“Titanfall: Life is Better with a Titan” Ad Analysis

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This ad for the videogame Titanfall is a great example of how computer-generated imagery can be added to a real-world scene to create a diegetic montage.  The visual of the Titan (a giant mech suit) following our “protagonist”, along with the excellent choice of song (“Me And My Shadow” by Frank Sinatra), does a great job of portraying the idea behind the main gameplay concept.  Players in Titanfall can call in Titans at any time during a round, at which point the Titan drops from the sky at high velocity.  The player can then choose to pilot the suit themselves or have the suit follow them around.  Both options are shown in this trailer without a single word of explanation, allowing the visuals to explain these ideas to the audience.

Together the music and visuals combine to form an excellent analogical montage.  “Like the seashore clings to the sea, like you’ll never get rid of your shadow”, the lyrics go, you’re Titan will follow you wherever you go, fighting at your side.  By having these mech suits be diegetic elements you get a sense for how powerful they are as they crash through buildings and stomp down the street.  The Sinatra track used in this setting, and the whole ad in general, comes across as quirky, and when the tagline—Life is Better with a Titan—finally pops on screen, it sells the idea that this game is bouncy, light-hearted, and, most importantly, fun.

Audio-syncing Dance Moves

 

Beyonce’s 7/11

As one of the top artists in the world, Beyonce can get away with about anything in her career.
Earlier this year, she dropped her entire new album unannounced. Every song on the album had a full length music video already produced as well which was released at the same. Acting in a completely different manner, earlier this month Beyonce release a music video for 7/11, a song off her upcoming album.

The music video starts with a view of Beyonce appearing to turn on the camera as the music starts. The scene is a hotel balcony and the music video follows Beyonce dancing through various parts of the apartment.

The feel of the video appears to be iphone aesthetic. It does not seem to be shot on high tech cameras and at 2:57, the camera shoots from a high angle and spins around with Beyonce as she appears to be holding the camera above her head. These techniques plus the casual clothes and feel of the music video, allows the audience to identify with Beyonce. On the surface level, everything happening in the video appears to be things the audience could do at home.

The post production however, contradicts that casualness. There is much more editing within scenes that between scenes in this music video. The rhythm of the music video is achieved with this editing. Scenes of Beyonce dancing are edited to audio sync with the music. The changes in Beyonce’s dance moves, not changes in scene or camera, are sync to the music creating a slightly disorienting effect as it appears Beyonce is moving as though being fast forwarded. With the dance moves themselves also syncing to the music (When the lyrics, for example, say clap, Beyonce is seen clapping) allow the music video to have a full sense of rhythm. The excellent and fast paced editing makes this video very engaging for the audience.

Becoming one of them in “The Last of Us”

Surrealism and the blurring of reality has become a common trait in video game advertisments.  While many of these ads use purposefully jarring images such as live actors taking part in unreal or violent acts, the newest spot for the post-apocalyptic PlayStation 3 game “The Last of Us” uses very subtle techniques to sell the immersive experience of their game. As the voiceover describes a dystopian world, the ad cuts between a close-up of a live actor (the gamer) and dynamic scenes from the videogame. At first it would appeared that these scenes belong to separate worlds. However with each cut back to the actor, he becomes increasingly haggard and morphs into one of the characters featured in the video game, making it clear that the ad is actually a diegetic montage, meaning that the intercut scenes belong to the same world. This connection is further established when it is revealed that the narrator is a young girl featured in the video game and walks into the now transformed gamer’s frame.

This technique is extremely successful in promoting the realistic and immersive qualities of the game. By slowly and seamlessly morphing the live actor into one of the characters, the ad puts on display the game’s computer-generated imagery (CGI), which is of high-quality and desirably realistic. However, the ad could have benefitted from more video game scenes shot from the subjective camera or perhaps behind the character which studies have shown to be the most exciting angle to play video games .

Ariana Wants Hard Love

Ariana Grande, The Weeknd – Love Me Harder

The biggest problem with Ariana Grande’s new video has to be the lack of the extremely predictable, one-on-one love scene between the leading vocalists. This problem in no way detracts from the video’s quality, but may however disappoint a few of Ariana’s fans. In fact, the only moment we see both Ariana Grande and Abel Tesfaye together onscreen they face opposite directions and stand back to back, which seems somewhat ironic for lyrics that scream sex. Thus, the music video successfully sparks viewers’ curiosity and encourages fans to personalize the narrative through the omission of a hot and steamy sex scene. One is able to fill in the very explicit blanks through the music video’s use of propositional montage to create an analogy between the climactic act of lovemaking the tumultuous thunder against a stormy sky. The montage alternates between shots of Ariana Grande insinuating passion, love, and sex, and shots of stormy clouds rolling in, lighting bursting through the sky, and a clear, vibrant sunset. The result is the insinuation that the lyrics are in fact reality, achieved by placing two things that occur in the story and exist in the same space, in comparison to one another. This technique is commonly employed to tastefully allude to sex scenes or romance. Ariana Grande, therefore, does is able to avoid from any accusations that she has compromised her integrity as an artist my making hasty attempts of growing up too fast.

Gaga’s “Telephone”: Dance, Homicide, and Editing

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Lady Gaga is known for her extensive and lengthy music videos that are often confusing and jarring to viewers. In “Telephone (featuring Beyonce),” Beyonce gets Gaga out of jail and the two embark on a journey to a diner. They proceed to poison everyone in the diner, and then flee the scene. For the purpose of an accurate analysis of a nearly ten-minute video, this post will focus on roughly two minutes of the video, from Beyonce’s verse [5:30] to when the song resumes [7:40].

The entire video is an example of video-audio sync, which refers to the process of matching up what the audience sees with what they hear; this is what a music video does for songs. There are edits throughout the clip on the beat, which serve to enhance the rhythm of the pop track. During Beyonce’s verse and the chorus, there also are instances where clips are slightly rewound and repeated to match the rhythm of the song. This portion also contains an instance of a split-screen; when Beyonce is sitting in the diner across from her boyfriend, there is a close-up of her face and a montage of her with Gaga in the kitchen. In doing this, a same-time, different place transition is in effect. The audience is able to understand clearly how the two characters are connected and are part of the same story – in this case, together on the killing that is soon to happen. Not surprisingly, product placement is also present in the video; Gaga uses a Polaroid camera in the car and Miracle Whip mayonnaise in the kitchen scene. Music videos often contain some sort of subtle product placement, and in this case, they are featured prominently.

While Gaga is in the kitchen preparing the food for the diners, there is a dance break featuring her and her backup dancers. The dance moves are less impressive because of the editing; because there are so many cuts in the video, the viewer cannot fully appreciate what the dancers are doing. It is less notable than, for instance, a dance video with a single take; because of the edits in “Telephone,” one does not know the amount of takes or editing.

More often than not, Gaga’s videos are more than double the length of the song itself and contain a narrative. This requires a great deal of editing, and in turn, much puzzlement and analysis required on the part of the audience.

 

Lana Del Rey Music Video Analysis

In 2012 artist Lana Del Rey released the music video for the song National Anthem. The music video is dually focused on the assassination of John F. Kennedy and recreations of Kennedy home videos. Anthony Mandler, who directed the video, incorporated varying narrative montage, filming, and editing length techniques that transport the viewer into the dream like world of the Kennedys.

The main goal of this music video was to transport viewers to the past. The first way Mandler successfully executed this goal was by alternating between including and excluding Video Audio Sync. Video Audio Sync, as shown in the Phillips Silver Study, concludes that viewers enjoy content more when cuts in a video are in sync with the audio. Instead of using this technique throughout the video Mandler only used this technique when Del Rey was the only person in a scene. In the scenes where Del Rey is not directly addressing the audience the cuts do not match the beat of the music. This is because these scenes are recreation of home videos and rapid cutting would diminish the realism of these scenes.

The next technique utilized by Mandler was variation in the speed of his editing. Fast paced editing is usually utilized in films because it increases confusion and captivates the viewer. In the majority of this film however, each scene is longer and there appears to be very few cuts. Excluding frequent cuts had two successful effects. First off it increased the authenticity of the “home videos” and transported the viewer into a dream like world. Secondly, when Mandler did include fast paced editing it made it more dynamic and noticeable to the viewer. As tension begins to grow in the “Kennedy” (around 3:54) the cuts become quicker and more obscure. These fast cuts indicate to the viewer that something bad is about to happen.

Realism is also enhanced in this video by Mandler’s use of varying lens lengths. By incorporating awkward transitions between close ups and long shots in the home video scenes it makes viewers feel like they are watching a video that was shot on a tri-pod.

The final aspect that added to the realism of the video and enhanced the overall entertainment of the video was the successful use of narrative transitions to signal flashbacks. Following the beginning Marilyn Monroe scene the camera transitions to images of JFK and Del Ray in their convertible, people screaming, and Del Rey in a rose garden. As the screams become quieter the images Del Ray in the garden become clearer. This technique signals a flashback from the day of JFK’s assassination to happier times in the past. This technique is then utilized in the end of the video to signal a return to reality.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxDdEPED0h8

In 2012 artist Lana Del Rey released the music video for the song National Anthem. The music video is dually focused on the assassination of John F. Kennedy and recreations of Kennedy home videos. Anthony Mandler, who directed the video, incorporated varying narrative montage, filming, and editing length techniques that transport the viewer into the dream like world of the Kennedys. The main goal of this music video was to transport viewers to the past. The first way Mandler successfully executed this goal was by alternating between including and excluding Video Audio Sync. Video Audio Sync, as shown in the Phillips Silver Study, concludes that viewers enjoy content more when cuts in a video are in sync with the audio. Instead of using this technique throughout the video Mandler only used this technique when Del Rey was the only person in a scene. In the scenes where Del Rey is not directly addressing the audience the cuts do not match the beat of the music. This is because these scenes are recreation of home videos and rapid cutting would diminish the realism of these scenes. The next technique utilized by Mandler was variation in the speed of his editing. Fast paced editing is usually utilized in films because it increases confusion and captivates the viewer. In the majority of this film however, each scene is longer and there appears to be very few cuts. Excluding frequent cuts had two successful effects. First off it increased the authenticity of the “home videos” and transported the viewer into a dream like world. Secondly, when Mandler did include fast paced editing it made it more dynamic and noticeable to the viewer. As tension begins to grow in the “Kennedy” (around 3:54) the cuts become quicker and more obscure. These fast cuts indicate to the viewer that something bad is about to happen. Realism is also enhanced in this video by Mandler’s use of varying lens lengths. By incorporating awkward transitions between close ups and long shots in the home video scenes it makes viewers feel like they are watching a video that was shot on a tri-pod. The final aspect that added to the realism of the video and enhanced the overall entertainment of the video was the successful use of narrative transitions to signal flashbacks. Following the beginning Marilyn Monroe scene the camera transitions to images of JFK and Del Ray in their convertible, people screaming, and Del Rey in a rose garden. As the screams become quieter the images Del Ray in the garden become clearer. This technique signals a flashback from the day of JFK’s assassination to happier times in the past. This technique is then utilized in the end of the video to signal a return to reality.

Montage in Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off”

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfWlot6h_JM

Pop star Taylor Swift has always been recognized for the personal nature and positive messages of her songs, and her recent “Shake It Off” is no exception. The music video for the self-empowerment song is characterized by multiple uses of montage, used to encourage the audience to “ignore the haters.” The video is comprised of Taylor dancing in various dance groups of different styles, from ballet to hip hop to modern dance. In each group, Taylor dances extremely awkwardly and mediocrely in the foreground, emphasized by the clear talent and professionalism of the other dancers in the background. The juxtaposition between Taylor and the other dancers in these scenes is an example of contrast montage, in which two visual elements are shown together to emphasize their differences. On the other hand, Taylor’s similar silly behavior in interacting with each different group in each scene is an example of generalization montage, in which multiple visual elements are shown together to emphasize a common theme despite their differences. Here, generalization montage is used to show audiences that they shouldn’t care what others think, regardless of the situation.

Toward the end of the video, a group of casually clothed, objectively normal-looking people are shown in a line with Taylor, dancing sillily and having a great time. The camera cuts from the line of them to multiple individual close-ups: this is yet another generalization montage showing people’s universal joy in dancing without a care of what other people think. Additionally, this scene differs from the previous shots of the professional group; yet again, contrast montage emphasizes how there is satisfaction in focusing on your own happiness rather than others’ approval.

“Greatness Awaits” for Sony with New PlayStation 4 Marketing Campaign

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOdW1OuZ1U0

Sony and PlayStation launched their “Greatness Awaits” marketing campaign for the new PS4 console in June 2013 with a thrilling live-action advertisement. Highlighting PlayStation as a brand, it incorporates many different aspects of gaming culture throughout. It features a main narrator that walks through the scene, speaking directly to the camera. The camera backs up with him and the viewer is able to see everything going on around him as new characters appear. You feel more engaged because he is looking at you. When he walks away and steps into the fighting sequence, we get a rear view shot of him, almost to give the effect that he is leaving you behind. If you don’t follow him right now and step into the world of PS4, you’ll be left out of the action. This is extremely effective in advertising to entice people to buy the product, as it inspires the viewer to want to get up and play immediately not only with dialogue, but with visual stimuli.

The final shot of the advertisement contains a propositional montage using generalization as it brings all of the worlds of PlayStation games together in one setting, and they all interact. The ad is exciting for die-hard PlayStation followers because they know a good portion of both the obvious and hidden game references that appear throughout, and they will be inclined to re-watch for things they might have missed. However, I did feel as though some images were unrecognizable, and could possibly be missed by even the most knowledgeable PS4 fan. Nonetheless, it is still very visually appealing for a non-gaming viewer because of the intriguing combination of special effects and reality. Overall I think the ad is strikingly well done; it is exciting, cohesive, and smart.

Building Momentum for the PS4

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4CDsTrSR8s&list=WL&index=195

The following TV spot aired earlier this year to build excitement for Sony’s Playstation 4 release in Japan. The PS4 is Sony’s latest gaming console, allowing players the ability to play new games with enhanced graphics and gameplay. Since the system had already been released in other countries, the ad used footage from other launch events to create momentum for Japan’s. However, it’s Sony’s execution and technique that allows the ad to excel.

The ad’s use of association montage is effective in manipulating the viewer’s feelings toward the product. In association montage, editing is used to place one image that produces a certain emotion in the viewer before or after an image of the product. This is done in hopes of making the viewer associate the product with that same emotion. In the PS4 ad, the editor put in footage of people smiling and jumping in excitement alongside footage of the system being played to get the viewer to feel that same excitement and joy for the PS4. In addition, the ad is also trying to create an association of universal and international connectivity with the Playstation brand. The ad has small clips of the globe and footage of different major cities placed between the shots of people and the games.

Another reason why this Playstation ad is successful in building momentum is in its editing. As the TV Spot progresses, the pacing, or amount of time between cuts, gets faster which causes the piece to become more exciting. The editing also keeps the video footage in sync with the audio rhythm. Each cut is made on beat with the song and as the song’s pace increases, so does the visual edit. This makes the piece more cohesive and evokes the desired energy and momentum that Sony wants associated with their new product.

Analysis By: Ivan Moutinho

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