Question 1- In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge codes and conventions of exisitng media products?
Question 1- In what ways does your media product use, develop orchallenge codes and conventions of real media products? Documentaries Hayden Atkins
Our preliminary work on documentaries: SuperSize Me• Since the start of the A2 media course, we have watched many documentaries in an attempt to grasp the features that they contain, and use them ourselves, with the final aim of being able to create a documentary that emulates a real life one.• It was also important for us to understand the documentary genres, and the features that are specific to different genres. For example, in Morgan Spurlock’s Supersize Me, it contains lots of close ups, mainly to show expression, particularly when Morgan is disgusted with something, or when there is a particular reaction that he wants us to see. • For example, here are three mid shots taken directly from the documentary. They are three close ups that show us the in-your-face nature of the documentary Spurlock is trying to produce. This would be different, for example, from a documentary that is targeting young children, where the graphic close ups aren’t needed.
Our preliminary work on documentaries: Fire + Rescue• However in Fire and rescue for example, the features to do with editing for example would be different in comparison to Supersize me, because it is targeting an entirely different audience, in a totally different genre. In Fire and Rescue, there is a lot of fast paced editing, to replicate the fast paced situations that firemen need to react to. This also reflects the target audience, fast, high octane action would be targeting a younger age group, rather than elderly people for example. For example, here is 5 seconds of footage, in stills, to see the montage styled editing that is very fast paced: As shown above, in just five seconds of footage, we see a fire engine coming out of the station, back into the station, and a side on shot of the engine. This reflects the needs of the target audience- by ensuring the editing is fast paced and exciting.
Documentary• Before starting the making of the documentary, we decided that we wanted to follow codes and conventions of existing documentaries, whilst also adding in our own features, that we believed we relevant to our genre and audience- Health and fitness and teenagers between the ages of 16-24.• By using existing codes and conventions, it would allow us to emulate some of the features used on a real life documentary. We decided we would add things like interviews , for example, so that our product looked genuine and professional.• During our planning and research, we decided that it would be very beneficial to examine existing documentaries, and look at the features they contain, so that we could include these in our work.• Prominent examples of existing documentaries that featured on our broadcast channel (BBC 3) was “World’s strictest parents”. Whilst we also looked in depth at a documentary that looked at the same genre as us, “Supersize Me”.• I have looked at various aspects of both of these documentaries, and we have tried to emulate some of the conventions and codes that they have portrayed, to try and make our product seem as realistic as possible.
Use of graphics/images• It is a key convention of nearly all health and fitness documentaries to use disturbing, graphical images to portray the problem of obesity. One of the ways in which documentary producers do this is to use images of obese people, often combined with facts, showing the risk of obesity. This graphic is used ins supersize me, to demonstrate the size of the problem. For example, in this photograph, we have a long shot of an obese man. The long shot allows productors to include all of the mans body, highlighting the obesity in more detail, providing us with more graphical content.• However, we also do this. We have used the same effect here in our documentary to obtain the same kind of shocking effect, like supersize me have done. Supersize me visual Our visual
Use of interview• It is a key convention of nearly all T.V documentaries to show interviews. Interviews allow the documenter to involve external views in their documentary, normally through field/industry experts.• Using the documentary Fault Lines, Fast foods, fat profits, we looked at their use of interview, and the conventions that are generally associated with them . We saw that whenever an interview was held, the subject of the interview was looking across the dead space- a key code of all interviews. Because of this, we decided that this would be a good convention to follow. Here are the results. Fault lines documentary Our documentary interview
Use of interview PropsAlso included in the conventions of interview is the use of props. The use of props is vital inconstructing a realistic, genuine interview with someone from the field that you want to talk about.They help set up the ambience of the interview, and influence the realness of the interview. Here is our interview side by side with an interview conducted in Supersize me. As you can see, the use of props features in both. In our interview, we have a pair of boxing gloves and a health drink, (green tea) appropriately placed in the left third of the interview. Similarly, in the background of the supersize me interview, there is some stationary equipment, things you would expect to se in the office of a professor. TheUse of props props enhance the Use of props authenticity of the person working in their respective
Use of Interview CostumeHere is our field expert dressed incostume that you would associate withhis job- sports In our documentary, we ensured that our field experts that we interviewed were dressed in clothing that our audience would associate them in on a day to day basis. There was no point in interviewing the P.E specialist if he was dressed as a clown, there is no relevance. This is an important code of all documentaries, as it is something that the viewer looks for in an attempt to easily identify the field that the person works in. Here is an example from the existing documentary, Supersize me. The field expert is dressed in a lab coat, and this instantly makes him recognisable as a doctor or something in the medical field. It increases the authenticity of the interview.
Use of Interview Vox PopsVox Pops are otherwise know as “streetinterviews” and are designed to give shortsnippets of interviews, normally to give a briefopinion on something. They are oftencasual, and don’t observe rule ofthirds, costume or props- they normally justgive an unbiased opinion Vox Pop from our documentary, the fitness Supersize Me Vox Pop and health crisis
Use of text• Another key component of many interviews conducted in T.V documentaries is the use of captions, primarily to introduce the interviewee. They give an easy on screen visual to interview the person, and are a very handy tool in the interview. As shown in the example below, the caption introduces the interviewees name, and normally their profession. In our documentary we use captions to introduce our two interviewees, fitness instructor Harriett Fowler, and PE teacher Gavin Sheaperd. Fault Lines documentary Our documentary caption
Typical filming components• In hundreds of documentaries, there are examples of different shots used whilst filming. We included these types of shots in our documentary:• Establishing shot:• Mid shot• Long shot Mid Shot• Use of pan• Use of Zoom Use of pan
Use of special effects• Special effects were something that we wanted to include in our documentary. Having looked in particular at the use of blur, in existing documentaries, we thought that the use of blur was effective in slightly distorting the footage so that the target audience focus on the voiceover. Also we thought that blur was effective in blurring the background so that the viewers focus more on the people. Here are two uses of blur in our documentary. The first is a blurred panoramic shot of Solihull. We have sped it up by 100 to emulate the effects of a busy town. This is useful for discussing facts in the voiceover, as it gives the audience something visually to see, and it also gives them an impression of the place where we are filming our documentary. The second use of blur is right at the end of the documentary. Blur can also be used to “finish” something. We used the blur in the last shot of the college as almost an ending note, something that we found effective.
Use of the rule of thirdsIn our documentary, we decided to use theconvention of rule of thirds, especially during theconduction of our interviews. As you can see, our conducted interview observes the rule of thirds, to an extent. It is not perfect, but our interviewee is situated more or less in the left third whilst the appropriately placed mise-en- scene is in the right two thirds, so she is looking across the space, another convention observed in documentary.
Codes and Conventions that we chose not to follow: Archival FootageThere were a number of codes and conventions that we chose not to follow in ourdocumentary, but this does not mean we haven’t researched them. For example archival footage.It is a big feature found in many existing documentaries, and we chose not to follow it for a numberof reasons.• Firstly, we found that we did not need found footage. Found footage is often used in documentaries when you cant film something yourself. For example, in the documentary “102 minutes that changed America”, there is found footage of the aeroplane hitting the towers, because it is an event that cannot be found now. In our documentary, we found that all of our footage covered the themes and ideas we wanted to discuss, and we are happy with the outcome without the found footage. The footage of the 9/11 attacks is archival footage that obviously cannot be recorded
Summary• Overall, we were very happy with the outcomes of our documentary. I believe that we followed existing codes and conventions constructively, and have created a genuine looking product.• There are a number of reasons why I think we have accomplished this. The first is because of our in-depth research and planning. We spent many hours looking at existing products, and observing the features they use. We looked at documentaries such as Fire and Rescue, World’s strictest Parents and Supersize Me in an attempt to gain good knowledge on codes and conventions that these directors have used when filming to create a genuine product• Secondly I think we accomplished the task by bearing in mind these features whilst filming. It is one thing to research these techniques and say we are going to use them, but actually considering them whilst filming is something we did well. We said to ourselves during the interviews, “is the use of props right” and “is the rule of thirds being observed here?”. I think through answering these questions whilst filming, we followed the codes and conventions of existing products to a good standard.