“Is Youth Smokinggetting out of control?”– Media EvaluationDaniel O’Riordan
Part I: In what ways does yourmedia product use, develop orchallenge forms andconventions of real mediaproducts?
The task we were given… The brief we were given for our A2 coursework assignment was to create the opening five minutes for an informative documentary that would aim to answer a question on a social issue, (the topic we chose concerning tobacco consumption in young people). We were also given two ancillary tasks, the first being a 30-second radio trailer advertising our documentary, and the second being a double page spread made to be published in a magazine of our choice. Seeing as we would be planning our documentary with an hour time slot to fill, we carried out in-depth research into our chosen topic in order to properly educate ourselves in a way that would help us create an impartial, debate-like format.
Documentary Genre, Style and Tone. As was the brief of our A2 coursework, our genre focus was informative, but as we progressed further with the planning of our documentary we adopted the expository sub-genre, an ideology outlined by Nichol’s Documentary Modes/Sub-Genres (2001). If we were to categorize our documentary in terms of tone and style, it would be serious in that it tackles an issue such as smoking with a level of formality and maturity that is most suitable, seeing as cigarettes lead to thousands of deaths across the country each year. It does however remain impartial in that we incorporate opinions from both sides of the argument, ‘yes’ and ‘no’. Nichol’s Book, “Introduction to Documentary”.
Common conventions.The Expository Sub-Genre Direct address to viewer Proposes a strong argument Uses a rhetoric (persuasion)Serious Style/Tone Hard hitting facts/figures/statistics Editing style/Music/Lighting selection with serious, dark undertones/connotations ‘To the point’ Narration that provides an overview of debated issue
How have we adheredto/challenged said conventions?The Expository Sub-Genre Direct address to viewer Proposes a strong, yet impartial argument that encourages viewers to formulate their own opinions on said matter. Uses a rhetoric (persuasion)Serious Style/Tone Hard hitting facts/figures/statistics Neutral music/lighting selection in order to show no bias towards either answer to proposed question ‘To the point’ Narration that provides an overview of debated issue
How have we adhered to/challenged saidconventions? (Explanation)The Expository Sub-Genre Used narration in a way that appears almost conversational, although a degree of formality is incorporated in order to properly discuss said topic. Uses statistics and interviews in a way that may perhaps persuade a viewer to appeal more to a certain side of the arugement.Serious Style/Tone Statistics including “nearly 90% of regular smokers start before they’re 21” for ‘shock value’, drives home relevance of a documentary analysing the trend of tobacco consumption in young people. Narration provides an overview and helps the documentary flow more easily from each section, introducing interviews, places (accompanied by establishing shots) etc.
‘Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents’. In our research and planning module for our coursework task, we began to look at documentaries which were relevant to our topic and genre, and the first of these was ‘Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents’, a programme aired on BBC3, (the channel we eventually chose to broadcast our documentary on). In The Documentary, there is a representation of the youth that is percieved very differently varying across age groups, with young people hailing the people who feature on the programme as ‘legends’, whilst older generations class them as ‘delinquents’. This is however just a general assumption, and is this assumption, (Youth approve and older people disapprove of what can be perceived as ‘self destructive behaviour’, a category smoking falls under) that we hoped to analyse in our documentary, as well as our over-reaching topic.
‘Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents’ Technical Style Similarities. Fast opening montage Similarly to our documentary, an episode of SSSP uses a fast opening montage set to music in order to increase the pace of the documentary from the outset. However, the one used here is accompanied by a narration which integrates it into the documentary itself, whereas ours acts as more of a title sequence.
‘Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents’Technical Style Similarities.Title Card Our documentary also shares the use of a ‘title card’ in common with this documentary, where a slow motion clip that is relevant to the topic is played behind the title of the documentary.
‘Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents’Technical Style Similarities.Interviews In the context of SSSP, they borrow from the reality television genre in that they appear to become ‘confessional’ segments of the programme, where those featuring in the documentary express feelings on opinions on events shown. RULE OF THIRDS Our documentary is more traditional in that it uses interviews, such as ‘vox pops’ and expert interviews in order to support its expository purpose.
‘Smoking – A Documentary’. The second documentary we analysed was ‘Smoking – A Documentary’ which aimed to explore the reasons behind why people chose to smoke, rather than simply show the viewer the negative effects smoking habits bring. It was this style of examining smoking that we wanted to take in our documentary – using figures and opinions specific to the question, “With all of the research dennoting the dangers of smoking, why do people still do it?” in order to make a commentary that would bring a new slant to such a widely debated topic. It was on this basis that we began to focus on smoking in youth culture.
‘Smoking – A Documentary’Technical Style Similarities.Title Card A technique we saw repeatedly in our research was the use of a title card, which led us to believe using this in our opening sequence would add to the overall professionality of the piece. Here, the use of a slow-motion shot of billowing cigarette smoke appealed to us aesthetically, and we used a different version of the same shot for our work.
‘Smoking – A Documentary’Technical Style Similarities.Interviews An interesting use of interviews in this documentary is the fact that they rely solely on the opinions of smokers, getting down to the root as to why they started, and why they continue. This certainly became an element that we incorporated into our own documentary. Here, locations is key, as a female smoker in her home connotes normality, suggesting that smoking is a part of her regular life. In our documentary, expert interviews are carried out in offices to connote knowledge.
‘Smoking – A Documentary’Technical Style Similarities.Cutaways The use of cutaways is also prominent in this documentary. Here, much like in our documentary it is used in a way that shows people in a natural social setting over a narration in order to illustrate statistics and facts.
How pleased am I with the use ofcodes/conventions in my Documentary?How have I challenged them? Overall, I believe that we have used codes and conventions, such as the ones previously mentioned effectively in order to pursue the question we hoped to answer were our documentary made in its entirety: “Is Youth Smoking Getting Out Of Control?” However, I do believe that the use of borrowed footage would’ve aided our documentary in giving the viewer a much clearer image on how perceptions of smoking has changed. In ‘Smoking – A Documentary’, a lot of old smoking advertisements are used in order to illustrate the point that for older generations smoking was glamorized and even at points encouraged. Particularly from the youth perspective, I would say this still exists, main examples including shows like ‘Skins’, which tells the story of teens who are shown smoking cigarettes and consuming drugs.
Ancillary Task 1 – 30 Second RadioTrail For the first task that would accompany our documentary we were asked to create a 30- second radio trailer used to advertise our documentary. With this in mind we began to research different radio trailers concerning our topic, smoking in order to achieve a better grasp of the conventions of this kind of trailer.
Trailer analysis – “This is what Daddy always says” The first trailer we looked at was an anti-smoking campaign trailer created by the Health Promotion Board. Technically, it was very atmospheric in that it was simply a narration with no backing track, making it very captivating to listen to. It also incorporated statistics, something we also wanted to include. However, seeing as this was merely a campaign, we wanted to look at another trailer that perhaps advertises a documentary, taking conventions from both in order to create our piece to our liking.
Trailer Analysis – Italian Grand Prix(Radio 5) The second trailer we analysed, in stark contrast to the first was the one made to advertise the Italian Grand Prix. We immediately noticed that music selection was vital in order to not only fit the context of car racing, but create an atmosphere, with connotations of action and excitement. There were also excerpts from the race commentaries of the past in order to further build the exciting feel created, as well as ambient racetrack noises. We saw that many of these elements would be important for our documentary.
Radio Trail – What elements did weinclude?Anti-Smoking Ad Italian Grand Prix Ad Prominent narration with Music track to set the elevated formality mood of the trailer Facts and Statistics Excerpts relating to Voice clip not done by documentary narrator to begin the Information on how to documentary watch at the end of the trail Ambient Sounds
Radio Trail – Finished Product All in all, taking inspiration from other trails we created one that we are happy with. We used a narration set to a very dark, stripped back track in order to grab the attention of those listening with the inclusion of ‘shock’ statistics in order to interest the listener, giving them an incentive to watch the documentary to find out more.
Ancillary Task 2 – Double PageSpread Article For the second task, we were asked to create a double page spread article that would accompany our documentary. For our research we also had to consider which magazine we wanted our article to feature in, and with this in mind we began to analyse magazine articles in order to gain a set of codes and conventions.
Article Analysis – The Radio Times The first magazine we looked at was the radio times, a magazine that would coincide well with our other ancillary task, the radio trail. We began to look at the conventions of a double page spread in this particular magazine.
Serif fonts – Large image, Quote to draw in perhaps to taking up a lot of audience connote formality white space Black onTagline white colour scheme – almostDropped newspaper-Capital likeMainarticlebody Accompanying Images Page Numbering relevant to piece
Article Analysis – The TV Times The second magazine we chose was TV Times. Seeing as this is a widely popular television listings magazine it attracted us due to the fact that it would help expand our documentary’s potential audience ahead of its broadcast.
Put the article in to a section – Implied quote for title perhaps to give audience an outline of what the article is Pictures to support article contentTaglineDroppedCapital Page number Main body of article – done in white textbox over bright, ‘glamorous’ shade of pink
Chosen Magazine In the end, we decided to go with the radio times, as its style of reporting and use of layout appealed more to us, as we wanted the audience to have a pre-conceived image of our documentary before watching it – the main purpose of both ancillary tasks set. However we did go on to use elements from both magazines in our final product.
Double Page Spread Article Pun of popular smoking Question/Answer advertisement from the 80’s Format Tagline Dropped Capital Pictures relating to ArticleQuote fromArticle Large pictures to Radio Times take up Radio Times Page Numbering second page TV Times Format
Part II: How effective is thecombination of your mainproduct and ancillary texts?
Target Audience Before creating our documentary we decided we needed to be sure of our target audience so that we could have a more clear creative vision during the design process. As we intended to add something new to the debate, we focused on smoking in the youth, meaning that our target audience became 15-21, however our documentary is accessible to those outside of this bracket. With this in mind, we created our three pieces with a clear slant towards this audience. The first example of this is the fact that
The first example of this is the channel we chose to broadcast our documentary for, BBC3. After analysing an episode of ‘Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents’, as well as our prior knowledge of other shows that have previously aired on this channel, (‘Freaky Eaters’, ‘Spendaholics’ etc.) we decided that this was the channel we wanted our documentary to fit in to. We based this decision on that fact that BBC3 aims to challenge the views of young people with its programming – an aim not dissimilar to our documentary’s.
For our article, we chose the Radio Times. With a readership of 925,373 (Jul-Dec 2011), we thought that it would be fitting to have our article included, not only for the large amount of readers, but because its previous reports on television shows and documentaries seemed to fit ours more than perhaps the TV Times would’ve, which is mainly reality and soap based. Another reason we chose to use this magazine was that it does have a youth readership, evidenced by the repeated articles concerning shows such as ‘Doctor Who’, which has a cult following in terms of young people.
For our radio trail, we chose BBC Radio 1. The primary reason for this is that it converged well with our other choices, The Radio Times and BBC 3. Firstly, seeing as The Radio Times is a radio listings magazine, we cam then appeal to a more specific demographic of people, taking the readers from The Radio Times, who may be slightly older, as well as the younger listeners who may listen to shows such as BBC Radio 1 Xtra – people who are our target demographic.
Sh ar ed , yo un g Au di en ce Youth orientated documentary styleBBC Lin k
All in All… To conclude, I believe that our three tasks work well together in that they each have access to our main target audience in their own individual way. I believe that the brand image that we have created is one that is similar to other documentaries that have previously aired on BBC3 – a brand that will give the youth a new perspective.
Part III: What have you learnedfrom your audience feedback?
Questionnaire Once we had finished our documentary, we created a questionnaire that our colleagues could complete, so that we could receive feedback for our project, whether that be positive or negative. We created a different set of questions for each of our tasks: the main documentary tasks and the two ancillary tasks.
Documentary - Question 1: On a scale of 1-10,how much did you like our documentary? On a scale of 1-10, how much did you enjoy our documentary? 5 4 3 2 1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 There is room for improvement in these results, due to the fact that 20% of the surveyed people rated our documentary as a 6, however 60% rated our documentary as 8-9, which is a result we are very pleased with.
Documentary - Question 2: Was our documentaryeffective in its purpose to inform, educate andentertain? Was our documentary effective in its purpose to inform, educate and entertain? 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 yes no When asked to explain their answer, our colleagues regarded our documentary as ‘well explained’, ‘informative’, ‘very effective’ and ‘helpful’, with ‘lots of percentages and figures’ included.
Documentary - Question 3: How would you ratethe quality of the sound levels? How would you rate the quality of the sound levels? 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Overall, my group and I were pleased with this result. We were aware of one or two incidents where the transition from different narration sound clips wasn’t as smooth as we had first thought upon our project’s presentation, and, were we to go back and modify the project this is something we would consider for improvement.
Documentary - Question 4: After viewing theopening 5 minutes, would you continue to watchour documentary? After viewing the opening 5 minutes, would you continue to watch our documentary? yes no Factoring general personal preference I feel as though this is a very strong result, and were this reflected in viewing figures I would feel as though our documentary is a success in that it managed to maintain the interests of well over half of its audience.
Documentary - Question 5: Did you find the use ofvox-pops and interviews to be effective? Did you find the use of vox-pops and interviews to be effective? 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 yes no Here, we found a universal approval rate in our surveyed audience, something that we are very pleased with. We believe that our use of interviews with people who challenge the conventions of what people generally believe that their age/social group thinks is a very interesting new slant to this ongoing debate.
Documentary - Question 6: What is the strongestaspect of our documentary? The majority of our surveyed audience said that our interviews were the strongest aspect of our documentary, which again consolidates the point that we have achieved the main aim of our documentary. However, there were different answers, such as the use of appropriate images to illustrate statistics and percentages, the ‘clean’ editing style, and there was even one remark about a specific shot we used, with one person describing it as ‘artsy’. We are very pleased with this result as it shows that our documentary seems to have a variety of strengths: something that I believe shows that we as a group delegated our editing time well.
Documentary - Question 7: What is the weakestaspect of our documentary? For this question, two aspects of our documentary seemed to stand out: the ‘monotonous’ music track, as well as the diversity of the shots that used. Firstly, if we were to go back I believe we would change the music to something more ambient and quiet, so that it does not distract the viewers as they watch the documentary. Also, seeing as we had it playing the whole way through, we should have perhaps used intervals to break up the track. Secondly, perhaps this was said due to the frequent use of establishing shots, and perhaps next time we will be more experimental with our selection of shots.
Documentary - Question 8: If you had to, whatchanged would you make to our documentary? Here, our viewers said that they would change the music and the use of similar shots – as predicted by the outcome of the previous question. We completely agree with this as a set of results, as we ourselves shared this opinion when watching it back.
Article - Question 1: Do the photos illustrate thetext? Do the photos illustrate the text? 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 yes no Here, we were completely satisfied with the result, as we believed that our chosen images denoted what was written in the article very well.
Article - Question 2: On a scale of 1-10, howwould you rate the layout and why? On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the layout and why? 5 4 3 2 1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 For this question we had some mixed feedback, but we are still very happy that half of our surveyed stated that our layout was an 8 or 9. I believe the problem lay in that there was too much empty space, a point that would be taken into consideration were we to attempt this again.
Article - Question 3: Was our article eye-catching?Did it grab your attention? Was our article eye-catching? Did it grab your attention? 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 yes no Here, we were completely satisfied with the result, as we believed that our article was eye-catching.
Article - Question 4: Do the photos illustrate thetext? Do the photos illustrate the text? 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 yes no Here, we were completely satisfied with the result, as we believed that our chosen images denoted what was written in the article very well.
Article - Question 5: What changes would youmake to the double page spread? During feedback, we were told that the colour scheme should be changed, as well as the inclusion of more text. I agree with the fact that something should be done to make the spread more eye-catching, and the use of brighter colours perhaps would help this. I also agree with the fact that there should be more of a body to the main article, or at least a re-organisation of the layout so that the text is not so spaced out across both of the pages.
Radio Trail - Question 1: Is the radio trailereffective and atmospheric? Is the radio trailer effective and atmospheric? 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 yes no I am very pleased with the results attained for this question, as one of the main aims we had for our radio trailer was that it would be atmospheric and captivating to listen to.
Article - Question 2: Would the radio trail makeyou want to watch the documentary? Would the radio trail make you want to watch the documentary? 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 yes no I am also very pleased with this result as it proves that the radio trail is effective in attracting an audience for the documentary.
Article - Question 3: Does the music suit thecontext of the trailer? Does the music suit the context of the trailer? 10 8 6 4 2 0 yes no The majority of those surveyed found our music to be fitting, which is something I find very encouraging.
Article - Question 4: Are there any changes thatyou would make to the Radio trailer? Are there any changes that you would make to the Radio trailer? 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 yes no Over of the surveyed audience said they’d make changes. The majority said they an addition of extracts from the documentary would’ve strengthened the piece – a valid point. Others commented on the music, saying it was too loud, with some finding it to be almost intimidating. That may be so, but as all who were surveyed said that it would make them watch the documentary I still believe that the Radio Trailer is particularly strong.
Part IV: How did you use mediatechnologies in the constructionand research, planning andevaluation stages?
Microsoft Word For all word-processed tasks we used Microsoft Word. These tasks included analysis essays of other documentaries, including ‘Super Size Me’ and ‘Airline’, and we also created our questionnaire for both our research and feedback on this program. Text Tools Shape Tool
Microsoft PowerPoint For this evaluation I have utilized Microsoft PowerPoint in order to set it out in a professional and aesthetically appealing way. I have used such tools as the ‘arrow’ shape tool, as well as the incorporation of varying fonts to emphasize importance of certain parts of text.
Microsoft Excel I used this programme in order to create the graphs for my evaluation. Here is how I created them. After viewing the opening 5 minutes, would you continue to watch our documentary? I firstly selected the data I yes no wanted to convert into a graph. Side note: There is also a ‘Pie’ column here, something which I used as I then selected the well as the normal 2D ‘column’ icon, creating a graph tool. 2D-Column graph of the selected data. On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the layout and why? 5 4 3 2 1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Internet Explorer Perhaps one of the most important media technologies that we used was Internet explorer. With this program we could perform in-depth research on not only other documentaries but our topic, using the statistics and facts that we found concerning youth smoking in our narration for the documentary.
Final Cut Express To even out the sound levels, we made use of the modify audio tool. Here is how to access it. To export our documentary, we took these steps.We also used specialeffects to improvethe sheen of ourdocumentary. We also used transitions it order to create a smoother passage from clip to clip.
Garage Band For the backing track to our documentary, as well as the backing track for our radio trail we used GarageBand in order to compose our own music. Here below you can see evidence of sound panning in order to slowly fade in a component of our radio trail music. We used this technique in order to build tension.
Recording Equipment Finally, the use of the equipment to film our documentary was vital in its creation.