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

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.