Styles, Conventions, TECHNIQUES of music videos (2023)

Music videos come in all shapes, sizes, and stylesand each videohas its own unique approach to proceedings. There are manydifferent conventions and techniques used in a variety of ways throughout each style of music video.Some of these styles include:Popular, In concert/as-live, animation, interpretive, narrative, and influence of commercials.

Popular music genres
Popular music videos areexactly that. Popular music genre,music videos are music videos of popular music, this can be pop, indie, or rock. An example of this style is Ed Sheeran's Thinking Out Loud.

In concert/as live footage
In concert/as-live footage refers to the use of live performance footage as part ofthe video. In Taylor Swift's new music video 'Red' a lot of footage is featured from her live concerts which falls under 'In concert',however ‘as live’ also refers to the footage not being from true live performances. This is when a band or artist performs their music as if they were performing it live, however it's purpose issolelyfor the recording of the musicvideo.An example of this would be in Dexys Midnight runners, Come On Eileen in which the band perform 'as-live'on a street corner.

Animation can include both 2D and 3D stop motion and computer generated animation. Animation means that a whole range of newpossibilities are
madeavailable. In Peter Gabriel's, Sledgehammer we seethe movement of train-tracks and atoy train appearing and travelling around his head. As this example suggests one of the main benefits of stop motion is tobring an inanimate object to life.

An interpretive music video is a music video which can be in interpreted in many different ways by it's audience. Each person could see the video in a different way and get a different understanding ofwhat the video is about. An example of this is The Beatles Blue Jay Way, which is a very weird music video; I interpret it as a video message to someone.

A narrative style music video is a music video which tells a story. The video has a meaning to it and is almost like watching a five minute fiction film. An example of a music video that is in this style is a-ha's - Take On Me, in which a girl is sucked into her comic book and we follow her journey through the comic, falling in love and coming back to real life where the comic boy (band member) materialises in her house. Narrative music videos came in many different forms; You have single strand narrative which is a music video with one narrative/story running through it, you can also have multi-strand narrative which has amultiple ofdifferent narratives/storylines running through the video. Another type of music video is open and closed narratives, an open narrative is often the case within TV shows and have no apparentbeginning,middle or end, hence it is open. Whereas a closed narrative is more commonly found within films as they have a start, middle and end, taking us on a journey from the beginning of a story to the end of that story; the conclusion. Finally narratives are also found in the form of linear and non-linear; a linear narrative is a storyline which is chronologically arranged, whereas a non-linear narrative is the opposite and jumps around in a non-chronological order; this is a narrative most commonly found in music videos.

An impressionist music video is a music video which rather than focusing on small details of the picture it instead focuses on the atmosphere and conveying the moods and emotions aroused by the subject. An example of this style is Gotye's Somebody That I Used To Know with the use of primary colours to portray moods and emotions, the characters become blended into the wall of colour which portrays the mood that the person is nownon-existent because they are "just somebody that I used to know".

A surrealist music video is a music video which features artificial and unreal elements in it. This could be artificialcharacters or set moving artificially. It can often be compared to a dream like affect. An example of a surrealist video is Jamiroquai's Virtual Insanity which features the movement of walls and the floor. To add to the surrealism of the video,the video is done in one shot which means that when the camera pans up the set is quickly changed. As well as the set movement we also see the appearance of blood from one side of the room, cockroaches walking across walls and a crow flying just below the ceiling.

A pastiche music video is a video in which has been adapted from an original music video. An example of this would be Geri Halliwell's It's Raining Men as a pastiche of The Weather Girls original, it is an adaptation of the song, re-recorded by Geri and then features her in the newvideo.

A parody music video is a video in which is an imitation of an original music video. It’s main intentions are often to make fun of the original video. An example of a parodicmusic video is An Amish Paradise by ‘Weird’ Al Yankovic, which is a parody of Gangster’s Paradise by Collio ft L.V. The Amish Paradise video parodiesparts of the original music video with adapted lyrics and scenes.

A music video in the style of referencing,references something else, for example a film. An example of this is Adele’s Skyfall; the songwas actually created for the film sothe videoreferences the film and has links to James Bond’s life etc. The video is made up of clips from the actual filmas well.

Homage means to show public respect to something and it has similar meanings when referring to music videos. A homage music video features a demonstration of respect towards someone or something, it could also be a dedication to something. An example of a music video paying homage to something is Luther Vandross’ Dance With My Father, which was a show of respect and dedication to his father.

Influence of commercials
A music video which has influence of commercials is an advert which can be classed as a music video in itself. This is where the music isn't just used as background music to the advert but they tailor the advert around the song making it become a music video. An example of this is Ikea’s Time For Change advert/music video and Thomas Cook’s Real Good Time advert which is based around a section of Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now; however seen as the advert is only a minute long this is only partially this style of music video.

Next I am going to explore some of the different conventions foundin music videos.

Lyric interpretation
Lyric interpretation is when a scene of a music video interprets the lyrics of the song and portrays what they are saying. An example of this is Eminem’s Stan, in which the video shows us what the lyrics are trying to portray about Stan’s obsession with Eminem and how it drives him to suicide and murder throughout each verse.

Extending/consolidating song’s meaning
Extending the meaning of the song through the video is the convention that through the video itself you can explore some of the subtle meanings behind the song. Consolidating means to make something physically stronger or more solid in itself. This extension/consolidation of the music through the video can be seen in The Beastie Boys, Sabotage, which features text on the screen which helps to extend and consolidate the meaning of the song.

Allusions as a convention can refer to different things. Firstly it refers to a music video alluding to an emotion or feeling in some way through the video. An example of how this can occur is through the colour grading of the footage. Another definition of allusion is when a music video alludes to a person or historic event; the 2014 song Do They Know It's Christmas Time, alludes to the struggle against Ebola. Finally allusion can be the way that the video is cut in the final edit to create the allusion that something has happened without actually showing it happen on screen.

After looking at different conventions I am going to look into different techniques and effects used in music videos.

Cutting to beat
Cutting to the beat is a technique in which the shot is made to change on a beat of the song, it can be at regular intervals or random steps in the beat. This means that when editing, the beat plays a significant influence on the final cut. An example of this is in Adele’s – Rolling in the deep, although it doesn't specifically cut to the drum beat it does often cut to the start of lines, verses and to different words, especially towards the start of the video. Cutting to the beat can be really important in creating a mood within the video. It can remind us that the video was created for the song, drawing our attention back to the music itself.

Effects or special effects are used to help develop the narrative of the video, examples of effects often used include explosions, crashing, gun shots etc. An example of where this technique is used, is within Dr Dre's I Need A Doctor, in which he crashes a Ferrari. Effects can be very important in music videos as they can be part of the main storylineand without the effect the video could lose a significant part of the story and lose a certain extent of its professionalism.

Lip sync
Lip sync covers miming and playback to lip sync. When filming a music video that features the artist singing the song in the video, lip syncing is used to create this. This is done by playing back the song whilst filming so that the artist can mime to the song. This technique can be utilised in the form of the artist actually performing the song, not just miming. This is a technique used in almost all music videos, like Adele’s Rolling in the deep. Lip syncing can simply be to show who is singing which can be very important in a busy music video; it can also give promotion for less well-known artists as people start to recognise them and put a face to the voice.

The use of multi-image in music videos can be featured in different ways, this could be split-screen, images overlaying each other fully, and a smaller image featured on top of the main image, in the corner etc. An example of a music video that uses split screen is Eminem's Without Me, which uses split screen to show Eminem and what is on his phone. Another example of multi-image in music video is in the Red Hot Chili Pepper's Californication, which features the band in a small image in the top corner of the screen whilst a CGI version of the band feature in a video game. Using multiple images on the screen can be very important in order to show more than one scene/scenario at a time. This is shown in the example of Eminems video as it tells us what is on his phone is just as important as he is.

Camera movements/Camera Angles
There are many different types of shots used in music videos, just like film or TV, the effects of these shots have the same meanings and results. For example, pan/follow shots can follow the main character or artist, close up shots can convey emotions and an establishing shot can be used to set the scene. High angle/looking down shots portray the innocence of a character and a shot looking up portrays the importance and dominance of a character. Different camera angles/movements are very important as they can portray different emotions, themes and meanings with each shot.

Chroma Key
Chroma key/Green screen is a commonly used technique also featured in film + TV a lot. It is the technique which films a scene in front of a green/blue screen and the green/blue is removed through Chroma Key, then the person can be put in front of any background image or video. This technique is often used in many different music videos, films and TV shows and it is not always noticeable, however you can see this a bit more obviously in the Red Hot Chili Pepper's Californication, in which the band are playing in front of a green screen which is then Chroma Key'd out so that moving clouds are background to the band and they are stood in a field. Green screening is very important as it can make the impossible seem possible and save a lot of money and time. It means that huge set builds don't have to take place and someone could be seen to be flying, like superman.

There are many different music videos styles, conventions and techniques and the ones I have referred to and explained are just a few of them.

After exploring music videos and the various different things behind them I am going to take a look at two clips from contrasting music videos and compare them. The two videos I have chosen are; Ed Sheeran's - The A Team and Michael Jackson's They Don't Care About Us.

I have included the two videos below. The clip from Ed Sheeran's video starts at approx 20 seconds and finishes at 1:30.

This video on a whole follows a closedlinear narrative. It follows the life of a young girl who lives on the street,sells magazinesand isinvolved in prostitution in order to make money. In the one minute I am looking at,we see the start of her story. A lot of following shots are used, medium close up, always on her. It looks like it has been shot handheld which portrays theidea that the video was home made, although it wasn't. It also portrays the nature of her life and how she is living rough. This is a video which only features the artist for less than ten seconds which is hugely contrasting to Michael Jackson's. The video is also shot in black and white which contrasts to the colour in They Don't Care About Us. None of the techniques I have discussed areparticularlyused in the video. However the video does show the convention of lyric interpretation as the director has decided to tell this story through a homeless girl which may not be the first thought when you hear this song. Later on in the video it is also alluded that she is a prostitute and has sex with a guy.

Start the below Michael Jackson video at 00:50 seconds in and finish at approx. 1:50.

This Michael Jackson video is very different to Ed Sheeran's. Firstly it is full of colour and people but it also features the artist who is lip syncing to the song. In some sections of the clip it also cuts to the beat, this makes us follow the song more closely and feel the beat more prominently. The video is in the style of as-live as Michael is performing with Jamaican drummers and surrounded by people, it is almost done so it looks like a documentary with multi-cam shooting and by using the public within the video. This video uses allusion in a slightly different way, by referencing the fact that people don't care about poor people as much as they should. Michael did another video to go with this song which portrays police brutality, so this shows different lyrical interpretation. This video features more techniques and conventions than Ed's video and is just in general a very different style of video.

As you can see music videos can hugely vary in what they look like but also how they interpret the song and how they are made.

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