Analyse of the Television Genre; Investigative Documentary using ‘Crimewatch UK’
What is documentary? Documentary is a program or genre that illustrates or investigates a real-life subject showing the subject as ‘first hand’. Some documentaries are more like investigations that attempt to discover the truth regarding political, medical and other issues.Investigative Documentary is a very interesting genre I feel because they are a very easy genre to succeed at because they are all based around actual information and actual footage, a lot like an ordinary documentary.Crimewatch UK is the major example of this genre being shown in the UK at the present time and I feel it is the best one for me to dissect to enable me to do a thorough analysis of the genre.
This television genre consists of three areas that I am going to take apart and discuss saying what is effective, does it have a role on the success of the genre and why is it used? The two areas I’m going to discuss are; Mise-en-Scene and Camera Techniques. The reason I chose these two is because having watched Monday 3rd February’s episode, I thought that these three areas seemed to be the most considered when putting the program together, and certainly made me feel about who we are going to have to produce ours carefully. I also feel though that there are several areas of the genre that must be discussed. Within the Monday night episode, I saw that there are interviews, reconstructions, experts for certain topics and studio scenes with the presenters.Mise-en-SceneThroughout Monday nights episode there was a huge range of different scenes and mise-en-scene, in just a half-hour production. I felt this was very productive but also very informative which is the purpose of the production, so the program met its requirements to succeed.
For our 5-10 minute production I now know that we have a lot to do regarding the mise-en-scene, and the content of each scene. On Crimewatch UK the mise-en-scene was different for every story but then also different for each part of the story. I cannot remember what the main topic was in this episode but the variety of shots and angles were beyond belief. In the main story they used visual content as well as audio content. In one particular story they used a graph that was projected onto a screen in the studio, which was being examined and talked about by the two presenters, Nick Ross and Fiona Bruce, who were presenting on this particular night.
This combination of visual and audio information, I think, worked very well in getting the main reasons and points across about the investigation, this is also known as audio-visual. It certainly worked better than say just continual talking because this would have lost a lot of viewers attention rather that a impressive looking graph which really interested me.Another good example fro Monday’s show was the interviews and what you actually saw in these. Firstly, they interviewed a victim of a certain attack. What I was to see next was very well thought of and worked very effectively.
When they were interviewing the victim they had the person in a dark room but with some very small amounts of additional light to create an atmosphere. Obviously, they couldn’t show the victims face so they showed all parts of their body using different camera angels. These different shots thought were a quick fire, what I thought could be termed as sort of panning.The camera began facing the victim (whom you couldn’t see their face) for a few seconds and held it there until this person had said a little about here experience. Yet, as the interview progressed, the camera started to go around the victim viewing different body parts. One good example of shot during the interview was the one from behind the victim showing just the back of their shoulders and hair.
This camera angle to me looked brilliant because it really started to give you the feelings of the character rather than just sat staring at the victim, face on. Interestingly though in this interview we never saw an interviewee or another camera man which all add to the feeling of loneliness felt by the victim I felt.This worked well but also there was a different side to this that was completely different from the victim’s interview, and this took place in the expert’s interview. In the case of the experts interview it is quite safe to show their face, unlike the victim before. This interview took place in the studio with the expert and the presenter sat near the side of the office set.
This made the whole scene seem relaxed taking pressure of the expert and the presenter as well. This was a good scene because we saw the expert and the presenter so you could obviously tell that nothing was required to be kept secret from the viewers. The camera angle in this scene was generally just one view all the time but applying a different technique which was panning all the way through the interview.Reconstructions in the program were a little confusing at times but in general were very informative about the incident or the investigation. Within the reconstruction we saw actors playing different role but they had tried to keep the vehicle colour the same for example, the location to try and give the viewers a clear image of what they are trying to solve, which they need if they can be of any help.
The general mise-en-scene of the whole program was always changing say from interviews to graphs and photographs to reconstructions and this worked well I felt in keeping the production interesting. The program was set in an office location with say 2-3 work tops, and say 10 people working at computers collecting information from the watching viewers, and also the presenters were never seen in the same place of the studio possibly to give a sense of variation and difference.Another important part of the mise-en-scene that was obviously used quite a lot was that of the contact details across the bottom of the screen. These are obviously required throughout the program but I feel that they used when necessary and what I noticed was they used them after each piece of information. So, say for example they proceeded with an interview outside of the studio, they would then go back to the presenters for a little overview and as soon as this happened the contacts flashed up across the bottom including phone numbers and email addresses.
Also within this show and all the other episodes they do each week they have a name across the bottom for each interviewee but when you think about this it does not always seem obvious but I feel these are vital to allow the viewer to be informed and given as much detail as possible to succeed.Camera TechniquesDuring Crimewatch UK, I think the use of the camera gives it or helps it along with the success of the program because of the different techniques. In the studio they use thousands of different techniques and angles from panning to medium shots to the dolly shot.In the example of the reconstructions, they really do get across a clear image for the general public very, very well to try and jog peoples memories if it was in a street or shop and the way they achieve this is remarkable.
Just the use of a simple shot like the view say from a CCTV tape can jog peoples memories but things such as the view from a persons eye can be very effective when trying to achieve a investigative view and they work this very well also.The majority of the camera angles in the reconstruction are mid-shots of the people / example of the object involved. In this weeks there was a investigation into beds and their con men on Crimewatch UK on Monday and when interviewing the victim of the con man and his company the camera was focused on the victim but she was sat on the controversial object (being the bed) which was slightly blurred. The producers of the program acted a little like the press I thought because when investigating the con man they were chasing him down the road on foot like the press do and I thought this just proved that getting all the information is not easy.
EvaluationOverall I think that Crimewatch UK was a great example of the type of genre we wish to be successful at with our production. It had it all that is should include with such things as your presenters (obvious!), the reconstructions and out of studio investigations and of course the mise-en-scene was thorough and they made you see what they really wanted you to see.