Friday, October 21, 2016

Film Language: Editing

Editing is the last aspect of our Film Language unit - we'll be starting coursework after half-term. 

Two things to work on first:

Homework: important!

You will have a Film Language test in the first week after half-term. 

Your homework, therefore, is to revise EVERYTHING you've learned in your first half term with both your teachers - Film Language and the MIGRAIN key concepts. Links to lesson PowerPoints and further details can be found in this blog post.

Editing notes

Key terminology for editing:
  • Transitions
  • Continuity editing
  • Montage
  • Pace
  • Juxtaposition

  • A straight cut is the most common method and the audience are so accustomed to seeing these that we rarely notice them when they occur.
  • A fade out – the screen fades to black.
  • A dissolve - one image blurs into the next.
  • A wipe – one part of the screen wipes across the other.
  • A jump cut – an unexpected edit where the audience’s attention is forced to focus on something very suddenly.  

Continuity editing
Most editing of narrative film is continuity editing.  This is when shots are placed logically so that one event follows on from the next.  We, as the audience, automatically try to make sense of one shot joining the next one.  For example, if we see an exterior shot of a school and the following shot is a classroom, we assume that the classroom is inside the school building we saw in the previous shot.  

A montage sequence involves shots being placed next to each other that do not necessarily convey a linear narrative.  Instead, the shots tend to convey a message, provide an overall impression or shorten a story that takes place over a much longer period time.  For example, a sequence that included consecutive shots of a school building, classrooms, students playing football and teachers in the staffroom may be aiming to give an overall impression of school life.    

The speed at which the film cuts from one shot to the next makes a huge difference to the experience for the audience.

Generally, slow cuts build tension while fast cuts suggest action and excitement.

The word juxtaposition literally means ‘the act of placing together side by side’.

In film, two shots may be placed together to create meaning for the audience. E.g. A shot of the hero may be followed by a shot of his love interest to link these in the audience’s mind. This may also take the form of an eyeline match where a character looks in a certain direction and the next shot cuts to whatever they are looking at.

Editing task
There are some truly fantastic clips for the Editing part of the Film Language unit but we won't watch them all in one lesson. 

Your blog task is to find a film clip on YouTube that you feel has been edited in a distinctive way and write a 750 word analysis of the clip.

Use as much media language as you can - and remember to highlight it. Try and use the key words we've learned for editing and any other aspects of film language you can apply.

If you're not sure what clip to pick, you will find plenty of lists online if you search for 'great film editing sequences' or similar. One example that comes up when you do this is something like the shootout scene from Michael Mann's Heat (3mins - 6mins particularly, but it's all brilliant):

This Editing work is due after half-term - exact day confirmed by your Film Language teacher. Don't forget you need to be revising everything for your Film Language assessment too!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Film Language: half-term homework

Your half-term homework is to revise everything we've learned for both Film Language and the MIGRAIN introduction to Media.

You'll find the Film Language PowerPoint here.

The MIGRAIN introduction to Media work is here.

Your Film Language assessment will be in your MEST2 double lesson in the first week back.

Good luck!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Introduction to Media: Narrative

Narrative is a vital key concept for A Level Media.

There are three key narrative theories we need to learn as part of our introduction to AS Media. The notes as a reminder:

Narrative patterns
Linear Pattern: progresses forward towards a resolution - Beginning, Middle and End.
Multi-strand Narrative: popular in broadcast TV (e.g. soaps) and film. Involves more than one narrative running parallel involving different characters and locations.
Documentary narrative: this may revolve round a central theme (e.g. troublesome neighbours) or group of people.

Long-running TV series such as Breaking Bad or The Wire have one major narrative and lots of mini-narratives. The major narrative runs over the series, the mini narrative may be resolved within an episode.

Narrative theories
When studying narrative in Media, we need to be able to identify what the story is and how it is being told. There are three key theories we need to learn and apply:

Enigma and Action Codes - Roland Barthes
Barthes suggested that stories have certain codes that audiences understand and respond to.

ENIGMA codes: control how much we know and help hold our interest. It creates mystery during the narrative.

ACTION codes: events or actions in the story that are important in developing the narrative, e.g. a gun being cocked signifies that a violent scene will follow.

Todorov: equilibrium
Tzvetan Todorov proposed a theory of equilibrium:

Equilibrium: An existing state of harmony
Disequilibrium: Equilibrium is disrupted by an unfortunate event or evil character which leads to a chain of events involving conflict
New Equilibrium: The evil forces are defeated, the conflict is resolved and harmony exists once more

Character theory: Propp
Vladimir Propp came up with a list of stock characters in narratives by examining Russian fairytales. He called them the seven spheres of action:

The Villain: Creates a complication in the narrative
The Donor: Gives the hero something that will help in the resolution
The Helper: Helps the hero in restoring the resolution
The Princess: Has to be saved by the hero
The Dispatcher: Sends the hero on a task
The Hero: Central protagonist, saves the day and restores equilibrium
The False Hero: Rare character that appears to be good but is revealed to have been bad all along

Narrative blog task

1) Choose three clips from YouTube and embed them in your blog - one from film, one from TV and one of your choice.

2) For EACH clip, apply the three narrative theories: Barthes' action and enigma codes; Todorov's equilibrium; Propp's stock characters. Make specific reference to aspects of the clip (as you would in a film language analysis). Remember to highlight media language.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Institution: Is the golden age of TV coming to an end?

In our introduction to Media unit, we have just finished learning about institution and will be moving on to narrative and genre.

On the Guardian website this weekend there was an article suggesting the golden age of TV may be coming to an end - a perfect link to our work on institution and also a good lead in to the key concepts of narrative and genre.

You can find the article here - read the whole thing and also have a look at the comments below. What is YOUR opinion? Is TV in trouble? Are you willing to pay for high quality TV?

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Film Language: Cinematography

We have watched some superb clips for cinematography, learning the importance of camera shots, angle and movement.

Being able to confidently analyse camera shots and movement is essential for media textual analysis and may well be required in the MEST1 exam.

Your cinematography homework is as follows:

1) Find the opening sequence to a film of your choice on YouTube. 

2) Embed the video in a blogpost and write an analysis of the cinematography. 

3) Highlight your use of Media language and try to cover camera shots, angles and movement using the terminology we have learned in lessons.

This must be a minimum of 250 words but you may wish to write more than this.

Due: next week (day specified by your Film Language teacher)

Blog Task on Brand Values

According to Gillian Dyer (Advertising as Communication, 1988) advertisers use, among other techniques, lines of appeal to create brand identities and attract their target audience.

Dyer suggested lines of appeal could be classified into 13 groups:
Happy families - everyone wants to belong
Rich, luxurious lifestyles - aspirational
Dreams and fantasy
Successful romance and love
Elite people or experts
Glamorous places
Successful careers
Art, culture & history
Nature & the natural world
Beautiful women (Dyer suggests men AND women like looking at beautiful women: men admire them, women admire what makes the men admire them)
Self-importance & pride
Comedy & humour
Childhood - can appeal to either nostalgia or to nurturing instincts
Dyer suggests these lines of appeal are effective because they deal with our social needs.
On your blog, complete the following task:
Choose 5 brands. For EACH brand:

1.Sum up the brand values in 100 words, making reference to Dyer’s lines of appeal

2.Distil the brand values into one sentence of no more than 10 words.

3.Sum up the brand in ONE word.

Example: Starbucks
1.The Starbucks brand is clever because it comes across as a friendly, local-style company when it is in fact a massive global business. Its brand values would be about quality, lifestyle and a personal touch.  Starbucks could fit into several of Dyer’s lines of appeal: Happy families - everyone wants to belong, hence Starbucks asking your name when you order. It could also fit into Successful careers – Starbucks is for hard-working, successful people who want to enjoy life. Finally, Self-importance and pride links to Starbucks taking coffee seriously and its employees and customers having genuine passion for the brand. (100 words)

2.The Starbucks brand is about quality with a personal touch. (10 words)

3.Starbucks in one word: Passion.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Blog Task - Learner Response

Hello Year 12,
I have marked your blogs and written comments on all your work. 
Read all your comments and spend 25 minutes replying to them and improving your work as required.

Write a new blog post answering this question: What do you consider your strengths and weaknesses have been so far? What would you like to learn more about? What next steps do you need to take to ensure success in Media A Level?

Miss Fowler