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Documentary Conventions

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Documentary Conventions A documentary is a media text, which deals with "real" issues in the world today. Unlike a drama or a soap opera it does not have a continuing storyline. For this a voiceover/narrator or presenter is used to link one part of the programme to the next. All documentaries use this convention or else they would not be able to flow from scene to scene. There are several different types of documentary the 2 most common are; the classic documentary that presents facts and evidence on a particular subject and the docu-soap that focuses on several "characters" or a specific place. However, as times have changed so too have documentaries. Not only do you get documentaries with dramatisation but also now dramas are taking on the overall look of a docu-soap documentary. "Cops" is a particular example of this; it uses the conventional camera techniques that a docu-soap such as "airport" would incorporate. ...read more.


or some other part of the programme. Despite these similarities, this is where more or less the comparisons end. A docu-soap only shows the action of the situation and does not need so many conventions as the story unfolds within the characters actions or situations staged within the programme. Other such conventions used within the classic documentary are as follows: visual graphics, such as stills or computer generated images that are used to help increase the audiences understanding of the subject. Reconstructions are used when there is no footage that can be used to show what the director wants to be seen. A reconstruction sequence is clearly distinguishable in several different ways. Firstly a small icon or logo is displayed in one corner of the frame bearing the word "reconstruction". Secondly most reconstructions have a voice over explaining what is going on in the scene being shown. ...read more.


The subject expresses what they are feeling to the camera as if a real person or visually writing in a diary. This is very much unlike a docu-soap because the subject is supposed to ignore the camera and pretend it isn't there. This type of interaction with the camera is a new technique. It helps give audiences an insight into what the subject is feeling because their emotions are portrayed on screen. All documentaries are there to show the "truth" or at least an edited version of the truth to help keep audiences captivated. This means there is no one definition of a documentary because now there are so many different types around for people to watch and each offer a different thing. The best documentary for portraying reality as it is is probably the video diary. Although edited to fit the slot on TV or to remove any unnecessary bits, it does show the subject, as a real person with feelings and emotions and this is what audiences can identify with the most. ...read more.

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