Assignment is captured in a close-up shot

Assignment 2: Media
Portfolio

1.      Movie poster: Moonlight

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This movie poster for the Oscar award winning film Moonlight depicts the protagonist in three
phases of his life: child, teenager, adult. This poster was constructed using
numerous techniques such as colour, visual composition, lighting, typography,
and the written language.

Photographs & Illustrations

In
this representation, the use of layout, color, and design is what gives meaning
to the movie poster. The main character’s face is captured in a close-up shot that
almost fills up the entire poster, this helps to further reflect his emotions,
facial scars, and physical change. The representation is dominated by three
main colors: green, purple, and blue. Coral green conveys childhood innocence;
the shade of purple with a hint of reddish pink connotes violence in a troubled
youth; and the faded steal blue (almost grey) symbolizes spiraling darkness and
weariness as well as masculinity.  These
colors divide the poster into three distinct sections like they are broken
pieces of a mirror fitted together to form a whole – the life of the
protagonist. Here, the sematic and symbolic code is used. The audience is able
to easily recognize the transition of the male lead from a young, misunderstood
boy to a violent teenager, to a muscular, grown up man through specific elements
in the photograph (E.g: high eyebrows as a child, facial scars, beard, earing,
strong jawline…). The scars invite the audience to ask questions, therefore,
conforming to Barthes enigma code theory. This poster’s washed out background, dim
central back-light, and overall murky color gives it a gloomy feel. How the
man’s eyes are highlighted also helps to capture the audience’s attention.

Text

Moonlight movie poster uses the simple
Gotham font, but it is the illuminating nature of “Moonlight” that really adds
value to the meaning of the title, for this glowing effect placed on top of the
faded background gives off an eerie and sad vibe to the poster. The tag line of
this movie “This is the story of a lifetime” is written at the very top in
white text. It has double meaning and can be understood as the story which
tells about a lifelong tale or a story that surpasses all others in an
audience’s life time. Conforming to the codes and conventions of a movie
poster, Moonlight poster also has an
extra information section (producers, director, actors, dates etc…) in small
print at the bottom so that it does not divert attention.

Looking
at the general design of this film poster, the audience can guess that this is
a coming-of-age film. The target audience for this is the young adults and
adults who simply want to experience the story of a lifetime. The poster has
truly succeeded in its purpose to compel people from all walks of life to take
a step into the world of this protagonist.

2.      
Movie trailer: The Danish Girl

The Danish Girl (2015) movie trailer depicts
a selfless love between two artists Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener and the
transformation of Lili Elbe from a man to a woman. This analysis aims to
dissect the codes and conventions used in this trailer, as well as the
production elements also present, and its effect on the audience.

 

Codes and Conventions

Like
all conventional movie trailers, The
Danish Girl starts off with the production logo: Focus Features (American)
and Working Titles (British). This implies the collaboration between two
countries and that the main target audience is both American and British. Cut
scenes are utilized to portray the plot of the story in a linear time sequence
and the viewers can vaguely guess how the story will play out. This conforms to
Todorov’s equilibrium theory. This trailer also made exceptional use of music that
impeccably follows the highs and lows of the plot line with precision. It
starts off with a light melodic traditional piano track while on screen the
first equilibrium state is introduced, then transforms to a joyful piece when
the character plays with the idea of being “Lili”, only to end abruptly when
his wife caught him kissing another man. This creates tension and indicates to
the audience of the transition to the disequilibrium state. The music returns
to a slow tempo piano and violin number, but this time, much more soulful and
heart wrenching as the couple struggles to come to terms with the husband’s
gender and identity. The moment the problem is resolved (Lily: “I believe I am
a woman” – Gerda: “And I believe it too”) the trailer ends off with a
breathtaking orchestral score which implies an important change in the story
line and single piano sounds as the screen shows a medium close-up shot of Lili
staring straight at the camera: daring, seductive, and confident.

The
soundtracks, title style, and settings combined gives hint to what is the
movie’s genre: drama, romance, historical. The trailer also highlights the
famous casts and director – Eddie
Redmayne, Alicia Vikander and Tom Hooper –
which may raise expectations and attracts viewers who are fans of the actors or
the director.

 

Production
elements

Camera
techniques, acting skills, and mise-en-scene also play a significant role in
constructing this movie trailer. In portraying the affection and proximity of
the couple’s relationship, a medium close-up shot is used in which the
characters are embracing each other tightly. For the life transforming moment
where Einer (Lili) has his revelation, close-up, extreme close-up, and choker
shots were used to emphasize the gestures of his fingers gliding along the
fabric of the dress and the emotions that plays across his features as that
happened. In the beginning, the main character appeared gentlemanly. He is
dressed in suits and had short hair, but this gradually changed as he started
exhibiting feminine gestures and wears female clothing, which disrupts the
conventional idea of a man and indicates change to the audience. This
trailer/movie is targeted at young adults and adults who have interests in LGBT
or the LGBT community.

3.      

Music video: …Ready for it?

Taylor
Swift is renowned for her controversial music videos and “…Ready for it?” is no exception. It conforms to Barthes’ enigma theory as it raises multiple questions
for viewers, such as: Why are there two Taylor Swifts? What does each one
represent? What does the cage and fight between two characters symbolize? This
media analysis will delve deeper into the technical and symbolic
aspect of the music video to explore the hidden message behind “…Ready for it?”

 

At a glance, one can pick up that this a sci-fi thriller music video
due to its dark, metallic, and CGI elements infused together to form a
narrative styled video. It talks about Taylor Swifts’ struggle with external
pressures and expectations during her career and how she was able to liberate
herself from that depressing place. Clever use of camera and editing techniques
contributes greatly to the plot line of this music video. At the start, the
camera dollies and tracks Taylor as she walks down a creepy, rundown alley
while a series of full, medium long, and close-up shots were used to accentuate
her menacing look. Long shots in the middle of the video gave the audience a
clearer picture of the battle between the two Taylors. Low angle shots of curly
haired Taylor standing of top of the elevator indicates her standing above all
expectations and criticisms, and the last choker shot emphasized her liberated
smile and tear of joy in finding herself again.

An
interesting fact is that the lyric does not correlate with the narrative of the
video at all as the lyric talks about a love relationship while the video is
anything but. However, the quick rhythm and beat fit perfectly with the fast
moving nature of cuts, transitions, and mood of “…Ready for it?” – conforming to the sound parallel code. This video
is basked in an overall dark lighting with back lights (which are somewhat
foggy) coming from windows, creating the effect of an abandoned building. A
notable element that adds meaning to the video is how Taylor Swift’s costume
and lighting connotes two sides of “good” and “evil”. The black cape is a
symbol of the media’s construction of Taylor, analogous to this is the red
fluorescent light which is connected to sinister things. Meanwhile, the cyborg
Taylor is purely white and radiates blue light – the colors of good.

The
clear cage Taylor puts herself in represents how her real identity has been
locked up due to public pressure. In here Cyborg Taylor fights with Evil
Taylor, growing stronger every time she is struck down, to finally blast open
her prison and escape. Such concept of being caged is also used in other music
videos like Miley Cyrus’s “Can’t be
tamed” or Sia’s “Elastic Heart”. This
music video is not only targeted at Taylor’s own fan base, but it is also an
announcement to the world and her haters that she is accepting herself and will
be whoever she wants to be, however she desires.

 

4.      

Print advertisement: Terra Travel: Architect. “Catch your Breath.”

This
is Terra Travel’s print advertisement created by DDB for their “Catch your
breath” campaign. It depicts an architect in office clothing breaking the water
surface as he comes up for air. At the bottom is his architectural equipment
while floating on the water is a small island with lush greenery. This poster
uses codes and conventions of print advertising and persuasion techniques to
entice the audience to book a holiday with Tera Travel.

Codes and Conventions

This
manipulated ad utilizes excellent graphics and color scheme to get their idea
across to the audience. Firstly, examining the color scheme and layout, it is
apparent that there are two main colors: blue and green. A clear blue sky
represents relaxation and is very inviting in comparison to the murky green
water which seems dark and scary. The water span largely dominates the whole
length of this vertical ad as if the camera capturing this image is half
submerged underwater, creating an impression of being suffocated to the viewers.
An island and a boat are placed floating at the top in the background signifying
vacation paradise. Meanwhile, situated at the bottom are the architect’s tools
symbolizing work and stress. The architect himself is gasping for air as he
breaks the surface which connotes the idea that he is escaping work to take a
much needed holiday.

Located
at the bottom right corner is Terra’s logo; beside the architect is the catch
phrase of the campaign “Catch your breath”, below that is the name of the
company and the website URL. These three lines at the top are cleverly designed
to curve with the water which intensifies the feeling of being immersed
underwater, making the audience also wanting to gasp for air. Overall, the text
is very small in comparison to the whole advert, this easily amplifies the
message the graphic is trying to portray: people are getting swamped in work
and a good holiday helps them come up for a breather.

 

Persuasion Technique

The
target audience for this is office workers and especially architects who feel
they are being drowned in work and need an escape. The makers used two opposite
techniques – association and fear. The first persuasion technique is
association in which using Tera Travel to book a vacation is equivalent to fun,
pleasure, and escape as depicted in how the island seems very inviting in
comparison to the work equipment underwater. This advertisement also induces
fear of working too much and fear of stress to promote the solution which is to
take a break and go on vacation.

The
message that this print advertisement is trying to get across visibly reflects
a problem in our society recently where people are devoting too much of their
time into work, allowing it to strangle them and rarely spend time on leisure
activities.