Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Narrative Theory

Narrative theory within films is the way in which films meanings are conveyed and how stories are constructed. There are numorous theories with different ways films are structured to tell a story, these are Levi Strauss' Binary Oppositions, Vladimir Propp's Seven Spheres of Action and Tzvetan Todorov's 5 Stages of action. All of these are different but all are used in the process of creating a film with a solid narrative behind it.

Levi Strauss - Binary Oppositions.

The theory of Binary Oppositions is all to do with story lines being built up around opposites. For example, Romeo & Juliet, the opposite here being love and hate, the love between Romeo and Juliet and the hate between the Montagues and Capulets. He argues that all films are based around the conflict between binary opposites, some more examples of these opposites are:

  • Good Vs Evil
  • Human Vs Nature
  • Black Vs White
  • Protagonist Vs Antagonist
  • Man Vs Woman
  • Peace Vs War

Vladimir Propp - Seven Spheres of Action

Vladimir Propp states that there are seven spheres of action to every film, these are types of stock characters that are present in all films. These characters are, the Hero, the Villain, the Donor, the Helper, the Princess, the Dispatcher and the False Hero. Each of these have their conventions that are met within films. These are as follows:

  • Villain - Fighting, Action, Creates narrative complication
  • Donor - Gives magical agent or helper which helps in resolution of the narrative.
  • Helper - Aids the Hero, makes good a lackm rescues from pursuit, solves difficult tasks, transforms the hero.
  • Princess - Threatened by villain, needs to be saved, assigns difficult tasks, give princess away at the end.
  • Dispatcher - sends the hero on his task.
  • Hero - Aims to resolve complication, departs on search, reacts to the donor, attempts difficult tasks, restores equilibrium, 'marries the princess'.
  • False Hero - Unfounded claims to hero's sphere of action, appears to be good, turns out bad.

Tzvetan Todorov - 5 Stages of Action

Here is an image showing a brief description of Tzvetan Todorov's 5 Stages of Action.

His narrative theory suggests that there are 5 different stages of conventional narrative, these are, State of equilibrium, disruption of equilibrium, recognition of equilibrium, attempt to repair disruption and new equilibrium. Essentially it is a more complex version of the beginning, middle and end theory for film. An example of this is Avengers: Age of Ultron, the state of equilibrium being where Ultron hasn't been announced, the disruption of this equilibrium is when he enters the film, the recognition is where the avengers first meet Ultron, the repairing of the disruption is the avengers fighting Ultron and his army and the new equilibrium is when they beat him.

Music Video Styles

Music videos can support and portray the message of a song, or can be completely abstract and subject to each viewer. They can have an independent narrative unrelated to the music, or can even be animated typography of the lyrics, there is no correct method or rules for producing music videos, however every different style and genre of music has its own style and genre of video with it. That is why videos that are the same genre tend to have similar music videos.

A few distinctive styles of music videos are:

Studio Performances

A music video that is shot entirely or mostly in a controlled environment with lots of props, costumes, maybe green screens and artificial lighting. Usually these types of music video don't gave a true narrative, but rather just add a visual experience to the music without much meaning. They are mainly simple, fun and easy to make. An example of this is Rhianna's 'You Da One'


These music videos are very abstract and almost always make absolutely no sense and may or may not have a relation to the music itself. These videos are very artistic and creative and normally contain a mixture of live footage and animation to add surreal effects or distortion. They appear to be influenced by visions or dreams. An example of this is Pendulum's 'Salt in the Wounds'

Interpretative/ Impressionist

Interpretative music videos are where the lyrics for the song tells you exactly what is going on in the music video, For example, the Lonely Island 'Im on a Boat'. This music video is all about them being on the boat and the lyrics for this song describe what is going on in almost every shot of the video. All these kinds of music videos are interpretations of the music, that is why they're called Interpretative music videos.


Animation based music videos are simply partially or entirely animated music videos. This style of music video is usually cheaper to produce since it is entirely digital, and props, venues, cameras and other equipment aren't needed.  This style of music video can also compliment a song as it may suit its mood, or can attract their target age group. An example of this is Gorillaz 'Feel Good' as a band their music videos are always animated so they are a prime example of animation music video artists.


Narrative music videos are where the artist tries to convey the meaning of their song through the video itself. This can be shown through a literal representation of the lyrics or a metaphorical one. In some cases it can even be a story line like video, but have no link to the lyrics, just the meaning behind the song. An example of this is Rhianna's 'Unfaithful'


Parodies are almost always fan made comedies ridiculing a song, changing the lyrics to mock the artist that sings it. These can come in any style of music video (Narrative, Animation ect) they are often similar to the original music video. An example of someone who makes parodies is Bart Baker, a YouTube artist, he brings out multiple videos a month, all parodies of new songs that have been released.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Artists Style & Image

For my final music video I have decided to recreate Muse's Panic Station. With this I am going to explain their style and how it effects their public image.

Muse are an English rock band, originating from Devon formed in 1994. The band consists of Matthew Bellamy, Christopher Wolstenholme and Dominic Howard. They are known mainly from their over the top and exaggerated live performances.

Currently Muse have six albums, and a seventh one releasing this year. They have released 4 live albums and are consistently creating soundtrack for film. One of their most recent film soundtracks was for World War Z with the song Panic Station.

As a band their style constantly changes, after 6 albums they have covered music genres ranging from rock, electronica, dub step, funk, film scores and space rock. They are very flexible with their music style and as a result have gained a huge fan base, ranging from older men and women and younger generations.

In terms of Muses look, they don't really fit their alternative rock genre, they normally are seen wearing smart/casual attire which shows they don't really think they need to dress differently depending on their music. This is probably due to the fact that they are confident that their music is enough to sell their image to the right audience, rather than having to put on a false facade to attract more publicity.

In particular, their music video Panic Station is extremely random and entertaining. The costumes and colours that are present in this video show how they are not orientated by their music image and they really are secure when it comes to their style. It also reflects their attitude towards their music, this album specifically.

Thursday, 7 May 2015


Cinematography - Cinematography is the art of capturing images during the creation of films. A cinematographer would be in charge of all lighting and camera aspects, organising settings of the lighting and the angles of the shots. A cinematographer needs a keen eye for shots that are visually appealing and hold further meaning rather than just for looks, although appearance is slightly more important. The different shot types that they would use would often tell its own story, for instance, a dolly shot is usually to set the scene or follow an actor, as seen in almost any film imaginable, a
specific example:

Within this scene it is clear that the dolly shot is used to show some sort of transition, or it could be the marking of someone else walking through the door. Another shot type is a tilt shot, this is where the cameraman experiments with panning vertically rather than horizontally, as seen in the image below.

Rule of Thirds -

Rule of Thirds is where there is a 3 x 3 grid over an image. This has 9 equal squares which help to place the certain aspects of the image. For example, in a scene where two characters are speaking, they don't necessarily have to be in the same take as each other. What the film maker would do is film the characters at different times, but have on on the far side of the left grid, and the other on the far side of the right grid. On the right is a landscape shot of a tree. The grid shows how the camera has taken the image and made the tree and the other main parts of the image fit into the 9 squares. The significance of using the Rule of Thirds is really shown when it comes to close ups of someones face. When taking a close up shot of a face, people use the rule of thirds to make sure that the face is proportionate to the shot, and that certain facial features are in the right part of the grid. For example, someones nose would normally be within the centre of the grid, and if that is the case then the shot is most likely centre.

180 degree rule -

The 180 Degree Rule is a basic filmmaker guideline on the on-screen positioning of the characters in the scene. There is an imaginary line, called the axis, this is where the actors would stand. By doing this, no matter where the camera is on that arc, the first character will always be frame right of the second character. This is important for the film maker because they can then portray different sides of a story in the same scene. An example of this is Peter Jacksons Lord of the Rings films, where Gollum has a conversation with himself. The use of the 180 degree rule in this scene helps the director show Gollums different characteristics, so when he is playing the good Gollum he faces left, and when he is the bad gollum he faces right.