What are Codes and Conventions in Film

What are Codes and Conventions in Film?

In the study of film genre, various codes and conventions are used to define the technical meaning, and underlying principles of film. You’ve probably heard the terms codes and conventions used in the film genre before. But what are codes and conventions in film? And how are they used in the analysis of film media?

What are Codes in Film?

Codes represent the underlying systems of signs and symbols which create meaning. The concept of codes are best divided into two types or categories of codes which include technical codes and symbolic codes. 

When studying codes, it’s important to understand that some codes will fit into both categories, thus codes are not always only technical or only symbolic. Some codes are both technical and symbolic, such as music.

Technical codes represent the many ways that equipment is utilized in sharing a story in film. For example, the technical codes would include camera work, the acting, the setting, the editing, stage lighting, special effects and graphics, typography and color. As well as the visual composition.

What are Conventions in Film?

Conventions represent the set of ways or underlying processes of a particular action that are generally considered accepted or acceptable.

For example, when seeking to answer the question, “What are codes and conventions in film?” We look further at how conventions in film analysis indicate an established or acceptable way of doing something. 

Conventions may include acceptable ways of understanding something or of presenting something. These generally accepted “norms” are deeply rooted in our culture and society, with different behaviors or ideas being “conventional” in different cultures.

Conventions are often so deeply embedded in our everyday life that we don’t even realize their impact or presence in our lives.


Why are Codes & Conventions in Film Studied?

The study of codes and conventions in film. Also known as semiotics or semiotic analysis. Represents a method of explaining the ways that an audience can derive meaning from codes in film.

Codes and conventions in filmmaking are analyzed for a variety of reasons. Underlying codes and conventions are often used to represent characters, or specific topics and events, adapting the way.

Or guiding the way in which the audience thinks about the character or events taking place in the film. Conventions can easily turn into stereotypes, and sometimes reflect poorly on the filmmaker. 

Cultural Impacts

We study the distinguishing codes and conventions of various sub genres of film and video. To define and interpret meanings within various film genres. As well as to learn about the impact of various codes and conventions on the audience.

We also study these codes and conventions in film to determine how culture impacts filmmaking and to define underlying messages that are delivered through film semiotics.

To have visual examples of codes and conventions in film, Brett Parker has a great and informative video to help:

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