Media Evaluation Question 1 In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real products?
Opening SequenceThe introduction to my documentary is the first example of it following codes and conventions of real andprofessional products. The documentary starts with a fade in. This can be shown by the pictures above.This allows my documentary to have a dynamic element. This is because the documentary doesn’t juststart straight away but instead the audience gradually tune into the documentary. The first shot in theintroduction immediately introduce the audience to the theme and genre to which the documentary isbased upon and straight away establishes the subject and setting. The crowd are shown listening anddancing to an artist performing and is used as an establishing shot to show the documentary is basedaround the music genre. This is an example of me following codes and conventions of real productsbecause professional documentaries also start by showing an establishing shot. Then the introductionshows a montage – a series of shots giving the audience a taste of the type footage that will come later inthe documentary. Showing a montage at the beginning of my documentary shows it follows codes andconventions because all most every real documentary starts in this same way. It’s useful because it allowsthe audience to see what type of footage they can expect later in the documentary and helps establishthe setting and theme to the piece. The documentary itself isnt just thrown into the audiences face butinstead they can slowly be introduced and settle themselves into the documentary which is the mainreason we chose to follow this particular convention.
Opening SequenceThe opening sequence was a convention we in particular wanted tofollow. It gives the audience a chance to feel the vibe and tone for thedocumentary. The sound bed in the background of the footage reallygoes well to complement the pace of the editing and this helps to setthe overall feel to the documentary. It gives us a chance to show offsome of our best footage of unsigned bands performing live whichshould hopefully tease the audience and give them bit of a taster, thisin turn should force them into watching the rest of the documentary.The opening montage is essentially acting like a blurb here, it givesthe audience an idea of the type of documentary that we haveproduced.The opening title is very conventional because it mainly serves thepurpose of introducing the audience to the quality of documentary.But primarily it outlines the actual topic of the documentary to theaudience. Once they audience have seen our opening sequence itsevident that it is based on the topic of bands and artist. And once thetitle of the documentary appears its clarifies the specific question atmind, being unsigned bands needs of a record label with todaystechnology allowing them to distribute their own music.By using an opening title sequence it shows us using professionalconventions and placing them in our own work. The technique ofincluding an opening title is a popular one and really helped usintroduce the feeling and topic to our audience. It was a goodconvention to include because it gave our audience a chance to settlein and introduce them to the documentary. Giving them a teaser alsoproved useful because it forced the audience to become engaged andwanting more.
Another convention we followed during the production of my documentary was the use of a title sequence. After the introduction montage there is a shot with an overlapping title of the documentary. This is a useful technique because it introduces the audience to the name of the documentary making it easily identifiable. This also signifies the end of the opening and the transition to the main documentary content. The background footage is again relevant to the topic of the documentary because we can see a crowd dancing to a music artist.Even more relevant is the name of the title itself. Using cultural jargons or terms as a title is another conventionthat our documentary follows. Professional and real documentaries use this technique of using cultural jargonsas titles, for example the documentary “Devils Triangle” uses a nickname of the infamous Bermuda triangle asthe title of its documentary. This technique is done to grab the attention because they’ll be interested moreheavily on the topic and will recognise the jargon and terms more easily. Using the technique of including a titlesequence and cultural jargon as the title shows us following codes and conventions of real media productsbecause we have taken popular methods from the industry and included in our work to make it look asprofessional as possible.
InterviewsThe use of interviews in a documentary is a key aspect in professional and real ones within the industry, soclearly including them was an obvious choice. However interviews themselves have their own codes andconventions that we used in our own documentary.Firstly we used experts for our documentaries interviews. This is a verycommon convention and one that was important to follow becauseaudiences prefer to hear from specialists within the particular topic inwhich you are exploring. They feel they can gather more valid andinteresting knowledge if the person has a sizable background to thesubject. For our documentary we used three experts within the musicindustry, more specifically the unsigned aspect. Our experts hadexperiences of being in signed and unsigned bands and dealing withmajor record companies. Therefore by interviewing experts for ourfootage helps show we used conventions within our documentary fromthe professional industry and benefits our product by making it morein-depth and enlightening – because it had the opinions of expertswhich the audience want to hear because its more significant andnoteworthy when somebody who has experienced being in asigned/unsigned band talks about it.Another convention we followed was the use of relevant mise-en-scene in our interviews. All of our interviews contain the form of a proprelevant to the topic of music and unsigned bands In the backgroundof the shot. We placed these props in the background so it didn’timpair the audiences view of the person being interviewed and distracttheir attention, keeping their eyes fixed on the foreground. This initself shows we followed another convention by having all mise-en-scene placed in the background so the audience have a clear view ofthe person being interviewed, while giving the interview a setting andsome character.
This picture is an example of a professional interview that has beenconducted. It supports that we have followed the convention ofplacing relevant mise-en-scene in the background, because here thecreator of family guy is sat in front of posters and cut-outs of hisown show. This picture shows the unsigned band we interviewed for our documentary with a relevant board in the background with their memorabilia such as: shirts, albums and badge. This is relevant because it displays the bands name, but also shows how a band of this size and without being on a record label can promote themselves. So this shows our interviews have relevant props in the background which give support to the people being interviewed and more importantly shows how we used this convention in our own documentary, in comparison to the professional interview above its very similar and shows we successfully used a conventional technique from the professional industry in our own product.
Our interviews also follow the convention of including atext/graphic to title the person who is being interviewed. The title issimply there to show the audience the name who is beinginterviewed, because most likely they won’t know the person. Wehowever did challenge the usual convention of just having text byitself overlaid on the screen because we used a guitar as the framefor our text. I believe this makes the title look more creative andinnovative. The audiences attention will be pulled towards theguitar forcing them to read the title, meanwhile it plays a littlecameo as a relevant supporting image this boosts the whole themeand genre of bands and music which just makes the wholedocumentary seem more consistent and continuative becausethemes of music like instruments and bands are being displayedthroughout. This shows us taking the convention of using text in adocumentary to give the audience the name of the person beinginterviewed, however slightly challenging the convention by addinga guitar frame to place the text on top of. For the colours of thefont we used a dark colour that wouldn’t be to off putting butwould still stand out against the guitars contrasting fretboard.Another convention we followed for interviews was the variationsof shots. The shots from interviews here show the contrasting styleof how the people being interviewed are framed. Primarily becausethere was more people to fit in one than the other, but alsobecause it allows the documentary to become more dynamic andoriginal. This way the audience arent being forced to see the sameshots framed the same way over and over which can becometedious and boring. Instead they are given different styles of shotswhich makes the documentary more vibrant and less repetitive.
Another conventional method we followed when filmingour interviews was rule of thirds. This is a framingtechnique were the shot should be divided into nineequal parts. The person being interviewed is then placedalong these intersections and framed usually in more than2/3 of the shot to one side instead of being directly in themiddle. Also the person being interviewed doesn’t makeeye contact with the camera instead they look slightly offto the side of the shot to the interviewer. Another convention we followed was the person sittingdown. This allows the framing and positioning of the shotlook much better and makes the interview feel moreformal and planned, making it less awkward for theaudience to watch. Likewise the interviewer is also satdown, this keeps eye contact level with the cameramaking the person being interviewed just look slightly toone side of the camera. Finally another convention wefollowed for the interviews is the fact the person is staringinto empty space. This allows the shot to look moreinteresting and means it can be filled with relevant propssuch as the mixing desk and Mac in this shot. The emptyspace creates room for the person to talk into and theaudience can feel as though they are on the over end ofthe conversation listening in. This is supported by the factthe audience never hear the interviewer ask thequestions, this is another convention we followed. And itsuseful because it makes the audience feel as thoughtheyre the ones asking the questions which is somethingwe wanted to achieve with our documentary. All of thesemethods show us taking conventions from real life mediaproducts and using them in our own work.
Interview conventions breakdown Eye contact is level with camera but not Follows rule of thirds direct.Open space Sat down keeping eye contact with Name in text with guitar as frame interviewer who is also sat down to Relevant match eye level Mise-en-scene (Drums)
Archive FootageWe followed another convention in the method of including archive footage in ourdocumentary. This is footage that was originally recorded by somebody else andtypically not intended for the purpose of our documentary. Archive footage is oftenused to show historical footage that can’t be obtained with extra filming. This isshown by the example of the ‘loose change’ documentary. This documentarycovered the tragic event of the 9/11 attacks. Obviously an event such as this couldn’tbe filmed live by documentary makers because nobody foresaw the event. As aresult documentaries such as loose change rely heavily upon archive footagerecorded by news reporters and normal civilians to make up a lot of their content interms of footage.We however used this convention to our advantage primarily because we usedarchive footage that our budget and timescale prevented us from filmingourselves. We wanted big crowds whilst they partied to hugely famous bands andartist, we wanted this to show the contrast between signed and unsigned artist.However we would have to get permission to film this footage and most likely payfor both tickets and filming rights, on top of travelling to the nearby concert orfestival(which were low in numbers during the time of production). As a result wedecided to use pre-recorded footage from festivals and gigs that had already beenfilmed and available for our use. This allowed us to still use the main purpose ofthe archive footage – which was use to boost the point we was trying to make andmake it easier for the audience to picture by showing them evidence, about thecontrast between signed/unsigned bands. But allowed us to stick to our restrictedbudget and timescale so that we had a better chance of recording footage thatwas more realistic for us to obtain. This shows that we used another convention inour documentary in the form of archive footage. It provided us with theopportunity to further express points we were trying to make to the audience.While backing them up with visual and entertaining evidence.
B-Roll Footage We used another convention in the form of including B-Roll footage in our documentary. This is secondary footage that adds content and meaning to an interview in the documentary. The B-Roll acts a cutaway to provide the audience with extra and more entertaining footage to watch rather than watch a two minute long interview of the person just sat their which can quickly become boring and disinteresting.B-Roll footage also presents us with the opportunity tofurther back up a point we are trying to make and giveevidence related to what the interview is saying in thebackground. For example in one of our interviews themusic expert is saying they “don’t like listening tounsigned bands mainly because the quality is poor” atthat moment we have a cutaway to an unsigned bandperforming live, this suggests that maybe bands cant playinstruments as good as the professionals or the soundquality isnt that good. This shows us using B-Roll footageto both provide interesting footage to make ourdocumentary less static and boring by forcing ouraudience to watch a long interview with no cutaways. Butalso shows us using the B-Roll footage as supportingevidence and helps us suggest things to the audience bygiving them something visual to associate with whatsbeing said in the interview. This again shows us usingconventions from real products in our own documentary.
Sound bedUsing a sound bed in our documentary is another example of us following forms and conventions from realproducts in our work. The sound bed adds extra content to the documentary. The sound bed comes in the formof a song that really helps emphasize and complement the build up and pace of the footage and editing. Wealso followed the convention to make the audio on the sound bed dip in volume during interviews, this allowsall the sound from our interviews to be clear and easily audible. We didnt want the music to be too loud andoff putting to the point the audience couldnt hear anything from the interview. This sound bed also makes ourdocumentary dynamic and less 2D. The audience have something else to listen to and this makes interviewsand cutaways look and sound less empty. This is a really good technique because it adds something extra to ourdocumentary, allowing it to become far more alive and energetic than the audience listening to people talkingover and over which can just become very boring to watch, so by including a sound bed our documentary willbecome much more entertaining.However we did challenge and develop this convention by allowing the sound bed to run continuously throughthe documentary. This is isnt a technique that isnt often used by real products. However I believe its effectivein our piece because it really complements our quality footage and gives the documentary a good paced buildup and vibe. Often in documentaries the song used for a sound bed frequently changes depending on the paceof the documentary. We on the other hand used one song and then made the documentary match the build upand pace of the song. This makes the two go really well with each other. The song emphasizes the journey andfootage to the documentary which is really useful because making the audience feel as though they areexploring the topic of unsigned bands by themselves is something we really wanted to achieve with our work.Using one song throughout the documentary really pulls all of the footage together. It give us a canvas andplatform to work on and helps to make B-Roll cutaway footage look far more tied in to the actual documentarypiece. Also a problem of using too many songs in one documentary is the fact the audience feel like theirhaving too many different songs and artists just thrown in their face. They never really have chance to sit downand relax to one, so by having a consistent song throughout eliminates this problem because our audience canreally tune into the sound bed, relax and just take in all the footage and interviews that our documentary hasto offer. The audience will also become more familiar with that specific track, therefore it will just become asubliminal thought in the back of their mind, because if we were to keep changing the sound bed over and overthis will divert attention away from our footage and interviews because the audience will take notice of thetracks changing. All of these drawbacks of using too many songs lead us to challenging the convention andforced us to simply use one.
No Voice OverThe most unorthodox and controversial form and convention of real documentaries that we decided to challenge and develop was thenarration and voiceover. During the planning stages we debated whether there was a need for a voiceover in our documentary. We felt thatall the footage we had planned to record was very self explanatory. For this reason we didn’t believe there was an emphasis on the need toget a narration over footage that just plain and simply didn’t require it. We are really challenging the normal convention by doing thisbecause most modern documentaries do include narration over their work.However the main aim and objective we had overarching our documentary was to be creative and original – it ties in with the whole themeand topic about young and aspiring bands expressing themselves in new ways to capture the hearts of their audience, this was similar in theway we decided to make our documentary. This shows that challenging the convention by not including it comes with purpose. If we wereto take our audience on an adventure through the mass open topic of unsigned bands and whether there is a need for record labels withtodays modern technology, then we should leave narration out of the picture so all the audience have to do is sit down relax and let ourdocumentary show the experts talking about the topic, after all they have the expertise of the industry so surely they’ll know whats best.To support my statements I can fall back on professional documentaries that also chose to challenge the convention of voice overs. The firstexample is ‘Primary’ by Robert Drew – he is an American filmmaker known as a pioneer of the direct cinema genre. ‘Primary’ was adocumentary follows U.S. Senators John Kennedy Hubert Humphrey as they both seek the democratic nomination for president. Thisdocumentary follows us in challenging the normal of convention of voice overs by not using narration through the whole documentary.Instead Drew allows the audience to see the footage for how it is, this is why we choice not to use narration. Instead the audience can seethe footage first hand and draw their own opinions from the evidence instead of being told what to think they can do it for themselves. Thisdocumentary was seen to be breakthrough and innovative at the time of its release and is considered a classic. To even support the fact thatby not including narration allows the piece to be less bias is the fact the documentary is being preserved in the U.S. because of itssignificance in showing unbiased history.Another example is from an Oscar winning documentary called ‘Harlan County U.S.A’ by Barbara Kopple. This documentary was focused onthe ‘Brookside Strike’. Kopple was a long time advocate of working rights and decided to take a similar approach of ‘Primary’ by notincluding narration. Kopple said instead of using a narrator to tell the story let the words and actions of the people speak for themselves.Both of these documentaries are critically acclaimed for their pure un-biasedness and detail to simply show a topic how it is instead oftelling the audience for them. And show how successful a documentary can be even without including narration. This is the cutting edgeapproach we wanted to take and shows that we are strongly challenging a convention but it comes with great purpose – we just want theaudience to draw their own conclusions from the interviews and footage we are showing them. We want the documentary to be a journeyinto unsigned bands were they can walk out with their own opinions and facts that they find important. Details that mean something tothem. Not simply because our bias narration is telling them something, but instead the evidence is telling them something and they areseeing it first hand. This shows we challenged forms and conventions of real media products and the evidence shows that similarapproaches have gone onto be successful before, even win an Oscar.