Monday, 23 May 2011

Approaching Question 1a

As you saw in yesterday's post, these are the previous questions which came up for this part of the exam:

Describe how you developed research and planning skills for media production and evaluate how these skills contributed to creative decision making. Refer to a range of examples in your answer to show how these skills developed over time.

Describe the ways in which your production work was informed by research into real media texts and how your ability to use such research for production developed over time.

Describe how you developed your skills in the use of digital technology for media production and evaluate how these skills contributed to your creative decision making. Refer to a range of examples in your answer to show how these skills developed over time.

You will notice that each of these begins by asking you to 'describe' and then goes on to ask you to reflect in some way: "evaluate", "how you used" "how your skills developed". herein lies the key to this part of the exam! You only have half an hour for the question and you really need to make the most of that time by quickly moving from description (so the reader knows what you did) to analysis/evaluation/reflection, so he/she starts to understand what you learnt from it.

there are five possible areas which can come up

Digital technology
Research and Planning
Conventions of Real Media
Post-Production
Creativity.

If you look through those questions above, you will see that they all contain at least two of the five- creativity is mentioned (as 'creative decision making') in two of them alongside the main area (digital technology on one, research and planning skills in the other). In the third of those past questions , research is combined with conventions of real media. So as you can see, the question is likely to mix and match the five, so you HAVE to be able to think on your feet and answer the question that is there.

So, how do you get started preparing and revising this stuff? I would suggest that you begin by setting out, on cards or post-its, a list of answers to these questions:

What production activities have you done?

This should include both the main task and preliminary task from AS and the main and ancillaries at A2 plus any non-assessed activities you have done as practice, and additionally anything you have done outside the course which you might want to refer to, such as films made for other courses or skateboard videos made with your mates if you think you can make them relevant to your answer.

What digital technology have you used?

This should not be too hard- include hardware (cameras, phones for pictures/audio, computers and anything else you used) software (on your computer) and online programs, such as blogger, youtube etc

In what ways can the work you have done be described as creative?

This is a difficult question and one that does not have a correct answer as such, but ought to give you food for thought.

What different forms of research did you do?

Again you will need to include a variety of examples- institutional research (such as on how titles work in film openings), audience research (before you made your products and after you finished for feedback), research into conventions of media texts (layout, fonts, camera shots, soundtracks, everything!) and finally logistical research- recce shots of your locations, research into costume, actors, etc


What conventions of real media did you need to know about?

For this, it is worth making a list for each project you have worked on and categorising them by medium so that you don’t repeat yourself

What do you understand by ‘post-production’ in your work?

This one, I’ll answer for you- for the purpose of this exam, it is defined as everything after planning and shooting or live recording. In other words, the stage of your work where you manipulated your raw material on the computer, maybe using photoshop, a video editing program or desktop publishing.


For each of these lists, your next stage is to produce a set of examples- so that when you make the point in the exam, you can then back it up with a concrete example. You need to be able to talk about specific things you did in post-production and why they were significant, just as you need to do more than just say ‘I looked on youtube’ for conventions of real media, but actually name specific videos you looked at, what you gained from them and how they influenced your work.

This question will be very much about looking at your skills development over time, the process which brought about this progress, most if not all the projects you worked on from that list above, and about reflection on how how you as a media student have developed. Unusually, this is an exam which rewards you for talking about yourself and the work you have done!

Final tips: you need some practice- this is very hard to do without it! I’d have a crack at trying to write an essay on each of the areas, or at the very least doing a detailed plan with lots of examples. The fact that it is a 30 minute essay makes it very unusual, so you need to be able to tailor your writing to that length- a tough task!

Tomorrow- question 1b and how to approach it, including how different it is from 1a!

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