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Notes on Television

by: Talia A. Lubin

Notes on Television ENG260

Talia A. Lubin
GPA 3.4
Media Aesthetics
Dr. Anthony Hayt

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About this Document

Five pages of notes covering television - including basic terms, modes of production, narratives, economic structures, definitions, styles, theory, and techniques.
Media Aesthetics
Dr. Anthony Hayt
Class Notes
narrative, narratives, enigma, cause and effect, cause, effect, climax, resolution, Series, serial, finale, tv, television, Media, aesthetics, storyline, storylines, episode, characters, episodes, protagonist, protagonists, in media res, expos
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This 5 page Class Notes was uploaded by Talia A. Lubin on Wednesday March 11, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to ENG260 at University of Oregon taught by Dr. Anthony Hayt in Winter2015. Since its upload, it has received 140 views. For similar materials see Media Aesthetics in Foreign Language at University of Oregon.

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Date Created: 03/11/15
Media Aesthetic 260 Notes Television 1 TV shows are not the product they are bait used to lure viewers to the box Advertisements are the products being bought and sold by companies and networks for profit TV shows are simply there to temp viewers The ads and the time that advertisers buy to air them are really the thing that has value to television producers a The more popular a show is the more money the can require from advertisers for air time during that show 2 US TV s Economic Structure a 3 Flow Production Company actually the company that makes whatever television programs we see i Wholesalers networks and syndicators who buy the programs Ex NBC bought Parks and Rec Retailers local stations your local NBC affiliate cable systems and Direct Broadcast Satellites DBS They are the interface between you and the wholesalers Advertisers target national regional and local audiences In terms of how things are fed through the system you get a mix of local and nationwide air for ad space that is divvied up so advertisers can buy appropriate time for their ads Consumers Viewers TV theory that TV never starts and stops it is always continuously coming at you Even if you turn off the tv it is still always there you just have to turn the screen on to access the flow Even though there s this sort of neverending aspect to TV always the next program commercial etc there is this notion that flow is inherently fragmented i Programs advertisements and announcements change from minute to minute and content changes from channel to channel 4 Segmentation a b Segmentation is the idea that these starts and stops and interruptions are in a lot of ways definitional to TV s structures TV s flow is continuous but fragmented with small segments of information connected not by cause and effect but by association and sequence So in other words instead of there being a reason why the Pepsi commercial is followed by a tampon commercial and then the nightly news and then Jay Leno there s just sort of this random series of content It is inherently fragmented because there is no connection between those things i Think about what used to be a TV guide It s basically set up like a grid with the channels and timeslots There s this idea that as we go through time it never stops you can just keep scrolling and see what s on next and next and next But then it s fragmented with the shows changing every half hour or hour etc There s this idea that its constantly coming at you but you can change the time channel etc 5 Polysemy adj Polysemic a Semiology study of meaning Polysemy study of multiple meanings i Multiple meanings that are often contradictory b In relation to TV polysemy indicates that at any given moment any number of different meanings can be found coming from either one TV program or TV as a whole c This can refer to messages coming from different programs or even from within the same program 6 Polysemy and Culture a Not all meanings are equally represented and not only a finite number of meanings can be gleaned from any given text i What meanings are stressed and how ii Dominant meaning comes from dominant cultural order dominant social codes are more greatly represented 1 But we can still read against the grain Sometimes you can have a show that on the surface is about one thing but you can read it in another way a Ex Sesame Street kid s show with fun characters Read it a different way Burt and Ernie are a gay couple iii Dominant power structures dictate programming and thus the texts presented are part of a structured polysemy iv The social codes that we see represented are called discourses which are influenced by the ideological beliefs of those in control of ideological apparatuses 1 Again we can read these texts against the grain creating counter ideological discourses 7 Changing the Flow a Interactivity and agency i The most sort of minimal version of this was simply a remote control interact with the TV by turning it off changing the station etc ii VCRs DVRs TiVO Video on demand streaming b Producing and participation i Internet feedback blogs vlogs webisodes online distribution 8 Television Modes of Production a Single camera shooting i Uses only one camera at a time to capture action ii Action is edited together all in postproduction iii Timeconsuming as everything is shot separately 1 Onesided conversations abound they ll light one character and set up the camera on them and run through a conversation So they film just that character s reactions and dialogue Then they reset everything for the other character and film the scene over again iv Requires extensive preproduction planning including heavy script notes and storyboards v Generally never shot in front of an audience Aesthetically more cinematic than multicamera shooting common for prime time dramas Law and Order Curb Your Enthusiasm etc b Multicamera i Usually shot with three cameras but can vary ii First show to utilize threecamera setup was I Love Lucy iii Very fast in terms of production perfect for oneday shooting 1 Huge proliferation of footage that they are getting at one time three different camera angles at once iv Can be edited while shooting by selecting different cameras to record the action called line cutting Cutting it on the linegetting a rough cut of what the show is going to look like v Generally little to not storyboarding vi Aesthetically more theatrical as if the actors are on a stage and the cameras are different positions in the audience So instead of shooting in a 360 degree world with a single camera setup the actors are on a stage of some kind Ex Monica and Chandler s apartment on Friends with the camera in different positions that simulate where the audience would be much more like being in a theatrical setup Ex Friends Everybody Loves Raymond Seinfeld etc vii Very little if any camera movement involved All of the movement of the camera is happening when the camera is not recording Director might say quotcamera 1 move in on Jerry Cut to camera 2 While camera 2 is recording Jerry Camera 1 changes positions All camera repositioningmovement happens when a different camera is recording 9 Narrative The Seven Circles of Tell a Classical Hollywood style In regards to television Made for TV Movies are a perfect example of Classical HW style vi vii Single protagonist if more than one they almost always work together with a unified goal Exposition introduces two components the who and the where Principal characters and the space they inhabit Motivation why is the action happening Narrative enigma what drives the story main question of the plot of the film Will x happen antagonist blocks this from happening Will blah bah save the world Will blahblah and bluhbluh get together Clear cause and effect chain each scene or syntagm TV term for scene creates a coherent chain of events Climax where we have the final meeting of the protagonist and antagonist and they fight over whether or not x will happen ResolutionDenoument all strings are tied up but in other types of narratives we can have what is called aperature meaning it is openended or not tied up Aperature is the opposite of the classical HW style b TV Series selfcontained nuggets of telegoodness Overall selfexplanatory characters Don t need to have watched previous episodes to understand and enjoy the show Some richness may be gained from having seen the previous episodes but in general you can just jump right in the middle of the series Multiple protagonists Exposition often explained in the title song or briefly introduced early in the episode Ex Friends they edit in clips from previous episodes to the intro song Motivation basically the balance of the world falters at the start of an episode At the beginning of a TV series episode everything is going to be in balance but then something happens to wreck that For instance someone breaks up with their romantic partner loses theirjob etc Single episode motivation Narrative Problematic constant question asked throughout the series while allowing for variation In Friends the only real question is whether or not the characters will be happy open vague narrative problematic will they find a significant other fulfilling job etc US is essentially about heterosexual capitalism so there you go vi Cause and effect chain structured by acts between ads vii Climax brings balance back to the world but viii ResolutionDenoument often an aperture ending to allow for continuation of series c TV Serial Did you see last week i Builds on itself each week rather than starting fresh each time ii Multiple protagonists iii Exposition in media res to start in the middle of something 1 Many ways of catching viewers up on action quotpreviously on 2 Motivation generally old ones that get carried from episode to episode but new ones are also introduced They can overlap each other and reappear at different times within the series Since there are multiple protagonists the different motivationsstorylines have to be juggled in regards to the whole narrative iv Narrative enigmas the more the merrier 1 The question that is supposed to be answered by the entire run of the show may change part way through the series in Breaking Bad it changes from will Walter White make enough money to provide for his family before he dies to will Walter White be the biggest kingpin ever without letting everything else fall apart v Fairly clear cause and effect chain vi Climax individual enigmas will be solved but not before others arise to take their place vii Resolution not really Nothing is ever fully resolved until the series finale and even then it could be left openended


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