Our brief was to work in groups to produce: the opening 5 minutes of a TV documentary on a topic of our choice, a 30 second radio trailer that promotes our documentary and a double page spread, from a suitable magazine of our choice to advertise/promote our documentary. First of all we watched supersize me. We focussed mainly on the conventions used within the first five minutes of the documentary as our brief was to create the opening 5 minutes of a documentary. Here is what conventions we found: that supersize me uses the most common shot type of a and uses a handheld camera for more informal situations These were other conventions that we picked out from the supersize me documentary: Supersize me is a fly on the wall documentary meaning that the audience is allowed to freely observe a situation without being noticed by what is going on- Actuality ~ film footage of real life events, places and people.- Exposition ~ occurs at the beginning in a documentary, introducing the important themes of the film; it creates the viewers first impression which can be done by the shots being specifically positioned to make the audience believe something.- Voice-over ~ a commentary by the film producer which can be spoken whilst the camera is filming or added to the soundtrack during production/editing. The film maker can speak directly to the audience which may explain/set the scene.- Interviews ~ exchanges between the film producer and general people speaking directly about certain events from, most likely, prompted questions.- Interviews with experts ~ exchanges between the film producer and a qualified interviewee who may authenticate or disagree with views expressed in the documentary with their own knowledge.- Archival footage ~ (or stock footage) obtained from film library and inserted in a documentary to show historical events.
Here are the ways in which our documentary uses, develops or challenges forms or conventions of a documentary:- Our documentary challenges the convention of being a fly on the wall documentary and in fact uses reconstructions to convey our message.- However we do use the convention of actuality within our documentary such as the vox pops of the public as that is a real life event.- We also use an exposition at the beginning of our documentary by using transitions in between images and then a title to introduce our topic.- We use the convention of a voice over and in fact develop this convention by using a piece to camera with a presenter speaking directly to the audience.- We also include interviews within our documentary such as interviews of our case studies family and friends, vox pops of the public and their opinions and expert interviews.- As mentioned above we include expert interviews within our documentary to get actual facts and statistics.- We also conform to the documentary convention of using archival footage to obtain historical facts to include in our documentary. I then decided to look at how our media product uses, develops or challenges forms or conventions not just of any documentary but supersize me specifically: Both supersize me (left) and our documentary (right) use piece to camera to present the documentary. This means that the presenter should be looking directly at the camera and the rule of thirds convention should be applied with the eyes in the top third of the screen. I believe that we have done this quite well. We used the tripod like supersize me to convey the piece to camera. We did use the hand held camera for more informal situations similar to supersize me. We also applied the rule of thirds convention to our interviews.
Supersize me Our documentary Like in our documentary an amount and a picture is used to portray the statistics of certain information to make it more interesting and easy for the audience to retain. A voice over is also used in supersize me to explain what it being shown; our documentary also does this. The research is important within a documentary to inform the audience or persuade them of a certain view point and having this research helps support the knowledge you are conveying resulting in believability and professionalism. Supersize me Our documentary Supersize me uses a montage of images to keep the audience engaged, rather than just presenting and interviews, and to make information easier to process. Our documentary also includes a montage of images. This makes the audience actively look at the screen as they have to see what is being shown as they are not being told exactly what is on the screen, therefore, this engages them.
Supersize me Our documentary Similar to supersize me our documentary displays a title to introduce the documentary name, however, in both documentaries this is not displayed straight away and there are a few clips previous to this to introduce the actual topic first. This is an effective way to engage the audience from the beginning and to give them time to understand the documentary as the name may have no meaning if placed right at the beginning of the documentary. The sound within a documentary can be diegetic (in the scene), for example, by using a presenter in a piece to camera or non-diegetic (added during editing), for example, by using a voice over to explain what is on the screen. Supersize me used a piece to camera style presenter to guide the audience through the documentary; within our documentary we also did this as it made the documentary more personal to the audience so that they would feel they could relate more to our documentary. However, within both supersize me and our documentary non – diegetic sound was used also by the use of a voice over and audio music to give a variation for the audience. We recorded our voice over using the microphone and headphones and we inserted suitable music from garage band (see construction).
Within our research and planning I also watched the documentary „airline‟ and some documentaries similar to ours „underage and pregnant‟, „16 and pregnant‟ and teen mom 2. Now I wanted to compare their conventions with the conventions of our finished documentary. Airline tends to use many establishing shots within the first 5 minutes, e.g. of the aeroplanes and airport, to set the scene. Airlines most common shot type is medium close-ups to show the general reactions of people which is more realistic for a documentary than perhaps using a close-up. We also used establishing shots when introducing a new scene to help guide the audience through our journey. We also use the convention of medium close-ups within our documentary so the audience can get a clear perspective of a persons reaction. However, our main type of shot is a medium shot which we did so that more of the surroundings could be shown so that the audience could have a clear understanding of what is happening but to also set the scene a little more. Underage and pregnant tend to use medium shots as their main shot types similar to our documentary and as Underage and pregnant uses a presenter like ours both this and our documentary fall under the categories of personal and professional. With teen mom 2 and 16 and pregnant being broadcast by the same company and channel they both tend to use close-ups and medium close-ups as their main shots. The close-ups could be because these are less factual documentaries and more dramatised documentaries on the life of a teenage parent and so more detailed/dramatic reactions are captured. As our documentary is more factual we wanted to use more professional shot types. The audio within these documentaries are mainly non-diegetic sounds with the use of simple but suitable instrumental music and a voice over of the actual teenager that the documentary is focussed on. We also used simple instrumental music for our documentary to keep it professional and as we could not use copyrighted vocal music. To also keep it professional as it is factual we challenged the convention of using the teen being focussed on as our voice over and instead used a presenter and the presenter for our voice over. We also used pans and tracking shots within our documentary which are some times used in these 3 documentaries. !6 and pregnant uses drawn animation as a special effect. Our documentary also uses animation and as we have similar target audiences which makes me think we have aimed our documentary successfully. We have not just used this special effect but others too such as the transformation from blurry to clear by changing to focus. This can be very effective in engaging the audience. We both use these special effects when introducing the focus of the documentary.
We looked at the theories that Nichols‟ had of documentary modes from his book „Introduction to documentary‟ He said that documentaries could be either poetic, expository, observational, participatory, reflexive or performative. The poetic mode can be impressionistic or lyrical maybe conveying a deeper meaning, the expository mode consists of using to persuasion by speaking directly to the audience to perhaps make them see it from your point of view. The observational mode includes a more realistic view compared with, for example the poetic mode, by observing lived life; this mode also uses minimum intervention and so may be classed as more of a „fly on the wall‟ documentary. The participatory mode shows the film maker as a social actor in the film. The reflexive mode focuses on how the documentary is constructed to get a certain response from its audience and, finally, the performative mode doesn‟t differ too much from the participatory mode but whereas the participatory mode suggests the film maker is featured in the film, the performative mode implies the film maker is not just in the film but a part of the story. Supersize me is an example of the performative mode as Spurlock does not just appear in his own film but he is the story of the documentary. It is also an example of the participatory mode as Spurlock appears in his own film; it may also be an example of the expository mode as the audience are directly spoken to and although they may not realise it they may be being persuaded of the view point that fast food is bad and they should stop eating as much of it. In relation to these theories our documentary is similar to Supersize me and so is: participatory because one of our film makers is actually the presenter of the documentary, however, the presenter just appears in the documentary and is not the story of the documentary and so may include less of the features of the performative mode differing to Supersize me; it is also expository as the audience may be secretly being persuaded to reduce the rate of teenage pregnancy e.g. by making contraception more aware. Supersize me has the narrative structure of a linear structure as it has a beginning, middle and an end. You could say our documentary is of this structure but it is only of the first 5 mins of a documentary and so may not have come to its full conclusion. Therefore, it would be of an open structure, leaving the audience to make sense of it themselves; if we had created the whole of the documentary only then may it have become of a closed structure. Furthermore, our documentary could include features of one of the codes from the narrative theorist „Roland Barthes‟ which would be the enigmatic code (resolution is hidden from audience) suggesting that the causes and solutions to teenage pregnancy are not fully solved (within the first five minutes). However, our documentary definitely includes one of the codes: the cultural code (understanding due to cultural awareness) as some understanding of the causes and solutions to teenage pregnancy is created through views and opinions of society and its different cultures. I then decided to look further at the different theories of documentaries from another theorist, within the book „New documentary: a critical introduction‟ (Second Edition), by Stella Bruzzi. Within the beginning of the book Bruzzi states “As my underpinning rationale is the importance of performativity in relation to documentary, the first issue relating to how documentary has hitherto been theorised needs to be addressed”. She then comments a lot within her book about the other theorists of documentary (and slightly on narrative theorists) including Nichols (and Barthes), for example, she says “Nichols has, to date, identified five modes: the expository, the observational, the Interactive, the Reflexive and the Performative. He is keener on some modes than on others (the Interactive and the Reflexive, particularly) but his categories are often – and increasingly – defined negatively…”. This shows that her theories and beliefs are different to Nichols‟, as she believes performativity is most important within a documentary compared with Nichols‟ belief of Interactivity and Reflexivity being most important which is why I wanted to look at another theorist to compare views but also to see if our documentary would suit other theorists ideas. Therefore, Bruzzi believes that the film maker should be involved within the story of the documentary as much as possible whereas Nichols‟ main belief of a documentary lies in the construction of it. I think our documentary mostly relates to the main theory of Bruzzi as one of our film makers is in parts of the story but the construction was also a big part within our documentary so we could get the right reaction from the audience. (However, this book was written a while ago and some of Nichols‟ theories have since changed and so may be more suited to current documentaries than Bruzzi‟s theories).
I listened to the radio trail (previous) within my research and planning because, although it was not about a documentary, it was about a radio programme that was coming soon and so used some similar conventions. It also gave us an idea of how to portray our radio trail, e.g. with what tenor, as BBC Radio 1 was the station that we used and so we had to attract a young audience. We did also look at other radio trails that were about documentaries/programmes, such as ones from BBC Radio Five Live and a radio trail of the sci-fi drama Doctor Who, to get an idea of what sort of conventions we should include. Here is a comparison of our radio trails and existing radio trails and the conventions used: Within the Doctor Who radio trail sound effects are used to suit the genre of the programme being advertised and it is a recognisable sound for Doctor Who. We did not use any sound effects within our documentary apart from the sound of a baby crying. This is similar to the BBC Radio 1 Radio trail (previous page) as this sound is also used within our documentary, like the Doctor Who sound, and relates to the genre/topic of our radio trail. We did not use any more sound effects as our documentary is quite factual and reality, not drama, and so we wanted it to come across like that. The BBC Radio 1 Radio trail along with other radio trails about programmes use the common convention of inserting extracts from, the programme in between the voice over advertising the programme. We included extracts of interviews from our documentary in between the presenters voice to interest the audience. All radio trails advertising programmes, including the one on the previous page, tend to include the date, time and channel that the programme is on. This common convention is usually placed at the end of the radio trail to make it memorable to the audience. At the end of our documentary we include the voice over saying “Tune in to BBC 3, Friday at 9 for a Bumpy Ride” to inform the audience of when it is on; we also include the slogan/Pun for our documentary “a Bumpy Ride”, which is also stated on our DPS, to interest and entice listeners to watch the documentary. Within the research and planning I learnt that most radio trails, like the Doctor Who one, last from around 30 – 50 seconds. We considered this convention within our radio trail which lasts 53 seconds and so we only slightly ran over. Another important convention of a radio trail is that the voice over suits the tenor of the radio station and the target audience. For example, BBC Radio Five Live attracts more of a middle class audience and so the tenor of the voice over is more formal. We used a more informal dialect/voice over to suit the younger target audience and light hearted tenor of BBC Radio 1. We also used music that was suitable, and also used within our documentary, to suit the genre/tenor of our documentary and chosen radio station but that also suited our target audience as it was quite a light hearted yet serious piece of music. We let the music creep in part way through the radio trail which is also a convention used by many other radio trails.
I looked at this double, double page spread from teen vogue within my research and planning to show why we had chosen to base our DPS on this magazine. Here is a comparison of the two, to see if the right decision was made by the use of conventions: A main headline or lure is always used within a magazine article. In both teen vogue’s DPS and ours A pull quote is often used within a there is a relation to magazine article to entice readers to read the main article. Both DPS’s do this technology suiting our target with the use of pink or bright colours and audience of ‘technology enlarged quotation marks to stand out. obsessed’ teens. Our use of graphics for an image challenges theA strap line is always used to engage usual style of image on a magazine DPS. However, we did this to include a convention ofthe reader and to give an overview of our chosen magazine, Teen Vogue, as we havethe main article. Both our DPS and similar target audiences that we are trying toTeen Vogue’s do this. attract and it suits the type of magazine. However, a common convention of most articles is the use of more than one image which we have done to create an image led page to suit our target audience. A by line is a common convention of aA drop capital is a common convention of a magazine magazine and this is featured on thearticle. Both our DPS and Teen Vogue’s use one at the Teen Vogue DPS. Our magazine alsobeginning of the article. Although, Teen Vogue uses it later features this. It is either at the bottomtoo for new paragraphs about the documentary we did not or the side of a magazine as it is not afeel this would look right due to our slightly different format. main feature.
More comparisons of our DPS and Teen VogueTeen Vogue always uses the same font for the name of the magazine to Consistent conventions like the page number, date and website areshow a consistent house style and so we found a similar font/logo to do this always put on Teen Vogues articles in appropriate places to create identityalso. Teen Vogue never keeps a consistent colour of the name of the for the audience. We also put the page number on our article in a similarmagazine and so we changed it from ones we had seen; we still, however, place to teen vogue to create identity but consistency also. We did not putchose colours from their house style colours. Although, teen vogue does the date or website on the article though as if we were to create a frontnot display the name of the magazine on its articles, we decided to do this cover of a magazine for this article we would put it on the front cover. This isas it is a common convention of many other magazines. because this is where they are placed on many other magazines.The house style of Teen Vogue includes the colours black, pink and white and so we also used these colours but changed the order e.g. blackbackground instead of white to suit our target audience slightly more. Teen Vogue uses a rule of quarters with 2 columns which we decided tochallenge and use a rule of thirds with 3 columns as our DPS was A4 and not A5 and we wanted to use a similar sized font to Teen Vogue but withno empty spaces and so using 3 columns was the most sensible way to do this. We used the A4 size DPS challenging the A5 size convention of ourchosen magazine because most articles in Teen Vogue stretched over 4 A5 size pages making it equivalent to 2 A4 size pages. We alsochallenged the format of a teen vogue article by using a question and answer response; this was because we wanted to include specificinformation that our target audience would want to know rather than just reporting on the documentary in general. We also thought this styleformat would best suit and attract our target audience as in other teen focused magazines this format is used. Some of the features more specific to a TV article are ones that did not appear on some of Teen Vogue‟s articles about documentaries and so likewise to my research and planning I wanted to compare some of the conventions of our article with conventions from an actual TV magazine: TV Times to see if we had made the right decision in using Teen Vogue instead of an actual TV magazine. Within a TV article there is usually an image from the programme with a caption explaining it. We included these conventions within our article but we also included an image of the presenter as she is the one being interviewed as she is directing the journey of the film (like Spurlock did). Another common convention of a TV article that is used is information of when the programme is on and what channel it is on. We used this convention placing it at the bottom of our article because we believe this is where it was most suitable. We challenged a convention of most magazines by including a table of statistics. We did this in relation to our documentary as we mention these statistics within it but also to show our documentary is factual and so the audience mayPresenter be persuaded to watch the documentary as they may be interested in learning something new. The table is also in relation to the graphics on our DPS. I believe we did make the right decision in using Teen Vogue as our chosen magazine because theu discuss the topic of Teen pregnancy which TV magazines tend not to discuss. Also I believe this because Teen Vogue has a very similar target audience to us and it includes articles about documentaries that are broadcast on channels with a similar target audience to ours.
Overall, we kept to the normal conventions of a documentary and tried to aim everything at our chosen target audience which I think was done successfully. We also stuck to the common conventions of our ancillary tasks only really challenging anything within our DPS such as inserting a table of statistics.