SMC291 Week 7 Reading - Barker

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St. Michael's College Courses
Jennifer Harris

3/21/2012 4:12:00 PM3/21/2012 4:12:00 PMTelevision Production Techniques as Communication - Barker 3/21/2012 4:12:00 PM  Tv msg as visual text and interpretation process of decoding, determinate moment in discourse  Encoding equally determinate; message form necessary form of appearance, transposition into and out of message form is determinate moment  Encoding process virtually ignored vs decoding  Encoding relationship between narrative structure and production techniques in entertainment tv  Communicative ability of any tv narrative is function of production techniques utilized in its creation -> thesis  All in the Family and MASH  Pivotal to specific narrative traditions  AITF: tradition of domestic situation comedies around single axial character, Archie Bunker; one character and his relationships, others not as developed  MASH: ensemble comedies, each character persona distinct, interplay and conflict strengthen personalities, sum of its parts  Before AITF: sitcom enriched in 1960s telefilm values, highly utilitarian approach to communicative abilities of basic production techniques… highly repetitive and predictable shooting pattern; exterior establishing shot followed by sequences of alternating medium shots as narrative progresses  Pattern occasionally punctuated with tighter shot like medium close-up but close-ups virtually never used  Performer movement utilized only as way to move characters into and out of environment  Meaning in production variables like shot selection and performer blocking… 1960s values suggest that reinforcing values and structure of program narrative with particular techniques was not fundamental concern  Both products of conscious decisions by creators to utilize specific production techniques in specific ways  Control of screen space, lighting and set design, layers of action, parallel editing manipulated for narrative and aesthetic reasons General observations about role of techniques in communication of particular narrative structures  Archie: axial character, tyrannical, intended to portraty patriarch as buffoon, shoot AITF in proscenium, cmaeras and viewing audience maintain distinct distance, not allowed to move into set (Archie’s domain) for reverse angles; ive-on-tape in front of autdience -> theatricality, help maintain Archie as axial and buffoonish patriarch, prevent moving into set for reverse angles so only look at Archie, not with him  Pull sitcom back into roots, employ updated version of Electronicam system, multiple film camera system,,,  MASH push it forward into more complicated aesthetic realm of contemporary cinema, reflexive shooting style reflect on narrative; nuances of ensembles of charcters, sheer business of his shots help define characters and relationships, spirit of ensemble through single camera with multiple setups, unimpeded by spatial or psychological boundaries, capturing visual patterns of great complexity  Aggressive use of camera than norm for sitcom  Effective control and manipulation of screen space  Camera space:  horizontal field of view - closeup, medium-closeup (bustline), wide shot (body/set)… o Viewer represented by camera doesn’t remain in one viewing position, see action from both close and at distance  Camera proximity - location of camera in relation to performer  Geographical boundaries  Performer space: performer blocking (positioning and movement) alng axes, defined in relation to camera… x-axis perpendicular to camera line of sight, z-axis of depth toward and away…  Utilizing axes  Directional forces leading eyes from one point to another within and outside of picture field… graphic (stationary objects), index (points in specific direction) and motion AITF performers blocked exclusively along x-axis, move from front door through living and dining room, kitchen… only potential for movement toward or away: upstage to stairway or downstage…  Camera free to move into performer’s space, performers could move toward and away…  Camera and performer work together to reinforce communicative ability of narrative structures  AITF: axial and patriarchal narrative structure, viewer only look and character than with them 
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