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documentaries. TV presentation. Codes and conventions.

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TV presentation

codes and conventions
Codes and conventions

Documentaries have many codes and conventions, most nature and wildlife documentaries have a voiceover which narrates every moment of the documentary, compared to other types of documentaries where you have a reporter like presenter which narrates and finds out what your finding out a good example of this is the documentary “Kurt and Courtney”.

But some have both voiceover and interviews but without a visible reporter, for example in touching the void you had the very brief voiceover but with an interview bridging over to the shot of what he is describing.

You often have archive footage which shows exactly what happened at the time and is used a allot in historic documentaries to give you a visual image of what it was like, they almost always have a voiceover.

In some documentaries you will have “expert opinions” for example on historic documentaries they will have either someone who was there or someone who can give a deeper insight into what happened that has studied the subject and knows allot about it. For example in a documentary about the Vietnam war they have an ex-soldier appear and being interviewed about his personal experience.


There are quite a few genres for example the investigative documentary which is set out to resolve a problem or dilemma shown at the start of the documentary.

An ethnological documentary is a documentary that looks at lives of people for foreign cultures which are known little about like an African tribe of some sort.

There's also documentary reconstruction which is a re-make of what actually happened but doesn't need to be 100% legitimate, but it does have to have people being interviewed about it who were actually there or experienced it.

There's a drama documentary which is an exaggerated vision of the true event. This uses the voice of god narration which is a narrator which you cant see but can hear.

There's docu-soap which is a documentary based around a set of characters and follows them through there emotions and opinions to create a storyline.

And lastly there's a mockumentary which is a “comedy” or “spoof” documentary which is perceived to be a documentary but in a comic nature but has all the codes and conventions or a real documentary.


Music within a documentary is limited because it will mostly never have any music dubbed over, most documentaries have no music over the top only diagetic sound of what is happening whilst filming however from what i know there is usually almost no non diagetic sound in nature and wildlife documentaries. They will only play a bit of non diagetic music when showing a landscape or introducing you to the setting, for example in touching the void it quietly played music as the aerial shot panned over the mountain. The only other times it used non diagetic sound in when there were tense or suspense filled moments within the film to match the actions of the protagonists.

how they conform to documentary conventions
How they conform to documentary conventions.

The presenter is seen throughout with objects around and on him used by the production team, for example headphones and a boom.

In the documentary you see things that effect the presentation, for example when he is on the phone to his superiors and they are telling him they are cutting the funding.

Throughout the entire documentary they highlight Courtney love as there biggest threat and biggest struggle against finding out the truth with doesn't happen. Whereas Kurt is highlighted as the favourable being in the entire documentary.

This documentary also includes archive footage which shows what really happened and backs up peoples points.

It is shot in an amateur manner which helps the feeling of discovering at the same time as the production team and the presenter, in doing this the audience feel more in the moment and more involved.

When the cameraman is holding the camera it seems as if your looking through his eyes which also gives a more “real” feel, and make you feel as if you are there with the team.

Sometimes the production team are in danger and this reflects on the audience because of the way its shot you feel more as if its happening to you and someone's keeping it from you like how the production team feel.