AS Media Notes

A collection of AS Media notes from class for revision

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Questions to ask about representation:

Can we trust the representation is accurate?
How far has the institutional context and audience expectations determined the nature of the representation?
In whose interests is it that the representation is made in this way?

Mediation: Means that the media has chosen a particular way to represent the issue/event/idea to the audience. All media is highly constructed.

To fully appreciate the part representation plays in a media text you must consider:
Who produced it?
What individuals/groups/issues appear?
Why has this particular representation been selected?
What frame of reference does the audience use when responding to the representation? E.g. age, nationality, social class, lifestyle, experiences of other media

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Media language

Arial shot: filmed from a vantage point or overhead- often from a helicopter.
Ambient lighting: Natural or available light around a subject in a film
Ambient sound: the natural sound in any location
Arc shot: subject is filmed by an encircling or moving camera, also called a radial shot. It goes around 360 degrees
Backdrop: Often painted or photographic, these are used on a sound stage to fill the background of a scene. It was more common before before location shooting became popular.
Back Lighting: Separates the subject from the background- either by creating a silhouette or by highlighting the outline of a figure.
Crane or jib shot: A fluid shot achieved with an extendable mechanical arm, which allows movement from ground level to several metres above the ground.
Diegesis: the narrative elements to a film. E.g. sound from within the narrative is diegetic sound, the music in footage is usually non-diegetic.
Discovery shot: the moving or panning of a camera comes across something the audience.

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Media language continued

Dolly: alternative term for tracking when referring to camera movement
Dolly zoom: cuts as it zooms in. Also called a contra zoom
Rack Focus: a method of shifting the viewer's attention from the foreground to the background or vice versa without moving or zooming the camera. Also called focus pulling.
Fourth wall: the imaginary transparent plane through which the viewer sees the action of the film. The fourth wall is broken when an actor addresses the audience directly through the camera.
Framing: refers to the composition of a shot, and the ways in which the mise en scene is defined by the perimeter of the film frame.
highlighting: Using thin beams of light to illuminate selected parts of a scene.
Iconography: elements of mise en scene for symbolic value to create meaning.

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Shot types

Very long shot/ wide shot: This shot is often used at the begining of a film or sequence and acts as an establishing shot, showing where the action is taking place, or that a person is isolated, alone and vulnerable.
Long shot: Figure can be seen from head to toe.
Mid shot: Show the figure from waist to head. In the shot you can easily recognise the subject but you can also see what they are doing with their hands.
Medium close up: From chest to head.
Big close up: Head only, used when expressions are important
Extreme close up: just above the eyebrows to just below the mouth, or closer.
Point of view shot: A shot from a character's point of view.
Two shot: any shot with two people in it.
Reaction shot: A shot showing a character's reaction to action or dialogue.
Over the shoulder: A shot in which we see a character over another's shoulder, often used in interviews and dialogues.

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Shot types continued

Wide angle shot: Seems to exaggerate perspective using a wide angle lens
Telephoto shot: Like using a telescope, a telephoto lens appears to bring the subject closer and flatten out perspective.
Zoom lenses: These can vary the angle of view so the subject appears to move closer, or further away without the camera itself moving.
Focus: Everything in a shot appears to be in focus, which means that we can be looking at action taking place in the foreground, middle ground and background.
Shallow focus: the subject is in focus but the background is not. Signals who is important.
Low angle shot: makes the subject or setting seem important or threatening
Track: Moving the camera itself towards, alongside, or away from the subject, or to follow a moving subject. Conventionally means there may or may not be someone stalking someone.
Hand held shot: conveys either immediacy or naturalism.
Pan: Pivoting the camera to the side to scan a scene or follow a subject. The camera remains stationary.

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Continuity editing: The majority of the sequences are edited so that time seems to flow uninterupted from shot to shot. Can also involve cross cutting, where a sequence cuts between two different settings and action is taking place at the same time. The aim is a seamless flow of action so that the audience do not notice the cuts.
Montage editing: Visual images are assembled in a sequence to build up an impression and create meaning. The cuts are often noticeable. Juxtoposition of images can create a contrast rather than a smooth flow.
Cut: One image is suddenly replaced by another, without visible transition.
Cross-disolve: One image disolves into another. This can be used to make a montage sequence flow smoothly. It can also be used in continuity editing to show we have moved forwards in time or space.
Fade up: an image gradually emerges from a blank screen.
Fade out: An image gradually fades out. Usually means that time has passed.

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Audience theories- the hypodermic syringe theory

Hypodermic syringe theory: it's effects supposedly include:

  • inactivity (the "the couch potato")
  • or manic activity (such as immitating a movie showing extreme violence).

Certain groups are seen to be more vulnerable to this, including:

  • women, (who are fed soap operas in daytime television)
  •  Children (who are put in front of the TV by their parents whether they like it or not)
  • The working class (who consume a lot of popular culture)
  • people who are mentally ill or have learning difficulties.

Theories such as stereotyping (meaning a representation of a group of people that is repeated, having a brainwashing effect) also depend on the hypodermic syringe theory.

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Audience theory: uses and gratifications

The main uses and gratifications are:

  • Entertainment- to be amused, to see authoritive figures exalted or deflated, to experience the beautiful, to find distraction and diversion, to experience (in a guilt free and controlled situation) love, hate, the horrible and terrible, to see others make mistakes, to experience the ugly and see villains in action, to experience empathy, to be purged of unpleasant emotions, to explore taboo subjects without risk, to believe in magic, the marvellous and miraculous
  • Social needs- to have shared experiences with others, to see order imposed on the world, to participate in history
  • Personal Identity- to identify with the diety and the divine plan, to find models to immitate, to gain an identity, to reinforce our beliefs (such as believing in romantic love and our belief in justice), to affirm moral, spiritual and cultural values 
  • Information- to satisfy curiosity and be informed, to gain information about the world
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Audiences can be classified by demographics:

  • age
  • gender
  • socio-economic group
  • proffessional status
  • geographical location
  • religion
  • ethnicity

Or Psychographics:

  • beliefs
  • opinions
  • interests
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The conventions of a trailer:

  • Montage
  • Voice over
  • Iconography of the genre
  • Music
  • Characterisation/ character types
  • Written codes
  • Pace of editing and sequence
  • Dialogue?  
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Other media theories

Binary Oppositions- Levi Strauss. Representation occurs:

  • Visually, in one instance
  • Visually, over a period of time
  • through the editing process
  • through a long term narrative
  • through repetition creating stereotypes
  • through dress codes
  • through aural codes- music, dialogue
  • through narrative codes and structure- e.g. Toderov's theory of equilibrium
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Other media theories continued

Maslow's hierachy of needs, 1943, as used in advertisement:

  • Physiological: Breathing, food, water, sex, sleep, homeostasis, excretion
  • Safety: security of body, employment, resources, morality, family, health, property
  • Love/ belonging: Friendship, family, intimacy
  • Esteem: self esteem, confidence, achievement, respect of others, respect by others
  • Self actualisation: morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem solving, lack of prejusice, acceptance of facts.

Toderov's narrative theory: Equilibrium, disequilibrium, re-equilibrium

Propp's character theory: the hero, the villain, the doner, the dispatcher, the false hero, the princess, the helper, the princess' father

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