Ariana Grande shows Audiences how to “Break Free” by Utilizing Visual Components


Ariana Grande’s “Break Free” music video uses computer generated images and effects to draw audience attention to the absurdities of the science fiction genre, while also utilizing associative montage to link Grande’s music and sexy nature with the ability to escape from reality. The music video begins with a scrolling introduction that sets the science fiction tone for the video, alluding to the Star Wars’ introductions. The voice over reading that the following is “authentic” coupled with the unauthentic background, and eerie sounds illustrates the power that visuals and sounds have over text. In other words, when the actual music begins and a desert-like, extraterrestrial landscape with a large, hovering moon is shown, there is no doubt that the following visuals have been manipulated. The landscape has a red tinge to it, which is interesting to note due to the fact that according to Palmer who wrote on the “Ecological Valence Theory of Human Preference,” people prefer the color blue because they associate it with useful and positive objects such as clean water. Additionally, according to Falk’s “Evolutionary Influence in Human Landscape Preference”, people prefer savanna-like landscapes to all other kinds of landscapes (including desert).  Knowing viewers’ landscape and color preferences, the video designers strategically utilized a dessert-like landscape and warm colors to insinuate that this fictional world is one run by “bad guys” and one that “good guys,” like Ariana Grande, should want to escape from. Viewers are soon introduced to the monsters that are keeping Grande’s friends captive in this extraterrestrial world. The monsters have large eyes, a crucial element of neoteny, which also includes baby-face features like a round head. As supported by University of Tokyo’s Jun’ichiro Seyama’s findings, the video effectively uses the monsters’ neotenous eyes, because audiences prefer neotenous elements on characters that are more unrealistic like monsters compared to characters that are more realistic like human beings. Other unrealistic elements like the computer-generated flying robot and the post-production effect of rockets shooting out of Grande’s chest, mock the absurdity of the science fiction genre. Absurdity has been proven to help audience recall and since Grande is a relatively new pop artist, the makers of the video want viewers to remember her, her music, and her sex appeal. There is an element of cause and effect montage here, as the video insinuates that Grande’s sexiness can defeat a large monster and later allows her to break from chains that bind her to defeat the bad guys. The slow motion effect in conjunction with the overhead angle of shots showing her undressing and dancing alone illustrates this theme of sexiness. Thanks to Grande’s sex appeal, she is able to defeat the monsters, rescue her friends, and get beamed up into a space shuttle. The Beats product placement also benefits from associative montage, as the brand is linked to Grande’s appealing physicality and supernatural power. Grande’s creative team utilized visual principles related to landscape, special effects, and computer generated imaging to play within the science fiction genre and associate Grande’s sexy appeal and pop music with her ability to ultimately “Break Free.”


FKA twigs – “Water Me” Post-humanist Aesthetic Spellbinds Viewers

The one-take music video for “Water Me” by FKA twigs mesmerizes with little onscreen action to compensate for the lack of cuts by employing a post-humanist aesthetic, thus hypnotizing spectators through a series of deviations from known human movement and form.

The digitally manipulated appearance of the subject, FKA twigs, and insertion into a digital world transform her into an avatar-like being or an object representing real human form. She delivers the song deadpan in direct address against a solid sea-foam green backdrop. It’s especially important to pay attention to the increasing neotony, baby features on an adult person, throughout the video. Her nose shrinks and her eyes enlarge to the point where they look like they may pop.

The unrealistic computerized movements in this video are the result of animation of a real person. While traditional filmmaking tries to seamlessly disguise technique, the desire to decode how this was made is what grabs attention. Her timely head bobs, unable to achieve without CGI assistance, simplify rhythm perception through movement rather than cuts. And because the entire beat is matched to movement and slightly offset, with the image coming first, we subconsciously anticipate sound.

The gigantic iridescent CGI tear that rolls down FKA twigs’s perfectly airbrushed cheek mid-video opens a dialogue that comments unfavorably on pop culture’s constant deviation from reality. The eerily illusory image of the artist becomes increasingly unrecognizable as the video progresses, making a statement that instructs viewers to only participate in this deceptive digital trend if they are aware that it is inherently separate from the real.


All of The Lights by Kanye West (2011)

All of The Lights by Kanye West featuring Rihanna and Kid Cudi was a hit in the year 2011. By this point in time Kanye West was already known for his artistic, yet captivating music videos, which displayed an excellent story line as well as the theatrics necessary for a successful music video. All of The Lights has an excellent use of narrative editing and editing speed that makes the video all the more engaging and concise for the viewer.

One of the first instances where narrative editing is at play is in the beginning when the story of the little girl is being told. In the first minute Hype Williams chooses to cut to every scene, allowing the viewer different angles and subjectivities in the girls day, from her way to school all the way to coming back home. There’s also the use of dissolve and fading with a hint of shutter editing between the singers. When Rihanna is about to come on, Kanye’s image fades and at times Rihanna’s image is superimposed. I think this technique works really well, especially because it goes well with the rhythm of the song and it is visually appealing.

The editing speed is probably what makes this video very high caliber. After the shot with the young girl, the speed of the words that appear on the screen really adds to the high paced tempo of the song. It also makes the words seem like the beat of the song. The speed of the lights flashing also makes the video more upbeat and interesting to watch. To emphasize certain lyrics, Hype Williams uses faster or slower speeds with the singers. My favorite editing speed moment is when Kid Cudi is singing and the speed is significantly slower to emphasize his body movements as well as his lyrics.


Feiya Lin–HP composite ad

Hi, below is the link to my final project and I hope you enjoy it.

I always have the interest in digital media and this time I was inpired by the classical HP computer ad and I make my own.

With a computer, I can watch DVD, go shopping on line, get free guitar tutorial and take pictures of my friends. All these are expressed with simple gestures introducing objects from nowhere.

In digital image class, Paul talks a lot about special effects, which includes digital manipulation, keying and so on. And this project is a combination of masking, keying, photo manipulation and animation.

I shot the scene in a studio which was an easy job. Then I exported the video the sequence images and did the compositing frame by frame(job is simple but involves a lot!) in AfterEffects. Jobs at this time included creating pictures of DVDs, shoes , picture frames in photoshop, making animation of guitar and computer, and masking them so that they could move with my finger. Later, I used particle systems to create special visual effects to make the ad more interesting. Finally add the music.

There's still a lot I could do to make the ad more attractive , but I should submit it by now~~~

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