In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?
When producing our documentary we made sure that we followed the codes and conventions of real documentaries in order to produce adocumentary with a high quality and professional finish.In order to do this, we researched a variety of different documentaries which attract a wide range of different audiences as this allowed us to pick out themain conventions which seemed to crop up in each documentary so that we could apply it to our own.Examples of the documentaries we analysed include Supersize me, The August Riots, A good smack, Teen species, ‘Girls’ and This is spinal tap.Some of these documentaries were analysed as a group, whereas some were analysed individually, allowing each of us to gain a solid understanding on theconventions of a documentary. Different conventions arise depending on the mode of the documentary. The task we were required to carry out was theopening 5 minutes of the documentary, so we knew that what we had to focus on was the opening of documentaries. Examples of the our documentary analyse http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b013xy9t/Panorama_The_August_Riots/the documentaries I Example of one of analysed in preparation of the production of our documentary.
Documentary modes was another area in which we needed to consider when planning our documentary. Who do we want it too appeal to and how? Documentary modes include, poetic, expository, observational, participatory, reflexive, and performative, notions of which were developed in the research of Bill Nichols. Some documentaries appear to fit into one particular category of documentary mode whereas others fit into multiple. Fitting into just one mode may create a bias subjective viewpoint. We therefore tried to gain a perspective of the different modes so that we considered different view points. We also wanted to gain a sense of actuality through the fact that none of our documentary was set up. This is something that is evident within our documentary due to the fact that we gathered genuine opinions and statistics from a variety of different sources, for example, each and everyone of the those we interviewed gave their own personal view point on the topic, in some cases even had facts and statistics to back up their point. Gaining different viewpoints meant that we were able to create a documentary that was not biased, allowing the viewer to make their own conclusion from the points given. Through the use of our professional interviews such as local journalist John Hodges and Media expert Jayson Burns we picked up on the idea of cinema verite. The issues we explored are sensitive ones, so we therefore didn’t want to create a negative representation or stereotype in anyway towards those who use social networking and related crimes. Out of all modes mentioned above, our documentary takes up the expository mode in the most obvious ways due to the fact that we are exposing an issue. For a start, a voice over is a common convention found in the expository mode. An omnipresent and omniscient narrative which is used for the purpose of passing on factual information and opinions whilst also explaining the content of the documentary is strengthened by a use of cutaways. This helps to illustrate the voiceover or interview and give supporting visual information to points being put across. The cutaways anchor the filming and backup what the voice over is saying. Another common feature known in the expository mode is the use of editing, especially in terms of keeping continuity. This is evident throughout our documentary. We kept any footage we collected including interviews stills and other archive material flowing smoothly. In my opinion, this was something we were able to do successfully In terms of the other modes, we only picked up slight features as opposed to the expository mode whereby we picked up on many. But this in itself is a common convention of documentaries as most pick up on more than one mode. The poetic mode of a documentary film tends to lean towards more subjective interpretations of its subject. A common convention of the poetic mode is a soviet montage at the beginning of the documentary. This is a key convention we picked up on within our documentary. The Observational mode focuses on the mobility of equipment. Observational documentaries tend to simply observe, allowing viewers to then interpret their own conclusion. Nothing is set up, the purpose of observational mode is that it simply records events as they happen. We used this mode in terms of our usage of portable cameras, this allowed us to go out on street and gain the opinions and related footage. Morgan Spurlock produced the documentary SuperSize me, one of the documentaries we analysed and is a prime example of the participatory mode.
The obvious conventions of a documentary include, voiceover and narrative theories, mis-en-scene, music, cut-aways, alongwith other media language.Documentaries are also expected to attract a particular audience as well containing interesting and informative information. Inour case, we designed the documentary to attract a target audience of class C2 to B and 28 to 45 year olds, so mainly parentsof children/teenagers who may use social networking on a regular basis. We therefore had to consider, what is it that our targetaudience would find interesting within a documentary and in order to do this we carried out research questionnaires into our targetaudience. Each of us provided an input into the questions that were to be asked in order to produce a questionnaire of a highstandard which allowed us to get an idea of what our target audience would look for in a documentary. The research into the target audience allowed us to gather information about our topic and therefore begin to produce ideas on the codes and conventions we were going to use in order to produce a professional documentary. This is shown from the graphs on the left. There are a number of ways in which we followed the typical codes and conventions of a documentary. We found that most documentaries include an montage of some kind so we therefore began our documentary with an opening montage. We knew that this was something which immediately had to attract and draw viewers in, it needed to be upbeat and contain a lot of brief and important information that would be included in the rest of the documentary, so essentially the opening montage would the serve the purpose of introducing the documentary, creating a strong first impression to make the audience want to continue watching.Example of some of the questions asked and our target audiences responses put into graphs so that it can be easily interpreted
Below is our opening montage in final cut. This highlights how we adopted a number of conventions in only a short frame. You can see how this is successful in terms of following conventions of an opening montage in order to serve the purpose of introducing the content of the documentary. Sound Cutaway Vox pop levels Transition Voiceover Background/filler Music Expert footage/ interview cutawaysWhen watching real documentaries, suchas the ones linked below you can see anopening montage is present in both.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHKCb0_2oD0 http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b013xy9t/Panorama_The_August_Rio(Supersize me)
We began our opening montage by using vox pops whereby students define how often they use social networking sites for example, “quite a lot”. We thought by keeping the first few seconds of the documentary unknown on what the documentary is actually about, will help to attract the audiences attention, making them want to continue watching. Other than just in our opening montage, we included vox pops throughout our documentary. They are a typical convention of a documentary. We asked each student the same question and this allowed us to gain different perspectives and opinions to create an unbiased documentary. Similar to real life media products, the vox pops only remained on screen for a short period. This serves the purpose of keeping the audiences attention and entitles us to establish a wide range of opinions. Also, the reason we choose to interview students as opposed to adults is because we wanted to attract our target audience, i.e parents of children/teenagers who use social networking on regular basis. Vox pop taken from supersize is gaining opinions from the public. Similarly, Morgan Spurlock is asking each individuals similar or the same questions. As well as this, you can see the framing and mis-en-scene of the vox pop is similar to the one we produced. Stood outside a Mcdonalds which is relevant as it is what the entire documentary is about. When looking at both voxs pop you can see how we have followed the conventions of real life media products. Also including the title of the documentary is a common convention of real life media products, its mainly for practicalreasons. Something you would simply expect to see within a documentary. You can see our documentary title is the one in the middle, ‘Social networking- The truth behind your obsession’ with regards to all three, the title is anchored by the background, creating a dramatic eye catching effect.
We used cut aways during snippets of interviews in the opening montage and throughout our entire documentary which are appropriate and relevant. For example, in this case, the cut away of a news article highlights how, although social networking may have been the blame for the cause of the summer riots, they also came in useful. It anchors the voice over and narrative and other footage being shown. The use of BBC news page, fits in with the fact that the documentary will be aired on BBC. Examples of other cut aways we used include, archive footage of a student watching the riots which gives a sense of actuality, along with facts and statistics and the twiiter and facebook page. We also used cutaways over interviews that had been faded in/out as it enabled us to cover up any faults or jumps in the interview which we had cropped.After watching supersize me, we saw they used a variety of different cutaways, all relevant andappropriate to voice over and footage. We found that a convention documentaries tend tofollow, in particular supersize me is zooming in on the cutaways as this makes it more appealingto the audience, we tried to adopt this technique , for example in our cutaway of the twitter home Cutaway from panoramapage.
Following on from the previous slide, transitions within documentaries was a typical convention we noticed throughout our planning and analysis, especially after important points, and also to make the documentary flow smoothly. We thought it would be best to follow the conventions of documentaries here as opposed to challenge them as otherwise it may begin to look unprofessional and amateur. The dissolve was a common transition we used through out the documentary, keeping it consistent lead to a professional high quality finish, but also allowed the documentary to run smoothly. The use of transitions added effect to dramatic points or to show a change in time, moving on to another interview or vox pop for instance. After cut aways we used transitions such as these ones as it made the documentary flow more smoothly. Something we believed was essential in producing a professional documentary. Transition taken from Panorama The August Riots, swipes across the screen which serves a similarAnother technique we used served a similar purpose to purpose to the fade andthe transitions in keeping the documentary running dissolve transitions wesmoothly was fading the voiceover/interviews in and out used within ouras this allowed us to pick out certain points of the documentary.interviews that we thought were the most important. Here you can see the transition in- between vox pops on the time line in final cut.
In general, filler footage such as cutaways came in useful throughout the documentary, we knewthrough research that it was a common convention in documentaries, so other than just includingcutaways and transitions in the opening montage, we included them throughout the documentary.Other examples include, establishing shots before interviews, for instance the establishing shot ofthe sixth form college was necessary as many of the interviews and vox pops we recorded that tookplace within the college. Other footage included archive footage, this is footage that has alreadybeen filmed by someone else. We didn’t want to use much of this even though we saw manydocumentaries do use a great deal of archive footage for many reasons, but due to the fact we onlyhad to produce the opening 5 minutes to a documentary we thought using a lot of archive footagewouldn’t allow us to expand our knowledge and learn new skills. So as opposed to using just archivefootage we recorded one of our group members watching footage of the riots on BBC news. Establishing shots were a key convention we adopted in our documentary. After watching real life media products we saw that the establishing shots took place before professional interviews or when entering a new environment, as this introduces the audience to the setting. The image on the right is the establishing shot we took of the police station before interviewing Neil Thompson, similarly we took a zoom of the 6th form college sign to introduce the audience to the college when the interviews took place there. Similarly, this establishing shot of LondonTwo different types of establishing shot, one to introduce the new setting, so the taken from Panorama The August Riotsviewer knows the documentary is about mcdonalds and fast food restaurants, and enhances and anchors the documentarythe other to introduce the interview with the expert. The voice over does the job of which is based on the riots which took placestating where the interview will be taking place and why, which is reinforced and during the summer 2011 in London.anchored by the use of the establishing shot of the clinic.