Published on March 3, 2014
At the very beginning of our A2 coursework task, we were given a specific brief. The brief was for us to choose a topic of our own choice and then as a group, create a an introduction to a documentary which lasted five minutes long. Alongside this, we had two ancillary tasks set for us in order to advertise our documentary, this included a radio trail and a TV listings article. The radio trails aim was to entice and lure the listeners to watch the documentary and the TV article which was in a magazine of our choice, was to inform the readers about the documentary in order to persuade them into watching it. During this entire project we had to make sure we did enough accurate research and planning into the documentary genre so that our documentary would come across as professional and effective. Our research and planning involved us watching ‘Supersize Me’, looking at magazine TV articles and listening to radio trails, so we could get a rough idea of what to include, how to present it and how to achieve the outcome we were aiming for whilst using typical conventions for the documentary genre. We knew we had to portray the topic of our documentary in a factual and informative way including: inform viewers, using facts and statistics, conveying opinions and creating a public interest. Knowing this, we researched into conventions of the genre such as archival footage, reconstructions, interviews, voxpops, voiceover, actuality and piece to camera. All of the previous listing was included into our documentary so that we were following the correct conventions in order to gain the right effect and overall purpose.
• • • • We included a reconstruction within the documentary as we thought it would benefit it due to it being appropriate to our topic. By doing this reconstruction of a girl being tormented and constantly bullied enough to want to kill herself, we felt that it included the participatory mode adding more emotional emphasis to it and more realistic. We used a voice-over whom was also our presenter who took part in the piece to camera element. We found that this was more of a professional yet personal approach to the documentary and the voice-over directly informs the viewers about the facts, statistics and information on the topic. We pre-recorded the voice-over so therefore we were able to pre plan where each voice recording clip would go, by doing it this way it was visually easier to see and set out by seeing the audio and visual together. We included both interviews and voxpops so therefore it gave public and professional opinions making it more fair and unbiased. This also allowed the public to speak their view s and opinions make it more realistic and trustworthy. We had pre-planned the interview and voxpops questions so therefore we knew what to ask people so we weren’t time wasting. We thought that actuality was an important element to include within the documentary so that we were portraying truth and realism. This was important so that the audience were more trusting in our documentary which further adds effect as they would be more sympathetic towards the topic and previous stories.
THE USE OF CAMERA In order to gain a better understanding of what type of camera shots and angles were necessary within a typical documentary, we analysed how they were used by watching ‘Supersize Me’. Close up shots are typically known to emphasise a certain object or a persons facial expression or emotion so that it gives the right effect and gains the right response. We used these for shots for clips such as abusive messages /conversations on a phone which linked to our topic of cyber-bullying through social networking. Furthermore, it was more of a symbolic element and shot to show the raw emotion and realism of what happens in the real world. Long shots are typically used to view the whole body in the shot and also for the viewer to see the body language of the person. In our documentary, we used the long shot right at the beginning when the our presenter was walking towards the camera whilst introducing the documentary and informing the viewers what it’s about.
Typical documentary interviews in order to look professional, need to have the correct layout and structure. This would involve making sure the interviewee is set in an appropriate setting and within the rule of thirds on the camera. In addition, the interviewee’s eye contact shouldn’t be directing looking at the camera, they should be focused in the direction of the opposite side of the camera to where they are sitting. Furthermore, typical documentaries usually have the interviewee’s name appear and what their occupation is across the bottom of the screen by using graphical labels or tags, therefore making the audience aware of who is speaking. We used this convention throughout our professional interviews in our documentary, also making sure they’re easily read by choosing a simple font.
SOUND • • • • • Background music, diegetic sound, non-diegetic sound and dialogue are key elements within the sound of a documentary. We used garage band to create the music for throughout our documentary as background music as well as the music for our radio trail. Therefore, it was not copyright and was our own original music which is a typical convention for documentaries. We wanted to make sure the music was relevant to our documentary so therefore when the reconstruction is playing on screen, we had subtle, soft and emotional music to add effect to the reconstruction itself making the spectator feel more sympathetic which is the aim of this element. The voice-over was a very important piece of sound due to the fact it’s the main source of information and it was there to lead the audience through the documentary. The key point about the music is to make sure it doesn’t overpower the voiceover because that would lead the audience to be unable to hear the information. Therefore, we had to make sure the sound levels of the music was subtle yet able to still hear it under the voice-over.
We originally researched into Bill Nichol’s theory so that we could decide which type of documentary we wanted to base ours around. After discussion we decided to choose participatory and per formative as our focus modes. Participatory Mode: This mode is where the film maker is visible to the viewer and discusses their perspectives relating to the documentary. We did this by having our presenter do a piece to camera so that it made it more personal and trustworthy as they can see who is feeding them the information. Per formative Mode: This mode is similar to the participatory mode as it also engages the film maker. However, we used this mode when we created and presented the reconstruction as it personalises the documentary and it does this by guiding the viewer through the victims experience which adds effect by emphasises the emotion.
This screenshot shows that we organised the interviewee to sit within the right area of the rule of thirds which is a typical convention of an interview within a documentary. In addition, the interviewee in this interview unfortunately was moving about quite a bit but the dialogue was appropriate. This screenshot from the documentary shows our mise-enscene choice. We decided to locate it her for our introduction as it’s at the entrance of a college full of students where bullying tends be of a high percentage.
• The lighting needed to be appropriate when filming on camera, as we didn’t want bad reflections or unflattering lighting which could make it less professional. • Therefore we focused our shots in natural lighting which is similar to documentaries we had watched for our research. • Furthermore, this gave it a more serious and realist tone which was our overall aim. • The mise-en-scene and locations were key throughout the process as they had to be appropriate and link somehow to our topic. • This is why we focused within The Sixth Form College, Solihull, classrooms, in front of college as cyber-bullying tends to happen to students. Therefore we thought this was a good location to film. • When it came to interviews we tried to film within offices to make it look more professional.
This is one of the most important elements within the documentary as that is the basis where we work around. We had to take into consideration whether it would be linear, open or closed. However, considering it’s only the first five minutes of the documentary we were limited a we could make a definite narrative structure in order to reflect the entire documentary. To gain a clearer understanding of the documentary genre and narrative structure we had previously watched several documentaries which included ‘Supersize Me’ and other ones that were featured on channel 4 or BBC 3 which are popular documentary channels such as Educating Yorkshire. This meant we could see a variety of differences in narrative structure and how they present certain things and conventions with different techniques.
FOLLOWED CONVENTIONS: Headline Main image Sub-headline Pull Quotes Rule Of Thirds Drops Cap Columns Date/Magazine Name Time And Channel Of When The Documentary Will Be Aired Following the conventions above was necessary in order to achieve a professional looking TV listings article. We followed the Radio Times magazine structure and layout which we looked at in our research. The article on the right was our inspiration and focus for our own. EXAMPLE • • • • • • • • •
TYPICAL CONVENTIONS: Presenter Music Pull Quotes Date And Time Information Controlled/Consistent Sound Levels Throughout Use Of Second Person: ‘you’ addressing the audience directly • Audio Extracts Taken From Segments Within The Documentary Itself/Interviews. • • • • • • We made sure as a group that we used and covered all of the above codes and conventions within the radio trail so that it was successful. We chose an appropriate male voice to be the presenter/voiceover for the radio trail and re-played it after recording to make sure it was clear enough to understand. When it came to music, we used the music we played within the background of the documentary (which we currently made in garage band). This meant that it would be recognisable and familiar, we also made sure the sound levels were appropriate and nothing over lapped or over powered a different element.
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