Evaluation Write Up
Q1. In what way does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and
conventions of real media products?
The trailer my group and I have produced has been inspired by current trailers which
we have used to either use, develop or challenge the codes and conventions of the
trailers which have been produced for soap operas.
As a group we brain stormed what forms and conventions were key in soap opera
trailers. From this we gathered that stereotypically, 99% of them are very similar and
follow or repeat the same patterns. These were aspects such as the theme tune,
establishing shot, ident and logo, verbal and non verbal codes, strong women, binary
opposition, dramatic facial expressions, props, key issues, cliff hangers, shot types
and multi stranded narratives.
For me, I thought that there were 7 main areas that I particularly wanted to
concentrate on and go into detail about.
The term “strong women” by Rebecca Feasey is something that defiantly comes up
in much soap. For example in the Kat and Alfie trailer, the western themed one for
Eastenders was one that demonstrated the ‘strong women’ theory well. In this
trailer we see that it is pretty clear that Kat calls the shots in her screenplay and the
directing of her character.
Likewise with Peggy Mitchell, a former Eastenders actress, she was the ‘strong
women’ of her time showing all the feisty, powerful, independent characteristics.
The strong women aspect in soaps is something, which is repeated and is a common
occurrence. We also see it in other soaps like Coronation Street with the character of
Carla and Michelle both these characters speak there mind and appear fearless
which is a trait that a ‘strong women’ show.
However in my trailer there is a lack of strong women characters as the main
character in Upon Thames is a man rather than a woman. So, with this element I
think it would be fair to say that we ‘challenged’ that stereotype rather than
‘repeated’ it. As there could have been more emphases on the female gender in the
With regards to the soundtrack, there is a range of both non verbal and verbal codes
as we as a group have chosen o incorporate both the actors and actress’ voices and
sounds in the trailer at some points and then at other stages we have just had the
music in the background throughout. Right at the start of the trailer we have an
actor saying, “It’s done, its over”. This connotes a disequilibrium of a murder and
then in the actual soap is where we would have the unravel the events in a more
liner order. Then during the trailer we also have a soundtrack playing over it, which
sounds like a mysterious sound, relating to our suspicious ‘Guess Who’ trailer.
Phrases like this are stereotypical in soaps such as Eastenders.
There are more verbal codes where the 2 characters are having a row, out side near
the houses. It finishes the clip with “I know what you did”; this verbal code is a
verbal cliff hanger as it leaves the audience thinking what is it that she has done?
After this scene there is another verbal code where the character is chopping up the
carrot, this scene is particularly good as the knife movement is dramatic and loud.
The way that they are doing it could be seen as suspicious as they are looking
directly ahead, blankly, like they’re psychopathic. When we see in soaps that a
character is going loopy and a bit off the rails, this ‘repeats’ that.
A few clips later, there is a non verbal code of just the soundtrack which you will see
that other trailers have where its just a creepy music in the background where only
the audience can hear it and no one else. After this scene we have a scene where
two people are sitting in a pub and one of them says to the other one “Are you even
listening?” and the other one is completely ignoring them and doesn’t look like they
are with it or in the same room even though they are. This brief verbal code is short
and says enough alone, in the trailers I have analysed, neither of them have a long-
winded conversation, it is just quick one-liners, which this one is a good example of.
Many scenes along till the end of the trailer; the next verbal code that isn’t the
soundtrack is the outro. This is the overlay, which is over the last clip of the logo,
ident and time it is scheduled. This is something that trailers 99% of the time do to
tell their audiences when and where they can watch the trailer. This is a repeated
convention, which is vital for the trailer.
The BBC 2 logo is shown all the way through the trailer which if you see, all BBC 2
trailers have to show what channel it is on and promoting. For our one we have
made it so that it is purely the writing, there is no box or outline. This decision was
made because we watched trailers which showed both a box a round the writing and
then ones with just the writing. However this is what suited the trailer better. At the
start of the trailer to introduce it as a BBC 2 programme we have the 2 logo across
the screen which is cut out where the 2 is so you can see through the shape. This is
something we noticed that BBC 2 trailers did, this took a while to create but once we
did it, it looked great. The trailer, which included it, looked considerably better than
when it didn’t. Our introduction fades into the scene which works well because it is
like the audience is being taken into the trailer. We watched ones, which had the
scene open up from the 2, but we felt that we would be missing out a lot of the first
scene if we did this so we had it faded instead. This element of the trailer was
defiantly ‘repeated’ from other BBC 2 trailers. If our trailer didn’t have this then it
wouldn’t relate to anything or look professional.
The use of a multi-stranded narrative is a very popular use of scenes as the majority
of the trailers I looked at had scenes, which went from one to the next at a high
pace. The only one, which didn’t, was the Eastenders western trailer with Kat and
Alfie, which was just the same scene different camera angles the majority of the
time. However with the Hollyoaks one where the scenes were constant and
continually moving in a non-liner way is something we preferred and found was
more common so we decided on this style. I think that it defiantly makes our soap
look more authentic as it is something we have copied and ‘repeated’.
The shot types we used were ones, which were familiar with the soap opera genre.
Most of the time they were close ups, this is because the soap operas I looked at
only really had pretty close shots as opposed to medium and long shots. We also
included a pan shot when looking at the pub; this is something, which we only used
once as it suited this scene well and it was better than just a basic long shot. This pan
is something that you would defiantly see in trailers like Waterloo Road when the
camera pans into the school and in Hollyoaks when the camera focus’ on one
thing/person to the next. This was something that we repeated as we liked it when
we were evaluating the trailers.
For the shot types we also had different shot types for the same scene, for example
with the scene where the top goes into the machine we had it for an over the
shoulder angle but then also the same scene with the camera inside the washing
machine, pointing at the persons face this time. Also, we had another scene where
the boy was picking up a ribbon, we had it from the angle where we see most of the
back of him to where It is a low angle shot, looking up at him and is confused face.
This technique was particularly good as it shows a variety of shot types. The different
uses of the camera in my opinion showed a deeper look into the scene, which the
whole group thought, was very good. This convention was something which not that
many soaps had so it was something that challenged the forms as its not too
common however I think that it did work very well.
The key themes we included were defiantly ones that we repeated and used often in
the soap opera genre. During the planning and research stages of the project, we did
jot down a variety of different themes we could base our trailer on such as; teen
pregnancy, immigration, gang crime, knife & gun crime, affairs, homosexuality etc.
even though we chose murder we have included in the trailer different ethnicities
and mental issues which is relevant to the society today. In soaps they tend to use
the current issues so one that is coming through recently is transgender, which
Hollyoaks have currently got a story line for. Soaps very much so keep up with the
current issues in society so I think that the theme of murder is something that soaps
will always use and also always be around in society so it was a very high contender
as it is a ‘window into the world’ (Zeitgeist).
In the trailer we have produced I think that it includes a lot of typical and repeats a
lot of conventions, which is in the soap opera genre. All the scenes in my opinion is
very relevant to the genre as there is a wide use of different races which is
something with continues to grow in the UK in the 21st century. We also include a
fair bit of mental issues such as depression with the girl in the corner crying and
shaking her head aggressively. But also there is a part where there could be a pycho
where the girl is cutting the carrot as her face looks very serious and freaky.
The target audience we have chosen for our trailer is something, which challenges
the typical soap opera genre. As in general the audience tends to be females in there
20’s-30’s. however in our trailer we wanted to appeal to a wide range of ages so 15-
25, an age range which Eastenders viewers tend to be now a days which I have
discovered when I have researched in my school/college. We also aim to appeal to
both genders because it is a young soap opera genre so either gender could watch it.
We decided this because we felt that this was something, which BBC2 wanted to
improve on when we read into the ‘Trusts overall conclusions by channel’.
In conclusion, the majority of the time I think we did repeat and exploit the forms
and conventions however very now and again we did do elements which wasn’t as
common so it challenged the soap opera genre slightly.