The Known

My father entered the room but a few hours ago, sharing with me a dream. A dream in which he was followed by an excess of people as he walked. An eerie dream which he told me was called The Known.

So I thought it was a brilliant idea, and that I might turn it into a story.

Why were these people following him? The dream lacked an explanation, so we’ll never know. If I were to make a game, comic, or film about it; would we find out?

It does sound like a good idea for an ARG.

Time to get brainstorming…

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WordPress or Tumblr?

After about a year of using WordPress, very little entices me to stay. You have to pay annually to get your own domain mapped, as I have done. It’s free to do so on Tumblr. You have to pay to remove ads. There are no forced ads on Tumblr blogs. You would even get more control with a Blogger site.

ads tumblr
A free option of Tumblr’s that WP makes you pay for

Here’s a little list I’m about to brainstorm about why Tumblr is better than WordPress:

  • You can edit HTML for free on Tumblr, you have to pay with WordPress
  • There is a greater impression of community with Tumblr, giving you the freedom of choice to ‘reblog’, ‘like’ posts, or follow blogs if you wanted
  • Tumblr is completely free of gimmicks such as paying to remove ads, mapping domains, with the exception of ‘premium themes’
  • Tumblr is easier to use in my opinion, it has just as much flexibility as WordPress, if not more
  • In my opinion, even the ‘personal’ plan WordPress has is overpriced – why should I pay for these things when I can get it for free elsewhere?

So then, why should anyone choose WordPress? If you’re rich or a business; WordPress has more business tools to offer for people willing to pay for them. These are Search Engine Optimisation tools and other ‘plugins’ (like bolt-ons from your mobile phone provider). Oh and there was a Tumblr password leak years ago. Of course, this shouldn’t be a problem if you follow rule #1 of passwords; never re-use them.

Well that begs the question; why did you choose WordPress, Dufus?

Because after having used Blogger, then Tumblr, I felt like a change. Now I’ve experienced all the big three blog sites, I have to say that I feel Tumblr outdid the competition. However; I’ve done too much on this blog now to be able to move, unless I just copy all my posts over. It’d be a long process though.

Side Projects

I’ve mostly thought of myself as a graphics manipulator, but moreso in the moving kind. Before university, I photoshopped animal faces onto people heads, and now look where we are. Making flash games, physical collage softcover books, websites, and writing screenplays. It’s a broad area.

As I enter my final year of university, I’ve done a few things on the side for fun over summer. I have a few shared YouTube endeavours.

Fug Squad

Fug Squad Logo

One of them is a totally original gaming channel called Fug Squad, named after the meme with the walrus saying “fugg :DD”. You can find it in all its glory here.

We take turns to make spoofs out of our gameplay videos, hopping in-between games. No, we don’t monetise because that was never the aim. It’s a just 4 fun little-effort type of thing. This is one of the videos I made. I never claimed it was good.

Exploration HQ

Exploration HQ Logo

A more serious piece of work. Psuedodocumentary  series about urban exploration; looking at abandoned places and such. There’s clear improvement over the years. I recorded the footage on a camcorder or phone, then edited the clips using Adobe Premiere Pro and sometimes After Effects. For the more recent videos, I’ve added subtitles.

If your Galaxy device is rooted and can’t mirror (cast) its screen to another display, do this.

I have a Samsung Galaxy S7 Exynos. I found out that every time I wanted to cast my screen to my Amazon Firestick, it would tell me that mirroring has ended as soon as it starts. This is apparently a common problem with rooted devices. This may actually be a fix for other rooted Android phones as well.

Without fail, every time I tried mirroring my phone, I would see the words “display mirroring has ended”.

A simple fix for you might be to uninstall any other casting applications on your phone (like Allcast). If not, then follow the steps below:

  1. Download a build.prop editor from the Google Play Store.
  2. Open up that bad boy.
  3. Find a line that says “wlan.wfd.hdcp=enable”
  4. Change it to “wlan.wfd.hdcp=disable”

If the line does not already exist, make a new one at the end and type in “wlan.wfd.hdcp=disable”. This changes the behaviour of your wlan connectivity, and it fixed the screen mirroring issue for me.

This is how it looks for me:

Screenshot_20170927-200424

You will need to restart your phone before changes take effect.

You may need to use the preinstalled ‘Smart View’ Samsung app to use screen casting/mirroring.

While you’re at it, if you have not done this already, you may want to set your ro.config.tima=0 if it is set to 1. This tricks some older apps into thinking your device has not been rooted.

The reason I have posted this fix is because I cannot find it anywhere else, and is not an obvious one.

A plunge into Google Maps and its crowd-sourcing

capture3

Google is shutting down Map Maker next month. What now?

Almost every listing you see on Google Maps is crowd-sourced, with the rest being built through terrain data, satellite imagery, and bulk data bought from mapping companies. Most of the newer listings on the platform depend on the willing contribution from the public, a bit like Wikipedia and its articles.

Map Maker was introduced in 2008, and anyone could add, edit, or delete map listings in most places in the world. It allowed try-hard map editors to feel a sense of power in that they could change what everyone sees on Maps, but the most important part is that anyone’s 8 year old kid could do it too. This is why most edits had to go through a voting-phase before it was approved by the system, but some mishaps could slip through. For example; a few folks would always race to be the first to add a new listing and as a result, a bunch of duplicates would appear like below for a new car park.

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Three duplicates of the same place. One of them is humorously listed as a “Park & Garden”.

Now that Map Maker’s on its last legs, Google has started removing change logs in preparation for the move.

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There would usually be a list of changes, but it’s all going away.

Nevertheless, let’s take a look to see if it’s still possible to make changes just before its death. I’m going to attempt to fix the duplicate car park listings mentioned earlier. Usually my edits would go through instantly because the system trusts me, or at least it used to. I’m unsure how the algorithm works, but the first few times my edits would go through a user vote, but after a while I would receive emails straight away saying my edit was approved. It may have something to do with the ‘Local Guides’ badge on Maps, which you receive after making plenty of edits. An intangible reward for your free labour.

desktop-02-26-2017-08-13-59-01_1

desktop-02-26-2017-08-13-59-01_1

Sometimes your edit will go through instantly, other times it won’t. This means I’ll have to wait for an undetermined amount of time before the changes show, but I’ve seen cases where the change is stuck on pending forever. That’s right, if your change doesn’t get any votes, it will be in limbo until it receives at least two votes. But that’s about to change (apparently).

The company has spent the last few years slowly adding Map Maker-like features to the mainstream Google Maps. Although not as detailed or rich, one can find them by selecting a feature and going through “Suggest an edit”. Voila.

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Editing features through Maps itself is taking over from the depreciated Map Maker.

These edits are implemented based on whether other Map users agree or disagree with the suggestion you made. This feature is currently in beta for smartphone users, but it’s assumed that it will come to desktop users in the future. Whether or not people pay attention to it or even use the feature is another thing.

Many enthusiasts of Google products express concern over the company’s misdirection. Some fear that the tragedy that was the release of Allo and Duo isn’t over yet. For those who don’t know, the online community has criticised Google for not properly marketing its messaging apps, as well as releasing new ones when old, fully functioning ones still exist with the exact same features. The lack of marketing meant that its user base depended on word of mouth. There’s only one person in my contacts list who even uses Allo – and that took some convincing. With hope, this disaster won’t encompass the reshaping of Google Maps.

google-messaging-apps
Let’s hope this doesn’t happen across the board.

 

Sources:

Google (2012) The next dimension of Google maps. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMBJ2Hu0NLw (Accessed: 26 February 2017).

Image source: https://plus.google.com/+JRRaphael/posts/cT17fiupJyp

AS-level Coursework Production Report & Evaluation example 1650~ words

This is a B grade piece of coursework, so it’s by no means perfect. If you’re studying a similar AQA syllabus, hopefully this example will give you ideas and show you how to improve. I hit the word limit and waffled too much about things that don’t matter (e.g. implying why I decided to use the English language for a tourism magazine). For reference, I’ve included the cover and content pages in this post.

Cover newest as.jpg
Yeah, could’ve been better. Awful coverline design. Only good thing on this page is the unique masthead design.
CONTENTS newest as.jpg
The contents page. It’s alright. Of course, you have to use original photos which is something I realised I lacked far too late into the project, so I used bland photos I took on holiday. Not a flattering image of a ‘world-class beach’.

Below is the essay I handed in. Tenses have been mixed up. You’ll want to use past-tense, not future-tense as I mistakenly did in the introductory paragraphs. Don’t bold certain words either – this was done to help myself recognise keywords. It just looks odd and copy-pasted (even though it wasn’t).

Concept

The magazine is based on tourism in Vancouver, Canada because I took some original photos taken there that would suit the magazine. The pre-production and production will make use of codes and conventions commonly found in all magazines, e.g. cover lines, masthead, images, etc.

This project incorporates:

  • One front cover
  • One contents page
  • A double paged feature article

Natural landscape scenery of Vancouver is used as these aspects have been known to attract tourists and holidaymakers to a new region, which is the aim of the magazine in this case. The magazine is both informative; providing essential information to tourists and residents as well as persuasive, through the use of attractive imagery taken around the city.

Design, Research & Evaluation

I researched tourism and other magazines in order to identify how audiences are gratified by the manipulation of a magazine’s conventions relative to its target audience. Ideas conceived from exemplar magazines are cited in this report.

Front Cover

Background: an image of a mountain in Vancouver is included to attract the attention of tourists –Burnaby Mountain in the outskirts of Vancouver. The use of a nature shot brings out scenery in Vancouver that tourists will be able to visit for themselves, as if the magazine serves as a preview of Vancouver for tourists, which is a selling point found in all travel magazines. For example; in The Travel Magazine, an article describes the Dubai Eye, the largest Ferris wheel in the world in order to inform the audience of what to expect if they were to visit it. The ‘Ainu’ totem-pole like sculptures featured in the image are iconic in Vancouver as it is known to be a symbol of commemoration to the good will of its relation to early Japanese inhabitants, thus making the photo relevant on the topic of tourism. The image gives a positive representation of Vancouver in its natural attractiveness; most of the colours are a shade of green and blue, denoting a clean environment – which is favourable. Many magazines use an element of the background to overlap some of the magazine title; this is seen in an issue of ‘Travel Leisure’, which used a spire which overlapped the masthead for an artistic effect. At first I thought this effect was not necessary but since there was plenty of space for more emphasis on the totems; I enlarged one with a bear on top and layered it on top of the URL.

The masthead is always important because it allows the audience to create a reference to the magazine and thus retain it in their memory. A title with a bright, eye-catching front has been used so that consumers can distinguish it from other magazines on a shelf. The title of the magazine is ‘Vancouver Today!’ which draws in audiences through direct language. This idea takes credit from other texts with the word ‘today’ as an appended adverb.[1] I used a large, white, handwritten font with a shadowed background and is easily interpreted by the audience that the magazine is up to date with current events, news and information. Unlike the colour black, white is usually associated with positive connotations such as purity. The title is embellished with an underlining which is stylised to fit the layout of the title as well as the white clouds in the background; ‘today’ is placed to the bottom-right of ‘Vancouver’. The line allows the convenient separation of a URL (‘VAToday.ca’) to the magazine’s website, giving the audience access to the website to gain more information about Vancouver which gratifies them in doing so.

A sort of lure is included at the bottom of the cover within a red strip, which contrasts with the soft colours above, thus drawing the audience’s attention to it. It elucidates the special ‘anniversary edition’ of the magazine, implying that the magazine contains more content about Vancouver than typical issues, enticing the audience to choose the magazine over others on a shelf as more content would likely bring greater gratification to the audience. From my research, this is seen in an issue of ‘Q’, a music magazine where a red strip is used to emphasise ‘all the month’s albums, gigs, films & DVDs reviewed and rated’.

Cover lines are used to emphasise the issue’s best content and are placed to the right side in order to keep the totem poles in the audience’s view. These cover lines take a white font similar to Arial with a black stroke to make it easy to read against the background. Direct mode of address is used to draw the audience into indulging in some of the articles, the most prominent examples are “your ultimate guide to Vancouver” and “all you need to know about hiking.” The image was also flipped so that the cover lines could be aligned to the right. Even though audiences read left to right, having the cover lines on the right cause the totems to stand out more, seizing greater attention. An example of when cover lines are aligned to one side for focus on the background is seen in some issues of Newsweek. A main cover line is utilised – “Can you take on the Grouse Grind Mountain?” This is in reference to hiking, as mountains surround the city. This signifies that the magazine contains content about the mountain and scaling it, the audience is also addressed directly.

Contents Page

The contents page features a blue-purple gradient strapline, containing the header ‘contents’ with the magazine name included in its signature font along with the issue date in order to fill space with useful information. A simplistic colour scheme is used so that the readers are able to gather the information without being deviated by too many technical codes, a common technique found in most magazines.

The page titles and references are in a columned layout so that the reader can gather as much information about each of the pages as possible. Each page reference utilises a colour code for the separation of different topics, making it easier for the reader to differentiate information. Most page references come with a first line and sub-line. The purpose of the first line to capture the readers’ attention with a bold font and the sub-line provides specific detail about the article. From my research, this has been seen in ‘Vogue’ and ‘Psychologies Magazine’. This structured layout makes the information easy to read.

There are four images on this page; all originally taken in Vancouver and are used for a varied representation of Vancouver; a beach, a city, transport and a modernistic building implant the idea in the readers’ minds that Vancouver is a diverse city with many different features. This therefore reflects the magazine; diverse content about Vancouver to satisfy the reader. However, one thing I would have liked to change is the use of nature shots to replace the image of ‘Vancouver’s horizon’, which would have given a further diverse representation of the city and would have been more visually pleasing – however a lack of original photography prevented this. Therefore; an overall image of grey city is weighted on more than greenery – an even dichotomy of the two would have been preferable, so this is a weakness.

Anchorage is used in the image of the beach. The image serves as a ‘hook’ whilst the overlaid text serves provides an anchor to the meaning, making Vancouver seem desirable.

Inner Pages

A double-page feature article is used for production. The layout is derived, but variant from the magazine Supply Management, a professional magazine with a clean presentation to present informative content. I feel this suits my magazine because it includes informative and persuasive language, i.e. informing readers about the ‘2020 Action Plan’. Purple is used in the colour scheme (heading, text) to mirror the colour code given in the contents page.

The below paragraph doesn’t make make much sense to me. Now that I’m in university, I have no idea what point I was trying to explain or how it benefits the evaluation.

Information from the ‘City of Vancouver’ website was researched to help create an informative article, but is not copied word-for-word in order to keep content original (and to avoid plagiarism). This article revolves around factual information regarding Vancouver’s 2020 Action Plan which aims to make the city as sustainable as possible. I feel this is a suitable article for the magazine because it is on the topic of one of the government’s top priority campaigns, therefore being a relevant subject to the readers who would purchase the magazine.

An image is used to represent the verdure in Vancouver; a high-angle long shot of the ‘Vancouver Conservatory’ in order to reflect the efforts to “a greener city” as described in the article.

The main strength of these pages is the eco-friendly representation of Vancouver. Many people are open to the idea of a clean, environmentally friendly city, so this helps build toward the aim of a positive representation of the city.

Target Audience

Travel and tourism magazines attract the attention of ABC1 social grade tourists as a primary audience.

^This is a reference to the NRS social grades. I remember wanting to say this, but if I did then my work would’ve gone above the 1650 upper word limit. The solution to this problem would have been to get rid of all the other unnecessary information that didn’t enrich the report, like plenty of obsolete information in the following paragraph below.

Demographics

  • Location: Vancouver, where the magazine is based
  • Age: 16 – 65, anyone younger or older is likely to have less interest in travel/tourism
  • All genders
  • Various ethnicities

The audience is likely to have little to no disability as well as having an employment because the magazine contains a large fraction of information about activities and places that require movement and travel expenses. Vancouver is located in British Columbia, Canada in which most people speak English. English is also the third most spoken language in the world[2], so it is theorised that most people who purchase this magazine will be able to read in English with the exception of some extraneous visitors. I anticipate that readers will originate from England, Japan and America as most visitors I have observed are from these places. The Japanese are also well-known for contributing to Vancouver’s industrial evolution up until a few decades ago, so a large fraction of visitors are likely to be relatives of the Japanese industrial workers. C2DE social classes are unlikely to purchase this magazine as tourism implies large travel expenses.

Psychographics

  • Activities/interests: Hiking, politics, travelling, tourism
  • Behaviour/attitudes: Literate, positive attitude to activity

This magazine is aimed at any audience with an interest for tourism in Vancouver; therefore the reader is not anticipated to have any particular values, ideologies or culture.

[1] Seen in India Today

[2] Retrieved from Nationalencyklopedin “Världens 100 största språk 2007” The World’s 100 Largest Languages in 2007

How does Fish Tank challenge typical representations of gender? (A-level homework piece) 800~ words

This is a so-and-so homework essay typed up using examples looked at during lessons. It’s no masterpiece of course because it was only done for homework. The Point, Example, Explain structure has clearly been overused. Another problem is the flow of consciousness, there’s no clear paragraph structure and ideas have been typed out as they came to mind. The writer clearly didn’t take this work seriously and even made a reference to Othello as a joke (which reading back on, wasn’t funny at all).

How does Fish Tank (2009) challenge typical representations of gender?

Representation is defined as re-presenting something in a particular way or as being of a certain nature. Media representations have been known to have a powerful influence on society’s ideologies and hegemonic values, they shape the way we think about issues, events and ideals among other things. Gender in the media has a variety of portrayals and attitudes to gender segregation have diminished over time, leaving less divide over male and female representations. However; gender stereotypes still exist and are used in the media industry mostly as a form of entertainment whereas countertypes are used for other purposes, predominantly as a device to attract audiences to the unusual convention as it deviates from the norm. Sometimes women are represented as sex objects to attract males or men as strong and charismatic, to attract females. In Fish Tank, the female director Andrea Arnold likely had a powerful influence on how gender was represented. Arnold’s films commonly explore female sexuality and Fish Tank is no exception, she excels in social realist dramas that are conventional in their working-class settings but her focus is refreshingly female. Accordingly; Arnold created Fish Tank with a mainly female perspective on an abused love relationship between a teenage girl and her mother’s older boyfriend.

Mia is in control of the narrative, being the protagonist we follow throughout the film she influences how the story pans out. She challenges female stereotypes by acting masculine, she is adventurous and overconfident, for example in the opening scene she is seen instigating violence amongst a group of girls dancing by head butting one of them in the face. Typically, young women as protagonists are seen as soft, caring and empathetic such as half of the characters in the television soap Eastenders and are only seen otherwise if they are antagonists such as the vampires in adventure film Van Helsing, making Mia a uniquely portrayed female antagonist. Mia is socially trapped and is used as an archetype for people who live in council estates. At one point when Connor is introduced, Mia is seen staring at Connor in relation to the female gaze theory. In a mid-shot; sunlight protruding from a window glistens against Connor’s body to sexualise him and to help the audience see from Mia’s perspective his attractiveness. Mia’s character is an undiscovered one in media and has a rare representation, although girls like her exist in real life, both in character and situation.

Connor is the first significant male character introduced and in the first half of the film, he is perceived as a hero. He is a father figure; good with children, polite and wealthy – almost the opposite of Mia who lives in poverty without a father. Like a Hollywood hero, Connor is an alpha male shown through his charismatic personality and almost depicts perfectness in a man. This sort of representation of a male early in the narrative leads the audience to believe he is the typical hero until certain scenes suggest he is taking advantage of Mia and her mother. As he is seen caring for Mia, the relationship between them becomes more palpable each time. For example; Connor earlier gives Mia a piggyback so she doesn’t have to walk on the cut on her ankle and then later, when he carries her to bed and takes off her trousers and tucks her in. Each of these scenes progressively become more intimate and is signified by the diegetic sound of intensified breathing this carries on until eventually the turning point is reached when Connor initiates intercourse with her. At this point, Connor is seen as a fiend who turned from hero to villain, sharing some similarity with Shakespeare’s play Othello. This goes against the norm that the wealthy, charismatic and handsome male remains heroic for the entire text, instead Connor uses these traits to take advantage of the family. It is unknown whether Connor had it planned from the beginning but it is likely since he already had a woman and child in his life.

Billy is first introduced as a minor character when Mia attempts to free a horse from captivity next to a caravan owned by a group of ‘pikeys’. In this scene, two of the boys abuse her, push her around, take her bag and carry her as if to perform a malignant act on her but she manages to escape. After a failed first attempt to free the horse, Mia turns up again and this time Billy confronts her. Unlike his brothers, Billy is sympathetic and more sensible, suggesting that the younger you are the more innocent you are. This gives evidence that there are certain overt characteristics that can be attributed to a character of either gender, in this case being empathy attributed to age rather than gender unlike in other media texts where empathy is typically associated with females.

A project of mine (YouTube Channel)

Here’s something I like to work on in my spare time and when I’m bored. It’s an urban exploration YouTube channel that a friend and I started in sixth form in 2014. Since then, we’ve made a few videos and you can see how they’ve improved over time. You have to start somewhere.

urbexers
Screenshot of the channel

Videos:

What do I use to edit these videos?

I use Adobe Premiere Pro CS6. Or if I’m using a university computer, I hop onto the CC version. I used to use Sony Vegas, but I ditched that because Adobe is generally accepted as the overlord of editing media content, and is also beheld as a more professional editing suite. If I really wanted to, I could use After Effects to create better visual effects, but these aren’t necessary for pseudo-documentary type of internet videos.

How much money went into this thing?

Not a lot actually. I already had an old camcorder called the Sony HDR-CX115E from a second-hand shop. I think it cost about £180 at the time. I’ve started using my phone instead; modern smartphones make very decent videos and it’s now even better than my old camcorder. We all chipped into the project by buying our own equipment. Torches, respirators, etc. As for the video editing software? You know how it is.

My advice

I actually used this channel in a university interview and I have to say; they were impressed. It seemed like I knew more about the program than ther interviewer did as well. Call me a bragger, but I couldn’t think of any other sixth form student who made videos as high quality as these. It showed that I was genuinely interested in the subject I wanted to do.

As for advice for doing this sort of thing yourself? Get motivated. If you don’t have any friends who would do this with you, do it yourself. You know the saying; “if you want something done, you’ve got to do it yourself.” Just watch other internet videos and copy them – but make them into your own creation. That’s what I did. Think of it as market research. You’d also want to hop on a good username for your stuff and grab it quick. We made the mistake of choosing the name Medway Urbex and then deciding we wanted to expand it outside of the Medway towns. We changed it a couple more times before we settled with Exploration HQ. We managed to change some of our URLs, but not all of them. Now we’re stuck with a YouTube channel that has “medwayurbex” and “ministryofexploration” as custom URLs but not “explorationhq” as with our facebook and twitter pages.

If you actually go ahead and make a YouTube thing (as well as if you already have), please don’t go putting in pop music in your videos. Use a royalty-free library. Back in the day, the selection of music in royalty-free libraries were so bland and common I didn’t bother using them. I tried mixing the tempo and pitch of good songs owned by copyright-holders to cheat the system, but now they’re being picked up on. Over the past few months, more and more of our old videos have been flagged up by the automatic Content ID system. Just go with royalty-free music; there’s many good sounding copyright clean music out there nowadays, so there’s no reason not to.

Engage with your community as well, social media is a thing to take hold of. Nowadays, you can’t have a YouTube channel you intend to spread without having the complementing Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Have fun with it while you can; once you move onto your next stage in life (e.g. university), you’ll find it difficult to find the time and place to do this stuff.

Oh, and…

  • Captioning your videos actually improves search engine optimisation (SEO)
  • Tag your videos with keywords people are likely to search for
  • Do not monetise your videos until they reach into the thousands (or better, tens of thousands). Seriously, it’s not worth it if you only get a few hundred views. The adverts will only drive new viewers away. Even we haven’t monetised anything yet
  • To achieve the effect we have on our newer intros, just layer upon layer of grunge textures on top of each other and change the blending options
  • One dirty tactic of getting your content to spread is by spamming twitter users with links. You know, those people who slide into your DMs after you follow back
  • Longer videos are preferred by the YouTube search algorithms. Try to make your videos 15~ minutes long. Our videos usually end up being about an hour long before editing, so it’s a lot of cutting but also a lot of leaving good stuff in
  • Try to come up with a unique concept. A reason for people to watch your stuff instead of “genericoolgamer1998”
  • Yes, this post is also intended to promote my channel

Links:

http://explorationhq.tumblr.com/

https://facebook.com/explorationhq

https://youtube.com/medwayurbex

How typical is Ill Manors of its genre? (A-level homework essay)

900~ word media studies essay on the film Ill Manors (2012).

How typical is Ill Manors of its genre?

We categorise media texts by looking at the repertoire of elements, which the audience utilise to label the many genres of film. If a character were to burst out in song in a moment of a film or play, the audience would immediately recognise it as being a musical. Ill Manors (Ben Drew) is mainly a crime drama with strong elements of social realism, signified by the strong use of drug references and violence, along with a realistic portrayal of contemporary life. Social realism is a popular genre for independent institutions to produce in the UK, with films such as Fish Tank and Wild Bill considered an art form being met with positive reception with particular praise for emotional satisfaction from its storytelling.

Each genre attracts its own groups of audiences who have a taste in certain genre conventions. Ill Manors contains gang violence and a strong fast-paces multi-stranded narrative which is likely to meet the tastes of teenagers. The ethnicity and age shown in the film are a mix of young teenagers and adults, Drew has used this target audience as the film is based upon the London riots which involved many young teenagers. The audience is also the same for Kidulthood as they are both similar in style. However, in terms of social realism, the film strays from the sort of audience who would watch Fish Tank as the way the films view contemporary life vary; Ill Manors is more crime oriented whereas Fish Tank focuses on gratifying the audience in diversion and dystopian pleasure in an arguably more serious approach. The audience for Fish Tank is male and female adults in the ABC1 social grades who are individualists. So in terms of audience, Ill Manors attracts a different audience to some films in the genre such as Fish Tank but retains some of the same audiences in films such as Kidulthood.

Crime dramas are often given urban settings to portray the gritty realism of crime and how it mostly occurs in densely populated areas. British crime dramas such as Kidulthood, Gangster #1 and This is England are all set in urban settlements, and more prominently, London is represented as a crime capital due to it being a densely populated city centre. Crime dramas are rarely set in the countryside as crimes are less plausible and may bore audiences, however in TV series, episodes are sometimes country-based as the non-progressive and transient episodes allow it to occur without permanence in other episodes. Ill Manors is set in the cityscape of London in similarity with crime dramas such as Luther, yet a minor difference is that one is a TV series which allows episode narratives to be transient and the other is a film with one overall narrative.

Black males have become associated with urban gang crimes, with youth typically wearing hoodies and baseball caps as seen in Ill Manors. These items of clothing create connotations of criminality and danger; on the DVD cover for example, a low angle shot of Aaron wearing exactly a hoodie and baseball cap holding a gun is used, so the cover clearly insinuates violence through an action code thus reinforcing stereotypical views of urban gang violence. However; instead of having an aggressive posture, his body language suggests anxiety and uncertainty, as if to imply that Aaron is not a typical aggressive criminal and that there is more than meets the eye. Kidulthood’s cover in comparison comprises of seven anti-social youths in direct mode of address, anti-social behaviour is implied through aggressive stances, with one flourishing a baseball bat. Similar to Ill Manors¸ a range of ethnicities is represented, however it is arguable that morals are in conflict as Kidulthood’s use of character signifies pure anti-social violence whereas Ill Manors has a sense of moral compass in that the character is looking away from the camera in contemplation. However, the way audiences perceive these representations is dependent upon their attitudes and values.

The narrative is non-linear and multi-stranded as we follow the stories of different characters at different points in time, a technique used to create enigma codes. For example, a major enigma code is when Jake is coaxed into killing someone in a house by Marcel. Time then rolls back to Kirby’s narrative and the enigma is solved when he is seen as the one who is shot by Jake in an act of vengeance by Marcel. For social realism films, this is atypical as they usually follow the narrative of one character and are linear. For example, Fish Tank and Wild Bill follow a single-stranded linear narrative which follows the story of the main characters, Mia and Bill. In Fish Tank, Mia is followed as a protagonist so that the audience receive a palpable sense of her emotions and moral values, as she learns more about the deception Connor had delved her into and takes decisions such as freeing a horse in captivity. Ill Manors arguably makes a greater utility of Syd Field’s three act structure, with the plot moving immediately to another plot point as the narratives occur at different times. Fish Tank has a less complex narrative structure which suits a primary audience of ABC1 middle class, male and female individualists and aspirers who are interested in British film.

In final analysis, I determine that Ill Manors strays little from other film crime dramas; it takes its setting in an urban cityscape and contains similarities to films such as Kidulthood and 1 Day yet differs more from social realism films such as Fish Tank and Wild Bill. In comparison with TV series, Ill Manors contains little sense of law being triumphant as in most series such as Luther and Sherlock; we see the narrative in the perspective of the law enforcement.

A2 Media Studies Coursework Essay example

Below are my production pieces for reference.

asteria-current-cover
My DVD cover, “Dobby Digital” heh

asteria poster 3.jpg
Poster 1, all original photos and work except for the WB logo.

The second poster I made is too embarrassing to share, so I’ll leave that one to your imagination.

This was done with a 2014 AQA specification. So it is out of date, but hopefully still helpful if you’re looking for ideas on what to type about. My choice was to produce a DVD cover along with two posters, and below is the essay which I handed in with it. It scored me a 98%. Remember to include a bibliography, otherwise it’s plagiarism. This essay is actually almost on par with my degree-level essays.

How and why is genre constructed in DVD covers of science fiction/adventure films, with reference to Dredd (2012) and Star Wars Episode III (2005)

Genre refers to the set of recognisable conventions which label all media texts; we categorise texts by looking at the repertoire of elements, which the audience utilise to label the many genres of film. Most theorists of genre argue that generic norms and conventions are recognised and shared by audiences, readers and viewers.[1] Sobchack suggests that “science fiction film is a genre which emphasises actual, extrapolative, or speculative science and the empirical method, interacting in a social context with the lesser emphasised, but still present, transcendentalism of magic and religion, in an attempt to reconcile man with the unknown”[2]. Sobchack lists science fiction and adventure as main genres of melodrama, which explains why science-fiction and adventure are commonly hybridised to appeal to a wide audience segment that has an interest in both of these well regarded genres. This is for example reflected in the main cover image of the Star Wars III cover, where the audience are shown sci-fi elements such as ‘light sabres’ in conjunction with action codes in the depicted battles. Dredd (Pete Travis) and Star Wars Episode III (George Lucas) are modern works in the genre and the covers conform to generic convention.

Firstly, science fiction can be said to originate from Ancient Greece wherein myths about Gods and space cultivated beliefs in its historic society’s religion; these have arguably formed a basis for modern science fiction narratives such as Star Wars, seen by the depiction of stars and space on the front cover. The current post-modern hybridisation of the science-fiction and action genres are highly influenced by popular pioneering films such as the space opera Star Wars and continues to draw in large audiences from all over the world. The saga fundamentally changed the aesthetics and narratives of Hollywood films, switching the focus of Hollywood-made films from deep, meaningful stories based on dramatic conflict, themes and irony to sprawling special-effects-laden blockbusters.[3] Since its introduction, the genre has been associated with unique and iconic depictions of the universe, humanoid extraterrestrial life forms and futuristic technology as seen in both DVD covers, i.e. the use of futuristic costumes and the light sabres. These selling points are some of the main reasons why producers enter the science fiction genre; sophisticated software allows them to offer unusual and interesting concepts for audience gratification.

With regard to how genre is constructed in the covers, Fiske describes communication as “the production and exchange of meanings. It is concerned with how messages, or texts, interact with people in order to produce meanings”.[4] Expectations of science-fiction are created through the strong depiction of advanced technology, space travel and similar conventions.  Audience decoding of the covers would immediately suggest the science fiction genre from the CGI use in creating the surreal imagery of futuristic technology. As the mise-en-scènes suggest, the genre attempts to transform the unreal into an exaggerated aural spectacle, and is seen in the portrayal of space in Star Wars and the ‘mega city’ in Dredd. Typical central cover images of this genre entail a shot of the protagonist(s) along with science-fiction elements such as weaponry, e.g. ‘light sabres’ in Star Wars to connote the combined sci-fi and action elements the films contain. Furthermore, a low-angle shot of the protagonist is chosen to convey the power of the hero such as in Dredd; the effect is that the character looks big, dominant and awe-inducing. The DVD cover aims to reach its target audience and does so by selecting elements of the genre and representing these elements in the cover image to appeal to those it seeks to gratify. The genre itself already sells to the audience, however producers use genre conventions to raise audience expectations; CGI, for example, is used to create conventional symbols of science fiction and is seen in both texts; e.g. the light sabres in Star Wars and the ‘mega blocks’ in Dredd. Gratification is likely to occur in aesthetic enjoyment, diversion and escapism as both texts offer an alternative narrative.

In addition, the characters’ attributes in each cover vary, yet all give an impression of both the science fiction and adventure genre. DVD covers of all genres typically portray the protagonist(s) or, according to Propp’s character types; the hero. Some institutions use more than one character, as seen in Star Wars where Anakin and Obi-Wan are the heroes, Padmé the princess, Vader the villain etc.[5] The costumes construct ideas about each character and suggest an alternative reality, a literary device used in most, if not all science-fiction films. Darth Vader, for example is wearing an all-black mechanical costume, connoting his diabolical and villainous character traits. In comparison with Dredd, only the hero is used for the main image and is holding a weapon, preceding its action and adventure elements as well as portraying Dredd as a powerful character. Actions codes are created through the use of weapons and the protagonist’s clenched fist, contributing to the hybridisation of action and science fiction. Since only Dredd’s lower face is visible, the audience expects him to be a cold and isolated character, expectations of which are gratified when viewing the film because his character reflects the expectation made through the cover. Each character therefore contributes to the construction of action, adventure and science fiction genres; producers utilise character creation so that audience view the preferred reading of the genre.

Binary oppositions are made clear in both main images; in Star Wars, the contrast between hero and villain reinforces genre conventions; it appears that many science fiction films have heroes and villains, and is constructed through facial expression, costume and makeup and is shown because of its strong implications in the narrative of the saga. In Dredd, the tagline is “judgement is coming” and fans familiar with the character would recognise that the main character is Judge Dredd, implying the desire to keep order and peace since a low-angle shot makes him look like a dominant overseer, thus being the hero. This contrasts with his background, in which a relation to the action/adventure genre can be identified in the insinuation of chaos and disorder, which the ‘judge’ sets out to restore equilibrium to.

As romantic sub-plots are common in the adventure genre, Star Wars suggests a love relationship in its cover through the portrayal of a hero and a princess (the hero’s prize according to Propp), however there is no suggestion in Dredd, no female characters are included in the cover at all. Dredd could be considered atypical of the genre due to its lack of amative representation, as many classic action/adventure films have some form of romance in them, e.g. Indiana Jones, Planet of The Apes and James Bond. Instead, Dredd’s character is deindividuated to remain true to the original comics, thus gratifying the needs of the character’s original fandom over the average audience wants. The hybridisation of adventure and romance is very common; Star Wars acclimatises to this trend to appeal to an audience of males and females since males are attracted by the action and females are typically attracted to romance, whereas a lack of love interest in Dredd may indicate a narrative which predominantly appeals to males. In narrative, love interest both hinders and supports the main quest, so a lack of romance may indicate a more action-based narrative in Dredd which appeals to males.

The blurbs of both films give a sense of lore and history to the narratives, since a common convention of science fiction is that the setting takes place in an alternative universe to ours. Star Wars utilises its own semantic field in conveying lore; “Anakin Skywalker has become a headstrong Jedi Knight and a hero of the Clone Wars”, the preferred reading is that the reader decodes ‘Jedi Knight’ as a sort of keeper of peace due to the connotation of ‘knight’ and that the ‘Clone Wars’ is an event of conflict in the narrative of the saga. Dredd on the other hand refrains from using unfamiliar terminology and simply tells the story of “America of the post-apocalyptic future”, likely to balance the appeal to fans of the original by use of the familiar front image, reminiscent of the comic books, and general audiences using the simple literary semiotics of the blurb. This is reversed on the Star Wars cover, wherein a general audience is attracted from the simple representations of the protagonists and antagonists on front cover yet fans are informed through the blurb. Genre is therefore implied through the blurbs of the covers to illustrate the special worlds, further attracting audiences of the genre in conjunction with the use of graphics. These are not realistic films, although the characters must be believable; the audiences must recognise the inclusion of melodrama rather than hollow characters otherwise an aberrant reading may occur. On the same subject, the main titles, including the masthead and spine title of each cover contributes to the genre of both texts. The spine titles are in block capital fonts in parallel with each other, with Dredd’s being in a bold red colour to characterise the violence and graphic nature of the film – red is commonly associated with blood, danger and violence; therefore being a metonym for the graphic nature of the film.

With large filming budgets of $50,000,000 (Dredd) and $113,000,000 (Star Wars Episode III); both production companies and publishers alike want to express the visual aesthetics of the genre as much as possible through advertising, with DVD covers being one of the mediums available for producers to communicate to the audience. Dredd is set in a stereotypical world of the future; shown through the depiction of a dystopic, futuristic yet familiar world. Conversely, Star Wars is set in a distant past “in a galaxy far, far away” yet gives a sense of the futuristic space age. The combination of narrative in the blurbs and imagery used both give a sense of science fiction, I.E. “a vast, ultraviolent world where criminals control the mean city streets” as part of the blurb combined with burning city buildings in the background illustrate the connection.

Ultimately, these texts can be used to trace a pattern of the construction of the science fiction genre in modern works in the film industry. Concerning an entirely surreal universe, Lucas focuses on straightforward CGI phantasmagoria and a holistic portrayal of all major characters. But in Dredd, appealing to common audiences becomes less important due to the current fandom of Judge Dredd; Travis instead focuses on retaining an audience consisting of the fandom of the original Judge Dredd comic character, arguably to distinguish the film from others in the genre. Lucas Arts wants to appeal to the large audience segment of audiences who seek general aesthetic enjoyment, and Lionsgate wants to secure the audience segment of original fans before a universal audience. Yet principally, both texts portray the classic codes and conventions of science fiction. Genre conventions are used to achieve a product which markets itself to audience segments with taste for the science fiction genre, and is clearly seen here.

Bibliography

Bigsby, C. (2006). The Cambridge Companion to Modern American Culture. Cambridge University Press.

Bleiler, E. F. (1990). Science-fiction, the Early Years: A Full Description of More Than 3,000 Science-fiction Stories from Earliest Times to the Appearance of the Genre Magazines in 1930 with Author, Title, and Motif Indexes. Kent State University Press.

Chandler, D. (2000). An Introduction to Genre Theory.

Creeber, G. (2001). What is Genre? In The Television Genre Book. British Film Institute.

Fiske, J. (1990). Introduction to Communication Studies. Routledge.

Propp, V. (1968). Morphology of the Folk Tale. University of Texas Press, 2nd edition.

Sobchack, & Sobchack. (1980). The Limits of Infinity: The American Science Fiction Film 1950-1975. New York: A S Barnes.

[1] Creeber, G. (2001). What is Genre? In The Television Genre Book. British Film Institute. P.1

[2] Sobchack & Sobchack (1980). The Limits of Infinity: The American Science Fiction Film 1950-1975 203-40

[3] Bigsby, C. (2006). The Cambridge Companion to Modern American Culture. Cambridge University Press.

[4] Fiske, J. (1990). Introduction to Communication Studies. Routledge.

[5] Propp, V. (1968). Morphology of the Folk Tale. University of Texas Press, 2nd edition.