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Documentary Codes and Conventions
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Documentary Codes and Conventions

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  • 1. Question 1Codes and Conventions of my Media Documentary
  • 2. After watching a series of professional documentaries and analysing the codes andconventions, we chose to follow them when making our documentary. We watched‘The Devil Made Me Do It’, ‘ The Music Biz’ and ‘That Thing: Lara Croft’, which are allprofessional documentaries. These are all single stranded documentaries with one lineof exposition which is conventional for the documentary we created.
  • 3. Type of DocumentaryThe documentary we produced was mixed, this wasbecause it contained observations from the cutaways andnarration from the voice over. There is a variety ofdifferent elements in the documentary which makes itmixed. Evidence of this is shown through the use of bothcutaways and voice over , which are present in mostdocumentaries.
  • 4. ThemesThe main theme of our documentary is shoes. There are also minor themes of the changing fashions and styles of shoes over the years and how shoes can damage or be beneficial to your feet. This is similar to ‘The Devil Made Me Do It’ documentary that we analysed. This had the main theme of the murders in Italy and how Marilyn Mansons music may have caused this but also minor themes of how music in general can influence and affect teenagers.
  • 5. InterviewsAfter watching professional documentaries and making a list of the codes and conventions we havetried to follow them closely in our own documentary. We have used the rule of thirds convention,where the person is in the right or left hand part of the screen and their eye line is a third of the waydown the screen. We have shot the interviews in a medium close up.
  • 6. We made sure that theinterviewee was not lookingdirectly at the camera which isa convention of documentaryinterviews. The interviewee islooking diagonally across thescreen at the interviewer, whois never in the shot and sitsbeside the camera.
  • 7. GraphicsWe used graphics to tell the audience who is beinginterviewed and what their role is. Professionaldocumentaries do his also, here is an interviewMarilyn Manson and his name is in the corner of thescreen. They are generally white sans serif font.,which is shown at the bottom of the screen. If theinterviewee is positioned on the left hand of thescreen the graphic will be on the right hand side, asdemonstrated here.
  • 8. Mise-en-SceneMise-en-Scene is very important to aninterview, it reinforces who the personis being interview and why they arebeing interviewed. It also helps toanchor the themes and topics of thedocumentary. This is demonstrated inour documentary in the Dr Martensstore, behind Grace are some of theproducts they sell and she is seated ona couch in the middle of the store. It is also shown here in The Devil Made Me Do It. The Italian girls parents are seated on their couch at home, to reinforce the idea that they are just normal people.The Devil Made Me Do It.
  • 9. CutawaysCutaways are another important part of adocumentary. Cutaways prevent jump cuts inthe filming which can make the documentarylook unprofessional. The convention forediting the documentaries is to use straightcuts. Cutaways demonstrate further thetheme of the documentary and lead into thenext item in the documentary. The Dr Marten boots are an example of a cutaway we filmed, the other picture is a cutaway from That Thing: Lara Croft.
  • 10. EditingWe followed the conventions when editing thedocumentary. We used quick straight cuts, this ensures thatthe audience does not loose interest in the documentary.Like in professional documentaries the use of cameraworkand editing keeps the documentary interesting and drawsthe audience in.
  • 11. SoundFor the voiceover we used an adult female, who was well spoken and used Standard English. This made the documentary seem more professional. The music in out documentary was relevant to the subject, we used the song ‘New Shoes’ by Paolo Nutini for the title sequence and the song ‘Shoes’ by Liam Sullivan (internet sensation) under the voice over ,this helped anchor the theme further. In the professional documentaries we looked at they used relevant and appropriate music for the themes, Marilyn Manson was played in The Devil Made Me Do It and Meatloaf was played in Music Biz:The Marketing of Meatloaf. We made sure that the songs were appropriate and that they did not interfere with the voiceover.

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