“Hung Up” by Madonna

Madonna is notorious for her ability to maintain a strong, influential presence in the music industry since the 1980’s; particularly her identification with female sexuality and its connection to female empowerment.  One of her most popular songs in the latter part of her career, Hung Up, has “restored her popularity and served as her best dance track to date.” Her music video demonstrates this…

The music video for Hung Up utilizes editing, shot selection, the song itself, and visual cues in the mis-en-scene to highlight Madonna’s attempts to stay relevant in a changing musical landscape, particularly with regards to her stance as an older woman in the world of popular music, which often de-emphasizes sexuality in older women.

The first part of the video uses close-ups and cuts to highlight Madonna’s tailored dance and retro attire in contrast to youthful dancers’ dynamic movements. The video begins by cutting to the subject’s hand turning on lights of an empty room. The camera cuts to the subject sporting a retro tracksuit as she carries a vintage boom box, a clear reference to 1980’s hip-hop culture (the youth culture of its day). Madonna purposefully objectifies herself by framing herself with ambiguous shots of female anatomy. The music begins as the camera cuts from a hand switching on the boom box to Madonna’s seductive facial expression and movements luring in the audience. Madonna stares into the mirror and moves her arms like the hand of a clock—clear symbols of time passing—to underline her words, “time goes by so slowly.” Throughout the video, Madonna accentuates her sexuality while slowly stretching to the boom box’s beat. The video visually argues for Madonna’s relevance by cutting to the same vintage boom box surrounded by young dancers, the young and the old connection over music.  The song itself uses a sample from Abba, a popular band from the 1970s, but remixes it, making the song relevant in a new music landscape centered on the dance floor.

The second part of the video utilizes wide-angle shots and cuts to Madonna, dressed in tight, black leather, accentuating her bold sexuality. Madonna struts toward the camera—to the music’s fast beat—as men stare at her in awe. Images closely associated with time: the clock; the boom box and 1980’s attire are no longer present, emphasizing Madonna’s goal to defy the status quo and maintain her relevance in spite of her advancing age. She purposely sexualizes herself to show that even time cannot take away her empowered feeling of sexuality. Maintaining the angle, the camera cuts to Madonna echoing her pelvic dance moves of before, with a host of performers following her lead, dancing in the rave-like atmosphere of a warehouse. The camera cuts to close-ups of the individual dancers, giving the young performers an identity (the audience now able to identity their faces). The music video ends by cutting to an above angle shot of Madonna, wearing her feminine, 80’s reminiscent leotard, hugging her curves, leaving little to the imagination (something she didn’t even wear in the 80s, when that particular fashion was in vogue). She blinks her eyes as if she has just woken from a dream. Throughout the music video, Madonna, juxtaposed with the presence of young dancers, defies the cultural norms that are tied to her age group. She frames herself as a powerful, sexual woman in a youthful musical landscape (while still emphasizing the idea of “youth culture” throughout the decades). The music video demonstrates Madonna’s continuous popularity and recaptures her sexuality in a strong, powerful way—an image she has successfully captured for many decades, and (hopefully) decades to come.

“Hung Up” by Madonna

Chipotle: The Art of Attack

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUtnas5ScSE

The Chipotle short film above, created by Moonbot Studios, employs contrast and associational montage in order to create an attack ad that has a clear message but hides the usual accompanying antagonism behind the film’s artistic nature.

The short mainly consists of contrast montage between the scarecrow, and the horrifying environment around him. Contrast montage consists of juxtaposing two images on screen in order to accentuate some difference between the two. In this short, the conscience of the scarecrow, and care for how he prepares his food, are contrasted with the giant corporation that mistreats animals and ruins the environment.

The short accentuates this contrast with the use of different landscapes. All the land around the city has been turned to desert, an environment hostile to humans, and proven to be less visually appealing. On the other hand, the scarecrow’s home consists of elements usually found in a savannah, such as grass and sparse trees, which are naturally more appealing.

Once the short establishes this contrast, the image of the chipotle pepper appears a couple times with the scarecrow. This is a subtle use of associational montage, in order to unite the scarecrow with Chipotle in the viewer’s mind. Without any explicit explanation or even the logo, the viewer understands Chipotle is an outlier in a sea of other companies that harm the environment.

The animated short is undoubtedly beautiful and by showing its message through montage and contrast, rather than explicitly telling the viewer, the ad manages to maintain its identity as an artistic short film. The result is an attack ad where the focus is on the message and imagery, rather than Chipotle’s antagonism as it calls out competitors.

Lana Del Rey’s “Ride”: An Example of Effective Visual-Audio Sync

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Py_-3di1yx0

Lana Del Rey’s “Ride” is a 10-minute epic that documents the journey of a drifter (played by Del Rey) who longs for true happiness despite a struggling music career.

The entire film, which consists of an introduction, a music video for the song itself, and an epilogue, has a hazy quality. The muted blues and greens of the shots mirror the subdued disposition Del Rey’s character has adopted because of her professional and personal failures.

Both the introduction and the epilogue begin with a compelling long shot of Del Rey on a tire swing, gliding back and forth above a long and winding road. The viewer thus identifies with Del Rey’s feelings of an outsider and her desire to find her purpose in life.

During the actual music video, Del Rey utilizes mostly cuts to transition between shots of her and the biker gang. As we see shot after shot of her with her male friends, it becomes clear that she is achieving profound personal growth, in part due to her relationship with these men. Additionally, several close-ups of Del Rey’s face further support that she is at last finding contentment within herself.

The most impressively edited part of “Ride” is the introduction and the epilogue, narrated by Del Rey, because of its smooth visual-audio sync. Del Rey speaks over a quiet melody of strings, so that her words impact the viewer more than the music. Moreover, the visuals that accompany her monologues depict a narrative story, so the need for fewer cuts creates a sense of continuity.

The final shot of the video features fast-paced cuts of various close-ups of Del Rey. Del Rey simultaneously declares, “I am fucking crazy, but I am free,” an empowering statement for someone who has achieved personal fulfillment.

Say Hello to the new Google Maps App

Say Hello to the New Google Apps Map

Google introduces an incredibly captivating advertisement, promoting their Google Maps App. The fast paced music animates the audience from its beginning. Moreover, the images on the screen are synched with the beat of the song, whose main theme is to move around; “Get up, get down, everybody’s gonna move their feet, everybody’s gonna leave their seat!”

Its outstanding aspect lies in the interactivity the ad offers. The audience is the protagonist, instead of some supermodel or superimposed actress. We arrive at an airport, get in a cab while opening our Google maps app. The words “Explore” pioneers a variety of categories; and, as we scroll down we decide to “play.” We go to a baseball game, hop on a train, go to a concert, go to a bar; essentially, the ad conveys everything the app allows one to do in a single day, no matter the time. At the end, after a game of pool at a bar and a motorcycle ride, a nice woman hands us a key and we go to our hotel room and crash on the bed. The genius aspect lies in simultaneously contextualizing the functions of the app within a mundane persons life. Many ads show how a product is relevant but fail to frame it in a way that could be relevant to everyone. This is the magic of the POV shot.

The only criticism against the ad is its pace as it could be too long for certain audiences to capture; the ad conveys 24 hours in less than 1 minute! The montage is simply spectacular. It targets a variety of audiences, conveys all the different things the app can do including satellite detection for traffic updates. People, beauty and sex are not the focus of the ad; the viewer is the subject and the montage of sights is the motivation.

Manitoba Telecom Services 3G Plus Network Ad

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4_zSQTlRNw

 

MTS is an Indian company that deals mainly with cell phones anything pertaining to that market. This commercial is meant to advertise their new 3G Plus Network and the speed it provides when surfing the web.

The commercial utilizes associational montage which occurs within the same shot. This type of montage is used to create some type of relationship between two different things. This commercial creates associational montage between technology and a new born baby. The baby delivers himself and immediately is able to start using the internet thanks to MTS’s fast, new network. The montage is effective in showing how fast both the baby and the 3G Plus Network are, but it also creates the idea that technology is so easy to use even a new born can use it. This is also made apparent in the baby moving from device to device to get what he needs. This movement between devices additionally shows that the MTS network can work across multiple devices.

The commercial has no dialogue, but it has a version of Diana Ross’s “I’m Coming Out” track playing in the background. While the commercial’s goal is not to create rhythm, it could certainly benefit from editing principles to match the track playing in the background. As it is, the advertisement does nothing to edit on the beat of the song. If the commercial was to make its cuts on-beat with the song, but offset the edit by two or three frames, the commercial would become more effective and better match the action to the music.

“La La La” (Brazil 2014) – A Visual Analysis

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-7knsP2n5w

“La La La” by Shakira (featuring Carlinhos Brown) was the theme song for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

Its music video’s editing effectively enhances the song’s lively, powerful beat. Researcher Carol Vernallis claims music video editing employs quick, noticeable and disjunctive cuts on the beat to emphasize the rhythm of the song (1). The video for “La La La” is a montage of clips cut in time to the song’s rhythm, further enhanced by a very slight offset between image and sound. The dancing, drum-beating and mouthing of lyrics are visual cues of movement that match the rhythm, and thus engage the viewer and maintain continuity throughout the video.

The people and animals running and acrobats flipping behind Shakira exemplify diegetic associational montage, whereby various images are juxtaposed within the same space to convey a meaning. They reflect both the energy of the song and the soccer event it represents. Moreover, the video features many famous soccer players, which can be considered a montage extension via celebrity endorsement. I am not as convinced by the colorful explosions (2:26), nor the ball shattering ‘glass’ (2:49), because these images appear to be more obviously computer-generated, which I think detracts from the nature-oriented, tribal themes in the video.

Generalizational montage is also applied, whereby the sequence of images of faces, bodies and flags of several nationalities conveys that “everyone” is involved. This successfully communicates the world coming together for the event, united by this common goal (pun intended).

Works cited:

(1) Vernallis, Carol. “The Kindest Cut: Functions and Meanings of Music Video Editing.” Screen Vol. 42. No.1. (2001): 21-48. Print.

So A Talking Pig Walks Into A Yoga Class…: CGI animation in Geico Advertisements

Geico Auto Insurance is well known for their animated Gecko mascot, who teaches audiences how to save money on insurance. The company’s advertisements are very brief, 30 second to one minute long, campaigns that are aimed at emphasizing different aspects about their insurance policies. Their main advertising strategy therefore utilizes the shifting trends in media compression, by placing more information into smaller spaces in order for viewers to process the main point before attention is lost.

The advertisement begins with human characters participating in a Yoga class. The first shot is a close up and head orient of a woman in the class, and then the camera pans out and follows the class from left to right. When the cell phone rings, instead of a human in the class answering it, a CGI pig jumps up and defies the assumption of the viewer. The omission of the pig in the beginning of the ad is meant to spark curiosity and hold attention, since his appearance goes against what is expected. The camera shot of the pig is from a very low angle and this emphasizes the superiority of the pig as he brags to the class about his better-quality insurance. These camera angles highlight the underlying contrast montage of the advertisement. Maxwell, the pig, is showing his advantage over others in the class, by using the Geico “claims status” report app. As he exclaims about receiving the message, his eyes shift from direct address to the audience to an off screen glace toward others in the studio. The other participants seem to bow their head in humiliation as he does this, showing their failure in contrast to the successful pig (and their annoyance for having his cell phone ring in class). The pig is completely photorealistic and fits into the environment perfectly with expertly crafted CGI effects. Although he is non human, his expression and movement are very realistic and convincing.

The digital creation of a pig, however, goes against people’s preference for neotneous faces, because he is shown with a large nose, small cheeks and small eyes. One thing that may have been more effective in the ad would have been to create a more adorable or neotenous pig that people would better relate to. However, overall the advertisement is effective in engaging the audience and teaching them about the benefits of Geico.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3HrqCgn_lE

Music video as an advertisement

A brand-new music group CNBlue, launched by FNC Entertainment, is designated to target young female audiences. This deliberately constructed music video of CNBlue’s very first single features a love story. The director bears a simple but practical goal in mind that the video aims to gain recognition of the new group by perfecting each part of the video making process.

The implementation of various camera angles during the shooting contributes close connection between CNBlue and viewers. The close-ups given to capture each member’s facial features from 1:15 mark straightforwardly and yet powerfully implant their visual masculinity into viewers’ impression. The close-ups also build an illusion that members and viewers are positioned in a close distance, arousing viewers a sense of proximity. Director also shoots the lead singer from a frontal view as if he was directly singing to viewers. This subjective camera brings viewers into a collaborative environment where the reality interacts with the fantasy.

The post-production moreover strives to enhance favorability of CNBlue. Director fast cuts scenes of members wandering on the street. This technique obscures the continuity of the narrative but grants excitement during the watching. Furthermore, while music alone fails to convey rhythm, group members’ movement in conjunction with the background lighting on-and-off on-beat indulges viewers into a rhythmic dynamic ambient. The exploration of rhythm consolidates the pleasing watching experience. The synchronization and speedy editing altogether subconsciously transform the pleasure of watching the video into the favorability of the group, piling up more layers onto CNBlue’s attractiveness.

Overall, this music video barely works as an illustration of the music itself. Per se, it is an advertisement selling the charisma of each member, thus successfully promoting recognition of the new group in the competitive Korean music market.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_500iqJggs0

Analysis of “Never Catch Me” Music Video

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lXD0vv-ds8

“Never Catch Me” is a recent hit musical collaboration between Producer Flying Lotus and Grammy-nominated Rapper Kendrick Lamar, but the mise-en-scene of the video is a product of Director Hiro Murai’s Imagination.

Every individual shot reflects the concept of death in the minds of children and adults in at least an indirect manner. However, the video as a whole ends up teaching the audience much more about present life than the afterlife. As the music begins to play, we see somber onlookers, all adults, who have come to pay their respects to a boy and a girl, immobile in their coffins, that have lost their lives at a very unlikely age for an unknown reason. If it weren’t for the upbeat instrumental and vocals and the beautiful setting of the church, then the combination of the slow camera pans, dim lighting, and dark colors would make the video unbearably depressing. When the faces of the children are finally revealed, they spring up out of their coffins and begin a 2-part choreographed dance sequence, broken up only by a blissful, slow motion sprint through the shaded halls and rooms of the church and outside. As the mourners continue to look forward as if nothing is happening, the audience becomes aware that the children are heading to the afterlife. The choreo ends after the children dance in the midst of other children that are playing jumprope who are also presumably dead, then our main characters jump into a hearse and drive off into the sunset.

The music video does an outstanding job of using emphatic slow motion and montage to make clear the juxtapositions between the uplifting music along with the huge smiles on the dancing children’s faces and the dull expressions and visuals of the church and their relation to death. The people perched in the pews, although they are alive, seem to have absolutely no life in them at all; they are crying, have their heads down, and are obviously under a lot of stress. The two dynamic dancers, however, seem more alive than they ever could have been as they prance through the church and outside with the utmost joy, communicating that they are happy to have passed away. Unlike the people who are alive, they no longer have to deal with the pain that is in this world and can move on to paradise. In reality, younger people don’t consider the issue of death with as much gravity as adults do simply because they can’t comprehend it as well as more mature adults can, and “Never Catch Me” touches on that idea, especially because adults are the only ones seen in the pews. Yet, the title itself seems to suggest that children have the right idea about death, although they may not realize it; life is rough, and all people suffer in it. If one cannot know true joy until he or she has suffered, then it only makes sense that true joy can only be achieved in the afterlife. The slow motion effect and montage superbly portray that the children are happy to have reached the afterlife, so much so that they will keep running, just to ensure that the tribulations of the world will never catch them again.

Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric – Ad Analysis

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xHO0IqDJ_uo

Sega recently released Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric for the Nintendo Wii U. The game’s advertisement is strong overall with dynamic editing and diverse shot content.

The majority of shots in the advertisement are cut together in rapid succession, with many shots only lasting a few seconds each. Studies have shown that this kind of rapid editing leads to greater viewer excitement than if the advertisement had fewer cuts and longer shots.

The edits also create a varied montage spanning the different scenarios that arise in the game. If the shots show Sonic doing enough different things, the montage will lead viewers to generalize that they can do anything in the game, an effect that is called generalization montage. With shots of Sonic running on water, zip-lining through the air, piloting ships and submarines, and using numerous attacks and weapons on assorted enemies, the advertisement achieves this level of variety.

Another ingredient in this advertisement is the power of omission. The cliffhanger ending heightens viewer interest by leaving the rest up to the imagination, and the only way to find out what happens next is to play the game.

There are downsides to these editing decisions, however. A number of the shots are cutscenes rather than gameplay footage. This distinction, combined with the brevity of each shot, means that the viewer gets a less clear sense of what it would be like to actually play the game than if there had been fewer cutscenes and longer gameplay shots. This tradeoff seems to be deliberate though, since it allows the advertisement to effectively heighten user excitement and curiosity.

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