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September 03, 2008
TV Drama: Genres
This posting is targeted towards AS Media students on the OCR course although many others will hopefully find it useful. For those doing this course the key aim is to develop textual analytical skills particularly in relation to the moving image. This should becomes developed by understanding the the concept of representation and its relationship to the way a media text is constructed. This means that the focus of this unit is not about the genre of TV drama in general and the large numbers of sub-genres which have developed within this. There is no need to know anything about the history of the development of TV Drama which is of course an important issue in its own right.
The fundamental focus of this unit for exam purposes is understanding the relationship between how meaning within a text is constructed though the use of sounds, clothing, lighting, performance and camera angles, and tpyes of shot used. Much of TV Drama uses the same techniques for creating moving image as film. Core differences are production values which are constrained because of costs. The use of extremly expensive sets and models along with casts of thousands or even extensive use of very expensive special effects which are seen in Action-Adventure Films is simply not possible in TV. Another major difference between films made for cinema release compared to made for TV films is the way in which the characters perform more centrally on the screen. The action tends to take place here because many millions of people still have squareish TVs rather than widescreen TVs. Increasingly TV programmes are designed for widescreen format and if you are watching on an older TV you will lose some of the credits. Having a digital box there will be a "wide mode" on the handset that will change the proportions of the image.
In order to fully understand how a preferred meaning is created by the makers of a media text you will need to understand the concept of media representation. Remember the term media means being in the middle or inbetween things. People and places you see on TV or in film are re-presentations of a real person or event if it is a a documentary or imagined in a particular way if it is fictional like a feature film or TV drama. When you see people on screen for example how you see them is constructed using technical conventions such as lighting and camera shots / angles to create a preferred meaning by the makers.
TV Drama: Textual Analysis & Representation
A major shift is the course this year is an increased emphasis upon issues of representation. Areas covered by this terms include gender, age, ethnicity, sexuality, class & status, physical & mental ability / disability, regional identity, rural / non-rural, Britain / Rest of the World.
Moving Image Grammar & Conventions & the Creation of Meaning
Analyse and discuss the grammar and conventions of the moving image medium in relation to TV Drama in order to discuss the representation of individuals, groups, events or places. We will be learning to understand the structure and visual language embodied in moving images. This is a language which has evolved primarily in relation to film as this media form preceded TV as a media technology.
Textual Analysis Hub links
Please note that all this work is based upon film and it tends to have a focus on Action-Adventure Films as well as this was the old specification. However the basic information about camera shots framing and sound is the same.
For a revision check list of things to remember in a grid form to practise doing textual analysis at home please follow this link
For glossary guides to explanations of the terms that you will be using there are three Film & Media glossaries spilt into alphabetical sections as follows. Where you see entries with just a green hyperlink this will take you to a fuller entry.
Here is some Kinoeye work on genre. It is primarily written about film but the key elements of genre hold good across different media forms. An Introduction to Film Genre.