6FactualProductionWhat is factual production?Media products can be fictional, factual or fictionbased on fact. Fact is true and fiction is not true.This chapter will investigate factual products and theconventions that are used in making and recognisingfactual products. These include some television andradio programmes, training videos, printed materiallike newspapers and some magazines, textbooks andsome websites.Sometimes factual information is changd into afictional narrative. For example, you can have a filmthat is based on fact but is adapted to make it moreexciting, or a dramatised documentary radio or TVprogramme, where the characters represent realpeople but the story is made up.
49.THEPRODUCTIONPROCESSFACTUALPRODUCTION49.Types of factual productsThe documentary is the most obvious form of factual television or radioprogramme. The feature (a self-contained finished item broadcast as asegment of a longer programme) is usually factual, though featurescontaining dramatised content are not. Television and radio newsbulletins are wholly factual, while current affairs programmes and newsmagazine programmes can have fictional embellishments in the form ofpersonal opinion.Newspapers that remain committed to reporting news and stories withoutadding to or taking away from the content are factual, but the editorial of anewspaper may be conjecture and elaboration that is only based on fact,and so it is questionable. Magazine articles and written interviews thatreport the interviewee verbatim (quoting the actual words said rather thanthe journalist’s interpretation) are factual. Live reporting and reviewing ofsport could be considered factual. Consumer programmes, magazinesand websites are factual products that deal with the truth about finance,holidays, jobs and many other issues.This table shows some factual products and their equivalent fictionalproducts.Here are some examples of factual products you may already know:• News 6.00 p.m, Radio 4 • Money Box, Radio 4• News 10.30 p.m, ITV • Crimewatch, BBC 1• Natural World, BBC 2 • Panorama, BBC 1• Dispatches, Channel 4 • Times newspaper• Watchdog, BBC 1 • Guardian newspaperTry this ...Get a copy, or visit a website,of a listings magazine (e.g.Radio Times or TV Times)and list the names of somefactual radio or televisionprogrammes and thechannels they are broadcaston. How can you tell that theyare factual from the titles?Try this ...List as many factual websitesas you can. Explain why youthink they are factual.Try this ...Obtain copies (or go to thewebsites) of some seriousand popular newspapers(formerly broadsheets andtabloids) and somemagazines. Highlight whichstories are fact and which areeither features or fictitious.Factual product Equivalent fictionalproductTV documentary DramadocTV natural history documentary DocusoapRadio or TV feature Dramatised radio or TV featureConsumer radio & TV programmes Crime reconstruction programmesRadio news bulletin Current affairs, news magazineTelevision news bulletin (contain personal comment thatmay not be true)Serious newspaper article Popular newspaper featureInvestigative documentary Dramatic reconstruction(based on fact)
50. BTEC First in Media: A Practical HandbookLook at Chapter 3, MediaAudiences and Productsfor more information onconventions.Media product Convention usedTelevision news bulletin • Studio-based newsreader speaks directly to camera• Newsreader uses pre-scripted dialogue• Shot: medium close-up• Language: formal (Standard English)• Each story introduced by piece to camera• Some stories have a videotape (VT) clip• Each story has lip-sync• Each video clip has voice-over (VO) from studio-based newsreaderRadio documentary • Spoken introduction to programme• Use of narrator to link elements• Formal language used by narrator• Actual words spoken by contributors, using their dialects or slang(called actuality)• Contributors recorded on location• Only contributors’ answers heard, the questions have been edited out• Archive material used• Spoken conclusion to programmeNewspaper article • Main headline for title• Byline for name of writer• Text set in columns• Formal language used• No related picture• Not generally on front page (which tends to be used for breaking news)Website • Uniform colour scheme, related to a company’s house style andcorporate image• Often frame to page• Generally roll-over navigation buttons• More than one way of navigating the site• Banner advertisement• Blocks of colour• Links to other sites• IconsConventions of factual productsThe ‘Try this’ activities on page 49 asked you to state why you thought aproduct was factual. Do factual products have characteristics that makethem recognisable? Fictional products have characteristics or conventionsthat make them recognisable as fictional products, just as all products haveconventions that allow us to classify them by genre (type) and not simply asfiction or fact. The table below shows four common factual products andsome of the conventions by which they can each be recognised.
51.THEPRODUCTIONPROCESSFACTUALPRODUCTIONOne convention may be associated with more than one type of productand may well identify another type of product when used in a differentcombination. The table opposite shows general rules, but it is thecombination of conventions used that distinguishes one product fromanother, whatever genre it belongs to.In addition to the more obvious conventions listed opposite, the structureof each type of product (the way it is put together) will also identify it as aparticular type of factual or fictional product. An example of this is a newsbulletin on a music radio station. It is introduced by a jingle, followed by anew voice reading the headlines. This is followed by each news story readout in greater detail. Many of the news stories will also have a voice-piece(a pre-recorded item) delivered by a contributor, perhaps a reporter, with adifferent voice and from a remote location. Between the stories there maybe a sting (musical phrase) to hold them together. At the end, thenewsreader may read the headlines again and then sign-off with astandard phrase that includes the name of the radio station. This structureof news programme differentiates them from other programme types.The chart below compares the structure of a radio news bulletin and adocumentary TV programme.Try this ...Pick one of the factualproducts you listed in theactivities on page 49, and listother conventions that younow recognise make it afactual product. Now look atanother product. Identify themost common conventionthat makes a product factual.Try this ...Choose a factual and afictional media product andwrite down the componentparts to show the twostructures.Three-minute radio newsprogrammeNews jingleHeadlinesNewscaster’s nameStory 1 Main national story withvoice-pieceStingStory 2 with voice-pieceStingStory 3 with voice-pieceStingStory 4 Short local storyStingStory 5StingStory 6 Curious/amusing storySign-offJingle, including station nameDocumentary TVprogrammeIntroduction and menu by narratorFirst contributorLink voice-piece by narratorSecond contributorLink voice-piece by narratorSound effectThird contributorLink voice-piece by narratorFirst contributorSound effectLink voice-piece by narratorThird contributorSecond contributorClosing remarks by narrator
52. BTEC First in Media: A Practical HandbookInitiating and researching ideas for afactual media productDeciding which factual product to makeYou can now start to develop your own ideas for a factual media product.First, decide whether it’s going to be a television or radio programme, aprinted article in a newspaper or magazine, or a factually-based website.Next decide whether it’s going to be news or a documentary. You mustconsider the equipment you will need and the time it will take, which willdepend on the sector you are working in. You can draw a spidergram ofyour ideas like this one:Try this ...With a partner, discuss thetype of factual media productyou want to make. Draw aspidergram of thepossibilities and then decidewhich medium you will useand which basic type ofproduct you will make.YouthWhat are youngpeopleinterested in?MediaTelevision, iPods,gameboys, music centres,cinema, films on TV,DVD hiresFashionDesigner clothes, hoodies,ways of carrying schoolbagsVandalismCausing damage, harassingpeople, knife cultureMusicListening to and makingmusic, singing, playing aninstrument, going toconcertsSportRunning, gymnastics,swimming,off-road bikesPeer pressureConforming, being different,bullying
53.THEPRODUCTIONPROCESSFACTUALPRODUCTIONDeveloping the idea for your factualproductHaving decided what type of factual media product you are going to make,your idea needs to be developed into a viable (practical) proposal. You canuse a SWOT analysis to work out the viability of an idea.Strengths The strengths of any product should first includethe content – otherwise the product will bedestined to fail. Other strengths could be thevaluable purpose of the idea, whether it is raisingawareness about a topical issue, or educating,informing or simply entertaining people.Production strengths might include a relatively lowbudget, content that is easy to acquire, etc.Weaknesses The weaknesses of a product might be that it isnot feasible to make, the concept is not quite rightor perhaps the content is distasteful to certainaudiences. The logistics of a project must beconsidered. Raising money may be difficult(funding is essential to any project in the realworld) or it may not be easy to acquire thecontent.Opportunities The opportunities opened up by a productmight include such things as the chance tocommunicate to the masses, raising awareness,tackling important issues and educating people.A product on sex education, for example, couldhelp reduce teenage pregnancies. Suchopportunities depend on the content of theindividual product, but they can be a greatasset.Threats The main threats are the unknown problems thatmight (and probably will) crop up in theproduction and post-production stages. Theirimpact can be greatly reduced if the potentialproblems can be identified and assessed in theplanning stage and, hopefully, eliminated.Try this ...Working with a partner,brainstorm your initial idea,carrying out a SWOT analysisto establish its viability tobecome a product.See page 39 to find out moreabout SWOT analyses.
54. BTEC First in Media: A Practical HandbookAny of the following could be strengths, weaknesses, opportunities orthreats, depending on how much they each impede or support your idea fora product.• Personal interest• Knowledge of subject• Accessibility to contributors• Availability of primary information• Availability of secondary information• Research skills• Time management• Contribute to CV/showreel• Human resources• Physical resources• Knowledge of equipment• Communication skillsDeciding on your audienceEarly on in the production process you need to decide who the audience isgoing to be for your product. You will need to use some of your knowledgefrom Chapter 3, Media Audiences and Products, to decide this.ResearchYou should research how, when and where your audience will access theproduct and how they will find out about it. Use all the appropriate methodsto find the information and don’t forget to consider the legal and ethicalissues for the audience you identify.To research the content of your product you will need to apply the primaryand secondary research techniques that are covered in Chapter 2, Researchfor Media Production. Research will involve information searches andinterviewing people. You must also consider the relevant legal and ethicalissues relating to the type of content that you want to include.Try this …Produce a questionnaire andconduct an audienceresearch survey to confirmthe nature of the audience foryour product and the meansof access (how, when andwhere the product will bedelivered to them). You canuse the Audiencequestionnaire on theCD-Rom to set up yourquestionnaire for your sector.Try this ...Look back at Chapter 2,Research for MediaProduction, and then gatherthe data for your product.Record all your findings,remembering to referencethe information correctly sothat it can be used in yourproposal.• Topicality, currency, relevance• Access to locations• Sensitivity of content• Authorisation• Copyright• Budget and costs• Disclosures/confidentiality• Access to unconventionalsources• Codes of practice• Sources of information• Timescale/availability• Need to adhere to ethicalpractices
55.THEPRODUCTIONPROCESSFACTUALPRODUCTIONProducing a factual productRecognising media product conventionsIt is important to remember that the correct conventions must be used infactual products. The conventions that you use will depend on which mediasector you are working in and which genre (type) of product you are goingto make, so you will need to have researched your product thoroughly. Ifyou get the conventions wrong, the product won’t attract an audience, andwill not make money for the company that commissioned it.Similarly, the structure of the product must follow the conventions ofstructure for factual products of this genre. This includes the way in whichyou deliver the narrative, the way you use narration to link the elements ofthe product, your choice and type of interview and the formal way that youaddress the audience. You can use your audience research findings to helpwith this.Presenting your proposalYour proposal will need to be pitched (presented) to your commissioningeditor (this will be your tutor) to persuade them that it is viable.Professionally, this is often done using a PowerPoint presentation, withslides that contain the same main points of information that are in the paperproposal.Look at the examples of radioand TV proposals on theCD-Rom.Look at …Try this ...Using your audienceresearch, product researchand product ideas, preparea paper proposal, followingthe recommended format.Look at Chapter 5,Production Project for helpon preparing a proposal.
56. BTEC First in Media: A Practical HandbookIf the pitch is successful, a contract is prepared by the commissioningagency, the budget for the product is agreed and the two parties sign thecontract.Carrying out pre-productionOnce your proposal has been accepted it is necessary to plan the timescale,costs and other production issues in detail to ensure that the budget anddeadlines are not exceeded. The detailed planning in the pre-productionstage is, often referred to as a treatment. There is a copy of a treatment onthe CD-ROM. It has ten headings which, when completed, will provide mostof the documentation needed to make your product. For pre-production,there has to be enough documentation to allow another production team tomake the product if you are unable to. In a professional situation, one teammay do the research and planning and produce the documentation foranother production team to make the product. In a large productioncompany, such as the BBC, one person may only work on a small part ofthe production.The sort of pre-production documentation that you need will depend on themedia sector you are working in:Television Radio Print Website ComputergameStoryboards Directions Layout Navigation PlanScripts Scripts Interviews Text TextCrew list Production team Staff list Production team Production teamRecce list Recce list Contact bookContact book Contact book SchedulesEquipment Equipment Photo-shootSchedules SchedulesSet plans Recording logShot log Recorded audioShot footageTry this ...Prepare a PowerPointpresentation of six slides,similar to the one on theCD-Rom, that covers themain points of your proposaland then pitch it to your tutor.
Television Radio Print Website Computer gameFootage Audio Copy Text AnimationsMusic Music tracks Photographs Photographs ImagesDialogue Speech Animations GraphicsAnimations Sound effects Graphics TextSoundsImages57.THEPRODUCTIONPROCESSFACTUALPRODUCTIONCarrying out productionAt the production stage you acquire (gather) the content for your product,according to the media sector you are working in. The table below showswhat content you will need.Carrying out post-productionPost-production is the editing part of the production stage, where all theacquired content is fitted together to make the final product. It is importantthat all the content gathering is complete before you start editing, whichmeans that you must have planned what your product will look like inadvance. Going back later for more content will cause delays in editing, andsometimes it is not possible to get exactly what you wanted. For example,in an exterior television or film shoot the weather may not be the same, orone of the contributors may be wearing different clothes or have a differenthairstyle to when you first filmed them, making your new shots unusable.In radio you may find that you are in a different ambient environment, wherethe background noise is not the same as the last time you recorded thecontributor’s voice. Continuity errors like this are not acceptable forprofessional media products.
58. BTEC First in Media: A Practical HandbookThe table below shows what happens, and the order in which it happens, inthe post-production stage of each sectorSummaryIn this chapter you have covered what you need toknow to achieve three of the four Learning Outcomesrelating to Unit 13 of your course. You should now:•understand conventions of factual mediaproduction•be able to develop and research an idea for afactual media product•be able to produce a factual media productfollowing appropriate conventions.When you have finished your factual product you willneed to review it to achieve the final LearningOutcome. To find out how to do this, turn to Chapter19, Reviewing your own work.Television Radio Print Interactive mediaEditing 1. Choose shots 1. Choose clips 1. Place titles 1. Choose contentprocess 2. Decide order of 2. Make edit list 2. Columnise 2. Import imagesshots3. Edit images 3. Edit speech 3. Sub-edit 3. Import text4. Add post-sound 4. Add music 4. Add text 4. Edit5. Mix music 5. Add sounds 5. Add pictures 5. Beta test6. Add titles and 6. Mix levels 6. ProofreadcreditsContent into Copy to format Bounce to format Print Upload to serverfinal format