Monday, 10 October 2011

Generic codes and conventions

Codes and conventions

Code: A system of signs which can be decoded to create meaning.

In media texts, we look at a range of different signs that can be loosely grouped into the following:
  • technical codes - all to do with the way a text is technically constructed - camera angles, framing, typography etc
  • verbal codes - everything to do with language -either written or spoken
  • symbolic codes - codes that can be decoded on a mainly connotational level - all the things which draw upon our experience and understanding of other media texts, our cultural frame of reference.
  • codes can create feelings to the audience through effects and techniques, for example rain in a film and a woman looking upset can make the audience feel bad for the woman and be emotional.
Is what you would expect to see in a certain genre, for example: in a fantasy genred film you would expect to see maybe unicorns, demons, hero's/villians, strange settings, basically things that are fictional and unreal in our world.

The codes and conventions in media can be separated into 3 groups -
- Technical (e.g camera angles, movements & shots),
- Symbolic (e.g clothing, colours)
- Written and audio (music etc).
These three distinct groups give the text meaning and determine the response of the viewer.

Generic codes and conventions of the:

Horror genre -

Some things you would expect to see in a horror genre:
  • blood
  • villian
  • damsel in distress
  • heroic male or female
  • weapons
  • dark colours
  • scary settings
  • undead people/monsters
  • bad weather
  • sound motif (specific characters)
Horror films are uncomfortable films designed to make the audience panic, be frightened, cause dread and awareness, invoke our most hidden worst fears, capture and entertain us in an emotional cleansing movie experience, and will probally conclude with a terrifying shocking finale.

In the majority of horror films there will be a lead character/victim that will most likely survive through out the film. the killer/monster will most likely have a specific style or trademark, in the way he/she or it kills victims or causes mayhem. its usually good vs evil in most horror films. the two characters will have a conflict. usually the outcome is that the good character defeats the killer/monster or solves the problem.

Western genre -
Western films usually have the same layout, they have a good guy and a bad guy. to resemble the good from the bad the costumes of the characters depict them from each over and give the audience an understanding of who they are. for example: the good guy will wear appropriate and sensible clothes (normally in a lighter colour than the bad guy) on the other hand the villain might wear inappropriate clothing and will be usually dark colours.

Westerns often portray how desolate and hard life was for American frontier families.
Western films often depict conflicts with Native Americans.
 The Western genre sometimes portrays the conquest of the wilderness and the subordination of nature in the name of civilization or the confiscation of the territorial rights of the original inhabitants of the frontier.

Some things you would expect to see in a western genre:
  • revolvers
  • cowboys (cowboy hats)
  • saloon doors
  • tumbleweed
  • open spaces
  • desert
  • horses and maybe cows
  • spurs
  • bar brawls
  • train robberies

Science fiction -
In a science fiction film you would expect to see:
  • aliens
  • spaceships
  • rockets
  • vibrant colours
  • high advanced technology
  • abstract outfits
  • silver and metal objects
  • futuristic sound's
  • wide range of different races and species
  • lasers
  • space setting
Science Fiction is a type of genre where by the premise is that the events being described are taking place in a reality other than the one you are currently experiencing. This is either Long Time ago (Star Wars), Alternate Present (The Terminator, Twilight Zone, Independence Day) or Future (Dark Star, Silent Running). Science Fiction usually deals with hardware, technology and aliens (or other species).


  1. Your material is reasonably well presented. Your use of graphics to identify genres visually engages the reader/viewer. As a development here, you could now try to employ an online media tool such as Prezi to present your work, which would allow you to annotate graphics and integrate video in your analysis.

    The objective lacks structure. Firstly, working from the notes you’ve been given, try paraphrasing what is meant by the media specific terms “convention” and “code”. You show some awareness of how each is functioning but your definitions are all amalgamated into one: distinguish between the two terms explaining each separately. You offer some useful ideas about what audiences are made to feel in films from different genres, but you don’t analyse in any real depth or detail how the filmmaker’s use of micro elements achieves this. This is an area for development. Explore technical codes at work. Anchor yourself with a specific moving image extract and explore how technical elements such as CAMERA, SOUND, MISE-EN-SC├łNE, EDITING or SPECIAL EFFECTS (which may also be conventions of the genre) are used to: communicate with / manipulate / engage the audience; and lead the audience to understand / think / feel / expect certain things.

    Satisfactory. E++