Monday, December 14, 2009

Korean post production.

It's annoying as all get out. It's unnecessary. It's shiny. It's colorful. It's embarrassing. It's a staple. One cannot watch Korean TV without noticed the astronomical amount of post production. You've seen it - even if you never noticed it before.

May 12 1956 marked a special day in Korean history. The event? The first Korean television broadcast. Small but soon to become a mind-numbing ritual for families all over the country. This ingenious invention might not have inspired the miracle on the han but it may have at least entertained the masses.

Now, it doesn't take much to know that much of early imported media came from Japan. Yes, Korea's history with Japanese media is rather interesting given the general misgivings of the past. That said, it's easy to look at Korean TV post-production and conclude that it's a carbon copy of some other country's technique. But you'd be wrong. You haven't seen my list, yet. I'll break it down so you can easily identify the particular "tracks" that are exclusively used in Korea (oh yeah, it's going to be one of those posts). In order to fully appreciate this post, one must have seen at least one original Korean show be it game show, variety show, or contest. A few starting places would be 무한도전 aka Infinity Challenge, 일박이일 aka 1 Night 2 Days, and 미녀들의 수다 aka Talk With Beauties.

Care to take a look at a sample list of techniques employed by the good people in Korea?

- The Laugh Track - 
This can be as simple as a prerecorded audience laugh or as complicated as being filmed in front of a live ostrich. Either way, the laugh track is a sort of cue system to allow the audience at home to know when it is appropriate to laugh. It also functions to fill the air with the awful stench of bad cheese. It's tasteless and ruins any pathetic attempt at a real joke. But, that's just the thing - Korean audiences are lively and their laugh track is diverse. There are several different canned laughs and a few high pitched female "우~~" tracks that get played pretty regularly. Where did this idea even come from? Who in their right mind thought this was a good idea? Actually, the history behind the laugh track is actually pretty intricate. Take a minute and discover the controversy over one of the most annoying aspects to television. Then, go back to the ostrich. Because that is funny.
Korean Television Laugh Track Live Ostrich
- The "Oh no he didn't" Track -
This one can only be explained by typing the following: "Ooooooo" which is not at all the same as "Ohhhh". It usually comes at a time when someone said something goofy. Or scandalous. This track is also similar to the "Oh, so surprising! He's such a nice guy" track which usually comes out in interviews with quiet members of boybands. It's always the quiet ones, isn't it?
Hankyung 한경
- The Closed Caption -
These courtesy captions are cute and feature highlights and other color treatments. They help people like myself read along while listening. Of course, that's not why they are there, but they are a peculiar thing, aren't they? Think about it. Someone's job is to add these little one liners to every single show... how would you like to graduate from a prestigious university and tell your buddies at a party "Hey, you know those insistent little words that pop up during talk shows? Yeah. That's me". Sucks to be you, guy.
Closed Captions for the Korean Impaired
- The Batman Caption -
Pow! Bam! Kaboom! and other such classic lines graced audiences in the 1950s with Batman starring the legendary major of Quahog, Adam West. It seems the dark knight's influence has found it's way to the shores of Korea in the form of onomatopoeia goodness. They highlight a nasty fall, a kiss on the cheek, a slurp of a drink, and the sound of food cooking. They serve no purpose. These are my favorites. 짱!
Batman Pow Korean
- The Sparkling Effect -
Ever notice when that good looking guy enters the room, there's Vaseline on the lens? That would be the 반짝반짝 effect. Magical, isn't it? It just makes all entrances better, doesn it? These little blurry stars come out in full slow motion (black and white optional) to enhance a brave deed, sweet moment, or special guest. They even make me look 10% cooler than I really am. Cue the theme song ♪♪...Almost paradise...♪♪
Sparkling Matthew
- The "Say Whaaat? " Repeat Effect -
This is the one where the shocking statement or quick comment by the person you least expect gets repeated thrice. It is by far the most unnerving aspect of post production. Like a Michael Bay action sequence that gets the hero jumping from the exploding building from every possible angle, this effect repeats the same audio but using three different camera angles. I actually like it because if someone was talking or laughed, I can always catch the joke the third time around.
Say What Again Pulp Fiction
Don't lie. You love it, too. These and more is what makes Korean TV enjoyable. It's just not exactly the same other places. I know I've left out a few other essentials (like the question marks that pop up over someone's head, the bizarre sound effects, and the hyperactive and over enthusiastic hosts) but you get the picture. I love Korean TV and I'm not even a huge fan of American TV. Some might be shocked to know that I haven't owned a TV for quite some time - but of course I still catch The Office online, though.

Then again, I suppose it's not exactly appropriate to compare American TV and Korean TV without coming up with a list of why apples are better than oranges. Like spicy food, it's up to the particular person's own personal taste to determine which dish is more palatable. So, I ask you kind souls of KC101, do you enjoy the spice of life (also known as Korean television?) or do you prefer the hamburger and milkshake of mass entertainment media?