X Factor 2012: Camera Angles and Stage Lighting

How aware are the X Factor acts themselves of the kind of producer tactics that we analyse on this site? It’s a question that frequently comes up in the comments. Recently we heard, on condition of anonymity, from a Sofabet reader saying they had the opportunity to ask that very question directly to one of this year’s finalists.

The answer, according to our source? They are absolutely aware of it, and there is little they can do about it. Our source had expected the acts to have twigged that producers had their favourites, but reports being surprised by how keenly aware they seemed to be of the various ways in which viewers’ perceptions of them are steered.

One of the tactics mentioned would have escaped even the keenest of outside eyes.

Our source passes on the following anecdote (we should point out, naturally, that we are not in a position to verify this story): An act is filmed discussing their coming performance with their mentor. The mentor makes a suggestion for something the act should try to achieve in their performance. Following a discussion in which the act expresses discomfort with the idea, the mentor agrees to drop the suggestion. The VT is edited to show the original suggestion, but not the ensuing discussion. Thus, in the performance it looks like the act simply failed to deliver on what the mentor asked of them.

Our source says two other aspects of the show are especially keenly discussed among the acts as signalling to them who’s “in” and who’s “out”: camera angles and lighting.

Camera angles is a topic that gets touched on occasionally here, but we tend to focus rather more on factors such as VTs and comments. Perhaps we should write about it a lot more than we have been – it’s interesting to hear that it apparently plays a more central role in the acts’ thinking. Our source says the acts have deduced, and we’d agree, that lots of long and wide shots mean producers aren’t interested in you, lots of close-ups mean they want you to go further.

There’s obvious logic behind this – close-ups give an act more of a chance to forge a direct emotional connection with the viewer. It’s the same reason why, as AlisonR observed apropos Jade’s and District 3’s eye makeup in Hallowe’en week (and we’d discussed re Nicolo Festa’s sunglasses and Katie Waissel’s Hallowe’en garb in 2010), obscuring an act’s face seems to be hinder their audience connection. Edie further observed: “This is something I have noted with the Australian version of XF, the less favoured acts get really limited face time when singing, masks, long-range shots, focus on dancers etc”.

The point on lighting that was made by the act, according to our source, is also intriguing. The acts, we’re told, have deduced that it’s a sign of favour to get a small amount of lighting focused on you, and a sign of disfavour to get a load of lighting scattered all over the stage. Presumably the subliminal effect at work here is that lighting can direct viewers’ attention – either focusing their attention squarely on the act, or scattering their attention to the winds.

This insight reminded us of this image of Melanie Masson, which we had used in our piece discussing possible subliminal messages in staging. We used it there to raise the theory that a plinth is bad news as it distances an act from the audience, but it also seems to illustrate rather nicely what our source says the act was talking about (the examples that follow, we should emphasise, are ours alone):

Melanie Masson on a plinth

We also remembered there being beams of light dancing all over the place in Christopher Maloney’s performance in week 5:

In week 4, you may recall, they’d sent Maloney on stage with a bunch of hooded dancers shining flashlights anywhere but at him:

(And while Daniel rightly noted in his article on the Christopher Maloney phenomenon that weeks 4 and 5 sent mixed messages about producers’ intentions, there was certainly plenty of other subtly unhelpful imagery to enjoy in this staging, as noted in the comments at the time. This included the images of a shipwreck and of giant waves rolling towards him, visually suggesting perhaps that he is out of his depth).

Here’s a still from District 3’s performance on Saturday – they’re on stage somewhere, in amongst all that light:

How about what is generally considered on Sofabet to have been producers’ one clear successful assassination this year, the Hallowe’en performance that presaged Jade’s exit? The image doesn’t do this segment jutice, as the beams of light you can see shining away from her are part of a distractingly rapid-fire flashing sequence. Another lighting effect appears to have her trapped in a kind of pincer electrocution:

So, what might “good” lighting look like? One effect that immediately jumped to mind is one Daniel had commented on from week 5; the intended connotations of Jahmene’s halo effect seem pretty obvious:

Staying with Jahmene, here’s another still from last Saturday’s show, just before further lights reveal his angelic backing choir. The effect is in obvious contrast to the District 3 still shown above:

Let’s revisit how the lighting looked in another performance from this series which I think we can probably all agree was intended to be positively received – Ella’s week 1 ‘Rule The World’. Here’s the opening shot, with Ella bathed in a soft glow:

It’s not all close-ups for Ella. But the lighting effects on her wide-angles do seem to have the effect of focusing our attention on her:

This one may, at a push, be a visual attempt to play into the effort we’ve remarked on to associate the word “star” with Ella:

We’re sure there are counterexamples, and stage lighting is an area with significant scope for debate about what the effects on viewers’ perceptions will be. Nonetheless, we found it intriguing to be told that the acts allegedly notice and remark on it, and it all seems completely plausible to us. It’s something we’ll be paying increased attention to in coming weeks.

Your thoughts on the above, and your continuing thoughts on the competition in general? As ever, do keep the conversation going below.

74 comments to X Factor 2012: Camera Angles and Stage Lighting

  • Neeve

    This is so interesting. I’m not surprised to hear the acts are so aware of all the manipulation. It’s quite remarkable though that producers have such power that the acts cannot fight against it.

    On the subject of camera angles… I noticed on twitter that the District3 fans were up in arms over the weekend because one member was supposed to play a guitar as well as having the piano on Saturday. (the blonde one I think) After dress rehearsal on Saturday afternoon apparently this was changed due to “camera angles”. This was after rehearsing with the guitar all week. So blaming “camera angles” has become a running joke amongst them on twitter!

    Nobbling District 3 with last minute changes was a theme of this weekend. In the sing off they had no time to catch their breath after finding out they were in the bottom 2 before having to sing thus leading to their worst vocal performance and making Union J’s again ropey vocals seem good in comparison. I guess tptb realised that with such a technical signing group, last minute changes can throw them off.

    The lighting thing is spot on. District 3 also had the cage of light thing earlier (week 2 maybe?) Not sure if anyone on here watched Matt Edmondsons X factor video blogs in 2010 but he had a running joke about a “jesus” light which the Jahmene and Ella images here show to full effect.

    Does anyone think though that “good” lighting vs “bad” lighting depends on a particular acts strengths and weaknesses. Like for example a good Rylan performance is one which does not focus on him individually (well certainly not his voice anyway) so in this case distracting lighting and performance makes you focus on that and subconsciously remember only all the fun you had while watching it and not the vocal? Therefore if Rylan comes out this weekend with one spotlight for example it could be considered “bad” lighting. Thus making his good and bad lighting the opposite of, say, Jahmene?

  • I really like the thoughts in the last paragraph Neeve.

    An act like Rylan to be successful an catch the viewer, totally relys on stage performance and production, alot of the time not just what Rylan is doing but whats going on around him also. In this case the lighting not focused on Rylan would not be as much of a negative, since if the lighting highlights whats going on around him it can highlight the main focus’.

    Where as Jahmene/Chris/Ella all rely on their voice performance, they dont have any real stage presence in their performance. So the lightening can be used to push focus from the viewers onto the act. Allowing the audience to focus on their voice.

    I cant imagine Jahmene/Ella having the light surrounding them showing them trapped in a cage/prison like circle, having a good effect at all on their performance. It would make the act look uneasy, probably alot more significant than it would be for other acts.

    • Here is the picture of the circle/cage

      http://i46.tinypic.com/2dhv9z5.jpg

      I thought it shows massive isolation for the acts, only difference in Chris’ performance the cage changed color to gold and opened up, during the key moment in the song, allowing the viewers the chance open up and showed him being set “free” almost.

      • Jake Kl

        Also those beams of light on Chris’s performance are actually titled towards him, making him the main focus of the public whereas D3’s one are straighter, resembling to an invisible wall

  • Boki

    Amazing stuff. Btw I had an impression that D3 had too much close-ups so upping their chances to get away. I guess it’s the whole combination angles/lightning counts and as Neeve says it differs depending on the act.

    • Close up lightening of D3 this weekend, was the first time I noticed it, at first I thought it was enough to save them and was worried for Union J, especially since UJ’s performance/camera angles showed all the members apart and were from a wider angle. I expect UJ were bottom of the vote. (taking on board Louis didnt vote either, if D3 were bottom, he could have been saved to last and said “I’ll let the public decide)

  • Superb article. I love this idea of “give them a real mess” of lighting as part of the “bye bye now” process.

  • Kevin O Reilly

    Some of James Arthurs lighting has been off putting, even last Saturday it was all something of a mess I think

    • I have followed James Arthur’s performances closely and I find his stage performance very inconsistent, difficult to form a solid opinion on his treatment, it’s varied, I am not sure if this is the producers waiting for the right moment to play their bye bye card, or play there “wow” moments (if opting for the later, it needs to be this weekend)

      Week 1 – stronger – the lighting was everywhere and made the stage look like a mess, then the rap bit came in and was very dark as red – very negative all round

      Week 2 – no more drama – light blue lighting and all round positive production

      Week 3 – sexy and I know it – red but not dark, a lighter tone of red and dancers that danced around James, leaving the focus still on him. As opposed to being all around the stage. – positive

      Week 4 – sweet dreams – a very dark production to begin with, with flames often shown at a camera angle which gives the illusion James’ face was burning at varied moments in the song. However it ended which light white flashes with James’ fact outline in the light on the screens around him just as the beat kicks on. Neutral production. Can be seen as a negative and a positive

      Week 5 – don’t speak – starts off with the James in the audience, you would think this is a positive but if u watch the camera angles whilst he is in the audience it’s at camera below James looking up. He isn’t on a platform higher than the audience like Melanie is in the above example. But it gives that illusion. Then when he goes onto the main stage there are lots of angles from behind James – for me this was very negatve on the Sunday their was a bit of a gamble for James bottom two. Started at 11s and ended up around 5s mark just before show.

      (Also James failed to look at the camera at the end whilst hitting the high notes in the song, often lookin down at the floor, this is a negative but probably not down to producers just down to James’ mistakes, nothing that can’t be fixed with a bit of stage presence training)

      Week 6 – hometown glory – probably the best production he had. First time I’ve ever seen anyone standing on a stage with a video behind him throughout the song, could give illusion viewers were actually watching James in his own music video for various moments in the song. As well as white flashing lights when the beat kicked in. These were “star” shaped flashes – postive production

      Does anyone have any views on James’ performances anything I am missing? Or can shed any light on apparant inconsistency.

      Only thing that’s consistent throughout is that judges comments have remained positive (apart from Gary’s first week)

      Could this be a case of he is a plan a/b/c but don’t want to make it obvious to viewers so hiding this in stage performances each week by varying it. In order to begin a strike of consistency to build momentum at the right time? (Perhaps last week?)

  • Nugg

    My own chats with the acts would confirmn this too. I think more than ever this year the acts are very aware of the manipluations that clearly go on, be that staging , song choice , lighting , heavily edited VT’s or judges comments and deliberate rumour spreading to press.
    The general opinion just seems to be “we know it happens, it is out of our control”
    I do have a story about one certain contestant (whose name I will not mention here) who I know was told unless he/she went along with a sob story , which was largely based on exagerations and embelishmemts of the truth by the production team, then they would not be put through to lives.
    At the end of the day, the contestants I spoke to seem happy for the exposure making it to the live brings and are well aware they are part of a Saturday night entertainment show, not necessesarily a fair singing competition.
    The producers do hold all the power and they call the shots, however I did have a thought, suppose all 3 acts making it through to the final together, at the last minute, demanded £500,000 cash each or they all drop out of the show ….what would happen then? It’s an interesting thought…..

  • Great article Andrew and right up my street being involved with stage tech in my work. A stunning example is MK1’s last performance (and successful assassination) and my first elimination bet this year. Their set was just an OTT blaze of distracting and confusing colour, long shots and with lots of attention to dancers, who actually totally obscured them at times with the low camera angles.

    I pick my times to use stage effects and colours on bands/artists and even then quite sparsely and even then only to mood a song/musical passage intro/outro. But with MK1 it started off a bit dark and dank at times and then was like everything was switched on and going full pelt from then to finish. They also lived up to the Tinie Tempah theme by actually appearing to be ‘tiny’ amongst it all.

    An absolute classic goodbye hint also was the two (plain as the nose on your face) cutaway shots which showed a totally disinterested Louis and another similar one of Tulisa (who was supposed to be their excited and keen ‘urban roots’ mentor). It was at this point I got straight onto my bookie site for an elimination price.

    Watch this clip of them, but with the ‘sound off’ so that you notice more of the stage setting ….(always a good tip if you want analyse the visual messages again properly without distraction).

  • lolhart

    From a non betting of view, I also find it interesting the acts are so aware of the tactics used for or against them. One thing I would be curious to know is if the judges can go against the producers. For example, if there was an act who were out of favour but their “mentor” really believed in them, could said mentor then insist on changes? I kind of felt that Tulisa knew that Jade had been stitched up during the disastrous Freak Like Me performance. I’m guessing the judges have a limited say, but I’d be surprised that someone like Barlow would surrender all control.

    Also, off topic it’s interestingn that one of the things X-Factor US has been criticised over is the OTT productions.

    • EM

      I really believe there is very little mentoring involved bar a videoed pep talk and a few comments after the dress rehearsal.

      We know they don’t pick the songs or do the staging, there really is blank all else for them to do.

  • Curtis

    Given the stories that came out about for example Craig Colton last year about how unhappy he was with his elimination I think it’s been clear that acts have some awareness of the manipulation going on. I didn’t really forsee they’d have this much of an insight though, and interestingly, it’s not like they’ve just looked up Sofabet or a similar site to see the manipulatory factors we’ve found – some of the things pointed out here were theories that frankly I had never heard before but now do make perfect sense.

    I do think this is something that would vary from act to act – some acts do visibly appear to know when they’ve been stitched up – think Sophie Habibis last year – but most seem naively unaware, though this might just make them better actors than Sophie!

    • lolhart

      I always remember the stitch up of Sophie Habibis. Not just because of the infamous Sophie in the Pub VT, but her reaction when Louis labelled her “a secretary who sings at the weekend”. It was a big change from the first two weeks when she was being kept sweet as a Janet back-up.

      • “It was a big change from the first two weeks when she was being kept sweet as a Janet back-up.”

        Replace Janet with Ella and that statement would apply just as effectively to this year, with Jade going from “the dark horse”, “a precious stone” etc. to “frightening” and “awkward”).

  • R

    I suspect that in the past they knew bits and pieces but have become more savvy with each year. I also suspect that the younger contestants are more internet savvy and are very astute when it comes to searching online. Put an act’s name into Google, filter for the last 24 hours, and you a very likely to come across a Sofabet article. This is how I originally found this site and I’m sure I’m not the only one.
    I remember Sophie, Craig & Janet all seeming to know their time was up last year and Jade definitely knew this year.

    The one issue I have with the acts is the lack of solidarity. It seems that they are all willing to stick the knife into Chris even after leaving the show. I suspect this is because they’ve been made promises about post show support if they tow the line. I remember reading an article about Frankie where he said he was promised a spot on the tour if he didn’t kick up a fuss about his leaving last year.
    Maybe with the question mark over Lucy joining the tour, the show is using the same carrot this year.

  • Jack

    What I’ve never understood is why acts that are clearly so aware of their own demise never break the illusion with some outburst in the free time after Dermot comes to console them. They get about 30 seconds to a minute to say what they like before the end of the show. With a 30 second “live” delay there wouldn’t be enough time left to go to emergency adverts without basically ending the show there. I think Aiden was the closest I’ve seen anyone come to breaking through and saying something unscripted.

    Clearly there’s a strong “you’ll never work in the music industry again” threat, but what have they got to lose?

    As an aside, Dermot rattled off “there is a precedent for this” so quickly that Louis’s refusal was so clearly scripted and they seemed almost to try and actively avoid controversy rather than embrace it to boost ratings?

    • annie

      I think I read somewhere they have some pretty heavy contracts to sign at the beginning, with probably clear directions regarding keeping their mouths shut, so it’s probably more then the vague but possibly real threat that they’ll never work in the music industry, it’s also a legal issue what they can and cannot say.

      • annie

        And even if most don’t actually make it big afterwards, until they are in the limelight they are hanging on to the thin thread of hope that they’ll get the big break from this. By the time they realise it’s not gonna happen they are so forgotten by the public that few people would hear them and complaints would sound mostly like sour grapes

    • eurovicious

      A woman did this in a semi of Germany’s Got Talent (Das Supertalent) in 2009 (when I still watched it, before it turned to shite). She was a theremin player from Berlin. It was the year the dancing dog won. When the host asked her what she thought about her chances of getting through, she said “Well, I’m happy with my performance, but unlike a lot of the contestants, I don’t have a sob story”. The host literally pulled the microphone away from her, went “Danke schön!” and moved on with the show as soon as the word “Leidensgeschichte” (= sob story, literally “tale of suffering”) left her lips. Later in the show, the head judge verbally attacked her in quite a nasty way in an attempt to rectify things, saying “it’s not about the sob story” etc. The following year when the series returned, the manipulation and the exploitation of vulnerable individuals were worse than ever, and more extreme than anything you could get away with in the UK, so I stopped watching. By way of comparison with the UK version, in 2010, there were 10 audition shows and each was 2 and three-quarter hours long, with no adverts for the first hour. To make bad auditions funnier, they started superimposing computer effects onto the contestants. For instance, an obviously mentally handicapped girl who sang My Heart Will Go On (badly) was “live-photoshopped” into the iconic Titanic pic (where Kate Winslet stands at the stern of the ship), then when she reached the chorus they had her crash into a CG iceberg. This was the year after the dancing dog won, so perhaps we can expect these “improvements” next year in the UK (I sincerely hope not…).

      Be thankful for British television…

  • Chatterbox5200

    Someone did try this, albeit not on the live shows, but on the auditions. The girl who was the Pink tribute act stated that she was “told” what to sing, only to be ridiculed by the judges, stating that no-one told her and she could choose what she wanted to sing.

    I would assume that all the contestants are taking part in the show, in the hope of establishing some form of career in the music industry, and would probably prefer to be eliminated before they would expect than be seen to be a trouble maker that shouts when they feel stitched up.

    The statements that Rylan has made, that he doesn’t expect to come close to winning but wants to make the most of the opportunity to get noticed, are probably true for most. They want their “break” and see the show as the quickest/easiest way to get it.

  • Chatterbox5200

    Nugg – I have a reliable source that has informed me that Nicole actually did have quite a big say in the 3 boys that were put through to lives. One of them had not been selected, and she “threw a hissy fit” and the said act was then put in ahead of someone else. I can’t say how much involvement the judges/mentors have throughout the rest of the show though.

    • EM

      Sad I know but in Simon Cowell’s autobiography in the section about American Idol he talks about putting through acts at the audition stage because the producers told them so.

    • lolhart

      I wonder if the boy she threw a hissy fit over was Jaheme. One of the guys who got axed at judges’ houses said he was clearly Nicole’s favourite. I doubt very much it was her choice to pick Rylan. He has producers’ choice all over him. I’ve always assumed the judges (except Louis) want some say purely for egotistical reasons.

    • Mike F

      Something i’ve always wondered about is how much say the judges have in what acts are put through. On one hand you’ve got the judges like Louie who is known as the judge who will do the producers dirty work (controversial acts/eliminations). So stands to reason he will take through to the lives anyone the producers want. I remember reading he was furious when he had to take Goldie through to the lives but then again she was going straight there until she pulled out herself. Its not like Louie was ever going to refuse outright.

      Then on the other hand you’ve got Gary. Its clear the producers have control over him theres no doubting that but you have to concede that its not as much control as they have over louie. This series where he appears to have put his foot down over making the overs a serious category. I wonder if the producers would of had there way then Kye/Carolynn would of missed out going to the lives in favour of the more “louie style” over in Nicola Marie. So maybe there is an element of mentor control over who is chosen, for Gary at least and also maybe Nicole. (Something tells me Tulisa is merely glad for the exposure and does what shes told like Louie)

      I wonder about this leak about Nicole though. I mean surely if one of these boys isn’t a producers choice, then surely they wouldnt be pimped so heavily? I mean its fair to say that all three have been favored massively during the lives for their own reasons. Not doubting you though chatterbox it could easily be the ditsy (but lovely) Nicole Scherzinger saw more sense than those in the X factor head office and they decided to go with her choices as they made more sense (wouldn’t surprise me right now haha)

      • eurovicious

        Louis knows what side his bread’s buttered on. I’ve commented before here that I strongly believe the other 3 judges have a lot more leverage than many people here believe. Using last year as an example, I don’t think Gary and Kelly had any choice in putting either Frankie or Janet through respectively. But Kelly’s choice of Misha, Amelia and Sophie (over Jade) I felt was completely sincere, as was Gary’s choice of the 3 Liverpool lads. Tulisa is real too. She’ll go along with what producers want to the extent that’s necessary because she understands her job, but she really cares about her acts and speaks her mind (for better or worse). Louis is not musically minded and sees everything from an entertainment and marketability perspective (which has a certain logic when you consider the millions Jedward have reeled in) rather than a talent or vocal perspective, hence he puts through the wacky “memorable” acts. His approach to the Overs has actually been proven right this year compared to with Gary’s: Melanie and Kye just weren’t right for the show, Chris is causing them massive problems and Carolynne, while I love her, probably wasn’t right for it either. Give me Kitty or Sami any day. Johnny Robinson still has a successful career touring holiday camps and things off the back of X Factor, right across the UK and Ireland – I stumbled across a big interview with him in an Irish paper a couple of months ago.

  • Chatterbox5200

    Mike – it’s not a “leak”, I’ve known this from before the chosen 3 were announced, and have only mentioned it here. I haven’t seen it stated anywhere else. (for some reason my posts never appear as replies, but new posts. Sorry)

    • Mike F

      ahhh right apologies i must admit i don’t read the comments on a lot of articles so this is the first time i’ve read this. Like i said i’m just surprised all three would be favoured so heavily when one wasn’t even going to be in the lives. Does your source know if Gary/Tulisa have as much say in who goes to the lives as Nicole does?

      • eurovicious

        Yeah, they all had full VTs in the first 2 audition shows. Maybe there was a rethink about James Arthur after his comments on Twitter and they decided they didn’t want to put him through after all, but Nicole threatened to self-immolate if they didn’t?

        • lolhart

          That wouldn’t surprise me euovicious. Maybe they thought they had another Janet or Matt Cardle on their hands. I wasn’t surprised Nicole hasn’t had one “filler”/expendable act in her category.

  • Chatterbox5200

    I’m not too sure, but I’ll try to find out. I’m sure that if Nicole has that much say, the other judges probably do too, and Gary probably more so. As others have said, I’m sure Louis does what he’s told, and accepts what/who he’s given.

    • eurovicious

      Gary does have say, otherwise we’d have had Nicola Marie, who also got a full VT and an Olly visit (later cut down and shown on Xtra factor at the JH stage).

      I wish we had had Nicola Marie. 🙁

  • Highlighted

    On the subject of staging then what can we say for James?

    In week 3 and 5 he has been red and blacked. In week 4 he had all kinds of fire in his staging. In week 6 the lighting was chaotic at the best of times. Could hardly see him in the fuzz. I don’t know how he’s doing in the votes, but maybe Syco will see him as a great non-winner in future success. I think he’s by far the most talented on the stage this year.

    He gets all kind of celeb endorsements and the judges go crazy for him but I don’t think his staging helps him connect to the audience despite very emotional performances.

    • eurovicious

      I guess it’s context dependent. I’ve thought this too.

    • Highlighted, I just wrote a breakdown of James’ performances a few comments up before I saw this.

      I think most people I speak to think James is he most talented artist and will be successful wether he wins or loses, some say he will be most successful since he is credible, unique and we have had “recording artist” drummed down our heads since week one. It makes me wonder of the judges comments each week along with the inconsistent productions, have set the way for what’s about to come. The positive comments from the judges tell the audience now great he is so they believe it, before its glaringly obviously to then to see, held back by inconsistent production.

      But the fact it’s not a negative, negative, negative production, prevents him from being on the decline and keeps him just where they want him in the voting, until they pull the trigger wether it be pull the trigger to fly or to fall??

      I just question if they wanted him to fall, why give him a positive production last week. Only to shoot him down this week? It would have helped to follow on from week 5 and continue with negative, to pave the way for an inevitable fall.

      Maybe the fact that it isn’t obvious, keeps their intentions well hidden? Which will only enhance the effect of any “wow” moments.

  • R

    Craig said in an interview he knew his time had come when they had a last minute switch from 3rd to singing first the week he went.
    Janet said she knew the Wednesday before (I have no idea how) but she went back to Ireland that week to see her family and switch on the Xmas lights.
    Someone mentioned previously on here that they had spoken to Jade & she was aware.

  • Help!

    Completely unrelated to the topic at hand, but I do have one question. Do standing ovations from the judges even matter anymore?

    I would have thought that Jahmene’s performance of ‘Listen’ would bring all four judges to their feet, but it only bought Nicole up, the following comments were very much positive. I’m guessing who gets the standing ovations and who actually stands is likely decided before the show starts.

    I’ve noticed throughout rewatching performances from past series that Louis rarely ever stands up, he really doesn’t until the final, but that statement also applies to every other judge anyway…

    Sorry if it’s a bit of a silly question. Jahmene’s week 5 performance felt so hyped, that I was really surprised when the judges weren’t off their seats. To me, it’s likely that the standing ovations aren’t important anymore, and that it’s the comments that do matter.

    ON the topic of lighting and angles. I agree it’s all on who the act is. I doubt Rylan getting the close-up or wide angle treatment would be beneficial to him. But it would be interesting to see him sing an actual ballad this time, I advocate him to sing Could It Be Magic this weekend, and it cannot be the Take That version.

  • Alen

    Are the acts getting any money for performing on X Factor btw? I would guess so. And I guess their contracts are very tight so they would lose all the money if they’d expose anything within that year. That explains why they rarely say anything about it.

    Regarding Nicoles input. I love Nicole but don’t make any mistakes. She is a professional and very very strict. She is very strict with herself. I’m sure she is practising 3 days ahead the way she talks and what she is going to say. But hey, I don’t blame her, it IS an entertainment show in the end! So I would def. believe that there is not much the producers can tell her. And let’s face it. She is the star of this year! She is getting lots of love. So I imagine she can quite easily demand things like don’t f up with my acts. Allthough I’m sure she realizes that Rylan will leave soon and is ok with it.

    Anothing thing regarding this article is as someone mentioned the judges faces. I’ve realized that they like to cut to one or two judges during the performances and you can bet if they look happy, they will get compliments and if they look weird (or worst, not looking at the act but down at the table!) there will be criticism. (I realize that District 3 had happy faces looking at them last saturday but last saturday was all about the fans thinking they are safe so not bothering to vote).

  • Jake Kl

    Abit off topic but had a look at the Aiden V Katie singoff since some1 mentioned it. Nice to see Dermot was accepting “the act im keeping” back then

  • tpfkar

    One o the berst articles for some time – thank you for it and for the comments.

    I wonder how far this extends to guest artists? I sometimes think that were an artist a contestant, the lighting, cameras etc. would be unhelpful. I presume they have much more control than the contestants, but some of the same thinking may apply.

    • maccafan

      Hi tpfkar. Anything happening on the twitter traffic graphs front ? I have just joined it (reluctantly and kicking and screaming) so that I can keep an eye on followers number. James and UJ seemed to be neck and neck last time I checked

  • Kevin O Reilly

    Bits of money for Maloney, I have convinced myself he is a goner.

    • What makes you think Chris is a goner?

      • Kevin O Reilly

        I have prob. said this already but
        1. the producers must be reasonably happy that their tactics are getting some results as they continue with them. They know the vote scores so I think they must be reasonably content that his trajectory is negative enough to be gone soon. if the drip feed of negativity was having no effect would they have tried something else?
        2. I think you dismissed this but the money last Sunday seemed significant enough and while it did not pay off it may have been based on that the was close to B2. Perhaps he just shaded D3 by the end of voting. Possibly even his troops rallied in the final hour.
        3. The commercial break – I wondered was this precedented? – is it a coincidence that Christopher was the subject of this? I don’t think it was. Were the votes that tight that they were buying time to try and somehow make it be (like Bush & Gore). I suggest they would be tempted to even rig it rather than have him in the final couple of weeks.

        I also think the groundswell against him is rising and the support is likely to remain around the same level. On value grounds 7/2 to be B2 (as this is all that is required) is better than odds on Rylan although if 6/4 were still available on Rylan that would be also be more than fair value wise.

        • Fair enough.

          I expect the adverts were to bring further suspense to enhance the effect that the “booing” had. Also not sure if this then encourages his fans to vote in force again.

          I’ve always thought the negative press stories where leaked to slowly but surely dampen his vote week by week, is this the week its enough? Maybe so

          We shall see.

    • maccafan

      Kevin. If twitter followers (possibly representing/indicating actual voters and support) are anything to go by, Maloney is only 80,000 compared to James and UJ up around 560,000, with Ella 348,000 and Jahmene 309,000. Even Rylan is at 345,000. So you could be right. I think the ‘double amount’ vote for Chris leak is an XF engineered reverse psychology strategy ploy.

      • The only acts I have seen trending on twitter are Union J and District 3, both were trending at the top of the list last week, and both ended up in the bottom two.

        I am not sure how much I rate twitter related info.

        • Curtis

          Twitter and other social media stats are a great resource, if you know how to use them. Ignore the trending figures, look for the sites that collate actual stats such as the one linked below. The figures aren’t going to tell you anything about people who’s demographic don’t use twitter, so you can basically ignore Chris Maloney’s results for example. Then you have to factor in that boyband followers are probably the most likely people to use twitter. However, Ella and James fans probably use twitter in roughly equal proportions, for example, so any difference between those two should be noted and considered.

          • maccafan

            That’s interesting Curtis (and well noted) as it would put James in the lead well ahead of Ella anyway in that respect. However, knowing how young pop fans react and latch on to the latest fashion trend (and also considering the word ‘fan’ in it’s literal abbreviation of ‘fanatic’), they will vote a lot more more than once to see their idols win.

            This is how I reckon LM did it last year. It’s like a brainwashed cult following thing and kids are very easily influenced and daft with their money. They are also very busy with their fingers texting on their mobile phones (and very generous with Mummy’s phone bill too).

            I place no value on UJ’s talents and wouldn’t thank anyone for a CD of them (and it wouldn’t sit right on the shelf with my Beatles, Zep and Pink Floyd ones anyway, lol). I would thank you for a James one though, as that lad has real raw talent. All I do is just read and listen to young-uns internet posts and chat and then work it out from there. It worked last year and I can see signs of it happening again.

        • maccafan

          Boki. Thanks, very useful figures there. All I can say is that Liverpool, Baloney and his family and friends must be facing one hell of a phone bill this Christmas. The guy is like one of those frustrating arcade games where you hit the things on the head with a rubber hammer and they still keep popping back up.
          However, those figures are generally indicating a load of late interest coming in for Union J.
          I am still convinced that we will be looking at another Little Mix scenario this year. If those teenie girl UJ followers start voting in droves then all the acts are in trouble. I just got my son to buy up some 40/1 win bets on Betfair for me and I have just done some reverse forecasts with them and James with Ladbrokes.

      • Neeve

        I always wonder about the importance of twitter followers. Frankie had the most last year by a long way if I remember correctly. He barely missed bottom 2 most weeks before he left. Is it really that relevant?

        • Hi Neeve. To me, Twitter is a bit like Hughie Green’s Opportunity Knocks and the famous Clapometer vs postal vote. The machine was actually real too and was nothing more than a simple decibel meter (so it did represent the excited applause of the studio audience).

          A local (to me) band once beat recurring six time winner Bernie Flint hands down on that meter in the 70’s playing the rousing theme to ‘Rollerball’, but they came a close second in the actual postal vote. Votes were also so high that week that they would have won on any other week if Bernie wasn’t in it.

          Like Hughie said though “it’s the votes that count folks, so vote vote vote for your favourite act” (and the old OP joke here being for Frankie… “and if you can’t remember the name folks, just put CRAP and we’ll know who you mean”).

          I do think though that people hang back on voting en masse for XF in the early stages until the final which might explain Frankie’s b2’s and also Janet’s demise (despite their twitter trending and apparent popularity).
          I do think twitter figures are important though in the closing stages and it helped me immensely last year. That same principal will also see Baloney off when it comes to seriously increased voting figures for others (as his won’t increase much). He is definitely on borrowed time now.

  • Ben Cook

    Did anyone point out that the week Kye went, there was a camera shot of him from the back, with him inside an upside down red triangle? I thought that was quite funny.

  • Off topic but for anyone that takes part in the “First Act Announced Safe Market” their could be a small play here.
    Like the rest of this show.. nothing is Random or isnt decided already.

    The only acts that havent been announced safe first yet are
    Chris
    Rylan
    Jahmene

    Taking into account James/Union J have been announced 1st twice. (James’ second time was last week)

    I expect Rylan to be in the bottom two as do most, so that means he is rightly so an outsider for this.

    Chris has been getting boo’d when saved the longer he goes without being announced safe, the greater effect the boo’s will be as the Audience wait for their favoured act to be announced safe. Will only irriate them when they see the “Villian” has been saved and not their favoured act.

    (Baring in mind a few expect it to be Rylan v Chris anyway, im not one of them for the record)

    Leaves only Jahmene at 7-2, it seems almost as good of a week as any for him to be First Act Announced Safe

    • Boki

      I targeted Jahmene last 2 week and I’m not doing it anymore (meaning this week he actually may be called 1st).

      • Difference is you based your bets on him previously down to him being pimped and him being first act announced safe adds to that. Not something I’ve thought of in previous years when backing this market.

        This week I think he is purely a good bet by process of elimination.

        Just a view anyway

        • Boki

          I based it on the fact he was the only ‘big hitter’ that wasn’t announced safe yet (while there was a trend on others) and normally they didn’t repeat an act more than once while James/UJ were twice already. Your logic for this week makes sense I agree, I’m just afraid they might do Ella again and the odds are not so big anymore. Btw last week I also had Rylan since I was sure he will be 1st if survives – no justice at all…

  • Kevin O Reilly

    2/1 Ella.

  • AlisonR

    ooh, first namecheck in a main article 😀 . Re: camera angles, less favoured acts do tend to get more long shots (this is my perception, I’ve never counted), I’m sure I’ve seen performances over the years where an act has had almost no close-ups and then gone. Any data on this might be interesting.

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