Live television serves multiple purposes from the banal to the extraordinary, it is there to showcase, to add spin to events, to showcase and create spectacle, but it’s primary goal is about bringing people together. Live breakfast TV, for example Sunrise, succeeds in doing this through a specific set of production elements employed. It constantly addresses the audience directly and as a live production is often clunky and choppy in its delivery but it is also very much aware of itself and seeks to make this explicit with the audience. It is these features that characterise live “ordinary” television (breakfast television), and their effect that I intend to analyse.  

Live “ordinary” television, like breakfast television, exists to provide entertainment and information to the audience. It functions also as a way of joining public and private life, existing as a public sphere for the national community. It does this by blending the public and private sphere; bringing information concerning the wider public to you in the intimate space of your home.

Broadcast nationally on free-to-air TV 5 days a week (with Weekend Sunrise at 7am on Saturday and Sunday), it is fair to say that Sunrise Australia works hard to promote, and at the same time create a sense of national identity and values. A mix of feature news stories, entertainment, home-living and infomercial type segments Sunrise looks to provide every Australian home with something of interest in their morning routine.

As a conventional breakfast TV program, Sunrise focuses largely on presenting news and current affairs to the viewer in a way that is not overly serious; something that you can wake up and get ready whilst having the TV on perhaps in the background. It seeks to become a part of your daily routine, the personalities look to be friends with you, to take part in your morning ritual inside the personal space of the home with the viewer. I will be analysing the clip screened in the lecture from Sunrise on Friday July 30th 2010.

The opening segment follows many of the standard conventions of post-broadcast live television; predominantly, it is self-aware that it is a television show and is more than willing to share this awareness with the audience at any given moment. The first shot of the studio is a wide shot from a camera crane, it shows a large amount of the studio, including other cameras and crew – a distinct reference to the act of watching tv and making tv. Furthermore the program contains multiple time markers, from the time displayed at the bottom right of the screen along with rolling news headlines and weather updates, to the announcement of the date by the presenters at the beginning of the show. These markers create a sense of immediacy and amplify the to-the-minute nature of the program.

Live television can often feel clunky, and taken out of context this segment of Sunrise definitely does. The unscripted casual banter back and forth between presenters often gives rise to a choppy, unnatural pattern of shot changes that are not rhythmic. At times, the speaker is not even shown which feels even more disruptive and unnatural. However the tone and overall mood of the program is not largely affected by this as it relies partly on the casual remarks and rapport building between presenters to in turn build rapport with the audience.

Sunrise seeks very much to include it’s audience, a common feature of post-broadcast television, it does this multiple ways. A characteristic of live television, it addresses the audience directly, greeting them at the beginning of the show and involving them through direct interrogatives throughout the broadcast. Allowed into the home, and into the intimate space of morning ritual, this is an important feature of how the show seeks to be understood by the audience. By constantly directly referring to them “…don’t you think?” or even“…we’ll be right back, don’t go anywhere” a sense of inclusion is created, and a something more than a one-way relationship begins to be built. The dress of the presenters, and overall look of the show is more relaxed, more casual then the nightly news program, or any live daytime TV. With this Sunrise seeks to level the field between the presenters and the viewer, to create something immediate and personal for the viewer. The hierarchical structure common to news programs is not so present here, the lesser featured presenters often chatting with the main presenters before and/or after their segments. The dress and hairstyles does not promote the power dynamic that sits with the nightly news anchor, instead the presenters are dressed in a more relaxed outfit, something you can feel comfortable with in your pre-caffeinated morning state.

Live Television is all about being in the moment, and rolling with whatever happens. Of course, it can all go horribly wrong (see link), but that in itself is entertaining for the audience. We don’t watch Sunrise for the spectacle of success or failure as we would with live event television, however when things do go wrong it is quickly to picked up on and the way the presenters handle it in the moment in turn builds rapport with the audience. 


Lena Dunham: Creative NonFiction

Lena Dunham is my new favourite.
Yes, I know, again a bit late coming to the table… Girls and stuff, I’ll get there, the internet is just a tad slow chez chateau Triolet and my laptop has no memory.

Creative NonFiction is a one-hour long film Dunham made whilst in College. It is great, and it kind of isn’t. It almost does sit somewhere towards the more non-fiction end on the scale of truth.

More then anything (more then the fact that I seem to have found a kindred spirit, someone I can identify with 100% in Dunham) I like this film because I am beginning to realise the importance of just doing things, maybe they don’t have a big budget, flashy cameras, or a great editing suite, but the fact is she made a film – and it’s really not that bad at all.

Maybe the shots could use work, maybe the acting isn’t great, but it’s 50 or so minutes of actual produced work that makes sense, and is entertaining.

It is especially interesting to note the creative process Dunham used when creating the work. As outlined in the conversation, she had the scenes on sticky notes and would just go through it slowly – it’s a really interesting approach… something to keep in mind.

The camera … to shake or not to shake

Editing a documentary is proving to be rather a challenge.

It has been everything the opposite of a short film.
Here you go out, you film, you let the wind carry you. Sometimes you go nowhere, sometimes you go somewhere… And then you come back and you have all this stuff….

The curse of the digital age has to be an almost endless amount of storage, allowing for a great-deal less forethought.

But now, with all the footage one has to compile it, sort it, and label it just so it can be decided whether or not it is useful!
Some of it is great, some of it okay, some of it not… So what is useable, what is still okay?
Whatever helps you to communicate the contention of you story yes?

I’m not sure….
Having more then one person film means that essentially this story is being told through more then one set of eyes (here’s where the reality of why it’s best to make documentaries alone set’s in). Because each individual has their own manner of looking at things, if seeing, noticing, and therefore their own ideas about how others should see and notice what they see.

My question that I’m trying to arrive at here is: does it matter that the camera shakes? And that it does in some instances more then others?

Recently, the rise of DSLR’s, and mobile filming have made it easier for audiences to stomach a shakey-home-video-style camera. But maybe for a documentary it shows a lack of technical discipline. I’m not saying that every shot should always be set up on a tripod, but maybe we should arrive at a set of conventions as to how much shake is acceptable…

Documentary Studies 101

I am finding Documentary Studies to be far more interesting then I ever thought it would be. But also rather overwhelming.

If everything is clear, and laid out in fiction filmmaking – in how to achieve the look; a well-made, polished, even fashionable film (pull focus… ) – documentary filmmaking is on the other side of the world.

And to make a documentary here, in Montpellier truly seems fitting.

The raw, sometimes harsh, nature of the camera and the sound add a texture to the final project. (All the same there is still much that can be, should be, well-polished and neat) But the documentary does not demand perfection in the way that the short film does. In fact, maybe the short film demands it more-so then a longer length film (or a television episode). Lighting continuity, editing faux-pas can both often fly under the radar with a longer piece (or a well known TV series *cough* Offspring – I still love you to bits), but in the short film everything matters. Characters need to be developed quickly, but they cannot be too stereotypical! The story needs to not be overly complex, but it needs to be engaging, and not let the audience work out the end too quickly.

Let’s say there exists a scale, a line, joining fiction and non fiction. For what IS fiction and what IS not? How can we classify it? To what degree? Essentially, even a fiction film could be a documentary; it is the act of recording a group of people (actors), doing their job… right?

 Let’s give the scale seven degrees (or really it should be eight… these french, can’t even count):

0. Camera Caché  – Hidden Camera
The camera is hidden so that no-one knows that action is being filmed/recorded.

  1. Camera à l’exterieur
    A camera is set up, for example, outside a window of a classroom looking in. Easily forgotten or unnoticed, the subjects are not necessicarily told that they are being filmed.
  2. Suivre en accord
    The subjects are aware that they are being filmed and
  3. *I missed what this level is called* something like mise-en-scene du réelle dans la réelle – it is the act of filming with the intention of narrating – those filmed are aware they are being filmed so maybe they recount stories… but the scene is left largely untouched by the director (however much untouched a scene can be given the obvious presence of a camera)
  4. Provoquer une situation du réelle dans la réelle
    The act of asking people to do things, to come into the room, and cause a scene. Everyone is themselves, but it begins to blur the lines because a definite intention has entered into a real-life scenario.
  5. Fait le tournage en décor réelle, mais travailler avec des comédiens, suivent la réelle.
    Here, the perspective of the audience begins to change, it is clear that the situation has been fabricated.
  6. Je tourne en studio – construire des salons, pas limiter par les horaires, par du bruit – les modéles/comédiens/personnages peuvent jouer leur propre rôles mais créer des situations/scenarios – shot in studio, but with actors/people/comedians who play ‘themselves’
    Here we begin to question how to judge the film because many more elements are under the control of the director – mise-en-scene, even to a point the writing or construction.
    Is it a pychological drama, or a docco?
  7. Total fiction
    This is filmed in studio, the production revolves around mise-en-scene, creating drama and being technically correct. The audience is aware that all (or most) has been constructed.

So, somewhere in the middle there exists a pseudo documentary/fiction group of works that are especially rule-breaking… The stuff of Bresson, and of pieces of Godard where some elements of control have been given up generating a new effect.

Les Parapluies de Demy

As part of the French Contemporary Cinema class – which, thanks to the strikes will now be re-dubbed 60’s french cinema, because we never got any further then that – we dipped our toes into Demy today.

Les Parapluies de Cherbourg. I don’t know, it just get’s me every time. I’m not one for the love stories, but Legrand’s fabulous score, the ironic cinema references famous from nouvelle vague cineastes and Demy’s extraordinary use of colour are all pretty much enough to make my eyes well up.

So I sit here, on my Thursday night, huddled under the blankets with a heater that is not living up to it’s name, revisiting the film, a true work of art.

As the American’s might say…. Happy Thanksgiving?

The new way to quit…and what happens after

The web2.0 world – where responses sometimes gets just as much attention, or sometimes more then the original  video/article/post themselves!

So, the long and short of it, a woman working for a media company makes a rather entertaining video about her long working hours and her dislike towards her job in order to quit.
It’s gone viral, everyone loves it….power-to-the-people kind of stuff…
…and very good PR…

A facebook friend of mine posted the link,

Show Gen Y viral videos, they’ll spend company time watching them. Teach Gen Y to make viral videos, they’ll publicly shame you on YouTube.#modernwisdom

Parodies have popped up everywhere –


But then, what I find even more amusing is the response from her colleagues and boss: