Friday, April 20, 2018

TV: End of unit index

We have completed excellent in-depth studies of Capital and Deutschland 83. We now need to create an index to ensure we haven't missed any vital notes or tasks.  

As you know, keeping an index of all your work is extremely good practice from a revision perspective. This keeps the vital CSP information fresh in your mind and also highlights if you've missed anything through absence or trips. 

TV index: Capital & Deutschland 83

Your TV index should include the following:

1) Introduction to TV Drama
2) Capital: Case study
3) Capital: Representations scene analysis notes
4) Capital: Representation essay question
5) Capital: Marxism and Hegemony
6) Capital: Applying Marxism
7) Deutschland 83: Case study
8) Deutschland 83: Close-textual analysis notes
9) Deutschland 83: Postmodernism
10) TV: The rise of foreign-language TV dramas
11) TV: The impact of new/digital media on television

For your index, it needs to link to YOUR corresponding blogpost so you can access your work and revision notes quickly and easily. This also means you if you have missed anything you can now catch up with the work/notes and won't underperform in future assessments/exams due to gaps in your knowledge.

Assessment revision

You will have an assessment on both TV and the Film Industry (Chicken) on Friday 27 April. Make sure you revise all of your work from those two units and also look over the key terminology in the Film and TV Language unit from the Autumn term. 

Important: your index, the final work on TV AND all your revision needs to be completed by Friday.

TV: The impact of new/digital media on television

New and digital media has had a huge impact on the television industry in the last 10 years.

Streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime have fundamentally changed the way we watch television. In just 10 years, Netflix has gone from a mail-order DVD company to a giant in the television industry. Next year, Netflix plans to spend $8 billion making original TV programmes.

Watch Newsweek magazine's short video on how Netflix changed TV:

TV Drama

One of the key genres for Netflix and Amazon Prime is TV drama. Many of these dramas now have the budgets and production values of Hollywood movies and many top actors are choosing to work in television rather than film.

In addition, the increase in streaming services has created a worldwide distribution network for acclaimed foreign-language TV dramas such as Deutschland 83.

Streaming services and audience

For audiences, streaming has changed the way we watch television. 

'Event TV', when millions of people around the country would tune in to watch the latest episode of a drama at a set time, is far less common now. Many people now 'binge-watch' TV dramas by watching multiple episodes back-to-back.

The impact of new/digital media on TV: blog task

Go to our Media Magazine archive and read the article on Netflix and the Cultural Industries (MM63 - page 45). Create a blogpost called 'The impact of new/digital media on TV' and answer the following questions:

1) What does the 'industry' concept in A Level Media Studies refer to?

2) What does David Hesmondhalgh argue with regards to how the creative industries have changed since the 1980s?

3) Choose the three most significant points Hesmondhalgh makes regarding the changing cultural industries. Why are these the most significant in your view?

4) What is technological convergence? 

5) How are technology companies challenging traditional broadcasters in the TV industry?

6) What budgets will Netflix, Amazon and Apple spend on original programming next year?

7) How many countries are Netflix and Amazon available in?

8) The global nature of modern television means producers are having to consider international audiences when creating content. What example from Netflix does the article use to explain this?

9) Do you think technology companies such as Google, Facebook and Amazon will increase their interest in the television industry?

10) How do changes in technology influence the creation of TV dramas such as Capital or Deutschland 83? How?

You'll need to complete this for homework - due next week.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Advertising assessment: Learner response

The Advertising & Marketing assessment was a great opportunity to demonstrate the progress you are making in A Level Media.

The first part of your learner response is to look carefully at your mark, grade and comments from your teacher. If anything doesn't make sense, ask your teacher - it's crucial we're learning from the process of assessments and feedback. 

Your learner response is as follows:

Create a new blog post called 'Advertising assessment learner response' and complete the following tasks:

1) Type up your feedback in full (you don't need to write the mark and grade if you want to keep this confidential).

2) Read the whole mark scheme for this assessment carefully. Identify at least one potential point that you missed out on for each question in the assessment.

3) On a scale of 1-10 (1 = low, 10 = high), how much revision and preparation did you do for this assessment?

4) Look at your answer and the mark scheme for Question 1. What aspect of technical film language (camerawork, mise-en-scene etc.) or advertising persuasive techniques do you need to revise to improve your response to this kind of question in future?

5) Look at your answer and the mark scheme for Question 2. What aspects of the cultural and historical context for the Score hair cream advert do you need to revise or develop in future?

6) Now look over your mark, teacher comments and the mark scheme for Question 3 - the 20 mark essay question on David Gauntlett and masculinity 'in crisis'. Write a completely new paragraph for this question based on the suggested theories/answers in the mark scheme. Make sure it is an extensive, detailed paragraph focused on the question and offering examples/textual analysis from the Advertising CSPs. 

If you do not finish your learner response in the lesson your work is returned, this needs to be completed at home by your next exam lesson.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

TV: The rise of foreign-language television

The television industry has changed significantly in recent years - with subtitled foreign programming a perfect example.

Through globalisation and developments in technology, the way we watch television is completely different to even 15 years ago. We need to explore the rise in popularity of foreign-language television and work out why audiences like it and what is behind the recent surge in interest.

Foreign-language television

Foreign-language television is becoming increasingly mainstream with the rise of on-demand services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime alongside UK digital channels such as BBC4.

Audiences are now accustomed to 'binge-watching' TV drama and seem increasingly open to content from around the world. This perhaps reflects the global nature of the internet and the fact younger generations are more likely to see themselves as global citizens. It also reflects the global nature of the television industry with a small number of international media conglomerates owning the vast majority of TV production companies.

Walter Presents

‘Walter Presents’ is a video-on-demand (VOD) service from Channel 4, available through their online streaming site All4. The service presents international TV drama curated by Walter Iuzzolino.

The service aims to avoid so-called arthouse programming in favour of more mainstream productions, aimed at competing against Netflix and Amazon Prime. Walter Iuzzolino stated any selected show must be popular in its native country and it must be “award-winning or critically acclaimed”.

Watch the trailer for the ‘Walter Presents’ service and think about the following questions:
  • Close-textual analysis: how does the trailer use film language to encourage the audience to watch?
  • What conventions of TV drama are highlighted in the trailer?
  • How many clips from Deutschland 83 can you spot?
  • What audience pleasures are suggested by the trailer?

Meet Walter promo clip

Channel 4 created a short introductory video for ‘Walter Presents’. Watch the clip and think about the following:
  • How is Walter introduced?
  • What target audience is this aiming at? 
  • What audience pleasures are suggested from the promo?
  • What does Walter say about TV drama? 

The rise of foreign-language TV: Blog tasks

To continue our work on Deutschland 83, we need to read a range of articles on the foreign-language TV phenomenon. When answering the questions, consider the issues from both an audience and industry perspective.

Independent: British viewers can't get enough of foreign-language dramas

Read this Independent feature on foreign-language dramas. It features an in-depth interview with Walter Iuzzolino who curates Channel 4's Walter Presents programming. Answer the questions below:

1) What does the article suggest regarding the traditional audience for foreign-language subtitled media?

2) What does Walter Iuzzolino suggest is the key appeal of his 'Walter Presents' shows?

3) The article makes an interesting claim for the popularity of subtitles in the multi-screen age. What does it suggest?

4) What are the other audiences pleasures of foreign TV drama suggested by the article?

Now look at the bonus article - on Sherlock and how viewers are steering their favourite shows.

5) What examples are provided of how TV companies are increasingly using audiences to inform the production process?

Film School Rejects: The foreign TV dramas you're missing out on

Now read this Film School Rejects feature on the foreign TV dramas you're missing out on. This contains some particularly useful background on Deutschland 83's reception internationally. If the website is blocked, you can access the article text here. Answer the following questions:

1) What does the article tell us about Deutschland 83's release schedule?

2) The article contains important statistics on viewing figures in different countries. What were the German viewing figures for the first and last episode? What were Channel's 4's viewing figures for Deutschland 83?

3) Who are the two production and distribution companies behind Deutschland 83 and what did they announce in October?

4) What does the article suggest was the driving force behind the series being renewed for a new season (and possibly two new seasons)?

5) How does Walter Iuzzolino use social media to engage audiences in new international TV dramas? How does he suggest this has changed the reception of foreign productions in the UK?

IndieWire: The rise of international television

Now look at this IndieWire feature on the rise of international television. If the website is blocked, you can access the text from the article here. Answer the questions below:

1) What does the article suggest regarding the difference between TV and film?

2) What cultural differences are highlighted in the article - for example in turning 'Prisoners of War' into 'Homeland' when remade in the US?

3) Why do you think Deutschland 83 was able to rise above these cultural differences to be successful in the US and UK? Did this inadvertently make the drama fail in Germany?

4) What does the article suggest about subtitling?

5) What does Sopranos actor Steven Van Zandt suggest is the appeal in foreign television drama?

The Guardian: How tech is changing television

Finally, read this Guardian feature on how tech is changing television. This has some particularly useful aspects from an industry perspective - how TV is made, the different formats of TV drama and more. Answer the following questions:

1) What are the traditional lengths for TV drama and what dictated these programme formats?

2) How have streaming services such as Netflix or Amazon Prime changed the way TV drama narratives are constructed?

3) Why has the rise in streaming led to more complex storylines and an increase in cliffhangers?

4) How have the "economics of production" kept TV drama largely sticking to the 45- or 60-minute episode format?

5) How has "permanent 24/7 connectivity" changed both the production and consumption of TV drama?

There is a fair amount of work here - the questions are not too challenging but there is plenty to read. However, this will prepare you brilliantly for the extended essay question in Media Paper 2 - particularly if the question focuses on industry or audience.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Magazines: Front cover practical task

The best way to learn the conventions of a media product is to create one. Your first task for the Magazines unit is to create an original front cover for an existing magazine.

This will also help to prepare you for the cross-media coursework starting in June.

Task: Choose an existing magazine and create a front cover for a new, original edition of your chosen publication.

Example: student version of Vogue magazine...

Magazine practical task: blog work

Create a blogpost called 'Magazine practical task research' and complete the following tasks:

1) Use your lesson notes on magazine genres and conventions to view a range of potential magazine covers. Create a shortlist of three potential magazines and embed an example front cover from each one.

2) Select your chosen magazine to create a new edition for and explain the thinking behind your choice.

3) Find three different front covers for your chosen magazine and embed them in your blogpost. Analyse the fonts, colours and typical design. What is the language or writing style? How are the cover lines presented? You need to become an expert in the design and construction of this magazine and its branding.

Create a separate blogpost called 'Magazine practical task planning' and complete the following tasks:

1) Plan your main flash - this is the main cover story that links to your central image.

2) Plan the image you will need for the cover - model, costume, make-up, lighting etc. At this point, simply describe the image you need to capture.

3) Write the cover lines and any additional text you need for your magazine cover.

4) Sketch out your cover on plain A4 paper using your written planning. Take a photo of your sketch and embed it in your blogpost.

The photoshoot will take place on Monday 23 April. Make sure you have everything you need for the lesson - model, costume, make-up etc.

Photoshop design
You will have the photoshoot lesson and one additional single lesson to design the front cover on Photoshop. Use YouTube tutorials to help introduce Photoshop if you haven't used it before - this one is a complete guide to creating a magazine cover.

Publication to blog and analysis
Create a blogpost called 'Magazine practical task evaluation' and complete the following tasks:

1) Save your finished Photoshop magazine cover as a JPEG image and upload it to your evaluation blogpost.

2) Write an evaluation of your work: have you succeeded in your brief to create a new, original edition of an existing magazine?

3) Put your cover alongside a couple of genuine covers of your chosen magazine. How professional is your work alongside genuine examples?

4) What is the strongest aspect of your work?

5) What is the weakest aspect of your Photoshop magazine cover? 

6) What would you do differently if you completed this assignment again?

Dates and deadlines

Research deadline: Friday 20 April

Planning deadline and photoshoot: Monday 23 April

Photoshop editing lesson: Friday 27 April

Final deadline: Friday 4 May

We will have two weeks' of lessons for this but you will still need to complete much of this work for homework. Deadlines specified above!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

TV: Postmodernism and Deutschland 83

Postmodernism is one of the more challenging ideas in A Level Media but fortunately Deutschland 83 provides a brilliant case study as a postmodernist media text.

We need to be able to look for postmodern ideas in the media texts we study - and some of that we've done already in our work on advertising and marketing, intertextuality and genre.

Notes and definitions

Postmodernism: a late 20th-century style and concept in the arts, architecture, and criticism, which represents a departure from modernism and is characterized by the self-conscious use of earlier styles and conventions, a mixing of different artistic styles and media, and a general distrust of theories. (Source: Dictionary definition)

A brief history
Postmodernism is linked to the premodernism and modernism eras.

Pre-modernism: up to late 19th century.
Religion dominates society.

Modernism: late 19th century to mid-20th century
Science dominates; religion questioned; distinct difference between high culture (e.g. art) and low culture; industrialisation.

Postmodernism: mid- to late-20th century to present
Blurring of high and low culture/art and popular culture; media-driven hyper-reality; style over substance.

Postmodernism and the media
Postmodernism is often defined by scepticism, irony, self-referentiality or intertextuality.

What does that mean? The Simpsons provides an example. The structure is a classic family sitcom but the content ridicules authority (including its media conglomerate owner) and is full of intertextual references to other films, TV shows and popular culture.

Further examples of postmodernism
An example in architecture would be Las Vegas; in art, Andy Warhol's pop-art of the 1960s.

Award-winning 1998 German film Run Lola Run (‘Lola Rennt’) is credited with revitalising German cinema with a postmodern take on crime drama that features a repeating narrative and a blurring of genres.

Postmodernism: theory and terminology

Dominic Strinati identified five ways to define postmodernism:

1. ‘Media-isation’ of culture – we make sense of reality using media texts
2. Emphasis of style over substance e.g. celebrity, reality TV
3. Breakdown of difference between art and popular culture
4. Confusion over time and space – modern society is built on the instantaneous
5. Decline of meta-narratives or grand narratives (e.g. religion or political theories such as communism)

Key terms
There are some key terms we need to learn when studying postmodernism in media texts:

The juxtaposing of old and new texts, images, ideas and narratives to create new meanings.

Jean Baudrillard argued that audiences view the ‘copy’ of reality in the media as more real than the original. Fredric Jameson discussed the idea of ‘historical deafness’ by suggesting the media-isation of history means we only understand historical events through their media representation.

There are some key terms we need to learn when studying postmodernism in media texts:

This refers to media products that imitate the style of another text, artist or time period. Pastiche is an example of intertextuality and takes a positive view of the original source.

In contrast parody is similar but ridicules the original source (e.g. Scary Movie parodies horror).

Fredric Jameson on parody and pastiche
“Pastiche is, like parody, the imitation of a peculiar or unique, idiosyncratic style, the wearing of a linguistic mask, speech in a dead language. But it is a neutral practice of such mimicry, without any of parody’s ulterior motives, amputated of the satiric impulse, devoid of laughter.”

Jameson suggested pastiche does not offer up comment on society or history – it is simply done because it is ‘stylish’. He marks this as an example of ‘historical deafness’.

Deutschland 83: a postmodernism text
The following scenes of Deutschland 83 provide excellent examples of bricolage, hyper-reality and pastiche:
  • Opening scene: 0.00 – 3.00
  • Title sequence followed by archive footage: 8.10 – 9.15
  • Running/supermarket scene: 17.10 – 18.10 

Postmodernism & Deutschland 83: blog task

Go to our Media Factsheet archive on the Media Shared drive and open Factsheet #54: Introduction to Postmodernism. Our Media Factsheet archive is on the Media Shared drive: M:\Resources\A Level\Media Factsheets - you'll need to save the factsheet to USB or email it to yourself in order to complete this at home. Read the factsheet and answer the following questions:

1) Read the section on Strinati's five ways to define postmodernity. What examples are provided of the breakdown of the distinction between culture and society (media-isation)?

2) What is Fredric Jameson's idea of 'historical deafness'? How can the idea of 'historical deafness' be applied to Deutschland 83?

3) What examples and theories are provided for the idea of 'style over substance'?

4) What examples from music are provided for the breakdown of the distinction between art and popular culture? Can this be applied to Deutschland 83?

5) What is bricolage? What examples of bricolage can be found in Deutschland 83?

6) How can the audience pleasures of Deutschland 83 be linked to postmodernism? Read 'The decline of meta-narratives' and 'Media texts and the postmodern' to help answer this.

7) Read the analysis of media concepts and postmodern approaches on page 3 of the factsheet. Choose three of the concepts and write an example from Deutschland 83. Clue: genre, representation, ideology and audience would all be good options for this task.

8) Now look at page 4 of the factsheet. How does Deutschland 83 demonstrate aspects of the postmodern in its construction and ideological positioning?

9) Which key scenes from Deutschland 83 best provide examples of postmodernism? Why?

10) Why might audiences enjoy the postmodern aspects of Deutschland 83? What audience pleasures might elements of bricolage or pastiche provide viewers?

There is a lot of challenging work here - you will have the Easter holidays to complete it but take your time, read around the subject and re-watch the scenes from the first episode on All4 to help develop impressive academic answers to these questions.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Advertising: End of unit index

We have completed some excellent work on our Advertising and Marketing CSPs. We now need to create an index to ensure we haven't missed any vital notes or tasks.  

As you know, keeping an index of all your work is extremely good practice from a revision perspective. This keeps the vital CSP information fresh in your mind and also highlights if you've missed anything through absence or trips. 

Advertising and Marketing index

Your Advertising and Marketing index should include the following:

1) Introduction: narrative in advertising
2) Advertising: persuasive techniques
3) Advertising: the representation of women in advertising
4) Advertising: Score case study and wider reading
5) Advertising: Maybelline case study and wider reading
6) Advertising: Gauntlett - Media, Gender and Identity reading and questions

For your index, it needs to link to YOUR corresponding blogpost so you can access your work and revision notes quickly and easily. This also means you if you have missed anything you can now catch up with the work/notes and won't underperform in future assessments/exams due to gaps in your knowledge.

Assessment revision

You will have an assessment on your work on Advertising and Marketing on Monday 26 March. Make sure you revise all of your work from the current unit but also look over everything you've studied for the MIGRAIN Introduction to Media unit too.

Important: your index and revision needs to be completed by Monday.