Q1: In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?
A2 Media StudiesCoursework Evaluation Question 1 Richard Evans
Brief Outline Of Our TaskFor A2 Media Studies, our coursework unit (Advance Portfolio In Media) consists of 50% of the overallmarks we will be awarded for A2. The A2 Media Studies coursework consists of:• The opening 5 minutes of a new TV Documentary programme (Main Task: 40 Marks)• A Radio Trailer fro the Documentary (Ancillary Task: 10 Marks)• A double-paged spread from a listings magazine focused on the documentary (Ancillary Task: 10 Marks)In addition to this you will be marked on our planning and research (20 Marks) and our evaluation of yourproduction (20 Marks)• We have a blog that all of our group will share; this is where we will upload all of our coursework on to.Our A2 Media Studies coursework is a lot different to our AS Media coursework task, which was to create aMusic Magazine; we had to create one each, as the AS coursework was not a group task, but in fact a solotask that we had to work on and complete on our own. For the music magazine, we each had to decide ona genre we would base the magazine around. We had to create:• A front cover to the music magazine.• A contents page to go inside of the magazine.• A double-page spread article on something in relation to our chosen topic/genre. Most people tended to do some sort of interview.
Question 1: In what ways does your mediaproduct use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products? Documentary
From the beginning of our A2 media studies course, we watched severaldocumentaries about all sorts of thing to allow us to get an insight into thefeatures, modes and codes & conventions they contained; this gave us an idea ofwhat we needed to include in our own student documentary.We began to understand the differences between various genres of documentary. The one documentary that stood out to us the most was ‘Supersize Me’ as it used a wide range of shots that would be relevant to us; a lot of them were to show reactions or where Morgan Spurlock was currently located (when eating the McDonalds fast food for his challenge). Watching Supersize me gave us a grateful insight into how documentaries should be structured; we benefitted from this massively.
About Our Documentary… ‘Video Shame’We came to the conclusion that our documentary would need (in order to be professional) to follow certain codes andconventions of documentaries that already exist, but still use our own ideas and unique features, of course. Theyneeded to be the best they possibly could but we had to ensure they were still relevant to our documentary andaudience.Our documentary was aimed adults that are the parents of teenagers; this was so we would be able to inform theviewer about the effects of violent video games, and what impact they could have on their childrens’ behaviour. As ourdocumentary was aimed at adults and would display clips from violent video games (rated 18+), we decided the onlysuitable timing for the documentary to be aired would have to be after the 9pm watershed. Eventually, we decidedthat 9pm would be suitable as we would not display too much violent media. – this could allow us to reach a wideraudience.Before planning our documentary properly, we had to do sufficient detailed research into existing documentaries andtheir features. This was so we could be able to find relevant things that we could then suitably use in our owndocumentary.Channel 4 has documentaries of all genres, which is why we thought it would be a suitable channel to have owndocumentary broadcast on. Channel 4 reaches a wide audience, meaning we would be able to inform many morepeople about our topic and have a less ‘secluded’ audience.The main documentary that influenced us substantially was ‘HistoryDay 2011 – Columbine High School Massacre’ as this was a horrificevent that video game violence has been brought forward assomething that could be to blame for it. We used some parts of thisdocumentary as found footage for better effect, and to help showthat we actually took time into researching real life events caused byvideo game violence.
Question 1: In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products? Most documentaries tend to begin by going straight into the topic, or by showing something related to the topic. On our documentary we started with a piece of found footage, showing a major incident that occurred in Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado where two senior students chose to make the ultimate decision. On April 20th 1999, Eric Harrison and Dylan Klebold chose to enter their school with a range of different firearms and pipe bombs. They went on to kill 16 people (15 students and 1 teacher) and left another 24 injured. This brought our topic of video game violence into the media limelight, as one of the likely things to blame for what made Eric Harrison and Dylan Klebold act in such a horrifying way. This is why we found that it was highly appropriate for us to assess this awful event in our documentary. It was known as the ‘Columbine High School Massacre’.
Question 1: In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?Real life documentaries use many factual pieces of information;this is done to inform and educate the viewer, whilst keepingthem entertained they are being taught visually (through thedocumentary). In our documentary, we stated many factualpieces of information, including the two to the right.We placed the facts on the documentary timeline in the exactsame time as where the voiceover stated the facts verbally; thissomething most real life documentaries tend to do. So with thisaspect we have clearly used a typical convention here in aneffective way.All professional documentaries contain factualinformation, otherwise they would not fulfil their purpose ofbeing able to inform the viewer of the necessary relevantinformation they need to know on/about the topic.
Documentary - Use of Expert InterviewAn essential aspect of a real-life documentary is to have an interview with an expert; this is so theviewer can get an expert’s view on the topic from a professional point of view. This allows a more factualapproach to the topic, rather than having just peoples opinions generated in the voxpops we have in ourdocumentary. The professional interview(s) is always longer too, and sometimes broken down intosmaller sections spread out through a certain part of the documentary that relates to what they aretalking about. We did not choose to break ours down into smaller parts to spread out – but if we had itmay have made our documentary even more effective and look more professional. This is something wecould improve on if we had the chance to have a second try at producing the documentary.This is one of the many experts that wereused in the ‘Supersize Me’ documentary This is the expert we spoke to. Amanda Morris is the head of the psychology department at The Sixth Form College, Solihull. She knew all about our topic, and gave us an insight to what she knew; this was a very important part of our documentary, although, we should have spoken to more than just one expert (to get a more in-depth analysis of the topic)
Documentary - Use of Expert InterviewThis is one of the many experts that wereused in the ‘History Day 2011 – ColumbineHigh School Massacre’ documentary.When using expertise, it comeswith increased professionalism… This is the expert we spoke to. Amanda Morris is the head of the psychology department at The Sixth Form College, Solihull. She knew all about our topic, and gave us an insight to what she knew; this was a very important part of our documentary, although, we should have spoken to more than just one expert (to get a more in-depth analysis of the topic)
Documentary - Use of Onscreen Text This is how we introduced the expert we interviewed.Real life documentaries use a many pieces of textonscreen, displaying many different things suchas; the title of the documentary, what thedocumentary will be about, important statisticsand the interviewees’ names and their profession.Text is a key feature of any documentary, it allowsthe interviewee to be introducedproperly, meaning the viewer is aware of who is This is how we introducedonscreen and why they are important/relevant to Tom, emulating how people may react ifthe topic. their character gets killed on ‘Call Of Duty’ (a violent war game)Having more visual items onscreen means theviewer has a range of different things to see andtake in (rather than just the same style ofcomponent going on and on throughout thewhole documentary).
Documentary - Rule of ThirdsThere is no real way around this, so in order to make our documentary professionalwe had to use the rule of thirds effectively and correctly. This is a very importantaspect of documentaries when interviewing people, especially experts.The rule of thirds means that the interviewee should be looking across the shot intoan empty space whilst simultaneously being positioned a third of the way into theshot (from either side, left or right). The interviewee’s eye level should also be a thirdof the way down too; all three of these make it look like the interviewee is lookingtowards the interviewer which automatically makes the whole scene look a lot moreprofessional.Here is a freeze frame of how the rule of thirds is Here is a freeze frame of how we used the rule ofused in an expert interview in ‘Supersize Me’ thirds within our own documentary.
Documentary - SoundSound is always important in documentaries, and is made up of diegetic and non-diegetic sounds.• Diegetic sounds are the sound that the actors onscreen can hear, e.g. the voice of other people in the shot.• Non-diegetic sounds are the ones that are added in later, e.g. the voiceover, presenter (if there is one) and background music.Of course, our documentary contained combination of both.Having a combination of both means the documentary is able to look (and sound) alot more professional. We was not in need of a presenter, so we just used avoiceover which still worked very effectively.Our background music was created on‘Garage band’, by us
Documentary – Background MusicAll documentaries need their own background music, whether it’s a copyrightedpiece that they have the owner’s permission to use, or an original piece they createdthemselves. We created ours on the piece of software we felt was the mostappropriate and most professional. We needed a background track that could startoff slowly with the more serious parts of the documentary to break the viewer intothe topic slowly; this allows tension to be built meaning the music can be allowed tohave a ‘drop’ where it builds up for so long – and then just drops and becomes muchmore ‘upbeat’ allowing it to become more fast-paced.The background music begins with an Arab man singing, which we believed linked into the whole Afghanistan warfare gameplay style of the violent video game series;‘Call of Duty’. Then after 21 seconds, it drops into the more upbeat part of the track. Garage Band logo Call of Duty Garage Band software interface
Documentary - OverviewThroughout the whole of our documentary creation, we used the mainconventions as this seemed the best way to make our documentary moreprofessional-like.One thing we did change and add into our documentary was transitions.Most documentaries just use the straight cut; this is when the cut justchanges straight to the next piece of footage, without any fuss in-between.We did choose to use some transitions as we felt it was the appropriate thingfor us to do, and it can be a great way of filling up those spare seconds yousometimes have that you cant possibly find anything else that could suitablyfill them.But just because we chose to use the odd few transitions, does not meanthere is anything wrong with our documentary – we just decided to gochallenge the typical conventions slightly here.
Question 1: In what ways does your mediaproduct use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?Magazine Double Page Spread
Magazine Double Page Spread This is what the magazine double page spread we created finally looked like…Firstly, we looked at many magazines of all differentnames to find out what their double page spreadslooked like, and how they are effective by the use oftheir conventions. One of the magazines we looked atwas ‘Radio Times’. Layout was an important factor forus as we needed to ensure it could be easilyassociated with our topic to ensure it continues tolook professional overall. Simple layouts tend to bequite popular for topics that are serious; it makes itstraight to the point and allows the audience to readall the information easily which then enables them todigest the information quickly and effectively.As our topic could be seen as quite serious (due to murders that have had video game violence blamed forwhy the horrific events occurred), so we kept to a simple layout; this allows the double page spread tocontinually looks more professional.
Double Page Spread - MastheadA ‘masthead’ is the title/headline of the page. Mastheads are ALWAYS use dinmagazines and newspapers. It is very important that the masthead stands out andshould be bigger than all other text on the page. Mastheads be worded in a waythat allows them to be related to the plotline and/or contain puns. Our masthead(the documentary’s title) is a play on words. Instead of the words ‘video games’and ‘shame’, they were combined to make ‘Video Shame’. This adds a slightentertaining aspect to the whole style of our produced medias, but because ofhow cunning it is – it shows how serious we really were about the topic.
Double Page Spread - Columns Practically all magazine articles use columns for the text that’s on the pages.We went against this tradition and did not use any columns for the article. We foundthat this would be an appropriate thing to do if we was to successfully relate it toteenagers. Teenagers are renown for being scruffy writers, being messy, beingunorganised etc. We believed if we were able to portray this in the article then itwould show the adult readers who have teenaged kids, that they should be restrictedfrom playing violent video games in order to ensure they are kept ‘normal’; rather thanbecoming violent after playing them.After our deadline, I sat down with my group members and we came to the conclusionthat not using columns was potentially a really bad decision to make, and if we nowhad the chance to alter it – we definitely would.
Double Page Spread - ImagesWhen an article about a TV programme or documentary appears ina TV listings magazine, most of the time there will be at least oneimage that is a freeze frame of something from within theprogramme itself. For example, we used four images, and one ofthem was indeed from the documentary.Here is an example of a real doublepage spread from a TV listings magazineadvertising an episode of Doctor Who(top left corner shows it is Doctor Who).The image above the article is one ofwhat would be seen within the actualepisode itself.
Double Page Spread – Broadcast InfoAll professional double page spread articles from TV listings magazines will alwayshave a small piece of text that says the following:• Date the programme will be broadcasted• Time the programme will be broadcasted• Channel the programme will be broadcasted onThis is an essential part of the double page spread as it informs the audience ofwhen they programme will be on etc., and if it interests them they can then set areminder on their TV for the date/time it will be on. This is what ours came to look like, we placed it at the bottom of the page, so it would be the last thing the reader sees before leaving the page; this means it should stay in their head and they will remember to actually go and watch the documentaryWe would probably ‘jazz up’ the way we placed this if we had a second go atmaking the magazine spread as I believe it doesn’t really look very professional;too plain in fact. On the other hand, we would keep it placed at the bottom of thepage as we believe it is important that this specific information stays on thereaders mind, even after they have left the page.
Question 1: In what ways does your mediaproduct use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products? Radio Trailer
Radio Trailer - ResearchBefore creating our own radio trailer, we had to research into someprevious successful ones in order to discover what different featuresand conventions we needed to have in our own in order to make it beas professional-sounding as possible. We listened to several differentradio trailers off BBC Radio 5 Live, Capital FM and some other radiostations that also broadcast advertisements to allow us to absorb theconventions and understand how we could use them ourselves in theupmost effective way.
Radio Trailer – Rhetorical QuestionsMany radio trailers include rhetorical questions - why? Because it makes thelistener think to themselves about the question, but not actually answer it so theyare continually thinking about it; this also makes them want to investigate, e.g.after listening to our radio trailer, they would then want to go off to watch theactual documentary to then answer any questions they may have in their head. Infact, our documentary begins with a rhetorical question:‘Have you ever wondered what effect video games are having on your children?’The question is personal, and directed straight at the listener – ‘Have YOU everwondered…’. This also makes the listener feel connected to the topic as they havebeen addressed directly by the vocals on the radio trail.Right at the end of the radio trailer, the listener hears: ‘Tune in, Thursday, at 9 oclock, to channel 4 to find out...’ – this tells the listener how to resolve theirunanswered questions (by tuning in to watch the documentary when it is on), andas it is the last thing they will hear, it is the thing that they will remember for thelongest period of time.
Radio Trailer - ClipsRadio trailers that advertise TV shows or documentaries will often havesnippets/clips of things that appear within the actual documentary itself.As it is the norm to do this – we also did this. We used clips from ourvoxpops and voiceover to link the two together effectively and enable usto continue to have a professional grasp on the situation.We exported the sound off the voxpops in Final Cut Express as .mp3 fileswhich we could then import into Garage Band to allow us to order theclips how we wanted them and cut them if we needed to.This is one of the voxpops that we usedclips of that we felt were appropriateto use for our radio trailer
Radio Trailer – The Making of It… Firstly, we extracted parts of the voiceover and voxpops (sound only) to an mp3 form which we could then import into Garage Band; this is the application that our radio trailer was solely created on. We also had our own background (also made on Garage Band) playing quietly throughout the radio trailer to again allow the radio trail to relate back to the documentary as much as possible. The date, time and channel that the documentary would be broadcast on was also an important feature that we included as it allows the listener to discover when they will be able to find out more and answer any questions they may have. Radio trailers tend to be 25 – 45 seconds long, but we thought 45 seconds could be too long and the listener may become uninterested before they have heard the whole of it. Ours ended up being 29 seconds long with the background music fading out for 2 seconds after the vocals on the radio trailer end; we did this so it didn’t just suddenly end, but gradually, subtly faded out. This is the Garage Band interfaceThis is the Garage Band logo