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Media Studies – Effectiveness of Media Texts and use of Language

Effectiveness of Media Texts and use of Language

1.0 Effectiveness of Media Texts and use of Language – You will compare and contrast the structural features of media texts in at least two of the following:

  1. advertising image
  2. magazine cover/newspaper front-page
  3. radio sequence
  4. TV sequence
  5. film sequence
  6. web site

You might for instance compare a magazine cover to a newspaper cover, or a TV and radio news report.

Fig1. Daily Express newspaper front page 09/04/2010

Fig1. Daily Express newspaper front page 09/04/2010

Fig.2 Radio Times magazine front cover 20/03/2010

Fig.2 Radio Times magazine front cover 20/03/2010

Daily Express

Headlines dominate the front page of the newspaper; they are designed to be attention grabbing to guide the eye from a distance as they are competing with other newspapers on the news stand. The two row headline stretches across the page uses emotive language to grab the readers attention “Petrol Hits £6 a Gallon” which is much more emotive than a headline that reads “Petrol Hits £1.20 a Litre”. The sub heading (by-line) adds to this emotive message “Fury as pump prices reach record high”. The layout of the newspaper is designed to lead the eye that is the reader is presented with a layout which the reader is intended to read in a specific order which in this case would be the headline first for petrol price hikes, the by-line heading to be read next followed by the article beneath. Although continued inside the reader would glance at the other stories (Banners) first. There is a choice of three other stories on the front page all continued inside the newspaper.

The picture of Camilla and the article associated and then followed by the two less prominent headlines/banners “Tories to bring in national service for 16-year-olds” and then “Free Inside Your full colour National Sweepstake Kit”. By comparison with the headline the Newspapers name (Masthead) is much less prominent although it does stretch across the width of the page and is positioned near the top of the page but even so because of it’s size in comparison with the headline it is therefore of lesser importance to the reader, possibly? It also includes a centralised logo of a Crusader Knight breaking up the Masthead text.

The size of text (Typography) used plays its part in this process gradually getting smaller depending on the importance placed upon the story by the editor which is related to what is called the ‘Style’ of the newspaper but all this leads the eye down the page in the order that the newspaper intended for the readers consumption. There is the overall impression that this is a serious publication, mainly due to the higher text content ratio compared to the amount of space allocated to the pictures.

Although there is no advertising as such on the front cover there is a special offer across the top of the masthead offering “15p off tomorrow’s Daily Express”.

Radio Times

The Radio Times headlines are given less prominence on the front cover, the picture used is much more prominent on the page. There are five Banners to stories within the magazine, three under the banner “The sharpest interviews in RT”

The Masthead is broken up by the picture and therefore it can be assumed that the picture is of more importance to the layout and the structure of the magazine than the name itself.

The main headline positioned unusually at the bottom of the page is used as an anchor for the picture. There is a play on words in the headline “Let her eat cake” a mispronunciation of the quotation “Let them eat cake” attributed to Marie-Antoinette, the Queen consort of French King Louis XVI. She is supposed to have quoted this when she was told that the French populace had no bread to eat. This ties in well with the picture on the front cover which is of a celebrity who introduces a Television cookery program on BBC Two which just happens to include the cooking of cakes. The two by-lines add to this “Sophie Dahl on diet modelling and marriage” and the second by-line “The delicious Miss Dahl Tuesday BBC2” which ties the headline again to the article inside and the TV program which is called “The Delicious Miss Dahl”.

In general there is considerably less text on the front cover compared with the newspaper. Colour is used to help distinguish the banner headlines from each other and there is the indication that these colours have been chosen to link into the colours used in the picture rather than for any other purpose. There’s also no advertising on the page except for the price of the magazine “Still only £1.10”. The Masthead uses a compressed text, the ‘T’ in times is actually overlapping the ‘o’ in Radio because they are so compressed. Most headlines and banners use capitals adding to their prominence on the page.

The overall effect of the layout suggests this is more of a fun magazine rather than a series publication. The layout itself leads the eye to the picture first, then to the Anchor text (Headline), then back to the Masthead with its Banner stories distributed around it. In all it’s the central picture which is used to make the magazine stand out for the rest of the magazines on the magazine rack.

2.0 Effectiveness of Media Texts and use of Language – You will evaluate the extent to which genre formats of your chosen texts affect the structure.

Daily Express

The Daily Express a general news paper rather than being subject specific has multiple genres dependent upon the stories it covers. In many newspapers the paper is divided up into sections, for example traditionally the back pages cover sports. The paper will be further divided up to cover for example Television, Film, Theatre and Arts stories. The layouts of each of these sections usually specific to their content. The Television section will have tables showing programmes against the time that they are shown. Reviews will give prominence to the reviewer depending on their standing in the community or their authority in the industry.

Radio Times

The Radio Times is designed to be more than just a TV guide and instead is more of a Lifestyle Magazine which includes information on program scheduling. So the articles in the first section of the Magazine are similar in format to most Lifestyle Magazines that is stories and interviews with celebrities TV actors and Cooking but the TV Guide section layout is set by the need to list programs against viewing times and so a formulised list is employed.

3.0 You will analyse the ways in which two different media texts use language: (is the language emotive, emotional, analytical, descriptive, agenda setting, what are the connotations, does the language promote an ideology, is there intertextuality)

 

Fig.3 Ultimate Force (TV Series)

Fig.3 Ultimate Force (TV Series)

Fig.4 Actionaid website

Fig.4 Actionaid website

Ultimate Force

The TV series shown on ITV 2002 to 2006, based on the SAS and a fictional group of soldiers called Red Troop.

Emotive language is used throughout the series of TV programs, particularly by the lead character, the leader of Red Troop played by Ross Kemp, whose character promotes an over the top Masculinity – a Macho image continuously. The program makers probably intended for the audience to assume they were seeing realistic situations and a true reflection of the SAS in action. To have some empathy with the characters, but the characterisations are larger than life and the situations they become involved in appear unbelievable.

The programs all have this ideology, the program makers and script writer’s world-view is very narrow, black and white this is shown by the assumption that there are the good guys in this case Red Troop and the other protagonists are the bad guys. The opening titles use the Hollywood sequence now popular with Action films that is ‘The long walk’ where the members of Red Troop are filmed as they walk in a line abreast towards the camera carrying their weapons prominently positioned in front of them with a large military backdrop visible behind them.

However the repeats of this series are currently being shown whilst British forces are engaged in conflict in Afghanistan and so the language used in the programs can be very emotive, for example the programs catch phrase “…Man down. Man down…” has greater meaning at this time.

Intertextuality exists in many sequences, referencing other action TV and Film productions, by keeping to a well trodden action formula, it’s almost possible to correctly guess the words the actors are about to speak in a given situation before they actually say them.

Actionaid

The charity Actionaid supports children in mainly the African or Asian continents, promoting the sponsorship of a child.

The layout of the site is very similar to a newspaper with a Headline, a central main story and Banners to other news stories which can be expanded upon by following the page links just like a newspaper links to another internal page where the story is continued. The eye is led from the top linearly down the page with each short paragraph leading to the next in sequence, then back up the page viewing the links to the right using keywords to highlight specific causes.

The language used is of course very emotive throughout, for example “…As a child sponsor, you’ll have the chance to help a whole community take control of their lives and end their poverty…” and again “…only people can change poverty and that includes you…” The language used allows the targeted audience to believe in the truth of what you see on the website backed up by its pictures of smiling children and articles from current sponsors telling their stories and experiences of sponsoring a child through Actionaid, for example “…Sponsoring a child is amazing – it isn’t just giving money. I get such a lot of satisfaction from the experience because it’s so much more personal. You really get to see the difference that you make. And I have become emotionally attached to the children I’ve sponsored over the years…”

4.0 Effectiveness of Media Texts and use of Language – You will identify and evaluate how your chosen texts construct particular points of view for specific audiences (How are audiences positioned to read a specific meaning into a text)

Ultimate Force

The audience is intended to take on board the ideology of the program that the good guys that is Red Troop will defeat the bad guys that is everyone else. The structure takes the format of an enigma which is introduced at the beginning of the show, revealing the bad guys and the criminal or terrorist act that they have committed. Red troop is made aware and a resolution is devised and acted out between breaks for advertising each of which is preceded by another enigma or cliff-hanger which is resolved just after the commercial break or at least acted upon ready for final resolution at the end of the program.

Actionaid

All of this emotive language used in the main body of the websites homepage is backed up by descriptive language for example “…Despite world leader’s commitments to halve hunger by 2015, there are more hungry people now than at any time in history. But the causes of hunger aren’t natural, they’re manmade, and the solutions are within our power…” positions the audience towards making the decision if they are able to, to become a child sponsor.

5.0 Effectiveness of Media Texts and use of Language – You will evaluate the extent to which your chosen texts assume a context of consumption. (How do the producers of the text assume it will be consumed?)

Ultimate Force

As the situations and characterisation of Red Troop appear unbelievable, therefore the audience could consume the program in a way that the program makers did not originally intend. For example the audience may see it as purely entertainment whereas the program makers were known to have employed Chris Ryan of the SAS to consult them on the real activities of the SAS with the idea most probably of adding an element of realism to the programs, to make them more believable.

Actionaid

The Actionaid website appears to achieve its intention of how the audience is expected to consume the language used in its pages very well. It uses emotive language to create empathy for the hungry children in the world and it backs this up with very descriptive language, describing how the audience can help the starving children by sponsoring a child, taking it out of poverty, helping with education and making sure that it does not suffer hunger all thanks to your generosity. Complete with all the imperatives for example “…Do something amazing today, sponsor a child with Actionaid…” and again “…Sponsor Now…”

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Film Studies – Producers & Audiences Part 2

Producers and Audiences part 2

1.0 You will discuss the “Effects” and “Uses and Gratifications” audience theories in relation to film audiences.

1.1 Effects: This theory is presumed to work on the basis that a user may be influenced to act out or copy what they see in a film. For instance if the film is of a violent subject then the user themselves may act or become more violent. It is argued however that this is not a true theory, remaining unproven to this date although there has been a study conducted back in 1961 involving children at a nursery school and a Bobo Doll. The doll was subjected to verbal and actual aggression by a group of adults and it was noted that the children imitated many of the aggressive moves when they were introduced to the doll.

Natural Born Killers
Natural Born Killers

Natural Born Killers

One of the most if not the most controversial film to be released in recent years. The film Natural Born Killers has been directly attributed to being responsible for the real deaths of up to eight people. Copycat killers Ben Darras and Sarah Edmondson were reported as watching the film continuously over a 24 hour period (and taking drugs) before going out on a shooting spree, killing a businessman Bill Savage and wounding Patsy Byers. The studio Warner Brothers along with Director Oliver Stone became engaged in a court case, defending its position against a lawsuit brought by the shooting victim Byers claiming that they the studio and director shared responsibility for her shooting along with the copycat killers Ben Darras and Sarah Edmondson. Surely the taking of drugs is more significant?

A Clockwork Orange
A Clockwork Orange

A Clockwork Orange

Oliver Stone a known fan of Stanley Kubrick’s films thought he was wrong to withdraw his film A Clockwork Orange from circulation for similar reasons.

For Example even in recent years acts of violence are still being linked to films and computer games and in the case of “A Clockwork Orange” a recent example can be found in the Independent Newspaper.

“A gang of youths was yesterday found guilty of killing a bar manager during a “happy slapping” spree of random violence which they filmed on a mobile phone.
A teenage girl and three youths killed David Morley, 38, who had survived the Soho nail bomb blast of April 1999. He was savagely beaten to death by the Clockwork Orange-style thugs, the Old Bailey heard.”

Akbar. A. Thursday, 15/12/200. Clockwork Orange’ gang found guilty of killing bar manager. http://www.independent.co.uk [Accessed 12/04/2010]

Imedi TV Spoof News Report

Another recent example of the power of media to effect audiences is the spoof news broadcast by the network Imedi in Georgia (March 2010) reporting on an invasion of Georgia by Russian tanks seemingly advancing towards the capital and also reporting the death of Georgia’s president Mikheil Saakashvili. Using footage taken from an actual invasion by Russian tanks in 2008 the program presented this as a real time event. People panicked causing Telephone networks to collapse and to begin to stockpiling food while others volunteered to fight against the Russians. After it was realised that the broadcast was a fake, crowds mobbed the offices of the broadcaster to display their anger at the broadcaster. Such was the power of the media that other broadcasters interrupted their own programming to show footage from this spoof news broadcast even reaching as far as Russia and being shown on Russian TV channels before they realise they had been had.

Imedi TV Spoof

Imedi TV Spoof

Osborn, A., 2010 Russia invasion spoof report spreads panic in Georgia. Moscow, http://www.telegraph.co.uk [accessed 16/03/2010]

1.2 Uses and gratification theory:

Theorises that people will have their own interpretation for media and what one person takes from a film will be different from what another person seeks to get from a film. In fact a user will seek out what is of interest to them in order to get some form of gratification. In regard to Film the following five headings can be used to describe the typical forms of gratification a user may seek from watching a film.

• Escape: Escapism, a user seeks an escape from reality, visiting the cinema to see a film to lose themselves for a few hours in a films version of reality that is unreality.
• Social Interaction: A film fan may also lose them selves in a film forming a relationship with the actors in a film, which can be potentially dangerous. On a less controversial note they may just use film as a topic of conversation in a social environment, among friends.
• Identify: Users may identify with something in a film, make a lifestyle change for example costume in a film may influence a change in the way they dress or more personal change, hairstyle, holiday choice etc.
• Inform and Educate: Film documentaries inform and educate film goers about the world they live in.
• Entertain: The most obvious, film goers may just be interested in the entertainment value in a film, combined possibly with escapism, they may just be seeking two hours of entertainment.

2.0 You will compare and contrast the connotations of the following:

(a) Film goers
(b) Film enthusiasts
(c) Film fans

• Film goers
Visit the cinema infrequently mainly for entertainment purposes. Can also be part of a social activity with other Film goers?

• Film enthusiast
They are regular cinema visitors, have a serious interest in film, its production, direction and its history. A Film enthusiast enjoys Film as an art form in its own right.

• Film fans
They visit the cinema more frequently and tend to follow a specific genre or genres, for example Westerns, Horror or Science Fiction. They may even be more specific in their interests for example Science Fiction fans may only be interested in a particular series, Star Trek, Alien, Terminator etc. Others may follow a specific actor. In extreme case some fans become obsessive, becoming part of an actor’s life.

3.0 You will research the production details of two films of your own choosing and provide an evaluation of the defining elements of both.

Alien 1979 ***************************Aliens 1986
Director Ridley Scott ***************** James Cameron
Genre Horror, Sci-Fi, **************** Thriller Action, Adventure, Horror, Sci-Fi
Budget $11 Million ****************** $18 Million
Gross Revenue $105 Million ********* $131 Million
Location UK, Shepperton Studios ***  UK, Pinewood Studios
Cast (Main Character) Sigourney Weaver Sigourney Weaver
Score/Soundtrack Jerry Goldsmith *** James Horner
Narrative/Screenplay Dan O’Bannon ***James Cameron
Special Effects Brian Johnson *********Robert & Dennis Skotak
CGI Mainly Models and Actors in rubber suits. ***** Mainly Models and Actors in rubber suits.
Production 10 months

Alien Movie Poster

Alien Movie Poster

On face value alone the two films would seem to have many elements in common, both were filmed in the UK, one is the sequel of the other and therefore having sharing common production elements. Both films were made for comparable budgets and achieved comparable returns. For example in narrative where the story is essentially about the same subject and situated in the same location but with one following on from where the other left off. They also share in having the same main character of Sigourney Weaver in the title role.

Aliens Movie Poster

Aliens Movie Poster

But in reality these are two very different films which can be almost certainly attributed to the individual Directors visualisation for their respective films. Ridley Scott’s visualisation for Alien was for a Horror film set in space and David Cameron’s visualisation for the film Aliens was for an action/adventure film also set in space. It is these differences which make the films seem to be very different from each other. They would reach the Sci-Fi fans, the existing audiences that is fans of the Alien franchise films and also attract new audiences and potential fans in the case of Aliens those seeking an Action genre movie rather than a Sci-Fi or Horror movie.

There many other elements seemingly small but separating the two films, distinguishing them from each other. In the first film Alien, there was only the one Alien but 100’s of eggs and in the sequel, Aliens there were presumably one Alien for each one of the colonists taken alive that’s up to 50 Families. In Aliens the Queen was introduced for the first time presumably to answer the question asked by many Fans of the first film Alien of where or from what did the Alien eggs come from.

The robot Ash was unknown to the crew of the Nostromo but in Aliens the robot Bishop was introduced as a member of the crew in the early stages of the film. Ash’s mission was to retrieve the Alien and return it to the company, the crew considered expendable but Bishop had not been similarly programmed and in Aliens actively supported the crew, taking their side with Burke a human taking on the Ash’s role acting on behalf of the company and himself.

4.0 Provide an analysis of data from the case study of two films from different production contexts (This could be films from different countries, or a Hollywood studio and an independent American production).

Gran Torino (2008) ******************* Harry Brown (2009)
Director Clint Eastwood *************** Daniel Barber
Producer Clint Eastwood ************** Mathew Vaughn
Genre Drama Crime, ****************** Drama, Thriller, Urban Western
Budget $33 Million ******************* low budget film £1 Million from BFI
Gross Revenue $365 Million *********** $6.6 Million (Incomplete data to 20/12/2009)
Location USA, Center Line Michigan *** UK, Aylesbury Estate, Walworth London
Cast (Main Character) Clint Eastwood ** Michael Caine
Score/Soundtrack Kyle Eastwood (Clint’s oldest son) *** Martin Phipps
Narrative/Screenplay Nick Schenk ***** Gary Young
Special Effects N/A N/A
CGI N/A N/A
Studio/Production Company Village Roadshow Pictures
Malpaso Productions Marv Partners
UK Film Council

Gran Torino
Gran Torino Movie Poster

Gran Torino Movie Poster

Gran Torino stars Client Eastwood as a retired car worker and ex Korean War veteran Walt Kowalski whose neighbourhood has become run down and taken over by recent immigrants. His next door neighbours, who he dislikes, are Hmong immigrants from Southeast Asia. Although he doesn’t like his next door neighbours or indeed anything about how his life and how his neighbourhood has turned out he finds himself having to defend his Hmong neighbours’ when their son becomes involved with some gang members.

Harry Brown
Harry Brown Movie Poster

Harry Brown Movie Poster

Harry Brown stars Michael Caine as a retired Royal Marine who once served in Northern Ireland. Set within a run down council estate in the Elephant & Castle area of London, the estate which is virtually besieged by gang members, young thugs, criminals and drug pushers, Harry assumes the role of vigilante after his best friend is killed by these thugs. He in effect ends up defending his neighbours on the council estate from these gangs by taking them out one by one as he seeks out his friend’s killers.

Conclusions

Two films, one made and produced in Hollywood with a huge production budget and made for International release and the other a low budget British film produced for the UK market, but both very similar in genre and subject and in many respects screenplay.

The biggest difference between them is probably in the production costs and associated marketing and advertising budget. Gran Torino’s overall budget was a massive £33 Million dollars which when compared with the low budget Harry Brown film it becomes very hard to see where all the extra money has gone in producing the film. It would therefore suggest that the majority of this $33 Million budget has gone on the actual cost of producing this film in the USA. Labour rates, studio and equipment leasing are much higher in the USA compared with the relatively low cost UK.

In regard to salaries, Clint Eastwood’s salary was circa $4 Million while Michael Caine is reported as doing Harry Brown for virtually expenses only. Using this as a template comparing UK and USA salaries it becomes much easier to see where the budget of $33 Million for Gran Torino was spent.

On top of these production costs are the budget for the promotion of the film, in particular the Hollywood films marketing and advertising costs for an International market. Whereas by comparison Harry Brown’s advertising and marketing budget must have been tiny as it received just £ Million from the BFI for the entire cost of producing the film, this compared with Gran Torino’s $33 Million to produce a very similar film. The small marketing and advertising budget meant that Harry Brown marketing and advertising was probably concentrated on the release of the film in its home market that is UK market.

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English – Assignment: Speech Evaluation and Review

Evaluation & Review

Actionade an Evaluation

To get the audience‘s attention I used the sound of my hand hitting the surface of the desk three times. Counting five seconds between each slap to show how little time seems to pass for the death of a child from hunger. “In our World – a child dies every 5 seconds from HUNGER”. I also made sure to scan the room catching the eyes of my audience to make them feel engaged in my speech and that I was addressing them personally. I wanted to put two key points across to the audience I pointed at one side and said “YOU can HELP them” and then pointing at the other side of the audience I said “ YOU can Make a difference” the pointing re-emphasised the idea that I was talking personally to each and everyone in the audience. To reinforce the message contained within the speech at the end of the speech I once again slapped the top of the desk again, repeating my message of the death of a child, one every five seconds.

I used emotive and loaded language throughout the speech for example HUNGER, CANCER and HELP. Using repetition of these words in particular “HUNGER” to both reinforce the importance and impact of these words and to make sure that they remained in the audiences’ memory long after the speech was over.

Imagery was used to engage the audience and to create empathy for the victims of hunger. “You’ve all seen the pictures – The walking skeletons – skin stretched across bone…” and metaphor for example “…sitting in the dust of despair…” The speech was also loaded with facts “… over Six million children die of HUNGER every year that is 17,000 children every day…” and again “… a child dies every 5 seconds…” and “…15 million people suffer HUNGER…”and each of these points made using an intentional rhythm, for example “…HUNGER makes them weak – they become at risk from disease – they live in poverty – there are no medicines and so they die…”.

As the speech was intended to represent the work of an actual charity and was therefore intentionally loaded with opinion and bias for example “… HUNGER is the single greatest threat to WORLD Health…”, is hunger really the single greatest threat to World Health, for as I point out in my own speech “…HUNGER makes them weak – they become at risk from disease – they live in poverty – there are no medicines and so they die…” (rule of three) from this you could say it is the fact that they have no medicines and this is the reason that they die rather than hunger alone being solely responsible for their deaths. It could also be due to the fact that they live in poverty or any number of other reasons but for the purposes of this speech an appeal for charitable donations HUNGER was presented as the sole reason for the deaths.

Question and Answer session.

The questions following the speech concentrated mainly on the facts contained within the speech and as these are unfortunately, the real facts I managed to answer these to hopefully the audiences’ satisfaction, but could possibly be answered with more conviction.  In fact I could have been better prepared to handle these questions.

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Review of “Argument for staying in Iraq”

Russell’s speech, a humorous yet sarcastic view of the conflict in Iraq and the benefits if that is the correct meaning that the conflict actually brought to the people of Iraq.

Russell made use of several literary techniques in his speech including metaphor “The people of Iraq have been left in darkness” and then there is his use of varied sentence lengths another literary technique which helps keep the audience interested. The use of imagery for example “Blood will run and death will commence” and again in “Don’t hide in darkness enter the light, let your voice be heard”.

He used personal bias and opinion to get his message across; making each statement that on the face of it appears positive to in fact be negative for example “The people of Iraq cannot cope. They need our friendly faces, our guns and our tanks” the true meaning behind his words would be “they do not want us, nor our guns or our tanks”. “Without this support the infra-structure of Iraq will surely collapse” of course the infra-structure was in fact bombed out of existence by the allied forces during it’s campaign of “Shock and Awe”. Russell made use of simple and personal language to deliver his speech, appealing to a wide audience.

His speech seemed to be received by the audience in the manner that Russell intended for it to be received. He wanted the audience to see that he was pointing out the negatives that the war on behalf of the Iraqis had brought them, insecurity, a poorer standard of living and the destruction of their infrastructure and services. That the meddling of the allied forces in Iraq and the conflict against Saddam Hussein had actually damaged the lives of most of the people of Iraq and destabilised the whole region.

Russell did not really appear to be addressing only the audience in the room directly but his speech would seemingly work well for a much wider audience, for example on radio or television where it could be well received by for example, anti war activists or even those who were undecided on whether the war in Iraq had been necessary.

Question and Answer session.

Russell seemed surprised by the questions that his speech had initiated and on the whole seemed to be relatively unprepared with answers. But managed to cope and supplied answers that satisfied his audience.

He on the whole delivered his speech well in and in an authoritive manner but did lose the plot a couple of time during the speech most probably due to the irony contained within his own speech. On the whole though a good presentation and generally well received by the audience.

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English – Assignment: Write a Speech on behalf of a Charity

Actionaid

This is an appeal on behalf of Actionaid

  • CLAP –  That’s 1 dead
  • CLAP –  2 dead
  • CLAP –  That’s 3 dead
  • In our World – a child dies every 5 seconds from HUNGER
  • According to the World Health Organisation – HUNGER is the single greatest threat to WORLD Health.
  • HUNGER the killer that’s greater than any disease – greater than CANCER.
  • HUNGER the single greatest contributor to child mortality.
  • Today, more than a billion people are hungry – over Six million children die of HUNGER every year that is 17,000 children every day
  • HUNGER makes them weak – they become at risk from disease – they live in poverty – there are no medicines and so they die.
  • You’ve all seen the pictures – The Walking skeletons – skin stretched across bone – sitting in the dust of despair – waiting for the relief that never seems to come.
  • In Malawi – Emergency Food Aid was needed by 5 Million of its 13 Million HUNGRY inhabitants.
  • Yet all is not lost – with our continued HELP and the HELP of others Malawi produced a record breaking harvest in 2006 and again in 2007 and now sells more food to the World Food Program and the United Nations than any other Southern African country.
  • HUNGER is not just limited to the African continent – in fact Asia has more than twice the number of people who just do not have enough food.
  • It is an unacceptable fact that there is no region in the World that does not have this problem – those people who live in poverty and live with the risk of starvation. This includes the developed countries where it is estimated that as many as 15 Million people suffer HUNGER.
  • YOU can HELP them. (POINT)
  • YOU can MAKE a difference. (POINT)
  • Save a child from HUNGER today – sponsor a child through Actionaid for less than 50 pence a day, that’s less than the price of a packet of crisps a day – save on calories and more importantly HELP save a child’s life.
  • Not only will you HELP save a child but your continued sponsorship will HELP us to fight poverty. Enable farmers to buy tools, irrigate their fields and grow more food – bringing an end to HUNGER for an entire village.
  • Remember in just the short time that I have been talking to you over 30 children have died from HUNGER.
  • CLAP that’s another one.
  • CLAP and another.
  • CLAP and another.
  • Act now – and save a child from HUNGER today – see our website for details – actionaid.org.uk

Thank you

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English – Assignment: Response to non-literary material

Section A

1.0 How does Bryson’s use of fact and opinion help us in our understanding of his experience in Bournemouth during his previous and present visits?

Firstly, the extract from “Notes from a Small Island” is written in the first person narrative, which instantly creates a personal tone and so I would expect this extract to be written from Bryson’s personal viewpoint which helps engages the reader. It is also by definition most likely to be biased because this is Bryson’s personal viewpoint.

Opinion and bias dominate Bryson’s description of Bournemouth in comparing his first introduction to Bournemouth in 1977 and his return. He expresses regret at the loss of some of the shops and their departments including the fact of the loss of Beale’s book department and the fact that the food hall at Dingles has also gone. But of most importance to him is the loss of the “…elegant little bakery, taking the worlds best sugar doughnuts with it…” and a good example of Bryson’s bias with this personal opinion on what he considers to be the best doughnuts in the world and most probably an exaggeration. The implications here are that not all changes are for the better. Definitely a biased opinion from Bryson here but in counter argument he does mention some positive improvements such as shopping arcades being ‘nicely tarted up’ and to a positive aspect of the differences between his previous visit in 1977 and now ‘…there wasn’t a scrap of litter to be found…’ which compared to his previous visit “…whereas in my day Christchurch Road was an open-air litter bin.”

Bryson uses facts to ensure that the part of his book which is intended to be used as a Travel guide uses accurate names for each of the locations he describes so that travellers will recognise the locations from his descriptions, examples include “…Pleasure Gardens…” and “…tourist information centre on Westover Road…” Other examples include his expectations of “… English answer to Bad Ems or Baden-Baden – manicured parks, palm courts with orchestras, swank hotels …” and the facts are “…Sadly, I have to report that almost none of this awaited me…”

2.0 What is the purpose of facts, opinions and implied meanings in the Brittany Ferry advertisement?

Firstly, an advertisement is designed to persuade the reader to buy the product and/or service. The Brittany Ferry advertisement is very persuasive, by using many examples of the positive points to using Ferry Travel, by highlighting only the positives aspects to ferry travel compared to the negatives aspects associated by the alternative of using air travel. For example “…had become disillusioned with the hassle of air travel…” this is using opinion of the “…Mead Family…” to imply that ferry travel does not have the same hassles that the air traveller experiences. The Brittany Ferries advertisement also avoids mentioning any of the positive points of using air travel in particular the dramatic difference in the speed between the two modes of travel. For example Ferry Travel to Spain is described as an overnight journey yet by using air travel you could do the same journey in just a few hours.

The sales approach begins with the title “A holiday ferry-tale” using a malapropism of Fairytale to identify a holiday with Brittany Ferry’s as being just like a being in a Fairytale with its associated imagery of an idyllic holiday just like a fairy tale. The advert reinforces this malapropism towards the end of the advertisement by stating “…Trégastel was spectacular with its fairytale-like pink granite coast…” Of course the reader could also view this negatively; their promise of a perfect holiday experience could also be just a Fairytale.

Several literary techniques are used in the advertisement, there is an example of the rule of three, “The Ferry was fantastic”, “the whole family loved the live cabaret”, “the children’s entertainment was a real hit” all of these quotes also using hyperbole in their descriptions of ferry travel. There is the use of hyphenated language including; “…tired of the run-of-the-mill package holidays…” and “…great-value holiday option…”

Like all advertisements there is the factual contact information, telephone number and website address, there is also a competition to win a holiday, using the imperative, attracting the reader and encouraging them to apply and most importantly supply their contact information, this is most likely for future contact from Brittany Ferries, offering holiday offers and other incentives to use their services.

3.0 How does the Brittany Ferry advertisement use its choice of layout, presentation and language to persuade you to go on holiday with them?

There’s a strong bias shown throughout this advertisement in favour of ferry travel, where Brittany Ferries describes air travel when compared with ferry travel as having ‘inconvenient check in times’ and likening air travel using the simile  ‘…herded like cattle…’ and with the added problems of ‘…baggage limitations…’. There is no mention of sailing delays, bad weather cancellations or seaman and dock workers strikes in this advertisement.

Although this is in effect a Ferry service they have also associated themselves to being similar to a cruise service by a quote from the Mead family stating “…The Ferry was fantastic – MV Bretagne was more like a cruise ship…” there by association raising the level of service that a potential customer would think they would be getting, this positive visualisation of an opulent cruise ship rather than the usual visualisation associated with a car ferry, that being, open cold decks swaying with every passing wave, everyone feeling seasick and just waiting for the journey to be over.

In the Brittany Ferry Advertisement they have chosen to use an artistic impression of their holidays rather than by just showing their holidays in photographs, this is done to invoke the reader into visualising what they want the reader to see, which in this case they have done by creating imagery of a sunny childhood holiday.  They’ve achieved this through the use of strong summery colours, the reds, yellows and gold, the golden sunsets and idyllic farmhouse scene of quote “…pretty gíte…” locations. All these images are symbolic of the best in childhood summer holidays. This choice of imagery evokes and enhances the advertisements association with its holidays being like a Fairytale.

The layout of the pictures themselves appear at first to be out of order; the first picture is of a location in France, their destination with the heading “REAL FREEDOM France offers an authentic holiday experience”, this is followed by a picture of the Ferry sailing away into a sunset “TRAVEL IN STYLE Cruise direct to the best parts of France and Northern Spain” but which could visually represent the end of the holiday and the third picture is of a car being packed up “PACKING UP No baggage limitations at all”, again visually representing the journey home but the heading seems to refer to the start of the journey. But by making the first picture the one showing the idyllic holiday location and making it larger then the others this directs the reader’s attention to this picture over all others and again creating this visualisation of the Fairytale holiday.

There is a simplicity to the language used, the rhythm used is always upbeat “The Ferry was fantastic”, “the whole family loved the live cabaret”, “the children’s entertainment was a real hit” other examples include, “…like a cruise ship…”, “Travel in style” and “Real freedom”.

4.0 How does choice of language and structure interest the reader?

Bryson’s style of writing creates the feeling that he is guiding you on his travels, in this case around Bournemouth, pointing out changes for good and changes that in his opinion are not so good.

Bryson also uses humour to great effect to engage the reader and share his view of Bournemouth and its changes from when he was last in Bournemouth. For instance he describes one new building as “…decorated with a curious glass and tubular steel edifice that looked like a bus shelter for giants”. Another example of where Bryson uses humour is where he describes the Pleasure Gardens as, “…provide shoppers with a tranquil green place to rest on their long slog from one side of the centre to the other…” and in the same sentence “… though of course, if it weren’t for the parks there wouldn’t be the long slog. Such is life”.

Bryson makes use of different sentence lengths to engage the readers’ interest by personalising the text, for instance just looking at the example above, where he describes the Pleasure Gardens a sentence of over seventy five words in length followed by a sentence of just three words “Such is life” where he is basically making a very personal statement.

Bryson also makes use of his observation skills in for example in his description of the offices where he used to work likening them to a Dickens novel “…untidy stacks of paper, gloomy lighting, two rows of hunched figures sitting at desks…” His writing creates imagery of “…cadaverous figures…” from which the reader will immediately visualise a scene from Dickens novel ‘A Christmas Carol’ and Scrooge’s offices as described in Dickens novel with the ‘Echo’s’ equivalent of Bob Cratchit sitting at a desk scratching away with a quill pen in a freezing cold and dark office heated only by the burning of a single lump of coal in the fire grate. The reason why Bryson invokes this imagery is for the reader to be able to visualise themselves being in this environment so that they will have a better understanding of how he felt when he worked there.

Bryson uses language to engage the reader by being informal and by seemingly addressing his comments and descriptions directly to the reader. His rhythm varies and can be very downbeat at some times, for example when he describes the changes that have been made between now and his previous visit to Bournemouth, “…elegant little bakery, taking the worlds best sugar doughnuts with it…”.

5.0 For what purpose is bias used in Bryson’s description of Bournemouth and the Brittany Ferries’ advertisement?

Bryson’s use of bias is used to engage the reader hinting at his own and in some instances his very personal views one example of which is his views regarding officials who for instance, “…some councillor or other force for good realised the profound and unhealthy implications of placing Lower and Pleasure in such immediate proximity to each and successfully lobbied to have Lower removed from the title, so now you have the Upper Pleasure Gardens and the mere Pleasure Gardens…” you can almost feel some of Bryson’s exasperation as he describes the thought processes and actions of minor officials in this case Bournemouth’s councillors.

Brittany’s Ferries’ uses bias to persuade the reader to switch primarily from air travel and package holidays from air travel companies to ferry travel and their package holiday offers. There’s the “…they discovered routes that saved them miles of driving, petrol, tolls and overnight stops…” surely if they had flown they would have arrived very close to their eventual destination and so would not have driven miles, bought petrol, have incurred tolls or overnight stops. There are many other examples of bias, most promoting the advantages of ferry travel as apposed to air travel examples of this include “…The journey was without stress” another was “The choice of food on board was excellent too” and “…convenient sailings…” with “…high speed service…” and finally “…forget about baggage limitations…”

6.0 Comparing the two non-literary texts

Comparing the two non-literary texts we are able to identify that Bryson piece is intended at possibly two types of reader, the traveller who is researching a location or indeed an idea for their own future travel and holiday requirements and is therefore looking for travel ideas, places of interest and sights to see, or alternatively Bryson is writing for a reader who is just reading primarily for entertainment purposes. Bryson’s humorous take on a travel location achieves both these goals, describing the locations for the potential traveller and the funny descriptions for the reader looking for entertainment.

The Brittany Ferries advertisement by comparison is aimed primarily at young families. Although there is a carrot for the adults as well “…There are also some great-value golf breaks on offer too, for the enthusiast…” It targets it’s customers by describing the details of a Fairytale family holiday “The Mead family”, their travel plans and the details of their accommodation. “The Meads really enjoyed their new holiday experience” in the start of final paragraph is a closing statement designed to close the sale and get the reader to consider using their service for their next holiday.

Looking specifically at the tone of the two non-literary texts in comparison they couldn’t seem to be more different. Brittany Ferries emphasises the positive aspects of their offering throughout their advertisement mixing a passive voice with the active voice of the Mead family.  Bryson is much more cynical in his tone sometimes almost disparaging in particular to the changes he sees between his former and current visits to Bournemouth, although still with this humorous take used in his descriptions and as it was written in the active voice that is the first person narrative, with Bryson’s personal view of everything he describes in his book, this helps the reader identify with the authors travel and personal experiences.

Section B

“Cosmetic Surgery” from The Hospital Group

The advertisement is designed purposely to be both persuasive and subjective

Opinions and superlatives proliferate in the advertisements top section examples of which include “whole new you”, “an excellent experience” and “industry leading standards” all designed to catch the readers’ attention. In the bottom section there are even more examples of opinion, superlatives  and certainly bias including the whole description of their bespoke service for example “The world’s top surgeons, hand picked for their exceptional skills & technical ability”, which could also be interpreted as hyperbole as the Hospital Group is unlikely to have access to all the worlds top surgeons and we can assume that it was them that decided who the top surgeons’ were and determined their level of skills and technical ability. This opinion is expanded upon with their next statement “Leaders in their field, with their own innovative, newly developed techniques”, again as no other external authoritive body is cited we are left to assume that this again is the sole opinion of “The Hospital Group”.

The advertisement is actually two advertisements’ in one. The top half of the advertisement appears to target and is therefore biased toward a less sophisticated potential customer than the bottom section of the advertisement. They have done this by separating the top and bottom half of the advertisement visually by a change in colours used that is a white background for the top section and a black background for the bottom section. They have also distinguished the difference between the two service levels they offer by giving the premium service a name “Introducing The Platinum Choice” biasing this section of the advertisement towards the more sophisticated clientele.

The advertisement creates an emotive response in several ways and levels, the list of procedures identify parts of the body which a potential customer may be unhappy with and they offer to solve this problem for you and at the same time make you happy. This is underlined by the statement “…a whole new you…” The separation of the advert into two distinct levels that is dependent on the perceived sophistication of the customer. The top half will appeal to the average customer who will have a budget and for this reason they list medical procedures and their starting prices, in fact the prices listed are all sub £4,000. The bottom half of the advert meanwhile refers to a bespoke service tailored not only to their requirements but also to the customers’ ability to pay, with prices starting from £12,000. There’s also the use of locations to sell the exclusivity of the “Platinum Choice” that it London, Beverley Hills and Barcelona all considered premium locations, whereas the top half of the advertisement locations are much less salubrious for example; Leeds, Sheffield, Glasgow, Newcastle, Bristol and Norwich, hardly a select location amongst them.

The tone running throughout the advert gives the impression of authority, it does this in several ways, first there is the visual aspect of the advert with the main picture of the man dressed and therefore presented as being a Surgeon, very much an authoritive figure with a high status in society. The use of this authority figure also allows them to transfer some of this authority to the content of the advert, seemingly to present supposition as facts, taking the heading again as an example of this “…for a whole new you…” This impression of authority is enforced by the wording in the advertisement “Mr Mario Russo, Medical Director” the keywords here are Medical Director. Then again “The World’s top surgeons” and “Leaders in their fields” all add to this impression of authority, these terms, imperatives for the reader to act assuming they are indeed looking for cosmetic surgery surely they’d want the “The World’s top surgeons” and “Leaders in their fields” to carry out their surgery.

There is also an imperative for customers to call them in the top half of the advertisement “Call: 0845 626 727” whilst the bottom section of the advertisement just presents its telephone number without the imperative to call. This is another example of how this advertisement is designed to be perceived by two very different customers separated by we presume their level of sophistication or financial status, that is their ability to pay.

Facts are few, limited to the names, that’s is the name of the company “The Hospital Group” the name of the Medical Director “Mr Mario Russo” and the contact details, that is telephone numbers and website address. Although some information does seem to be presented as facts when in fact they are not “Leaders in their fields…” Although details of clinic locations are mentioned there are no specifics and so they provide too little information to be considered facts especially as all the contact information is non-geographically based. The telephone numbers all start 0845 and the website address is a .com, again this could be anywhere in the world the only exception is the telephone number for Ireland.

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Graphic Design – Creative Imaging Part 2

Graphic Design: Creative Imaging Part 2

Following on from my previous research on Poster Design I decided to design my own poster. The original idea for my poster came from a classroom activity in Printmaking where I printed a series of green footprints across card using a preformed shape of a human foot. This seemed to send a very strong environmental message. The visual image of the Green footprints going across the page which in turn got me thinking of the current message of saving the environment through the reduction of your carbon footprint a message which features prominently from Government. This in turn led me to thinking of the Car Scrappage Scheme a Government sponsored scheme which is very prominent in the media today with advertising on Television, Newspapers and the Internet from Government and Car Manufacturers offering to replace your old polluting car for a new low CO2 car and give you a contribution of £2,000 towards the deal.

Looking through a variety of advertisements for the car scrappage scheme I noticed a lack of advertisements’ trying to put across the green message and in fact did not find very many at all which concentrated on the green message, most were from manufacturers pushing their products and relying on the cost savings to get their scrappage deal message across.

I decided that colour usage in the poster would be important in getting my green message across as would the images used for instance pictures of old and new cars as these would also figure prominently in the poster.

I first drew a very basic layout for the poster design deciding on the best positions for the pictures of the cars and the text using coloured pens. I also tried various Text and Picture sizes while deciding on how to get the green message I wanted to get across.

I started with the two photographs, one of an old car with its sharp angles and square shape with old fashioned chrome bumpers, the other photograph of a much more modern car with its sleek aerodynamic shape. The Printmaking activity helped to set the theme here of the Poster as well and so I decided that the cars would have to be manipulated changing the pictures of the cars so that they also looked like they had also been printed. I did this by using the Sketch and Stamp Filters in Photoshop, first by separating the images from their backgrounds and then running the filters in turn to get the final images on the poster. I then changed the colours of the images to green for the new car and red for the old car images to keep the green theme. That is the green coloured car is for the new low polluting car and the old car was coloured red to represent the old and therefore polluting car. I did this by adjusting the images using the Hue and Saturation settings in Photoshop.

My original idea for the poster was for a plain green background to the poster that had say a reduced opacity so as not to overwhelm the text and images, but I instead decided that rather than use a plain green background I would use another scanned in image from the printmaking activity which I called Spawn. This also had a very organic look which worked well when placed behind the images of the cars and text. Using a gradient going from green to transparent kept the green idea but also helped the text at the bottom to stand out. I also used the Hue and Saturation adjustments to get the right shade of green to avoid being too similar to the colour used for the image of the car.

Finally I used a very organic looking Text Font ‘Segoe Print’ which fitted in well with the overall theme of the poster. I first tried a dark brown colour for the text which did not stand out for the background and then a dark green which had a similar effect. I finally decided that white worked best with a shadow to emphasise the text. I used a very large type size for the headline across the top of the poster and smaller size for the subheadings. For the final tag line across the bottom of the poster I used an Arial font to give it a more authoritative look.

In conclusion the poster seems to work well with its green environmental theme and its more organic look when compared to the posters and adverts produced by the car manufacturers. Which seem to have lost the Governments original idea behind the scrappage deal which was to provide an incentive for old and therefore polluting car owners to buy new and therefore low CO2 cars?   The green message has been mainly lost by the car manufacturers and their dealers and instead seems to concentrate mainly on the savings to be had by exchanging an old car for new with £2,000 contribution to the deposit on a new car.

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Film Studies – Spectator Text Relations

Assignment Brief:
1. Choose a film extract from a genre film and draw conclusions about moments when meanings are either generated by the films text or are brought from outside the film text by the spectator (this could be linked to such things as the male gaze, or to audience theory – the interpretive model or reception theory)

DVD - Open Range: Chapter 18. time 01:47:21

DVD - Open Range: Chapter 18. time 01:47:21

DVD – Open Range: Chapter 18. time 01:47:21

This scene and others featuring Annette Bening would almost certainly satisfy the male gaze requirement for this film, her characters inclusion in this film appears to tick the box for this. The male audience would be expecting a love interest in this genre of film although this convention has been challenged in some recent Western genre films. The codes and conventions that the audience expects to see in a Western genre film have not been forgotten in this film and in fact feature heavily throughout this film.
There is a strong element of realism which was introduced by another recent Western film of the time “Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven” in which the protagonists are shown as ordinary men rather than the semi-invincible sharp shooters of previous Western films. The environment that is mise-en-scene is also kept to the basics and dirty as it would have been in the 1800’s but remaining true to the conventions expected in a Western genre film.
The audience expects to see certain conventions that are, the cowboys ride horses, wear hats, carry both hand guns and rifles these are all conventions that an audience expects to see when watching a Western genre film and all are included in this sequence and indeed through out this film. In one sequence the cowboys also appear to be able to shoot continuously without reloading, Costner firing continuously with his finger permanently depressed upon the trigger of his six guns as he draws his other hand back repeatedly against the guns hammer. This harks back to earlier Western films for example ‘The Saturday Morning Western’.
The bad guys are all wearing dark clothes and although they wear hats they are not the typical cowboy hat, this all guides the audience reception, in interpreting the films codes, by helping them to distinguish the good guys from the bad guys, which again is another example of the use of conventions in a genre film. The costumes also seem to suggest that this is also about a battle between the old ways of Western life against the new. The bad guys seem to be wearing the clothes of a Banker, Tax Collector or Bureaucrat whilst the cowboys are in traditional costume. There’s also the suggestion that the bad guys are forcing out the good guys, at the same time destroying their way of life. This is another justification for the gunfight and also has the added effect of making it easier for the audience to chose who they will be supporting in the upcoming gunfight.
The director Kevin Costner had total control over the look and feel of this film in which he also starred, he made it look and feel like it was based on actual events and was in fact a historical representation of events that actually occurred in a small Western town rather than a work of pure fiction. The audience is left to make up their own minds as to which is true, a work of fiction or historical fact. It is this which the audience that is the spectator brings with them when watching this film.
2. Analyse the choices that filmmakers make in creating meaning in the chosen extract (editing: use of sound, music; lighting and cinematography; performance and choosing a specific take)

DVD - Open Range: Chapter 18. time 01:38:19

DVD - Open Range: Chapter 18. time 01:38:19

DVD – Open Range: Chapter 18. time 01:38:19

In the ten minute sequence chosen most of which is set in the open street of a typical 1800’s Western town and so the entire sequence is shot using natural lighting, although this almost certainly would have been augmented by artificial lighting but essentially the main light sources are light from the sun and in interior scenes the light seems to come only through the windows. But in some of the scene the actors are positioned in front of the windows and so they would have been in silhouette, the sun in front of them and so there must have been some artificial lighting directed from the cameras viewpoint to counteract this.

The sound is represented very naturally keeping to the theme that this could be historical record of actual events rather than a purely fictional work. In the gunfight scene for example there are only the sounds of the protagonists as they conduct the gunfight; the sounds of the guns being fired and the sounds made by the horses tied up at the rails. Low level music is introduced at one point in this sequence to instil the scene with menace for the audience when one of the main protagonists confronts a young girl who has appeared in an opened door just as he falls to the floor heavily wounded, offering him the opportunity of an escape route. Music is used again to suggest menace when Annette Bening is taken hostage which reaches a climax when Costner shoots her kidnapper. But essentially the music throughout the entire sequence is limited to key point and is played at a low volume level so as not to intrude into the actual sounds made by the characters and other natural elements during the gunfight itself.

3. Using the same extract from a genre film evaluate how it sets up expectations in the audience (how the response is based upon the knowledge of genre conventions from previous experience) and how the extract uses either key formal (miss-en-scene, cinematography, lighting, editing) or narrative elements.

DVD – Open Range: Chapter 18. time 01:38:00

DVD - Open Range: Chapter 18. time 01:38:00

DVD - Open Range: Chapter 18. time 01:38:00

In this scene, taken from the beginning of the sequence chosen from the film Open Range – DVD chapter 18 and 19, the audience expects to see a gun fight between the two opposing factions. With the two factions facing each other in the classic stand off position with guns ready, walking towards each other closing the distance between them in preparation to shoot. The audience is presented with all the right conventions, the expected miss-en-scene of the towns’ wooden structures with their elaborate fronts and the very basic structures behind. In this particular film it did look as if the towns’ construction had been conceived to be more like a film set rather than a true representation of a Western town as it looked very much as it had just been built. This could have been intentional though for if this was meant to be consumed by the audience as a historical representation of facts then the buildings had to have been recently built. This idea is further explored during the gunfight as the protagonists circle each other they walk past building material stacked ready for constructing new buildings and also in one shot there are incomplete buildings with just their frameworks completed, again instilling into the audience this is a frontier town just in the process of becoming established. Other typical and expected conventions for a Western genre film include a group of horses tied up outside the saloon, the water troughs and wide (wide enough for the cows to be herded through) muddy unpaved street.
From the viewpoint of the cinematographer we see the wide open landscapes that always feature in Western films, the open plains; the sparsely populated expanse, uninterrupted views of blue open skies, a line of trees with the mountains in the distance. All these elements have been mobilised and can be clearly be interpreted by the expectant audience, there are no ambiguous elements here; every thing in this scene is generated intrinsically by the film.
DVD – Open Range: Chapter 18. time 01:38:30

DVD - Open Range: Chapter 18. time 01:38:30

DVD - Open Range: Chapter 18. time 01:38:30

The whole cinematography of the Western plains and the miss-en-scene of the imminent gunfight. All these elements of cinematography are encapsulated by this close up of Costner framed by all the elements of the Western scene as he prepares to engage the other faction in a gunfight.

The editing of this sequence plays a key role in setting the scene as the camera angle switches from a number of viewpoints centralised around the positions of the gunfighters as they face each other. The camera tracking the protagonists as they pursue each other around the town with the camera switching position between pursuer and the pursued.

From a narrative sense this is a Western genre film true to the expectations of the audience, for they expect to see a gunfight where the bad guys are both fought and beaten by the good guys who are outnumbered three to one. From this viewpoint the audience will not be disappointed, the good guys win the day and the bad guys are defeated.

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Film Studies – Analysis of Narrative and Genre Elements

Film Studies

  • Access to Media
  • Film Studies: Textual Analysis
  • Tutor: Brendan Kedie
  • Assignment: Analysis of Narrative and Genre Elements
  • Film: The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (released October 1974)
  • Analysis by Ian Hunt
  • 15 minute extract taken from the DVD of the film starting from 24 minutes into the running time of the Film.

The Film synopsis

A gang of four criminals hijack a New York subway train demanding a $1 million dollar ransom for the lives of the 17 passengers and the trains conductor. The ransom which must be paid within 1 hour (ticking clock) or they start killing the passengers one for every minute after the hour has expired. The key question and the central Enigma of the Film is how are they expecting to get away with the crime/ransom. They are underground in a subway train that can only travel either forward or backwards, it is surrounded by The New York City Police including snipers with nowhere for the train to go without it being monitored and all the surface exits covered.

Firstly looking at Genre of the film it is a Crime Drama/Thriller. The film follows the standard three acts that are; The Set-up, The Confrontation and the Resolution. The setup follows the progress of the four criminals as they separately board the subway train as it travels through the Bronx subway system.

There are the usual conventions for a crime film firstly identifying the criminals who have hijacked the train these include the wearing of a disguise and the use of code names to hide their real identities (possibly the first use of substituting colours for names to identify the criminals? this has been used since in for example the film ‘Reservoir Dogs’ and is now most probably an accepted convention for crime dramas). The four main protagonists are also all wearing similar clothing, overcoats and hats (bad guys wear hats) and they all have moustaches (bad guys again) and all are wearing large thick rimmed glasses to further disguise their faces. American criminals are generally also shown to be armed (iconography) and in this case they are all armed with hand guns, machine guns or both. The New York police are wearing the blue uniforms of the period and all are armed in very much the same way as the criminals with hand and machine guns. Also the non uniformed police are dressed much the same as the criminals with long overcoats and hats.

The Film was made in the period it represents that is the 1970’s and on location in New York (Bronx) and therefore it is a good snapshot of the era it represents. For instance the locations are typical of New York streets the characters both the criminals and the police and the (think 70’s cop dramas e.g. Kojak, Dirty Harry) costumes and its reflection on general American society of the time. For instance everyone thought at the time that the streets of New York are filled with Gangsters and Criminals.

Main Character Development (Character Arc) & Narrative Linkages

Mr Blue – Played by Robert Shaw (A Villain)

  • British Military and an Ex Mercenary.
  • Leader of the criminal gang.
  • Main contact with Authorities.
  • Background is not typical of the normal criminal or gangster.
  • Confirms his position as leader by killing the conductor just to make this point.
  • Commits Suicide rather than go to jail, which is another form of resolution but again not the typical characterisation of a criminal.

Lt Garber – Played by Walter Mattheau (The Hero)

  • New York Transit Police Lieutenant.
  • Is made Chief Negotiator when his Captain calls in to discuss the crime. His role therefore grows into the man in charge.
  • Solves the enigma of how they expect to get away with the crime by introducing the idea that the criminals have found a way around the dead mans switch on the subway train.
  • Captures Mr Blue and provides Resolution in the 2nd Act.
  • Catches the missing gang member Mr Green and recovers the ransom – the final resolution of the film in the 3rd Act.

Mr Green – Played by Martin Balsam (A Villain and Helper)

  • Ex Subway Train Motorman key to the success or failure of the crime and in turn the story
  • Is trusted by Mr Blue.
  • Has a bad cold which becomes important to the resolution of the film when he sneezes and give himself away when interviewed by Lt Garber.

Mr Grey – Played by Hector Elizondo (A Villain)

  • Rebellious does not accept authority.
  • Suspected of being psychotic.
  • Ex Mafia.
  • He is a typical gangster character of the time.
  • Kills because he enjoys it.
  • Is not trusted by Mr Blue.
  • Forces by his rebellious attitude to push Mr Blue into killing the train’s conductor so as to bring him back into line, confirming his leadership.
  • Fails to learn not too disobey Mr Blues orders and is therefore killed by Mr Blue after he disobeys those orders once too often.

Mr Brown – Played by Earl Hindeman (A Villain)

  • A team player trusted by Mr Blue.
  • Has a speech impediment that was not further developed in the film.
  • Is shot and killed by the undercover policeman which then in turn causes the death of Mr Blue as he delays his escape to seek out the policeman leading to his capture by Lt Garber when he discovers that there is no death penalty in the New York State and so commits suicide rather than go to jail.

The film sequence begins with the radio conversation between Mr Blue played by Robert Shaw as he radios the train master to say that he has hijacked the Pelham 123 subway train. The hijacker as well as making the ransom demand describes the members of his gang as being four heavily armed and ruthless criminals without any scruples. He says they will have no hesitation in carrying out their threat to kill a hostage for every minute that the payment of the ransom is delayed. Mr Blue then sets the clock ticking by stating that the hour starts from two thirteen and that the money must be in their hands by three thirteen.

The enigma here is why have they hijacked a Subway train which seems impossible place from which to get away with the crime, this is emphasised by the incredulous initial response made by the Station Master to this statement.

The second main character is then introduced, Lieutenant Zachary Garber of the New York Transit Police played by Walter Matthau who takes over the negotiations for the release of the hostages.

Mr Blue the leader of the gang who is identified later in the film as a former member of the British Military and an Ex Mercenary set the character plot describing his fellow gang members and their characters to Mr Green played by Martin Balsam. He states who he trusts and who he doesn’t, singling out Mr Grey played by Hector Elizondo as being untrustworthy and possibly psychotic citing his expulsion from the Mafia as an example. This becomes apparent later in the sequence when Mr Grey kills the unarmed Transit Authority Supervisor as he approaches the train.

The hostages appear to be a cross section of American society, there are the stereotypes, whose characters in the end credits are not listed under their names but as:- The Maid, The Mother, The Homosexual, The Secretary, The Delivery Boy, The Salesman, The Hooker, The Old Man, The Older Son, The Spanish Woman, The Alcoholic, The Pimp, Coed #1, The Younger Son, Coed #2, The Hippie, The W.A.S.P. (white Anglo-Saxon protestant)? Possibly a means of further involving the audience in the film as they identify with one of the hostages.

There’s a small sub plot in the film which comes to a conclusion in this sequence where a group of Japanese visitors being shown around the Transit Authorities offices by Lieutenant Zachary Garber. Zachary assumed they could not understand English but at least one of them does in fact speak English very well. To the embarrassment of Zachary as he has been making disparaging and insulting remarks while showing them around which he thought they could not understand to quote one example ‘ would you take these monkeys up to thirteen ’.

At the end of this sequence the Mr Green (The Motorman) played by Martin Balsam sneezes and Zachary absolves him by saying Gezunt Height. This becomes key to the final resolution of the film when the character sneezes again at the very end of Police interrogation by Zachary and Rico. In this final scene they are trying to identify the final member of the gang who seemed to get away. It seemed to be a simple idea to insert this into the film at an early stage (The Plant) and then reintroduce it at the end as the final resolution, a good example of cause and effect, he sneezes and he goes to jail.

A new sub plot is introduced, the Mayor who is Jewish and ill with the flu is brought into the story as he authorises the payment of the ransom. As the despised Mayor who is reluctant to pay the ransom he is reminded that he is guaranteed the vote of the 18 hostages if he secures their release. The character played by Lee Wallace resembles the Mayor of the time Edward Irving  Koch or Ed Koch as he was commonly known which may have added to the feeling of a true story at the time of the films release.

There is the enigma of how they are to get the delivery of the ransom to the train on time. Zachary calls the train to get more time to deliver the ransom but Mr Blue just reminds him of the time he has remaining, this ticking clock helps to set the pace of the film moving the action forward each time as Mr Blue repeats back to him the time he has. It is this ticking clock (problematic) the running down of the hour which dictates the pace of the film and helps with audience involvement as they also feel the clock running down. The films sequences from the scenes showing the ransom being counted quickly, the problematic of the police car crashing in its high speed dash though the streets of New York, rushing to deliver the ransom on time.

As Zachary realises that the criminals have no way of knowing where the ransom is as they are below ground he gets agreement from Mr Blue to modify the ransom delivery to the subway station rather than at the train within the hour, his relief is palpable when Mr Blue agrees to this change. This seemingly solves the enigma of what should be the impossible task of being able pay a ransom of $1 Million dollars in just 1 hour.

The enigma of how the gang expected to get away with the crime is resolved from the audience perspective when the Motorman (Mr Green) attaches a device to circumvent the dead mans lever which prevents a subway train from moving unless a driver has a hand continuously on this lever. Lt Garber solves this enigma himself during a car chase scene as they follow the runaway train, reversing the car and going back to where the train stopped for a short time which in turn leads to an resolution when he captures Mr Blue in the subway tunnel.

The circumvention of the dead man switch also leads them to believe that only a trained subway train driver could do this and so they begin a process of interviewing all dismissed subway drivers to try and identify the missing member of the gang (Mr Green) and the missing money. This in turn leads to the final resolution of the film when he is identified as the final gang member in the last scene of the film from his sneezing.

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Moving Image – Storyboards

Storyboards


Voices – Short Film Project – Storyboards

2.1 Explain the function of a storyboard.

Storyboard example 1

Storyboard example 1

Storyboards are thought to have been originated by Walt Disney, the first examples attributed to the ones he produced for the company Laugh-O-Grams which he formed in 1922, although there is mention of an earlier storyboard example produced by Walt Disney in 1917 while graduating from Benton High School.

Storyboards have been described as an animation of a Video or Film, a blueprint for the whole of a Film. Howard Hughes is attributed as being one of the first pioneers for using sequential Storyboards in the Movie production “Hells Angels” 1930.

Many well known Directors started out as Illustrators and/or Animators for example, Ridely Scott whose Storyboards or Ridely-O-Grams, which maybe a possible reference to Disney’s first company ‘Laugh-O-Grams’ . Terry Gilliam is also another example of an Illustrator progressing to become a Director, both are well known for their storyboarding skills. Of course Animators themselves still use Storyboards.

A storyboard is fundamentally a means of putting down, usually on paper everything which the Director visualises in the scene. A series of these pictures will in effect allow the Director to convey to the production team the visualisation for the whole of Video/Film. I should say that Storyboards were originally produced by Art Directors and then Production Designers who collaborated with the Director on the visualisation for the Film. These were usually in-house designers and in the early years of film gave studios a certain style, but these days storyboard artists are freelancers engaged when required. Of course some Directors will have a preferred storyboard artist which they will use again and again.

Storyboard Example 2

Storyboard Example 2

Regardless of who produces them a Storyboards main purpose is in the pre-planning of a Video or Films sequence shot by shot. A storyboard shows what is in the picture; it informs the members of the Film/Video team what elements are required for a particular scene. Storyboards may for example include the number of people within a scene; the visual aspects that is mise-en-scene, or if there are any words on the screen. Colours may also be important, as will be references to lighting. Of major importance is Camera location, lens used (Wide Angle – Long Focus) and camera movement which can also be represented in the storyboard which in turn is of great help to the production designer in order for them to position for example walls in a studio set design. It would not be very helpful to build a wall directly in front of the cameras projected path, a  storyboard would identify this by showing camera movement.

As well as the visual aspects of a scene a Storyboard will include additional information such as the references to dialogue; voice over’s, the sound if any that occurs in the scene, the camera action, for instance a zoom, panning shot etc. There may also be references for post production, how the Director sees the editing process between scenes.

Key elements to a Storyboard will include the Title of the Film, the shot sequence and the timing for the shot.

Storyboarding is of particular importance when filming a difficult scene such as an action sequence where many elements have to work together to produce the required shot. The re-shooting of these scenes would necessarily involve more expense or be difficult to reproduce especially when say an object is destroyed in the process of shooting for example the demolition of a building.

The amount of detail within a Storyboard varies according to Directors personal taste, some use little more than stick figures, the barest of outlines and details, whereas some Directors use very detailed Storyboards, with many employing Storyboard artists to assist the Director in getting their visualisation down onto paper.

Technology is beginning to catch up and paper based Storyboards may become a thing of the past with software now available to enable non artists to produce detailed Storyboards from elements held in an applications library, examples of which include:- FrameForge 3D Studio.

Storyboards – Software

Storyboard Example 3

Storyboard Example 3

Storyboards – Animatics

Animatic example – basically this is a sequence of storyboards sequenced as a video with rough soundtrack, narration, music etc. See the example below.

[youtube.com/watch?v=M1uRncKY8DU]

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Stop Frame Animation – Animation Research

  • Access to HE. Media Studies. CJC3FH001A
  • Unit Title: Stop Frame Animation Unit Code: KJ2/3/SO/006
  • Course Tutor: Dan Gray

Stop Frame Animation – Research

Stop Frame Animation (Stop Action) is a process where a series of pictures taken either with a stills camera or video camera, usually of inanimate objects one frame at a time and then the object is painstakingly moved in small increments so that when these individual shot frames are viewed sequentially a simulation of continuous movement is observed. The more pictures (Frames) per second the smoother the action.

From Clay models to people, Stop Frame Animation can bring movement to a usually stationary or an inanimate object or makes what seems to be an impossible movement on film possible.

Looking at the different types of animation we can see that there are advantages and disadvantages to each of the forms of animation and to the material chosen or indeed everyday object, which we have decided to animate.

 

Clay
Animation using clay models (or Claymation) is very popular.

Advantages
There are many advantages to using clay models for instance they can be made to scale for example a small clay model can be used where filming space is limited for example a cityscape set where tall buildings can be just a meter high.

Clay models are relatively easy to make and most importantly easy to move into position. They can be made to represent any object or person. Instead of using clay you could use a Figurine examples being a wooden artists mannequin or say an old action man. All you would need to do is replace the head and hands with clay as this will be easier to animate. These would work very well if the model needed to be clothed.

Disadvantages
They do have some disadvantages; the most obvious is that they will look like clay models. Fine movement is not easy unless the model is made with ball joints. They also take a relatively long time to make and require maintenance as the heat/lighting dries them out.

Audience
Defining an audience for clay models in general is not possible but they do tend to target a younger age group but there are many examples of adult animations using clay. Clay animation also does not generally seem to be gender specific or target a specific ethnicity or demographic it is the subject matter which will set which audience the animation will be most suitable for.

The following example was found on the excellent video source Youtube and shows the highly recognisable Morph character, definitely one for the younger age group but still interesting for adults as its subject in this film is cheating at cards.

Drawings
Animation using drawings seems to offer unlimited possibilities; if you can draw it you can animate it. An excellent example of this type of animation is the Simon’s Cat series of animations by Simon Tofield.

Advantages
There are many advantages to the drawing form of animation; it’s relatively simple to do requires’ few resources and space to produce. You can draw on paper then cut around for example a figure and animate the cut out itself.

Disadvantages
Some of the disadvantages would be you probably need to be able to draw and it’s 2 Dimensional only. Also you would need to do a lot of drawings a quick calculation based on a 5 frames per second frame rate means you would need 300 drawings. You could cut this down by photocopying the background first but it is still a large number of drawings.

Audience

Again hard to put all forms of this animation type into a given age range or demographic as the subject can be anything and it would be this that determines the audience that it would appeal to. The example chosen however appeals to all age ranges particularly if they are cat owners.

Lego
Using Lego for animation is very popular it even has its own name Brickfilming and is termed for animation done with Lego or other brick like objects. Examples can be found at (http://www.brickfilms.com) .

There is a huge range of Lego products which include figurines’, vehicles and architecture. All of these can be combined to build models and sets for animation films which is a major advantage.

The example animation chosen from Youtube demonstrates the use of Lego in animation but it also shows how to animate in general and includes examples of the differences between frame rates that are the number of pictures taken per second of film.


Advantages
Huge range of Lego products offers all kinds of possibilities for animation there are even specific products based on Films or TV series’ for example Thomas the Tank Engine, Pirates, Space etc. Lego can also be used to build the set.

Disadvantages
Of course one of the obvious disadvantages is that the finished animation will look like Lego. Due to it’s square, sharp edge design it would be difficult to achieve a natural movement for example the movement of a tree in the wind.

Audience
The audience would tend to be younger and really most probably for younger children who actually still play with Lego but there will almost certainly be exceptions to this. For example the animation right whose subject matter is about drinking Beer.

People
Using people in animation could be seen to be an easy option as all actors would have to do is hold position while the shot is taken and move position themselves for the next shot following direction and so on for each subsequent shot.

Advantages
Using people as animation subjects mean that they can do their own movements following the requirements of the films director. The animation will be more lifelike and can tackle real issues and stories.

Disadvantages
It’s hard to keep people still and so continuity could be an issue but this could also add to the overall effect and therefore not be a disadvantage. Another disadvantage could be that it may be difficult to have exclusive access to an external location and so other people may get in the shot although this could also add to the effect so it maybe an advantage for some animations.

Audience
This type of animation more easily lends itself to an adult audience and reach across the whole demographic depending on subject.
Cutout Animation
Similar to Drawing but the pictures are then cut out and it is these cut outs which are then animated. Examples would be Captain Pugwash and of course the title sequences for Monty Pythons Flying Circus.

Captain Pugwash

Monty Python

Advantages
Compared to say drawing animation one of the big advantages is that you draw the cutout once and then move the cutout to get the animation, you can also add movable parts to give more flexibility for instance Captain Pugwash animations had moving arms which pivoted up and down.

Disadvantages
You still need to be able to draw and the movement is less fluid than for some types of animation.

Audience
Like drawing it’s across the board the examples chosen indicate some of the range of appeal. Captain Pugwash for instance is definitely one for the children and Monty Pythons Flying Circus is one for the Adults.

Conclusions
Animation appears to be one of the few Art forms that have an appeal which reaches across the board; all age groups, gender and ethnicity are all covered. It seems to be the subject matter which determines the audience more than the type of animation used be it Clay, Drawings, Lego or animating people or indeed any object. An animator will have a personal choice of which medium suites them best and this can be worked to be able to target a particular audience by choice of subject matter, style, narration and music chosen.

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