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This unit introduces the students to another aspect of the mass media. The unit specifically examines the following:

  1. The Film and Cinema
  2. Cable Television


At the end of this unit, you should be able to:

  1. recount the development and concept of Film
  2. recount the development and concept of Cinema
  3. recount the development and concept of Cable TV.


3.1The Concept and Development of Film and Cinema

What is Film? Film is a medium of communication which combines visual and audio (audiovisual). It contains the recording of a story, acted by people to make it as close to reality as possible. The Collins English Dictionary defines film as a sequence of images of moving objects photographed by a camera providing the optical illusion of continuous movement when projected onto a screen. view  project topic in media 

History of film is linked up with photography. In 1873 a former California governor, Leland Stanford, hired a well-known photographer, Eadweard Muybridge in order to prove and win a bet that a horse in full gallop had all four feet off the ground. In 1877, Muybridge arranged a series of still camera along a stretch of racetrack. Each still camera took its picture as the horse sprinted. The photographs won Stanford his bet while at the same time, they sparked an idea of motion pictures in Muybridge. This eventually led to the invention of zoopraxiscope by Muybridge. Zoopraxiscope is a machine for projecting slides onto a distant surface.

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Muybridge met Thomas Edison in 1888 and was inspired by Muybridge segmental action photographs. William Dickson, a scientist with Edison embarked on the task of developing a better system of filming and came up with Kinetograph-a workable motion picture camera in 1889.project topic in media 

By 1891, Edison built a crude motion picture studio called “Black Maria”, which started the commercial motion picture industry in America. From Black Maria came a series of very short films, which were shown, on a large contraption called a Kinetoscope.project topic in media 

The next advance on film was made by two French men the Lumiere brothers. Auguste and Louis were brothers who worked with their father’s manufacturing photographic plates and film. Using the technology they learnt from Edison’s work, they succeeded in developing a camera much more portable and less cumbersome than Edison’s own that could print and project pictures with a crude yet intermittent motion. The invention was named the cinematogrape-a device that both photographed and projected action.

Recognizing the advantage of the cinematographe over his kinetoscope, Edison acquired the patent for an advanced projection developed by U.S. inventor Thomas Armet and Francis Jenkins. The vita scope, as the device was called was premiered in New York City on April 23, 1896, and the American movie business was born.

Following this, a Frenchman, Georges Mêlées began making narrative motion pictures in about 1897. He also added special effects to film making. Mêlées most famous film, “A Trip to Moon”, showed a group of scientist and chorus girls launching a rocket to the moon. Some special effects which Mêlées incorporated in the film include the earth rising on the horizon and a trick photography scene of moon people disappearing in smoke. Another brilliant contributor was D.W.Griffith. He introduced innovations such as scheduled rehearsals before final shooting and production based on close adherence to a shooting script. He lavished attention on otherwise ignored aspects of a film such as costume and lighting and used close-ups and other dramatic camera and angles to transmit emotions. He also displayed mastery in his editing techniques of all the films produced by Griffith; he displayed the greatest talent in “The Birth of a Nation” (1914) and in “Tolerance”.

In 1927, sound was introduced to motion pictures. This development made possible new genres like musicals. Actors and Actresses now had to really act and film production became much more complicated and expensive. Film flourished even through the Great depression of the 1930s. Profits were plowed back into bigger productions and lavish sound stages. World War II promoted the boom. Then in the 1950s, film met a new competitor- Television.


Establish the connection between film and photography.

3.2Types of Film

Below are the types of films:
A. COMEDYOriginally, a comedy is any story that has a happy ending. It can be easily identified by its appearance and plots, and by the deliberate way that these plots are arranged so as to influence the attitude of the audience by generating laughter. The comic characters in the comedy are usually single-minded. They usually possess some peculiar character traits such as gullibility (believing everything, especially obviously impossible and outrageous things), greed (getting into trouble because they can not be satisfied), gluttony or lust (their insatiable appetite leads them into trouble), etc. The real humour lies in the fact that those characters single mindedly pursue their foolish ambitions thereby exposing their inadequacies and foolishness from time to time. They also never suffer psychological or physical pain since they are not even aware that they are doing anything strange.https://www.projectandmaterials.com
B. TRAGEDY In this genre, the protagonist is confronted by overwhelming dilemmas and also finds himself participating in his own downfall. The image presented by tragedy is that of a human being who is forced to endure the worst, and yet not surrendering to self-defeat, but who finally is subdued and loses out completely. Tragic characters usually possess admirable traits such as ambition, patience, fortitude, self-confidence, intelligence etc which draw audience affection to them. However, they are eventually confronted by their inadequacies. They are usually shocked at the last moment to realize that they have overestimated themselves. Their tragic overestimation usually includes a character flaw that has been carefully hidden for which they have to account. Their downfall usually affects everyone around them. It is however important to note that tragedies in this sense may not be too common in popular arts such as movies; this is because audience do not wish to regard any situation as hopeless or be burdened with misfortune. Nevertheless, they still exist.

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C. MELODRAMA This is a broad term that is applicable to most movies. This genre stresses elements such as strong emotion, high adventure and self-sacrifice in the service of a noble cause. It usually presents a conflict between good and evil in which good finally triumphs. The characters in a melodrama are easily recognizable by their moral or social commitment to a cause.

D. ADVENTURE These films are also melodramatic in nature. Among what adventures and melodramas have in common are; action, film climaxing in physical conflict, confrontation between good and evil, experience, persistence etc. Adventure movies may have classic fairy tale structures, or they may follow traditional plots such as that of an originally helpless hero who finally locates and destroys a villain. Adventure heroes are usually full of virtues. Actions in adventure films usually take place in exotic settings such as jungles and unfamiliar of inaccessible parts of cities. A Thriller is not really a genre, rather, it is a characteristic of many adventure as well as other films. Thrillers place emphasis on suspense and fearful anticipation.project topic media



E. HORROR FILM These are films that horrify by invoking experiences that are strange and difficult to explain. They create the feeling of encountering unfamiliar circumstances within familiar environments, with the threat of the unknown destabilizing the security of the known. One of the major characteristics of horror films is the use of low-key lighting so as to intensify the contrast between the seen and the unseen as well as the known and the unknown. They also make use of dissonant music with the intention of creating the feeling of disharmony. Horror films play on the secret fears that lurk at the sub-conscious of their audience. They also give substance to the nameless fear that dwells in the minds of such audience.project topic media


F. SCIENCE FICTION “Sc fi”, as films in this category are popularly called; also specialize in offering strange and mysterious experiences. They are sometimes sub-genres of horror while at other times, they stand on their own. Their own prominent characteristic is the displacement of time into a technological future where some current tendencies of our culture have become dominant. This may include a situation in which machines become more active in the running of human lives that they (the machines) even attempt to, or actually take over. It may also be in the form of a technological invasion by more advanced cultures (mostly aliens).project topic media


G. MUSIC VIDEO A music video is a film that is predominantly musical in content and which is mostly combined with dances or some sort of movement. A musical, as it is also called, displays the performer’s and composer’s talents through singing and dancing and thereby making the music very satisfying. This type of film has become quite common in modern times. Most music videos are recorded as mini-feature films and some can even be as elaborate as feature films both in cost and in production.project topic media


H. DOCUMENTARY A documentary is a factual film about an event, thing or person, and it presents the facts with little or no fiction. It is a film that captures the various stages of the existence or the process by which something is achieved. This type of film is usually produced for the sole purpose of educating and enlightening its audience. Information in documentaries can be taken at face-value because it is suppose to be the product of a research. Examples of documentaries are films produced on subjects such as wildlife, historical developments, political events etc.

I. BIOGRAPHY In biographical films, real life experiences are fictionalized so as to provide examples of virtue, bravery, perseverance, commitment etc to the viewers. Biographies permit the audience to enjoy a feeling of intimacy with famous people, and allow them to feel a part of those personalities’ adversity as well as their triumphs.

3.2.1 Functions of Film

There is a countless number of functions of film. It must be pointed out that a lot of the functions of a film are subjective, that is, they depend on the individual who is making the personal judgment. Generally, film could be said to be perfoming the following functions: To educate, persuade or influence and entertain; to enrich our cultural experiences; To provide an escape for the audience and deliver an engaging lesson in history; For raising consciousness about social causes; and For development purposes. However, below are the specific functions of film:

  1. Entertainment: Film serves as a means of amusing people. This is one of the major functions that a film performs. It gives people the opportunity to explore the lighter side of life which may or may not be realistic. It has been acknowledged that majority of movie audiences are aware that film is make-believe. This simply shows their readiness to take part in a fantasy purely for the sake of entertainment. project topic media 
  2. Relaxation: This function is very similar to the previous one. In this case, film serves as a means of easing tension. After the tasking day’s or week’s work, some people love to watch film so as to ease the tension generated by the formal environment of their place of work.
  3. Catharsis: Film has a catharsis function because it helps to purge people of negative emotions. It is believed that when people see characters in films undergo a dilemma similar to theirs, by weeping, they release their own pent up emotions. project topic media 
  4. Psychological Escape: In this case, film serves as a temporary anesthetic by helping to stop the feeling of pain (emotional or mental stress mostly). By being lost in the world created by film, people are able to temporarily forget about their problems and see that life can still be beautiful.
  5. Creation of Heroes and Role Models: Whether deliberately or not, film creates role models. It has been observed particularly among children and also some adults that they try to imitate their favourite film heroes. This includes attempting to look, talk or even behave like them.
  6. Mirroring the Society: Some films can serve as agents of change by mirroring the ills in the society and thereby call attention of their audiences to them. This creates general awareness and makes people conscious of such issues.
  7. Education: Even though this is the least function of most films, it must still be noted that some films educate along with the entertainment function. This is particularly true in the cases of biographies and true life stories.


Using examples from Nigerian Nollywood, give your own description of the functions of film.

3.3 Between Film and Television

Film is a sequence of images of moving objects photographed by a camera and providing the optical illusion of continuous movement when projected onto a screen. Television on the other hand is a system or process of producing on a distant screen a series of transient visible images usually accompanied by sound signal. When a camera is focused on an object and it starts to record, electrical signals are converted from optical images by the camera tube, and transmitted by radio waves or cable. A television antenna receives the signals, and then the radio waves are reconverted into optical images by means of a television tube inside a television set.

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Film, both as a medium and as an art is very different from television. At this point, we are not interested in proving which is more important; we are only out to highlight their major differences. These two important media are different in the following ways:
  1. The process that led to the development of film started in 1873 while that of television started about 11 years after, that is, 1884.
  2. Movies are “larger than life” and movie stars are more glamorous than television stars.
  3. Film is always pre-recorded while television had only live transmissions until 1951. Pre-recorded programs were introduced when Lucille Ball introduced syndication in 1951 and thereby making rerun possible.
  4. Films are largely independent, but networks control what appears on the vast majority of local television stations.
  5. Film has cinema audience while television has home audience.
  6. Film is more expensive to produce while television production is cheaper.
  7. Film contains only one type of program while television offers variety of programs to choose from.
  8. Film is simply rated through the box office while television was initially rated through a rather complex process of an audiometer, and later changed to the use of people-meter. Neither the audiometer nor the people-meter accurately served the purpose.


Differentiate between home video and cinema.

3.4 Key Players in Film Production

Film Production is a very big process which involves a lot of people. The major players in the film production process and who will be studied under this topic are as follows:
The ProducerThe producer is the person who initiates the idea of production. This person may continue with his idea himself and become the actual producer or he may collaborate with someone who is a recognized producer. The producer provides for the financing of the project and therefore has power over the production. He is also the chief business executive who is responsible for the film’s corporate management which includes business planning, insurance, contracting, hiring etc. Since his money is at stake, a producer most of the time gets involved with the casting process of the film.
The DirectorThe Director, who is also known as the artistic director, is in charge of all the film production. He is the film’s primary creative authority and is ultimately responsible for virtually everything that appears on the screen. The responsibilities of the director includes; casting (alongside the casting director; if any), coaching actors, arranging blockings, deciding camera shots, overseeing editing etc.
Production ManagerThe production manager has the responsibility of running or managing the entire production. This means that he must ensure that all the materials that are needed for the production are available. He secures locations whether special or common, sets props, and he makes sure that everybody needed is at the right place at the right time and doing the right thing. The production manager bears the weight of the whole production since he must effectively manage money, materials, equipments and people.

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Script WriterThis is the person that creates the screenplay. He may be the originator of the story and wants to either market it or produce it himself. He may also be hired to write a screenplay based on a concept (story idea), a treatment (story outline of several pages or more, with character description), or an adaptation of a novel, play or short story.
This includes the players and walk-ons who make up the dramatic characters, that is, the stars that most people want to see, and the supporting players that people see whether they notice them or not. It also includes “extras”, who are ordinarily- people and are hired to fill out a street scene, hotel lobby or crowd. There are also the “stunts doubles” for lead players and other “stunts men” and “women” who crash the cars and take the falls, all being coordinated by a stunts coordinator. Dancers and martial artists are also part of the cast and their movements are designed by a choreographer. “Camera doubles” stand in place of stars while cameras are focused and the set lit.
Director of PhotographyOr the cinematographer is the artist and technician that is responsible for the photographic look of the film. He is also responsible for the film’s lighting, color values, visual texture and framing. Since all the filming processes cumulate in the final outlook, a bad cinematographer can destroy the whole process. The cinematographer has three principal assistants and they are: the camera operator (who actually operates the camera), the focus- puller and the clapper loader.

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Production designerThis artist is also known as the set designer or the art director. Though he, along with the director and the cinematographer are responsible for the look of the film, he is primarily responsible for designing and creating each set according to the budget and expected strategies for each shot. The job of the production designer also includes drawing or commissioning of sketches and architectural drawings of rooms, buildings, facades, huge flat paintings used as backdrops, or even streets; all of these being subjected to the mood, period, and even dramatic necessity. He also supervises the construction of these sets or the selection and preparation of the “real” location if actual buildings and places are being used.
Costume DesignerThis artist selects all the clothing worn by the players in different parts of the film. It is also the responsibility of the designer to design special clothing with due regard to the required action e.g. rough fighting, comic tearing or vigorous dancing. The costumes can be “day-to-day costumes”, “special costumes” or “periodic costumes”.

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Make-up ArtistThis is the artist that is concerned with the look of the natural body of the actors. Make-up is applied to the natural body of actors so as to either enhance their looks or transform them into the character they are playing. The make-up effect can be straight, character or fantastic.

The composer, who is also known as the music director composes or selects music to be heard during the film. The music can be classical or popular, symphonic or guitar, traditional or modern. If an existing sound track is needed, the composer makes the arrangement for obtaining the copyright for the music. On the other hand, if a fresh music is needed, he composes the music and arranges for the performance.
Sound DirectorThis artist has the responsibility of ensuring quality sound output of the film. He works with other professionals such as the sound recorder, boom operator, sound editor, mixer, balancer, dubber, e.t.c.project topic media


EditorThe editor handles the editing of the production. He selects good ‘shots’ and ‘takes’ from among the numerous ones taken on location, and arranges them together. He also arranges the shots not according to the sequence by which they were taken, but according to scene in the script.


Which of the players in the film production would you consider the most important? Give reasons for your answer.

3.5 The Development and Concept of Cable TV

Cable television was conceived as a way to deliver clear signals to people in remote areas that over- the- air broadcast stations could not reach. John Walson was having trouble selling televisions in1948 due to the poor reception of signals at these remote areas. He convinced his bosses to let him run wire from a tower he erected on New Boston Mountain to his store. The knowledge of this system by people got him customers to his sets and he wired their homes. This led to the birth of cable television.

The cable Walson used was a twin-lead wire, like cord that connects a lamp to an outlet. To attract more subscribers, he had to offer improved picture quality, made possible by the use of coaxial cable-copper-lead aluminum wire encased in plastic foam insulation, covered by an aluminum outer conductor, and sheathed in plastic. It had more bandwidth than the twin-lead wire and allowed more of the original signal to pass, as well as carrying a greater number of channels. A further development on this was the development of a signal booster and master antenna which birthed master antennal television (MATV). In 1972, Sterling Manhattan cable (company) launched a new channel, Home Box office (HBO). By 1975, the station started distributing movie channel by satellite, a development that brought antagonism toward cable by over-the-air broadcasters.

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There are multi channel services other than cable. Satellite masters antenna (SMATV) employs a satellite dish on top of a building to capture signals and then distributes them throughout that structure. Microwave multi distribution system (MMDS) employs a home microwave receiver to collect signals and pipe them through the houses via internal wiring.


The name “film” originated from the fact that photographic film (also called film stock) has historically been the primary medium for recording and displaying motion pictures. Film is a term that encompasses individual motion pictures, the field of film as an art form, and the motion picture industry. Films are produced by recording images from the world with cameras, or by creating images using animation techniques or special effects.

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Films are cultural artifacts created by specific cultures, which reflect those cultures, and, in turn, affect them. Film is considered to be an important art form, a source of popular entertainment, and a powerful method for educating -or indoctrinating- citizens. The visual elements of cinema give motion pictures a universal power of communication; some movies have become popular worldwide attractions, by using dubbing or subtitles that translate the dialogue.

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Traditional films are made up of a series of individual images called frames. When these images are shown rapidly in succession, a viewer has the illusion that motion is occurring. The viewer cannot see the flickering between frames due to an effect known as persistence of vision — whereby the eye retains a visual image for a fraction of a second after the source has been removed. Viewers perceive motion due to a psychological effect called beta movement.

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The narrowcast media vis –avis, film and cinema are the preoccupation of this unit. The unit has been able to discuss this kind of media in great details. The unit also underscored types of film and the key players in the film production process.

The unit established that the early movies looked to the established forms of drama (comedy, tragedy & musicals) for their themes. Due to the nature of their audiences and the lack of sound, the early films relieved on the art of mime.

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Enumerate and discuss the challenges facing Nigeria film Industry.



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