Action match: for example, when a character or vehicle leaves the frame on the left, the same character enters the next shot on the right to maintain continuity.
Aerial shot: a view from directly overhead to afford a clear view – sometimes used to emphasize the spectacle. A crane shot is usually necessary to achieve this (sometimes called a bird’s eye shot)
Archetype: an often- repeated character type or representation which is instantly recognisable to an audience
Attitudes, beliefs and values: terms commonly used when discussing the audience for media products and the factors influencing the reception of media messages.
· Attitudes are the positions people adopt in relation to a particular issue, e.g. Being for or against foxhunting.
· Beliefs are deeply held views, e.g. A belief in the principle of human equality or a belief in God.
· Values represent the moral or ideological structure within which beliefs and attitudes are formed, e.g. Belief in Christianity or Islam.
· All these factors affect the reception of media texts. Research also focuses on the ways in which media content influences the formation, representation and reproduction of attitudes, beliefs and values.
Audience: key concept the groups or individuals targeted by producers as the intended consumers of media texts. Owing to the wide availability of media texts, the actual viewers, readers or listeners may not be those originally targeted.
· Audience studies are usually structured in terms of gender, age and social and cultural background, and are concerned with the circumstances in which media texts, are consumed and the nature and the consequences of this consumption.
· The identification of an audience is a vital ingredient for the successful production and marketing of and media text.
· Considerations of audience motivation and behaviour are at key focus of attention in both active and passive audience theories.
BCU (short for ‘big close up’): a close up camera shot, particularly of an actor’s face, showing prominent detail and facial expression as a means of creating intimacy and audience engagement with the thoughts and emotions of the character.
By-line: the use of the journalists name on a newspaper article or report.
· Not all articles are attributed to a particular journalist and a by-line is recognition of an author’s status.
Close up (and variations): close ups, including extreme, big and medium close ups, are used to draw the viewer closer and to involve them in what is happening; they also used to observe reactions and emotions, such is happiness, elation or tension. These shot often used to privilege the protagonist over other characters and position the audience with him or her.
Closed Text: and media text that is anchored in such a way as to restrict the number of ways in which it can be interpreted.
e.g. An image of diseased lungs with the caption ‘Smoking Kills’
Composition: the arrangement fee of visual elements within the frame, for clarity, balance or aesthetic judgement.
Connotation: a meaning attributable to an image beyond the obvious denotational level.
· Such meanings may be metaphorical, symbolic or culturally generated and will vary line with the cultural background and attitudes, beliefs and values of the individual viewing the material.
· e.g. An image of a red rose has connotations of New Labour, or England, or on a Valentine card can represent hot-blooded passion.
Continuity Editing: an editing style that aims to present the text in a linear and chronological manner to emphasize the real-time movement of the narrative and to create a sense of realism for the viewer by giving the impression of continuous filming.
· Continuity editing creates a narrative that approximates to the real experience of moving through time, even though screen time usually covers a much longer period. Audiences feel comfortable with a linear progression that reflects their everyday experience.
· TIP the term ‘continuity’ also applies to the avoidance of errors in sequence or content, as when elements present in one scene are missing or altered in the next e.g. Gladiator (Ridley Scott, 2000), in which Maximus the gladiator turns horse with his sword in his right hand in one scene and emerges from the turn with a sword in his left hand.
Conventions: the expected ingredients in a particular type of media text.
Convergence: the coming together of new media Technologies.
· e.g. Television is now digital and interactive, with the potential for 1000 channels and with technology available to download and store programmes; television can also be used for banking and shopping; Internet web cams allow for visual interaction between users; music can be downloaded and burnt onto CDs and mobile phones can take and send pictures and access the Internet.
Copy: the written content of a newspaper or magazine as submitted to the editor for inclusion in a finished product.
Crab Shot: a type of shot which involves the camera being placed in a confined space.
· e.g. A shot taken from inside a cupboard is the subject opens the cupboard door.
Crane Shot: a type of shot in which a camera is positioned on a specially designed crane, which can be raised and lowered and will.
· A crane shot is a high-angle shot but the versatility of the equipment allows a director to start a shot from a high-angle and then swoop down toward the subject at ground level.
Crosscut: a type of moving image edit that involves a series of cutaways and cut backs from one sequence of narrative action to another taking place simultaneously.
· e.g. The closing scenes of The Godfather III (Francis Ford Coppola, 1990) involve cutting between five parallel-action narrative sequences, including a stage opera which provides the musical backdrop to the whole scene. The result is to raise the level of dramatic intensity and tension.
Cutaway: a brief shot that momentarily interrupts the main action of a film by showing a related action, object or person, not necessarily part of the main scene, before cutting back to the original shot.
· Often filmed from the point of view of one of the characters, a cutaway provides visual relief, eases transition from one shot to another, breaks up a sequence and provide information on or hints at impending changes. Reaction shots are usually edited as cutaways. See crosscut.
Deep Focus: a camera technique that allows objects both near and far from the camera to be in focus at the same time.
Demographics: information concerning the social status, class, gender and age of the population.
· Audience profiles use demographic information, the best-known system being the ABC1 scale.
Denotation: the first and simplest level of meaning of an image.
· e.g. A picture of a rose represents the rose flower and reminds the viewer of the real thing.
Diegesis: the story-line or narrative which includes the whole fictional world created by a media text.
Diegetic Sound: sound generated within a film narrative.
· Non-Diegetic sound is outside the narrative such as an orchestra playing rousing music during a battle scene.
· e.g. The sound of traffic in a scene involving a road.
Dissolve: a type of moving image editing where one image slowly dissolves into another.
Dominant Ideology: the belief system that serves the interests of the dominant ruling elite within a society, generally accepted as common sense by the majority and reproduced in mainstream media texts.
· Dominant ideology establishes a hegemonic position in society which is reinforced by media representations and is consequently difficult to challenge.
· The term derives from a Marxist theory and is addressed in detail in the work of Gramsci, Althusser and Hall.
Effects: for the idea that the media have influence over people and can play a role in changing their behaviour. The suggestion that people’s behaviour is influenced or altered (either directly or indirectly) as a result of exposure to media is described in terms of ‘media effects’
Ellipsis: the removal or shortening of elements of a narrative to speed up the action.
Empathy: the ability to share the emotions or point of view of a group or individual.
· Empathy involves recognizing shared experience rather than sympathising from a detached position.
· Human interest journalism, feature writing and reality television often involve emotionally identifying the reader/writer with the subject, with the intention of thereby sustaining audience interest.
Encode: the process of constructing the media message in a form suitable for transmission to a receiver or target audience.
Encoding/Decoding Model: model devised by Stuart Hall to explore the ways in which the meanings of media texts can vary in line with their circumstances of production and consumption.
Enigma Code: a narrative structure that involves the creation of riddles or problems to be solved by the resolution.
· Suspense and horror genres use enigma to retain the attention of an audience.
Establishing shot: the shot (usually wide or long), often used at the start of a programme or film, a new section of a programme or at the start of a new scene to establish the relationship between the set/location and the characters and to show the whole view.
Eyeline Match: a type of editing that maintains the eyeline or level when cutting from a character to what’s the character sees.
· The effect of the edit is to create a sense that what the camera sees is what the character sees.
Fade: a type of moving image editing where the image gradually fades and disappears, leaving a white or black screen.
Flashback: a scene in a film which disrupts the chronological narrative by going backward in time to recall past events.
Framing: the process of selecting what is to be framed by a particular film shot, for example, characters, setting and iconography.
· Across a scene, framing determines how the action is perceived by the audience. It includes such elements as background detail, lighting source and the emphasis given to specific characters within a shot.
· Framing can determine how the audience perceives character relations in terms of dominance and submission and the weighting given to each character. For example, a foregrounded character can be seen as dominant where is a character in the background appears less important.
Gender: psychological and cultural aspects of behaviour associated with masculinity and femininity, acquired through social socialization, in accordance with the expectations of a particular society.
· Representations of gender increasingly challenged traditional concepts of masculinity and femininity.
· Girl power, launched as a marketing device for the Spice Girls in the early 1990s, created new role models have a certain young women, rejecting the traditional passive female role.
· Traditional masculine trades of violent aggression, sexual promiscuity and high levels of alcohol consumption are increasingly represented without gender distinction, and female representations in film made challenge or subverted traditional femininity and female roles e.g.Kill Bill: Vol. 1 and Kill Bill Vol. 2 (Quentin Tarantino 2003, 2004) and Tomb Raider (Simon West, 2001)
· Masculinity is represented increasingly as soft or ambivalent. Men can outcry, show affection for babies and talk about their feelings openly, or characteristics traditionally associated with femininity. Males are also shown as uncertain about their gender identity, e.g. Fight Club (David Fincher, 1999)
Gendered Consumption: the way that gender affects our consumption of media texts.
· Ann Gray suggested (1992) that women prefer open-ended narratives, such as soap operas, whereas men preferred closed narratives with a clear resolution, for example, police dramas. The concept of (women’s fiction) (Christine Geraghty, 1991) involves identifying characteristics and media texts that appeal to women.
· e.g. Soap operas attracting large female audiences have strong female leads, deal with personal relationships in the domestic sphere and contain an element of escapism.
Genre: key concept a category of media products classed as being similar in form and type.
· Film, magazine, newspaper and television are all media genres. Types of film, magazine, newspaper and television programme are also genres. Westerns and musicals are filmed genres, lifestyle magazines are a magazine genre, tabloids and broadsheets a newspaper genres, situation comedies, crime dramas and soap operas a television genres.
· Genres operate alongside narrative constructions in line with the audience expectations, for example, magazines of a particular genre are expected to contain a specific kind of narrative discourse.
· Genres can be further divided into subgenres.
Genre Theory: an explanation of the role played by genre in differentiating media texts and aligning audiences.
· Genre theorists consider the relationship between audiences, media texts and media producers and the ways in which genres, particularly in film, can be used by producers to target specific audience groups, with predictable expectations of audience numbers and responses.
· e.g. In explaining their appeal to audiences, Richard Dyer (1973) argues that the genres a pleasurable because they offer escapist fantasies into fictional worlds which remove the boredom and pressures of reality. He sees these worlds as utopian, offering the audience abundance, energy, excitement, spontaneity and community-none of which are present in their everyday lives.
Head-On Shot: for a type of shot in which the action comes directly toward the camera.
· Head-On shots are often used in war or action movies to enhance the sense of involvement and excitement of the audience, for example, charging cavalry may be directed at the camera.
· e.g. Waterloo (Sergei Bondachuk, 1970)
High angle: to provide a view from above the subject(s), often making the subject look vulnerable, isolated or powerless. This is sometimes combined with a crane shot into a closer shot of the subject(s).
Hybrid: a cross between one film genre and another.
· E.g. From Dusk till Dawn (Robert Rodriguez, 1996) starts as a crime drama and becomes a vampire movie.
Icon: a sign resembling the thing in represents.
· An icon can also be an image representative of an ideology or religion. Icons were originally religious paintings of Christ and the Virgin Mary and treated as sacred objects.
· E.g. A photograph.
· TIP of a public figure who, having achieved the ultimate in a particular field, has become the focus of mass adoration is also called on icon, e.g. Pop icons such as Kylie Minogue or Madonna.
Iconography: the distinguishing elements, in terms of props and visual details, which characterise a genre.
· Genres are said to be recognisable through their characteristic iconography.
· E.g. The iconography of gangster films include smart suits, guns and fast cars, while Westerns have horses, dozen locations, clapboard houses and men in hats.
Ideology: key concept of a set of attitudes, beliefs and values held in common by a group of people and culturally reproduced within that community to sustain its particular way of life.
· Ideologies can be described as dominant, subservience, or opposition all depending on their status within a society.
· E.g. Capitalism, Communism, Christianity and Islam.
· TIP Ideology is present in all media texts. You can explore it by assessing the attitudes, beliefs and values within the text and the assumptions made about what the viewer or reader thinks and feels.
Incidental music: the use of music to punctuate for a specific events or action, or to provide a sound background.
Independent: a media organisation or activity that is not connected to a major company.
Institution: key concept any of the organisations responsible for the production, marketing, distribution or regulation of media texts.
· Institutions are business and social structures that produce media texts and regulates and structure media activities. If they are collectives within which individuals are encouraged to work toward a common goal and to develop working practices based on assumptions about the aims and ethos of the institution. Institutions assumed shared values of all employees and have a status and power relationships with other institutions and the wider public.
· E.g. BBC, Sky, CNN, British Board of Film Classification.
Intertextuality: the practice of deliberately including references to one text in the narrative of another, either as homage to the text referred to or as a device intended to engage the interest of the audience by appealing to their prior knowledge and experience of media texts.
· Intertextuality can generate levels of meaning for the viewer and anchors a current text within texts of similar or related genre.
· For example, Kill Bill Vol. 1 (Quentin Tarantino, 2003) makes many references to Westerns, gangster and Japanese Samurai films.
Jump cut: increasingly used in TV adverts, the jump cut occurs when two shots are shot from approximately the same position, and one immediately follows another when the text is edited. It appears to the audience that part of the action is missing. The jump cut can be used to create excitement and tension.
Key Concept: any of the core concepts on which a media studies programme focuses, specifically audience, genre, ideology, institutions, language, narrative and representation.
· These key concepts provide a systematic structure for the study of the media and media products and provide terms of reference in any media assignment or project. Any analysis of the media topic should be related to the key concepts where appropriate.
Language key concepts: the particular codes used within different media to convey messages to audiences.
· This includes the content, theme and purpose of a print-based text, its layout and design, the use of written language and of photography and illustration.
· With the moving image, language involves iconography, mise en scene, use of lighting, colour, editing and montage techniques.
· Visual language involves selection and construction from paradigms to produce syntagm’s e.g. a poster, photograph or film.
Linear Narrative: a sequential narrative with a beginning, a middle and an end-in that order.
· Linear narratives provide a straightforward, sequential representation of events leading to a single resolution. As such, easily accessible to audiences and are the dominant form in mainstream media representations.
· TIP Linear narrative are increasingly challenged by the non- linear, which is more reflective the random experiences of life and the complexity involved in the viewers construction of meaning, e.g. Lost Highway (David Lynch, 1997).
Long Shot: a distance shot where the camera is a long way from the subjects being filmed.
· A long shot can be effective as an establishing shot that sets the scene for the action and roles in the viewer.
· E.g. The opening of Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) is a long shot panning across a city. This slowly transforms into a zoom through the window of a hotel room, then to an internal shot of the room and its occupants.
Long take: each time a shot is recorded it is called a take. A long take is one that is allowed to remain for a long duration before it is cut.
Low-Angle Shot: a shot where the camera approaches a subject from below eye level.
· A Low-Angle shot can emphasize the size of the object being filmed and add to a point of view perspective.
· E.g. In a Tom and Jerry cartoon, the mouse’s Low-Angle view of the cat presents the cat as a towering, threatening monster.
Male Gaze: term used by Laura Mulvey in her essay ‘Visual Pleasures and Narrative Cinema’ (1975) to describe what she saw as the male point of view adopted by the camera for the benefit of an assumed male audience.
· Mulvey view the practice of the camera lingering on women’s bodies as evidence that women were being viewed as sex objects for the gratification of men. She argued that the central active characters in films are male and that the male audience identifies with them in their viewing of the passive females. Women in the audience are also positioned by the narrative to identify with the male gaze and see the world through male eyes.
· Mulvey’s essay was hugely influential in the development of feminist film studies.
· TIP Mulvey’s approach owes much to Freudian psychology. The arguments can be challenged by simply pointing out that not all central heroic characters in films are male. Also, Mulvey denies the existence of a ‘female gaze’, which has enjoyed physically attractive men in films from the earliest days of cinema, with stars ranging from Rudolph Valentino to Brad Pitt. Lastly, changes in the representation of women have resulted in fundamental challenges to stereotypical gender roles since Mulvey’s essay was written e.g. Kill Bill Vol. 2 (Quentin Tarantino, 2004)
Master Shot: a camera shot used at the beginning of a sequence to establish the component elements and relationships in such a way as to allow the audience to make sense of the action follows.
Media language: an umbrella term that describes the ways in which audiences read media texts through understanding formal and conventional structures (for example, the grammar of film editing). Media literacy describes our ability to read and write in this extended sense of language.
Mediation: the means by which, through the use of representation, a media organisation and its employees stand between an event and the public’s perception of that event.
· Mediation involves the process of constructing, interpreting and editing material in accordance with the requirements of the chosen medium of communication.
· TIP It is useful to remember the term indicates other media change events by reporting and representing them.
mise en scene (French for ‘put in the picture/scene): the arrangement by a filmmaker of everything that is to be included in a shot or frame.
· This includes settings, props, decor, lighting, actors, characters, positioning and all other technical elements which contribute to the look of the scene and create its distinctive quality and unity.
Mode of Address: in narrative studies, the way in which media texts talk to an audience.
· In audiovisual texts, this can be in the form of a voiceover where an unseen narrator addresses the audience. The narrator could be one of the texts characters and provide insight into what occurs on screen us.
· In film noir, the private detective’s voice often provides a running commentary on the action, from his perspective.
· TIP fans of the cult movie Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982) dispute which of the two versions of the film, one with lead character Deckard’s (Harrison Ford) off-screen narration and one without, is the most successful.
Multi media: the text created in a variety of media.
Narrative: key concept the storyline and structure of a media text.
· Narratives all stories helped to shape and explain all aspects of our lives from earliest infancy. They are part of the ways in which we make sense of the world and provide reassurance in the face of the dangers and contradictions of everyday experience.
· Narratives are structured within genres, which provide frameworks of expectation, predictability and outcome.
Narrative Theory: a type of thinking that seeks to explain narrative structures and their relationship to wider cultural and genre-related factors.
· Narrative theorists seek to deconstruct narratives in order to identify their common characteristics and component elements, e.g. Todorov, Levi-Strauss, Barthes, Propp.
Negotiated Reading: a reading of a text which assumes that no absolute meaning exists and that meaning is generated and negotiated by what the reader brings to the text in terms of attitudes, values, beliefs and experience.
· The term is part of Stuart Hall’s encoding/decoding model along with dominant and oppositional readings.
· TIP a negotiated reading emphasises the position of the subject or audience member.
· E.g. Living France magazine is directed at people who have a specific interest in the French way of life, in holidaying in France and who may have a second home there.
Not crossing the line: see 180-degree rule.
180° rule (also known as ‘not crossing the line’): the filmmaking role of placing the camera in a 180° relationship with the filmed subject to ensure narrative continuity.
Oppositional Reading: a reading of a media text that rejects the ideological positioning and apparent meaning intended by the producers of the text and substitutes a radical alternative.
Pan: camera action involving gently moving the camera 180°across the subject matter in a horizontal plane.
Parallel Action: the narrative technique of showing two or more scenes happening at the same time by cutting between them.
· E.g. The closing scenes of The Godfather Part III (Francis Ford Coppola, 1990)
Parody: the imitation of one media text by another for comic effect.
· E.g. Blazing Saddles (Mel Brooks, 1974) parodies all the iconographic, narrative and character features of the Western genre; scary movie (Keenan Ivory Wayans, 2000) parodies the horror genre.
Pastiche: a media text made up of pieces from other texts or of imitations of other styles.
· The term is often used to describe an unoriginal, derivative text that it can be used positively if the pastiche involves a deliberate homage to other works.
Patriarchy: male domination of the political, cultural and socioeconomic system.
· Under patriarchy, male perspectives and male achievements are valued and rewarded at the expense of the female. Female contributions to society are ignored and women are culturally and economically invisible, being defined solely by the relation to men.
· Patriarchy is an important assumption behind some feminist film criticism, which sees the male domination of film discourse is evidenced in the male gaze.
Pleasure: a motivating factor in the consumption of media texts.
· Pleasure has often been ignored by researchers seeking to explain the motivation of audiences that is reflected in the uses and gratification theory and is an increasing feature of the appeal media products have in a hedonistic, self-gratifying and consumption-orientated cultural environment.
Plot: those elements of a media text that convey information about the narrative.
· Plot information includes character detail and behaviour and explanations of the course of events through time.
Point-of-View Shot (POV): a camera shot taken from the position of the subjects, used to enhance a sense of realism and audience involvement in the action.
Pop Culture: text which are consumed by a wide range of people, as opposed to a smaller group that is seen as an elite; they tend to be described as ‘popular’ and this implies a lesser cultural status or value.
Positioning: the locating of a media product in a marketplace with regard to audience and socio economic, political and cultural factors.
· Five television was position to aim at a ‘modern mainstream’ young audience and this was reflected in its presentation of news programmes and its choice of presenters.
· The Daily Express newspaper has recently shifted its political positioning away from New Labour in order to adopt a stance more critical of government
Post Production: the editing stage, where material is manipulated using software and transformed into a finished media product.
Primary Research: research undertaken through direct interview with a source or by direct access to original, unmediated documents or images.
Protagonist: the leading character in the text.
Reaction Shot (also known as ‘nodding shot’): the shot devised for an interview between two people, usually showing an interviewer responding to the interviewee’s answers by nodding or reacting in some way.
Realism: a film and television style that attempts to represent the real world.
· Concepts of realism are governed by recognisable codes and conventions which change over time. Black and white newsreel images of the 1930s and World War Two carried strong messages and, as filmed ‘reality’, define a period in which they were constructed. Rare colour footage of the same period shocks the viewer with its sense of immediacy and newness, making the events in fresh and the passing just like the present.
· In the film Schindler’s List (1993), Spielberg chose classic monochrome film and a 1930s/1940s treatment style to replicate the ‘realism’ of newsreels he remembered from his youth. The only colour image is of a young girl in red, a symbolic victim representing the whole holocaust.
· TIP Remember that film images are never ‘real’, they are only ever representations of the real.
Reception Theory: an active audience theory which sees the audience as being actively engaged in the interpretation of media texts rather than as passive consumers.
· Audiences decodes media texts in ways that relate to the social and cultural circumstances and individual experience. Reception theory uses qualitative and ethnographic methods such as group interviews and participant observation.
· In Morley’s 1980 Nationwide study (Nationwide was an evening news programme) he found that an audience’s response to media texts was influenced by family, class and educational factors. He showed the different groups interpreted the same texts in different ways depending on their background and level of involvement with the subject matter. For example, a group of management trainees saw the programmes items on trade unions as being biased towards the unions, whereas a group of workers saw the same items as being anti-union.
· Morley’s approach is important because it combines semiological and sociological approaches. Semiological study involves the idea of directed preferred readings of media texts, while sociological study is concerned with how age, sex, race, class, gender, sexuality and disability may determine the reading of a text.
· The approach is also known as audience studies or new audience research and in the 1990s was associated with the work of David Buckingham. His research concludes that even by the age of seven children have become skilled readers of media texts and a able to interpret, challenge and reject media messages, including advertising.
· TIP this research can be used to challenge effects theory models which argued that audiences, particularly children, are affected negatively by media content.
Representation: key concept of the process whereby the media construct versions of people, places and events in images, words or sound for transmission through media texts to an audience.
· Representations provide models of how we see gender, social groups, individuals and aspects of the world we all inhabit. They are ideological in that they are constructed within a framework of values and beliefs. Representations are therefore mediated for and reflect the value systems of their sources. No representation is ever real, only a version of the real.
· The representations are part of cultural mythology and reflect deep-seated values and beliefs e.g. Of such places as the north of England, Scotland and America.
· TIP representation is the key to many media debates and is usually described as being positive or negative, depending on the view of the group being represented. Achieving positive representations (versions of themselves that they agree with and approve of) has been a goal of minority groups who have criticised the perceived negativity of media stereotypes, e.g. homosexuals, ethnic minorities, religious minorities, disability groups and women.
Scheduling: the strategic positioning of media texts within broadcasting time. Digital television is increasingly disrupting this approach, since viewers can choose more easily than before when to watch.
Semiology (also known as ‘semiotics’): the study of signs.
· Semiological provides a system for deconstructing and analysing visual and moving images and for explaining the wider cultural choice and combination patterns that generate cultural meaning.
· It assumes that all communication codes are arbitrary and that there is no logical reason why we use a particular sign. Meaning is seen as deriving from the creator of the sign, the reader of the sign and the nature of the sign itself.
Sexism: representations that discriminate on the basis of sex, especially against women, which is seen to derive from an sustain patriarchy.
· Some feminists would see any media representation of women confirmed a stereotype as sexist, for example, the display of women’s bodies as sex objects in ‘Lads Mags’ for the entertainment of men.
· TIP in a post feminist environment, challenges are launched at representations of men that showed them as sex objects or as being humiliated at the hands of women.
Slow motion: used in the editing process to slow down the action for emotional or comic effect.
Sign: a term to describe the combination of the signifier and the signified, where the signifier is the physical object and the signified is the mental concept or meaning that the signifier conveys.
· A photograph of a rose makes the viewer think of the flower
· There are different categories of the sign to explain the relationship with what is described as their object.
Signifier: the physical object used to represent a mental concept.
· E.g. The word ‘tree’ represents the physical object, the tree, as an idea in the mind of the reader. The Eiffel Tower signifies, or represents, the idea of Paris.
Soap Opera: a continuous, episodic serial on radio or television based on community life.
· Originating from the U.S. radio series of the 1930s that was sponsored by soap powder company, ‘soaps’ have grown to become one of the most popular television forms worldwide.
· Extensive studies have been done on the nature of soap operas, including the use of realism or fantasy, character representation, audience appeal and scriptwriting techniques. They are seen as addictive by many viewers, but the pressure of sustaining storylines can render scraps and characters increasingly unrealistic.
· In Britain, soaps guarantee a regular audience and are increasingly used for this purpose by rival television channels. For example, Hollyoaks expanded from twice weekly showings to being scheduled five nights a week to help secure an early evening audience.
· TIP not all soap operas are launch successfully. The BBC lost large sums of money with a failed soap opera called El Dorado (1992-3) based in the fictional Spanish holiday resort of Los Barcos.
Social Realism: the representation of characters and issues in film and television drama in such a way as to race serious underlying social and political issues.
· Social realism involves a drama-documentary treatment in the sense that, while the characters may be fictional, the contexts and circumstances in which they are placed represent social realities.
· The films are usually shot in a naturalistic way, avoiding the use of sophisticated editing and treatments and sometimes giving the impression that the camera is simply recording events as they take place. There is often little use of non-diegetic sound.
· E.g. The films of British director Ken Loach, KES (1970) and Sweet Sixteen (2002)
Soft focus: in images, the use of a special lens or filter to create a hazy light around the subject.
· Soft focus shots are associated with the romantic or sentimental treatment of subject matter.
Sound Effects: enhanced sound added to a film or television programme during post production.
· Sound effects are designed to complement the visual content of a film and heightened the audience’s experience.
· In horror or gangster films, melons slashed with knives are often used to represent the sound of a body being stabbed.
Stereotype: the social classification of a group of people by identifying common characteristics and universally applying them in an often oversimplified and generalised way, such that the classification represents value judgements and assumptions about the group concerned.
· E.g. The ‘dumb’ blonde, the ‘mean’ Scotsman.
Subjective Shot: a type of shot in which the camera is positioned as if looking at the world through the subject’s eyes.
· E.g. The opening title sequence of Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976) shows the world through the eyes of driver Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) as he views the streets through the rain on his windscreen. The image is blurred and distorted, as is his view of the world.
Superimpose: the appearance of writing/symbols or images on top of an image so that both are visible at once, increasing the amount of information the viewer has in one shot.
Suspense: in the film and television audience, the creation of a feeling of tension and anticipation.
· The suspense involves information concerning characters or outcomes of a film being concealed from an audience to generate feelings of excitement and surprise.
Target Audience: the intended audience for a media product.
· When producing a media text for mass consumption, identification of the target audience is essential so the media institutions can assess the likely response to the product and the investment risks involved.
· The BlockBuster movie titanic (James Cameron, 1997) was carefully crafted to appeal to a range of audiences, with its generic mixture of disaster movie, historical reconstruction, action movie and romance. To this was added a hit single theme song by Celine Dion. In spite of costing $200 million to produce, it grossed$1 billion at the box office, a record at the time.
· TIP the target audience is not always the actual audience for a text, e.g. children under the age of 15 watching a 15 or 18 rated film when their parents are at.
Text: any constructed media product or piece of communication, whether print or audio visual, which can be analysed and deconstructed.
Theme: the key passage of music link to the subject matter/style of the film or programme which helps to create the mood.
Three Point Lighting: a lighting technique involving actors being lit from three points: A main source (or key light), the source filling shadows (filler light) and a source backlighting the actors (back light)
Tilt: a camera movement that involves moving the camera vertically up and down from a fixed position.
Tracking Shot: a camera shot in which the camera moves along rails to follow the subject.
· When the rails are replaced by a moving platform on wheels, the shot is called the dolly shot.
Two shot: of two people, usually a medium close up or medium shot. The shot shows the spatial relationship of the two people, who are often in conversation. This is commonly used in TV soaps.
Uses and Gratification Theory: an active audience theory that focuses on ‘what people do with the media’ rather than what the media does to people, arguing that audiences are free to pick and choose from a wide range of media products to satisfy their own needs.
· Individuals may seek: diversion in the form of escape from reality, the emotional release or pleasure; personal relationships through companionship and sociability, using knowledge of television characters to interact with others; personal identity and a sense of self through identifying as members of a particular audience; surveillance through finding out about the world and the events that affect them.
· TIP although useful as an active theory, it assumes that audience needs are identified are met by the media and underestimates the media’s role in generating those needs in the first place.
Voice over: the use of a voice, over images, perhaps as an introduction, a linking narrative device for or to comment on action. Often used in documentary.
Verisimilitude: seeming to be like or to be connected to the real.
· The term is important in many media genres because it determines the level of audience engagement and willingness to engage in suspension of disbelief.
· TIP contemporary war films need to convey a sense of verisimilitude to be credible. Reconstructions of Second World War battle scenes, with special effects bullets flying around the heads of the actors, are now seen as more real than newsreel footage of the actual events, e.g. Saving Private Ryan (Steven Spielberg, 1998)
Vertical Integration: the merger or takeover of companies operating at different stages of the production/distribution process.
· Total vertical integration gives a company control of a product from raw materials to distribution.
· E.g. In media Industries, the takeover by newspaper owner of the distribution service and retail outlets such as newsagents would be vertical integration.
Vox-pop: ‘voice of the people’ – the gathering of opinion on a topic from ordinary people representing a cross-section of a community.
Whip/swish Pan: a very fast pan between two or more characters all points of interest. He gives the impression camera has been ‘surprised’ by activity and is used in the place of a more conventional cu or shot/reverse shot.
Wide shot: this can be used as an establishing shot of a set or location or to show a large crowd of people. They can also emphasize the isolation of a single figure.
Wipe: a moving image editing technique that involves one image wiping another off the screen.
Zoom/Reverse Zoom: the adjustment of the camera lens to allow the operator progressively to move in close off or to pull away from the subject.