Digital Media Design


Media Studies – Semiotic Codes

Semiotic Codes

Personal Note

I’m going to explain what I mean by Semiotics, that is the Signs and Meanings that can be derived from a Media Artefact, by this statement I mean the signs/meanings from an image, a film or something in print.

PS – probably not a good idea to copy this example assignment as although my marks were OK at Bournemouth & Poole College they were not exceptional, beside Plagiarism is always to be frowned upon.

Semiotic Codes


1. You will select two media texts and analyse how a process of selection of the material to be included has taken place and how meaning has been encoded within the chosen examples.


Film Poster for Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction

Pulp Fiction - Film Poster Semiotic Codes

Pulp Fiction - Film Poster Semiotic Codes

Semiotic Codes
1. Old 40’s – 50’s Magazines (Pulp Fiction)
2. Femme Fatale
3. Dangerous
4. Blood
5. Unconventional
6. Smoking
7. Cheap
8. Possessive
9. Film Noire
10. Stylish
11. Desire
Pulp Fiction Film Poster

Central to the posters design is the Films Title ‘Pulp Fiction’ which also references back to cheap magazines that also went by the same name. The designers based their design upon these magazines even down to the use of the magazines price of 10¢. These books also known as ‘hero pulps’ are of personal interest to the films Director, Quentin Tarantino who is known to be a fan of what is known as trash movies and publications of the 60’s and 70’s which incorporated these style of images.
One of the central characters from the film ‘Uma Thurman’ was chosen to portray what can only be described as a Femme Fatale in a typical pose smoking a cigarette, which was very much the norm in magazines and films of the time when smoking was not seen as antisocial and in fact was positively promoted by Hollywood actors. The pose and visuals also make you think of Film Noir the Femme Fatale lying on the bed in a provocative pose, invitational but the crossed legs say no, there is also a hint of danger, identified by many visual clues but in particular by the gun on the bed in front of her.
The designers have also chosen to add the scratches and creases that a well thumbed through magazine or cheap paperback book would attract over time. Colours also have relevance to the design, the bold title on a red background makes you think of Blood. To further add to these visual clues they the designers have included a copy of a magazine of this type and placed it under the actress’s hand.

DVD Cover for the British Film ‘Harry Brown’ Directed by Daniel Barber and starring Michael Caine.

Harry Brown Film Poster Semiotic Codes

Harry Brown Film Poster Semiotic Codes

Semiotic Codes
1. Target
2. British
3. Quadrophenia
4. Iconic
5. Old School
6. Get Carter
7. Yobs
8. Violence
9. Gritty
10. British Music

Harry Brown DVD Cover

The designers have chosen several very British iconic images to attract the media consumer, starting with the red, white and blue target design, similar to that used in the British iconic film ‘Quadrophenia’ and also very reminiscent of the markings on a World War 2 fighter plane. For example the Spitfire which also provides a link to another film that starred Michael Caine ‘The Battle of Britain’. We could assume that the designers rather than by luck fully intended to link all these images with their semiotic codes together in a cohesive manner building up the message “It’s a British Film” to the media consumer.
The central character of the film Michael Caine also strikes an iconic pose with the gun in his right hand and toting a bag which could hold more guns, money or similar items associated with the ill gotten gains of a criminal, this is again very reminiscent of another Michael Caine film ‘Get Carter’ in which he also starred.
The picture of the ‘Yobs’ and drug addicts positioned behind the target representing everything that is wrong with British society today and therefore the target of Michael Caine’s character.
In conclusion the designer of this DVD cover was targeting the consumer seeking essentially a British action film containing some violence starring the iconic figure Michael Caine in one of his villainous poses.

2. You will select two media texts and provide analysis of how meanings are created through semiotic code systems. Provide analysis of how presentation techniques construct points of view (how are the individual semiotic codes combined to create an overall effect on the consumer of the text)


Magazine Advertisment - Semiotic Codes

Magazine Advertisment - Semiotic Codes

Antonio Federici Gelato Italiano – Advertisement for Ice Cream
Entitled “Kiss temptation”

Semiotic Codes
1. Sex
2. Religion
3. Anti Religious
4. Faith
5. Catholic
6. Anti Establishment
7. Controversial
8. Temptation
9. Forbidden Love
10. Dark

Advertisement for Ice Cream entitled “Kiss temptation”

There are several meanings hidden within this advert using semiotic coding, many of which send out conflicting messages.
Firstly there is the idea of sex between a Nun and a Priest which of course is totally forbidden (a forbidden pleasure) in the eyes of the Roman Catholic Church and its religious followers. The advertisement is for an Italian Ice Cream the home of the Catholic Church and so in its home market this advertisement would almost certainly be extremely controversial and likely to attract publicity albeit possibly for all the wrong reasons. Though it could be said that “… there is no such thing as bad publicity…”
The tagline “Kiss Temptation” that is Anchor Text also helps the media consumer position themselves and therefore identify with the product, the hidden meaning here is that to eat this ice cream is a Temptation, a forbidden pleasure.
In conclusion the advertiser is hoping that the viewer reads/consumes the media text here in a certain way that is, that they will be left with the overall impression that they will enjoy a forbidden pleasure by buying and consuming this ice cream.

LOVE – Fashion and Fame Magazine cover featuring Beth Ditto, The Gossip singer

Magazine Cover - Semiotic Codes

Magazine Cover - Semiotic Codes

Semiotic Codes
1. Sex
2. Being Fat is ok
3. Non conformist
4. People come in all shapes
5. Controversial
6. Anything Goes
7. Cold
8. Steel
9. Obsessions
10. Opposites
11. Vulnerable

LOVE – Fashion and Fame Magazine cover

Another image with several hidden messages using semiotic coding, the most obvious is “… beauty is in the eye of the beholder …” where you would expect the more stereotypical female model form, the slim and unbelievably beautiful (typically Photoshop’d) we see a naked obese women who is in direct opposition to this stereotypical image.
The Anchor Text “…Icons of our generation…” also sends out a conflicted message in regard to the cover picture although the names on right of the picture some of which for example ‘Amy Winehouse’ and ‘Kate Moss’ who are certainly seen as Icons of this time although can not be sure if Beth Ditto will be so considered.
The image itself of a naked women whose modesty? Is only covered by a few well chosen titles and a pink tutu, this should send out the stereotypical sexual message but instead rather appears to suggest more of a certain vulnerability, self-consciousness and modesty (because her eyes are shut) of a person finding it hard, struggling to accept themselves for what they are.
Other hidden messages include Cold and Steel derived from the mental strength needed for any person to portray themselves in the eyes of the public in this controversial way.
In conclusion the magazine intended to be controversial and attract attention to its cover and therefore its magazine, helping the magazine to stand out from the other magazines on the shelf. It also breaks from the stereotypical image of essentially a naked woman on the front cover of a magazine, while still catching the attention of the public and as mentioned before “… there is no such thing as bad publicity…”

Posted May 18th 2010 – Word Count = 1285

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