1) In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products:

When researching forms and conventions of radio dramas, I found that sound effects were especially important to establish what goes on in each scene without visual aids. For example, in The Archers: footsteps, birds tweeting, running water etc all indicated where the setting was and what was happening in the scene. In War of the Worlds, explosions and screams were included as background noise, making it seem scary and action-packed. I took the importance of sound effects on board when in the editing stages of production, by adding in footsteps, camera flashes, music, applauses and background chattering etc into the fashion show scene as this helped to establish what was going on and enhanced the overall quality of the drama.

In War of the Worlds, the rhythm, pitch and volume was very important. For example, the rhythm changed from a medium, calm pace while the orchestra played to a quicker, scarier pace with the news flashes. This difference in rhythm would highlight the dramatic contrast between the two broadcasts, creating a panicked impact on listeners. I took this effect into account as I also added in a fast paced news flash on Scene Two, to break into the scene and change from a slow pace into a much more panicked situation.

When creating the narrative structure, I used the Theory of Equilibrium by Todorov as a guideline.  The theory is that there are five stages the narrative can progress through:

1) A state of equilibrium –  This is when Lauren is at the fashion show with Chris, her boyfriend, and everything is running smoothly…

2) A disruption of the order – Chris receives a text from Lauren’s rival Vivienne stating ‘you’re going down…’ indicating that bad things are going to happen…

3) Recognition of the disruption – impact occurs when it is revealed that Lauren finale dress has been ruined and she is devastated

4) Attempt to repair – she has no choice but to send it to the catwalk anyway, surely jeopardising her career as a respected fashion designer…

5)  State of equilibrium – Everyone loved the dress anyway, so Lauren has succeeded!

However, we also challenged this theory by adding in twist at the very end as it is revealed to Lauren that her boyfriend Chris has been having an affair with evil Vivienne . This leaves the episode on a cliffhanger and makes the story even more dramatic. It challenges Todorovs theory as although a state of equilibrium had been restored, not everything ended well. We did this deliberately to make the listeners want to know what will happen next – what will Lauren do now, can their relationship survive this mighty blow etc…

When developing the representation of our characters, I identified that dramas usually have opposing characters which supports Levi Stauss’ idea of Binary Oppositions. We made our characters to fit roles such as Good vs Evil and hero vs Villan. This relates to out protagonist Lauren – The good/The hero and Vivienne – The Bad/Villan. To define these oppositions further, we also added that Lauren was young and Vivienne was old.

By researching fashion-orientated films and television series, such as BBC’s Material Girl and the film The Devil Wears Prada,  I could identify keys aspects of the main characters and how I could develop my own characters to fit their roles in a similar way. For example, the antagonist Vivienne, was inspired by personality traits such as being cruel, selfish, powerful etc which was apparent in villans that I researched like Cruella De Vil from the film 101 Dalmatians.

In the ancillary stages of production, I recognised that according to Laura Muvley’s Male Gaze theory, in the advertising industry woman are viewed from the perspective of a heterosexual man and can be observed either narcissistically, (by a female audience) or voyeuristically. (by a male audience)  So, I photographed a model representing the protagonist looking attractive in a small, revealing play-suit. – This would make a female audience aspire to be like them and engage with the advertisement in this way. Whereas  a male audience would be enticed by the poster as the model looks attractive and the eye contact suggests an illusion of intimacy, making them take notice of the advert, therefore, gaining their attention and promoting the media product.

2) How effective is the combination of your main product and ancillary texts:

The ancillary texts work well alongside each other as they both fulfill different functions to create a successful advertising campaign:

The poster creates an initial impact on the target audience – it is the first thing that informs them of the drama and makes it seem appealing to them. I tried to attract my demographic target audience (young women, teens to 25 years olds) by using eye-catching bright colours on the poster – for instance the bright pink banner behind the large title highlights the advertisement. It is also a very feminine colour which stereotypically would appeal to a female audience. I also added text to entice them: ‘catwalks, catfights and so much more…’ as this teases them as to what the drama is about, it suggests that it includes things that the young women are interested in – as catwalks: signifies fashion. The poster would be placed in a fashion/gossip magazine such as Look Magazine to reach out to this specific audience. It would ideally be produced three weeks before the broadcast to notify the readers in advance of the upcoming drama.

The second ancillary text works well alongside the poster campaign as the purpose of the poster was to reach out to the target audience, so that the double page spread has the opportunity to address this audience.  I displayed the feature as an un-structured interview style with the leading cast member ‘Verity’ who plays the protagonist, Lauren in the programme. The interview sparks further interest and involvement between the audience and the media text as they learn more from the article. It promotes the drama in an extremely positive light, making it sound exciting and unmissable to the reader. I achieved this by adding in convincing text such as ‘it is so new and exciting…every scene is jam-packed with juicy drama and laughs..’ I made this quotation stand out even more by placing it in front of a big pink banner in a large font. This colour scheme matched the poster too, making the feature more recognisable to the reader who may have previously noticed the poster,  and the ongoing theme creates a professional advertising campaign. If I could improve on this idea even more, I would have liked to have used the same model for each of the tasks. However, the first model was unavailable for the double page spread so I had no choice but to find a suitable replacement. I made sure that both models had a very similar look and hair style/colour to avoid the difference being too obvious. But, ideally I would have used the same model for each campaign to make it look as professional as possible.

The double page spread would be published in The Radio Times magazine as this would attract an audience who have an interest in radio dramas.  Appearing in a reputable magazine like this makes it seem like an impressive and quality drama. Moreover, a review from The Radio Times was given on the poster describing Rough Cut as ‘fabulous and funny…’ so I thought that choosing this publication for the feature could tie in well with this.  It would be published seven days before the broadcast as The Radio Times magazine is a listings magazine which shows programmes that are broadcast each week. If it was published before this stage in marketing, readers could lose interest or simply forget when the drama begins. But in this chosen amount of time between the feature and the broadcast,  it should still be fresh in their minds, effectively attracting them towards the drama. So the combination of the two ancillary texts  successfully reaches out and addresses the target audience about the main product.

3) What have you learnt from your audience feedback?

When developing our script, we read copies out to randomly selected students and asked for constructive feedback from these listeners. This gave us the opportunity to find out what areas of the script needed improvement from outsider views. We found that listeners thought the protagonist’s best friend character was taking the attention away from the main character and her part in the drama was causing confusion. Therefore, we removed the character and adapted her lines to fit in with the boyfriend character’s dialect. Without this audience feedback, we would not have made these essential changes to improve the quality of our drama!

From gathering responses from another listening audience, I could identify what my target audience was looking for in a comedy radio drama and how we could achieve this.  I found that many wanted highly comical sound effects to add to the scenes and make the humour more obvious, so we added in very exaggerated sounds effects, such as: gasping, giggling, ooohsss and ahhhhhs etc. This added to the cheesy, panto theme of the show and appealed more to the listening audience.

By creating a randomly selected student questionnaire, I found that although many people enjoyed that drama, marking it an impressive 9/10, most agreed that the silent gaps indicating scene changes were too lengthy, as although it is important to leave a few seconds to differentiate between each scene change,  too much of a gap meant the drama had too many pauses.  This feedback helped me improve on the drama by cutting down the time length of these pauses. However, I could not cut the gaps down too much as this would mean the drama would under-run the 5 minute target. If I could improve on this editing further, I would have cut these gaps down even more and added in more audio to fill in the free space.

4) How did you use media technologies in the construction and planning, research and evaluation stages?

I used my blog to organize my ideas and planning by scanning in mind-maps, notes, designs, etc on to my page. This helped me gather together all of my essential information in a clear and organized way. I could upload all my research details and findings onto ordered blog posts so I could easily find them to add to and improve on. It was also a great way to showcase my production: with regular blog updates such as ‘production logs’ I could keep track of what stage of production I was in and what still needed to be done. Furthermore, by writing out what I had done each lesson in a blog post helped me gain an in-depth understanding of the processes needed to create a radio drama. The blog allowed me to use multi-media technologies, such as pictures, hyperlinks to websites and documents, and videos so I could have all this information in different and interesting ways and be able to store it all in a one neat format.

When researching other radio dramas and their conventions, films, characters and theorists etc, I used the internet and search engines such as Google to find links to websites that contained information on the subjects. I also looked at trailers from video websites and added these url codes to my blog posts. The internet helped me upload some of my essential data onto my blog as WordPress.com would not allow audio clips to be uploaded. – So I used the website YouTube.com to upload my edited audio clip examples as videos. This allowed me to put them on my blog so I could discuss the editing processes effectively.

My editing skills improved as the drama progressed as I became more familiar with the Sound Track Pro software. At first, I did not know how to use the programme effectively, but after practicing with our rough recording, I developed my understanding. For example, I began to learn how to remove unwanted audio, using the razor tool, and how to move clips together, using the arrow tool, in the beginning stages of editing. But by the end, I had the ability to edit the audio on a more advanced level, for example I could add in sound effects, adjust the volume levels, create fade in/fade out effects on the sound enveloped and overall was able to improve the drama successfully by using my newly gained knowledge.

For my poster campaign and double page spread, I had to use orignal images to interest my target audience so this required me to use photography in the construction stages. This helped me develop my photography skills as I had to take into account what camera angles would be most effective. I took mid-shots and close-ups of the model and made sure that she looked directly into the camera lens to make it seem like she was making eye contact with the reader. I had to identify how to take a good quality picture, suitable for an advertising campaign.

To create my poster, I used Photoshop. I needed to know how to cut around images, using the ‘magic brush tool’ to remove the backgrounds and work on layers effectively to combine pictures together. I found that rubbing out parts of images (for example: a wine bottle in the model’s hand) was a delicate and time-consuming process as each movement had to be careful and precise, to make sure I was removing the correct part of the image neatly. I also had to master how to add in text, using text boxes, writing effects such as fonts, sizes, colours etc. Although Photoshop was complicated at first, after spending a lot of time on the poster, I developed my skills successfully enough to make it look professional and as I desired it to be.

For my double page spread, I used Photoshop to edit my pictures – to remove unwanted backgrounds, and to smooth/feather the edges of the image out using the ‘refine edge tool’.  I could then place these edited images on InDesign, the programme I used to create the feature. After using Photoshop, working on InDesign seem less challenging as it was quite similar so I didn’t really experience many difficulties with the programme. I used text boxes, rectangle shapes, circles and the shadow tool to create columns, texts and finishing touches to the feature. I could develop my skills further by watching tutorials on the internet to discover more advanced techniques which may have been able to enhance the feature even more.

Overall, my blog allowed me to present my work in a clear layout as typed paragraphs and bullet points made the information more coherent and understandable. By referring back to my notes on previous blog posts,  I could easily evaluate my processes and finished work.


~ by Joey Ash on April 7, 2011.

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