Media Codes and Conventions
How do media products communicate?
A picture tells a thousand words
Technical media codes are the ways equipment has been used to record and/ or create meaning in a media production. These are the building blocks of media that are used in many ways.
Camera and film techniques include:
- Shot sizes
- Camera angles
- Camera movement
- Tripod, hand-held
- Zooms and pans
- Focus/depth of field
- Film stock, grain, ISO Exposure
What is the cinematographer’s style?
- The camera angle
- Camera movement
- Are different techniques combined?
- Why does it used this way?
The way the character is portrayed by and actor can be:
*Consider the impact of a ‘star’. Some stars can bring a certain quality to a role.
- The visual aspects of the performance
- Facial expressions
*Even non-acting or playing one’s self is acting. Consider the way Michael Moore ‘acts’ in his documentaries.
The setting includes the time and place that the narrative occurs in. Setting is related to mise en scene.
How does the setting contribute to the narrative?
Is the setting integral to the narrative itself?
Could the film be set in a different time or place?
How does the setting function symbolically?
How would this affect the interpretation of the film?
MISE EN SCENE
Mise en scene refers to everything in the frame. This is an often overlooked code, yet most communicative. Mise en scene works in symbolic ways as it often includes objects that represent something else.
- Character blocking
Visual: The way separate shots are combined/ arranged to make meaning,
Sound: The way sound is layered together to create meaning or emotion.
- Editing is used to:
- Tell a long story in a limited amount of time (screen time vs real time)
- To engage the audience
- Emphasise information about certain characters or events
*Do not discuss sound effects here!
- The types of edits (fades, dissolves, jump cuts)
- The sequence of shots
- The rhythm of the edits
- The pace of the editing
*Consider particular Directors and whether they favour particular editing techniques.
*Terms for editing include; jump cuts, pace editing, cross-cutting, continuity editing.
Lighting can be:
- Naturalistic (technical)
- Expressive (aesthetic)
- Low key (dark)
- High key (light)
Different effects can be achieved by:
- Changing the direction of light
- Changing the number of light sources
- Changing the quality of the light
- Changing the colour of light
- Framing with light
- Using shadows
Identify the lighting style
- Naturalistic lighting – Helps the audience to accept the film’s fictional world is real.
- Expressive lighting - Can be used for emphasis of to create a mood or atmosphere
Consider the direction of light. Front, back lit.
Consider the kind of light; candle, spot, daylight.
*Terms for lighting include; chiaroscuro, front-lit, backlit.
Sounds in a film are classified into two types:
Diegetic sounds: Sounds that originate from events in the film (within the world of the narrative).
- Character voices
- Sounds from objects
- Character turns on a radio and sings along to a song
Non-diegetic sounds: Sounds that do originate from events in the film, are not heard by characters in the story and are only heard by the audience
- Voice-over narration
- Incidental music
- Sound editing – cutting and placing of sound
- Sound effects – Sound effects are diegetic if it what a character would hear even if it is a sound effect.
SPECIAL EFFECTS (SFX)
Tricks used to achieve difficult or impossible to film actions or sequences. Special Effects (SFX) began as simple double exposures, tricks in editing, animation, models, and now usually employ digital production or post production work.
How does the SFX add to the meaning of the media production?
How does the SFX add to the audience engagement?
How does the SFX relate to the genre of the media production?
How do SFX relate to a production schedule, location, degree of difficulty of the shoot or budget?
*What are the techniques used?
SFX may involve; green screen, (digital) matte painting, models, stunt work, digital sets.