Music and Video

In the last lecture, we saw some examples of effective music videos and talked about things like MTV and how music and visual media has changed over time.

MTV – In 1981, MTV made its debut.  It would be the first programme specifically for music videos.  However, it seems that these days MTV has lost its original audience – young adults.  Instead, it now only really shows reality TV programmes targeted at teenagers such as 16 and Pregnant and My Super Sweet 16.  It lost its demand because of sites such as YouTube and Vimeo.  The first video MTV broadcasted was The Buggles ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’.  Here it is:


Head Room Videos

They are called ‘head room videos’ because they only show heads and faces.  I thought it was an interesting approach and I have considered trying it out as it’s fairly simple and it would be interesting to see how the videos differ depending on the song.


Interactive Videos

Another thing we looked at was interactive videos.  Firstly, we saw The Wilderness Downtown.  This is an interactive film by Chris Milk featuring “We Used To Wait” by Arcade Fire.  The video is incorporated with Google so that the location you type in is in the video, making each watchers experience a much more personal thing.

Another example of this approach is Robyn’s video for ‘Killing Me’ where the curser interacts with the video.


High Production Videos

A good example of this type of video is Michael Jackson, whose popular music videos that aired on MTV, such as “Beat It”, “Billie Jean” and “Thriller”—credited for transforming the music video from a promotional tool and into an art form—helped bring the relatively new channel to fame.  Although sometimes criticised for their violent and sexual elements; others were lauded by critics and awarded Guiness World Records for their length, success and expense.  Other artists that are known for their high production videos are Madonna and Lady Gaga, who often incorporate fashion statements and the ‘shock’ factor.


Early Music Videos

Of course, before MTV came about music videos did still exist, they were just less prominent.  They would be known as an “illustrated song”, “filmed insert”, “promotional (promo) film”, “promotional clip”, “song video”, “song clip” or “film clip”.  For example, in 1936 Len Lye made this video for the Post Office.  This video was made in colour even though movies were still in black and white, and it also shows the use of early video effects.


Earlier again, in 1926, renowned fashion and portrait photographer Man Ray created the movie short ‘Emak Bakia’ – subtitled ‘Cinépoéme’.  This experimented with filming techniques such as focus and exposure.


The Scopitone 

Scopitone is a type of jukebox featuring a 16mm film component. Scopitone films were a forerunner of music videos. 

Based on Soundies technology developed during WWII, color 16mm film clips with a magnetic soundtrack were designed to be shown in a specially designed jukebox.

The Scopitone was built in France in the 1960′s and became very popular in Europe, especially in West Germany and England. It didn’t reach the United States until the about 1964.

By the end of the 1960s, the popularity of the Scopitone had faded.  The last film for a Scopitone was made at the end of 1978.



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