Saturday, 10 October 2009

GCT - Product Analysis

The Shins – Australia

I have chosen to deconstruct the song ‘Australia’ by the band ‘The Shins’ for my product analysis. I have chosen this video because we are creating our own music video for ‘The Shins’ and as this is an existing video for the band by deconstructing it I will have a greater understanding of what the artist is trying to convey in their music videos. This will form part of my research to help and inform me when creating my own music video.

The video is mainly narrative based but is a narrative of a concept, therefore making it have both aspects of narrative and conceptual ideas. Moreover throughout the whole video there is no performance, this says a lot about the band as it shows that they are not all about their image and showing off their star persona and skill with instruments but more about the meaning behind their songs and conveying their songs message. By using Goodwin’s framework for identifying key features in music videos it is apparent that this video follows the stereotypically forms and conventions of the genre. For example, because there is no performance based sections of the video making it entirely narrative and conceptual this complies with the typical conventions of the indie genre where it is very rare to see performance based aspects but more conceptual ideas. Another genre characteristic that this video shows is having narrative fuzz. The video almost seems random in some places but this is just to address the fact that the target audience are focused viewers and need cleaver, innovative new content to stay entertained and create consumer satisfaction, again this reinforces the ideas in Goodwin’s theory. Another key feature which is apparent and complies with Goodwin’s theory is the fact that there are strong relationships between the lyrics and the video. An example of this is when the lyrics “Born to gaze into night skies” are sung; at this point it shows the sky from a low angle. This is a clearly illustrative way in which the video uses the lyrics but also puts the consumer in the video with a POV shot and therefore draws in the consumer forming a stronger relationship with that consumer. Overall the video is predominantly illustrative of the lyrics and helps the consumer gain an understanding of the concept and meaning which the artist is trying to portray. More of Goodwin’s key features of a music video are shown by the many close-up’s used in the video. These close-ups are used to show the cutting of balloons, the artist’s faces and many other things, this is another convention of the indie genre and characteristic of a music video. There is also a frequent and strong reference to the notion of looking with the video. One of the artists who seem to be the leader of the pack uses binoculars during the narrative. Repeated meat shots of these binoculars are shown and this reinforces the notion of looking, again reinforcing Goodwin’s theories. The song does present some challenging ideas and concepts. One of these ideas is inside the lyrics, one line is sung which says "android's conundrum", the meaning of this is to live but never be alive, and this connotes the idea that by living a normal everyday life you are not truly ‘alive’ and therefore creates an ideological discourse. This ideological discourse is conventional of an indie band’s rebellious attitude and therefore lets there consumers and fans relate to them which forms a deeper relationship between the band and consumer, this also forms a para-social relationship as the band does not know much about the consumer, but is divulging information about themselves and their beliefs. The video can be referred to as post-modern, this is due to it blurring the boundaries between music video, advertisement, art (With its unique costume and visual styles of the orange colour theme) and promotion as the band are shown in the video which all adds to their meta-narrative, therefore the video could be considered as post-modern.

Many visual techniques are used in the video to convey certain ideas and shape the consumers view of the band and concepts within the video. One of these techniques used is the type of shot and angle at which the artists are shown. The use of a MLS (medium long shot) of the band members in first person mode of address introduces the artists to the consumer and because of the use of first person mode of address creates a more personal and intimate relationship between the band and consumer which leads to a greater consumer satisfaction. Whilst it does this it also shows the band from a lower angle which connotes to the viewer they have a greater status. This helps the band be present but also absent simultaneously which complies with Dyer’s critical framework on stars. Also the use of a tracking in shot draws the viewer in closer to the scene. There is also the use of editing to connote the passing of time in the video, this visual technique is used a few times throughout the video but one of these examples is when long shot of the truck moving right to left is shown, this long shot is situated between two medium close-ups shots and this difference in shot size commutates the passing of time. Reinforcing Goodwin’s theory, close ups were used repeatedly in the video showing something that was important to the narrative, they were repeated much like a ‘meat shot’ to convey to the viewer importance of aspects of the narrative. Certain camera techniques were used to connote the relationship between the members of the band, this was done by showing a medium close up of one character and then showing a reaction medium close up shot of the other character. The shot would repeat several times to show the reactions and actions of the characters and this also keeps the viewer interested by increasing the cutting rate. The only times low angles are shown is when the band is separated and one member is on his own. He is shown through a low angle which would suggest that the band are only strong when together and that they are a unit, conveying to the consumer there strength and relationship.

The video represents the different social groups and the artist in certain way which the band wants to convey to the consumer. Firstly the band are shown as rebellious though the narrative as they are sneaking into a car lot and stealing balloons. This ties in with the conventions of the indie genre as rebellion is a common convention, and also ties in with the expectations of the consumer, also helping to relate to the consumers who are likely to rebellious themselves. On the other hand the use of the balloons and the fact that the band is dressed in bright orange suits suggests that they are very childlike and young. This connotes innocence and naivety which could be seen as ideological discourse due to ‘ignorance not being innocents’ as in the end of the video they have still ‘stolen’ from another person. The band are represented as youthful so that they can relate to their target audience who are likely to be young themselves and help boost sales. Two social groups that are shown in the video are the artists themselves and the security guards. The security guards are considerably older than the artists and our dressed in darker and considerably more boring clothes. This represents the normal working man as ‘boring’ and ‘old’ which creates ideological discourse by generalising this social group and portraying to the consumer an unfair image of the working man. On the other hand the band are represented as youthful through the very colourful clothing they are wearing and they way they move in an energetic way. This suggests to the consumer that the band are significantly different from the ‘normal man’ and therefore retain youthfulness, making them more attractive to the audience which eventually helps sell their product.

The main consumption of this video would be through the internet and viral marketing, this is because ‘The Shins’ target a very niche audience and the social demographic that are their fans would predominantly use the internet to watch music videos. Music channels would also be used to deliver the video to consumers, channels such as MTV would be used, MTV is a good channel to target the target audience though because the social demographic that watches MTV is the same as ‘The Shins’ fans. The video would target a group of focused viewers and try to keep their attention and not let them switch between channels, the video’s narrative is designed to have narrative fuzz and therefore hold the consumers attention.

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