Codes and conventions of a documentary

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  • 1. Codes andconventions Ofa documentaryBy Ali Cornwall
  • 2. ConventionConventions are a generally acceptedway of doing something e.g upbeatenigmatic music in a horror movie
  • 3. Codes2 Types of codes: Technical & symbolicTechnical – Equipment used to tell the storyin a media text e.g camera work in a filmSymbolic – The underlying meaning of whatwe see e.g mise-en-scene of red carpet toinsinuate blood
  • 4. Voice over A voice over is usually on top of thefootage to help with the narrative. Itcan sometimes be seen as a voice ofGod and effectively be unethical as iscan lead to subjectivity of theaudiences’ thoughts. All documentariesuse this convention to link scenes.
  • 5. Documentation of truth The main purpose of a documentary is todocument the truth. People relay on adocumentary to educate them on thetruth of a subject and allow theaudience to make an opinion basedon the footage.
  • 6. InterviewsInterviews are a common convention in a documentary. Theinterviewee is usually shot using the rule of thirds and close upshots. The person in shot is generally on the left or right side of thescreen and is not moving. Chromakey is normally used, or abackground with relevance to the subject of the documentary ofrelevant to the interviewee is situated behind them. Theinterviewee are suppose to be looking at the interviewer and notthe camera.
  • 7. SoundRelevant sound bridges are a genericconvention in documentaries. They bridge1 scene to another to allow continuity inthe narrative .Ambient sounds are present in thebackground of interviews or voice overs toreinforce the representation of realityMusic is usually used to provoke anemotional response from viewers
  • 8. Editing Selective editing is something all documentarymakers use no matter what mode. However this isarguably sparks ethical and political debates. Itpotentially emphasise the impression of subjectivityleading to an untruthful unethical documentary. Establishing shots are commonly used to set thescene of the documentary. Handheld cams are used to simulate the impressionof reality and truthfulness. Intercutting/parallel editing is used normally ininterviews to give examples of what they aretalking about or to cut away to archive footage.
  • 9. Summary conventionsVoice overDocumentation of truthTalking to expertsInterviewsSound bridgesMise-en-scene that fit the shotHandheld camMode of addressVox popsRe-enactments – incorporated actorsIntercutting/parallel editingSelective editingEstablishing shotInvestigativatedStart with microcosmUse of titles
  • 10. Summary conventionsVoice overDocumentation of truthTalking to expertsInterviewsSound bridgesMise-en-scene that fit the shotHandheld camMode of addressVox popsRe-enactments – incorporated actorsIntercutting/parallel editingSelective editingEstablishing shotInvestigativatedStart with microcosmUse of titles