Question 1Codes and Conventions of myDocumentary
We have followed the codes and conventions of professional documentaries afterwe watched a series of documentaries then listing their codes and conventions.We watched ‘The Music Biz’, ‘The Devil Made me Do it’ and ‘That Thing: LaraCroft’. These are all single strand documentaries with one line of expositionwhich is conventional for the documentary we have created.
Type of DocumentaryAs our documentary contains observation from our cutaways and narration from our voiceover, we can say that our documentary is mixed, as it contains a variety of these different elements to advance the exposition of the documentary. Evidence of this is shown through the combination of voiceover and cutaways, which is contained within most if not all documentaries. Furthermore observation can be made by comments, as aural observation by narrators or interviewees is just as important in the documentary.
ThemesIn our documentary, the theme is generally abouttanning, which is unique to every documentary.However the power of the media is somethingmany documentaries share in common. Thisconvention can be seen in ‘The Devil Made me Doit’, a real documentary we analysed. Theme of themedia is portrayed in how music and artistsinfluence teenagers. Similarly to this, ours reflectson how celebrity culture affects young people tan.
We have followed theInterviews codes and conventions of interviews after making a list whilst watching and analysing professional interviews. For example we have followed the convention of shooting the interview in medium close up. They are on the left or right hand third of the screen, following the compositional rule of thirds. Also the eye line is a third of the way down the screen. This is conventional as the correct composition ensure that the viewer is attracted to the interviewee whilst they talk, and makes this interesting and eye catching.
To follow conventions of interviews we made sure that the interviewee was lookingdiagonally across the frame to the interviewer. For example in this interview from‘The Music Biz’, the interviewee is looking diagonally across to the interviewee whowould have been sitting on the far right hand side of the camera. In ourdocumentary, Mrs Battle the sociologist is doing the same, looking at the interviewdiagonally across from her. We also made sure none of the interviewees look at thecamera, as this would be distracting for the viewer, and no one in professionaldocumentaries look at the camera.
The graphics on the interviews are conventionally awhite sans serif font, which is in the bottom of thescreen. As shown by the examples below, in the realdocumentary, if the interviewee is on the right handside of the screen, the graphic is on the bottom left.Similarly in our documentary, in the example shownwe have followed this convention by placing thegraphic in the bottom right, if the interviewee is on theleft. The graphic is superimposed onto the frame, andconventionally shows the interviewees name andprofession/ important piece of information. This canbe seen in our documentary as well.
The mise en scene is extremely important in interviewsas it helps to anchor the themes and topics of thedocumentary. For example in this interview from thedocumentary ‘The Music Biz’ the fact that he ismanaging direction of virgin records is emphasised bythe virgin logo superimposed into the frame. This is animportant convention as it keeps the audienceinterested and is a key factor in the anchoring of thedocumentary. I have shown how I have followed this bygiving the example of the Gym Instructor Joe Deer whowas filmed at his place of work. His managing status isemphasised by the computer and his desk, and thetanning advert in the background emphasises thetheme of tanning in our documentary.
Cutaways are also anotherconventional way to anchor thedocumentary. The also serve toremove jump cuts from interviewswhich make the interview seemamateur and unprofessional. Ingeneral it is conventional to usestraight cuts in the editing of thesedocumentaries. On the left arecutaways from the professionaldocumentaries. They help reinforcewhat the interviewee is talking about,and can link into their next utterance.I have followed this convention byincluding cutaways such as those onthe right in our interviews.The cutaways when properly editedmake sure that everything is linkedand continuity is kept which isessential in real documentaries.
EditingIn terms of the editing, we followed the conventions of quick straightcuts, as this helps keep the interest of the viewer and make sure they donot get bored. The inclusion of cutaways and editing cuts ensures theviewer is not watching the same sequence over and over again. Forexample, this sequence from my own documentary is using straightcuts, to break up an interview.
Like in real documentaries, the use of creative camerawork and editing is essential in creating an interesting and eye catching documentary. Below are examples from my own documentary indicating the creative camerawork that we used.Cutaway edited by speeding it up for a ‘whip shot’ like effect panning up the bottleThe sun bed turning on was put in fast motion to make it look like a flash, which isan eye catching and interesting to show the sun bed.
SoundConventionally the voiceover is done by an adult male usingStandard English, to make the documentary appear seriousand to make people take notice. We followed this by using anarrator who fits this, for both our documentary and radiotrailer. Also we used a relevant music bed in ourdocumentary, for example ‘Bring Me Sunshine’ was used inour title sequence to connote sun and holidays. This can beseen in real documentaries like ‘The Devil Made Me Do It’when Marilyn Manson songs are played in between hisinterviews. It is also conventional to make sure this doesnot interfere with interviews or voiceovers, which weensured in our documentary by constantly checking thesound levels of our documentary.