Monday, 31 October 2016

Ex_Machina Research


Andrew McDonald and Allon Reich


Alex Garland


Universal Pictures


Alicia Vikander, Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac and Sonoya Mizuno


$15 million


Pinewood Studios, Buckinghamshire and Valldalen, Norway


Filmed in digital at 4K resolution. There were no green screens, special effects or tracking markers used in filming - all of the effects were added post-production. In order to create the background behind Alicia Vikander's character they filmed the scenes both with and without her there. After doing this they then rotoscoped her face and her hands, had the rest of her body was digitally painted and they restored the background behind her. They used the camera and body tracking systems to transfer to the CGI robot's movements. Some visual effects were used including the transparent areas of her body, Nathan's blood when he was stabbed and the interior of the artificial brains.

Number of screens - opening weekend


Number of screens - peak number


Box Office Figures

$36.9 million

Issues raised by media ownership in contemporary media practice

Film4 and DNA Films were responsible for the making of the film. Both of them are small companies especially when compared to other film companies e.g. 20th Century Fox. This can impact on the quality and number of resources and technology the companies have access to. Film4 is a British company owned by Channel 4 Television Corporation . DNA Films is also a British company and one of the most successful production companies located in the UK. Both of the companies are successful in their own way and have been behind some big and successful films e.g. DNA Films was involved with the production of the 2003 film Love Actually. Neither of them are global companies or successful worldwide which makes them a smaller company but they are good at what they do. The film only had a small budget as well, it makes more sense to have smaller production companies who are more used to working with a lower budget as it's more likely they would be able to manage it effectively and cover what they need. Sometimes people prefer working with smaller production companies if they have a certain vision for the film, as sometimes the work of bigger companies can affect the overall look of the film.

The importance of cross media convergence for institutions and audiences

The film was distributed by Universal Pictures, they are able to use their name and power to get the word out there about the film and get it on as many screens as possible. They were behind the advertising for the film and released the trailers for the film in order to spread the word and get their audience interested. Both Film4 and DNA Films are small production companies, if they worked with a small distributor then the film wouldn't get anywhere and it wouldn't be as successful as it was. By working with a big distributor like Universal Pictures it is more likely that the film will be more widespread and generate a bigger audience than it would with a small distributor. Universal Pictures have an advanced understanding about the film industry and what audiences like and don't like. In order to minimise the risk of a loss, they will be careful with how many screens they choose to show the film on. Universal helped finance the film in exchange for worldwide sale rights. However, after the film was finished, Universal decided that the film was too quirky for a big studio release. They knew that it wouldn't work in the way they thought it would so tried to sell the rights to somebody else. Eventually the distributor A24, known for working with indie films, picked it up and put it in cinemas in the US. Initially the film was only shown on 4 screens but just a week later that number had raised to 2,050. This is a clear example of how successful the film was in the US box office as it made such a significant jump.

The technologies that have been introduced in recent years at the levels of production, distribution, marketing and exchange

Ex-Machina only had a small budget so they couldn't spend a lot of money on special effects and green screens during production. Also, they were working with small production companies who just didn't have the access to high quality technology like some other bigger production companies would. All of the special effects were added in post-production. This meant that they had to prepare for this during production knowing that they would have to edit it later to create the effect they wanted. An example of this is the appearance of Alicia Vikander's character who is a robot with a transparent middle section. In order to add in this transparent effect later on the production team filmed the scenes both with and without her to capture the background behind her. When it got to the stage of post-production they rotoscoped her hands and face, the main features they wanted to keep, then digitally painted the rest of her body and restored the background. This then completed the final look of her with features of both the scenes with her, without her and the post-production effects that digitally painted the rest of her body on. They didn't use any tracking markers during filming, they just relied on camera and body tracking systems to transfer to the robot's CGI movements. The entire film was filmed in digital, which is a cheaper way to film especially for distribution of the film because most cinemas have the technology for digital films instead as that is the format most companies film on. 

The significance of proliferation in hardware and content for institutions and audiences

To make the film available further after the film has been released in the cinema the distributors have to work to find ways for the film to be released that fit in with what modern audiences want. Modern audiences are more likely to stream a film online or through an app with an online subscription than actually going out and buying the film. Films are still released on DVD as there are still audiences that buy them in this format and there are some people who won't use streaming services. If they don't use services and formats that fit nearly everyone then they are at risk of losing a chunk of their market. The film is available on Blu-Ray, DVD, Amazon Video, iTunes, Google Play, Playstation Video and Youtube. They have ensured that the film is available on a number of different services so that nearly anyone could go access to the film if they wanted to. 

The importance of technological convergence for institutions and audiences 

The main marketing campaign that the promotional team ran was on Tinder. They created a profile for Ava, the robot in the film, using pictures of Alicia Vikander. The campaign was launched at the South by Southwest Festival where the film was screened. Ava was matched with other Tinder users who could get to the festival. In the conversation she would send them to the Instagram handle that they thought was hers but was actually promoting the film. The idea behind this was to engage with a younger audience by using an app they may have and interacting with them directly. It was important for the team to reach out to their audience with a medium that suited their target audience.

The issues raised in the targeting of national and local audiences (specifically, British) by international or global institutions

The promotion team had an issue with the big marketing campaign they launched on Tinder. The campaign was met with mixed responses, it did well and proved to be effective but most people had more negative views of it. Many people described it as being 'counter-productive', 'an invasion of privacy', 'trolling' and 'trickery'. Even though it was effective it didn't get the best response from the audience they were targeting which doesn't make it a very successful campaign on the whole. Another issue with this is that it only targets audience members who were in that area, which is only a small area, so even though the campaign may have been successful in general it wouldn't have targeted a large audience on a national basis.

The ways in which the candidates' own experiences of media consumption illustrate wider patterns and trends of audience behaviour 

I think it's a definite fact that audiences, specifically younger audiences, are more likely to watch a film streamed online than they are to go and see it at the cinema. Often there are a lot of films that we may be interested in but not enough to pay to go and see it at the cinema or maybe it isn't on at a cinema near us and we don't want to travel. The thing that audiences like most about streaming services is having the ability to watch on the go or from the comfort of their own home, they are able to watch it on their phone/laptop without having to use their TV. I think it's important to ensure films are readily available online, as this is where modern audiences are more likely to watch it especially if the film is shown on a limited number of screens.


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