From the music video Hung up by Madonna, the audience can easily be enchanted by its happy, relaxed and joyful atmosphere. When the music begins playing, Madonna starts dance along with the music rhythm in front of the mirror in the dancing classroom. Couple with the melody, the video displays her graceful dance and inserted into some other dance of the people who are from different professions in different places. They complete the dance together. The whole MV has a very good idea. At the very beginning of the MV, the scene of Madonna taking off her clothes was filmed from a distant view gradually to the close. Then there is a close –up shoot, the scene slowly moves with the hand switching on, after that the music really begin. When the prelude plays, Madonna begins to do some simple dance movements. And she really begins to show the dance when the song starts. The good points I think in this Video is the collocation of character and music, and the description of dancer’s movement, which used distant shot that make the dance clearly display. For example, at 3’10’’, the shoot of Madonna’s walk scene is from distant to close and then focus on her face. And then with her steps the shoots draw back slowly. When she makes a circle, there appears a full view. The photography is very smooth. But the bad points I think is that, some time the scene changes from Madonna’s close-up shoot to the other dancers’ distant shoot suddenly, which made me feel wild. And at 3’30’’, I think the shoots in the metro are not very good. Because the space is limited, the seats in carriage are separated into two sides, there are always some people can just appear head or parts of body. At the end, Madonna stands in the crowd that it is hard to distinguish her from the others. It looks a little disorganized even used close-up shoots because of the others’ frequent interference.
One of the most famous Japanese music videos, and, by definition, advertisements, is “PONPONPON” by Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. Known on the internet as an annoying song akin to “Nyan Cat”, and often some Westerners’ first introduction to the surreal world of Japanese media, this song’s music video is a shining example of Japanese media’s mastery of catching viewers’ attention. The combination of surreal, often absurd, content, which is proven to be preferred by audiences, and fast-paced nondiegetic montage made of completely unrelated images makes Japanese advertisements puzzlingly captivating.
“PONPONPON” starts in complete silence, cutting every few seconds to show more and more confusing images. The singer’s shorts are covered in eyes and her microphone appears out of someone’s pink-skinned ear, creating a surrealist setting worthy of Salvador Dali. Yet it isn’t creepy or dark, but obnoxiously bright with a normal pop music beat. If you turn on English subtitles, the words are as slightly understandable as an American pop song. “PONPONPON” is a nondiegetic montage in multiple dimensions – it’s a montage of normal lyrics with surreal images that don’t “advertise” anything in the song, the images are morphed montages in themselves (at one point there is are skeletons and ducks with designs and accessories), and the images behind the singer in each cut have nothing to do with each other.
As much as this video confuses, it is also somehow inexplicably entertaining. The viewer simultaneously wants to plug their ears but also watch what crazy thing might appear next. It is incredibly effective in selling its product, the song, because you keep watching and sharing it with friends, even if you don’t like it. The success of this technique in Japan hasn’t gone unnoticed either – nondiegetic montage has been around in American media for a while, but the surrealism in advertising is evident everywhere from non sequitur Superbowl commercials to bubblegum-pop Katy Perry music videos.
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.
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.
“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).
(1) Vernallis, Carol. “The Kindest Cut: Functions and Meanings of Music Video Editing.” Screen Vol. 42. No.1. (2001): 21-48. Print.
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.
“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.
Enhancing the perception of rhythm in music videos allows the audience to “feel” the music. In Taylor Swift’s music video for her song, Blank Space, many techniques were used to enhance the perception of rhythm. First, the majority of the music video’s scene changes or cuts were synchronized with the beats of the song. Placing cuts on-beat, as opposed to off-beat, is usually more effective in enhancing rhythm through the audience’s visual and hearing senses. In an exceptional case, placing cuts on off-beats is effective in promoting a sense of rhythm when the cut precedes the actual beat. Indeed, some cuts were made on off-beats, and were effective because they preceded the actual beat. Second, the cuts were synced with multiple beats throughout the song. Matching multiple beats is better than matching only a few beats when trying to enhance rhythm. Furthermore, the cuts were synced with different beats in each measure, inconsistently falling on the first, second, third, and/or fourth beats. Lastly, Taylor Swift is shown singing in the music video with her lips moving to the words of the song. Essentially, movement to the beat of the music within scenes, rather than no movement, enhances the sense of rhythm. For instance, at 2:30 in the video, rhythm can be felt through watching Taylor Swift destroy the shirt to the beat of the music. Ultimately, Taylor Swift’s Blank Space music video is edited very well to enhance the perception of rhythm and allows the audience to “feel” the music.
Comm 262: Visual Communication
Second Paper Assignment
YouTube Advertisement: Beyonce’s Flawless (Remix) ft. Nicki Minaj
Beyonce’s Flawless (Remix) music video featuring Nicki Minaj is an exciting performance from Beyonce’s On the Run concert tour in Paris. It is also a video that can be considered an effective use of digital editing. Though there are moments in this video that exemplify effective digital editing, there are also moments at which it could have been better not to edit.
Effective Editing Moments
Video-audio sync – when the editing on screen follows patterns in the audio track – is one example of effective editing in Flawless (Remix). This video edits on the beat of the music, which conveys a strong sense of rhythm for the audience. Such editing is effective because audiences tend to prefer editing that matches the beat of the music (demonstrated in a Phillips-Silver study). Examples of editing on-beat occur in the first 45 seconds of the video, where there are several quick cuts that match the beat of the song. Additionally, around 1:22-1:35 the video cuts to the beat of the drum.
Another form of effective editing in this video is the quick editing speed. Fast-paced editing is considered more effective than slow-paced editing because it increases the video’s excitement and increases the audience’s interest in the video (shown in a study by Kraft). Flawless (Remix) does a good job capturing the excitement of the concert by cutting between close-ups of Beyonce’s face, Beyonce and her dancers, the big screen and the audience. A particularly compelling use of quick cuts occurs at 2:10-2:30, when there are cuts between wide shots of the entire stage and close-ups of Beyonce’s face. The continuity of motion throughout the editing of this moment is (please excuse the pun) flawless.
But sometimes it’s better not to edit…
There are instances when editing detracts from on-screen visuals. One such instance is performances, in which editing may obscure the performance. This is especially pertinent for dance performances: cuts during an intriguing dance can cause frustration in the audience, who is subsequently unable to see the visual as it is happening. Because Beyonce’s performance includes dance sequences, particularly within the last minute of the Flawless (Remix) video, that last minute would have benefitted from no editing.
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Beyoncé Knowles is no stranger to successful, viral videos, and her 2011 music video for Countdown is no exception. In the song, Beyoncé professes her love for her husband and her excitement for the future, as they expect their first child. The music itself is incredibly upbeat drawing on many musical styles which makes the song feel both retro and modern. The song’s fast pace and optimism is reflected in the videos impressive use of editing and nostalgia.
The video editing is precise, incredibly fast, and aesthetically captivating. The attention to detail is noticeable within the first few seconds of the video where even Beyoncé’s blinking seems purposefully timed to the beat. The speed of the cuts is very intense and cuts are often made between every beat. According to a psychological study by Robert N. Kraft, the speed of the cuts makes the video more interesting, more active and stronger. Additionally, the editor adds to the action by successfully using split screens, at times having up to 9 separate videos playing simultaneously. All this, combined with the video’s use of bright, saturated colors, creative costumes and rhythmic movement adds to the video’s upbeat and optimistic atmosphere.
The video also relies on nostalgia to induce positive feelings in the viewers. The video uses many noticeable pop culture references, such as Audrey Hepburn’s black outfit from Funny Face. Additionally, Beyoncé and her fellow dancers wear outfits reminiscent of the 60’s and 80’s. This all contributes to a sense of wistfulness for the perceived optimism and brightness of the past. As we know, nostalgia is an effective advertising tool and one could argue that it would be especially effective here due to the video’s release during the 2011 financial crises.
Overall, the proficient use of editing and nostalgia in Countdown contribute to the video’s upbeat nature and the song’s positivity.