TV news question

Thouny cthouny at
Thu Feb 3 20:03:24 EST 2005

I find this topis of reenactment and mimetic displacement
on a material model in Japanese News (of any sort)
particularly interesting. And I agree that this must not be
a simple budget issue. 

One thing that interests me in the use of the models rather
than CG is the question of miniaturisation and how
miniaturisation in the form of a reduced material mimetic
model can allow for a control and a reappropriation at a
human scale of a disturbing event. As well as the feeling
of communality it allows, as the god-presentators can
manipulate it and examine it in all its angles. 

Without falling into some kind of cultural essentialism,
one could link that, maybe, to the taste for artificiality
vs realism, as can be seen among young Japanese with the
use of 2D cell-animation structure in both animation
(mixed-up with 3D state-of-the-art animation) and video
games (PS2 vs XBox).

Also, the use of captions more and more (omni)present in
Japanese television has been bugging me for some time. It
is definitely an original use of captions, not intended for
comprehension of the speaking-image really (voices are
audible enough). 

If anybody has any thought about this, I would be glad to
hear them. 

Christophe Thouny
McGill University

 --- Aaron Gerow <gerowaaron at> wrote: 
> This is an issue I've wondered about for some time. I too
> asked myself 
> why news companies did not use not only CG recreations,
> but even 
> graphics to show a list of items. Instead, they'd have
> those famous 
> cards where the presenter peels off of the covers one by
> one.
> I too thought this could be a budget issue, but I now
> think that is not 
> likely the case. While I'd like to hear some inside info
> from an 
> insider, clearly graphics technology is so widespread and
> easy to use 
> these days that it would not be hard at all for any
> Japanese news 
> company to use it. Also, look at the fact that all the
> variety shows 
> use an inordinate amount of graphics (especially
> telop--the titles on 
> screen--some animated in complex ways), and you can see
> that networks 
> can do it if they want to on the news. Also, when you
> look at some of 
> the models they use on the news, clearly some are so big
> and detailed 
> that you would think it would take much more time to make
> these than 
> using today's CG technology. (I should add that the TV
> news is using a 
> lot more telop than it used to, especially for
> transcribing dialogue in 
> taped reports.)
> My feeling is that there are two reasons for this use of
> non-CG 
> technology. First is simply that it's become a convention
> and both 
> producers and viewers are used to it. Sometimes shokunin
> ishiki is hard 
> to change. But I think the biggest reason is this:
> Japanese TV news is 
> far more "human-centered" than say American TV news.
> While NHK is more 
> of an exception (and thus NHK uses graphics more
> often--perhaps that 
> connects to NHK's pretension as serious, objective news),
> the anchors 
> in commercial TV news (minpo) are less engaged in a
> one-on-one with the 
> audience from an abstract space, with a blank blue screen
> or set in the 
> back, than working in a group in a studio set that is
> often structured 
> as home-like (News Station was particularly like this).
> Anchors don't 
> just read the news, they talk about it, and one will
> frequently find 
> the anchors discussing that news among themselves and a
> guest. In this 
> kind of repartee, CG I think could be seen as destroying
> the 
> interaction. It is much more human and material, one
> could say, to have 
> these flip cards which people can point to and comment on
> than CG in 
> some abstract space. Of course, there are many styles in
> Japanese TV 
> news--the really early morning news or the satellite TV
> news usually 
> only has one announcer and lots of CG--but the primary
> shows--the 6pm 
> and late evening shows--have long maintained this homey, 
> conversational, material, and perhaps "human" style. CG
> don't work as 
> well in that.
> Anyway, that's one of my impressions.
> Aaron Gerow
> KineJapan owner
> Assistant Professor
> Film Studies Program/East Asian Languages and Literatures
> Yale University
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