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Analyse a five-minute extract of an episode of a soap Essay

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Analyse a five-minute extract of an episode of a soap, drawing reference to features which maximise the dramatic effectiveness as seen by the audience. The dramatic effectiveness as viewed by the audience is governed by many different features, for example the camera position and angle. During a peak of tension or drama, the director may choose a close-up shot of a zooming-out shot that fades to either the credits or the next scene. The way the camera captures the picture can either make a scene ‘take off’ or just blend in with any other.

At the beginning of Eastenders, there was a birds eye view of the Square that was interrupted by different conversations about dramas going on in different people’s lives. I thought this type of ‘spy’ camera method was fast moving and really effective in maximising the drama in the character’s lives. Another ‘spy’ camera whisked through the market stalls giving you a feeling of being there with the characters and involved in their situations or dilemmas, whether they be good or bad.

I wasn’t aware of much editing in the scenes I was analysing, but I often heard sound from the following scene, while the current one was still in shot.

I also noticed this can be done with the music being held and the picture changing. This became apparent in the first scene, the title music was still playing but the picture had changed to Barry, a failing businessman who was having a angry conversation with his father Roy, about the car lot. During the theme tune and credits at the end of the soap, I noticed straight after the last scene has ended they interrupt the broadcast to advertise another show or an event the channel needs promoting. Although this editing isn’t about the scenes in the extract I still think it is important.

Lighting is a major and significant part in a soap. I am not sure if it adds too much dramatic tension to a plot but it does help to set the scene. In the scene, between Roy and Barry there was a silhouette created by Barry. He is usually being talked down to. I think by creating a shadow, standing in the window, with his father sitting in an armchair looking at his back, it shows Barry is trying to exert some dominance. Unfortunately for Barry his father was not going to stand being talked to like that. One other effect created by lighting I noticed was in E20.

The lights in the night-club are always dim, even in the day, creating a mysterious, sinister atmosphere . Lighting can be very useful to a soap but only if employed in the correct manner. Dialogue is, I believe extremely important. The characters’ intellect and personality is expressed through their language. The dialogue can build tension to extreme points so the audience are on the edge of their seats, and are suspending their own belief. They forget real life for half an hour and become involved in the soap plot. Slang is used all the time in soaps, it is like the their own language.

I also saw dialogue styles change when one person spoke to different people. A prime example is Beppe. When he talks to Lynne he has a soft, kind and friendly tone, but when Lynne leaves E20 (the setting of their conversation), Steve and Beppe are left alone. At this point Beppe lets out a sigh and his tone changes completely. His harsh and defensive attitude returns as he talks to Steve. Tension in the scenes can be maximised by shouting or screaming. I feel a scene would be far more dramatic and interesting if the characters in it were screaming at each other, rather than discussing things politely.

Voiceovers are very subtly used in soaps so that viewers barely realise that they are being used. Sometimes a shot is held for a few seconds longer than usual, while the sound from the next scene is already playing. This tension-building pause is very effective, and maximises totally the dramatic tension present in the scene. This is the only type of voice-over I saw in my five-minute extract. Sound effects or FX are fundamental in the formula of soap operas, they are used in every scene almost. They come in the forms of a juke box playing in the ‘Vic’, a baby crying in the market or a tube going past.

These sounds add to the supposed reality of the soap. Another sound effect everyone knows is the theme tune. The song readies the audience for the beginning of the forth coming drama. The music is used in the theme tune (which I have already analysed) is very effective in suspending the audience, making them anxious. I noticed that there is always music playing in the ‘Vic’ that co-ordinates with the moods of the ‘punters’. For instance if there has just been a argument or fight and everyone is depressed and have nothing to talk about, the music will be subtle and quiet.

Where as if there was a party or a celebration going on the music would be much more lively and loud. Also when there is a fight or a scene of some kind, the music is always conveniently halted, and everyone turns to see what is going on. I believe the music doesn’t do much by itself to maximise the dramatic effectiveness, but it certainly aids the actors in building the illusion that they are in a busy and social place. Visual effects are a real essential in displaying maximised drama in soaps. I saw this from the very start of my five-minute extract.

The opening picture of the Thames river in the last few years has been swapped from a model to a real one. This change has resulted in another very noticeable colour-change in the river. I think the new picture looks more realistic and gives the viewers a better first impression of the soap. Sometimes visual effects make the subject more believable and therefore more enjoyable to watch. The location is very important in the formula of a soap, as all have a certain area they focus on. In Hollyoaks it is the area around the college, in Coranation Street it is the street and in EastEnders it is the Square.

There are very few scenes set outside the specific location in this case the Square. If there ever is the writers will make that whole episode in that place. It just so happened that in the five-minute extract that I was analysing Roy had met his long-lost son Nathan. He had many of the scenes he was in, set at Nathan’s mothers house. This is an unusual feature in a soap, and to be honest I didn’t enjoy having the new sets and characters introduced. It didn’t feel like the proper EastEnders. I feel that, that the location has a big part in the plots and dramas in soaps, as we know whenever a new location is introduced a new plot is too.

Costumes add to our understanding of a character by reflecting their wealth and personality. You wouldn’t expect Kat (tart) to wear the clothes Dot (pensioner) wears or vice a versa. I have been noticing now Billy has lost all his money he has ditched his designer suits for is old casual, trampy clothes. The costumes play a small part in maximising drama, as the audience wouldn’t be too interested if two people in E20 were wearing tracksuits. They would be much more interested if they were wearing trendy, skimpy clothes

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