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Evaluation Task 4 for Advanced Portfolio
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We showed our video to a focus group of 16-18 year olds in order to obtain feedback on our media products. After the screening of the video, we asked them a series of questions related to our video and ancillary texts and were open to any constructive criticism or improvements that could have been made. Evaluation Task 3 What have you learned from your audience feedback?
The uses and gratifications model suggests that audiences are far from passive in their approach to the media; rather they actively choose and consume the media to satisfy particular needs and gratifications which they exhibit. The Uses and Gratifications Model(Lazarfeld, Blumer and Katz)
A theoretical model which is based upon the notion that the audience do not act as a mass, but rather as a collection of smaller groups defined by social and ideological elements. Media texts are encoded (both consciously and unconsciously) within the values of their producers – generally white, middle-class men – however the audience is not made up exclusively of these groups and different groups are likely to interpret the text in different ways. The Encoding/Decoding Model(Stuart Hall)
Girl 1: 'I like how it has a story, not just a band' It is obvious from this comment that for part of our audience, there is a heavy reliance on the narrative element of the music video. It is important in helping the audience understand the message conveyed through the music. Boy 1: 'The lighting was really cool' Throughout the discussion, many people commented on how they liked the lighting and how it was quite mysterious, reinforcing the alternative genre of the band. Girl 2: 'There were different things going on, but it was really clear' Despite the combination of the performance and narrative element, the audience were able to clearly understand what was going on. What did you like about the video?
Do you think the band image suits the song? Girl 1: 'Cool hair and cool style and what they were wearing' The casual and cool style of the band fits the alternative genre of the song Girl 2: 'I dunno, you couldn't really see the band' This was an interesting response, and could perhaps be considered as an oppositional reading to what we had intended. We deliberately lit the band in a way so that only their silhouettes were revealed, because by not having the band's appearance in the foreground of the video, we wanted to convey a mysterious, anti-commercial aspect of the band image. Girl 2: 'The song is quite slow and so the band was quite chilled' This chilled out, easy-going quality is something we had intended to portray through the band, all the while conveying the serious element as well.
What message did the video portray? Boy 1: 'Someone being upset about someone having a heart attack' Although our video does essentially address the situation of someone being upset about someone having a heart attack, we had intended to convey the feeling of desperation and hopelessness of someone experiencing a similar situation. So ultimately, referring to Start Hall's encoding and decoding model, this isn't a directly preferred reading, but the audience appear to understand the basic concept of what we had intended to convey. Girl 1: 'It shows strangers caring and helping' This wasn't actually something we had thought about, but having mentioned it, the video does in fact show the kindness of humanity, which adds a slightly more comforting and uplifting element to a fairly 'depressing' video.
What do you think the band are about? Girl 1: 'Cool, boy music' This comment initiated a difference of opinion of whether or not the band were targeted towards a male audience or not. When we put it to the vote, 4 out of the 10 people we asked said that it was predominately targeted towards boys, whilst the remaining 6 said that it was targeted towards a unisex audience. No one said that it was targeted predominately towards girls, although they did raise the point in saying that girls could potentially be attracted to the male band members. Girl 2: 'They have quite an edgy look, which can be quite appealing' Although the band's image was intentionally encoded as non-capitalist mainstream, this is just a brand image that is shaped exactly for the purpose of selling goods to large audiences of consumers.
What suggests the edginess of the band? For consumers who are comforted by thinking of themselves as alternative, the personal identity sector in the uses and gratifications model becomes apparent, as it reinforces and confirms an ideological perspective. Many suggested that it was ultimately the alternative style of the song, and it's slightly obscure quality which created an 'edgy' mood. Others commented on the use of lighting, revealing only the band's silhouettes, suggesting a sense of mystery. Girl 1: 'It's quite different because it's not got a girl and it's not about girl/boy' This comment highlighted the understanding that this band aren't the conventional type of band who write about a girl in a love song. They write about this that matter, and about things that will perhaps make a difference. This is essentially what makes the band different from anything else.
What are the attitudes of the band? Girl 1: 'They're quite carefree' When we asked the group what attitude they thought the band portrayed through the video, there was an interesting range of responses. Whilst some said that they were easy going and carefree, others commented on the seriousness and 'depressing' quality of the song, the later being the attitude we had tried to convey. Although the band is fairly youthful, we wanted to portray them in a way where they cared about their music and the meanings conveyed through their music. Girl 2: 'The album cover isn't complex – just the outline of a tree' The group picked up on the simplicity of the band and the melancholy, organic quality of their music. Referring to Stuart Hall's Encoding/Decoding Model, this is a preferred reading of our product.
Do you think the poster and digipak work well with the video? Girl 1: 'It matched with the lighting of the band' Many commented saying how the 'darkness' of the band is portrayed through all three products, conveying the sense of edginess which they mentioned. Girl 2: 'Contradicting theories' When we asked the group what they thought about the name, they seemed to understand its relevance and the reasons why we chose it. They picked up on the fact that it was something that 'wasn't meant to happen'. We deliberately chose this name in order to provoke speculation and make people question why they have chosen such a contradicting name.
Where and when would you watch the video? Girl 1: 'You would listen to it for the sake of listening to it' From the feedback we received, I think that this song would come under the ‘personal identity’ sector in the uses and gratifications model, as it allows one to compare and relate their life with the characters and situations within the narrative of the video. The ability to relate with the issues portrayed in the video is something which we had intended. Girl 2: ' Wouldn't listen to it at a party', 'Listen to it because you want to hear the music' Whilst the focus group said they liked the song, they emphasized the fact that they wouldn’t listen to it at a party as it is quite a serious song. When we asked the group where and when they would watch the video, they said that they would probably listen to it when they were alone or chilling out.
Does the video encourage repeat consumption? Girl 1: 'When you start watching it, you want to carry on watching it because you want to see what happens in the end' The majority of the group commented on how the narrative grips the audience and makes them want to watch the video until the end to see what happens. Boy 1: 'I would watch it again to try and see more of the people, because the lighting was so dark on the set, you couldn't really see anyone there, so if you're really into this band, you're going to keep watching it so you can really see the people playing' This ties in with Dyer's theory of being 'simultaneously present yet absent'. The audience are continually trying to consume the band's products in order to understand them.
What could be improved in any of the products? Girl 1: 'When you look at the poster, it looks a bit calm and you expect more soothing music' Whilst the group said they like the digipak and magazine advertisement, they said that the simplicity and peacefulness suggested that the music was acoustic as opposed to electronic. This is a prime example of how the effects model isn't as straightforward as implying that audiences are passive recipients of the meaning and values of a text. This isn't something we had considered at the time, as we had intended for this non-manufactured organic element to be interpreted in a way which suggests the band's reluctance becoming commercial and mainstream.