Tuesday 16 December 2014

Kira's Evaluation

 1. In which ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?

When researching various soap operas, we realised a popular convention of most soaps is melodrama. This influenced our ideas of using themes of murder, betrayal and jealousy that we gave to each character to represent, for example, the theme of betrayal is shown through the character of Danny (portrayed by Henry Ward) who is seen cheating on his wife in our trailer. We took this from the stereotypical convention of melodrama seen in soaps from, not only the UK, but from Australia and America, also. The themes we presented in our trailer were taken from various others that we watched, specifically from the leading soap, EastEnders, which demonstrated a vast representation of tension (reviewing the trailer regarding the death of Lucy; "whodunit"), as well as focusing on soap operas shown on our chosen institution, E4, for example Hollyoaks, that often creates melodramatic story lines that are attractive to the target audience of E4 (16-24 years old). Events, such as 'The Explosion' that "killed off" characters, like Ashley, Doug and Claire, would be attractive to their target audience in relation to the Uses and Gratifications theory that links entertainment with escapism and diversion, as the topics are captivating and unlike usual occurrences. 

Similarly to Hollyoaks, we tried to work our media piece in to theories that we believe would make our soap opera trailer appeal to our target social audience. Theories such as Blumler and Katz’ ‘Uses and Gratifications Theory’ were useful in the planning stages of our piece as we were able to highlight why people watch soap operas like our ‘Closed Doors’. Out of the four main areas of this theory, it is clear that diversion and personal relationships are the main features to why audiences watch this genre of programme. Although soap operas conventionally cover current affairs, surveillance would be less likely a reason behind audiences being interested as it is based around fictional characters and is less informative than watching programmes, such as the news. The conventional topics in soap operas are most likely to stimulate conversation between viewers, influencing the personal relationships that occur from watching programmes. We decided to work this in to our narrative techniques to produce a media piece that would be successful in regards to the high satisfaction it would receive from our target audience.

Although we definitely fit within the stereotypical conventions of soap operas, we also wanted to challenge topics discussed in real life products. Our scene tackling bulimia is not a conventional story line as it may be seen as risky due to the sensitive content; however we decided that the more issues we tackle, the more interesting our piece would be, as well as raising awareness on subjects that aren't conventionally covered on TV. We initially were also going to film our “lust” scene with two males however the actors that we asked pulled out last minute, meaning that we had to change our actors to a male and a female, which fit in to the typical topics of soap operas, as well as still covering the theme of lust and forbidden love which we wanted to portray.

2.  How effective is the combination of your main product and ancillary texts?

  As the conventions that we have included in our trailer are quite dour (for example, the themes of death, betrayal and sensitive subjects including bulimia), we decided to reflect this in to our ancillary products, significantly our poster. We used a dark colour scheme, significantly the purple hue that was added to, not only fit in with our institution that uses this same colour scheme, but also to portray the dark and sensitive themes in our soap. The vignette border that we included on our poster gives the same effect, fading out in to darkness, representing the conventional "cliff hanger" that is seen in soap operas, such as EastEnders, and will also be included in our own. We believe that the colour scheme is important when producing our poster as it represents our soap opera and the content that we are portraying, especially our setting that was set on Laburnham Road. 
The likes of Coronation Street and Emmerdale have a higher target age on average in comparison to the likes of Hollyoaks, which holds the same target audience as our prospective soap. As of this, we wanted to ensure that our soap opera was seen as attractive to our prospective audience, representing this through our ancillary texts. This meant by creating a dark colour scheme on our poster, and making our soap the headline on our TV listings magazine, we would attract our audience to the soap by presenting the conventions, like our story lines and themes. 
We also researched various posters, which concluded that many soap operas opt for setting rather than character for their poster design, due to frequent character change (such as the actor of Lucy and Peter Beale changing on EastEnders) or character write-offs (like Mercedes McQueen on Hollyoaks). This influenced us to use our setting of Laburnham Road, photographed by team member, Alice Smith, which we thought, with the affect purple filter, linking to our institution of E4, would be a successful poster to not only fit to the E4 motif but also to attract our target audience. Using our setting also meant that if we were to release our soap opera, our poster would not have to be changed as frequently as it would do if we used our characters. 

Our magazine also fitted in to the conventional “TV Mag” style, with the use of melodramatic cover lines to emphasise tension and attract a mass audience. Although our target audience is a niche market, the use of TV Magazines helps to advertise our soap more. By using the headline, "The Truth is Out!", we are able to attract a large audience as they would most likely be interested in what is going to happen between the two characters. This highlights how affective our ancillary products are at attracting an audience to our soap opera and we believe that both the magazine and poster work well at depicting 'Closed Doors', advertising our final piece effectively. 
To create both our TV listings magazine and our poster we used photoshop, which was helpful when editing our pieces together. Our magazine front cover had to be edited a large amount, especially on my jumper as we realised in the final edit that I was wearing a poppy. This meant that Jake, who handled the editing with myself, had to take a piece of my jumped and blend it in to the rest so that you couldn't see the poppy; the design made this difficult as we had to ensure that everything matched and looked natural. 
Although our magazine was advertisement for our soap opera, to ensure that it kept all the conventions of a stereotypical TV listings magazine we had to include other soap operas, such as Emmerdale, Coronation Street and Neighbours.
Here is our final product (link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CYmcLOmVn8) and the post including all of our final ancillary texts: http://susaskshw2015.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/final-soap-opera-trailer.html)

3. What have you learned from your audience feedback?

We carried out a screening of our trailer to an audience that were considered in our age range (as well as a few that were outside, meaning that we were able to see if a wider audience would still be interested) which we thought was important for getting feedback. We gave them a questionnaire that they filled out (here are the results) highlighting to us that they were happy with trailer and if they saw it on the TV they would be enticed to watch it. However, most of our feedback said that for an improvement, the ending could be less abrupt as it just stopped suddenly, however, when we showed the trailer we hadn't edited the ending yet (link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NPKndEwn_A), so we knew that we needed to change it, but it was helpful to hear that there was a problem and that everyone agreed that we should at least include the transition of fading or conclude it smoother.
Furthermore, looking at our audience feedback we were able to apply theory that focused on what attracted audience members to watch our soap opera. Focusing on demographics, we were able to look at our feedback and see who was the most interested in the trailer and would be most likely to watch if we were to release the soap on E4. Looking at the feedback it is clear that our demographic is most likely to be female and young in age (young adult). Also, it is clear that the audience was able to identify the characters that we initially designed on the stock characters produced by Propp and his narrative theory. Audience members were able to see that Mr. Victoria (Shaun Klopper) is the villain, whereas Amy (Beth Deans) and Billie (Sarah Ritter) are most likely to be the princesses, awaiting a prince to rescue them. The modern day fairy tale works current affairs, like eating disorders and mental illnesses, in to fairy tale narratives introduced in the 17th Century, bringing the story lines and narratives from our soap opera in to the 21st century. I introduced to my group the idea of binary opposites that could be worked in to the characters and narrative, significantly surrounding the Victoria family. The aggressive behaviour of Mr. Victoria overpowers the timid, subservient character of his wife (Laura Dunne), linking to the affect that Strauss’ binary opposites has on the audience. Talking to audience members briefly after the showing, most started to pity the submissive Mrs. Victoria and became angry towards the treatment of her from her husband. Binary opposites are utilised regularly in soap operas whether through character opposition, like Andy and Robert in Emmerdale (Andy is the caring, responsible brother of the pair, whereas Robert is cunning and manipulative, exclusively selfish in relation to Andy) or through narrative situations that characters find themselves in, such as Stephen “Ste” in Hollyoaks who is portrayed as tough, in a tight family unit with Amy and his two children, however after coming out as gay, he finds himself in situations that challenge his tough exterior, such as losing his husband, Doug, in an explosion and challenging drug abuse and HIV).
Finding out their feedback was helpful for improving our final piece; here is the video that we filmed of some audience members talking about our unfinished version of our trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8rScZZnNEw

4. How did you use media technologies in the construction and research, planning and evaluation stages?

We created a blog to keep together all of our research and planning, which we thought was helpful and easy for presenting our work in the long run. It was easy to track what we had done and what needed to do in order to finalise our work, presenting our organization skills and how much effort we have put in. Also, we were able to use Adobe Premiere Elements to produce our trailer, putting together all the scenes that we filmed using a camera lent by the school. Also, to create our ancillary texts, the use of Photoshop was helpful, especially for the magazine that was produced majorly by Jake, with help from myself and the rest of the team. Overall, most of our research, planning and evaluation took place using media technologies, apart from our story board, costumer planning and questionnaire results that were eventually put on our blog and kept with the rest of our items, helping us to stay organised and manage our time correctly in order to produce a successful soap opera trailer.
Altogether, I believe that our final piece, including our ancillary products, were extremely successful, especially supported by our questionnaire results that highlighted this further, with most suggesting to change the ending that we hadn't altered yet. However, as we have changed this now for our final piece, I am happy with the outcome of our work as a whole.


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