The golden age of the box

Television is a rapidly growing medium, studied and examined as form of both media and cultural studies. AS we begin to enter the digital age, television develops more and more of a greater impact on society, both shaping and being shaped by the culture that grows alongside it. Tv was once thought to follow a one-directional flow model, sender -> medium -> message -> receiver, much like the early ideas behind radio, where it was assumed that the entire audience would receive any message delivered by producers in the same way, no matter who they were or how they received the content. However, today it has become apparent that this is certainly not the case. Not only does the interpretation of the message vary drastically according to who is receiving it, the meaning of any message is also altered by the method with which it is delivered. Thus, as this important notion regarding television and it’s methods and results of communication changed over time, so did the content which was being produced.

Television is no longer one set of defined structures and rules which must be adhered to by all producers, writers and directors, it has become so much more than that. It is a mix of not only every genre but every medium, incorporating the live to air, real time presentation of content that attracted audiences to radio and combining it with the narrative possibilities of film. And today, tv has extended far beyond the realms of simply being a box in the living room, it has become a social experience, an addiction for viewers who simply can’t get enough of their favourite shows. Producers keep their audiences hooked not just with cliffhangers at the end of episodes or seasons but with online content, by releasing episodes online to allow for binge watching, by getting stars and writers to attend fan conventions, by allowing the viewer to be as immersed as possible in the world of their show.

This progress has led to the rise of entirely new genres of storytelling, specifically, reality television and long form, complex narrative television. Shows such as Big Brother played a major part in the changing of the television landscape immersing us in a world of fully interactive television. Viewers are not only using the lives of others as their own form of entertainment but are actively involved in the constants futures (within the show). The evolution of television became a reflection of the evolution of society which in turn was impacted by the new cultures and traditions created by television. The rise of the complex narrative not only changed the landscape of television but of society.

The documentary “Hollywood: the rise of television series” discusses the evolution of television in regards to the impact received from the complex narrative. Viewers began hungering for increasingly interesting and mentally stimulating content and producers and writers started delivering. The progress of the content of tv can be seen clearly when comparing television in the 2000’s to that of the 60’s and 70’s, a time in which characters would never have even imagined to be having sex or using vulgar language. Today however, as was discussed by the writers interviewed for the documentary, characters not only do these things, but often it’s these actions which drive the story. Characters are given depth and history which is revealed slowly over the course of a season or even series with significant plot points planned far in advance. Programs and time slots are streamed to satisfy particular viewer interests and demographics rather than the original model of every show being delivered to every viewer as a single demographic. The concept of the nuclear family has faded tremendously with the progression of society into the modern day and television has grasped this wholeheartedly and used it to it’s advantage, consistently moving forward as a prominent medium of influence within society.

A bridge between nations

Travel the world without leaving your living room couch, that’s the appeal of television to it’s viewers. Although the majority of shows which top the ratings charts here in Australia are home made, as a nation we are still provided with a great number of international shows, primarily from the USA, which create not only a multicultural viewing experience but a multi-national one, spreading across a great geographical landscape. Television shows are no longer limited to small studios with backdrops and sets, they can be filmed across the world, showcasing a dynamic range of locations, countries and cultures that the average tv viewer often never gets to experience in person for themselves. Most people may never leave the country or even city in which they are raised and thus television creates a channel for it’s viewers to experience these spaces for themselves in such a way that the spaces they see become familiar to them.

What is it about it’s use of space that makes tv such an interesting topic? Television allows for a space to be both real and imaginary at the same time. By showing the world through its programs, it creates a mediated

imagesversion of the world, allowing viewers to feel as if they are a part of a certain place without having ever been here. I can relate to this from personal experience. Until July of 2012, I had never been to the United States. However, from all the television that I watched, I felt as if I lived there myself, knew the various cities and landmarks like my own neighbourhood. But upon arriving in New York, i realised this was not the case. While I did recognise various things like Times Square or the Statue of Liberty, they were different to how I had imagined, different to what I had seen on the television (The Statue of liberty, for example, was a lot smaller than I had thought) and this made me realise that the things we see and the places we feel we are a part of on a television show are just that, a television show. But is that the sole reason why we watch international television, to experience new places?

Globalisation is occurring world wide and television is only helping to speed up the process. The broadcasting of international shows featuring not only foreign spaces but cultures has created a link between the worlds nations that has never been so strong. And even though it is often thought that the world is dominated by American traditions and culture, these things have seeped into every country from dozens of other countries across the globe as well. We currently live in a world where, through globalisation, foreign cultures are both like us and not like us, cultural identities are constantly changing and the once clearly defined borders between nations and cultures has been dropped. So, why do we watch foreign television?

TheBridgeBronBroentitlesbridgeInternational shows such as Broén/Bron (The Bridge) provide a combination of both the familiar and unfamiliar to their audiences. While an audience will always be most comfortable watching a show which represents their own nation or culture, an appeal arrises in discovering those of another country. In The Bridge, viewers are treated to an exploration of Denmark and Sweden through the unfamiliar Scandinoir television style, a style which includes strong female leads whose only care seems to be about their job, dreary and colourless landscapes and sets and characters who are to the point with no love lost on witty office banter and, of course, the foreign languages. However, this unfamiliar style is delivered through the use of the familiar, a crime narrative. Viewers watch as the familiar story unfolds, a murder, a police detective, suspects and a cliff hanger but these are all delivered through foreign techniques. This combination of the familiar with the unfamiliar is what allows the audience to feel at ease watching international television. Even the potential for viewer alienation at the concept of two countries sharing a bridge as a border is extinguished with the prevalence of the comfortable, a crime must be solved, the story must continue. The chance for discomfort is shed at the inclusion of the familiar and thus the viewer can immerse themselves in and experience places in the international community without ever feeling too far away from home.

Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!

Tv is run by schedules. With dozens of channels airing content 24/7, the schedules hold everything together. However, these schedules aren’t just for the tv stations to use, they also act as the schedules for the lives of the nation. Tv presents a schedule for the viewers who sit every night at 6pm to watch the news, the families who gather at 5:30pm to watch the game shows, or the teenager who leaves their room at 10:30 on a monday night to watch the latest episode of  dexter. Even for myself, my weeks are run by my television schedules. I know that Mondays is Amazing race and Once upon a time, Wednesdays are Supernatural, S.h.i.e.l.d and The Flash, Thursdays are Survivor and Arrow,  Fridays were Legend of Korra (the season just finished and wow it was awesome) and Saturdays are Saturday Night Live. But, being an Aussie, I don’t get these shows live on my tv and have to resort to sourcing them elsewhere and this often results in my viewing of my programs either later in the day or week than they were originally aired.

What we do have here however, in the great land Down Under, is an abundance of shows which push live events, must see reveals and spectacular performances. Yes, I’m talking about live television. Audiences love live tv and television producers love delivering it. However, live television isn’t just limited to watching watching people sleep or brush their teeth in real time on Big Brother, it covers talent performances and result shows (i.e X factor, House rules), major events (i.e Glasgow Commonwealth Games, political elections) or even programs as ordinary as breakfast tv or the news. It not only allows the average viewer at home to experience the extraordinary but it lets them feel that the ordinary can be a spectacle too.

An example of such a show is Sunrise, a breakfast show which airs live, every morning on Channel 7. Sunrise presents itself as a live to air show and goes out of it’s way to let it’s viewers know that it is in fact live. Examples of this, as can be seen in the image below, include the live time being consistently present on screen, the current temperature in each of the states also shown and a rolling ticker of news headlines given throughout the duration of the episode.Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 10.31.44 pmHowever, it’s not just the graphics that contribute to Sunrise’s presentation of itself as a live program but various other elements at work as well, as can be seen in the excerpt here from a recent episode (5:33-11:25). Most obvious is the almost candid nature of the show, portraying a sort of ‘anything goes’ feel that one associates with the unpredictability of live television. The anchors can make mistakes (and often laugh about it too), the cameras or studio equipment can often be seen in shots, passersby in the street often stare in or wave through the rear window, even the language itself, with the anchors always welcoming back the viewers from the ad break, acknowledging that this is a television program that airs live with ads.

The idea behind these techniques is that rather than looking perfect, live tv is meant to appear immediate, it gives the viewers a chance to witness or be a part of something that they otherwise would not be able to without their television sets. The viewers want to feel included and the set up of the live program plays into that. This concept stems back to the idea of television as not only a family building unit but a nation building one. Television acts as a major factor in the creation of a social identity, the individual stations and producers want the entire nation watching their program and the best way to achieve this is to deliver their content live. The live event will bring the nation together and the viewer does not want to miss out on a potential spectacle. As a collective, television creates a national schedule, creating shared experiences for the entire public. Shows such as Sunrise use this, they present relatable content to their viewers and push the notion of ‘live’ to draw them in and create a linked audience across the nation.


film tv 2 analysis reflection 3, question 1

Paste the link here from your version of the abstract editing exercise.

Then reflect on the whole process – Consider: the quality and usability of your recordings; the effect of layering and juxtaposition of both the audio and the video and; the things you learnt from working with this kind of audio and video.

i was not such a huge fan of this process. maybe it was just me but i did not know when we first went out to record the audio that it would then be used to create these abstracts so i may have recorded some things differently. on the other hand, however, i think it is a good thing that i did not know because it makes the footage have a more raw, real feel to them. i find abstract difficult, i like to have a neat plan and know before i set out where i am going and what i am making so jumping head first into the edit suites with no real vision was difficult for me. i do think though it was a really good excerise in combining the different elements to make a film from footage that wasn’t necessarily taken to go together. i tried to layer the sounds on top of another to create a more interesting soundscape rather than just one sound following another. however, the sounds were all very different and of varying qualities so i don’t think it had the best effect. similarly, wight he video, i was trying to make/form a pattern out of nothing so i think creatively it’s definitely not my best work, even if it was a great thing to do and learn from.

film/tv 2 analysis reflection 3, question 2

Select from one of the readings and briefly describe two points that you have taken from it. Points that excite you, something that was completely new to you.

the reading i have chosen is the chapter “approach” from Bernard Curran’s “Documentary storytelling for film and video makers”.

the most interesting point i took from the reading was the overall contention of the chapter, that any approach to documentary is different to any other approach. Curran discusses how drastically approach can differ between filmmakers, even those who may potentially be working with the same concept, equipment or even footage. this is such an important notion because it makes you realise that it’s not as important what you film but how you film it and how you then put it together to create the film itself. this was evident with the first lenny excerise last semester where the entire course was given the same footage to cut. you can garuntee that no two lennys looked exactly the same. approach is the all important element to creating your film and getting across the meaning or story that you want to communicate to the audience.

the second point i liked was when he discussed the different methods of approach. Curran discussed all the little choices and decisions the filmmaker must make when constructing the film that will make the film unique to them. going into making films, i always kinda assumed that they just ‘happened’. reading this article has made me realise that ever step along the way has been a decision, a choice between two or more options with a specific intent in mind. whether to make the film observational or interview based. whether to have narration or not, whether or not the interviewer will be in frame or if their questions will be heard by the audience. all are conscious decisions to be made by the filmmaker which will influence the outcome of the film itself and are things we must consider in the preparation of making our film.

film/tv 2 analysis reflection 2, question 2

Select from one of the readings and briefly describe two points that you have taken from it. Points that excite you, something that was completely new to you.

the reading i chose is “Imagining reality” by Pawel Pawlikowski.

my favourite point from this reading was the following quote: “for me the point of making films is not to convey objective information about the world, but to show it as i see it and to find a form that is relevant”. i think this is extremely important when considering making a documentary. the filmmaker is making their own film which is a representation of reality and so it must be relevant to the filmmaker themselves. the authro talks about his most meaningful films as being thsoe where the subjects strucka  chord with him, those which took time to make because his heart was invested in it. this is something i really hope to take into account when making our documentaries this semester, to make something which is important to us or means something to us, it will give it so muhc more heart and be more interesting and hopefully better quality than anything that we may make but are not fully invested in.

the second point i got was rather new to me where that author discusses the impact which television has had on documentaries. it was interesting to read how the commercialisation of tv, the need to just make money and sell merchandise has even bled into documentary making where filmmakers can no longer experiment or take risks with what they are making because the productions studios are breathing down their necks. he also discussed about the rise of voyeurism in tv docos where people are content to simply set up a camera in an intersting location and film the people there. but there is little thought or heart put into these and thus, while they may sell money immediatly, are worth nothing in the long run and are diminishing the overall standard and expecations aroudn documentaries.

film/tv 2 analysis reflection 2, question 1

In the lecture we screened a short film called ‘End of the Line’ – the film shot in Broken Hill.

Please describe in 300 words or less if you think they achieved what they set out to do. You may not remember much detail, if so, it could be helpful to talk about your first impressions, after all this is what most of us are left with after one viewing. The treatment which we showed in the lecture is avalaible here. Feel free to write to any categories you wish. eg. story, choice of participants, sound, camera, editing etc.

although i don’t remember all too much from the first viewing of “end of the line”, i remember enjoying it, even though i was a bit disturbed/surprised by it. the main visual concepts adn stimuli that i took away from the film was the incredible landscape shots and i think these worked really well in serving the group’s treatment of demonstrating the emptiness and vastness of towns like this in the outback. contrasting these shots with the lives of Kevin and Beth told throughout the film does really make the audience wonder how people can live out in places like that. again i feel like the treatment worked because the audience is left wondering whether or not they could actually live out there in such seclusion. the visuals of the vast land gives a disturbing feeling of being all alone in the empty outback of Australia, almost like being stuck in a horror film, yet can also present the idea of serenity and peace in living so far away frmo the bustle of the inner cities.