Monday, September 24, 2018

MIGRAIN: Semiotics - Icon, Index, Symbol

One key aspect of our introduction to A Level Media Studies is developing the language to analyse media products.

This is a key aspect of Semiotics: the study of signs. We've already explored denotation, connotation and myth. Now we need to learn some more semiotic terminology to help identify how meanings are created in media texts.

Semiotics: icon, index, symbol notes

These terms were coined by the American philosopher and scientist Charles Sanders Peirce in the 1800s.

An Icon has a physical resemblance to the signified, the thing being represented. A photograph is a good example as it certainly resembles whatever it depicts.

An Index shows evidence of what’s being represented. A good example is using an image of smoke to indicate fire.

A Symbol has no resemblance between the signifier and the signified. The connection between them must be culturally learned. Numbers and alphabets are good examples.

Source of these definitions: Vanseo Design Blog 

A brief introduction to icons, indexes and symbols:

Icon, index, symbol: blog task

Create a new blogpost called 'Semiotics: icon, index, symbol blog task'

1) Find three examples for each: icon, index and symbol. Provide images or links.




2) Why are icons and indexes so important in media texts?

3) Why might global brands try and avoid symbols in their advertising and marketing?

4) Find an example of a media text (e.g. advert) where the producer has accidentally communicated the wrong meaning using icons, indexes or symbols. Why did the media product fail? (This web feature on bad ads and marketing fails provides some compelling examples).

5) Find an example of a media text (e.g. advert) that successfully uses icons or indexes to create a message that can be easily understood across the world.

Complete for homework if you don't finish this during the lesson - due next Monday.

Friday, September 21, 2018

MIGRAIN: Reception theory

Reception theory is extremely useful when decoding media texts - and allows us to explore how different audiences may react to a media product.

It's also one of AQA's key theories for the new specification which means there may well be an exam question asking you to apply the theory to a particular media text. Make sure you have confidently learned these notes then complete the blog tasks below.

Reception theory: notes

Studying media language means looking at the way in which the sign or text is interpreted and how the meaning comes across to the audience. 

All media is thought to be polysemic in that it can be interpreted in different ways – it is not simply passively accepted by the audience. Stuart Hall introduced the idea of three different readings.

Stuart Hall: reception theory

Hall suggested there are three types of reading:

Dominant, Preferred or Hegemonic Reading: what the producer/creator intends – the ‘natural’ reading

Negotiated Reading: a middle ground between the producer’s intentions and the audience’s individual views

Oppositional or ‘Counter-Hegemonic’ Reading: an alternative reading that is actively against the producer’s intentions.

Reception theory: example exam question

Sample AQA question for new specification:

According to reception theory, ‘the media attempts to transmit specific messages to audiences, but audiences are free to interpret these messages in a variety of ways – or even reject them’.

How valid are reception theory’s claims about audience responses? [25 marks]

Applying reception theory: blog tasks

Look back at the adverts you have been analysing over the last week of lessons and homework (RBK 50 Cent and one of your choice). What are the preferred, negotiated and oppositional readings for the adverts you have studied?

1) Create a new blog post called ‘Reception theory’ and write a paragraph for each advert analysing the dominant, negotiated and oppositional readings.

2) Do these adverts provide evidence for the idea that audiences are free to interpret messages in a variety of ways - including rejecting them? Answer this question as a mini-essay, exploring both sides of the argument.

Remember to highlight or bold any media terminology you are using.

Complete for homework if you don't finish this in the lesson - due Friday.

Film & TV Language: Mise-en-scene blog tasks

Mise-en-scene is a critical aspect to our work on film language and textual analysis.

Remember the mnemonic that will help you recall the different aspects of mise-en-scene: CLAMPS.
  • Costume
  • Lighting
  • Actor (placement and movement)
  • Make-up
  • Props
  • Setting
This is a great video introduction to mise-en-scene from YouTube:

Mise-en-scene blog task

Create a blogpost called 'Mise-en-scene blog tasks' on your Media 2 coursework blog and complete the following tasks from your Film and TV Language booklet:

1) Find a distinctive still image and write an analysis of the mise-en-scene. Use each of the aspects you've learned in the lesson.

2) Find three film or TV extracts on YouTube from different genres (e.g. horror, sci-fi, costume drama). Embed them in your blogpost and write a comparison of the mise-en-scene in each.

You'll have a certain amount of lesson time for this but will need to complete the rest for homework - deadline set by your coursework teacher.

Reminder: your Mise-en-scene star persona video project is also due next week - make sure you complete all aspects of the task!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Film & TV Language: Mise-en-scene star persona

Mise-en-scene is crucial for film and TV producers to communicate genre and create the stars international audiences demand.

Film genres are known for certain aspects of mise-en-scene - lighting, costume, make-up and more. In television, popular shows such as X Factor use costume and make-up to transform 'ordinary' contestants into the next pop star or boyband.

Practical task: create a two-minute time-lapse video that demonstrates how you turn an 'ordinary' student into the next film or TV star. Complete the following:

1) Get into groups of up to four. Note: although the planning and filming can be done as a group, all students MUST edit their OWN time-lapse video.

2) Create a star persona mood board on your blog - a collection of images that demonstrates your research and what kind of star you want to create (Hollywood action hero, film noir femme fatale, horror villain, X Factor sensation etc.)

3) Film your makeover - one fixed shot works best.

4) Edit your video to approximately two minutes, adding music, voiceover, effects and anything else that will make your film visually effective and entertaining for an audience. You can edit in school using Premiere Pro but are welcome to edit at home if you have the software to do it.

5) Export your finished video, upload it to YouTube and post it to your blog along with a 100-word explanation of your work.

Here are a couple of superb examples from last year:



Deadline: next week Friday. Good luck!

Monday, September 17, 2018

MIGRAIN: Reading an image

The ability to 'decode' a media text is a critical skill for A Level Media students.

It's vital that you can break a text down into its key conventions and explore what effect the different aspects may have on an audience.

You'll find the key notes and media terminology on the lesson slides here. If you didn't do so in the lesson, make notes of the key words and what they refer to - they will be invaluable throughout the A Level Media course.

Your blog tasks are to be completed on Media Blog 1 (exam teacher) and are as follows:

Complete the following from our double lesson on reading an image:

1) Analyse this RBK 50 Cent advert using the key media language you learned today: denotation, connotation, colour, pose, framing, composition, size, type of shot, subject matter, setting, lighting.

2) Next, analyse a print advert of your choice using the same key words.

Remember to put media language in bold or highlight/colour it. Another reminder of the key words:
  • Denotation, connotation, colour, pose, framing, composition, size, type of shot, subject matter, setting, lighting.

And always ask the two key questions: Who do you think is the target audience? How does it address/attract that audience? What are the deeper meanings or connotations created by the media language choices in the product?

Due date: confirmed by your exam teacher

Friday, September 14, 2018

Introduction to Media: media consumption audit

To achieve a top grade in A Level Media Studies, it is absolutely essential you consume a wide variety of different media on a regular basis.

This may mean stepping outside your comfort zone or engaging with media that is no longer so popular with younger generations such as newspapers or radio. The good news is that you may discover something you really enjoy or at the very least helps you with your other A Level subjects.

Create a blogpost on your Media 1 Exam Blog called 'My media consumption'.

Answer the following questions in as much detail as possible to complete your audit:

  • Which daily newspapers (if any) do you read?
  • What sections of newspapers do you turn to first, and why?
  • What sections do you never read, and why?
  • What kinds of stories do you usually read and why?
  • Do you, or someone else, buy the newspaper you read?
  • Do you look at the online versions of any newspapers? Which newspapers? Why do you visit their website and not others?

  • What magazines (if any) do you buy regularly?  Why
  • What sections of the magazines do you read and not read, and why?

  • Approximately how many hours a week do you spend watching television?
  • What times of day do you usually watch television?
  • What programmes do you like best and why?
  • Do you watch alone or with others? If you watch with others, who decides what you will watch?
  • Do you watch 'live' TV or on-demand/catch-up? Do you use any other devices to watch TV (such as laptop or tablet?)

  • Do you listen to the radio?
  • If yes, what stations do you like best and why?
  • Approximately how many hours a week do you spend listening to the radio?
  • What times of the day do you usually listen to the radio?
  • Where do you listen to the radio?
  • What other activities (if any) do you do whilst listening to the radio?
  • Does anyone else in your house listen to the radio? If so, when do they listen?

  • What films have you seen in the cinema in the last month?
  • What films have you seen in other places – for example, through Netflix, Amazon Prime, satellite/cable film channels (free or otherwise) or streaming?
  • Who else watched the films with you?
  • Who decided what films to watch?
  • What devices do you typically use to watch films: TV, laptop, tablet, phone etc.?

  • How often do you access the internet?
  • Where do you access the internet?  At home, at college or school, or at work?
  • What are the main sites that you access?
  • What are the main reasons for accessing these sites – for example, for information, to make purchases, communicate with friends or for entertainment?
  • What other activities (if any) do you do whilst accessing the internet?
  • What different devices do you use to access the internet? What is your primary device for accessing the internet?
  • What social networks do you use regularly (e.g. Twitter, Instagram)? Why do you belong to these networks in particular?

  • How can you develop the amount and variety of media you consume?
  • What will you change in your media consumption habits this year as a result of studying A Level Media?
  • List three sources of media (websites/newspapers/apps/TV programmes etc.) that you will start to access this year that you haven't engaged with previously.

Due: next week - date specified by exam class teacher

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Film & TV Language: poster analysis

A key aspect to A Level Media Studies is developing the technical knowledge and vocabulary to analyse film and television texts.

The Film & TV Language unit will introduce or revise the key media terminology that is vital across your coursework and exams. Over the next term, you'll be watching clips from some of the most iconic films and TV programmes in history while researching genres and learning the technical language of cinematography, editing, lighting and sound. Alongside this, you'll also be carrying out practical, technical exercises to develop your filming and editing skills.

Your first task involves looking at iconic film posters and considering genre and audience.

Blog task: Complete the 'Film Poster Analysis' from the Film Language PowerPoint:
  • Analyse all EIGHT posters in as much detail as possible;
  • Try to include media terminology that you might have learnt at GCSE. Highlight media terminology in bold or yellow!
  • Explain WHY for each of the three questions for each poster;
  • Post up all your answers on your new Media 2 coursework blog;
  • Include the actual posters in your blog posting.
Complete for homework. Due: next week!

Monday, September 10, 2018

Welcome to A Level Media Studies!

We are delighted you have chosen A Level Media Studies and can't wait to get started on the exciting new Media specification

We have a track record of excellent results in A Level Media and last year Media A Level was awarded an ALPS 2 grade - meaning we are in the top 5% of Media departments in the UK. Our A Level results were:

50% A
80% A-B
100% A-E

You've got a lot of hard work ahead of you but with commitment, creativity and engagement with the Media you WILL be successful!

A Level Media: first tasks

Your first jobs are to get an A4 ring binder folder with dividers (bring it to every lesson) and start your A Level Media blogs. You can find step-by-step text instructions to setting up a blog here. Your new blogs will be:
  • Media blog 1 - exam teacher name
  • Media blog 2 - coursework teacher name
Once you have your blog URLs, post them as a comment below this post with your name clearly written next to it. For example:

John Smith's Media Blog 1 - Mr Halsey:
John Smith's Media Blog 2 - Mr Bush: 

IMPORTANT: It is absolutely essential you remember your log-in details for - it is where your Media work will be posted for the next two years. Make sure you do the following:
  • Add your mobile phone number so you can get a code by text if you forget your password
  • Email your log-in details to yourself using your SCHOOL email address

First blog task

Once you've set up your new blogs, create a new blog post on your Media Blog 1 and answer the following questions:

1) Why did you choose A Level Media Studies?

2) Did you take GCSE Media Studies (either here at Greenford or a different school)?

3) If you answered yes to Q2, what grade did you achieve in GCSE Media? What coursework tasks did you complete? What would you say your strengths and weaknesses were in GCSE Media?

4) What grade do you hope to achieve in A Level Media?

5) What are your current thoughts about your next steps after A Levels - university, apprenticeship, work?

6) What do you think the biggest media story of 2018 has been and why?

7) What media sources do you use to find out about news and current affairs?

8) What was the last film you watched?

9) What is your favourite ever TV series?

10) How many hours do you spend online in an average day? Is this too little, too much or about right? Why?

If you don't get the questions finished in the lesson, complete for homework - due next lesson.