Codes and conventions

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Information about Codes and conventions

Published on March 7, 2014

Author: haverstockmedia


Codes and conventions of a documentary What is a documentary? A documentary is usually defined as being a non-fictional representation of reality, which has a clear narrative structure and makes use of a range of devises to communicate meaning to an audience. A documentary normally focuses on only one story/issue. What are the conventions of a documentary? Exposition In a documentary, the exposition occurs at the beginning and introduces the important themes of the film. It is important because it creates the viewer's first impression and introduces the viewer to the content. Dramatic segments of the documentary are specially chosen in order to catch the viewer’s attention. These shots are specifically positioned, such that the montage positions us to believe a certain theme presented by the documentary and this the documentary presents its view much more persuasively to the viewer. Voice over The Voice-over in a documentary is a commentary by the filmmaker, spoken while the camera is filming, or added to the soundtrack during the production. Through this the filmmaker can speak directly to the viewer, offering information, explanations and opinions. Interviews The interview is a common documentary technique. It allows people being filmed to speak directly about events, prompted by the questions asked by the filmmaker. An interview may take place on screen, or off screen, on a different set. Interviews in a documentary give the viewer a sense of realism, that the documentary maker’s views are mutually shared by another person or source, and thus more valid.

Archival footage Archival, or stock footage, is material obtained from a film library or archive and inserted into a documentary to show historical events or to add detail without the need for additional filming. Photograph of bullet holes in the car shown at the beginning of Biggie and Tupac documentary Visual coding This links to the idea of mise-en-scene. E.g. interviewing a doctor wearing a white coat in a hospital will make it seem more realistic and reliable. Titles and Text

Good way in conveying information. Reconstructions Reconstructions are also often used in documentaries. They are artificial scenes of an event which has been reconstructed and acted out on film based on information of the event. Reconstructions generally provide factual information, and give the viewer a sense of realism, as if the event really happened in front of them live. They often indicate that the footage is not real by using techniques such as blurring, distortion, lighting effects, changes in camera level, and colour enhancement within the footage.

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