This will feature as the Textual Analysis section of your final exam.
You will be shown a 3-5 minute clip from an action adventure film 4 times
and will be asked to answer questions related to the clip and questions
related to the whole action adventure genre.
You may take notes during the last 3 screenings of the clips.
The questions will test your understanding of;
2. Media Language
There are 50 marks available and you will have between 30 and 35 minutes
to complete this section of the exam.
1. What is a genre? A genre is a group of films which share common features
2. What is a sub-genre? A sub-genre is a created when a group of films within a
genre share common features separate to others within
3. What is a hybrid-genre? A hybrid genre is created when more than one genre
can be identified within a film.
4. Give an example of a film
5. Give an example of a sub-genre.
6. Give an example of a hybrid-genre.
Action adventure, comedy, western, sci-fi, comedy.
Slasher/horror, sci-fi/aliens, sci-fi/time travel,
Romantic comedy, action adventure comedy
Codes and Conventions of
Action Adventure Films
Action Adventure is a hybrid genre.
It is very large and can include films that include other hybrid elements such Sci-fi
(Star Wars), fantasy (Harry Potter/ Lord of the Rings), superhero (Spiderman),
historical (Indiana Jones, The Mummy) and many other genres.
In general the target audience is wide from children (usually from age 12) to adults.
For example in 2012 5 of the top 10 films released in the UK were action adventure
films; Skyfall, The Dark Knight Rises, The Hobbit, Avengers Assemble and The
The posters on the following slides are for very different films within the
Action Adventure genre. You need to look beyond the differences to find the
common conventions they display.
Serif and Sans Serif Fonts
•Serif Fonts Have
• Sans-serif Fonts have no
• Easy to read
• More difficult to read
• The posters on the following
slides are for very different
films within the Action
• You need to look beyond the
differences to find the common
conventions they display.
• Make notes on the sheets
identifying the conventions.
Once you have
share ideas with others
and begin to compile a
list of conventions of
the Action Adventure
• Select an action adventure movie poster
and explain how it displays the
conventions of the action adventure
• Consider: characters, typography, text,
colours, location and images.
• 1 side of A4.
Camerawork is important when telling the story. It can establish where the
scene is taking place, who is present and show clearly how the characters
are feeling and their relationships with others.
The major shots used are:
Long shot: showing the whole scene.
Mid shot: showing part of the set, focusing on 2 or 3 characters.
Close up: showing detail of one character or object. To capture a reaction or
emphasise the importance of the object.
Point of view shot (POV): the camera is placed where a characters face would
be so we see what they would see.
Over the shoulder shot: the camera is placed so the audience is looking over
the characters shoulder
Task: On your storyboard draw a series of 3 shots which move from long shot
to close up.
The camera angle and position is very important and can change
during a shot. The angle can be used to create messages about
characters or places. It can place the audience in the action or
separate them from it.
Mid-angle: camera is at the same level as the characters. This can help place the
audience in the action and give them a sense of “being there”.
Low-angle: camera is looking up at characters or an object. This can be used to
make locations or characters seem very large and imposing as they dominate the
High-angle: camera is above the characters or the location. This is often used with
a long shot to establish a location.
Birds eye view: Camera is high above the characters and location making the
audience a more distant observer.
Canted-angle: the camera is tilted to the side. This creates a sense of disorientation
for the audience.
Task: using 5 storyboard slides draw a person shot from each of the angles above.
The major camera movements used are:
Track: following characters as they are walking or driving
along and having a conversation. The camera in mounted
on a track and moved along with the events.
Pan: following characters going to or coming from a
particular location. The camera remains in on position but
moves from side to side, up or down or diagonally.
Zoom: focusing in on a character or object from a distance.
Or zooming out by moving away from a person or object.
Focus Pull: The focus of the scene is pulled from either
deep (something at the back of the scene) to something at
the front or vice versa.
Remember these can be combined!
Films move from one shot to another by editing the footage
Editing is used for the following reasons:
•to control time
•to tell the story
•to focus on or make less important various
•to control what the audience sees
•to allow more than one story to be told at once
Types of editing
•Cut – used to suggest some sort of relationship between shots
along side each other. Often used within a scene.
•Dissolve – often used to suggest a strong relationship
between shots along side each other, particularly events
separated by space or time. Used to connect different scenes.
•Wipe – often used to suggest a transition from one sequence
or section to another. Used to separate one scene from
another. Often used to show a change of location.
• Fade – used to show the end or start of a scene or series of
events. Fades often act as a visual ‘full stop’ for the end of a
scene or a visual ‘capital letter’ at the start.
•Parallel Editing – the action cuts between two separate
stories happening at the same time.
Textual Analysis combining Camerawork and Editing
Terminator 2 (James Cameron 1991)
As a group we will analyze the clip identifying how editing and camerawork
combine to create tension and danger. (shot type, camera angle, movement, edit
used and meaning/effect created)
1. What shots are used to establish the ‘when’ and
‘where’ of the scene?
2. What type of shots are used to show the main
character is looking for something?
3. What shots are used to show the
strength/dominance of the main character?
4. How does the pace of editing change during the
scene and what effect does this change of pace
5. What kinds of edits are used?
6. Identify some shots and edits that show reactions
in the clip.
SoundSoundtrack – every sound you hear is on the soundtrack!
The Score – the music written for the film!
Diegetic Sound – Sound that exists within the “world” of the film.
Non-diegetic Sound – sound which the characters can not hear
but is added for the audiences’ benefit.
Dialogue – the words spoken by characters in the film.
Sound effects (FX) – diegetic sounds which are created in
Ambient sound – the background noise added to create a
sense of realism or verisimilitude within a
Synchronous sound – sound which fits the action.
Asynchronous sound – sound which is opposed to the action.
Textual Analysis Teamwork –
The Directors Commentary
• Your group have directed a fantastic Sci-fi /action movie.
• You are going to show it a film directors convention and
want to show off just how great your knowledge of how to
use a camera, edit a film and use sound to manipulate the
audiences feelings is.
• In order to do this you are going to prepare a commentary
for the clip explaining how you used different shots, angles,
camera moves, edits and sound to create tension,
excitement and establish the genre for the audience!
• Your commentary should run alongside a playing of the clip (which you will
be able to pause if you need to).
• You must point out how you (the film makers) used and combined different
techniques to create meaning for the audience.
You can divide your group up to study the different elements.
Group 1: Camerawork,
Group 2: Editing, Sound
A Structure to follow...
1. First as a whole group watch the clip several times to develop an
understanding about what it is trying to do (introduce the story and establish the
equilibrium, show an important piece of action happening, highlight the skills or
abilities of a character).
This will be the introduction to your presentation and you will need to explain the
context of the clip briefly at the start of the presentation.
Directors Commentary Guidance
2. Divide into sub groups and focus on your chosen area and analyse why
these shots, angles, camera movements, edits and sound elements were
used (identify the most important sequences for your area of study and analyse
them closely – you do not have to analyse the whole clip).
3. Next work out how the different elements combine to create the
message behind the scene (at this point your group needs to work together
and identify moments where the different elements such as sound and
camerawork or editing and sound work together to create a dramatic effect, what
effect is created?)
Finally in the 4th
lesson you will present to the whole group using the 3 part
presentation structure on the next slide.
You will have 3 lessons to prepare your presentation. Your homework is to
prepare and rehearse your part of the presentation.
Directors Commentary Guidance
Film Clip Analysis Presentation Structure:
1.Explain the clip within the context of the
2.Deliver the individual analysis of
camerawork editing and sound.
3.Identify areas where the different elements
combine and explain how they create a
particular effect on the audience. (Angle reverse
angle shots, music matching the action etc.)
Why are long shots, mid shots and close up shots used?
Use the trailer for examples.
Watch and write a review of an Action Adventure film.
The review must include:
Basic plot outline (remember Todorov).
Characters used (remember Propp).
The codes and conventions used.
Identification of sub or hybrid genres used.
Use of iconography.
500-800 words due
This is a French word that means “What goes in the scene”.
It is used in textual analysis to analyse the general atmosphere created
within a scene. This helps the audience understand and interpret the
The mise-en scene can be analyzed by breaking down the scene into
Makeup / Motif
On the next few slides are images which represent a mise-en
scene. You must use CLAMPS to analyze the mise-en scene.
First: make a general observation which describes the scene eg; spooky,
luxurious, mysterious, homely.
Second: go into more detail using CLAMPS to explain how the different
parts of the scene contribute to the overall mise-en scene.
Understanding and identifying
Aim: To develop an understanding of mise-en scene. To comprehend how it helps
an audience understand the themes and context of a film.
1. The mise-en scene is futuristic and from
Costumes are different to
fashions at the present day.
lights of the
Make up; one of the characters is an alien
suggesting this is not taking place in the present day
or near earth.
scene is in
suggest it is
that we do
not have at
Props; include metallic
objects that look advanced
and suggest high technology.
Mise-en-scene: Use the Thinking Film resource DVD and question sheets from -
L:Media StudiesResourcesThinking Film ResourcesThinking_Language
Settings – The Last King of Scotland (2006)
Costume – The Duchess (2008)
Group Textual Analysis
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981, director; Steven Spielberg)
The class will be divided into 6 groups. Each group will be
responsible for making notes relating to one aspect of
1. Watch the clip all the way through without taking notes.
2. Watch the clip for a second time. You may take notes on
your area of study.
3. Discuss your findings with others in your group.
4. Watch the clip again to expand your notes.
Denotative and Connotative
Denotation = What you see
Connotation = What it means
Part 1: Working as a whole group we will watch a flim clip and
explain how it uses the conventions of Action Adventure films.
As you watch the film prepare to write a paragraph for each of
Denotation – 1. What you are seeing?
Connotation – 2. What this means?
Genre – 3. How do your answers to the previous two questions
link the film to the Action Adventure genre.
Part 2: Working as two teams you are going to analyze the clip
in greater detail identify where the key aspects are in the clip
that link it to the Action Adventure genre.
One team will explain with examples how the camerawork and
editing are conventional for an Action Adventure film.
The other will analyze the mise en scene and sound and
explain with examples how this is conventional for the Action
Part 1 – Plenary;
Where are the key aspects of the clip that link the film to Action Adventure?
P. E. A!
• Point – feature to be studied
• Example – taken from the film
• Analysis – explain the effect it creates for
the audience and why it fits into the action
Heroes and villains
Dramatic music – to build and release tension
Fast cars etc.
Damsel in distress
Computer generated images
Part 2 – Plenary
First lets discuss our findings…
1. How and where does the camerawork and editing create
the Action Adventure genre within this clip?
2. How and where does the mise en scene and sound
create the Action Adventure genre within this clip?
The Action Adventure genre is created though this clip by the use of a
variety of camera techniques. The first example is the use of close up shots
The editing identified the clip as part of the Action Adventure genre because
……… one example of this is …………
The Action Adventure genre is created though this clip by the mise en
scene. The overall atmosphere of the scene is one of ………… this is
created through the characters costumes which ……….
The sound reinforces the Action Adventure genre by using both diegetic and
non diegetic sound to create a sense of ………….. One example of this was
Sometimes the best part of an action adventure film is the
A trailer is an advert for a film that gives the audience a taste
of what to expect from the film
Characters, Locations, Narrative themes, Time setting
E.g. Character – the man dressed as a Bat fits the genre
because he rescues people, this suggests he is a hero. Heroes
are a convention of the action adventure genre.
Watch the trailer and try to identify the conventions of the
action adventure genre that it uses. Use the headings
below to structure your answers.
Moving Image Textual Analysis
Watch the trailer. Answer the question...
Explain two ways the trailer fits into the action
adventure genre. Use examples from the extract.
To answer this question you could write about the
characters, locations, narrative themes and the
Try to give 2 clear and detailed examples which
explain how the clip fits the action adventure genre.
Taking Notes in the Exam
Locations Narrative Themes
Notes should be brief (not full sentences) and act as a reminder when answering
the question. The answer may combine different elements.
Hero- male, strong and skilful (he is
a good driver and beats up 2
Villain – very clever (he is controlling
advanced computers), is bald and
has a scar so is not attractive.
A car chase, a fight, shooting,
The hero is escaping from the villain
with the prize.
People are in danger.
Beautiful woman the hero is escaping
Remember media Language: Hero = Protagonist, Villain = Antagonist, generic
convention, hybrid genre, sub-genre, iconography.
The second question (worth 20 marks)
requires you to write about the ways the
technical elements fit the action
soundtrack, mise en scene, editing and
Media Studies file divider list.
1. Introduction to Media Studies
2. B322 Textual Analysis – Action
3. B321– Essay
4. B321 - Practical
5. B321 - Evaluation
6. B324– Research and development
7. B324– Practical work
8. B324 - Evaluation
9. B325 Television Comedy
Notas del editor
Clip from Terminator 2 – arrival of T2000 – analyse camera work.
Introduce camera movement – track, pan, zoom, tilt, steadycam,
Dissolve: Example ID4 opening scene. Wipe: Star Wars transition from Fade: Paralell editing: BTTF 3 opening cuts from Marty in the car to Doc on the clock tower.
Use Raiders clip
for asynchronous sound use
Spy Who Loved Me opening sequence
BTTF3 Opening sequence from 55sec to 2min 11 sec
Independence Day from 40 sec to 3min 54 sec
Star Trek First Contact from 2min 40sec to 4min 32 sec
Star Wars From 1min 45 to 4min 37 sec
Pt 1 plenary should identify sequences, locations, characters, events.
Pt 2 should not require students to cover every shot but they should identify shots and edits of significance and techniques that are used to build and break tension, identify heroes and villains or help the audience understand the story (use of close ups or establishing shots). When dealing with mise en scene and sound students should identify the time period and what this suggests about the action and the ‘world’ of the film. Diegetic and non diegetic sound should be identified as well as terms such as ambient sound, all of which should be analysed in relation to the conventions of the genre.
More able students should be able to deal with multiple headings but less able students should focus on just one or two, supplementing their notes during the feedback session.