Main Task: Project Evaluation

Immediately after completing our preliminary task in December, we began work on our main task for our AS media foundation portfolio. The stages i took when researching, constructing and finishing my project are all recorded in a production log on this blog; ‘henryphillips.wordpress.com’. The task was to create the front cover, contents page and a double-page spread for a new music magazine aimed at an audience of our choice. Apart from these simple guidelines, all aspects of the project were of our own decision and creation. We were all expected to use the skills learned and work on the mistakes made in the preliminary task when making the main task.

One of my weaknesses in the preliminary task was my evidence for research. Whilst i did research sufficient material for the project, i failed to give evidence for this in my production log thus bringing my overall grade for the task down. So this time, for the main task, i ensured that all, if not most of my research was recorded and written about in production log. For print based research (i.e, physical magazine pages) i decided to find similar documentation on the internet and evaluate that in a similar fashion. In early January i began research development establishing which magazines i would take an interest in and take influence from and by late january i began working with possible titles for my project. I had a good array of possible titles and for peer feedback i created a survey on paper asking about 20 people what their favourite title was. Among high scorers, ‘Fried’ come out the majority vote and the reasons people gave for this were that it sounded different to anything they had heard before (in relation to music magazine titles) and that it was very unique in character and if applied correctly would be very effective. Before going straight into construction with the favourite however, i took the top 3 and applied a different “initial idea” to each one. These titles were Fried, DiscoFiction and Wired. All of my initial ideas applied to these different titles are recorded in a post under the name of “production-log-title-idea-development”. With different titles in mind, i went into february researching music magazine covers as an entity and established which factors were more eye-catching than others and why that was. With the success of my preliminary task (in terms of colour scheme) i wanted to choose an equally original colour scheme for the main task. I knew that if i chose DiscoFiction as my title, the colour scheme would need to be quite tailored to the title, however i decided to use Fried as my title and therefore left the colour scheme for my magazine open. I found that colours across established magazines were either dark or every rich, so i decided to give myself the challenge of taking away both these elements (deepness and richness) in order to create a very different looking title which would earn itself originality in its appearance. Whilst researching into which colours to combine however, i went through a fairly long period of time without access to WordPress (this blogging website)or to Photoshop (Image manipulation). This period lasted about 3-4 weeks and my work had to remain physical and unrecorded. On return, i applied the research i gained physically and applied it straight to a first draft. 

My research into contents pages was not as extended as my research into front covers and double-page spreads. This is because i had a fairly definite construct in my mind as to what i wanted my page to look like. With the contents page of my preliminary task bringing down my task as a whole, i wanted my contents page to stand out above all other elements of the main task. The masthead, colour scheme and format would work together to express a dynamic canvas which would show my technical and creative abilities are far above capable. I found in my research that there isn’t much room for creative diversity, and that contents pages are pretty limited to what you can do and how you can manipulate the generally accepted format. For double-page spreads, i did quite a lot of extended research into how photographs are used to give double-page spreads different personalities, and that with almost every example i studied, a photograph is carried across both pages.

Following my short privation from computer work, i went straight into the construction phase as i mentioned earlier. My first draft was detailed and i thought made very well. A simple font would not overwhelm the page and a vary of fonts would instead scatter the page (in an organised way). With this, i decided to keep all elements from my first draft and apply them directly to my final draft. Throughout the construction process i would simply add elements. These elements would be what i failed to include in my preliminary task, elements i discovered were massively popular and therefore necessary and elements to showcase the unique colour scheme i had decided on. For my contents page, i had 2 very very different drafts, one which looked like an every day contents page and the other which looked quite original. I chose the more original draft as i feared my contents page would be graded on the same grounds as my preliminary contents page; badly. When both my cover and contents drafts were complete, i was yet to take any original images, so when taking them, i had to keep the colour scheme in mind, and think carefully about how colours in the photograph would contrast with the non-neutral colour scheme of my magazine.

My photo-shoot was to quite a large scale. On the day of shooting, my model and I travelled to two different locations. We first went to quite a secluded area, full of very vibrant colour. It was a filed growing a yellow flower and the plants were quite high, i thought my model and the clothes he was wearing would look brilliant together. The second location was a busy area of Central London and we were able to take a few successful images, however the weather and lighting of the location was not too great and upon editing the images i found that there was no way of making the images look the way i wanted them, i therefore chose to analyse and use the filed shoot images.

As for original image use in my contents page, i have chosen two different photographs which i feel “suggest” two different themes. The first of my two images in one taken in 2007, and is simply a shot of about 7 people at a party. I chose to use this image as on my contents page, there is simply a frame for which a picture should go, and has no caption or heading explaining what ‘it is’. I think that the image would intrigue a reader and even suggest to them that there is a feature on parties for instance or perhaps concert culture. The second photograph is one i took, again in 2007, of the rock band “My Chemical Romance”. I felt the image obviously fitted the ‘music magazine’ genre and as it is a clear photograph of a band, the image does not need a caption or heading. With my double page spread, i had two images i knew would look really effective, but both had strengths and weaknesses. I posted both versions in my production log and deciding between the two was quite a late decision.

My finished project is successful i think. There are few elements that i am disappointed with but the mistakes i made in the preliminary task were all amended in this task. The front cover is quite simple in appearance but has quite a lot on it. Firstly, the masthead is an element which i am again, (as in my preliminary) very proud of. The word itself is in a bold but not too large font, the font was chosen in relation to the outer glow border which i gave my masthead. It gives both the effect of a golden and sparkly border whilst some interpreted it as making the word appear to be frying. I wanted this lightly colored trim to not make an emphasised contact with the letter adjacent to it, so to prevent the title looking as though it was just placed on a larger frame. The letters themselves are a burnt orange which changed as i went through my several drafts. It began a lighter shade and at one point the colour was closer to brown, but i feel with the original image and the frame, the colour i have finally chosen works very well. As for the rest of the contextual content on the front cover, i feel the fonts and colours all work well. In relation to the image, the placement of the left-side headers work well. The top half of the image is a light colour whilst a dark colour is at the bottom, yet both colours work well with the font and colour i have given the text. I think that overall, the genre of the magazine is not overly clear, but the band names and use of words indicates its speciality. The original image, is a picture of an artist standing alone with a guitar. I think the vibrant colours in the image contrast well with the non-vibrant coloring of the text, and large spreads of colour in particular work well with the scattered yet quite clustered formation of the remaining elements of the front cover. Elements i added towards the end of the project include the above-masthead header, the “free offer” caption box to the left of the page and the finalisation of the band name included in the main headline. I added these elements to add to the effect or reaching my target audience, with other music magazines aimed towards young adults, they also had these elements. More mature music magazines such as MOJO did have these elements, but they were not executed (i think) in a way for which to actually attract readers. For example my motto included in the above masthead header is different and intriguing. The free offer also offered is different to anything like a free CD for example, and actually offers a tour diary for a very popular band. As for the name of the band used in my main headline, the name was not initially a favourite of mine. 10 titles began at the creation stage of my project and “The fireline” came second in a survey i conducted behind “Candlestix”. I chose the Fireline in the end however as i feel it offers more insight into the quite specialised genre of my magazine.

The contents page is different to anything else i’ve seen. In my research, i found that all contents pages follow a fairly simple, ‘fixed’ design and nothing dramatically differs from this set formation. I felt strongly on changing that, and after my failure in the preliminary task in relation to the contents page, i felt that in the main task i had to create something special that would challenge the normal form and convention. The word contents is the main feature of the page. The masthead flows from to the left to the right of the page before curving down the right-hand side of the page whilst the letters remain vertical. I have included continuity in colour scheme, textual content and the title of the magazine is included in the top right hand side of the page. I feel the mirrored and dynamic formation of the text adds to the unique appearance of the page. In this mirrored formation, are two images, which i feel give the reader their own captions. As for the DPS, i think that the text and border behind it work extremely well, the effect i have given to my original image in manipulation is also very good and i think the clear continuity i have given the masthead works well.

I think that my magazine challenges established forms and conventions in that the vocabulary expressed both mildly on the contents and cover page and extensively on the double-page spread is different to any magazines way of communicating with their readers. In example, the author of the fictional article featured on my double-page spread speaks in quite a ‘laid-back’ manor and the informal way of text is rather casual, as if by reading the magazine you was hearing from a friend rather than a writer. Additionally, i think the general colour scheme which i have given to my magazine is a huge challenge to regular form in music magazine. In my research i found that almost every title for a music magazine included the colour red if not totally coloured in red. I felt strongly about breaking away from this general norm and figured a different colour would stand out among other magazines if it were to be published and sold in shops. Secondly, my contents page not only has adopted my new colour scheme but i have given it a layout which i found unrivaled and unattempted in my research of existing contents pages. 

So in layout and appearance, i feel my magazine challenges form and convention efficiently, but i also wanted to do this with the genre and general style of my magazine. Surprisingly, i found that bar a few unheard of magazines, there aren’t any “indie” based magazines on the market. So by specifying in this field alone, i think that i have challenged the common norm for magazine content.

Overall i think my magazine is unique in more ways than one and if published would be popular in a large market; a market where this kind of magazine does not exist.

Henry Phillips
AS Media
January-April 2009

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~ by Henry Phillips on April 23, 2009.

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