Media Terms for TV Game Shows with Explanation and Example
- Anchorage: In Media Studies this is the fixing of meaning. A piece of text (words on a poster) or pairing of images in a products content that attempts to anchor (i.e. fixes to one understanding) the meaning of an image for an audience. E.g: Happy upbeat music in the opening credits might help us to understand that the programme is a comedy or light-hearted. Ominous music would suggest that the product is something that will be tense or frightening.
- Audience: In media terms there are many types of audience that we might refer to. These might include the size – Global-mass-cult-niche – or refer to their age and interests – demographics and psychographics. Often we use the term target or preferred or primary to indicate the group of people to whom a media product is being marketed. E.g. the target audience for Call of duty is predominantly young males.
- Binary opposition: The contrast between two mutually exclusive concepts or things that creates conflict and drives a narrative E.g. good/evil, day/night, male/female, presence/absence, old/young. A theory or way of understanding media products devised by Claude Levi –Strauss which tries to explore the appeal of media products for audiences and the way that an audience might read meaning into a product or a narrative.
- Brief: Information provided by an institution or client about the content and purpose of a media product. Often contains details of target audience, intended outcome and desired content and approach. Sometimes a brief will give specific details about the form/platform.
- Censorship: Control over the content of a media text. Different media forms have different forms of censorship. This might range from the ratings given to films [PG; 15 etc] or the ratings of computer games or the advisory warnings on some CDs. The purpose is usually stated as to protect what are seen to be vulnerable groups of society [usually the young] from content that might disturb or affect them. E.g. the British Board of Film Classification.
- Convention: The widely recognised way of doing something - this refers to content and form. This constructs expectations among the target audience as what they might expect in a product. E.g. aliens in a science fiction film; futuristic gleaming cities etc. In a game show this might be the use of a host, the podium for contestants to stand at or the seating of panelists, the presence of an audience etc. Sometimes media producers will manipulate these in unexpected ways to create a product that is unconventional which might develop a new audience for such products such as the use of the lift and line-up of contestants in Take Me Out or the notion of a reducing prize in Million Pound Drop Live.
- Contemporary: Meaning of the current time, the things that are happening now but also things that were happening at the time a media product was produced. E.g.: When game shows were first introduced in the 1950s the TV audience ideas of what made a game show exciting was the prize at stake, and the idea of what made a good prize was influenced by contemporary ideas of value such as the then desirability of refrigerators, holidays or cars.
- Cut: The sudden transition from one camera shot or audio sequence to the next. This is the manner used for the linking of most shots in a film or TV programme and the one that we are most accustomed to seeing. See also Dissolve and Fade.
- Demographics: The study of audiences according to factors such as age and gender that allow an analysis of who they are and attempts to understand and explain which type of audience behaves in which way. This is key for institutions and advertisers in deciding both where and who to market their products to.
- Diegetic: A way to describe sound in a film. All sound where the source is clear in the film is said to be diegetic. Where the sound is not in the frame [overlaid music in a chase sequence] it is said to be non-diegetic.
- Dissolve: A transition from one shot to another that is gradual and used for effect. The slow transition of the dissolve might enable the audience to better understand a relationship between two characters or two locations or events or it might suggest an emotional response from the audience. It will always allow time for the audience to consider what they have just seen or heard in the previous scene/shot. Dissolves and fades are used to create a specific effect as opposed to the more functional cut. When dissolves or fades are used you should always consider why this choice was made and do the same for your own use of it in your storyboard or script.
- Edit: The process by which a still image [such as a movie poster or magazine cover] or clip of film or a section of audio is treated to create the intended outcome of the photographer, editor, director, artist, producer etc. who is constructing it This might include cropping, changing the brightness or contrast or using specialized software to add effects.
- Format: The way that a media product presents its content to the target audience. It involves a set way of doing things. This might be that in a game show there are set rounds each week or set challenges that contestants have to negotiate to win the prize. It might also be that the host has a role where they act in a certain way [Dara O’Brien in Mock The Week; Paddy McGuinness in Take Me Out] or begins the show with a joke with the audience etc.
- Genre: The linking of media products by a series of common elements or ideas. Horror films share certain similarities in character types and narrative plots. Science fiction share similar ideas about the shape of future worlds. Genres are a marketing invention that aids media producers in identifying profitable markets for their products and allows audiences to make quick decisions about the vast range of products available to consume. These can be narrowed further into sub-genres to allow very specific and targeted marketing.
- Hammocking: The term used by TV schedulers when a less popular [or new] programme is scheduled to air between two more popular programmes. The idea is that the attraction of the programmes either side will entice viewers to keep on the station and thus watch the ‘hammocked’ programme that is hung between the two bigger programmes. This gives the hammocked show exposure to a much larger audience than it might otherwise attract by itself and makes it more valuable to advertisers. E.g.: programmes aired between Coronation Street [7 million viewers average] which airs 7:00 till 7:30 and I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here [9 million viewers average] which airs at 8:00. A good example is the placing of Gino’s Italian Escape which in August 2016 was hammocked between two episodes of Coronation Street [7:00 – 7:30 and 8:00 – 8:30 with Gino’s programme aired 7:30 – 8:00].
- Institution: In Media Studies we are concerned with using the meaning of an organization that creates and distributes media products.
- Ideology: This is a complex concept. In simple terms, for this subject at GCSE it is a set of ideas or beliefs which are held to be acceptable by the creators of a media product. For example, a text might be described as having a feminist ideology, meaning it promotes the idea that women are the equal of men and should not be discriminated against on the grounds of gender. Or, on the other hand, it might be criticized [as many action films and game shows are,] for promoting a heavily male dominated narrative with women reduced to minor roles.
- Narrative: The way in which a story, or sequence of events, is put together within a text. All media texts have some sort of narrative. In the pack we look at the most used theory of film narrative, that of Todorov who saw films as following a basic storyline pattern of: equilibrium - disequilibrium - new equilibrium.
- Mise-en-scene: From the French - everything in the frame - What is included within a particular shot in a film or TV programme. Mise-en-scène is linked to creating a mood in a film and has specific conventions linked to the kind of film – its genre. It might be the ominous dark castle in the thunderstorm at night of a horror or the long establishing shot at the start of a sci-fi revealing a distant planet or strange civilization. It is the combination of sound, costume, image, lighting, music that creates the tone and meaning of the sequence as well as establishing the kind of film we are watching.
- PoV [point of view]: A first-person camera shot that shows a scene from an individual character’s viewpoint. Used to help the audience understand what is happening in a character’s head E.g.: a predator stalking his/her prey is shown as if we are the predator and we watch events unfold from that point of view. Linked with Alignment, this helps create a sense of identification or understanding of the character and their motives.
- Representation: The way in which the media “re-presents” the world around us in the form of signs and codes for audiences to read.
- Scheduling: The timing of when programmes air on TV stations. The day and time are key elements in ensuring that the ‘right’ audience is enabled to watch the show at what is considered the premium time for that genre of show to be viewed. This might include understanding what the competition for the audience is – we often here that Strictly will not be scheduled against X Factor or The Voice against Britain’s Got Talent or the big soaps scheduled at the same time.
- Strap-line: The line of text on a poster that adds interest and sometimes might create an enigma to help in the marketing of a film. E.g.: In space no-one can hear you scream.
- Storyboard: A visual breakdown of a script often produced by a director in order to demonstrate to a camera operator or production team how a scene is designed to be shot. Often includes elements of mise-en-scène as well as camera movements, types of shot, accompanying sound and other technical information which a camera operator might need. Might also be used during the editing process. Can be very simple or quite complicated, depending on the needs of the production or the team. Usually produced as part of the pre- production process after a script has been produced.
- Star: A person who has become famous appearing in many sorts of media, whose image is instantly recognisable as a sign, with a whole range of meanings or significations.
- Stereotype: Stereotypes are representations of people that rely on ideas about the group that person is perceived as belonging to. It is assumed that an individual shares personal characteristics with other members of that group and thus shares further attributes associated with them. E.g.: blondes are all stupid, people who wear spectacles are clever etc.
- Sub-genre: A smaller off-shoot of one of the main genre forms. E.g.: in TV Game Shows there might be elements of suspense in "question and answer" based shows - Who Wants To Be a Millionaire dims the lights the moment the contestant thinks about what the answer might be). The Cube also uses a similar technique. Take Me Out uses elements of the comedy genre.
- Trailer: A short advert made up of edited highlights of the film being promoted, often including a voice-over and giving key information about elements such as stars, genre and release date. A key element here is often the reference to existing or known media products that might attract that audience or the use of enigmas or stars.
- Viral: The name given to any kind of promotion which spreads in the manner of a virus. Often communicated via word-of-mouth rather than more traditional distribution mechanisms giving the viral an exclusive quality. Users are encouraged to pass on materials by themselves. Increasingly used by film institutions as a means of advertising their film cheaply and with some sort of fashionable or quirky edge to it.
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