Codes and Conventions of Documentary
A voiceover within a documentary will often be authoritative in order to encourage the audience to suggest to themselves that the documentary they are watching contains much use of specialist knowledge or language within it. A good example of an authoritative voiceover within a documentary would be BBC's Frozen Planet. David Attenborough seems to show a large amount of authority whilst he speaks in the voiceovers as it seems to show he has specialist knowledge of the language of the subject which is the Antarctic animals. In my own opinion I feel that voiceovers help make a certain subject the viewer may not understand fully much more clearer to understand (which Frozen Planet do)
Real Footage of Events
Usually Documentaries are essentially seen as non-fiction projects. However there have been many sorts of debates about this matter. Documentaries often have a large amount of thought placed into them in terms of convincing the audience that the subject is truthful and the evidence or whatever the viewer is seeing hasn't been altered in any way to prove a point otherwise it isn't truthful. The only way directors and editors can alter what is being shown is through the actual editing of the 'real footage' clips splicing them together in certain ways etc. In my own opinion I think that real footage is much more important in terms of convincing the audience what happened at an event because it shows what it was really like. A god example whereby a documentary uses real footage from an event is Fahrenheit 911, it mainly uses news channel footage and camera filmed footage from the public to show the chaos at 911, but it helps stress the point of how chaotic and scary it was rather than a re-enactment showing the viewers what happened.
Technicality of realism
Technicality of realism also has to have much thought placed into it. This includes the usage of natural sound and the lighting. This is deliberately used in order to give the footage a real look to it. So an example of this could be a clip of and interview where there is lots of background noise from other reporters from the news channels or lots of background movement from other people, technicality of realism means that everything resembling that is kept within the sequence of shots from the real footage of the event. Nick Broomfields documentary 'Biggie and Tupac' emulates this style of archive footage, whereby nothing has been changed it is all official real footage of some of the events that happened between the to Hip-Hop artists Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur.
In order to aid an authentic story to be told, archive footage/stills are mostly used. This is because re-enactments don't tend to give out a legitimate feel to them. A good example of this would be if someone would like to do a documentary on te London 2012 olympics, the filmaker obviously cannot go back in time to film the event, so they will ask the channels that aired the olympics such as the BBC and ask for some of the footage they would like to show from the archives.
Interviews with experts
Documentaries are informative pieces of film, and one of the best ways to inform the audience of a subject is to have an interview with an expert. These can help show different views of a subject disagreeing or agreeing with the directors path of how he or she sees it. They can often help explain something that requires specialist knowledge to understand to the audience. A good example of this being shown within a documentary is within Supersize Me, there are many different scenes whereby the director is interviewing doctors about the Mcdonalds food and whether or not it should be eaten at all, and the damage that it can do to a person.
Use of text and titles
Documentaries often use lots of text and titles in order to label certain things in order to help the audience know what they are looking at, for example a piece of footage that is being shown to the audience could be dated back at a certain time, it may possibly have a date as when it was filmed or what the subject is. This is cheap and easy way for editors to place this text and titles as they can simply write whatever they need to convey to the audience through text. This example below is again from Supersize me but it does in fact present the meaning of this well.
Sound within a documentary is a largely used factor within documentaries as it can set certain moods for different scenes, it is always important to take time choosing a soundtrack (regarding music) because you do not want to have a controversial song at possibly a saddening part of a documentary as this could have the capabilities to potentially upset the audience in certain ways. Sound can also be used to start bridges between scenes that interconnect, possibly a group of serious scenes need to be linked together, maybe a type of tense sound or musical element can be put in place to bridge the scenes together. A good example of sound being used in an effective way is within the documentary Supersize Me, childish music is put in certain scenes to undermine the fast food company Mcdonalds, the main point this documentary is trying to stress is that too much Mcdonalds food is bad for a human body. Mcdonalds actually target many of their meals towards young children, and the suggestion this childish music gives in the documentary is that this compnay try to lure children in to consume their food.
Visual Coding is the regarding of props or mise en scene. This is what is actually on the set of the scene, for example a policeman being interviewed would traditionally be wearing his uniform to make it look official as if it looked improper the viewers would possibly not be as convinced if he was just wearing his casual clothes sitting in a room being interviewed. Sometimes directors can often make certain people included within their documentary rather unofficial or silly. Occasionally they could decide to catch somebody off guard in order to make them look out of place or silly. However image of a person isn't always everything a good example of this is within the Bob Marley documentary film, there are many interview scenes with a man who is a manger for a record label who looks rather too aged to be one and rather unofficial within his interviews, but it does not make the information he gives any less than it is.