Sunday 7 September 2014

Soap Opera Opening Sequences Analysis

Soap opera opening titles have become a very expected part of any TV Soap. people tend to take the chance to reveal some of the actors and characters they play in the programme, or present the setting of where the soap takes place using different camera angles and techniques.these are good ways to introduce the audience to the genre of the soap, type of characters and overall what to expect of the programme.

Holby City

This particular Soap is set in a hospital following the lives of nurses, doctors, paramedics and patients. The opening sequence's most prominent property is the music and sound. As the opening sequence begins we hear the sound of a heart beat which could signify that it could be a TV drama based with a medical theme. the sound also created a sense of tension and suspense for the audience. This is accompanied by a series of images of medical and surgery utensils e.g. a birds eye view of scissors and a worms eye view of surgery lights, all with a blue filter and blurred edges. This keeps the audience intrigued as to what they are watching because it isn't giving anything away.

Further on, the heart beat is remixed into a techno piano tune, this suddenly fastens the pace of the opening sequence making it more exciting. We also see some short clips of the characters in the programme "in action", this gives us a quick brief of what characters are there in the TV drama and what they look like. While this happens, we see letters fly from right to left across the screen, transparent but with a clear outline, while the images of medical utensils are in a close-up opposite the characters in a split screen. the blue filter is sustained throughout along with a few fiery red streaks appearing on the screen. This continues as we see each character in a eye level view making them all have the same status. In the last few seconds, we see all the letters that have passed reverse backwards swiftly as we see a cluster of images quickly matched together until a white flash appears in the middle of the screen then the letters that form 'Holby City' flip into the middle of the screen. cleverly they have taken the plus sign which can also mean aid, and placed it where the 'T' should be as it looks like the letter 'T'.

What is good about this opening sequence is that it they use a range of editing to enhance what is actually happening in the scenes by adding the filter and red effects. Due to the swift transitions it also makes it look more exciting and flawless as the pace is never altered and mistakes are minimal and less visible at the fast pace. Using close-up on the utensils also gives it great quality as it outlines simply what the programme is about with having story lines and dialogue. The music fits very well as it acts as an aspect of suspense making the audience feel excited rather than soothing them with a slow instrumental song, the remix techno piano them gives it a totally new and unique sound in contrast to other soaps.


In this analysis i will compare the difference between the 1972 opening sequence of Emmerdale Farm to the 1999 opening sequence. Firstly, in the 1972 opening, we see a very aged use of skills and quality. The first thing we see is a tracking shot of fields from right to left, quite fast tracking for about 5 seconds then it fades into a slow panning shot of more country side fields. it pans about 180 degrees before stopping and zooming in onto one spot. this presents a calm atmosphere for the audience and shows that the setting is based in the countryside. as we zoom in, the words "Emmerdale Farm" enlarges closer to the camera in a plain white colour and black outline. This fades again to a tree with sunlight shinning through from a low angle, it pans down again to a house. The music that accompanies this is a soft flute tune played lightly, this music if quite soothing and slow. Unfortunately, this does not make me want to watch it, the music is too boring, the camera shots and setting is plain, no effects are used and there is no story lines shown at any point.

In the 1999 opening sequence, we see a vast difference in the use of technology and camera quality. there is a birds eye view tracking shot of the countryside moving quite quickly, on the side of the screen they have edited a short scene in a small black box in black and white. after this scene of about 1 second is finished, they fade into another tracking shot of the countryside again but a different part with bridges and another scene but on the opposite side from last time. Some of the scene is shown in slow motion to add a more dramatic effect. this is repeated 2 more times before we see a tracking birds eye view shot of the town of Emmerdale, This then fades into a neutral shot of the town and 'Emmerdale' is faded on to the screen in the bottom left corner, this time underlined. The music throughout the opening sequence is more orchestral and involves more instruments making it sound more dramatic and dynamical. As an audience member, it would intrigue me a little more than the 1972 version as i have seen more of what the programme is about rather than just the setting.


In the third season of Dallas, the opening titles from 1987, they use a very good use of camera shots, editing and appropriate music. its starts off again with a tracking shot of Dallas the city from a birds eye view, in contrast to Emmerdale, this tracking shot shows busy cities, tall buildings and the tracking is slow and steady. As the opening titles continues, we see an edited split shot come from left to right, the scene is separated by two black vertical lines, in each section, there are different shots of Dallas e.g. a football stadium, a farm and an office building. this effect is very advanced as they are have 3 active scenes playing at the same time on one screen. It then continues to show the words 'Dallas' the grows from the middle of the screen, transparent but with a yellow outlining. 

Then we see the 3 scenes changes to scenes for a particular character and their character name and actor name at the bottom middle of the screen. this is where they list some of the characters and how some of the character are in the programme, they are all shown in a neutral shot gibing them all the same status. The last scene before ending id a tracking shot from a high angle to neutral shot of a house is shown whilst moving towards it. The music is very upbeat and has an 80s pop genre to it which matches to the time of its presentation. The upbeat tune gives it an interesting and exciting mood and followed by the brief overview of the character and not giving away too much story from the TV drama.


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