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In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?

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Question 1

  1. 1. 1. In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products? Amber Reohorn
  2. 2. The brief that we were given at the beginning of A2 media was to create the first five minutes for a television documentary. We also had to produce two ancillary tasks, consisting of a radio trailer and an informative double page spread for a TV listing magazine to help promote our documentary. In order to produce a professional documentary we had to research into the documentary genre so we had an idea of what our introduction should be like, alongside this we had to plan and research our chosen topic, target audience, similar radio trails, documentaries and magazine articles and much more.
  3. 3. Shot types For our research into the documentary genre we decided to watch some documentaries like supersize me, Bowling for Columbine and a few 5 minute clips of documentaries covering issues like unemployment. This research was helpful as we picked up on effective conventions and techniques that we tried to adopt. These include;  vox pops,  expert interviews,  variety of suitable shot types and many more. Furthermore the use of camera in these examples were very creative which added more interest into the programmes. An example of this was  establishing shots, we decided to use this as it was a good cut away shot during the voiceover, especially when beginning a new chapter in the documentary.  Another shot we used was close ups, this shot is effective as it focuses on close up detail in the frame.
  4. 4. Shot types  Medium close ups were common in our documentary because we included a lot of interviews. The rule of thirds is important when framing an interview, the interviewee usually sits within the left or right third, while the free space on the opposite side is usually filled with relevant objects for example notes on the wall (mise en scene).  A typical feature for interviews is using graphical titles that dissolve on/off the screen. They often include the name of the person and the position of their job, this is good for expert interviews as it looks more professional.
  5. 5. Shot types  Much like the documentaries that we studied we took full advantage of the tripod. During filming it was important that we had steady shots for our documentary to be as professional as possible. o For our interviews the tripod allowed us to maintain the position of the frame, and avoided any disturbances. This meant our medium close up and rule of thirds was consistent throughout the documentary. o The tripod was handy when executing the pan before the vox pops, if we had not have used a tripod it would not have looked as good as it did.
  6. 6. Mise en scene/sound/lighting The mise en scene is important in making the documentary effective and ascetically pleasing.  Props – used to contribute to the mise en scene, usually relating to the subject area or person being interviewed. One example of this is during the interview with Ryan Jones, the posters behind him fit in with the rock/metal type music commonly associated with tattoos and piercings.  Location – the location of our filming was all relevant to our topic and flowed in time with the voiceover. For example the expert interview with employer Steve Brown, the office location was appropriate for the interview and topic.  Lighting – we tried to use mostly natural lighting throughout the documentary, which is common in the documentaries that I watched for my research. Choosing natural lighting meant that it was unlikely to have different lighting in every clip, which is something we tried to avoid.  Sound – from our research we found that many of the documentaries had background music throughout, this is something we chose to include in our documentary. We wanted music that would be relevant to our topic as well as not being too overpowering. We used the programme Garageband where we selected a number of guitar based tunes that were suitable.
  7. 7. sound  Diagetic and non diagetic sound - it was important for us to to include both diagetic and non diagetic sounds in our documentary. The diagetic sound was effective as it made the documentary more professional. However during vox pops and interviews we had to manage the levels of the diagetic sounds so they were not too overpowering.  The non diagetic sound, mainly from the voiceover combined well with the diagetic sound as it was not too fussy and made it an easy watching documentary.
  8. 8. voiceover  Our voiceover followed typical conventions of a narration, firstly it was delivered in standard English relating to the topic. We also made our voiceover fit around the interviews and vox pops, so that everything flowed accordingly.  For the voiceover we used a audio recording device in a quiet room to get a clear and undisturbed narration. We used this device instead of the shotgun microphone as it is more suitable for a voiceover and easier to upload onto the macs.  During all interviews and vox pops we used the conventional shotgun microphone. We chose to do this as it is good quality as well as easy to use and manoeuvre. However we had some issues where the microphone was in shot and we did not realise until watching the footage over on the macs. Nevertheless we sorted out the problem easily by either re filming or using wireframe to zoom the frame in.
  9. 9. Research  Both primary and secondary research was vitally important in the creation of our documentary. o Primary research – was gained through vox pops, interviews and questionnaires all of which were mainly from our target audience. This was clear in ‘super size me’ where he included vox pops in his film. o Secondary research – we collected this from factual internet sites and other resources, which was mainly found in the introduction with the history of tattoos.  From our research into documentaries we found that special effects and graphics were popular in presenting information. However we did not have the equipment or tools to create this effects, although if we did we would have liked to have incorporated this into our film.
  10. 10. Editing/effects  During the research stage we found that straight-cut was an effective feature that we included in our documentary.  Cross dissolve was an effective transition to use, as it added interest and allowed the audience to have a slight break between clips, so they did not follow each other too quickly.  The cross dissolve tool was also useful for our introduction where we layered on pictures, as it stopped it from being too harsh appearing too quickly.
  11. 11. Modes of documentary By researching and considering all the modes of documentaries available we found that the expository mode was the most suitable for our subject matter as it is formal and has an emotionally detached narrator. The opening five minutes has to be effective and informative enough to interest the spectator so they carry on watching it.  Narrative structure is very important, whether its linear or non-linear, open or closed ending or circular. For our documentary we decided that a closed structure would be the most appropriate given the style of the film. A closed ending would allow us to have a clear conclusion by the end, as well as hopefully covering all the information needed to answer any questions the viewers may have. However it is quite difficult to define the narrative within the first five minutes of the documentary, but we figured it was important for the research and planning stage.  The first couple of minutes of the narrative was purely to introduce the documentary and topic and allowing the rest of the film to flow easily. We did this by informing the audience on the history of tattoos and how they began, although these facts might not be based on the employment aspect it is factual and interesting for the viewers. From there we gradually went into opinions of people and finally onto the more important employment issues.
  12. 12. Modes of documentary We also researched into the typical conventions of a documentary; like actuality, archival footage, exposition, (expert) interviews, reconstruction, voiceover and vox pops. We knew that in order for our documentary to be effective we had to try to include a number of these conventions. However we already knew that our film had to produce information on a factual topic for a number of reasons such as to document important events and ideas, inform viewers and generate public interest and to express opinions. After completing our documentary my group and I have been able to assess what conventions we included and why. Our film is more of a expository documentary because it presents facts and a variety of opinions on the topic from the use of interviews. This is reinforced by the voiceover which presents both sides of the argument so our documentary doesn’t come across as biased. Our narration starts straight after the title sequence, we tried to make it upbeat and informative from the beginning and throughout so the spectator would not loose interest. We added the pre-recorded voiceover onto the soundtrack and edited the sound levels so it could be heard clearly over the background music. Red line shows how we edited sound levels from high to low.
  13. 13. Modes of documentary We included both interviews and vox pops so we had a variety of public opinions as well as expert. We gave the interviewees an idea of what questions we were going to ask them so they could give us balanced and strong responses, as well as their individual opinions. For our topic we needed to demonstrate a diverse range of outlooks, which meant we had to present both sides of the argument which is why honest interviewing was effective. We felt as a group that actuality was important to include in order to give the spectator a true insight into the subject matter. We included a very short bit of archival footage in our documentary at the beginning that we imported from YouTube. It is only a couple of seconds long and unlike many stock footage in documentaries it doesn’t have any sound. Apart from the short archival footage at the beginning of the film we didn’t really have any more space. In addition we did not include any reconstructions, as we felt this convention was not going to be useful to our topic and that we should perhaps work on the more important conventions.
  14. 14. Modes of documentary Thorough research into the different options available to us at the start was what allowed us to choose the most suitable direction for our documentary. Firstly we researched Bill Nichols theory of Documentary modes 2001: poetic, expository, observational, participatory, reflexive and preformative. Although our documentary may contain a mixture of different modes, expository mode was the most suitable for our topic of tattoo discrimination and employment, as it aims to collect footage that functions to strengthen the spoken narrative. For example the ‘voice of God’ style of narration addresses the audience directly and effectively.  Poetic mode emphasises more on tone and mood opposed to knowledge and persuasion, which is a feature that would not be suitable for our documentary as we have tried to make it a professional and informative experience for our target audience. In addition to this the poetic mode tends to be more subjective too, however this contrasts with the expository mode as it is more objective. The poetic mode rejects more traditional narrative which as a group we thought was important if we wanted to make a strong and successful documentary.  Observational documentaries simply allow the audience to observe and come to their own conclusions, this is also known as ‘fly-on-the-wall’ approach. However we did not choose this mode because of its bylaws which include; no music, no interviews, no scene arrangement of any kind and no narration, they also consist of long takes and few cuts. These features would not have worked for a documentary that’s purpose is to be informative for its viewers like ours.
  15. 15. Modes of documentary One example of an observational documentary is Gimme Shelter, a documentary based on the rolling stones. The camera crew works as unobtrusively as possible viewing events candidly as a fly on the wall might see them.  Reflexive mode draws attention to its production, it sometimes shows the film maker editing and making the film. The reason for this is to demonstrate to the audience their ‘understanding of the process of construction in film so that they could develop a sophisticated and critical attitude’.  Participatory mode is where the film maker is visible to the viewer and they openly discuss their personal opinions on the topic. This mode could have suited our documentary but we decided the expository mode would be better suited.  Similar to participatory mode is the preformative mode which also engages the film maker in the story, but in a more autobiographical way. One example of this is super size me. In this case Morgan Spurlock portrays his views clearly and takes the audience through the experience with him.
  16. 16. Double page spread  We chose our double page spread to be in popular TV listing magazine Radio times. We looked at many different articles from Radio times so we had an idea of how their articles are written and structured, as well as studying into the general conventions used in this magazine like columns, stand first, images and layouts so we could adapt our double page spread easily.  Columns –we did not stick to the usual three column convention like most articles, mainly because of how much space our image took up. In spite of this we used text wrap so that the article would shape around the main image effectively, this way we can use the space wisely. On the other hand we tried to re create the show title and date, time, and channel information you would find in our intended magazines articles. This is another typical convention found in any double page spread. We did not include a caption on our image, this is something we would probably change if we were to do it again mainly because it is used to inform the reader.  
  17. 17. Double page spread  Pull quote – these are used to break up the main body of the text and gives the reader a sort of breather and idea of what the next section is going to include. In our case the quote was from one of our interviews, this supports our documentary effectively.  Page numbers – are essential for a magazine article, as it allows the reader to navigate through the magazine easily.  Stand first – is another convention we complied with, mainly because it introduces the article nicely.  Byline – is another common convention we used in our product.  We also used a drop capital to begin our article off, mainly because it is a common convention that makes it more professional.
  18. 18. Radio Trail  During the research and planning stage we listened to a number of different radio trails, to understand what conventions they use and how they are structured. o We learnt that they are usually between 30-45 seconds long, so they can keep listeners interested as well as include the important information needed. From this we decided to go for 36 seconds.  Background music is a effective way of keeping the listeners interested. In our case we used the same music from our documentary which was created in Garageband, this links the two products together well.  In addition the radio trail consisted of our interviews and vox pops taken from the documentary, this also added a sense of continuality throughout our products. We used the same narrator from the documentary as they had a clear and confident voice which would be attractive to listeners.
  19. 19. • Overall, I feel that we used a majority of the conventions from the documentary genre, radio trail and double page spread. The researching into media products was very important as it inspired our product and showed us how they used and adapted the different conventions to get the final result as professional and effective as possible.