1. In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products? At the beginning of our A2 media course, the task we were given was to create the opening 5 minutes of a documentary of our choice. To support this two ancillary tasks, including a double page spread and a radio trailer were also necessary as part of the coursework element. BILL NICHOLS THEORY OF DOCUMENTARY MODESLooking at Bill Nichols different theories on the types of documentarymodes and sub genres that there are assisted in enhancing onknowledge on the topic of documentaries and the majority of styles itcan consist of. This was very helpful as obviously at the beginning ofour coursework our knowledge on documentaries wasn’t as expandedas it would become. Bill Nichols theory tells us the different types ofdocumentaries that exist are: poetic, expository, observational,participatory, reflexive and performative.Poetic documentaries first appeared in the 1920s, they carry afragmentary and continuous style. They are often impressionistic andlyrical. The poetic mode is a rathersubjective style, an old example of apoetic style documentary from 1928would be JorisIvens’ Rain.The expository mode is one where theremay usually be a presenter that speaksdirectly to the viewer. This can be done through a voiceover too andthe style generally proposes a strong argument. This is a style that was
largely looked at during research and my group and I discussed whatadvantage of using this style would have. This is the style we followedin our documentary as we guided viewers through the documentarywith a voiceover in the opening 5 minutes. We found the rhetoric styleof the mode useful in our documentary as it helps portray things toviewers in a certain way.The observational mode of documentaries portrays a fly on the wallstyle. This style tends to observe lived life and uses minimumintervention. It tends not to include music or a voiceover in thebackground and therefore differs to our documentary as we chose touse both of these things in our documentaryThe reflexive mode of documentaries shows the findings of the filmmakers and their opinions on these findings. There is usually a cynicalapproach to realism shown in the documentary.The participatory and performative modes of documentaries are bothsimilar as they both present the film maker or presenter as an actor inthe film. A good example of this style is the documentary ‘supersizeme’ which practically follows film maker Morgan Spurlocks lifearound which is relevant to the documentary. Our documentary wasbased on social networking and therefore it was more important tofollow the opinions of a wide society rather than the film makers.
As a starting point for research towards the documentary I was going to create I thought it would be helpful to watch and analyse existing documentaries such as ‘Airline’ and ‘Supersize Me’. Research I gathered from ‘Supersize Me’ through analysis was that the documentary was delivered in an investigative style with a polemical result meaning it was basically a one sided argument. The overall purpose of the documentary was to basically highlight how bad McDonalds is for you. The opening of the documentary was interesting as it was instantly capturing of the audience’s attention through the fast pace it had. It was factual and full of research, this was definitely effective and I thought would be very useful to also use in our documentary as social networking has more than just a few facts about it that could be mentioned. FACTS AND STATISTICS PRESENTED IN A I ALSO INCLUDED FACTS IN A FAST PACEDVISUALLY EFFECTIVE WAY IN THE OPENING STYLE AT THE BEGINNING OF MY OF THE SUPERSIZE ME DOCUMENTARY DOCUMENTARY; I THINK IT HELPS KEEP THE VIEWER INTERESTED! Sound is a vital part of documentaries and this includes all aspects of sound such as background music, voiceover, diagetic and non diagetic sound. The use of sound in Supersize Me consists of almost all of these. The documentary includes backgrounds music which serves a purpose as if it is almost telling a story when there is no speech.
Morgan Spurlock is the presenter as well as the voiceover throughoutthe documentary; this allows him to create a personal connection withthe audience and allows them to relate to him more effectively. Mygroup and I decided not to have a presenter and instead guide theaudience through the documentary with a voiceover when necessary. This is some of our recorded voiceover in final cut express. To record our voiceover we used a microphone, headphones and a camera.We felt it was essential to have some light background music to helpour documentary flow when there was no speech. The backgroundmusic could not be too distracting from the real focus of thedocumentary. We created the music in Garage Band and experimentedwith different sounds to find a good balance that fitted in with the style of our documentary well. This is our background music being created inGarage Band; we experimented with mixing a few simple beats together. Once we had saved the file as an MP3 one we imported it into final cut to edit alongside the rest of our documentary; we adjusted the sound levels so that they were consistent throughout.Thedifferent camera conventions used are shot types like: close ups,medium close ups, establishing shots, long shots and extreme closeups. For almost all of our camera use in filming our documentary we
used a tripod. This was to ensure all our filming was steady andlooked professional. The tripod had many benefits as it allowed us touse effects like zooming, panning and tracking which are all featuredin our documentary. The tripod was most beneficial during interviewsas the filming was consistently steady and looked professional. Whilstfilming the interviews we ensured we followed a rule of thirds as thisis one of the most important conventions when interviewing. This is a screenshot from one of our expert interviews following the rule of thirds.There are many special effects used throughout the documentary ofSupersize Me. This makes the documentary more visually interestingto watch for the audience. When looking at our documentary wedecided to include a number of special effects as we wanted to keep our audience interested throughout the opening of our documentary. One of many special effects used in Supersize Me
Listening to interviews can get boring for the audience so to ensure the attention of our audience doesn’t fade wedecided to show a small part of other clips during the interview andthen used a dissolve to bring it back together to the initial interview. Ithis is really visually effective. Another special effect weused was speeding up certain clips to make the style of thedocumentary more fast paced and consistently interesting.
MAGAZINE ARTICLE This is the magazine spread we made to support our documentary as part of the ancillary task. We looked at other magazines such as ‘Radio Times’ to see what the codes and conventions for documentary double page spreads usually are. Magazines and newspapers always have a masthead. The point of it is to basically highlight the topic of the article and give the reader some information on what they are looking at reading in a very succinct way.As well as telling the reader what thearticle is about through the masthead‘social networking’ the rhetoricalquestion that follows ‘curse or blessing’gives the reader an insight on to theapproach it may have towards thetopic.
A pull quote shows a part of the writing featured in the article that is interesting to highlight some of the views expressed. We chose to include this as it is a very important conventionused in every double page spread which we gathered from ourresearch. To make it stand out further we made the writing bold andblack. Articles are always presented in columns, we decided to take this approach too as it followed the traditional codes and conventions and made our article look more professional.
RADIO TRAILERTo get an idea of the way radio trailers are put together and what theyconsist of we listened to and analysed numerous radio trailers. Welistened to ones played by a variety of radio stations such as radio one,radio five and capital. As our radio trailer was aimed at radio onelisteners it needed to be interesting and appealing for an educatedaudience.These are my analysed radio trailer analysis sheets, they helped givean idea of what I needed to include in a good, professionally presentedradio trailer.When writing the script for the radio trailer it was important toinclude language that would be capturing of listeners attention. Iensured that I included interesting questions like: ‘will the rise ofsocial networking bring a fee?’ I think using questions like this iseffective as it makes listeners think about what the documentary mayinclude and persuade them towards them watching the documentaryto find out.
We created a script for the radio trailer and recorded it the same waywe did for the documentary. The script consisted of many audio clipsfrom the documentary and this is one of the main conventions wenoticed from analysing radio trailers.Garage band was used to create the radio trailer and we placed thesame background music we used in our documentary in our radio asthis effectively has an obvious connection to the audience.Another very important convention of radio trailers is that they allinclude the date, time and channel the documentary will be showingon. Obviously we made sure to include this in our documentary too. Itis usually mentioned in a simple way on radio one trailers. “Sunday night at 8, BBC1 is bringing to you the world of social networking!”