And They’re Off…

The videos we watched in class today were:

And the Independent article about the video is here: The Story Behind Johnny Cash’s ‘Hurt’

We also looked at:

Yes, it is as bad as it looks. Kirsten Dunst (Melancholia, Spiderman, Hidden Figures) should know better…

And lastly, Evan:

We were using the Handbook  (<= Click the word to find the PDF version. It’s the first one, but you will likely want all of them at some point!) to direct our thinking. We’ll be developing this in class tomorrow. For now, if you have time, have another look at one of the videos and see if you can spot some of the denotations and connotations it uses… Enjoy!

Sign Signifier Signified

So… the real fun starts here.

Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 13.14.17

You are to choose an advert (Press/magazine/poster/TV) and identify five of the signs used in its creation… and also give some thoughts on what they signify. Bonus points for seeing if you can combine all the separate signs into an overview of the adverts overall message. I’m looking forward to seeing what you hand me on Monday 🙂

What’s that, you say? You’d like the slides from class to refer to? Oh, all right. Here they are…

Click to download the slides!



filepicker-vawFINbnQJ2Szh0ngW4t_movie_cameraIn my excitement to go to be a pin cushion for the NHS, I left your project boxes on the table at the front of my room… I’ll not be able to get them till Monday so it will be Tuesday/Wednesday before you’ll get them back. As the yooth of today are want to say: Soz. My bad.

Take it as read that you should be good to go (I’ve been paying attention as I’ve discussed what you are up to), and be ready to start filming from Thursday next week.

PS: If you are struggling with the homework, check out this post, or use the blog comments to ask for help!

Have Some Homework

Here’s a wee early bonus for those that are subscribed to the blog. 😉 This is the homework I warned you about earlier this week.

TASK: Choose an advert and carry out an in-depth analysis focussing on the technical and cultural codes used to create it.
Your answer should take the form of an essay, but you are advised to use screen grabs to illustrate the points you wish to make.
Make sure you include a link to the advert you choose.

The handout, complete with added hints and tips, is available for download below. And feel free to ask me about it tomorrow. 🙂

Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 23.19.20
As ever… click to download.

Pee Ess

Don’t forget your shot analysis homework… you know… the one I was dropping unsubtle hints about using this for:

Well… I’ve just spotted another ad that might be of interest (either to use instead of the Lloyds ad, or till cover some extra shots). Here it is:

(PS: The speeding up/slowing down trick is rapidly becoming a bit overused, don’t you think?)


Following on from the review of shots, you are to choose an advert and carry out your own analysis of some of the shots it uses. The example we used in class was the 2014 John Lewis “Monty the penguin”. Please remember to include the times (for when the shots are used) in your analysis.

It is, of course, your own choice which advert you choose to use, but if you are struggling to think of one, or if you don’t watch too much TV, you could do worse than use the current Lloyds ‘Black Horse’ one:

There are no extra marks for using screen grabs in your response … but they do make it easier to check which part of the advert you are referring to! 😉

Can you submit your analysis next Monday (14th September)… Thanks.

Homework 01

Welcome to the wonderful world of homework… It’s sadly necessary, but I’m hopeful that you will enjoy an awful lot of the extra studying I’ll be assigning this year… especially when it involves watching films! 😉

01 Key Concepts Language.038If you need to remind yourself what is needed, you can check the previous post for the notes. Or… you can post a question using the ‘Leave a Comment’ button at the top of the post.

Finally… don’t forget to attach a copy of your advert or give a URL for it on YouTube if it’s a TV advert (bonus marks if you use a service like!)


Some Technical Terms

Hope you enjoyed the clips today (I’ll give links at the end of this post). There were three main terms I was interested in. They were:

  • Continuity editing;
  • Parallel editing; and,
  • Single shot / Steadicam.

Continuity editing:

refers to the established convention of telling a single story/narrative episode in a strictly linear (one thing follows another sequentially) fashion. In short, the story should flow in as unobtrusive way as possible. In practice, almost every story you will have written in English will have been like this!

In terms of film/TV, there’re a couple of things you need to remember when analysing or creating a product.

  1. 180˚ Rule, and
  2. Eyeline match.

Both of these terms are fully explained (and exemplified) on the film110 wiki. There’s also a handy slide deck on Slideshare that explains the key concept well enough for our needs. Here it is:

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 19.28.41And for those with more time to spare, there is a really good documentary about film editing available on YouTube. It’s 100 minutes long, but fascinating and will teach you lots about the power of editing in telling the story. Click the picture of Spielberg if you want to watch it… and yes, it is worth watching!

Parallel editing

This is an edit that uses cross-cutting to link two separate narratives. There is a clear and concise explanation of this on the worthwhile Elements of Cinema blog. LINK.

Single shot/Steadicam

The introduction of lighter cameras and then, in 1976, the Steadicam, allowed filmmakers to find new ways of realising their visions. I used a well regarded example from Goodfellas. The joy of the ‘steadicam’ shot in Goodfellas is that it is used quite deliberately to bring us (the audience) in to the gangster’s world. It opens outside the club with the car being ‘parked’ ($20!) before Henry (Ray Liotta) and Karen (Lorraine Bracco) cross the street. They walk through (across) the queue, and descend into the club’s basement area. The wall decorations as they descend depict a bright jungle scene (lots of toucans!), but does this suggest Copacabana (the name of the club) or is it an allusion to the innocence of the Garden of Eden? (She is ‘innocent’ at this time… and being Jewish, is less likely to have encountered the ‘goodfella’ mafioso culture of his world).

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 19.52.16
Click to embiggen!

The doors open to a red corridor (red carpet, walls, ceiling and doors) and waiters in red jackets. Henry leads Karen through the kitchen (note that they go in what is essentially a pointless circle…) mainly to establish that Henry knows everyone and everyone knows Henry. They enter into the crowded club where the owner immediately says hello before ordering a table to be prepared for them right at the front. They sit, and Henry says hello to the men sitting behind them before being presented with a bottle of extremely expensive champagne by some men at a table to our left. Karen is, understandably, extremely impressed and leans over to ask “What do you do?”

It’s a tour de force of cinema as it marries the technology (steadicam) with the literal descent into the club, and a metaphorical descent into hell (you’ll need to see the whole film to work out why!).

Anyway… that’s more than enough to keep you busy and/or entertained for now! The clips we watched in class were from:

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 19.56.30 , Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 19.57.27 & Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 19.58.27

Click the poster to be taken to the imdb page for each. 🙂