Friday, 14 December 2012

Harry Potter Studios

As part of our A Level Media course we attended The Making of Harry Potter at Warner Bro Studios on Tuesday. As part of our course we have to look at the representation of events, and Harry Potter is now an event due to its mass publicity and major fan base.
When we arrived at the Harry Potter studios we first went to the gift shop. The gift shop was filled with Harry Potter memorabilia, ranging from sweets (Honeydukes), wands (Ollivanders) and jewellery, books and much more.After this we then got our "passports". The start of the tour took us to where the story began – the cupboard under the stairs. We were then taken to a holding room where we were told about how J K Rowling got her idea, as well as how her book got published. After watching a short film which starred the cast of the Harry Potter movies we then arrived at the doors to the great hall.After the great hall we then had a chance to have a quick look round the start of the tour, seeing things such as the gates to the school, chocolate feasts, the fireplace from the leaky cauldron, as well as the portrait of the fat lady and the mirror of erised. After our initial first look around we then attended a lesson on “From Script to Screen”, where we were told all about how a story can be made in to a film. First of all a pitch needs to be made, and a professional pitch can be no longer than twenty-five words. The pitch for the Harry Potter movie was ‘About a boy who goes to wizard school.’ This it appears was enough, and got Warner Bros interested in the idea. After this, a treatment needs to be written. A professional treatment can be no longer than half a page. Usually a film producer will hire the same person who wrote the treatment to write the script for the movie. A script will contain both the lines that actors and actresses learn, as well as stage directions. Some stage directions may be in capital letters, this is to ensure that important information is not missed by the departments that it is relevant to. Names will be written in Red over scripts so that people cannot steal and photocopy them. This was an idea started by Spielberg. As well as this, story boards will often be produced. After these have been produced, white card models will often be made of sets and camera angles will be tested out. As well as this, concept art may often be made. When the sets have been approved, locations will be found and filming will begin.
After attending this lesson we then went back on the tour. Highlights included seeing dumbledores office, the weasleys magic kitchen and  entering the Ministry of Magic, where the iconic Magic is Might statue was present. As well as this, we also had the chance to have a ride on a broomstick. After this we then went to a courtyard, where we visited Privet Drive, Godric's Hollow and The Knight Bus. During this time we also had a chance to sample some Butterbeer! We then went into the creature workshops where we saw many memorable characters such as Dobby, Aragog and Bowtruckles. We then ventured to Diagon Alley, where we saw many shops such as Ollivanders and Gringotts Bank. We then entered the concept art room, where various artists works were displayed alongside white paper models of various sets. We then entered one of the last rooms of the tour, where the big model of Hogwarts Castle was. After this there was a room dedicated to each person who worked on the Harry Potter movies, each having their own wand box named after them.

Top Ten Moments of The Harry Potter Studio Tour:

10. Weasleys Kitchen - At The Weasleys kitchen you can literally 'make magic happen'. By pressing an interactive screen you can control the knitting needles, the dishes, the iron and the knife all part of the magic kitchen.

9.Mirror or erised - featuring in the first Harry Potter film, it is a must see.

8. No. 4 Privet Drive - Where the story starts...
7. Godric's Hollow - The home of Lily and James Potter

6. Diagon Alley - Where all witches and wizards go to purchase their school things

5. The Cupboard Under The Stairs - Where the story begins, and also where Harry Potter sleeps

4. Gift Shop - Which contained favourite sweets from Honeydukes Sweet Shop

3. Great Hall Doors - Our Welcome To Hogwarts

2. Ministry of Magic - The Magic is Might statue that was created by Stuart Craig to evoke the style of Soviet sculptures from the 1930s

1. Big Castle Model

Thursday, 13 December 2012


Typography is a technique that involves arranging types in order to make the language visible. This arrangement involves the selection of typefaces, line length, point size, line spacing, tracking and kerning. Tracking is the space between groups of letters, and kerning is adjusting spacing between pairs of letters. Colour in typography is the overall density of an ink on a page. Typography is used to convey an overall theme, tone or message to an audience, using a layout, grid or colour scheme.
The principle of typography was first introduced in Phaistos Disc, a Minoan print item from Crete, Greece dating from 1850 and 1600 BC.
Typography is a vital part of advertising and marketing. Typography has also been put in to motion, in things such as films and television broadcasts. 

Elements of Typography
·        Typefaces and fonts – Typefaces are a family of fonts such as Arial, and fonts are a style or weight within the typeface, such as Arial Bold.
·        Typeface Classifications – A large group of typefaces, based on generic classifications such as serif, sans-serif, mono-spaced, cursive, fantasy and script.
·        Typeface anatomy – A typeface is made up of different elements, which often distinguish it from other typefaces.
·        Hyphenation – The insertion of a hyphen (-) at the end of lines etc to make it easily readable, and to make justification look better.
·        Rag – Uneven, vertical block of text.
·        Widows and Orphans – A single word at the end of a column is a widow, and a single word at the top of a new column is an orphan.

Below are a few examples of typography that I created using Macromedia Fireworks MX...


Analysing Moving Images

When analysing moving images it is important to look at both technical and symbolic codes.
Symbolic codes include settings, space, costume, lighting/colour, body language as well as objects and props. Technical codes include the types of shots, CGI technologies used, editing, camera angles/lens/types, camera movement and sound.

Symbolic Codes

Settings - Was the moving image of low or high production value?
             - Decor/style and interiors - Think about why the props that are used are used for
             - Was it filmed on location or in a studio?
             - Is the production realist or escapist?
             - What are the genre conventions of the particular moving image, and are they relevant here?
             -  Are the audience able to identify with it?

Space - Consider the depth and proximity
           - Are things juxtaposed, such as light and dark?
           - Are the sizes and proportions of things manipulated?

Costume - Are the costumes realist or escapist?
               - Are the costumes reminiscient of a certain time period or age? Or do they belong to a particular social class?
               - Do the costumes reveal anything regarding the genre and its conventions?
               - Again, high or low production cost?
               - Do costumes link to any national or regional identities?
               - Do the costumes show us anything about a characters status or role?

Lighting/Colour - Is high key or low key lighting used?
                        - Is a single source or a fill light used?
                        - Are shadows and silhouettes made use of?
                        - Do the colours used conform to a particular genre? Eg black and white (Noir)
                        - Is saturation used?
                        - What sort of colours are used? Bright? Pale? Primary?
Body Language - Consider the pose and posture of the actors, as well as their movement and style
                         - Do they make eye contact?
Objects and Props - Do they reveal anything regarding genre conventions?
                              - Are there intertextual references?
                              - Do props reveal clues about characters?
                              - Are there any narrative enigmas?

Technical Codes

Types of Shot - Close ups/ extreme close ups
                      - Establishing shot
                      - Long shot/ mid shot
                      - Arial shots
                      - Point of view shots (omnicient shots?)

CGI Technology - Digital imaging/SFX
                          - Does the moving image make use of animation?
                          - Is it filmed in 3D?

Editing - Straight cut/ wipe/ jump cut
           - Transition/ fade to black/ dissolve
           - Flash cut

Camera Angles/Lens/Type - Are high angles and low angles used?
                                         - Are wide angles used?
                                         - Is it filmed used a hand held camera or a digital camera?

Camera Movement - Are pans used?
                              - Does the moving image use tracking shots?
                              - Does the moving image make use of stills and freeze frames?
                              - Is the moving image in slow motion, or is it speeded up?

Sound - Does the moving image make use of diegetic sounds? (sounds that are within the production that actors are supposed to hear)
           - Does the moving image make use of non diegetic sounds? (background music, such as the soundtrack)
           - Is there a voice over?

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Skyfall Movie Poster Analysis

As part of my A level media course we also have to look at movie posters and analyse them. Some of the movie posters we have analysed have been for James Bond films, looking at both the new release, Skyfall, and an older movie of our choice. Below are the annotated movie posters.

Here is my comparison of both...

The first thing we see when we look at the film poster for ‘Goldfinger’ is the title of the film. We are drawn to this as it is written in block capitals in a serif font. It is also striking as the text is white on a black background, which makes it stand out. It is also interesting to note that the title of the film is slightly off centre. This poster is the main movie poster, but it could also be partly a character poster. The film also has a tagline that reads “James Bond is back in action.” This tagline suggests that the film is packed with action, which we would expect from any Bond movie, and that he is back fighting. This film poster also makes use of a billing/credit block which gives us such information as the names of the producers and the company producing the film. The names of the actors in the film are also in block capitals, with the name of Sean Connery being in the same yellow as the iconic 007 image, showing that he is the main character of the film. The names of these big actors and actresses are used to help market the film, as many fans of these actors would watch this movie. There are also the names of some of the characters on the poster, which would be used to build hype and suspense for the film. ‘Technicolour’ is also provided in yellow text, which is striking to the eye. This suggests that colour film was still quite new at the time, which would also be used as another marketing tool.
As with ‘Goldfinger’, the ‘Skyfall’ title is also in block capitals. The text is a faded white on a black background, adding emphasis, which draws our attention towards it. This time however, the text is sans-serif, near the bottom of the poster, which gives it a more serious tone. Unlike ‘Goldfinger’, this film poster is a teaser poster, as it gives no clue regarding the narrative. The bottom of the poster, which contains the billing/credit block is hardly legible. This shows us that the Bond franchise is so iconic that the movie can sell itself. Black and grey is mostly used for this poster, showing its seriousness. The poster also has no mention of who the actor on it is, as most people would recognise who Daniel Craig is, as he is an A list celebrity. There is also a logo for ‘IMAX’, which shows that ‘Skyfall’ is a high budget film.
The movie poster for ‘Goldfinger’ contains a girl completely covered in gold which is part of the enigma of the poster. We ask ourselves who she is, why is she covered in gold, and what is so significant about her. We could also view this image as sexual, as she is wearing little clothing. As well as this enigma, there is also another image on the film poster which is blended in on the gold girl’s body. The blending of this image might suggest that perhaps the two images are related. The next image is of Bond and a woman. From this image we can see that Bond is a confident character, who is reassuring, as he has his arm placed on the girls back. Bonds clothing is the typical Bond attire, showing his confidence and power. The girl looks frightened as she is holding on to Bond. There is also another enigma in this photo, as we question who this girl is, and what she means to Bond. (We may even think perhaps she is another Bond girl.)
The ‘Skyfall’ movie denotes a picture of the main character, Daniel Craig, in the iconic gun barrel sequence (A USP). This sequence connotes that perhaps he is following a dangerous path on his journey. This sequence could also be used as a representation of death. The body language and positioning of Daniel Craig on the movie poster suggests that the film has a very serious tone to it, and that he is full of confidence and up for a fight also. His clothing is also that of the typical James Bond attire, like in the ‘Goldfinger’ poster. Daniel Craig is wearing a suit, which shows his power, importance and confidence. Within the gun barrel sequence, there also appears to be waves, perhaps showing a setting of part of the film. The enigma for this movie poster is that it gives nothing away regarding the plot, so we don’t know what the movie will be about.
The target audience for both films would be fans of action movies, or fans of the actors or actresses in them. Another target audience for ‘Skyfall’ would be old James Bond fans who have followed the franchise. Both movie posters contain the iconic 007 logo, which is a unique selling point of the franchise. As well as this, both movie posters were produced using DTP. However, the ‘Skyfall’ movie poster is portrait, where as the ‘Goldfinger’ portrait is landscape.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Narrative Theory


All texts have a narrative. Narratives are either explicit or implicitImplicit narratives are shown within adverts, and explicit are within many television programs. 
There are many different theories regarding narrative, such as Propp's, Claude Levi-Strauss', Rolande Barthes' and Todorov's. 

- Propp's Narrative Theory 

Propp wrote and published a 'Morphology of the Folk-tale' in 1928. During writing this, he found that there were 32 different actions (which he refered to as functions), and 8 different character types within any Russian Folk-tales. 
The 8 character types are as follows (with examples from Harry Potter); 
  • The Villain - The villain is someone who may want to prevent the hero achieving his goal - Such as Lord Voldemort 
  • The Helper - The helper provides support for the hero - Such as Ron Weasley
  • The Princess or Prize - The princess or prize is what the hero is searching for - Such as Ginny Weasley
  • Her Father - Her father normally gives the task to the hero - Such as Dumbledore
  • The Donor - The donor usually gives the hero something to aid him in his quest - Such as Fawkes the Phoneix
  • The Hero - The hero normally leads the narrative, and seeks to achieve something - Such as Harry Potter
  • The Dispatcher - The dispatcher usually sends the hero to where he has to go - Such as Moaning Myrtle
  • The False Hero - The false hero tries to steal the glory of the real hero - Such as Professor Lockhart

- Claude Levi-Strauss's Narrative Theory 

Levi-Strauss's narrative theory is based on the idea of binary oppositions. These binary oppositions are things such as good and bad, happy and sad etc. The classic example for this would be Star Wars, where good versus evil.

- Rolande Barthes

 Barthes believed that 5 codes were part of any narrative. The two most important of his codes are the Hermeneutic Code (which refers to any element of a narrative being unexplained, hence becoming a mystery) and the Proairetic code (which refers to any other action, helping to build tension, keeping the reader guessing as to what is going to happen).

- Todorov

Todorov's narrative theory suggests that there are 5 stages to any narrative. These are equilibrium, distruption, realisation, repairing the damage and the eventuality of a new equilibrium. 

Sunday, 28 October 2012



Something that represents, as:
a. An image or likeness of something.
b. An account or statement, as of facts, allegations, or arguments.
c. An expostulation; a protest.
d. A presentation or production, as of a play.

During this lesson we learnt that things can be represented in a number of different ways, and a representation can change depending on who is creating the text. A representation is a mixture of the thing itself, the opinions of the people who created the text, the reaction of people viewing the text and the context of society.

All media texts are a representation of reality, or a representation of someones concept of existence. 

When you are studying representations you must consider these following questions;
- Who produced it?
- What is represented in the text?
- How is it represented?
- Why was it represented in this way?
- What might the alternative have been? 

There are four factors of representation. These are gender, race, socioeconomic status and disability. 

My Media Blog

As part of my A Level Media Course I have been asked to keep a blog. This blog will be used to record what we cover in lessons, and also to write about the media we consume outside of the classroom. 
During our first media lessons we covered media consumption. Here we looked at a  research paper written by Matthew Robson on how teenagers consume media daily. (The paper can be found here - This research paper was shockingly true to many of us, even if a few bits were out of date, due to the advancement in technology over the past few years alone. 
After reading the research paper we were asked to make a prediction as to how much time we spend daily consuming media, and then to keep a diary of our media consumption over one weekend. Mine read a bit like this...  


Radio driving to school and during work - 5 hours and 45 mins
Tv - 50 mins
Computer in school - 50 mins
Mobile - 1 hour and 10 mins
Social networking - 5 mins
Music via spotify - 20 mins 
4oD - 20 mins


Gaming - 4 hours
TV - 30 mins
Radio whilst driving - 30 mins 
Social networking - 5 mins
Mobile - 10 mins
DVD - 2 hours


Newspaper - 20 mins 
Radio whilst driving - 30 mins
Social networking - 10 mins 
Computer - 2 hours 
Mobile - 20 mins

My media consumption totalled at 20 hours and 5 mins for the whole weekend. The most shocking to me was how much radio I actually listened to, as my prediction was 2 hours for a week. However, I actually listened to the radio for 6 hours and 45 mins throughout the weekend alone. 
It really is surprising just how much media we consume on a daily basis, whether it be by listening to the radio, watching the television or reading the newspaper.