Film, television and video

clapperboard, reel of film and camera

© istockphoto.com/kkgas

The value of images in the presentation and marketing of popular music is taken further in their use in film, television and music video. Moving image’s ability to exploit the visual elements of popular musicians was apparent from the moment that sound-on-film technology was developed in the 1920s. It has continued to constitute a major part of popular music culture ever since, from the ‘star vehicle’ movies of the 1920s and 1930s through the golden age of music television shows in the mid-20th century, to the internet video-launched acts of the present day.

Historically, film, music videos, and television appearances have been a key way of selling music to a mass audience, and all three are integral to the promotional strategies of the recording industry. Record companies spend significant amounts of their promotional budgets on making pop videos, whilst movie tie-ins and cross promotion have become invaluable in launching successful acts and recordings. Such audiovisual representations have also become an important way that popular cultural moments become part of popular music history in the public imagination. Many TV appearances, for example, have come to be regarded as major shared cultural moments that are imbued with important historical significance and high cultural value.

As with photography and record cover art, media that incorporate music and the moving image have a highly developed language of their own, in which visual conventions are used to denote the genre, meaning and social context of the music. Video is not only used to sell recordings but also plays a major part in reinforcing the musical identity and visual image of an act. When we look at music video, it is clear that differing musical genres have differing visual conventions. The highly polished and choreographed videos commonly made to accompany pop records are very different from the grittier images (often with a concentration on performance) that are common within rock.

In local terms, Liverpool has many connections with film and video. Not only have a great many Liverpool musicians been featured in films, but Liverpool acts have often used the city as a location for videos, capitalising on the city’s media images. The reduction in costs of video recording and editing technologies means that videos are now easier to produce (many Liverpool bands now make their own) and the city now has a burgeoning music video industry.

Follow the links below to explore some particular aspects of the relationship between film, image and design: