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Opening Sequence Analysis

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Chris Wotton

on 6 March 2017

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Transcript of Opening Sequence Analysis

MEDIA STUDIES
A LEVEL

Media Opening Sequence Analysis
An opening sequence is the introduction to a film. The introduction (opening sequence) should be around 3-4 minutes long, and generally the characters and setting are introduced with a quick hint at the narrative, so the audience can decide whether it's for them.
I conducted the research to gain a good understanding of the conventions in opening sequences. The approach I took for undertaking this analysis was to research the different films "Taken" and "Ghost Protocol".

Key conventions
Analysis of Casino Royale
In casino royale the opening sequence contains a lot of establishing shots, with the purpose of showing the audience where the film is set. The older buildings shown in this wide angle shot show the audience where James bond has previously been and it shows the audience a scene from a different part in his career. Other camera work used in the opening extract are mid shots which are used with the intentions of showing the audience any props or clothing that may can identify a character type.
Camera work
Toderov's Narrative Theory
Todorov in 1969 produced a theory which he said could be applied to any film of any genre. He believed that all films followed the same narrative pattern.

Toderov wrote several books and published a total of 21 books.
background
The 5 Stages of the Narrative:
1. A state of equilibrium (All is as it should be.)
2. A disruption of that order by an event. (Dis - Equilibrium)
3. A recognition that the disorder has occurred.
4. An attempt to repair the damage of the disruption.
5. A return or restoration of a NEW equilibrium
How this theory links to the film "Taken"
Equilibrium - Father meets daughter in America (At Home)
Dis equilibrium - The Daughter Kim asks her father if she can go on vacation (holiday) to Paris; to which the father agrees.
Recognition - Kim calls Brian as there are strange people in her friends hotel room.
Repair - Brian flies to Paris with the intentions of finding his daughter & her friend; he will eradicate anyone who get's in his way.
New equilibrium - After Brian finds his daughter; the family re-unite in America and a new normality is made.
Levi Strauss Binary opposites Theory
A social Anthropologist; who studied myths of tribal cultures.
He analyzed how stories unconsciously reflect the myths, values and beliefs of a certain culture.
He said that these are expressed in the form of binary oppositions.
His research has been used to identify the hidden/underlying themes and symbolic oppositions in media texts.
background
Examples of Binary Opposites:
1. Good v.s Evil
2. Young v.s Old
3. Homesteaders v.s Native Americans

The purpose of binary opposites:
To summarize the main reason why binary opposites are used, well two opposing characters will cause drama and intrigue the audience, and this will allow the narrative to develop.
How this theory links to the film "Taken"
Good v.s Evil
is an example of a binary opposite used in Taken; the male hero Brain Mills is the good character while the Evil character(s) are the kidnapping organization.
This is used effectively in Taken as the characters fighting each other intrigues the characters and allows the narrative to develop from the events that have occurred. The audience are also familiar with this binary opposite which makes it easier for them to identify the characters role.

Camera work
Sound
Editing
Mise en scene
The camera work usually used in opening sequences is intended to show the audience where the film is set, therefore camera shots such as establishing shots are used as these identify the scene through the use of a wide angle lens.
Medium Shot's are frequently used in opening sequences of thriller films as this clearly shows the audience the characters and what they are wearing or holding in terms of props; as this can connotate to the audience what kind of character they are. These techniques are conventional to thriller genre and it makes associating the genre easier for the audience.
Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol
In mission impossible - ghost protocol a variety of camera shots are used in the opening sequence. A long establishing shot is used at the start of the film to show the audience where the film is set and where the particular scene is, this particular shot was taken on a drone or helicopter to give the audience something unique at the start of the film, the use of a high angle shot gives the audience a different perception of the film and it could be that this particular shot is used to reveal only a certain part of the location and to leave it open to the audience on what will happen next; this follows Roland Barthes theory on enigma codes and how the audience are now asking questions of what will happen next.
Conventions
Sound is a very important element in the opening sequence of a thriller film as it shows the audience so much more than just silence. In an opening sequence you would typically here SFX such as gun shots, tire sounds & bombs going off; these are all Diegetic sounds as they are heard in real life and are not added separately from the film shoot.
Other sounds you would typically here are SFX that are non-Diegetic these are sounds added after filming in order to increase the intensity of a scene or in order to walk the audience through a scene by using a narrator.
Another form of sound frequently used in thriller films are soundtracks, these create the mood in which the film is perceived in, so this is an element of sound that can completely change a film.
Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol
The sound in mission impossible gost protocol is used to emphasize the action taking place. The sound track used builds up as the film gets further into the opening sequence until the action appears on screen at which point gun shot SFX are used to emphasize a change in mood; this is diegetic sound as it would be heard in real life and most people have the association with guns being linked to action so therefore this attracts the consumers attention to the film.
In mission impossible the opening sequence also uses un-diegetic sound such as cinematic SFX as this builds up the narrative and it shows the audience the equilibrium and how the narrative has developed to the next stage; this can be applied to Toderov's narrative theory as the equilibrium is shown to the audience and the dis-equilibrium is now apparent. This may intrigue the consumer and prevent them from getting distracted as the narrative is quickly developing and becoming more and more interesting.
Conventions
In the opening sequence of a thriller film you would expect to see a variety of editing techniques. Conventional transitions and cuts used are jump cuts which increase the pace of the film and leave it open to the audience to piece together two different scenes based on how they link e.g. getting on a train, and then leaving the terminal, nothing is shown in between which allows the audience to make their own interpretation. Another type of cut typically used is the match cut, this basically means to keep the editing flowing well the same scene is shot in a variety of different angles to appeal to the audience, as it keeps them engaged.
And another technique generally used in conventional thriller films is Titles, these can be used to set the scene for the audience e.g. new york as a title would be easily visualized by most people watching the film and the producers can therefore skip a large majority of the establishment of the scenes as so many people have seen it before.
Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol
The editing in Mission Impossible includes match cuts to keep the audience engaged. This technique is used as the action occurs as a good action sequence works well with match cuts as it gives the audience a variety of different angles to see what exactly is happening. This technique can also be applied to the Levi Strauss Binary Oppositions theory as the different angles and camera shots in the action sequence develop the narrative as Good v.s. Evil characters are fighting each other.
Mission impossible also uses titles to show the location, time etc this keeps the audience up to do date with what is happening even if they cannot associate a location from camera shots they can at least from the titles which makes developing the narrative a lot easier.

Conventions
Mise en scene is everything found in the frame of the camera shot.
This includes props; which are typically guns, knifes, bags & bombs in the thriller genre.
Clothing which is associated with the characters role in the film e.g. a hit man wears black clothing.
Lighting techniques such as high key to highlight the characters face for example are conventional as well as the low key lighting to leave the consumer with the impression that the character is different to others.
Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol
Mise en scene is shown in Mission impossible as the props used such as guns represent action & violence to the audience. This is shown in the opening sequence to show the audience what the film is about and what the rest of the film may involve. Other props like bomb detonators are also used to show the audience that there was some kind of attack on other characters in the film.
The black clothing used connotates a stealth like character with power as this has been shown in many other films and it has formed a stereotype that all male characters in thriller that wear black clothing are skilled and trained to fight and defend themselves; therefore this costume is effective at showing the audience which character is of which character type. This can be applied to Propp's character type theory as he said that characters can be divided into different types e.g. villain, hero, and as shown in this film the black clothing represents a character that fights a villain in order to achieve.
The lighting in this film represents the characters differently. Using high key lighting in an opening sequence highlights to the audience the important characters, as shown when the door opens as the high key lighting hits Ethan's face to represent he is an important character. Whilst low key lighting is used to identify different characters that are not as important.
Conventions
The use of sound in "Casino Royale" portrays the female characters as weak by using SFX and non digetic audio of screaming and emotional sounds to make the scene clear to the audience and also character identification is far easier previously as the stereotype that women are weak in complied with and therefore makes the film conventional.
While men are shown to be strong and masculine in the opening sequence through their dialogue which is generally very powerful and protective over the women, which complies with propp's theory of characters types.
Sound
The use of mise en scene in "Casino Royale" is effective at portraying men as powerful characters. Men are shown to be powerful through props e.g. guns, knives and also the way they dress; such as tailored suits and fit bodies; which is similar to the male gaze theory but for the female audience consuming the media as this may be a reason to watch the film. This also acts as an inspiration for the male consumers and acts as an incentive to work harder at the gym as they then feel like they will be perceived like James Bond; but in fact the film produces a sense of hyper-reality and escapism for the real world, rather than something that is actually realistic.
Mise en scene
The editing of "Casino Royale" is very different to other films in that the opening sequence is grey scale to produce enigma around the characters, as the color produces a unique look on characters the audience are not usually used to.
The jump cuts & match cuts used in the opening sequence produce a smoother viewing experience as the different camera shots form together to make the film easier to watch and understand, as the audience can then see the movement between different camera shots.
Editing
Task 2 - Similar Films
I will be analyzing Thriller films to help with the creation of my own media production. I will be analyzing these media products as they are similar to the one I will be producing. They are of the same genre and have similar themes, which is why they are a good comparison to my own media production.
Similar films Analysis
Camera work
Sound
Editing
Mise en scene
The camera work usually used in opening sequences is intended to show the audience where the film is set, therefore camera shots such as establishing shots are used as these identify the scene through the use of a wide angle lens.
Medium Shot's are frequently used in opening sequences of thriller films as this clearly shows the audience the characters and what they are wearing or holding in terms of props; as this can connotate to the audience what kind of character they are.
Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol
In mission impossible - ghost protocol a variety of camera shots are used in the opening sequence. A long establishing shot is used at the start of the film to show the audience where the film is set and where the particular scene is, this particular shot was taken on a drone or helicopter to give the audience something unique at the start of the film, the use of a high angle shot gives the audience a different perception of the film and it could be that this particular shot is used to reveal only a certain part of the location and to leave it open to the audience on what will happen next; this follows Roland Barthes theory on enigma codes and how the audience are now asking questions of what will happen next.
Conventions
Sound is a very important element in the opening sequence of a thriller film as it shows the audience so much more than just silence. In an opening sequence you would typically here SFX such as gun shots, tire sounds & bombs going off; these are all Diegetic sounds as they are heard in real life and are not added separately from the film shoot.
Other sounds you would typically here are SFX that are non-Diegetic these are sounds added after filming in order to increase the intensity of a scene or in order to walk the audience through a scene by using a narrator.
Another form of sound frequently used in thriller films are soundtracks, these create the mood in which the film is perceived in, so this is an element of sound that can completely change a film.
Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol
The sound in mission impossible gost protocol is used to emphasize the action taking place. The sound track used builds up as the film gets further into the opening sequence until the action appears on screen at which point gun shot SFX are used to emphasize a change in mood; this is diegetic sound as it would be heard in real life and most people have the association with guns being linked to action so therefore this attracts the consumers attention to the film.
In mission impossible the opening sequence also uses un-diegetic sound such as cinematic SFX as this builds up the narrative and it shows the audience the equilibrium and how the narrative has developed to the next stage; this can be applied to Toderov's narrative theory as the equilibrium is shown to the audience and the dis-equilibrium is now apparent. This may intrigue the consumer and prevent them from getting distracted as the narrative is quickly developing and becoming more and more interesting.
Conventions
In the opening sequence of a thriller film you would expect to see a variety of editing techniques. Conventional transitions and cuts used are jump cuts which increase the pace of the film and leave it open to the audience to piece together two different scenes based on how they link e.g. getting on a train, and then leaving the terminal, nothing is shown in between which allows the audience to make their own interpretation. Another type of cut typically used is the match cut, this basically means to keep the editing flowing well the same scene is shot in a variety of different angles to appeal to the audience, as it keeps them engaged.
And another technique generally used in conventional thriller films is Titles, these can be used to set the scene for the audience e.g. new york as a title would be easily visualized by most people watching the film and the producers can therefore skip a large majority of the establishment of the scenes as so many people have seen it before.
Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol
The editing in Mission Impossible includes match cuts to keep the audience engaged. This technique is used as the action occurs as a good action sequence works well with match cuts as it gives the audience a variety of different angles to see what exactly is happening. This technique can also be applied to the Levi Strauss Binary Oppositions theory as the different angles and camera shots in the action sequence develop the narrative as Good v.s. Evil characters are fighting each other.
Mission impossible also uses titles to show the location, time etc this keeps the audience up to do date with what is happening even if they cannot associate a location from camera shots they can at least from the titles which makes developing the narrative a lot easier.

Conventions
Mise en scene is everything found in the frame of the camera shot.
This includes props; which are typically guns, knifes, bags & bombs in the thriller genre.
Clothing which is associated with the characters role in the film e.g. a hit man wears black clothing.
Lighting techniques such as high key to highlight the characters face for example are conventional as well as the low key lighting to leave the consumer with the impression that the character is different to others.
Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol
Mise en scene is shown in Mission impossible as the props used such as guns represent action & violence to the audience. This is shown in the opening sequence to show the audience what the film is about and what the rest of the film may involve. Other props like bomb detonators are also used to show the audience that there was some kind of attack on other characters in the film.
The black clothing used connotates a stealth like character with power as this has been shown in many other films and it has formed a stereotype that all male characters in thriller that wear black clothing are skilled and trained to fight and defend themselves; therefore this costume is effective at showing the audience which character is of which character type. This can be applied to Propp's character type theory as he said that characters can be divided into different types e.g. villain, hero, and as shown in this film the black clothing represents a character that fights a villain in order to achieve.
The lighting in this film represents the characters differently. Using high key lighting in an opening sequence highlights to the audience the important characters, as shown when the door opens as the high key lighting hits Ethan's face to represent he is an important character. Whilst low key lighting is used to identify different characters that are not as important.
Conventions
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