Monday, 15 October 2012

Vodcast on conventions seen in 8 film openings

You can find info on what a vodcast is, and generally how to tackle these, in this post.

I strongly suggest you try to summarise what you see as conventions by using a table which you can easily share within the group of four for this task. The group will produce one vodcast, not 4. The table below (typed or written into) would help clarify your findings and make it easier to compare notes with others:
Film Opening Conventions

Your vodcast is a short video setting out what you consider to be common codes and conventions of film openings. It needs to be well illustrated (with captions ensuring the audience knows which film we're seeing a screenshot from). The visuals can/should include shots of yourselves talking about this - you could have a mix of single shots and group shots. If someone who had knew nothing about these conventions watched your vodcast they should be able to explain, with many examples, what common conventions occur in film openings.
Rather than constantly cut between different voices, own your combined material on 8 film openings. One person could address editing aspects for example, another titles, and you could then work on building up a unified vodcast.

So, what are you looking out for? This is not an exhaustive list but you can consider:
  • IDENTS: How long are they typically, how high-tech/complex; how many do we see; where do they appear
  • TITLES: This is a key part of your overall coursework task, so detailed notes are important. Which roles/companies are noted; what specific language is used; do any names/companies appear more than once; what font (serif/sans-serif; colour; case) is used; note the positioning (does this differ between titles) and any animation; any graphic element to the titles; is there a gap between titles or do they continuously appear (eg company names - A Warp Films Production - a gap then individual credits?)
  • OPENING SHOT: always worth noting. Any audio bridge linking it with idents?
  • RUNNING TIME OF OPENING: How long is the self-contained opening sequence? Is it clear where this ends?
  • CLOSING SHOT OF OPENING + TRANSITION TO MAIN BODY OF FILM: Always note the final shot too. Do you get a fade-out or other transition or a straight cut? Are titles used to reinforce a change of location/time immediately after the opening ends?
  • EDITING: any transitions to signify ellipsis; any SFX; continuity editing style or any hallmarks of discontinuity?
  • LENGTH OF TAKES + EDITING PACE: looooong takes or fast-paced editing with short takes? much variation in this? Simply by following one character/keeping referring back to them also suggests to the audience that they are a central character.
  • SHOT VARIETY: ask yourself as you watch these whether you think further shots should be inserted - is there sufficient shot variety? This and the above point are linked. Look for simple things too like two-shots used to signify personal relationships.
  • MISE-EN-SCENE: This links to the above point: what does the mise-en-scene communicate to the audience (providing exposition on location, time period, genre etc)? Is verisimilitude achieved (can you see evidence of costuming, set-dressing, props etc)?
  • SETUPS/SCENES: Each time you leave a room or other part of a location you have to work to setup the next scene: how many setups or scenes are involved?
  • FLASHBACKS/MAJOR ELLIPSIS: Halloween is one of many that opens with events and then gives a title stating x years later so we know we're now in the present.
  • NARRATIVE ENIGMA V EXPOSITION: What do we learn about setting, time period, narrative, characters, genre - and what is intentionally withheld? Do we appear to meet antagonist or protagonist/s? You could also comment here on plot, cliffhangers etc
  • SOUND + MUSIC: Note use of diegetic and non-diegetic sound. Specifically, how is music used, if at all - is it continuous; are multiple music tracks used; does the volume level rise? Does the music genre seem to hint at the target audience and/or genre?
  • GENRE SIGNIFIERS: Do you see anything which seems to point towards a particular genre?
  • INTERTEXTUALITY: Are there references to existing texts?
  • REPRESENTATIONS: Use of stereotypes, countertypes, a mix of both? When looking at horror openings, be alert for stock characters like scream queens, masked killer, jock, nerd, final girl, ineffective adult/authority figure etc
  • GENRE/BUDGET/ERA SPECIFIC? You'll find that conventions have changed over time and also vary with budget and genre.
  • MEMORABLE ASPECTS: Quite simply, anything you thought was particularly interesting or noteworthy. Especially as you begin to work on horror openings, you should note where you see useful examples of costume, dialogue, editing etc which you may well take direct inspiration from.

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