Thursday, December 17, 2009

Isn't Television a Visual Medium?

It has always been curious to me that more art teachers don't recognize television as a visual medium. Many schools now have their own television studios right in the school but art teachers are seldom involved with any productions they do.

I can see that setting up a television studio is an expensive proposition that might keep an art teacher from including TV production in their program but what about schools that already have the equipment available in a dedicated studio?

Even without a studio to do actual productions there is a great deal students can learn about television. Composing an image, lighting, chiaroscuro, color, foreground, middle ground, background, costuming, makeup, set design and many other aspects of television are directly applicable to an art and design curriculum.

Watching real television being made shows how carefully every visual detail is considered. Shots are meticulously composed with extreme attention to elements that are too bright or too dark. Backgrounds are carefully examined for stray shadows, distracting lights or disruptive lines. Framing of images is exactingly controlled within the aspect ratio demanded by the medium for a headshot, a two-shot or a 3-shot (right). Lighting is carefully controlled to separate people from the background and provide modeling to the face with backlights and side lights. Makeup is applied to cut down shiny spots on the nose and forehead.

Television producers are applying design learning in complex and exacting ways. Design educators can help improve the quality of the visual design of school television productions by applying what we know about composition, light, color, perspective, etc.

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