THE BROKEN BONES OF TELELVISION

Commercially available since the late 1920s, television has become commonplace in today’s world however, its technology has survived for nearly one hundred years despite the numerous problems and difficulties it brings along. Particularly used as a vehicle for advertising, a source of entertainment, and news, it’s scheduled nature puts it at a disadvantage and leaves it, to this day, as a technology stuck in the past.

Television lacks an interactive experience with the individual viewer due to it’s scheduled format. Simply, particular programmes are only broadcasted on particular channels at particular times. This way of getting shows to the television is both problematic for both the viewer and producers of what’s being shown. A show may have the potential to be well received and have a popular audience however, if it is on at time when the majority of people aren’t around a television to watch it, it is a opportunity wasted. This is why popular shows more commonly played after people’s work/school hours are over and they have to time to themselves at home to watch T.V. An example of this would be ‘Eastenders’ or other such soaps. If they were played in the daytime rather than during the evening, less people would have the chance to watch it. Less viewers greatly effects the creators of shows in that advertisers will not be willing to pay huge sums of money if the number of possible people watching the show is minimal. It also makes it difficult and frustrating for viewers who actually want to watch these programmes but due to their schedule they can’t. An on-demand service would be the opposite of this and a solution.

Another problematic element to television is the fact that it relies on receiving signals from a satellite to display pictures or motion on their screen. On a clear, sunny day this form of acquiring wireless transmitted electromagnetic waves works fine. No extensive wires are used and provides an efficient way of communication however, if it is raining, snowing and a storm is occurring the signal will more than likely be either distorted or not received at all. The producers of the satellite can do nothing to overcome the weather to correct the error and man can do nothing to control or change the weather. If a world-wide premiere or finale of a popular show, such as ‘Breaking Bad’, is being broadcasted and the weather is terrible, the event is ruined if the conditions effect the signal. Unlike T.V. the internet does not have this problem and it could be part of the reason why internet services such as ‘Netflix’ are becoming more popular amongst society.

At one point in your life, whether it be around friends or perhaps on a social website, someone will complain about adverts. Channels and shows on television often rely on advertising to fund what they’re producing however, to many, they are the bane of television for a number of reasons. In the UK, the BBS is funded by a license fee and does not screen adverts apart from the promotion of its own future programming (either ‘coming soon’ or the day’s later programming features). However, on the commercial channels, the amount of airtime allowed by the UK broadcasting regulator Ofcom for advertising is an overall average of 7 minutes per hour, with limits of 12 minutes for any particular clock hour (8 minutes per hour between 6pm and 11pm). This brings along a lack of content such as with 42-minute American exports to Britain, such as ‘Lost’, being given a one-hour slot, nearly one third of the slot is taken up by adverts or trailers for other programs. The ratio between the show and its advertising is striking and often angers viewers since they have no choice but to sit through and wait until their show begins or returns. Often, adverts can become uninteresting and nuisance to the viewer, causing them to change channels to look for entertainment elsewhere. This, of course, reduces the popularity of a channel if this occurs and therefore effects the producers of the shows.

Overall, television is very much in need a revamp. Its problematic nature brought along with its scheduled format, its unreliable signal acting as a liability and its significant and repetitive use of advertising makes it surprising that it has not be significantly been renovated and entirely replaced. Although there have been attempts to amend its downfalls through Sky+, Sky On Demand and Sky Anytime, television had withstood the test of time despite being a problem for people all around the world.

THE STRUGGLE

Coming up with ideas is easy. Coming up with good, inspiring ideas is where the difficulty lies. After throwing out ideas and becoming bored or uninterested in them rather quickly, I’ve noticed they’ve lacked any message, moral or meaning within them and seemed to be merely attempts of an exciting story.

As part of my research concerning my project I came upon a short film; ‘The Ventriloquist’. Viewing this was what made me realise what sort of change in direction I want to go in. With a handful of characters and locations, the writer and director of the piece, Benjamin Leavitt, had successfully created a convincing yet bizarre story where upon coming to an end, viewers will leave with seeing alternative and thought-provoking messages from the film. This can be seen from the comments section featured below.The Ventriloquist

So the question is what’s next? After speaking to a lot of different people for help I’m searching through both feature and short films for inspiration, short stories to adapt and situations in real life in include and manipulate for film. I need a story that has substance rather than simply a cliché, familiar piece junk that the next film-maker could piece together.

THE PITCH – WHAT I LEARNED

Our pitch was a filmed presentation when we spoke to the class about our short film idea. Our aim for our pitch was to captivate our audience and simultaneously communicate our concept successfully as well as explain our motives for our choices and how we are to carry out filming. Although I didn’t think the pitch went well through my group reading from a piece of paper which was not an exciting format for viewers, it was certainly an enlighting experience in that we realised were our plot lacked in content and where we needed to work on.

  • The two main characters kidnap what seems to be a helpless young lady however, viewers are supposed to emphasize with these men. Many of our pitch’s audience made it clear to us that doing this would be very diffcult to make effective. The male leads are nasty people doing a dark, disturbing thing yet, viewers are meant to like and admire them and I’ve realised this relationship between them and the audience will not work. I can imagine it’s easier to support the girl’s side rather than the men which is not what I intended during my pitch.
  • The plan we explained in our pitch contains over four scenes including a long dialogue scene and a chase scene involving a lot of action. Our film however, is supposed to last only five minutes and we noticed through our pitch that we’re either going to need more time or, more sensibly, less content in our film.
  • An idea with more meaning is needed. My partner, Jannath, suggested we do something more cultured and tackles issues in society such as religious prejudice which I think could be interesting if done in the right way.

MEDIA VOCABULARY

Here is a range of vocabulary we were told media students are recommended to know.

haptics – technology that makes the user feel as though they have pressed touching when they are simply using a touchscreen

bit-torrent – peer-to-peer file downloading

4K – a quality step up from HD, 4096p, used in cinemas

captcha – codes to prove the user is human rather a computer, to verify making an account being created for example

wiki – a webpage that grows without an owner, grows due to impact of users

augmented reality – overlayed data on reality

creative commons – an agreement that changes copyright for users to change

cloud computing – smaller devices used while ‘heavy computing’ performed elsewhere

convergence – ‘one thing that does everything,’ such as an iPhone that is an iPod/camera/laptop

hashtag – search term, creates an index of terms

viral marketing – low cost marketing, driven by consumer interest

podcast – ‘push system’ reversed, computer gets shows and the schedule is taken away

meme – an idea that passes through interest

DRM – Digital Rights Managment – stops you using passing files around

crowd sourcing – getting information from people who use your products like TomTom

micro payment – small payment for exmaple, 69p for an app

halo effect – one good product that has an expanding effect such as Apple iPod

SHORT FILMS

In many ways I find short films more interesting and more exciting than features films. Being shorter than feature films with a ‘running time of 40 minutes or less, including all credits’, they offer a more focused look at material and, although there are exceptions, there’s much more room for experimentation with the infinite possibilities that lie within the minutes filmmakers have to work with. A large selection of short films push the boundaries set by film and often delve in content suitable for more of a niche audience rather than a mass audience. In preparation for our short film I researched many released on the internet and for a DVD release.

As a class we looked at a production from director Park Chan-Wook (Oldboy, Sympathy for Mr Vengence) called Judgement. Also known as Simpan, this short film draws on a disaster that took place in South Korea to ironically criticize the greed of rampant capitalism.  In 1995, in Seoul, a huge shopping centre, the Sampung department Store, killing about 500 people and injuring many others. The story is set in a morgue where the lifeless body of a girl lies, waiting to be identified, and the owner of the body is argued after an employee recognises her as his daughter.

  • The film’s story cleverly is formed around a true tragedy which is something that might be a potential lead to a story for myself.
  • Its location mainly consists of one room inside a morgue and so the director and Park Hyun-Cheol, the cinematographer, have incorporated bizarre, weird and striking angles and shots to keep the viewer interested.
  • A large variety of shots are featured. Extreme close-ups, wide shots, two-shots and much more are used so the room is not shot in the same way twice. It helps hide the fact that the film was made with such a low budget.
  • There’s limited sound but what’s there is carefully and professionally recorded.

Above is a short film I discovered through my research and really admired for a number of reasons.

  • I noticed this film has a lot of focus on cinematography.
  • The film took its time to continue with the story. It was slow paced which helped viewers get a better understanding of the characters involved.
  • It was very stylistic and also shocking, daring with the content in the film such as the peculiar sex scene and sexual predatory from a seemingly normal man after a pregnant woman.
  • Non-digetic music was used heavily during scenes.
  • Motifs are often featured such as ‘The Man’ and his coffee stirrer.
  • A freeze frame is used, an uncommon feature of film, and captures the humour on the ending effectively and successfully.
  • Only two significant locations are used. The busy motorway and the gas station.
  • The struggle between the two main characters is what the story thrives off. Although the woman seems to despise the man, she continues to tease him despite his boyfriend never being too far away.
  • The film is not afraid to hold on to moments and to take its time in scenarios. Often the viewer feels an uneasy urge for the story to get moving or any action to occur such as the car to continue its journey once blocking dozens of vehicles behind it.
  • The plot often has twists and turns. For example, its humorously revealed that the female lead has her boyfriend with her in the car the entire time.
  • Lighting in the ‘gas station’ is used to create a dark, industrial atmosphere the scene deserves.

TRAILERS

trailer is an form of advertisement or a commercial for a film production that will be exhibited in the near future. In preparation for our coursework we were asked to take the time to watch a number of examples, study this form of media and understand the conventions within the product.

Insidious Chapter Two

  • The trailer starts off slow and gradually becomes climatic.
  • Its told in a linear way, and becomes darker as the trailer goes along. This way the audience gets a better understanding of the film adertised.
  • It shows enough to reveal the basic plot.
  • Passing of time is communicated by clips fading in and fading out.
  • Many people go to watch horror films to get scared and so the trailer offers a taste of what’s to come to raise expectations.
  • The famous cast or reoccuring cast from the previous film is introduced to attract their fans.
  • Music runs throughout.
  • The genre of the film is easily communicated.
  • The last film you see is the title and the release date since this is something you need to remember.
  • Audio clips from the film act as a narration to help understand the film’s story.
  • Titles communicate the story and add to the mood the trailer sets.

RoboCop (2014)

  • The trailer begins with  an establishing shot to display the world of the film. Here, the viewer can see futuristic-appearing flying vehicles and an unfamiliar city which suggests the film is of a science-fiction nature and attracts fans of the genre.
  • Throughout the trailer the stars such as Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Keaton and Gary Oldman are succesfully highlighted despite that the suggestion that they may not big roles in the film. This attracts fans of the cast to the film.
  • The shots are short and punchy and the text is edited together with fast cuts to make a lively, exciting-looking film.
  • The film’s tagline is communicated.
  • The genre is ‘sign-posted’.
  • The trailer offers a balance of emotions derived from heart-racing action to heart-wrenching tragedy. This helps gather the attention to a wider audience since it may seem to appeal to their emotional needs/wants.
  • The trailer contains well-known companies’ idents.

Ass Backwards

  • Offers the option to rent it on iTunes before a cinema release. This is evidence of increasing social ‘cocooning’ where new digital distribution in media (such as music and film) leads consumption to be a solitary experience rather than one enjoyed in a group.
  • It’s communicated as not being a serious production. It’s clearly made to appear as a comedy to attract fans of the genre.
  • The pace of the trailer is different since there is more dialogue to express the film’s comedic element.
  • The colours in the film (the pinks and purples), the content suggested and the lead characters make it seem the target audience is women. It seems to be an attempt to thrive of the hype Paul Feig’s Bridesmaids (2011) with comedic style shown in the trailer. This is there to attract fans of the film that was very successful and admired.

The Frozen Ground

  • The fact that the film is ‘based on a true story’ will attract interest and excitement.
  • Unlike Insidious Two’s choice of transitional editing, there is a lack of fading in and out and leads the viewer to keep focused on the content.
  • The trailer is very plot driven and gives viewers a close insight to what it’s about.
  • The film’s stars Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, Vanessa Hudgens and Dean Norris, all very well-known actors and actresses, are highlighted much like RoboCop’s trailer.
  • The setting is heavily shown to attract viewers.
  • Unlike the other trailers here, The Frozen Ground’s trailer began with Vanessa Hudgens introducing the film which suggests the film is something she proud to be behind and is happy with.