Theoretical Evaluation of Production 1B (Media Language)

Plan:

Introduction:

  • Media language= The way in which filming skills and techniques such as camera work, sound design, editing and mise-en-scene have been used to portray a certain image or message across to the audience
  • our film: about two sisters who have neglectful parents; it is the eldest’s birthday and to celebrate the occasion her little sister writes her a card. In the card, she expresses her gratitude for all of the things that the eldest sister does, in replacement of their parents. The film is a sequence of some of the things they have had to do for each other, and it ends showing the two hugging, embracing their unfortunate situation.
    • Drama, inspired by Asian TV commercials

Para 1: Camera Work:

  • 2 shot of the girls, younger sister goes down to sit on the stairs, eldest sister giving her more food for lunch
    • She is sitting in the background, whilst the eldest is in the foreground, showing that the sister is watching from afar
    • meaning: the eldest sister is unaware of the youngest, and her love and appreciation for her.
      • The eldest sister is doing it completely selflessly, rather than gaining self gratification from the praise etc.
  • Close up of Becky’s (eldest sister) face when she sighs
    • Shows her disappointment and also sadness that the parents missed her birthday
    • Showing slight expectation, as if it has happened before, due to the sigh, rather than crying or looking sad
      • Representing that the parents do it on a regular basis, rather than it being a one-off, showing just how neglectful they are.

Para 2: Editing:

  • Slow fade from the pancake scene to the scene where they are doing the homework, because it shows they’re at different times, but slow fade suggests a correlation between the two scenes
    • Reading the card, and fading to a ‘flashback’ style scene
  • Using slow pace cuts, rather than fast pace editing to set a more melancholic rather than an action packed atmosphere

Para 3: Sound Design:

  • Using the youngest girl narrating over the top, to allow the reader to her what was written in the card, rather than seeing it, so that they could understand the emotion behind it – when she says “thank you for looking after me when mummy and daddy didn’t want to”, can hear she is sad rather than reading it and perceiving it wrongly
  • Using the narration to sound bridge some of the scenes – links together the different scenarios, even though they may be at different periods in time – from dropping her off at school, to going to work to earn money for her

Para 4: mise-en-scene:

  • Dressing the little sister in love heart pyjamas at the very beginning when you see her drawing on the card – show her innocence and purity, whilst already giving off the idea that the film might be about love
  • The actual card itself – having it red, and then seeing her trying to draw a picture of them two holding each other’s hands – the red to the audience suggests love, and the drawing shows her passion and excitement when trying to portray her appreciation for her sister on her birthday

Para 5: Semiotics:

Essay Draft 1:

The term media language is used to describe the way in which filming techniques and skills are used to portray a certain message to its target audience. These techniques can be subdivided into four categories: camera work, sound design, editing and mise-en-scene. The film that we are going to be applying these techniques to, is our drama called “Thank You”. It is based around the story of two girls, whose parents are very neglectful, and due to this the eldest sister Becky has to do everything she can to help her little sister Ana to get by. The five minute short film is set on the day of Becky’s birthday, and Ana writes her a card expressing her realisation and gratitude for all of the things that her older sister has done for her. The film is set out as a sequence of events that show just how much they do for each other.

Near the very beginning of the film, the eldest sister goes downstairs to find a note, where her parents inform her that they are too busy to be spending time with her in her birthday. At this point media language is used to show Becky’s feelings towards this. Camera work was used in this aspect, by moving in to a close up of her face, to show her disappointment. However, we had hoped that because the shot was so focused on her facial expression, that the audience would also be able to see that it was slightly expected, due to the tone of the sigh. This showed the audience that it could be a regular occurrence for the parents to be so rude and neglectful. The next way in which camera work is seen to be used to convey a message through media language was by having a two shot of the girls, whilst Becky is giving Ana more food for her lunch. The two shot is used to show the audience that the younger sister is watching Becky giving her more lunch, and yet Becky is still unaware that her sister is watching her. This media language shows the audience that everything Becky is doing for Ana, is a completely selfless act, purely out of her love for her.

Another technique that was used during post production of the film, is editing. Transitions have clearly been used within the editing process to send across multiple different messages to the audience. One of these being the slow fade transition that had been inserted when it changes from the eldest sister opening the card to start reading it, to the series of events that the girl is writing about. This was a slow fade to black, then fade to colour, and it showed a passing of time (to the event taking place in the flash back), whilst also indicating that there is some relation between the two. This hopefully told the audience that the card she was reading in her head, was then being shown on screen.

Editing was also used to slow down the pace of the cuts between shots, because we knew that the faster the shots were, the less calm the situation would seem. Due to this, it has been made so that the majority of the filmed footage clips were at least 2 seconds long, to keep the atmosphere very relaxed, to get the desired message across. The film has also managed to create images and messages through media language within sound design. This is seen through not only carefully selecting the two pieces of melancholic music, but also by directing the narrative over the top. The creators have utilised this narration by enabling the audience to understand that the dialogue was what was actually written in the card by the younger sister, rather than having to get them to read what the card said. Because of this, the audience was able to understand the emotions behind the wording, as the intensity of sadness did change towards the end. Using this area of sound design to do this is very helpful, as the audience could have perceived the message wrongly if they were required to read the words themselves. Sound bridges have also been used within the narration to, once again, link together multiple of the scenes and bridge the time gaps. An example of this would be when the eldest is seen dropping Becky off at school, and then starting to run off. As the scene changes from her running, to her entering her work place to earn herself and her sister a bit of money, the narration sound bridges the two and close that gap in time.

The final way in which media language can be seen is through mise-en-scene. Mise-en-scene is everything else that is on the screen when watching the film. At the very start of the film, the youngest sister is shown to be wearing white, love heart pyjamas. This has been deliberately selected as the costume for the young child as it resembles her innocence, and purity during the entirety of the film. Because of this costume, the audience immediately understand the tone of the film, as well as some of the character’s personality. Props have also been used to create messages through media language. This includes the card that has been created itself, as it has been made out of red paper, resembling love and admiration. As well as this, the drawing on the front Of the two sisters holding hands with is clearly representational of the two being so close. It also foreshadows a scene later on in the film.

Semiotics is the study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation, that was developed in the late 1960s, by Christian Metz and Peter Wollen. It’s used to analyse the media language of texts, and is the theoretical framework for the study of meaning in films. All texts in the media industry are constructed using a variety of signs, which are a discrete unit of meaning. To do this, words, images, gestures and sounds can be used, to portray subtle messages across to the viewers. According to a theorist called Ronald Barthes, there are two different levels of signs; denotation and connotation. Denotation is the literal meaning of an object, or its description. On the other hand, connotation is the term used to describe the associations made when interpreting a sign. The context of a sign is also very important within a film, because the meaning of a sign is relative dependent on how it is being used. To illustrate, the colour red is often used in films, but it can be used to have multiple different meanings, such as, sexuality, anger and danger. this approach recognises the active nature of the audience in using their cultural knowledge and understanding to construct their own meaning.  As well as an active role within the audience, it also indicates that the producing institutions play a very active role too, by encoding meaning within basic objects and messages.

All of the techniques that have been used in the short film “Thank You”, such as, where the camera has been positioned, and where the characters are placed in the shot, is all to send a specific message across to the audience. It is a simple and efficient way of subliminally making the viewers aware of things that can’t necessarily be spelled our to them.

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One thought on “Theoretical Evaluation of Production 1B (Media Language)

  1. Leah

    The following is the exam board’s description of a level 4 answer, from the June 2012 mark scheme http://hijackersandconverts.com/a2-g325-june-2012/:

    Level 4 (21-25 marks).

    Candidates demonstrate a clear understanding of theories of media language and associated media theory and can relate concepts articulately to the production outcome, describing specific elements in relation to theoretical ideas about how media texts communicate. Candidates offer a broad range of specific, relevant, interesting and clear examples of how their product can be understood in relation to relevant theories of media language. The use of conceptual language is excellent.

    Complex issues have been expressed clearly and fluently using a style of writing appropriate to the complex subject matter. Sentences and paragraphs, consistently relevant, have been well structured, using appropriate technical terminology. There may be few, if any, errors of spelling, punctuation and grammar

    I would mark your current answer as being Level 4, possibly 21/25.

    General stuff, for everyone:
    – Part of your answer should focus on how your film uses camerawork, sound design, editing, and mise-en-scene to create meaning. This is easy, because you made the film, but it means expectations are high. You have to say something thoughtful, meaningful and convincing if you are to be awarded a decent mark.
    – Remember, you are writing from an observer’s rather than a filmmaker’s point of view. You should not write about the decisions you made but about the results that a viewer can observe.
    – The other half of your essay must focus on semiotics. Using theorists names is not so important in this essay, but that doesn’t mean you can get away with waffle…

    Specific to you:
    – This is another very well written essay, but the last bit sounds a bit out of place. Maybe try explaining semiotics at the beginning, then making reference throughout your answer. Or not. Your choice. Maybe leave it where it is but try to find more examples.

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