Wednesday, October 17, 2018


Film Inquirey

Semiotic Analysis

The study of these signs, codes and conventions in movies is called semiotics. Semiotic analysis is a way to explain how we make meaning from codes – all meaning is encoded in that which creates the meaning. No object or word goes without a meaning – we cannot read or see something without associating it to a certain idea – the meaning. In our youths, we have all been taught how to decode what we see, read and hear, we have all learned to decode meaning.
However, what we should realize is that the decoded meaning is not our own idea, but somebody else’s. For example. If you read the word “failure”, you decode it by relating it to the value your culture adheres to the concept of failure and its antonym – success. Although it’s not said we cannot create meaning on our own, 99% percent of the time, the meaning comes from some pre-established (cultural) idea.

Signs and Codes

In semiotic analysis, the smallest units of meaning are signsFor example, the way someone dresses is a collection of signs that informs others about the person; clothing encodes the smallest of signs, e.g. a popped collar means preppy. A black band t-shirt and over-sized pants signal a music fan, but together they can create a collection of signs, a code. For example, a band shirt + baggy pants + black nail polish + dyed hair, could signal a rebel, or even a goth.
You could say meaning has two “levels”. On its most basic level, there is the sign: the denotation, which is the literal meaning. But when a sign occurs in a group, or in a particular context, it becomes a code, and it can suggest or connote extra meaning.
For instance, the colour red simply denotes a colour, but in a certain context it can connote emotion, like anger, or love. These codes are often used in media to reinforce, subtly, the way audiences should think about certain things or how they should behave. These are a culture’s dominant ideologies. For instance, a long-standing cultural ideology is that diamonds (or chocolate) symbolise love and that people should give this to your significant other as proof of their love for the other.
These codes are groups of signs that seem to fit together naturally. Together, they create meaning. To stick to the signs and codes of romance: the sign of a broken heart means lost love, and if you add the broken heart to the signs of two people, the three signs together, the code, anyone will read into it that the couple has broken off their relationship.

Filmic Code

Four types of signs and codes exist in semiotic analysis of film:

Indexical Signs

These are the most basic of signs in film. Indexical signs indirectly point to a certain meaning – they act as cues to existing knowledge. For example, smoke means fire, panting means exercise, a ringing bell means end of class. This type of signs is constantly used in (all types of) media and are very common.

Symbolic Code

Symbolic codes often denote something they have nothing to do with at first glance, but only because the code exists and because we use them society-wide. For instance, the red heart symbolises love, the white dove symbolises peace, the colour green symbolises jealousy.

Iconic Signs and Code

These are the literal signs and codes: a cop means a cop. They are meant to appear like the thing itself. However, they always represent more than just the thing itself. When we see a cop, we also associate this with our cultural ideas of “justice” or “the law”, or even masculinity or toughness. These codes also reinforce the ideas we have about these concepts in our culture, it reinforces the ideological meaning of those concepts.

Enigma Code

This is an important type of code used in film: it creates a question which the film “text” will then go on to answer. This is often used in trailers of movies as well as posters. They make people wonder. For example, “who murdered the protagonist”, or “how will they survive the apocalypse”. They pique curiosity and intrigue the viewers, with the intention of making them go see the movie.


Convention is another important concept that you’ll see discussed frequently in film analysis. It indicates the “establishment”, the established way of doing something, or understanding something, or presenting something.
They are the generally accepted norms. It’s behaviour and ideas that we see as natural; they’re so deeply embedded in culture that we’re generally not aware of them, and definitely don’t realise what their effect is, or how they affect us.
In film, conventions are used to represent certain topics, characters and events, and more. When you start to scrutinise these conventions, you’ll find that, often, they are used to shape how we think about a character or event. When it comes to characters, conventions can easily turn into stereotypes.
You’ll find that they don’t always represent reality, and can even be harmful to how audiences perceive the world. A common convention, for instance, is how Muslims are always terrorists, and to state the obvious, that’s not the case in reality. Indians don’t always have thick Indian accents, especially when they were born outside of India. Nonetheless, these are stereotypes you will find in film abundantly.
Other common conventions can be found in how women are portrayed in film. For instance, in film noir, female leads are either the helpless dame in distress, or the femme fatale – there is rarely an in-between.
Nowadays, women are still frequently portrayed as damsels in distress, though while we see more female superheroes, they are generally clad in tight outfits, and their characters are underdeveloped; they are just there to serve the male main character’s plot.
Furthermore, women in film are substantially less frequently portrayed as having a job. These are all conventions that reinforce the convention that women are helpless, frail, and need to be protected by the masculine male. There are exceptions, of course, but you’ll generally have to delve into the realm of indie film to find them.
Another common convention is how the portrayal of good and bad guys. Cops can often get away with killing bad guys without consequences. Or, even more typical, Batman and Superman (in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) can lay waste to an entire city and kill thousands of innocents, but they’ll still be considered heroes.
Villains, however, are so villainous that they’re evil through and through. These are very black and white conventions and don’t properly represent the great variety of greys in the real world.
Moreover, genre and narrative can add to the sense of convention, like action film or romance, or film noir and superhero as discussed, but a film’s editing or certain shot types too can reinforce conventions (e.g. a close-up of the poor damsel in distress). We’ll discuss these topics in later chapters.
Lastly, I’ll say it again – culture is very important in the way we interpret signs and codes. It is important to realise that culture always determines the meaning a sign or code communicates. Your interpretation of Bollywood film, if you’re from the West, will likely be different to the interpretation of someone from that area of the world.


As with so many things, practicing will make you better at whatever you’re doing. It’s the same for film analysis.
At first, when you’re going to watch a movie with the intention of keeping track of all the signs, codes and symbolism, you’ll be very overwhelmed. There’s so much to keep track of. Instead, why don’t you first watch a movie in its entirety, and try to study its thematic symbolism? This type of symbolism is more overarching and you’ll find the film tries to deliver a “hidden” message as a whole. What is the filmmaker trying to tell you?
As you get better at distilling a film’s overarching message, you can start looking at how they deliver the message, scene by scene. Start looking at more than just the characters -where are they? A movie that may initially be boring to you may get whole new dimensions purely because you are learning to understand it better and differently.
You can go even deeper than that and analyse a film’s semiotics shot by shot, and that leads me to what we’ll cover in the next chapter: mise-en-scène, everything that’s presented in one shot.
Source link here

10 Best Uses of Color of All Time

Color is one of the most effective tools in a storyteller's arsenal. From fiery red, to the coldest blue, a great filmmaker knows just what colors to paint on the screen. Move over light and shadow, lets take the color wheel for a spin! Here are the very best uses of color in a movie ever!


Fluxus, Feminism, and the 1960’s Andrea Terpenkas Simon Fraser University

The Art of the Movie Poster: Highlights from the Mike Kaplan Collection

Poised at the frontier between high art and popular culture, movie posters are emblematic of modernity itself. On the one hand, they often deployed the most avant-garde formal and typographic trends of a given period, demonstrating true compositional innovation. On the other, they were advertisements, intended to stand out in the visual cacophony of the modern city and to attract the broadest possible audiences. Many people received an education in modern art and design history from movie posters, which are an essential link between fine-art practices and their distillation in everyday life.
According to Mike Kaplan, whose collection is founded on design, an ideal movie poster "captures graphically the creativity and emotion of the film-going experience" in a single image, while at the same time standing alone as a work of art and a souvenir of that experience. A designer, art director, and producer (The Whales of AugustI’ll Sleep When I’m Dead) Kaplan has first-hand experience in crafting campaigns and posters, the most famous among them A Clockwork Orange(1971) and "The Ultimate Trip/StarChild" campaign for the re-launch of 2001: A Space Odysseyin 1970. David Hockney, Don Bachardy, Allen Jones, John Van Hamersveld, Andre Carillho, and British airbrush maven Philip Castle are among the artists and illustrators with whom he has collaborated. He is also a connoisseur of poster design history, gravitating toward exceptional illustrators, motifs, studio periods, national styles, stars, directors, and film genres.

Link to source to see and read more. 
Source is LACMA

A History of Graphic Design, Guity Novin

I have to analyze the problem. What is the movie about? What is the story about? What is it trying to say? Whatever is the style of the movie? What kind of audiences I want to appeal to -- so that they get some sort of inkling about what the film is gonna represent. We try not to dissuade them from the realism of what the story is, and yet, we don't want to tell them too much.
Usually, we started by getting people in the department to do some logos, designs of what the lettering should look like. I usually read the scripts or I'll go to see the footage of the movie. I'll try to decide what would be the most marketable thing to say about the movie, and how to project it into a piece of art. Most of these things we did by hand and do the lettering and positioning and pasted all together and if we had to make a change we had to reap it apart and start over, With a computer you just almost press button and move things into place.

Bill Gold, Art Director and Graphic Designer

Link below to read the article.