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.

1 comment:

  1. Sally - both your blog posts about this music video provide excellent analysis in terms of the key concepts and also to the technical language employed. You critically examine the narrative of the video and consider how it work within the conventions of a pop video - you do this especially well considering that the video is essentially simplistic in its narrative. I enjoyed your discussion about the effect of the water used - perhaps you might have wondered why it was so dominant when used over the band's faces.

    A few other points. The video almost makes the black members of the band appear like backing singers, until the obligatory rap section. What institutional factors do you think made this decision and why? Also the representation of femininity is quite interesting and adheres to stereotype of mainstream Hollywood and sections of the media that the guy will always get the woman back - I was also curious as to why the camera seemed fixated with her legs. Right at the beginning the audience is also introduced to the iconic crucifix and therefore positions the video as being clean and honest, especially for a white MTV audience. Just a few points to think about Sally.

    Am really happy with the way that you have constructed this analysis and also the terminology that you incorporate. Well done.