Codes and conventions of the documentary genre
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  • 1. Codes and Conventions of the Documentary Genre
  • 2. Cinematography• Interviews: the subject is framed either to the left or right of the screen usually in close up or medium close up, can be big close up rule of thirds applies eye line is a third of the way down the frame
  • 3. Cinematography• Interviews: static, on a tripod interviewee sat still on a chair light source in front of interviewee• There is variety of camerawork used – common types are: zoom, pan, crane shot and dolly shots• Handheld camerawork is actuality footage and this is used when camera crews have to respond to events. For example, if a celebrity shows up
  • 4. Archive material• Still images – used to anchor what the narrator or interviewee is talking about• Can be camera movement as well to anchor what the narrator or interviewee is talking about• Chromakey, of green screen can be used and this will show moving images, still images or footage of films, programmes or games to signify relevance to the topic or again, anchor speech
  • 5. Mise-en-scene• The mise-en-scene always relates to the interviewee or subject.• This is done to further emphasise what the audience is hearing and seeing and to make the subject matter or interviewee reference clear and understandable
  • 6. Vox Pops• Vox Pops (or vox populis) means, voice of the people.• This is done at the start or through the beginning of a documentary.• It is a series of interview shots and shows members of the public or relevant interviewees answering questions related to the topic and creates enigma within the audience at early stages to make the documentary interesting
  • 7. Graphics• Usually two lines – Name Relevance• As above, the top line is bigger than the bottom line. The graphics are there to anchor the relevance of the interviewee to the topic• It is also used to anchor place and time when necessary in a documentary
  • 8. Sound• Music is often used relevant to the topic. For example, if the documentary was about a specific music artist, their music would be used throughout• However, copyright clearance must be on all songs used in a documentary to avoid legal issues
  • 9. Editing• Mainly cuts are just used to separate scenes and parts of the documentary.• Rarely other edits are used.• This is because editing isn’t the focus of a documentary.• Sometimes slow motion will be used to emphasise a point or fast motion to lapse time or maybe elliptical editing for the same purpose.