IN WHAT WAYS DOES YOUR MEDIA PRODUCT USE, DEVELOP OR
CHALLENGE FORMS AND CONVENTIONS OF REAL MEDIA
As I am currently studying A2 Media Studies, I was given a specific brief as part of
the A2 Media coursework. We were required to create a five minute introduction to
a documentary; this was based on a topic of our choice. Alongside this, we were
required to create two ancillary tasks; these were two media products to promote
the documentary. These included a double page spread alongside a radio trailer; the
purpose of these products was to support and promote the main product which is
H U M AY R A
INTRODUCTION - A2 MEDIA COURSEWORK TASK
We were asked to work in group of three or four. Before we began the production
stage as a group we put in a lot of research and planning in order to ensure the
media products are of professional quality and effective in terms of audience. We
researched and planned for topics, existing documentaries, conventions of
magazine articles, radio trails and documentaries, audience research, channel
research, draft of double page spread, script for voiceover and radio trailer, the
storyboard for the documentary as well as much more research and planning
which we went into in order to ensure the professional standards.
Before we began we made extensive research into the documentary genre by looking
at the typical conventions of a documentary. After picking a suitable topic idea for
the documentary; we ware that the purpose of the documentary was to cause
public interest, convey opinions and to inform the viewers. This was achieved by
researching and acknowledging the typical conventions of a documentary, These
include, expert interviews, voxpops, reconstructions, voiceover, archival footage
and also actuality.
After the completion of the documentary we have been able to assess and identify the
relevant conventions we have made use of in our documentary. Actuality was an
important convention because we believed that it was essential to give the viewers
a real insight into the topic of underage drinking. The main reason for this is
because we are aiming to inform the viewers about our choice of topic.
PRIMARY AND SECONDARY RESEARCH
Primary and secondary types of research have a big involvement when it comes to the
production of the documentary. A reason for this is because the research is where we are
inputting views of the public and views overall and we are using these to portray through
Primary research consists of original primary data collected by the researcher. In our case we
can be known to be the researchers. We carried out questionnaires and focus groups
which were directly aimed at our target audience. To portray these through the use of
documentaries we used voxpops and interviews; we used this to link to certain people;
showing how we have gained information. We approached members of the public/college
students to input their views onto the documentary through a voxpop. This is very similar
to “Super Size Me”, a reason for this is because they conducted primary research and
portrayed this through the use of voxpops. The documentary asked people on the streets
in the US what understanding they had on fast food and McDonalds.
Secondary research is carried out with existing data. It makes use of materials such as
books, magazines and newspapers. In terms of secondary research; we extracted the
research form these factual resources and we used the content onto the voice-over. We
did this in order to show the knowledge we hold on the subject and also to inform viewers
of facts they may not have known before watching the documentary. Similar to this
“Super Size Me” has also used this feature. Morgan Spurlock includes a bombardment of
facts towards the beginning of the documentary. A reason for this may be to entice the
reader into listening carefully and becoming intrigued by the amount of factual content
being delivered. We used the same feature in the beginning of our documentary in order
to gain the same impression from the viewers perspective.
In terms of documentary modes there are number which were identified by Bill Nichols theory.
These are used to categorise the different types of documentaries. Nichols 2001 looked
at history of documentary and identified 6 distinct modes.
The style of documentary fits into the expository mode. The primary purpose of the mode is
to make an argument. This is most often associated with documentary in general.
The structure is grounded in a series of assertions backed up by evidence. Usually
presented through verbal commentary from a voice-over narrator, while images
provide the evidence towards the argument.
The second type of documentary mode is observational. This mode uses observations of
an unobtrusive camera to create a direct engagement with the everyday life of
The third type of documentary mode is participatory. This mode emphasises interaction
between filmmaker and subjects. Usually these take the form of a series of
interviews or even more direct involvement from conversations to provocations.
As well as this, the use of archival footage examine historical issues revolving
around the subject.
The fourth type of documentary modes is the poetic mode, This approach to
documentary filmmaking emphasises visual associations, tonal or rhythmic
qualities, description, and form.
The fifth type of documentary modes is the performative mode. This highlights the
subjective or expressive aspect of the filmmaker’s own involvement with a subject
to heighten the audience’s responsiveness to the subject and to this involvement.
These films reject objectivity and favour emotion.
The final documentary mode is the reflexive mode. This includes the mockumentary
format, calls attention to the assumptions and conventions that govern
documentary filmmaking to increase our awareness of how films construct
representations of reality.
DOCUMENTARY MODES CONTINUED…
From looking at these types of documentaries it is clear that they don’t fit our
documentary type as well as the expository mode does. The expository mode has
been portrayed through our documentary through verbal commentary and visual
images in order to create and illustrate the argument based on the programme.
We viewed existing documentaries in order to watch different types of documentary
modes and to identify the conventions of these particular modes. One example of
this was “Super Size Me”. Morgan Spurlock’s documentary has a performative
documentary mode. He portray his views clearly through a autobiographical style;
which adds a unique spin on the documentary unlike typical documentaries. As a
result of doing this it enhanced the documentary because it gave the insight from
Morgan Spurlock’s perspective. Another documentary that we watched was “Teen
Species”; this was also an expository style of documentary which included fly on
the walls in order to gain a greater insight into the subject.
Our documentary can under a pessimistic and serious category because of the nature
of the topic. Because of voiceover which maintained and a serious calm tone of
voice when narrating the documentary.
When concerning the narrative structure it is important to consider what the style
would be. As I was required to create a 5 minute documentary I could not use
one specific narrative documentary to link to the whole documentary. By
researching narrative structures we decided to use a closed structure. A
reason for this because it would give viewers the clear conclusion to answer
the questions of the documentary. With a close end narrative structure we
were able to ensure that all the relevant information has been provided.
Towards the beginning of the documentary and radio trail the extracts begin with
a series of rhetorical questions to get the viewers thinking about whilst
watching the documentary. As well as this we tried to bombard the beginning
of the documentary with ;loads of facts to inform and teach viewers on the
subject of underage drinking. We used questions which would be answered
by professionals in order to get them thinking about how much of a
complicated matter the subject can be seen as. Expert interviews also helped
us with this as it strengthened the use of the rhetorical questions.
MANAGEMENT OF SOUND USING FINAL CUT
EXPRESS: VOICEOVER AND MUSIC
Narration through the pre recorded voiceover. Information contributes towards the documentary to assist and
lead the viewers through the problem of underage drinking.
We had used a sound recorder to record the voiceover effectively and then incorporated this into the
soundtrack of the documentary. We enticed the viewers by making the start of the documentary contain a
few rhetorical questions in order to identify the topic and the issue of underage drinking
Using Final Cut Express we edited the voiceover to the clips and we then used the soundtrack to run through
most of the documentary. By using the software in a technical manner we managed to cue the voiceover at
relevant points and we tuned the volume of the soundtrack down.
We noticed that in real media documentaries they have used sound as an advantage all of them contained
relevant background music throughout the documentaries so we decided to experiment and use the same.
We did this by using sounds from Garageband; we experimented with the sounds to get something we liked.
We chose the sound carefully in order to fit in well with the documentary. This is similar to Super Size Me
and A Good Smack as they have a background music in the background which relates and works well with
the rest of the documentary.
The use of voxpops illustrated the types of views members of the public may hold on underage drinking. We used
these to possibly make the viewers of the documentary relate to the members of the public or disagree with them;
forming a opinion on the viewers mind for our topic. Alongside this we used another convention of
documentaries which was interviews. These were taken place by a professional academic coach to express her
thoughts on such a serious subject. We used voxpops and interviews together in order to give a balanced
response and a range of views in the documentary. We prompted all interviewees with questions in order for
them to give something to discuss whilst being recorded. We had a variety of voxpops within the documentary
this is developing the use of voxpops in “Super Size Me” as the documentary has a limited amount of voxpop. We
decided to develop this further to give the public a chance to express their views on underage drinking.
On the documentary we also filmed stock footage from YouTube; the main reason of this was to show the medias
perspective of underage drinking. We did this to get to shots we normally would not be able to film during college
and get hold of violent scenes because of the influences of alcohol. Doing this would widen the knowledge
viewers may learn and it might even change the opinions on underage drinking; the purpose of stock footage was
used to improve the viewers knowledge in terms of TV adverts, news reports and also violent crime being shown
due to the underage drinking.
We did not make use of reconstructions as we know this is another convention of documentaries. We didn’t use this as
we thought it would not benefit the viewers as they wouldn't learn anything new from it as results of underage
drinking commonly are known to lead to violence and havoc across cities. To replace the point of reconstructions
we filmed some background footage of the effects of underage drinking to show them the obvious instead of
making our own reconstructions which would have been time consuming and not as effective.
During the filming process of the media production we were required to consider
how the camera angles and shots would be shot in order to achieve the results
we required. A way to do this was by following the typical camera shots for
certain extracts; in order to achieve an effect or meaning whilst doing so.
We used a Close up shot in order to record one of the voxpops. A reason of doing
this was because we wanted to use a variety of camera shots when doing the
voxpops n order to portray the fact that we are asking different types of people
for their portrayal of underage drinking. The use of a close up shot means that
the focus lays concentrated on the main frame which would be of the young
man who is being interviewed in the extract. The close up shots allows the
viewer to identify his facial expressions whilst he is speaking, this is an
advantage because we want to show how shocked he is after we reveal the
legal drinking age limit in the home is. When looking at existing documentaries
they tend to use close up shots for the similar types of reasons; after
researching this we decided to aim for the sae outcome. As you can see I have
illustrated below the types of close up shots we managed to film.
Another type of shot which we consisted in the documentary was a long shot. We used
this in order to show relevant locations, scenes of students and as well as this long
shots enable viewers to be aware of the location and surroundings of the shots.
We used this to film locations such as pubs, clubs and also shots of students in
college. We felt that this type of shot worked extremely well because it linked
directly to the topic of alcohol when we were filming the locations of pubs.
Very close up shots are used to show objects in detail. This may be to illustrate a
meaning or to generally show a action/ object from a close detail. We used this
through the use of background footage and stock footage to use a variety of
camera shots in the documentary and to also show certain items in a close detail.
We decided to use this because these shots were cleverly used in “Super Size Me”
to demonstrate their points e.g. Very close up shots of the unhealthy fast foods.
We decided to go for the same style in order to achieve a similar impact on the
viewers watching our documentary.
Medium shots are commonly used throughout the documentary. We used this for
majority of the interviews including the professional expert interview. A reason for
this is because we wanted to show the person in the frame with their body. This
enables us to approach a more professional view because we can see the
gestures and expressions they may be talking whilst speaking. After looking at
“Super Size Me” we noticed that a few of the interviews were done through
medium shots, not too far from the individual but not too close either. This is where
we tried to replicate the same idea in order to present the interviews more
We used a couple of still images in our documentary. A reason for this is to add a
variety and to change the presentation of the extract to show different techniques.
It was a good idea to do so because we would not be able to film the individuals in
the photographs; adding a professional touch to the documentary.
DOCUMENTARY FEATURES whether it be a documentary or a film.
Set up of the camera is very important when filming
Majority of documentaries make good use of tripods, this is a piece of equipment which
holds the camera steady when filming. This allows us to adjust the camera angles and
positions as we can lower and higher the positions using the functions attached with the
tripod. When we were filming the professional interview we ensured to use a tripod
because we wants to maintain the professional standard of filming as handheld filming
can become wobbly which is not something viewers want to see. As a group we ensured
relevant items were in the area of filming e.g. We rearranged the room a bit by tilting the
chair, making books , pens and paperwork visible. A reason for this is too associate the
interview as being from a expert point of view; doing this assorts the voxpop interviews
from the professional interview as experts can be known as intelligent as books and
paperwork are typically associated with intelligence. We have considered the rule of
thirds whilst filming the interview. We placed the expert slightly to the right of the screen,
with her looking to a side and speaking about her perspective on the subject.
This contributes towards mis en scene, it is also portrayed in existing documentaries such as
in “supersize me” and “a good smack”. The interviews have rule of thirds and it is obvious
to see that the rule of thirds have been worked with as the interviewees are kept to one
of the screen; allowing features in the background to be on display. As you can see
include print screens of these documentaries
DOCUMENTARY FEATURES We used this in order to present the
Lighting it yet another convention of documentaries.
images on the screen as clear and professional. We chose to use natural source of
lighting. A reason for this is because the lighting was exactly how we wanted it and the
shots weren’t dark so we did not require artificial lighting. We thought that editing the
lighting would mean a change of locations and also it would require technical knowledge
to set up the equipment needed to create specific lighting.
During the production of the documentary we didn’t use any props because didn’t find it to be
relevant. We found that they weren’t required.
Through the use of mis en scene we used a number of elements to make the documentary
effective. One way in which we did this as through the use of locations. We did this by
filming the college canteen in the main building. We filmed the location with a pan of the
canteen; doing this we could see students socialising and having their lunch. We did this
in order to show the typically affected people of the topic “underage drinking”. Similarly to
this we recorded background footage of Solihull city centre, including shots and pans of
the pubs. We recorded a number of background footage for students, including panning
the camera with it, zooming the camera and also just general stills.
Voiceover is yet another convention of documentaries. It is used to guide the viewers through the documentary
and it doesn’t leave the viewers watching images with no sound or speech guiding and directing them
through the piece. We used a voiceover to guide the audience through the extract. We made use of this
by recording the voiceover through a deep male voice who spoke with a serious tone of voice. We did this
to emphasise the seriousness of the subject and also because we thought the accent and speech of the
individuals was clear and would be good for voiceover use. It is quite similar to some of the existing
documentaries we watched. An example of this is “A Good Smack” this had the same serious tone of
voiceover which overall created the serious tone and style for the documentary. We used the voiceover to
explain the scientific side of the problem of alcohol consumption which gave a good variety to the piece
instead of just giving facts and figures. The scientific bit of the voiceover makes it effective and catches
the viewers attention because the words are alarming and most likely would capture the attention of the
viewers even more, The rhetorical questions which were asked by the voiceover gave a sense of hope
and enthusiasm to the audience. We did this because in “Super Size Me!”; Morgan Spurlock uses the
voiceover to personally show his enthusiasm and anxiety to show the world the impacts of fast food
eating. This is why we incorporated this feature to the voiceover because the voiceover upkeeps a sense
of hope and an answer to the situation.
Portable microphones were made use of when performing interviews or when capturing any sound we wanted
to be heard as a part of the documentary. We used this because it gave a better sound quality and also
sound was heard easily whereas the camera microphone had been capturing sound with very low
sounds. We made use of this device because it was portable and it made it easier for us to manoeuvre
around the campus and outside of college with the equipment. The microphone did give us a few issues
because when we used the device the microphone came into the frame whilst we were filming. However,
we were able to solve this issue as we made use of Final Cut Express in order to edit and reposition the
frame slightly to edit out the microphone.
Our documentary has elements of diagetic and non – diagetic sound; these are also
conventions of documentaries. It was hard to avoid non – diagetic sound during
voxpops and interviews however we wanted to have this element of being real and
truthful because with this sound it can almost seem like the truth is being told. We
did not do anything about this sound because we wanted it to look like we
approached members of the public for interviews, otherwise viewers may have the
portrayal that this isn’t the publics opinion but our own. Diagetic sounds have been
included in the extract. Examples of this can be people walking past, telephones
ringing, talking/car noises whilst interviews being carried out outside may have
experienced. We were happy with this type of sound from what we had filmed;
however to ensure the sound is not overpowering we managed and maintained the
sound levels. The non-diagetic mostly came from our documentary although it was
not very noticeable it worked well with the existing sound on the documentary. We
did not have to alter anything drastically because of these sounds so we were
pleased with the outcome.
If we could improve the documentary or re do the piece I would have spent time into researching and seeing
how graphics were cleverly used and inserted into the documentaries. We could do this by looking into
the types of software which could be used to incorporate special effects and graphics to further engage
the audience. Instead of this we added text onto the extract several times to highlight and put extra
emphasis on facts and figures at the beginning of the documentary; very similarly to the “Super Size
Me” introductory graphics and the bombardment of facts and figures they are giving.
By looking at Super Size Me the graphics became engaging and interesting for the viewers to watch. With
the animations and sound being utilised to present facts and figures added an interesting element to the
documentary. This is something we did not use as much because it was not easy to use and get to grips
with the software providing these types of graphics. Due to the limited time we were not able to go into
that much depth ad research into the choice and variety of graphics available.
In terms of graphics we also included a banner which is typically used in documentaries such as “
e.g. The professional banner identifying the experts profession and same, the text which was inserted to
reinforce the facts alongside the voiceover
CONVENTIONS OF DOCUMENATRIES
Transitions were used a lot from each of the clips we filmed. We inserted a
couple of transition effects in order to make the transitions different from
Straight cuts are known to be a big feature when it comes to documentary
filmmaking. This is another typical convention of documentaries and is used
to make the move between two different clips.
Cross dissolves were also used within the documentary. This is to add variety to
the documentary and to also demonstrate the skills we hold on inserting and
demonstrating these features. This transition is a dissolve so it can come
across as interesting to the viewers watching the documentary.
TV LISTINGStasks we were required to produce a double page spread article for a
As part of the ancillary
TV listings magazine. Amongst the team we discussed and decided to use the “Radio
Times”. We used this because we found it is a largely wide spread magazine with
thousands of readers; meaning the purpose of promoting the documentary is much more
likely to be accomplished. We had a look at other magazines such as the “TV and
Satellite week” and “What’s on TV” and we found that most of the magazines had similar
types of conventions. We chose the Radio Times because we found that the magazine
had similar types of documentaries featuring on the magazine. We came to find that the
Radio Times has a simple layout and looks impressive in terms of style and the creativity
with imagery to make the page appealing and attractive. Radio Times has general
conventions of magazines such as columns, by-lines, stand first, main image; allowing us
to adapt the layout slightly to our own preferences and also to the subject of underage
drinking. As you can see our magazine
TV LISTINGS MAGAZINE ARTICLE
When it came to the main header of the title we used this just above the article on the left
hand side. We think this is appropriate positioning because it lets readers know the title
of the article and also the subject. This works well with the main image as the title is
placed on the blank side and the main contents of the image is on the opposite side. This
convention develops existing media products use because the imagery has been taken
in order to work around to fit the main header.
Through the use of the columns we have demonstrated the similarity to existing “Radio
Times” articles. We have used four columns because the text is narrow and going along
a strip at the bottom of the page. We decided to do this because we wanted our
magazine article to look as if it belongs to the “Radio Times”. Furthermore, we developed
the use of columns by editing pictures from the documentary and fading them behind the
text. We did this in order to make the [age look interesting as we are aware younger
target audience may get bored of reading articles. The remainder of the article is
dominated by the main image to make them identify the documentary that's going to be
airing as the main image originates from the documentary itself. Using a very similar
design to the Radio Times reinforces the magazine the article belongs to and remains to
be a typical convention. As you can see the placement of the article itself and the main
image is very similar.
TV LISTINGS MAGAZINE ARTICLE
The article consisted of captions to illustrate who was behind the production of
the article and the magazine page. It gives credit to the people that wrote the
magazine article. We also have captions of the magazine name as well as the
date. This was similar to the technique used in the Radio Times, we used this
in order to make it look like the article belongs to the magazine.
The first letter of the article has a drop cap effect placed onto it. This is once
again another typical convention of magazine articles and it is commonly
used to indicate where the beginning of the article starts. We saw that
majority of the articles we looked through researched with did include a drop
cap, so we decided to replicate this idea because it was clearly a common
TV LISTINGS MAGAZINE ARTICLE
Another common convention we have followed is by including a subheading onto the
magazine article. This is a good way of encapsulating the attention of the reader because
the text is next to the heading and it is in big lettering. The words “Are these Teen
Drinkers really in serious danger?” is a rhetorical question placed underneath to make
the readers think about whether these people are in serious danger or not. We did this
because we found most magazine articles from different types of magazines did have a
subheading in order to give a very brief overview for the article.
The pull quote was used to grab the attention of the reader. We continued this and
challenged the convention by placing it in the middle of the main image and we then went
onto rotating the quote. As well as this we inserted effects onto the pull quote and
subheading to make them stand out. We did this because it is likely to grab the readers
attention because of its unusual position; which would mean they are most likely to be
intrigued after reading the shocking expert fact we took from the documentary. This
supports the documentary as the fact is directly said by the interview, linking the product
very closely to the documentary itself.
Before it came to producing the radio trail we went through the research and planning stage to highlight and
identity the main typical conventions of radio trails. One radio trail that I listened to was the “British
grand prix”. After listening to a couple of radio trails as a group we identified some of the common
conventions of these radio trails. We learnt they lasted up to 45 seconds long the most. Having
identified this we decided to go for just under 45 seconds and it came to 42 seconds to be exact. We
opted for this timing because we felt that it was a suitable period of time to engage the listeners and to
keep them interested for them to go onto watch the documentary. We decided to air the radio trail on
Radio One because majority of our target audience listen to that radio station and this is a advantage
for us because it means we get a broadened audience.
We decided to include a different background music and did not follow the convention because we found that
the music was not as upbeat and engaging as we would want it to be for a radio trail. As an alternative
we created a tune on Garageband and then we went onto insert this. When extracting the voxpops from
the documentary we used this as a way to hear some of the background music in the original
documentary. In some form we are challenging the convention but up keeping the element of continuity.
In the radio trail we used extracts from the voiceover and the voxpops. We did this in
order to give the viewers a brief insight of the documentary. This is a convention
we used in order to give that element of continuity as the role of the radio trail is to
promote and support the main product. These would hopefully encourage viewers
to go onto watching the documentary. For the radio trail we used two people to
speak, one female and one male. We did this to represent the views and different
perspectives people may hold on the subject. We ensured that the speakers were
confident and that they portrayed a serious tone of voice matching to the
seriousness of the subject. Most importantly the common convention was to insert
the date time and channel of broadcast. We did this at the end of the documentary
so that listeners remember the details of the broadcast. It was vital to insert this
because without this listeners would not know when to watch the documentary
To conclude I think that we have used majority of the forms and conventions within the
documentary, TV listings magazine article and the radio trail. I believe that in this
document we have provided valid reasons as to why have not used the some of
the conventions. I think the use of existing media products made it useful for us
because it gave us a stronger idea of how we could form our own media products.
The process has been made easier with the research and planning stages
because they allowed us to expand on this and put our own creativity onto the
products. Research into existing products allowed us to base our own products on