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A2 MEDIA THEORY
MS3: Notes on Frequently Asked Questions
• Students must choose a different form (e.g. TV, film, website, magazine, advertising
campaign, music video) than the one chosen for MS2.
• Research investigations should be undertaken individually and negotiated between student
and teacher. Research topics should therefore not be set on a whole class basis (but a
range of options can be offered).
• Titles need to be focused (can be based on one, or more usually, two texts) – to tailor titles
to the ability and interests of the candidates as well as helping them stay within the 1400-
1800 word count.
• Include the concept being investigated (genre, narrative or representation) in the title
• Students need to be taught research skills to equip them to work independently.
• Students need to undertake a range of research including primary research (such as textual
analysis, content analysis, questionnaires, focus groups etc) and secondary research
(books, magazines, internet relevant to the investigation).
• A 'bibliography' or list of sources referred to must be included. Clarity and accuracy is more
important than the style of referencing.
• The investigation should be presented as a discursive essay – with or without illustrations.
• The production should develop from, and be informed by, the student's research
investigation. Reflecting their research findings (either by conforming to or deliberately
challenging their findings) is essential.
• Students can do print or audio-visual productions in both years (e.g. a print-based
advertising campaign and newspaper pages or a music video and film trailer) but the media
'form' must be different – i.e., television AS and film A2 or magazines AS and newspapers
• Students could produce websites for either MS2 or MS3 but cannot complete this task for
• Print and web-based productions must be completed individually. Audio-visual productions
can be group. In this case, some management of research is essential. Individual students
within the same group must focus on different aspects of genre, narrative or representation
for their research investigation and then devise a production to reflect that research.
• The evaluation must be individually produced.
• The evaluation must explore how the production has been informed by the research
• The word count is 500-750 words.
• There is flexibility in presentation. Using bullet points and images as well
as focused paragraphs is encouraged.
MS3 topic in relation to MS4
• Students may choose one of three industries selected for MS4 as their focus for MS3.
However, the text an individual student selects cannot be one of the three main texts studied
• If your question is not answered by the above, please check the relevant section in the
Notes for Guidance (on website).
• If you need advice on a specific query, please contact the Principal for this unit,
Colin Dear by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
MS4: Notes on Frequently Asked Questions
We strongly advise that each industry is approached in terms of text, industry and audience
Industry and text choice
• Students study three industries (from list on page 16 of Specification).
• For each industry, three main texts must be studied in detail.
• Choosing texts: recommend choosing contrasting texts to provide access to industry
and audience issues. It may be necessary to supplement the close study of main
texts with some additional relevant extracts.
• The main texts selected for study for MS4 cannot form part of the research for
students' MS3 research. However, the industry studied can be the same as that
investigated for MS3.
• Two texts must be contemporary – i.e., within approximately the last 5 years.
• One text must be British.
Specific industry problems
What counts as a text for advertising, music, television, magazines and newspapers?
• Advertising – a campaign (e.g., Levi).
• Music – an artist or band.
• Television – one episode for close study but it is likely that students will study
extracts from other episodes within the series.
• Magazine and Newspapers – one edition of a title for close study but it is likely that
students will study aspects from other editions of the same title.
• Students will need to answer three questions: each question must be on a different
industry. Students will complete a box to identify which industry they will use for the
questions they have selected. (An example of this will be put on the website by the
end of the Autumn term.)
• Length of exam 2½ hours: we suggest approximately 15 - 20 minutes to select the
question for each industry studied and plan the response. That leaves 40-45 minutes
for each answer.
• If your question is not answered by the above, please check the relevant section in
the Notes for Guidance (on website).
• If you need advice on a specific query, please contact the Principal for this
unit, Barbara Connell by e-mail: email@example.com
MS 4: MEDIA – TEXT, INDUSTRY AND AUDIENCE
This unit focuses on developing both the knowledge students have gained in other areas of the course and their understanding of the links between texts, the industries that have produced them and the different audiences that respond to them.
Centres select three industries to study.
Centres then select three main texts from each industry to focus on.
For each text selected, students will need to consider the following and the links between them, as relevant to the texts selected.
Whilst Centres are free to select the texts they consider to be the most suitable for their students to study, contrasting texts are likely to offer students a wider experience and to prepare them more thoroughly for the end of unit exam. Centre selection also needs to take into consideration the fact that:
Two of the three selected texts per industry must be contemporary (made within the previous five years)
One text per industry must be British
Examples of possible texts:
This is neither a prescriptive nor exhaustive list but offers centres some contrasting suggestions.
CSI/ Shameless/Tonight with Trevor Macdonald
America’ s Next Top Model/ Holby City/ Torchwood
Local Radio Breakfast Show/ The Archers /Zane Lowe Radio 1
Terry Wogan Show /Local Radio News/Classic FM afternoon show
Love and Hate/ Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix / Sweet Sixteen
Casino Royale /Bullet Boy / Hot Fuzz
Snow Patrol / Lily Allen/Snoop Dog
50 Cent /Girls Aloud / The Arctic Monkeys
The Guardian / The Sun / Metro
Local Evening paper /The Mail on Sunday / The Independent
Cosmopolitan / The Big Issue / PS2 Magazine
Glamour / Loaded/ The Dandy
Nike /Barnardos /Walkers
Coca Cola / Think! Campaign / Dove
Tomb Raider : Anniversary Edition/The Sims / Fifa (Football)
Super Mario Karts / Buffy the Vampire Slayer / Conflict: Denied Ops
Whilst the focus of study will be on the three key texts selected per industry, it is essential that students are exposed to a range extracts from of other texts in order to compare, contrasts, discuss and analyse the main features of their key texts.
What will students be required to do in the examination?
Students will be required to answer three questions: one question (from a choice of two) from Section A and two questions (from a choice of four) from Section B. They will be required to select a different industry for each answer and to make reference in their answer to their three key texts.
Section A will be based on the texts themselves and questions will be based on the areas of genre, narrative and representation.
Section B will be based on industry and audience.
SAMPLE TEACHING APPROACHES BASED ON EXAMPLES FROM SELECTED INDUSTRIES;
The following 3 examples offer suggested teaching content based on the areas of text, industry and audience. They are not definitive but attempt to explore the ways these areas could be approached through a close study of the selected texts. The first two, on a computer game and a film offer comprehensive suggestions for approaching the teaching of these texts. The approach is easily transferable to other texts. The third, based on a magazine, offers a skeleton approach, which again, can be easily adapted or expanded.
Tomb Raider: Anniversary
Third person shooter game. (TPS or 3PS)
Onscreen character seen at a distance from a number of different possible angles as opposed to first person model in which the player views everything in the game world as if through his/her own eyes.
Lara is always visible and the camera follows the action from behind or over her shoulder.
Harkens back to classical form of platform game play.
Details of a range of game genres can be found in Media and Meaning: An Introduction (Colin Stewart, Marc Lavelle and Adam Kowaltzke. BFI publishing, 2001)
What structure and space does the game inhabit? What kind of environment does it have? Not necessary a linear story in all games.
Quest or adventure structure.
The three act structure. Proceeds from an orientation stage through various complications and blockages to a simple resolution.
Faithfully preserves element of original Tomb Raider game. Brings the original adventure up to date. Lara Croft goes in search of three mysterious Scion artefacts. See www.tombraider.com/anniversary for comparison of original Tomb Raider and Tomb Raider anniversary. Consider the impact of technology on narratives.
Narrative is interrupted by series of puzzles or games to be solved.
Discussion of Narrative Structures in Games to be found in
Everything Bad is Good for You. How Popular Culture is Making Us Smarter.
Steven Johnson (Penguin, 2005) and in work by Steven Levy. www.stevenlevy.com
Lara Croft – originally Laura Cruz name changed for US audience. Female archaeologist and action hero.
Issues of Gender representation. [Mulvey and the male gaze.]
Lara’s changing appearance. [See photo gallery on
Issues of realism
The Role of the ‘Hero’
Representation of Place. Use of exotic locations and acceptability of “tomb-raiding” Postcolonial perspectives.
Published by Eidos Games( named as Britain’s most successful company 1999) Based in Wimbledon, South London, Eidos Interactive Ltd, part of SCi Entertainment Group Plc www.eidos.co.uk
Developed by Crystal Dynamics.
Release date June 2007
Platform - Play Station2 and PC. PSP version will follow soon as well as a release date (tba) for the Nintendo Wii.
Detailed information to be found at www.tombraider.com/anniversay
Background and Context
Original Tomb Raider released 1996.
Designed by Tony Gadd.
The groundbreaking 3D game design ensured financial success and cult status.
Sold over 7 million copies of the original game and 16 million copies worldwide of the first three games.
Tomb Raider II, III, IV, Chronicles, The Angel of Darkness and Legend all followed. www.tombraider.com. Tomb Raider-Anniversary celebrates Lara’s 10th Birthday.
Heralded as classic and one of the best action adventure games ever.
Boosted Play Station brand with initial exclusivity deal. Subsequently now available on many platforms including PC, Mac, Dreamcast and Game Boy Advance. The Seventh game in the series (Tomb Raider: Legend also released on PSP, X-Box, X-Box 360 and Nintendo DS)
Magazine Adverts /TV Adverts/Promotional Game Demos/ Trailers/Bus and Billboard campaigns.
Cross channel and On-line campaign strategies.
Linked to film releases where relevant. Eidos Interactive hopes for Tomb Raider 9 to combine film and game.
Website for ~Tomb Raider and specifically Anniversary edition.
Lara Croft’s My Space account.
Tomb Raider: Anniversary front cover of Play Station Magazine (May 2007) Review of game and special feature in the series.
Photo-shoot with all ‘Lara’ models including Nell McAndrew and new Lara Karima Adebibe (June 2007)
Range of merchandise.
In the past Sony have targeted youth market with Play Station room at London super club Ministry of Sound. Using cutting edge DJs and the mass appeal of dance music.
Distributing fliers at Glastonbury and other festivals.
Focus on youth orientated stations such as MTV.
Advertising deals with Lucozade and Nike
Profile and appearance allowed for much so called ‘free marketing’ with many newspapers and magazines keen to examine the phenomena that was, Lara Croft.
The cover of the The Face magazine and the Douglas Copeland book Lara’s Book are just two examples.
Tomb Raider II, III, IV all produced in 10 months in order to release for pre-Christmas market.
Films to accompany games. Tomb raider 1 and 2. Announced that TR3 will be made. All starring Angelina Jolie.
Over 28 million copies of Tomb Raider series sold worldwide.
Number one selling franchise in Europe and the US.
Distribution and Exhibition
European and US Distribution.
Internet sales as well as major retailers.
Game Tap and Steam providing digital download distribution for the first time.
Who are the audience for video games and has this changed?
Information concerning changing video game audiences can be found in:
Trigger Happy: Videogames and the Entertainment Revolution Steven Poole (Arcade Publishing, 2000)
There are also key chapters in:
Media and Meaning: An Introduction
What Video Games Have To Teach Us About Literacy And Learning. James Paul Gee (Macmillan, 2003)
Teaching Videogames Barney Oram and James Newman (BFI Education)
Are games gender biased? Provides positive female role model? Introduces gaming to female audience? Sexualized appeal sells to men? Yet, it is important to note that much of the success of “Tomb Raider” is due to its astonishing 3-D graphics, audio, challenging strategy and innovative game play.
Does the user identify with the character of Lara Croft?
What is the preferred reading?
Feminist Icon or Cyber Bimbo?
Issues around violence
Negative responses to the increased use of videogames.
Moral Compass – within the universe of the game.
Effects debate and video gaming.
Audience response to increasingly gratuitous artwork and commercialisation was negative and Lara Croft has undergone many changes due to fan pressure. They were unhappy with the ‘less clothing and bigger breasts’ character that
Fan sites/ Fan fiction / Chat Rooms/Web Forums.
Uses and Gratifications – How can different audiences have different experiences of the same game?
Sweet Sixteen – Ken Loach
Contemporary Social Realism
Coming of Age Text
Characteristics of Youth culture and Underclass films
Emphasis on masculine world of dissent (e.g. drug taking, criminality reflects a rejection of mainstream society and values)
Despite the celebration of dissent, the entrepreneurial spirit (from drug dealing and criminality
Compare with Trainspotting (Danny Boyle1996) Twin Town (Kevin Allen 1997) and Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (Guy Ritchie 1998)
What kind of narrative structure does Loach employ?
How does social realist cinema adhere to conventional narrative structures?
Changes within social realism itself. Shift from class politics to politics of identity (race, gender, sexuality)
Fewer images of community or collective action.
A move away from traditional working class culture (employment in industry, geographical location)
Compare with sophisticated use of voice over, music and editing techniques employed by Danny Boyle.
Representation of the central character Liam.
How does he fit the model of the social realist protagonist? (A historical and contextual approach may be useful here. Consider Arthur Seaton in Saturday Night Sunday Morning, Frank Machin in This Sporting Life or Billy Casper in Kes.)
Liam typical ‘scally’ Burberry baseball cap.
Selling ‘knock off’ fags. Post-Thatcherite entrepreneurial spirit.
Liam wants to provide a better life for his mother when she comes out of prison.
Has to battle with violent step-father.
Becomes involved in selling drugs.
Ironic title as life anything but Sweet.
Consider nature of stereotypes within the film? To what extent are these realistic or merely expected and one-dimensional?
Representation of gender. Masculinity in crisis?
Representation of contemporary Britain. Post-industrial decline. (This can be compared to films such as The Full Monty or Brassed Off) Shot on location in Scotland. Attempts to reflect ‘realism’ of the council estate and run down industrial sites. Juxtaposes with panoramic beauty of heritage and tourist Scotland.
Representation of Youth. (Consider against texts such as Human Traffic or Kidhulthood).
Representation of class (underclass)
Further discussion of issues of representation and social realism in Teaching Contemporary British Cinema, (Sarah Casey Benyahia. BFI Education.2005)
Made on a relatively cheap budget the film was more of a critical success rather than a commercial one.
Sweet Sixteen is a co-production with Road Movies in Germany and Tornasol and Alta in Spain, Scottish Screen has invested in it and the BBC has the British TV and Theatrical rights.
The film has been pre-sold to Diaphana in France; BIM in Italy; Cinéart in Belgium and Holland; and the Glasgow Film Fund have given a grant for working in the region. Filmstiftung Nordrhein-Westfalen also gave funding.
Issues regarding The UK Film Council and funding could be considered here as well as what makes a film British.
Background and Context
Ken Loach - Famous for social realist films. Other notable films include Kes, Raining Stones and My Name is Joe. Produces critically acclaimed films. The Wind that Shakes the Barley won at Cannes last year.
Paul Laverty also works extensively within this modern social realist framework.
Distribution and Marketing
UK release date October 2002
Released in many independent cinemas around the world. Mostly international film festivals, including Cannes.
Limited US release.
Won critical acclaim and many independent film prizes including best British Independent Film.
Distributed by A Film Distribution and Icon.
Profits made were: $26,667 (USA) (18 May 2003) (3 Screens)
£144,388 (UK) (6 October 2002) (66 Screens)
Star Image - No big name stars. There were some character actors recognisable from other dramas. The younger actors were novices recruited from local schools. Importance of stars for the success of a film can be considered here as well as the nature of stardom. Liam, played by Martin Compston has subsequently gone on to star in Monarch of the Glen and stars alongside Bob Hoskins in the upcoming film, Doomsday
Is the film too regional? Using local actors, improvising dialogue and allowing heavy use of dialect meant that the open sequences of the film had to be subtitled. Can the film appeal to a non-Scottish audience?
Is there an audience for modern social realism? Consider audience viewing figures/cinema numbers etc? Who does this appeal to?
How does the film allow us to side with and identify with Liam? What techniques does Loach use in order to ensure this? Can the text be read differently? (Consider notions of preferred readings and audience reception here)
The camera is always in a fixed position, at eye level with a long lens. It's as if you are in the doorway watching. That is the psychology of Ken Loach's films - you feel this connection to the subject almost too closely. Sometimes if it is painful and emotional you may not want to be in the room. That is what it is like when you watch in the cinema. You are a witness, not passive, but you can't change events.
The film sparked a censorship debate in the UK regarding the amount of bad language used. Controversy surrounded the multiple use of the F-word and the presence of even more graphic language resulted in an 18 certificate. (Compare with certification for one of Loach’s previous films, My Name is Joe.)
It was argued, however, that this would prevent the people who could most closely identify with the characters in the film from going to see it, and that such language was much more commonly used, and therefore less offensive, in the north of the UK, where the film was set.
The London based censors, however, stuck to their guns, although the local authority who cover the area where the film was shot, Inverclyde, utilized their cinema licensing powers to overrule this, and awarded the film a 15-certificate for screenings in their area.
Critically the film was well received and won a prize for Best Independent British Film. Financially the film was not as successful. (Consider what makes a successful film?)
Debates on the Today Program and Radio 4 ensured air-time, publicity and discussion.
Ken Loach’s comments about the policy of censorship also added to controversy. Loach accused the censors and the BBC (who were critical of the use of violence and bad language) of being in “Ivory Towers” and watching from the “Middle class gallery” This raises questions about the nature of censorship and violence. The role of the BBFC and other institutions can also be considered here. More information on classification and censorship can be found on the BBFC website, www.bbfc.co.uk and in Teaching Film Censorship and Controversy (Mark Readman, BFI Education, 2005)
The film also caused some controversy as the actors were not legally able to attend the premiere of the film they had starred in. Loach urged his audiences to go and see the film regardless of legal constraints, declaring the BBFC was useless.
Notions of violence and the effects debates could be considered here.
Big Issue: Skeleton outline
How is Big Issue different to other magazines? Compare and contrast with other magazines studied and its front cover and contents page with a range of other front covers and contents pages
Analyse at least 3 editions to ascertain typical structure, special and regular features, with a particular focus on contents pages.
To what extent are representations of social issues, especially homelessness and poverty, realistic? How might this compare to representations in newspapers and other media forms?
Investigate positive representations of homeless people: students may wish to focus on the Street Talk feature, usually on the last page, or on Streetlights and Mr Big Issue Man, usually found on p.6.
Who owns The Big Issue? Introduction: a rare example of a successful independent magazine.
Read the about us and how we work sections on the website.
Research background and history: http://www.bigissue.com/magazinesite/introduction.html
Discuss the magazine’s house style with particular reference to the Badger feature on the contents page and the editorial overview on the website.
How are the advertisements carried in Big Issue different to those in other magazines you have studied? How does Big Issue advertise itself?
Find and print off the magazine’s rate card and compare it to the rate card for another magazine you have studied. How can you explain these differences?
Search the Press Complaints Commission website for any adjudications against The Big Issue. (there aren’t any. Why?)
Research the International Network of Street Papers:
How does Big Issue distribution differ from that of any other magazine? Students may wish to use the website or to chat to a vendor.
Who they? Ways of classifying the Big Issue audience
Discuss demographic and psychometric profiles and apply audience theories, then look at
the reader profile on the website. http://www.bigissue.com/profile.html
How does this magazine attract different groups within the target audience? (e.g. editorial content, Big Scene “what’s on” feature, film, book, music and art reviews, featured subscriber, competitions, letter, crossword..)
Investigate the magazine’s use of stars and celebrities with a particular focus on covers and the This Is Me feature usually found on p.20.
What assumptions does this magazine make about its audience that set it apart from other magazines ?
Given stereotypes about the homeless, how do the students feel about Big Issue vendors? Look at the Big Issue code of conduct. http://www.bigissue.com/magazinesite/conduct.pdf
To what extent is The Big Issue a “pro-social” text? Discussion of the idea of positive effects.
Look at the ABC data on the magazine and at the blurb which is usually found on page 4 to establish how many copies it sells.
International Network of Street Papers:
http://www.bigissue.com/intl.html (links to the excellent Big Issue website.)
Vendors’ Code of Conduct:
Audit Bureau of Circulations:
National Readership Survey:
Press Complaints Commission Code of Practice:
exploring the film Industry
23 Sept 2013
To introduce case study number 1
Disney Pixar "Up"
Task 2 read wiki background to film
write a personal review of this film.
exploring disney pixar
case study "up"
How can we start to understand
how this film came to be made?
finish watching movie
look at the three sources carefully
and make notes into your prezi
explaining what each source tells
us about the production of this film
To write your notes up
into an essay explaining
what each source tells
How can we understand the stages of film production in relation to the Disney pixar film up?
Watch the slideshare and make notes on the stages of production contained within a typical
Write down the stages of film production on large coloured pieces of paper, and working in pairs add as much information on each production stage as you can find out for disney pixar UP.
students present what information they extracted from the primary and secondary sources last week.
How can we understand more about Disney pixar?
peer assessment of disney pixar essay.
Students examine sources on their prezis
and extract important information
Watch the pixar Documentary
and make notes on the important factual
Research the relationship between Disney and Pixar and answer the following essay question.
How has the collaboration between Disney and
Pixar been beneficial for each company,what have the difficulties been?
What does the bbc 3 documentary
On Disney pixar tell us about the company?
How can we start to understand disney pixar as
Students compile two wall charts
One with all the factual information
relating to Disney pixar, The other the
Put the stages of production for animated movies on the wall.
Divide the stages between the students. Each student researches as much as they can in
relation to the stage of production allocated.
Introduction to Case Study three
How can we integrate key words into
our written work?
Read through the glossary of key words
working in pairs highlight four from each page.
write a sentence containing the selected key words about one of the films studied so far into your prezi.
Look at secondary source one and in bullet point form
explain what this source tells us about the
production of this film.
watch the short film on representation
and on the grid, note down the key ideas
as you watch. One idea per square.
Peer assessment of homework task.
Watch one scene from inception,
write down into your prezi how you
can link the key concepts highlighted
in the video with the scene that you
Watch the second scene from Inception,
and using the analysis worksheet, deconstruct
Bullet point ten
pieces of information
relating to the marketing
campaign of this film.
write this infomation up into
structured paragraphs to explain
what characterised the marketing
campaign for this film.
Monday 25th November
Wednesday 18th December
What is Hollywood?
How does this relate to the
films which we have studied?
Peer assessment of homework
Read through the pages relating
Write the main points up on a
Photograph the poster and
upload to prezi
read through wiki pages about inception
bullet point the most important pieces of information
Yr 13 assessment week.
15th January 2014
Using all the notes that you have made,
and the essays that you have completed on
prezi answer the past paper on the screen
Exam response level 4
Useful genre thory resource
key concepts revision
Useful info re narrative
and other key concepts
Useful T.V industry resource:
Disney pixar Up
Grand theft auto 5