Analysis: Preparing for MS1Here is a list of terms and ideas you need to be familiar with for MS1.Check off those you are already familiar with and go away and researchthose you have forgotten/ don’t know:Visual Codes Audio Codes Technical CodesMise-en-SceneSetting/ LocationCostumeProps/ AccessoriesColour Palette (colourdescriptors e.g. pastels/neons, earthy tones…)Character Movement andPositioning within theframeFacial Expression andBody languageAny use of captions orgraphic devicesDiegetic and Non-Diegetic SoundSoundtrackTheme MusicIncidental Music(how to describe musicby referring to its mood,instruments or pace)Ambient sound/ atmos orwildtrackSpecific Sound Effects –especially if amplified/enhancedDialogue – including typeof voice/ accent/ tone /style of deliveryVoiceoverMode of Address –direct or indirect; formalor informalShots defined bydistance – ECU, CU, MCU,MS, MLS, LS, ELS,Shots defined by angle –low-anlge, high-angle,eyeline angle, cantedangle, aerial, bird’s eye,worm’s eye, wide angleShots defined bymovement – pan, tilt,track, crane, zoom,reverse zoom, handheldSpecific types of shot orshot sequence–establishing shot, mastershot, two-shot, point ofview shot, reaction shot,shot-reverse-shot, overthe shoulder shotFraming and composition– rule of thirds, use offoreground andbackgroundLighting – High key orlow-key; side lighting,back lighting; artificialor natural looking light,use of colour filtersEditing Styles –continuity or invisibleediting; montage; cross-
cutting; action matches,graphic matches; soundbridgesEditing Pace – long orslow takesEditing Transitions – cut,fade in/ out, dissolve,wipe, jump cutEditing Effects – slow-motion/ speeding up/time lapse; creatingcomposites – layeringimages on top of eachotherSpecial effects –animation; backprojection; captions;chromakey; CGI;graphics, use of modles,pyrotechnics(explosions); stuntsAs well as these three basic categories, you may also be asked to commenton Narrative or Genre.NARRATIVE:Remember that NARRATIVE is not just what happens but the order and mannerin which the events are revealed to us – it’s as much about how and in whatorder, as in what actually happens.You need to be able to analyse NARRATIVE in terms of basic theories. Can youfill in the grid below?
TheoryWhat does itdescribe?What are the key terms/components you need toremember?TODOROVBARTHESPROPPLEVI-STRAUSSMany films have a single, unified narrative but some programmes, like soaps,have a multiple narrative – where there are lots of separate storylines going on,that may or may not coalesce later on, which the main story often cross-cutsbetween.Narrative devices can be used to help tell the story – look for the presence ofVOICEOVERS (to create clarity/ closeness to a character); CAPTIONS(especially useful for settling time and place); FLASHBACKS (to fill in importantinformation from the past) and FLASHFORWARDS (useful to intrigue us aboutwhat will happen eventually)Is it a FIRST-PERSON or THIRD-PERSON NARRATIVE? Are we distancedfrom the characters or brought close to them?Think about how we, the audience, are POSITIONED within the narrative – arewe a neutral observer (able to see all – omnipotent and god-like), linked to a
character’s point-of-view (limited but encourages bonding?) Are we encouragedto identify more with a particular character or to see some characters aspositive and others as undesirable?In the exam you need to comment on the narrative techniques and structuresbut must also comment on what they add to the text – why they have beenchosen above other means of telling the story.GENRE:GENRE refers to a type of media text. Every media text belongs to at least onegenre. Some will have a main and a secondary genre.For example, a film trailer will firstly belong to the genre of film trailers (it willshare features with other film trailers) but it will also have a film genre as asecondary genre e.g. it may well show a film that belongs to the thriller genre.Genres also apply to non-fiction texts – news programmes, soaps anddocumentaries are also genres of media text that share common features.Some products will be HYBRIDS – they will mix a number of genres together –The X-Factor is a hybrid of a quiz show, a soap and a documentary; The HungerGames is a mix of the action thriller, reality TV show, romance and teen rites-of-passage genres.Why are hybrids popular with producers?In the exam, you will need to identify what genre(s), your text belongs to, ifthis is one of the task’s emphases.You will then need to consider how it uses the CODES AND CONVENTIONS ofthose particular genres - the features that we expect to find in this type oftext. This can be made up of:CHARACTERS we expect to encounterNARRATIVE – the type of story or sequences we often associate with the genreSETTINGS - the places and times we usually find in these genresPROPS/ ICONS – typical objects we link to this genreMEDIA LANGUAGE – the sort of media language we often encounter in this genre – thelow threatening music and low-key lighting of horror; the brightly lit studio sets andcanned laughter of a quiz show
These features tend to create a formula for each genre, a formula establishedthrough repetition that audiences have become very familiar with and expect tofind. This sense of audience expectation is important, as we often havefavourite genres which we pick, based on what enjoy and expect to see in a filmor programme of that genre and audience pleasure will link to delivering what weexpect.In the exam, there are two things to focus on:- what features do you expect these genres to have and which of these is inevidence in the texts in front of you? Think in terms of the elements identifiedin the box above. Comment on WHY it is important to include a good number ofthe expected codes and conventions.- anything that is unexpected or different… most genre texts will innovate alittle bit and offer something new. Comment on WHY this is done and why youthink these specific differences will appeal to the audience…Look at the list of possible material you could be given and ensure you have agood idea of the key codes and conventions for each:a TV advert,a radio sequence,a film clip (any genre),a TV extract (could be drama, news, documentary…..),a music video,a computer game extractor trailer.Obviously, with film and TV, this is more complex, as you need really to know thespecific genre of film or programme and there are many of these. Ensure youcan tackle the key film genres (action-adventure; horror; romantic comedy; teenmovie; sci-fi; western; war; thriller….); fictional TV genres (police procedural;medical drama; soap opera; sitcom; serious drama….); and, non-fiction TV genres(news, documentary; quiz show; talk show; magazine style-show e.g. Richard andJudy; current affairs)
Some ideas about radio:radio programmes can be music-based or talk-basedposse radio – where the DJ is joined by other minor presenters (who may do aguest slot, the weather, the traffic etc) and indulge in banterradio can be public service (e.g. BBC) or commercial (e.g. Rock FM) – the latterare paid for by advertising and feature these prominently.Radio can be national or localMagazine format radio – a programme that features lots of different segments– Radio Four Woman’s Hour tends to have a main presenter who introducesvarious interviews or features and often includes a serialised book.A radio slot can also be a drama e.g. Radio Four’s The Archers is a rural soap.Other stations way well feature one-off plays.Radio stations have different audiences – make sure you know who listens to themain BBC Radio stations and what these are…An analysis has to consider SOUND above all. This includes thinking about thewords used, sounds, music, as well as the narrative and genre conventions.Words include: register and address (the style of language sued and how thereader is addressed – directly or indirectly?); the use or absence of jargon –how much of an expert is the listener assumed to be?; accent; voice tone andstyle of delivery?; assumed age and gender of speaker?; use of any pauses,changes in tone, pitch, volume or pitch (paralinguistic devices) and what thesesignify to us. Some may use a vox pop – a quick montage of different people’sopinionsSounds include: sound effects and what these tell us – significant meaningcarriers or background noise realism?; tunes and jingles; idents – the brief pieceof music used to signal a programme’s identity (e.g. The Chris Evans BreakfastShow ident); non-diegetic soundtrack – how does music convey a sense ofcharacter to a programme or emotional mood?
What can I do to prepare for the analysis part of MS1?1. Ensure you know all the terminology and ideas for the VAT Codes,Narrative and Genre2. Know the timings and how to use the time in the exam – have astrategy3. Know how to write an analysis of VAT features – describe andanalyse4. Know how to write about narrative and genre – work through thesesheets and others you have5. Practice viewing three times and making notes – find examples ofdifferent audio visual texts – look over the categories listed undergenre (YouTube is excellent for this). Try and go for a range ofclips. You need to cover all three categories you will be asked towrite about and must have enough to write for about 50 minutes.6. Practice writing up – maybe just a few paragraphs to developtechnique7. Look over practice analyses done in class and any model answersyour teacher may have provided – they will pin-point what you needto work on/ develop to get better marks.8. If you find it hard to do the above, work with a friend – no reasonyou can’t revise with others