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Evaluation: Question 1


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  • 1. Media Rina Bansal‘Underage Binge Drinking’Evaluation1) In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge formsand conventions of real media products?The Documentary: Once given the task to create the opening 5 minutes of an hour long documentary,alongside a radio trail and double page spread in a listings magazine to support it, wediscussed topics which we could base our documentary on. We researched different genresof documentaries that we could include, along with any recent situations in the news, aswell as facts and figures which would become a useful to the documentary opening.We concluded with basing the documentary on ‘Underage Binge Drinking’, as it was aneglected problem in the UK which was highly increasing. We researched what is needed to create a documentary further, looking at differentcategories: optimistic, pessimistic, serious, ironic etc. As well as the conventions: voiceover(the commentary/ narrator), actuality (filming real life events, places, people), expositions(theme is revealed in the start), reconstructions (to reconstruct an event/ act it out) andarchival footage (secondary or stock footage). In our documentary, it has many serious yetoptimistic aspects, as it sets the tone for our target audience, allowing them to know whattype of documentary they are viewing. We began looking at different types and styles of documentaries which support BillNicholstheories of Documentary Modes (2001). Documentary modes are a kind ofconceptual scheme, similar to genres. Six of which were very important to Nichols: Poetic-artistic and creative/ soviet montage theory at the start, Expository- way to expose thesocial problem, persuading the viewer on a viewpoint through an omniscient narrator andcutaways to illustrate points further, Reflexive- demystifying the art of making thedocumentary, Observational- way to observe people in everyday life- usually done by a ‘flyon the wall’ style, Participatory- when the film maker appears as subjects in their own workand Performative- the maker of the documentary is the subject of the film/programme,making it autobiographical. In order for our documentary to follow the conventions of a real media product, we watcheda variety of documentaries that were aired on well-known channels such as: Channel 4, BBCand ITV1. The documentary ‘Supersize Me’ (2004) is an excellent example portraying bothperformative and participatory modes, as Morgan Spurlock (the presenter) makes himselfthe subject to the programme, by carrying out an investigation they call a ‘McDiet’, to
  • 2. Media Rina Bansalportray his argument to the audience of obesity in America.As well as this, a lot of hand held camera is used whichcreates actuality and an autobiographical style to theproduction, which makes it more personal for the audience.Instead of this, we use a voiceover in our documentary, anomniscient narrator, a narrative structure. We have donethis as it persuades our argument across to the audience byrepetition, and more suitable for our documentary on‘Underage Binge Drinking’. This is similar to ITV1’s documentary ‘Fire and Rescue’ (2003),which seemed to be an educational, investigative type ofdocumentary, profiling fire-fighters and their work. Theyutilised a particular narrator- Allister Stuart, a news reader. Byusing a news reader’s voice as the voiceover, it creates a moreserious tone which is very factual, more believable andappropriate for the target audience. Furthermore, as our documentary is on ‘Underage BingeDrinking’, we decided that it would be an investigative, informative and expositorydocumentary, however consisting of an ‘enigmatic code’ structure, as the investigation ofthe causes and effects of underage binge drinking cannot be solved- likewise to ‘supersizeme’. From watching other documentaries, we analysed the features and ideas and thought ofhow we could incorporate them into our own documentary. Many of these conventionswere used through camera. Involving many different types of shots and angles such as:establishing shots, medium close-ups, long shots, extreme close-ups, high angle, low angleetc. Many of our shots are done by using a Tripod, so then the picture is both steady andlevel and also enabling us to pan the camera while filming an establishing shot to make itmore professional. We used this in our establishing shots of the college, the college canteenand of Touchwood high street.Camera:Tripod:
  • 3. Media Rina BansalOne particular feature would be the montage used at the start of the documentary, as it wassimilar to a real media product. This exposes the theme and subject of the documentary as wellas making it more dramatic for the viewer.Another would be medium close-ups, which we used a lot in the expert interviews for ourdocumentary, so then we can see the persons reactions and expressions- like ‘supersize me’ hasdone. We have used ‘rule of thirds’- having the interviewee looking into an empty space and athird of the way in on the screen- this is to ensure that there is no ‘dead space’ behind theinterviewee, so the viewer will have their eyes on the expert. However, still portraying to theviewer the expert interviewees’ work surroundings- similar to an expert interview in ‘supersizeme’: Furthermore, we also incorporated the idea from ‘supersize me’ of using a low anglemedium shot. This shot had to be very precise in order to achieve the appropriate mis-en-scene and focus of the bottles- ensuring that they would not look blurry- and pulling somefocus from the background to make the bottles stand out more- as they have done so in‘supersize me’:We also ensured that the bottles were in size order, to portray the units, like it has done so in‘supersize me’ when conveying what the size portions for drinks are. This makes it moreOur Documentary: ‘Supersize me’ Documentary:‘Supersize me’ Documentary:Our Documentary:
  • 4. Media Rina Bansaleffective as the viewer will realise the shocking differences in unit size of alcohol. Another convention our media project uses is through sound. In particular, our documentaryuse a variety of diegetic and non-diegetic sounds, along with a presenter, background musicand a voiceover. ‘Supersize me’ uses both a presenter and a voiceover, which is doneeffectively as it involves the audience in the whole investigation of the documentary,therefore making it more personal for the viewer- both performative and expository in BillNichol’s documentary codes. As our documentary was more informative than investigative,we decided to only include a voiceover and no presenter, as it would have been moreappropriate for the topic and theme of the documentary. A voiceover was also only used inboth ‘Fire and Rescue’ (ITV1) and ‘A Good Smack’ (BBC) to narrate to the viewers what isgoing on, as well as the cause and effects of these situations. Background music we had made using the software ‘Garage Band’, where we createdinstrumental sounds to fit the theme and make it parallel to the scenes of our documentary.In all the documentaries we researched and studied used background music. However, amajority of the music was copyrighted from bands and song artists.In ‘A Good Smack’, a lot of chaotic music is played when portraying the misbehavingchildren, the choice of band was ‘Madness’, and the song choice did not overpower therecording of the misbehaving children.In ‘Fire and Rescue’, the music was parallel to the scenes, which does grab the viewers’attention however, the music was over the top and over powering of the clips which madethe extract look not as professional as it could have.The background music which we created on Garage Band was not overpowering thevoiceover or the clips and was not over the top in the scenes we utilised it in. The music wasappropriate and parallel to the scene as it was simple beats; however the sound levels werea bit sketchy as it went back and forth from high to low therefore slightly overpowering thevoiceover at certain points. This is something that would be improved in our documentary.This is part of the voiceover script introducingNeil Attewell, which we had made usingamicrophone recorder, headphones and editingin final cut express
  • 5. Media Rina Bansal In order to support our documentary on ‘underage binge drinking’, we needed to acquire afair amount of reliable research which was relevant to the topic. This is to inform ouraudience about the rising statisticsfacts and figures of the topic, to educate them thatunderage binge drinking is an increasing problem in the UK, as well as educating them onvarious causes and effects of young teens binge drinking. In order to get the correct statisticswe produced questionnaires which we handed out to students in our sixth form college. Wealso researched the BBC News on the internet to find any articles or news mentions onunderage binge drinking- hoping to use it as a case study for the documentary, similar to‘supersize me’ in their case study of the two girls who attempted to sue McDonalds.Background music track was exportedfrom Garage Band and imported into Finalcut expressCase Studies (‘Supersize me’)
  • 6. Media Rina Bansal Special effects are also utilised in the conventions of real media products. One in particularwhich we have used is speeding up the clip whilst the voiceover is explaining statistic factsabout underage binge drinking. We blurred the image as well as speeding up the clip, latercrowding it with images of alcohol bottles and cans.As the clip was not long enough to cover the voiceover, we challenged the conventions ofreal media products and reversed the clip- still quick paced- to make the clip cover thevoiceover. This had successfully worked as it was not noticeable to the viewer that it hadbeen reversed.Our Documentary:‘Supersize me’ Documentary:We have displayed percentages similarly to how ‘supersize me’ has done. This technique iseffective to the viewer as can clearly see the abnormally high or rising figures. By blurring out apreviously used image as the background fits well and appropriately into the scene.Here the clip has beenspeeded up, and pulled out offocus.During this part of the clip, thevideo has been reversed, while outof focus and is speeded upThis is how we changed both the speed andhow we reversed the clip to make it lastlonger (tick the ‘reverse’ box)
  • 7. Media Rina BansalThe Magazine Article:This is our magazine article which we had designed and produced for ‘More’ magazine. We hadresearched a number of magazines to see how they used the conventions to make the articlemore effective. Considering that our documentary was targeted for a younger audience, wedecided to keep the layout simple and to a colour scheme of red, black and white.Double-Page Spread articles from ‘More’ Magazine:Both of these double- page spreads consistof colour schemes, main (powerful) image;grab quotes, columns and captions etc.These are some of the conventions we hadincorporated into our magazine article. Wehad also used still images from ourdocumentary, one of which conveys theintended target audience.
  • 8. Media Rina BansalSome conventions we used on our article:These are the still images that we usedin our magazine article as we thoughtthey were effective and portrayed ourdocumentary well as it gives an insightto the reader on what is included inour documentary:I would definitely re-do the grab quotes in the article, as the text box outline is shown in thepage. As well as this, I would also include captions underneath the images to explain what isgoing on the image, this can also make the documentary seem more appealing to the reader.Included the date, time andchannel the documentarywould be showing onInserted page numbers, used martini glasses toemphasise the topic of our documentaryInserted a website in which the reader couldfind out more on our documentaryWe set the article in columns andwrapped the text around the grabquotes (which are importantquotes said in the documentary)
  • 9. Media Rina BansalThe Radio Trail: In order to have an idea on what the conventions were on a radio trail, we had listenedto a variety of professional radio trails from stations such as ‘Capital FM’ and ‘BBCRadio’. We had also filled in sheets to analyse other radio trails for documentaries whichinvolved analysing the voiceover, music, tone and other conventions of a radio trail.Furthermore, we had also practiced making a radio trail, however using secondarybackground music, earlier in the year so we had an idea on how to create and puttogether a radio trail on ‘GarageBand’. Our radio trail was produced for ‘BBC Radio One’, as they have a wide variety of ourtarget audience; therefore we needed to make our radio trail appealing and upbeat forthe young listeners, however still considering that our documentary consisted of aserious topic. We used extracts from our documentary which were effective and powerful quotes-from both adults and students- quotes such as ‘…alcohol would be a sludge hammer’and ‘13 year olds would be vulnerable…’ The background musicwe had made using ‘GarageBand’, we had to make sure that themusic did not overpower the voiceover script, we had done this by altering the soundlevels of both the voiceover and the background music:The background music is also upbeat however serious in tone, this supported the quotesand created a theme in the radio trail. As well as this, we included the date, time andchannel as a finish to the radio trail which created an effective ending as that importantinformation would stick to the listeners mind, intended to increase the views of ourdocumentary. Our radio trail was approximately 40 seconds; this gave us enough time to includepowerful quotes, important rhetorical questions (used to include the listener) and moreinformation which almost summarised the topic of our documentary.
  • 10. Media Rina BansalOverall, we have stuck to the main conventions used in a documentary, article and radiotrail in order to make our product and ancillary texts appeal to the target audience. Wehave also challenged the conventions through the transitions.