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Codes and Conventions of Visual Texts

Visual texts, films and static images, are constructed to represent people, ideas and issues to the viewer. To
help us interpret the image we deconstruct it (analyse it) using the following codes and conventions.

Technical Codes these refer to
the technical construction of the
image/film. It includes:
Camera Angles
Camera Shot
Camera Movement
Lighting
Framing
Perspective
Layout
Leading lines

EG:

The camera is almost always at the same level of the
four main boys, showing the world as they
experience it. Whenever they interact with adults,
the camera is looking up at the adults to show how
powerless these boys feel in the world of adults.
That is, until the end when Chris and Gordie stand
up to Ace, at which point the camera angle shows
that they are no longer afraid of Ace; he wont
intimidate them anymore.


Audio Codes these refer to the
sounds we hear in films. These
include:
Music
Sound Effects
Dialogue

EG:

At the beginning and the end of the film the narrator is
an adult reflecting on an experience that was very
important in terms of his growing up; a rite of passage
towards adulthood. Behind the reflective narration the
music is soft and thoughtful to match his mood. This
sets the tone for his fond memories of his friends and
the sadness he feels at learning about the death of his
best friend Chris Chambers.
Written Codes these refer to any
written words that are present in
an image or film. These include:
Headings and subheadings
Subtitles
Logos
Labels
Font and Size
Placement of writing
Signs

EG:

In Stand By Me we see the computer screen as the
narrator is typing his story. This shows how the
story about his growing up has become his life. As
he switches off the computer this symbolises that
Symbolic Codes these refer to
anything that has symbolic meaning
in the image. It can include:
Use of colour
Lighting
Juxtapositioning of objects and
people

Symbols can signify the following
things:
Love, hate or a range of
emotions
Power
Inequality
Stereotypes

now he has told that story, recorded it, he can move
on and spend more time being a father.
EG:

As the narrator speaks about the death of Chris
Chambers as an adult, the image of the boy slowly
fades as he walks away from Gordie at the end of the
journey. This symbolically represents the death of
Chris, him disappearing.




You might like to connect these codes to some of the conventions used:
Characterisation (who and how are the represented and how do you
respond to them?)
Setting (where and when the past, present, future; what was it
like socially, historically?)
Plot (conflict and resolution quest elements, rite of passage)
Point of view (perspective or narrator not all films have this)


When answering a question in the viewing section about a film or static image, you need to connect the
construction of the image to the representation of the people, issues and/or ideas.

Your response should follow the framework below:



























A short introduction:

1. One sentence describing the image or film

2. At least one sentence identifying what (people, issue and/or idea) is being represented and if it is a
positive or a negative representation (this must include using language from the question)

3. One sentence identifying three codes or conventions that are used in the construction of the image or film
in the order that you are going to write about them

1
st
Body Paragraph pick the first code or convention you have mentioned in the last sentence of the
introduction

1. One sentence with one code or convention (from the last sentence of the introduction) linking it to the
representation

2. At least one to two sentences explaining how the code or convention shows this representation

3. At least one to two sentences outlining what you think and feel about the representation

2nd Body Paragraph pick the second code or convention you have mentioned in the last sentence of the
introduction

1. One sentence with one code or convention (from the last sentence of the introduction) linking it to the
representation





















3
rd
Body Paragraph pick the third code or convention you have mentioned in the last sentence of the
introduction

1. One sentence with one code or convention (from the last sentence of the introduction) linking it to the
representation

2. At least one to two sentences explaining how the code or convention shows this representation

3. At least one to two sentences outlining what you think and feel about the representation

Conclusion a short 2 3 sentences simply restating the three main points about:

The codes and/or conventions
and
The Representation of the people, issues and/or ideas