purpose (e.g. to inform, entertain,
persuade, educate, make a profit)
medium (e.g. print, radio, television, film)
form (e.g. newspaper, light
entertainment, series, serial, outside
broadcast, feature film)
genre (e.g. popular tabloid, soap opera,
sitcom, action movie)
tone (e.g. comic, serious)
others (e.g. stars, director)
Technical and cultural codes & reasons for
sign: word, image, sound which conveys
denotation: the description of a sign
connotation: the meanings associated
with a sign
referent: when the sign or picture refers
to something else i.e. The ‘T’ in The Vicar
codes: systems of signs which can be
analysed in terms of denotation &
connotation; such codes may be technical
and / or cultural. They create meaning.
motivation: the reason for the use of a specific
code, such as to aid meaning, to progress the
polysemy: signs may have several meanings at
anchorage: the narrowing down of the polysemy
of the text by its combination with other signs
(e.g. caption or headline with photograph,
music/sound with film)
conventions: established (habitual) ways of
treating genre, narrative or representations
Semiotics is the language of signs.
It argues that interpreting images often depends
on the individual’s cultural influences.
A sign is made up of a signifier and a signified.
A ‘signifier’ = the form which the sign takes
The ‘signified’ = the concept it represents (or the
The ‘sign’ = the whole that results from the
association of the signifier with the signified.
Signifier = dog
Signified = cute look
Sign = cute dog
The effects of technology on text & integration with
other key aspects e.g.
special effects/animation technology which
facilitates the telling of certain kinds of story,
fictional or non-fictional (e.g. fantasy films);
integrates with Categories, Language and
the effects of the technology of reception
available to audiences (e.g. DVD as opposed to
cinema); integrates with audience
the effects of the technology of distribution (e.g.
electronic distribution of news); integrates with
What does it denote?
Five men against a height chart
The horizontal lines of the chart run behind the men
The men are grouped together staring at the camera
They are not smiling
The tallest man is in the middle
The man to the left of him is wearing a cream suit
The man on the right of him is holding his own arm
The tallest man in the centre is wearing a black suit and red shirt
The man on the left hand side of the centre is all in black
The picture is slightly over-exposed – very light
The tag line is at the bottom
The title is in reversed out white type at the bottom
All the type is reversed out of a black background
There are shadows
What does it connote?
The man wearing cream has connotations of a hero, of a good
This man also has a slightly defiant stance. His hand is on his hip.
His expression is angry
The man wearing black has connotations of an antagonist
The man wearing red signifies danger
The man holding his arm looks weak and vulnerable
The reversed out type is very stark and white. It looks a bit like a
stamp – its referent is a stamp and in later versions of the poster
and on the DVD this referent is clearly used
The over-exposed light signifies a photograph, as if it is in the act
of being taken
The signified is five men in a line up; the signifier is the context and
the expressions on their faces. The connotations of both are that
they are five criminals, but, culturally, we know that it is a line-up,
only one man is guilty and the question is, which one is it?