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Analysing Images

jeremy | Saturday May 01, 2010

Categories: Key Concepts, Media Language, Magazines, Image Analysis, Other Topics, Moving Images, Skills

Brief Definition

Image analysis is the way in which an audience ‘reads’ the meaning of a media text image.

One of the ways image analysis works is to look for meaning through signs and symbols suggested by the way a scene is set up and filmed.

Signs and symbols in media texts are polysemic which means they are open to many interpretations. The different possible meanings in media texts depend on two things. The first is the way the signs and symbols in the text are ‘read’. The second is the cultural background of the person ‘reading’ the text.

Image analysis in film and television means teasing out the way meaning comes across through the pictures and through the words or dialogue. Meaning is conveyed through media languages which can be verbal and non – verbal, visual and aural. Seeing the characters in a moving image text allows meaning to come across as non verbal communication. This includes the gestures, facial expressions, clothing and props in a film as well as where the characters are placed in the frame.

Media languages include the way the camera sees the scene through shot size and camera angle, and the way the actors interpret the script.

Camera work. Where the camera is placed is very important for how the audience understands a scene. The camera angle is the exact position of the camera. E.G. a high angle shot is where the camera is looking down on the scene from a high point.

  • Typically the camera shows a scene from the position of an observer watching action as it happens. Look at any soap such as Hollyoaks (C4) to see the camera working to tell the story as an observer.
  • The camera can take the position of a character and show his or her point of view – this is a POV shot, as we see the action through the eyes of that character.
  • The camera can see the action from any number of different viewpoints depending on how the director wants us – the audience – to perceive meaning in the scene.
  • The camera...

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