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  • 1. A2 Media StudiesCritical Perspectives in MediaExamSection A: TheoreticalEvaluation of Coursework Revision Guide
  • 2. A2 Media Studies Exam – Section A: Theoretical Evaluation of CourseworkIn Section A you answer both 1(a) and 1(b).Question 1(a) will ask you to discuss the development of your skills from AS to A2 inrelation to one or two of the following aspects: • Digital Technology • Creativity • Research and Planning • Post-production • Using conventions from real media textsIn the exam you should spend about 30 minutes answering question 1(a). In order todo well on this question you must remember to: • Discuss both your AS and A2 coursework • Demonstrate progress from AS to A2 • Refer to specific examples from your coursework productions • Use terminologyDigital TechnologyThink about the different digital technologies you used at AS and A2, this is likely toinclude cameras (still/video), editing software, image manipulation software. • How has digital technology helped you capture your ideas for media production? • How did digital technology allow you to be creative? • What benefits do digital technologies offer? Are they any disadvantages? • How did digital technology influence your work in post-production, e.g. in the creation of video effects, or editing images?Think about the different digital technologies you used at AS and A2 and evaluate theuse you made of them. You need to discuss what digital technology allowed you todo, e.g. editing techniques you used, your use of digital cameras, editing images,adding sound to a video.Identify two or three examples for AS and for A2. Remember you need to showprogression from AS to A2.Creativity • How were you creative during your AS and A2 coursework? • What elements of your coursework are original? • What media texts influenced you? • How did technology help you create the product you imagined?Try to think of specific examples of creativity. You may want to discuss coming upwith ideas for your product, or creative/inventive use of technical elements such ascamerawork, editing, sound, and mise-en-scene. You could also consider how youused creativity to solve problems. Evaluate the effectiveness of your creativechoices.How has your creativity progressed from AS to A2? Was your Foundation production
  • 3. more reliant on conventions than your Advanced portfolio? Did the different briefs atAS and A2 encourage you to be more creative?Research and Planning • How did your research into genre help you with your production? • How did your research into audience contribute to your production work? • How did your research into institutions responsible for the production and regulation of the media influence your production work? • What pre-production planning techniques did you employ (scripting, storyboarding, shot-listing, etc.)? • How effective was your planning – how did it help you in the production phase? • What did you learn from planning your first production that helped you to improve your planning for the second? • How did you use audience feedback to influence your production work while it was in progress?Consider the research and planning activities you did at AS and A2. What was thepurpose of these activities? How successful were they? How did your research andplanning skills develop from AS to A2?Post-productionPost-production means everything you do after filming for video work, andeverything you do after gathering material (photos, text) for print work. • How much of your text was created only in post-production? • What technologies did you use to modify your raw material? How did this change the meaning of your work? • How did you use sound in post-production? • How did you encode meaning in post-production?Remember to think about the type of technologies you used, what they allowed youto do, and how your skills developed from AS to A2?Using conventions from real media texts • How and why have you used media conventions? • How successful was your use of conventions? • How and why have you broken/challenged conventions? • How successful was this? • How has your use of media conventions developed?Remember you need to consider how your use of media conventions developed fromAS to A2.Question 1(b) will ask you to select one of your coursework products, either AS orA2 and analyse it relation to one of the following specified theoretical concepts: • Narrative • Audience • Genre
  • 4. • Representation • Media LanguageYou will need to spend about 30 minutes answering question 1(b) in the exam. Inorder to do well you should: • Demonstrate your understanding of media theory • Relate theory to a range of specific examples from your coursework product • Use theoretical and production terminology wellNarrative TheoryTodorov Todorov argued that narratives follow a What structure does common structure of equilibrium, your narrative have? disequilibrium, and resolution. The What values are significance of Todorov’s theory lies in the embodied by the state of equilibrium and the resolution. What is equilibrium, and the the status quo at the beginning? How is the way the narrative is narrative resolved? What has changed? What resolved? ideological messages does this suggest?Propp Propp identified a group of characters Did you use any of common to the narratives of folk tales who Propp’s character perform essential functions in the development types? How did you of the story. They are: hero/subject (character signify the character searching for something), villain (opposed the types you used? Why hero), donor (provides an object to help the did you choose to use/ hero), dispatcher (sends the hero on the not use these quest), the false hero, the helper, the princess character types? (the hero’s reward), and the father (who rewards the hero).Levi- Levi-Strauss argued that stories move from What binaryStrauss one stage to the next by setting up conflicts oppositions are used? between two opposing elements that have to Are any elements of be resolved. Pairs of binary oppositions the pair dominant? structure narratives. Often one element within What message does a pair will be dominant over the other. that suggest? How do the binary opposition relate to the main theme of your product?Barthes Barthes argues that the meaning of a text is What elements of the produced through five ‘codes of intelligibility’. narrative codes would The enigma code is the questions that the be used to make narrative answers. When we want to know sense of your what happens next we are responding to the narrative? What enigma code. The action code is the events questions would the that move the narrative forwards. The semic audience want code refers to the elements which signify answered (enigma)? meaning. The symbolic code relates to the What signifiers are pairs of binary opposites that express the key used (semic)? Link meaning of the text. The cultural code refers your discussion of the to things which are common knowledge. symbolic to binary oppositions?Audience Theory
  • 5. Uses and This model suggests that audiences have Which of these needsGratificati expectations which they expect to be satisfied are likely to beons, by media texts. satisfied by yourBlumler product? Are thereand Katz The audience needs are: any other pleasures surveillance – telling us about the world around your product offers? us, personal identity – influences how we see ourselves and our place in society, personal relationships – develop relationships with media characters; aids social interaction, diversion – provides escapism from daily lifeEncoding The preferred reading of the text is encoded What is your preferredDecoding using technologies and conventions of the reading? How did youStuart Hall medium (technical and professional codes). encode it through Audience members will respond to the text in your use of technical different ways. The possible responses are: aspects (camerawork, dominant – the reader shares the text’s code editing, sound, mise- and accepts its preferred reading en-scene)? What negotiated – understands the text’s code, different readings generally accepts the preferred reading but might the audience modifies it according to their social position produce? and experiences oppositional – understands the code but rejects the preferred reading. The audience member will be reading the text from an oppositional position (e.g. a feminist reading).Social Reception theory – ‘the politics of the living How might the socialContext, room’. The meaning of the text will be background of yourDavid constructed differently depending on the audience membersMorley audience member’s position in society. effect their Differences based on things like social class, interpretation of your gender, and ethnicity, may determine an product? individual’s cultural tastes. People from different social groups will have a knowledge of the codes of different types of media textGenre TheoryAltman Media institutions use genres as it allows for What is the genre of product differentiation. This means different your product? Who is genres of products are produced to appeal to the target audience? different target audiences. What different genres in your chosen media might appeal to different audiences?Cawelti Genres are like myths. Genres tell a society What values are about itself. The popularity of a genre suggested by your suggests it reflects the values of society. product?Ryall Genre supervises the relationship between the How did you use producers and the audience. Genre guides the genre when production of the text by the producers, and producing your the interpretation by the audience. product? How did
  • 6. genre make it easier to for you to communicate meaning to the audience?Neale Genres are made up of not just groups of films, What expectations but also audience expectations, and discourse might your audience including marketing, and media discussion. bring to your product? Genres help audiences understand texts. How would genre help them make sense of your product?
  • 7. Representation TheorySaussure Meaning is constructed by the creation and What signifiers did interpretation of signs. A sign is made up of you use to convey the signifier (the object, word, etc.) and the meaning to your signifier (the meaning it creates). audience? What Representations are constructed through other meanings may signs which signify a meaning. Signs can be the signifiers signify? polysemic, meaning they have more than one meaning (polysemy).Mulvey Female characters tend to be displayed for What are the the visual pleasure of male characters and differences in how male spectators. For Mulvey, men look, males and females women are looked at. Women are the object are represented in of the gaze (looked at), whilst male your product? Which characters/spectators are the subject of the characters provide gaze (or the bearers of the look – the people visual pleasure? How looking). Women connote ‘to-be-looked-at- does this relate to ness’, and are the focus of a clearly male Mulvey’s argument? gaze. Mulvey identifies an important process Which characters are whereby women are coded as the object of represented as the gaze (and represented sexually). Her looked at (objects of work has been criticised for only focusing on the gaze) and which the male, heterosexual spectator, and characters are shown ignoring the possibility of the male providing to be looking visual pleasure. Dyer has also questioned (subjects of the her distinction between object of the gaze)? gaze=passive, subject of the gaze=active. A postfeminist perspective may view the position of object of the gaze as a position of power, and the subject of the gaze as a submissive position.Dyer Dyer suggests that stereotypes perform a Do you use number of functions in media stereotypes? What representations. He argues that stereotypes messages do the reinforce the idea that there are big stereotypes convey? differences between different types of people.Baudrillard Baudrillard is a postmodern theorist. He Do your argues that representations no longer refer representations refer to real things. The representation has to a reality, or do they become more real to us than the reality, and refer to other has actually replaced it. Simulacrum – when representations? a copy replaces the original. For Baudrillard images are now hyperreal – they have no relationship to the real. Celebrities are a good example of hyperreality – their media image constructs a reality which does not refer to an actual reality. Baudrillard would question the concept of representation as a process which represents the real.Media Language – this is the way the medium you used communicates meaning to itsaudience.
  • 8. Narrative How does the structure of your narrative reflect the genre of your product? Is your narrative determined by the medium you use, e.g. how does your narrative structure reflect the conventions of the music video?Genre How did you use generic codes to communicate to the audience? What are the specific generic codes of the medium you used? With music videos you need to consider the generic codes of music videos generally, generic codes of the genre of music, and possibly generic codes of the mode of the narrative (e.g. romance).Technical Aspects How did you make use of camerawork, editing, sound, and mise-en-scene to communicate meaning to the audience?Representation How did your use of media language allow you to construct representations?Remember – Question 1(a) you must discuss both AS and A2 products. Question1(b) choose either AS or A2. For both sections you need to have specific examplesfrom your coursework products to support the points you make.There is quite a lot of overlap between the different topics you may be asked on, somany examples could be adapted to the specific focus of the question.All resources for Section A of the A2 exam are in the Media Shared Area in a foldercalled A2 Media Resources Summer 2010.If you have any questions, or have completed practice exam questions you wouldlike me to mark email me.Take one hour to complete the questions below.Section A: Theoretical Evaluation of Production
  • 9. In question 1(a) you need to write about your work for the FoundationPortfolio and Advanced Portfolio units and you may refer to other mediaproduction work you have undertaken.1(a) Describe how your creativity developed through the production of yourcoursework. Refer to a range of examples in your answer to show how these skillsdeveloped over time.In question 1(b) you need to choose one of your media productions towrite about.1(b) Analyse media language in one of your coursework productions.Take one hour to complete the questions below.Section A: Theoretical Evaluation of ProductionIn question 1(a) you need to write about your work for the FoundationPortfolio and Advanced Portfolio units and you may refer to other mediaproduction work you have undertaken.1 (a) In your own experience how did your post-production skills develop throughyour coursework productions?In question 1(b) you need to choose one of your media productions towrite about.1 (b) How would you expect an audience to respond to your coursework production?Take one hour to complete the questions below.
  • 10. Section A: Theoretical Evaluation of ProductionIn question 1(a) you need to write about your work for the FoundationPortfolio and Advanced Portfolio units and you may refer to other mediaproduction work you have undertaken.1(a) Describe how you developed research and planning skills for media productionand evaluate how these skills contributed to creative decision making. Refer to arange of examples in your answer to show how these skills developed overtime.In question 1(b) you need to choose one of your media productions towrite about.1(b) Analyse media representation in one of your coursework productions.Take one hour to complete the questions below.Section A: Theoretical Evaluation of ProductionIn question 1(a) you need to write about your work for the FoundationPortfolio and Advanced Portfolio units and you may refer to other mediaproduction work you have undertaken.1 (a) “Digital technology turns media consumers into media producers”. In your ownexperience, how has your creativity developed through using digital technology tocomplete your coursework productions?In question 1(b) you need to choose one of your media productions towrite about.1 (b) “Media texts rely on cultural experiences in order for audiences to easily makesense of narratives”. Explain how you used conventional and/or experimentalnarrative approaches in one of your production pieces.
  • 11. Take one hour to complete the questions below.Section A: Theoretical Evaluation of ProductionIn question 1(a) you need to write about your work for the FoundationPortfolio and Advanced Portfolio units and you may refer to other mediaproduction work you have undertaken.1(a) Describe how your use of media conventions developed during the productionof your coursework. Refer to a range of examples in your answer to show how theseskills developed over time.In question 1(b) you need to choose one of your media productions towrite about.1(b) Analyse the role of genre in one of your coursework productions.Take one hour to complete the questions below.Section A: Theoretical Evaluation of ProductionIn question 1(a) you need to write about your work for the FoundationPortfolio and Advanced Portfolio units and you may refer to other mediaproduction work you have undertaken.1 (a) Describe the development of your skills in digital technology and post-production in your coursework. Refer to a range of examples to explain how yourskills developed over time.In question 1(b) you need to choose one of your media productions towrite about.1 (b) In what ways did you create a narrative in your coursework production?

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