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Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Music Video Analysis - Camera, Editing and Mise-En-Scene

The music video begins in silence and we are shown a mid-shot of what looks like a kitchen. The mise-en-scene suggests this because of the layout and culinary objects shown. Upon the surfaces in the background is a blender and kettle. We also see an oven and then cupboards attached to the wall, which is typical of a kitchen layout. In the foreground is a table with a wine bottle placed on the far right. This is the most obvious object in the shot, so it is most likely the wine bottle has some sort of significance.

There is a short pause and then we see an unidentifiable character enter into the frame (their face is out of the shot). They aggressively and purposely knock over the wine bottle and the minute the bottle hits the table’s surface the music begins.

Already the music video has intrigued the audience. Clearly this character is angry and the audience will want to know the story behind it. The silence at the very beginning builds tension and when the silence is suddenly disturbed by the music, the effect is quite startling.

The speed of the shot is slowed down slightly and therefore the whole scenario is in much more detail. The character gradually enters into the frame from the right; at first we see their hand grab the wine bottle, then the rest of their body enters as the bottle is pushed over. It is most likely that the audience assume that when they see the hand, the person is simply going to pick up the bottle, so it is a small surprise when they realise this is not the case.

The music directly correlates with what is happening in the shot. Once the bottle hits the surface and the liquid bursts out of it, the music begins at the same time. It is also quite stunning how we briefly get to see the wine shoot out of the bottle in slow motion. Not only does it look effective, but there is a theme of water/liquid that runs throughout the video and the spilling of the wine is perhaps a way of introducing or highlighting this theme.

There are many other moments in the video where the music and the way the footage is edited directly correlate and everything seems in time with the beat of the music. A good music video will have pace and short, quick shots and this music video does exactly that.

There are many shots of the band singing in an abandoned warehouse and there are two ways in which this is portrayed in the music video:-

(Top Image) The band is shown singing in a run down warehouse. They typically split apart and do their own thing, but come together in a group for the harmonies in the song.

(Bottom Image)– The group stick together in a formation and sing. This footage has been made black and white with watery effects added onto it.

From the very first line of the song, “So you say I’m not the kind of guy to touch your body…” to the line, “Why do keep contradicting yourself?” is worth sixteen seconds of the video. These sixteen seconds only contain shots from both these scenes, which in a music video is a long time for an audience just to be looking at two different types of footage. However it never gets boring and the reason being is that there is a jump cut after every few words in the song and the band are shown at a slightly different angle. The camera also never stops moving. Either tracking or panning shots are being used and both these techniques make the video more exciting and ‘action-packed.’

As explained earlier, there is a subtle water/liquid theme that runs throughout the video. There are watery effects that have been used occasionally as transitions between some of the shots. Also the black and white footage shown above has had watery effects edited onto it. Perhaps it is meant to be some sort of symbolism; once the water is spilt, you cannot put it back in the bottle.

This may be a reference to the couple in the video and maybe relationships in general as well. Things may be unwittingly said to one another, which make matters worse, however once those things have been said, they can never be taken back.

The silhouetted dancers are actually quite unnecessary to the music video. However because street dance was popular at the time, obviously the makers needed to add things that would appeal to their audience. We see all the street dancers in a long shot with the camera at a slight angle. Although the camera is still, the strong and energetic moves from the dancers keep the shots dynamic and exciting.

Here is one of the dancers performing a handstand. The environment is not dissimilar to the one, in which the band are seen singing in.

Though we cannot see this dancer’s clothes in detail, we can tell that it is baggy and very casual. It is the type of clothing we expect typical street dancers to wear.

The identity of the dancers has nothing to do with the narrative of the video or the band, so perhaps this is why they have been silhouetted. It also may be perhaps that the black silhouette fits in with the black and white colour scheme commonly seen throughout the video. Dancer silhouettes have usually been popular in music videos and now they have become quite iconic in the media. The adverts for the iPod and gift vouchers for iTunes use dancer silhouettes:-

The opening of the popular 2007 film, Superbad shows us the main characters as silhouettes comically dancing to the song, Too Hot to Stop by The Barkays:-

When the rap occurs in this song which is performed by Shon Shon Harris, the editing becomes a lot faster than usual. It includes numerous jump cuts and fast zoom in and outs from the camera on the vocalist. Although the rap is obviously done to the same beat that the singing was done, the rap seems a lot faster as the vocalist is rapidly talking out the lyrics rather than dragging them out in a singing voice.

The first shot of the rap is a close up of the vocalist’s lips and then we are shown a sequence of close-up shots with the rapper’s face behind this fan. These shots are very quick and it is literally after every word in the rap that there is a cut. It is effective how we only see the rapper’s lips at first and then his full identity gets revealed. This creates a brief sense of mystery as it makes the audience want to know who the lips belong to. This technique is seen a lot in music videos, it is most commonly seen when filming a pianist. The camera shows the pianist’s hands first and then their face.

As you can see from the screenshots, we once again are seeing the black and white colour scheme, which run throughout the majority if the rap.

Here is a screenshot during one of the rapid zoom-ins to the rapper’s face. The zoom-ins are usually done when there is an accent in the music or lyrics. They also add some variety in amongst the many jump cuts. Once again the camera is at an angle making the shot dynamic.

This is one of the last shots of the rap and the rapper pulls up his hood. This fits in with urban/street themed mise-en-scene throughout the video. It is only the narrative shots showing Martin Kember and the woman that a smarter, less street-wise mise-en-scene is shown.

Music Video Analysis - Key Concepts and Narrative

Key Concepts and Narrative

I am going to be analysing the music video for Trust in Me by the RnB quartet, Az-1. The single is from their self-titled album which was released in 1992 for Scotti Bros. Records.

The captive audience for this video in 1992 was most likely to be young black adults. During the time of the early nineties black music took on a new genre known as the New Jack Swing (NJS), which was very popular at the time. This was most likely due to well-known black artists such as Michael Jackson, Bobby Brown and MC Hammer whose music fit this category. Az-1 also produced a New Jack Swing sound; and although they were a short lived band, their song, Trust in Me along with its video was most approved of by the young black generation.

As you may have already noticed, the band has quite a street wise appearance. They wear hooded jackets, backwards caps and baggy trousers whilst singing in urban looking areas. The clothes they wear were of the typical fashion trends of the time and with three black members and one white member, this is another reason why black youths were probably highly influenced by this music video. The dance routines are in the style of hip hop and street dance which has always been popular amongst the black generation, having originated from the black ghettos in Harlem.
The song, Trust in Me is about a turbulent relationship between lead singer, Martin Kember and an anonymous woman who he delivers the song to. For example one of the lines is, “…all alone, pick up the phone and its you who’s calling, why do you keep contradicting yourself?” This 2nd person narrative continues throughout the whole song and although the lyrics are not in anyway original, it is the beat and the quality of voice that counts in the New Jack Swing genre.  

The troubled partnership that is suggested in the lyrics is also vaguely portrayed in the music video. We see short snippets of Kember and his partner’s story amongst the other shots of the singing and dancing. The narrative is linear, as it is shown in chronological order. At the start and during the video, we see clips that suggest the couple are having issues and then at the end, it is suggested that their issues have been resolved as we see the couple hug.

The video ends on a positive note between the couple. Perhaps this is a good message to the younger generation; being in love and relationships can be extremely difficult, yet if you work through the issues, problems can be resolved. If the video portrayed a negative ending for the couple, this may discourage the audience slightly. Of course we all know that bad relationships exist, but the makers of the video needed to consider their target audience and what kind of messages were best to portray to them.

This is the first shot of the music video and instantly we are being introduced to the story of the couple.

 We see a person enter into the shot from the right. At the moment, it is hard to tell what the gender of the person is as we can only see their arm and the side of the body. However whoever this character is, it is clear that they are angry as they purposely and aggressively knock over the wine bottle on the table.

 There is also something quite iconic about this shot as well. There are many music videos where the narrative is about a troubled relationship. Usually in these music videos there are shots shown of objects i.e. framed pictures of the couple, wine bottles etc being knocked over, thrown or broken by one of the characters. It is a typical scenario shown in music videos to portray anger or hate.

A few shots later, we now can identify this character as a woman. The wine bottle is rolling towards the edge of the table, yet the character does nothing to stop it implying just how angry she is. It is obvious that wine bottle will fall and smash however she stands in stillness with the least bit of care.

This shot is part of a sequence of jump cuts showing the lead singer, Martin Kember on his own being restless in bed. This sequence is shown at the point in the song where the lyrics say, “I can’t sleep, if you’re not close to me!” It has now become quite apparent that he is the man in the relationship and the woman at the beginning is his partner.

Once again we are seeing more iconography. A person alone in a double bed is usually used to suggest that they have been through/or going through a bad relationship as they do not have a partner there, sharing the bed with them.

This quick shot is one of the first times we see the couple together in the video and we get the impression that they have just had an argument. Their backs are turned to each other and their heads are down and they are clearly not speaking to one another. It is also made apparent that neither is going to make the effort to fix whatever is happening between them.

 Similar shots to this one are shown in between the shots of singing and dancing. Several times we see the couple in a similar position to this.

This is the very last shot of the video. In a tracking shot we see the couple kiss and hug suggesting that they have made up and the tension that was suggested between them has now gone.