://www.flickr.com/photos/94397512@N03/8595506094/in/photostream To create the class poll, (which can be found under “Stereotypical fan & class poll” in label 1b. Research) I used a website called “Create a graph” which can be viewed here: http://nces.ed.gov/nceskids/createagraph/default.aspx It was very easy to use and allowed me to make any type of chart with any amounts of information. Any information I wanted to know about any film could be found on the website IMDB.com (Internet movie database) - http://www.imdb.com/ I could click on links which lead to independent websites which contained academic reviews about these films. I could also find out when a film was produced, who starred in it and the main plot of it. For example, I typed in the word “sinister” and it led me to all the information I needed for it.
In terms of producing my research and planning into a presentable format, I mainly used Microsoft Word. This software programme allows you to make and save any changes, create picture collages and type up any amounts of text.
How did you use media technologies for your construction phase? For the construction phase, a range of technologies and programmes were used in order to complete the ancillary products and our main trailer. To take the images for my poster and magazine cover, I used my own Sony digital camera and uploaded them onto a memory stick. Because it was my own camera, I knew exactly how to work it and the best settings to have it on.
To produce my poster and magazine cover, the main programme I used was Adobe Photoshop CS6. I have never known an incredible about this programme but tried my best to learn what I needed to in the time we had. Although it is a very good programme in terms of editing, I still feel as if I only know the very basics. On both products, I used tools such as brightness/contrast, cropping, drop shadows, stroke and image layering. Below you can see the many layers I used when constructing my poster and magazine cover.
Magazine cover We also designed and created our productions logo on Adobe Photoshop CS6 which was fairly simple to do. Here is our logo for “Cupboard Productions” connoting that the audience have to open the door to reveal the hidden truths of Blank.
I took many photos in the process of constructing my poster and magazine cover and wanted to show all these original images in a presentable format. I came across the webpage “Photobucket.” http://photobucket.com/ This site allows you to edit and share photos or videos online for free or even just browse another user’s gallery. I had never come across the site but found it very easy to move around the site and uploading my photos was quick and easy. I could then place my photos in separate albums which would then convert to a slideshow. To view my slideshows of my original images, click on the links below. Poster original images = http://s1324.photobucket.com/user/Hannnah1995/slideshow/Original%20photos%20for%20my%20poster?sort=3
Magazine cover original images = http://s1324.photobucket.com/user/Hannnah1995/slideshow/Original%20pics%20for%20mag%20cover?sort=3
When filming the shots for our trailer we used a HD video camera borrowed from college. We always made sure it was set to HD 1080p resolution to ensure we had the highest quality visuals. We used a tripod for some shots to make sure they were straight and still but did however incorporate some hand-held footage when Jasper is running through the woods as you can see below.
In the post production stages we uploaded all of our footage onto Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 where we could then sift through it all to choose the best pieces of film. When we began editing our chosen footage we used effects such as brightness/contrast, fading and distortion to make sure the footage was aesthetically pleasing for our viewers.
Above you can see a screenshot of some of the layers we had on Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 when making our trailer. However some scenes had to be edited on Adobe After Effects CS6. We also made our inter-titles on here before putting them into Premiere Pro. We edited them using a shake animation and faded them out to enhance the eerie feel as shown below.
The main scene we edited on here was when Blank is in the road and the car supposedly drives through him. We had difficulty in achieving the effect we wanted but after a lot of work cutting and layering we super-imposed him and achieved the effect we had in mind.
One of our team members, Jasper Thorn, used his wealth of experience from A-Level music technology to develop a creepy soundtrack. We had all previously decided that we wanted a highly contrapuntal soundtrack to juxtapose with our footage. We then came up with the idea of using “Teddy bear’s picnic” originally sung by Henry Hall. We then combined our ideas with Jasper’s knowledge to create some eerie sound effects such as the pulsing heartbeat and the whirling when the music fades in and out. To do this, the programme he used was called Cubase.
An example of these sound effects can be heard from 0:35 secs to 0:41 secs in our trailer. The link for our trailer is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUm_YqmOXsE
How did you use media technologies in your evaluation stage? During the evaluation stage, I used different technologies to present final pieces of information to put onto my blog. I have created a mood board which shows which technologies these were.
We filmed the focus group screening using a HD video camera from which we uploaded onto blogger. This gave us feedback on how to improve the rough cut of our trailer. We also asked the class to fill in feedback forms which we late typed up onto Microsoft Word. Our final evaluation screening was also filmed on camera; you can view this by clicking on the link here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eON79Ix3DLc&list=UU7OZE0X0cHohddFuRmx_zBw&index=3 Blogger is the site we used to store all our research, planning, ancillary products, main product and of course our evaluation. It allows my posts to be displayed in an orderly fashion with hyperlinks to move around the blog to different portfolio sections. Once I had uploaded our trailer onto my blog, I added a survey on the right hand side which allowed direct feedback from anyone who viewed my blog. To promote our trailer, I shared it on the social networking site Facebook which allowed friends of mine to view it and therefore vote on my survey. Here is my survey when it had just been made live.
When analysing and evaluating my poster and magazine cover, I used the site Flickr to display it in a simple way with easy to read tags. The image below shows my Flickr account homepage where you can see I have used it many times to analysis various products.
Finally, all 4 parts of my evaluation have been published using the online publishing site, Issuu. This site allows you to scroll through my evaluation in a book-like format and allows for pictures and embedded videos to be shown along with all my written work. Here is the link to the homepage of the site: http://issuu.com/
Part 4: What have you learnt from your audience feedback? What praise and criticism was highlighted in your focus group screening? Which of the points did you agree with? What score did your trailer receive and were you happy with it? We showed our rough cut version of our trailer, Blank, fairly early on but due to some technical problems with After Effects software, the inter-titles and effects were not finished and looked unprofessional. Here is a link to our rough cut on YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYgH_i_uk3Q Some of the positive comments that were made were: “Good camera angles” x3 “Has good jumps at various points” x4 Some negative comments we received were: “Inter-titles need work – better font and wording” x5 “Music didn’t work all the way through, used it too much” x4 “Needs an effect or something at the end” x2 Here is the link to our focus group screening where you can view the class discussing the final version of our trailer. Some pupils also read out their personal comments about it, both positive and negative which greatly helped us in evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of our trailer.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eON79Ix3DLc&list=UU7OZE0X0cHohddFuRmx_zBw&index=3 We took all these comments on board and worked hard to improve our trailer before our final focus group screening. We agreed that the ending needed an effect or a jump but explained that we had planned to do this but couldn’t because of software issues.
Which last minute changes did you make because of the focus group screening? How did you make the changes and do you think they have helped? Some last minute changes we made were mainly ones involving the soundtrack and sound effects. This was to make the sounds fit throughout the whole trailer in conjunction with the shot on screen. We had made sure we kept the original audio files so we could go back and alter them until we were satisfied. This was mainly because we had gotten mixed reviews about having the soundtrack with the singing all the way through. We ended up changing it so the singing faded out at parts and was replaced with creepier sound effects. This helped add to the general eerie feel of the trailer. We also improved the inter-titles using Adobe After Effects to give the text a professional sheen. We ended up having two different versions of our trailer. The one we called “final” can be viewed by clicking on the link here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUm_YqmOXsE&list=UU7OZE0X0cHohddFuRmx_zBw&index=9 Our alternative final version can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZkIV6zvYaag We couldn’t decide which version we liked best so we showed them both to the class and the vote was spilt nearly equally. In response to this, I have uploaded both to my blog. In the “final” version, we took out the wobbly visual effect when Blank is on screen as we decided that it didn’t look quite right having it in. However we much prefer the soundtrack in the “alternative” version as it faded out at parts and sounded more distorted which the genre of our trailer perfectly but unfortunately we couldn’t manage to get this soundtrack onto the “final” version.
Final version with no wobbly effect.
Alternative version with wobbly effect.
How did your trailer perform at the final, evaluation screening? The final evaluation screening of Blank was another helping stage in determining which aspects worked and which weren’t so effective. We received many positive comments, however also received
some constructive criticism which we respected and some of the time agreed with. Some examples of positive comments were: “Soundtrack was good” x6 “Jumps throughout were good” x2 “Really cool villain” x2 “Collision cuts were awesome” It was good to see that our peers connected with our trailer and most liked the contrapuntal soundtrack and stated that the jump scares worked effectively. They agreed that we had improved it significantly compared to our rough cut screening. Some of the negative comments were: “Lack of low key lighting” x3 “Voices are too quiet” x3 “Would have worked better at night” We explained that shooting at night was just unachievable with the situation we had with our group all living far away from each other. We did however agree with the people who said we needed more low key lighting and took it into strong consideration when making last minute changes. Unfortunately we felt that making these changes would be a task we did not have time for so only changed a few major shots to make them darker. On the other hand, we didn’t agree that the voices in our trailer were too quiet. We took the comment on board and re-watched our trailer many times but found that the speaking was clear enough to be heard without it being too loud but we understood that others have their own opinions and were grateful for the comments we received. The two images below are screenshots from our trailer of when there was dialogue.
A full write-up of all the comments can be found on my blog under “3a. Main Product = Feedback from final screening.” The average score for our trailer was 8.17. Here you can see a breakdown of the scores we received, comparing our rough cut scores to our final cut scores. We were very happy with the final scores for our trailer and were pleased that the majority understood the narrative and the reasoning behind the highly contrapuntal soundtrack. As you can see, the scores improved since our rough version with more people giving us a 9/10 and one even giving a 10/10.
Are you happy with your final trailer? Do you think it would appeal to your target audience? What is your favourite aspect of the trailer and why? I personally feel incredibly happy with our final trailer. Our group of 4 was put together by the teacher and we initially did not know each other. However, we soon learnt to work well together and to bounce off each otherâ€™s ideas. We had a few complications at the beginning of the process such as having to re-film due to continuity issues but I feel we overcame these well as a group and moved positively forward from any problems we encountered. We made the most out of our time given and also the resources we had while doing photo-shoots. This is an example of a photo we took but didnâ€™t use, I feel it also shows the fun we had (climbing into the cupboard!) whilst on this learning journey.
Throughout the whole production process, we always made sure we thought about how to appeal to our target demographic. We originally decided to appeal to a mainstream audience of psychological fans with a hint of aspirer influence. We also planned to attract both genders but as seen below, the predominant image we chose as our main target audience was of a young indie looking female. The following link takes you to Flickr where you can also view my analysis and some extra information regarding our target audience. http://www.flickr.com/photos/94397512@N03/8592779582/
I feel that our final cut of our trailer would definitely appeal to our target audience due to it containing many real-life horror trailer conventions. We conducted plenty of research and used this to make a trailer that would entice a wide audience of horror fans. My favourite part of our trailer has to be the effective jump scares partnered with the screeching sound effects throughout the entirety of it. The build-ups to the jumps are carefully paced so the audience are expecting something to happen, yet still jump and feel frightened. This is such a typical convention in a horror trailer but we felt if it works for so many real trailers, we may as well attempt to recreate it in our own trailer and thankfully it seemed to work. In my opinion, the screenshot below is from the most impressive jump scare we invented, especially as we shot it using a canted angle. I think that these jumps combined with the sound effects are what led to the high scores we received in both of Blankâ€™s screenings. I have thoroughly enjoyed working in a team to produce our trailer and have learnt an unbelievable amount from the whole process including how to use Premiere Pro and how to fully address what an audience of horror fans expect and want.