A level Media Studies support site

A level Media Studies support site
click on the image to go to the new site

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

No more posts

No further material will be added to this blog. The most useful and relevant material here will be added to the new site, which will also include links to a range of coursework and centre blogs as well as other online resources. Please click here or on the image above to go to the new site.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Cuba Tweets case study

Follow Julian Mcdougall's Cuban media case study tweets, useful for WeMedia or Global media topics:


Sunday, 23 January 2011

How to set up a blog and a hub!

step by step PDF uploaded to the conference site, scroll down on home page to find it!

Friday, 21 January 2011

Group Evaluation

"After discussing the role of video and other multimedia in the
coursework Eval, a student asked me if they could (within a production
group) collaborate on the Eval as they do on large chunks of the R+P and
obviously the main production itself. Automatically started to say no,
but thought about it, and couldn't conclusively answer yes or no - any

The answer is that a collaborative evaluation is fine, so long as the teacher is able to identify the individual contributions on the cover sheet to justify marks.

G322 exam- recent e-community posts

Recent comments on the e-community regarding this paper:

"Gender again?? Really??"
"Won't have to prepare gender for June, then..................!?"
"Yes. Bets on Gender in May, anybody?"
"Maybe it's the universality of gender that appeals to the examiners. After all, everyones's got one, some people more......."

"I have been thinking, why not reshape the entire section A of the exam? The one question as it stands asks the students to write about how representations are created through the technical aspects. From my experience examing in the summer, this leads a lot of students to strain to make very unconvincing links between things like, for example, sound/ camerawork and gender.
Why not split section A into two parts:
- part 1, asking students to comment on the technical aspects of the piece and the effects they achieve.
- part 2, asking students to comment on the representations. Students could comment on any representations they thought were relevant, not just one area. They could get extra credit for commenting on how directorial choices and filming/ editing techniques bring about these representations."

"I think that’s an excellent idea. Efforts to make precise links between the technical areas and the topic of representation are often artificial and perhaps limit the students’ expression of their understanding of the concept. I also think it’s a bit odd that some of the topics like disability and social class never seem to come up."

"I like Jonny's idea about the 2 part Section A, 1 on technical features, one on representation - it's kind of like the GCSE Section A where the first question is on genre, second on linking technical areas to audience response, third on representation. I personally feel the 'strain' in trying to link every technical feature to representation - sometimes sound/editing/mise-en-scene don't contribute to constructing a representation, they are just there to tell the story or help us to empathise."

"I also agree completely... but then it's probably too straightforward..."

On the first strand here, our priority is to find sequences for the exam which we believe candidates will have an equal chance of writing about. Eventually, all the areas on the specification will turn up in the exam, but at our question paper meetings we often reject sequences from those areas which have not shown up so far because there is something about the sequence which we feel will not work in exam conditions. Many such sequences would be fine in a normal lesson but just not in an exam.

On the second strand, to be fair to everyone, I should let you know that any changes to a specification have to go through a lengthy process via OFQUAL, so it isn't really straightforward! (by lengthy, I'm talking about 3-4 years from something being suggested to the first exam being sat) so the current G322 format will remain for a long time yet.

Clarification 15: 'found' images

"Is it possible for students to use existing images of a band
to put onto their digipak?"

No. Everything must be constructed by the students themselves, as with the other tasks.

A2 exam question 1b

And a minimalist summary of what to cover...

para 1 Intro: which of your projects are you going to write about? briefly describe it

para 2: what are some of the key features of the concept you are being asked to apply? maybe outline two of the theories/ideas of particular writers briefly

para 3; start to apply the concept, making close reference to your production to show how the concept is evident in it

para 4: try to show ways in which ideas work in relation to your production and also ways in which those ideas might not apply/could be challenged

para 5; conclusion

Again remember you only have 30 minutes and that you really need to analyse the finished production, rather than tell the marker how you made it

Structure for A2 exam q.1a

This was requested from the e-community; there are other versions elsewhere, but this is probably the simplest!

paragraph 1 should be an introduction which explains which projects you did. It can be quite short.

paragraph 2 should pick up the skill area and perhaps suggest something about your starting point with it- what skills did you have already and how were these illustrated. use an example.

paragraph 3 should talk through your use of that skill in early projects and what you learned and developed through these. Again there should be examples to support all that you say.

paragraph 4 should go on to demonstrate how the skill developed in later projects, again backed by examples, and reflecting back on how this represents moves forward for you from your early position.

paragraph 5 short conclusion

Remember it's only half an hour and you need to range across all your work!

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Clarification 14: Magazines at AS

From Margaret Ashcroft:
Could I have some clarification on images for music magazines. I know that students are required to include a minimum of four original images. My question is - is it possible for them to import images of artists from the Internet to use on, for example, the contents page or combine a mixture of original and imported.

The answer is no, all material MUST be constructed by themselves. They can create their own artists using images they have taken of fellow students

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Programme for Conference

All online, just click on the large image above to go to the site and see what's on!

Monday, 10 January 2011

MERJ- new edition out now!

MERJ Volume 1 issue 2
Richard Berger & Julian McDougall (eds)
MERJ offers a forum for the exchange of academic research into media education
and pedagogy conducted by academics, practitioners and teachers situated in all
sectors and contexts for media education. The journal aims to encourage dialogue
between the sectors and between media educators from different countries, with the aim to facilitate the transfer of critical, empirical, action and discursive research into the complexity of media education as social practice.

articles include:

Berger, R and McDougall, J, Doing WikiLeaks? New Paradigms and (or) Ecologies in Media Education

Skaar, H, Buckingham, D and Vebjorg, T, Marketing on the Internet: A New Educational Challenge

Bragg, S, Tales of the Classroom: On Making Media in School

For more info go to the auteur site

Monday, 3 January 2011

links used at INSET events

For easy access

- very well organised blog hub and good blogs (magazine work)
excellent individual blog (magazine)
well organised centre wordpress blog
blog that illustrates need to organise more effectively

teaching blog showing series of tasks building up (click any student blog to see them in practice) Though these students were on the diploma, they were all doing A level Media as their additional learning.

Two videos from here
Vixens video

Wix website shown at London event

Blog for Level 4 video example on the disk

Hollow Point

Friday, 31 December 2010

Theory for the A2 exam

Back in November, I asked members of the OCR Forum to post details of which theories/theorists/critics they had used for the A2 exam last year. I think most members of the forum must be very shy as hardly anyone responded! Anyway, thank you to those who did and here's what they said. I'm also doing another link to the Examiners' report from last summer where others are highlighted. After the January exams, I'll put up another post to indicate what we find in the scripts we see from the small January entry.

Collective Identity - British Asian and British Black:

Stuart Hall - Racial clowns
Chomsky - relationship between profit seeking media and govts.

And for identity creation in the Online age:
Huizinga - Homo Ludens

(Manju Nair)

This extract on Anthony Giddens' ideas from David Gauntlett's book, Media, Gender and Identity, is very interesting on collective identity: http://www.theory.org.uk/giddens3.htm

(Julian Gurr)

A useful selection related to music video:

Synaesthesia - Ferdinand Saussure
iconic indexical symbolic signs
Roland Barthes Mythologies
Interpellation Louis Althusser
E. A Kaplan visual hook
Laura Mulvey
Intertextuality, parody, pastiche
Andrew Goodwin
Sergei Eisenstein - montage
Classic Narrative text
Lyrics  and visuals - High level of incoherence, amplification, disjuncture, contradict, undermine
Dyer - utopia
Dyer - star quality
Hybrid of identities
Postmodern text - hyperreality, state of simulacrum
WE Media Gillmor
(Susan Gorney)


Lyotard (Grand Narratives) and Jameson (Constitutive Directives) as well as Baudrillard's simulacra. 

(Sophie Hill)

Once the students could apply the theories to this focus text, I started
to link these ideas to specific philosophers (Baudrillard, Deleuze,
Foucault, Barthes, Lyotard) and used 'PoMo Theory Cards'

(Matt Hall)

Any more for any more? feel free to send them on!

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Final INSET event- Dec 10

There were 35 people at the final event in London, with the jelly baby activity possibly going better than ever!

Feedback was once again very positive, with almost 100% agree or strongly agree on every question. One delegate was concerned that there was not enough time for questions and that my responses to some questions appeared rather rude. I do apologise if this was the case, as it was certainly not my intention and I have scratched my head trying to think what I said that could have caused offence. In terms of time for questions, I did say at the start that I guaranteed every question would be answered, but that we would use the post-it method rather than interrupt the flow. A number of people left early, but some stayed well beyond the finish time to ensure that all remaining questions were addressed individually.

If anyone does still have unanswered questions from any INSET days, do feel free to mail me at petefraser@me.com

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Writing frame for G325 from Julian McDougall

G325 Sample Writing Frame (Collective ID)

Please note this is generic and is not a direct response to a specific exam question, so candidates will need to adapt this.

Start with quote, paraphrase, critique on identity, representation, media.

Identity is complex. The relationship between collective identity and media representation is not straightforward. In this answer I will discuss this complicated relationship in relation to (CANDIDATE'S FOCUS - ONE GROUP ACROSS MEDIA OR TWO GROUPS OR MORE, OR CONTRASTING EXAMPLES).

For each example / study, quote, paraphrase, critique is now applied to the material researched. One example from more than 5 years ago is included. Textual analysis is ALWAYS connected to theories of representation and / or identity. These theories can be from any time period but the majority of the examples used for discussion must be from within 5 years.

Next, connections are made between the examples / contrasts are discussed.

Finally, a conclusion is offered which goes back to the start - the complicated relationship between identity and media representation. A prediction for what the future will hold is included here.

To secure high marks, all of the above is accompanied by referencing (when an author is mentioned, their name and year of the book / article / web material is given in brackets after the FIRST mention).

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Manchester INSET 16/11/2010

A very enjoyable day! Delegates commented particularly on the opportunity to askl questions and get clear responses, on the tips for teaching, on the chance to do some moderation, on the quality of exemplar material and on the sharing amongst colleagues which went on.

Morning session responses to the question

"What does a new media student need to know..."

50/50 coursework/exam
making it clear what they will be doing so they don’t have misconceptions especially about practical element
seeing the interdependence between theory/production

media terminology/key concepts- a new language
where to start- genre, representation, semiotics, mediation?

knowledge of/understanding of what’s going on in the media

creativity in context/framework
sense of responsibility

emphasis on research skills and its variety in the course
problems of independent learning- teaching how to be independent learners

need to know how to use the equipment- do lots of ‘drafting’ and practice activities

to be open minded about what they see and are introduced to and to be receptive to criticism

amount of time and commitment needed

working with others especially those not their friends

Some questions raised on post-its and responses:


Would you advise centres to focus on just one brief rather than doing two or more?

Yes, one, as it makes the teaching more focussed and can limit problems with internal moderation.

Will centres be penalised for doing horror/thriller opening at AS?

No. It would be nice to open up more genres for students to consider, though

The brief says a film opening should be no more than two minutes. How strict is this?

Aim to get your students to work as close to 2 mins as possible, but there is no penalty for doing more. It is likely that the longer the sequence, the more it may go 'off the boil'

Most modern film openings contain little or no titling. Principal credits are at the end.

I don't think this is necessarily true. While I have seen examples in the form you suggest, a look at a range of openings will show most do have some titles at the start. As the task asks for titles and opening, then that is what they will be expected to do. Use www.artofthetitle.com for examples.

Are hard copies of print work at A2 needed for moderation?

No, digital is all we need.

We are concerned about the consistency of moderation. Can you offer some re-assurance about the process? Do some moderators have unrealistic expectations about what can be produced on low budget?

we are working hard to ensure that consistency is as accurate as possible through training and analysis of moderator samples. In terms of what can be produced, as we see a wide range of work we have an idea of what is possible. A low budget should not prevent high quality work

Do powerpoint evaluations need to be filmed?

No but if they are bullet points and filming would help to draw out more of the candidate's explanation, you can do it and include in the sample

Why can blogs be text heavy and powerpoints not?

I think it is all a matter of balance. Putting an essay on a powerpoint doesn't really fit its purpose and equally a blog with a lot of writing ought also to have lots of other evidence- visuals, video, etc

How can students show in depth textual analysis for research and planning without detailed writing?

They don't need to. They need to reference their research but there is no need to write an essay

What can be done to make radio blogs creative?

Photos, screengrabs of the program in action, photos of scripts, any variety in the evidence will help, although it is unlikely to look just like a film opening blog, which moderators would take account of

Can we use Wix for blogging and how do we show individual contributions to group blogs?

Yes and either by tagging posts or in the written teacher evidence on the cover sheet to justify your marks.

Is the number of blog posts important or is the amount of varied content more important?

A three month project might be reasonably expected to produce a blog a day but this may come as a multi-post catch-up sometimes. We should expect a clear account of the journey of the project to be built up but what is there is more important than just the sheer number of posts. there is a big discrepancy in what we see so some candidates may only have 5 posts, others 105, so it would be hard to see these get the same mark!

What evidence is acceptable for showing for music video that they have actively sought copyright clearance?

A copy of an e-mail or similar, pasted onto the blog will suffice

Which software works best for web-building?

Dreamweaver, though someone suggested WYSIWYG is a cheap alternative.

Can company logos be used in coursework?

yes to a limited extent but for something like an advert in a paper, they are better off inventing a new brand.


Do you need to reference theoretical frameworks in 1a of the A2 exam?


Can we have a list of theorists for exam topics?

Yes, I will put a list of those cited for various topics in a post next week. It will not be a 'canon' but a list of those I know were cited in the exam last summer across the country. Nor will it be a comprehensive list!

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Textual analysis ; elusive A grades

David Allison wrote: "The exam question is always phrased something like: "Discuss the ways in which the extract constructs the representation of (say) gender using camera, editing, sound and mise en scene." It does NOT ask how CESM contribute to genre or narrative.

For me, sound is typically about narrative, genre and the audience's emotional response to a scene. It's pretty rare, in TV drama, for sound design to get a great deal of attention. Then there's editing, which for me is primarily about narrative. I've studied many textbooks, but never read an example of how ellipsis makes a character appear more masculine, or how an eyeline match speaks volumes about class differences. I think professional editors would find the idea amusing. Sure it comes into play occasionally, but 90% of the time, TV editing is hasty and perfunctory, as it was in the early days of cinema - the punctuation of moving image. (I was a TV producer for four years, so I'm not coming to this clueless.) In all but the most artfully constructed of novels, would we really ask the role that commas and colons play in character construction?

Certain that I'm missing something, I turned to Julian McDougall's textbook - but I remain none the wiser. Reading OCR exemplar scripts offers few insights either: the 'High' answer A on Monarch of the Glen refers only to 'smooth' editing, whatever that means. Even if it does 'imply continuous editing' as the examiner writes, what does that have to do with answering the question? Answer B comments nicely on s/rs representing two characters' opposition, but that's it - the reference to eyeline match is a technical device to explore camera and mise en scene: the use of close up, facial expression and props to explore the teenager's childlikeness.

Back to sound and in response to candidate A, the examiner notes: "Further, the candidate attempts to draw out the issue of the use of sound in the representation of age, considering the multifaceted use of sound in the extract: "Jovial folk music is played when there is an up-tempo scene where everybody is at work, but this quickly changes to a sombre low key piece when Amy is running away. The change of pitch and tempo sets the mood and our stance on the scene." I'm sorry - but how is this drawing out the issue of the use of sound in the representation of age? And how is it so much better than Candidate C's point, which the examiner says show 'minimal engagement': "Non-diegetic music in the extract gives a feel of vintage Scottish music, which is played whilst the older males are shown working in the extract. It is also very lively and active. So the music is relating to the older working males in the clip." Now, badly worded it may be, but the candidate is clearly attemp!
ting to relate the tempo of the music to the vitality of the older working men, which is more than candidate A tried to do.

The Doctor Who examples shared by the board at Get Ahead don't help me much either. Only one of the three points about both sound and editing in the June 09 exam overview pertains to gender representation. In the 'sound and editing' exemplars, Candidate A's points actually refer mainly to camera and mise en scene - references to to editing seem incidental to gender, and the term 'jump cut' is repeatedly mis-used. Candidate B talks about the ticking of the clock, but while that's great for narrative and mood, what does that have to do with gender?

From hours of reading exam board exemplars, I've so far got the following codes:
a.. Shot/reverse shot can be used to reinforce relationships - sometimes by exaggerating opposition
b.. Jump cuts can connote disorder
c.. Eyeline match can provide insight to a character's private thoughts, though mainly through camera and mise en scene, actually.
d.. Pace of editing can imply character qualities - fast pace suggests energy, for example.
e.. Choice of music can do the same
f.. Crescendo implies a build-up of power or emotion, be it in dialogue or non-diegetic music.
g.. err.. that's it so far. Anyone got any more?
Sorry if this seems like a bit of a rant, but as you might be able to tell, I'm beginning to despair - I really want to help my students improve their scores, but I'm not sure I understand how. Or is it not just me - are we ALL bluffing about this, in the hope that no one notices...?"

Vicky Allen responded: "Don't know if this helps but I think the whole point is teaching how the micro contribute to macro (the three macro being narrative, genre and representation). The task set by the exam board states that they are looking at how MCES create macro representations of XYZ. In the case of the MOTG clip, the use of sound (jovial music played when the middle aged workers were on scene v. threatening sound motif to introduce Amy) clearly represented the difference and contributed to a stereotypical representation of age (adults - good, youth - bad), so I agree that Candidate C response was more in line with what I think the exam board want (candidate A may have been a better response overall though so perhaps this was just a weak aspect of their answer).
I always try and get my students to write a sentence about the narrative at the start so they a) understand the clip and b) link it to the other macro of representation and how the difference in representation helps us understand the narrative. The shot reverse shots, action matches, eyeline matches, montage etc as part of editing in that clip all contributed to stereotypical representations of age and there were loads of examples in the clip."

James Baker added: "I'm not sure that building up a list of codes and their fixed 'meanings' is going to be particularly helpful for students. At best it tends to lead to the kind of deterministic analysis which often characterises weaker responses, as the context of the codes is lost in the belief that Code A always equals Meaning B (see the constant plea in the PE reports for G322 to avoid discussing colour palette in this superficial way - a white shirt does not always mean that characters are 'pure' and red trousers do not necessarily signify their 'passion/anger'!)

One approach to both sound and editing is to look at the way in which technical elements are used to create perspective or viewpoint within a sequence - a key element of the process of representation that goes beyond the identification of 'character traits'. By understanding, for example, how screen time, p.o.v. or reaction shots are distributed, even weaker students can see how hierarchies are established, leading to certain representations being privileged where others are marginalised. Stronger students are able to develop this further by discussing how the audience is positioned in relation to the representations on offer - the best answers in the June session of G322 offered some great discussion of the way in which editing frequently shifted the viewer's relationship to dominant views of gender in different scenes, for example. Another important factor is the way that the editing of the sequence grants or witholds narrative information from the audience in order to encourage identification or rejection of particular characters/representations. Fans of 1970s screen theory will recognise the essence of Colin McCabe's work on hierarchy of discourses in classic realist texts in this approach - obviously massively watered down! There are good chapters on this in John Fiske's Television Culture and Bernadette Casey's Television Studies if you want to mug up."

and "As far as the Primeval sequence was concerned, I was thinking along the lines of those students who were able to build a discussion of the way in which the content/mise en scene suggest that Cutter's masculinity is undermined by being the victim of the sabre tooth attack in which he requires rescuing by Abby, while the editing of the sequence positions him squarely as the protagonist through the frequent reaction shots, the way in which he motivates the editing through his actions and the final slow-mo shot of his relieved expression, rather than cutting back to Abby who's just saved him! Not many male stars would be happy if they missed out on a triumphant close up at the end of an action sequence.

There are some obvious contrasts to be made to the final sequence of the extract, where Jenny is ostensibly the protagonist but the cutting makes it obvious that she controls situations through dialogue rather than action (arguably feminine vs masculine skills) - she motivates the shot/reverse shots, emphasising her manipulation of West. In addition, her lower status in relation to Cutter is emphasised by the fact that her last minute rescue is not signalled by a cutaway to the team arriving with guns and the fact the sequence cuts to their determined expressions rather than to her."

and finally from James Shea: "David, in reply to your question about attaining the A grade might I offer a left field answer? I used to be Head of English and Media before moving on to my university role and the concept of A grades in any paper was a key central issue. What we actually found was that some students could have the knowledge but not get an A grade. Some students had 50% of the knowledge, but still got an A grade. Comparing papers, the difference between the two was remarkably clear: the latter group could write really well. I mean by that their composition was strong, their arguments and use of evidence effective, their ability to draw together thematic ideas and present high level arguments was smooth and in general they wrote with confidence even though they didn't actually have a great deal of knowledge.
By refocusing some of your efforts into the demands of effective prose writing rather than knowledge you might actually break down some of the issues you are meeting. We found that those that did English Literature and Media got better marks sometimes in the Media exams - simply because they were better at writing sharp focused scripts at speed.
It is something to think about, but I wish you luck in hunting down those elusive A grades - it plagues us all."

File Conversion

Several people have sent comments to the e-list about file conversions.

Here are some points:

David Burrows: "With videos for G321/G324 in mind, can anyone suggest (ideally freeware!) software for this? Haven't found any that convince so far!
Also, any recommendations for sound/video file converters?"

Gary seal: "File converting - FormatFactory does the job and is free."

Hannah Cayton: "For screen recording on a Mac, I use Snapz Pro. It was around £60 when I bought it a couple of yeas ago. Not free, I know, but it works really well for recording moving image and demonstrations.

keepvid.com is great was grabbing videos from YouTube, offers you several formats and file sizes, and is free."

Friday, 15 October 2010

Q&A from second INSET day 15/10/10

Should evaluation questions all be answered at the end of the process or as they go through the process over time?

The centre should guide candidates on this, but clearly preparing candidates for the evaluation questions/tasks can start from the outset and I know of at least one centre which is getting candidates to make part of their evaluation task videos as they go along. The final seven responses should be put together for moderation at the end of the process, e.g. at the top of the group's blog.

Are they penalised if all their posts are over a short period of time?

Not necessarily, but to be honest, it doesn't look good and doesn't look like planning, especially if they are all done at the end!

If titles are an art form, shouldn't this be a discrete brief?

In a way, it is! Candidates need to be looking closely at how film openings work as part of their research and a significant element of this is the titles. Look at the work of Saul Bass, for instance, which offer artistic titles but which also opens films very effectively, suggesting narratives, themes and characters.

Is it a level playing field between topics on G325?
Yes. There are expectations of depth and breadth for all topics.

Do ALL G322B topics need to include indie v major contrast?

no but they should be contrasting in one way or another, otherwise there is a danger that candidates will be caught out by the question and find they have little to say or worse still answer as if their single case study represents the only way their industry works.

Should the A2 exam be longer?

It has to be 2 hours. But we do understand that for Section A 30 mins can be a bit tight and that markers' expectations should be for what is possible in the time allocated.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

INSET feedback

The first get ahead event of the year took place yesterday in London, with 37 delegates in attendance.

All responses to questions about the course fell into 'agree' or 'agree strongly' and 73% of delegates who responded rated the course as excellent, with the other 27% giving it good. This was very heartening!

Things they liked most were: activities done during the day, opportunities to share ideas and work in groups, ideas for teaching from the presentations, an A2 assessment task that we did together, feedback on coursework and examples shown, the resources to take away and the chance to have an open forum at the end of the day.

We look forward to seeing more teachers at the rest of the events!

What does a digipack look like?

Examples of student digipack and magazine advert from the summer. level 4 work. A digipack should be four or six frames and a magazine advert should follow conventions in terms of promotion of the product. these are very good examples.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Useful links

Useful resource for the AS main video task .

Elsewhere on the site are some brilliant tutorials (Photoshop, InDesign etc) including one on CD covers for the A2 music video task.

from Ted Faulkner

Clarification 13: cameras

From David Allison: "Finding the right camcorder is getting ridiculously difficult. A year ago, Pete Fraser advised sticking with DV, but that's not possible anymore. The four major camcorder manufacturers (Canon, Sony, Panasonic and JVC) have stopped making DV cameras for the consumer market - it's all SD cards and HDD drives now. Canon still lists 5 standard-def DV models on its website, but they're no longer available to purchase.

"Secondly, there's no longer any way to get quality sound from a cheap camcorder - even an HD one - as NONE of the manufacturers include mic jacks in 2010 models below about £700"

"In other words, it can no longer be said that cheap cameras give perfectly good results - it used to be true, but the market has sadly changed for the worse. Given the current economic climate especially, the board should expect to see a decline in sound quality in student videos from all but the private schools and media colleges - there's no way to afford pricey cameras like that at the moment. I trust our students won't be penalised for this?"

David is right- the manufacturers have once again changed the technology and phased out an older format. However, I don't think this is necessarily making things any more difficult as far as sound is concerned. We used bottom of the range camcorders with built in mics for ten years for all our student projects; if shooting dialogue, students needed to plan for it in advance. Most sound was added afterwards, so there's no reason to think this will lead to a decline in their videos. With all technology, it's about students making the best possible use of what is at their disposal.

From Tom Barrance: "I always suggest that students make films without recording live sound and put the soundtrack together on the computer. This means you can get high-quality sound without the pitfalls of live recording.

An option for live sound is to record it separately using a digital audio recorder and sync sound and picture up at the editing stage (you need a clapperboard and timeline-based editing software). This gives you a lot more flexibility with your sound design as mic position isn't limited by having to be connected to the camera. The new Zoom H1 digital audio recorder is around £100 - plug a £30 tieclip mic into this and you can give actors or presenters as much freedom of movement as if you were using radio mics. (You might think this too fiddly for your students.)"

great advice!

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Clarification 12: Local paper poster

"Can anyone give me guidance on what a poster for a new local newspaper
might be like? Does anyone have some previous work I could look at?
Neither the student (nor me, based on past experience) wants to do the
website brief so he has to do the poster. Many thanks."

In practice, this might be better considered as an imaginary billboard advertising the new paper. We had so few entries for this option that it is difficult to provide examples which really worked well. Consider how any print artefact might be advertised on a poster and think about how this might be adapted for a new local paper.

From Donna (Principal Moderator for A2)"What we are not expecting is the sort of A-board put up outside newsagents. Here are some real examples: one local and some nationals



and a good idea from Vicky Allen:

"We think that the poster for the local newspaper should be based on the competition/event that is also being advertised on the radio trail and on the paper itself to create synergy'.

Clarification 11: Blog sites to use

Someone asked what are good sites avoiding linking up with Google?


Have all been recommended so far. I will add any other recommendations here

from David Allison: "I use Wordpress, which works very well, and this year I've refined the setup a little. I've set up an Administrator account from which to run all the A Level blogs, and then two Editor accounts - one for AS, one for A2, using gmail accounts for email addresses, as every account-holder has to have some kind of email address. Students in each cohort (AS and A2) are on their honour not to interfere with each other's work, but there were no problems with that last year. Giving them Editor status means they can't change the main password or profile, and they can't change the template for their Blog, but everything else is up for grabs.

Last year I had individual and group blogs, so that I could differentiate assessment for certain tasks. That was a bit of an assessment nightmare, so this year it's one blog per group, but with a subsidiary page for each member for any individual reflections, and for their evaluations. I've also set up categories for each group, so that students can 'sign' their entries. I've put a category cloud in the sidebar, and as their work progresses, the relative size of each of their names should show who's contributed to the most posts! Clicking on one of their names will then filter the blog to show only those posts authored or co-authored by that student.

Over all of this I have one main blog page for each cohort from which I link to each group blog. Later, when the sample is called, I will create a page especially for the moderator linking to their group and individual work. You can see an example of this from last year here "

Monday, 4 October 2010

Clarification 10: Short film Brief A2

There have been several comments and questions, plus some useful links posted on the site in the last few days.

"The definition of short film is so broad that surely there are going to be many different results. If moderators are wanted basic fictional narratives than that should be addressed in the brief. My students are creating short films based on a theme. We have several different types of short films, two of which I've included there. Two of the groups really like these films and may borrow the ideas/structure. Both I would argue have a clear narrative structure, but they are not fictional and not traditional short stories".

here and here

these look like good examples and if an A2 short film was as good as these, we'd all be well pleased!!

"I'd have thought a sort of Three Minute Wonder documentary format would work well: Is 3 minutes too short even if its done well?"


Up to five minutes is the stipulation, so 3 mins done well would be fine!

"There are many documentary style short films. Have a look at BBC Film Network which has a whole category dedicated to them. See also Fourdocs and 4docs - the films on the latter often will not play. The factual short film form is wholly legitimate for students to attempt, in my view. The problem as I see it is that some simply copy the format of a conventional TV documentary in shortened form with endless interviews and a narration. I think that they should be more adventurous and try to impose a distinctive style of some sort. A characteristic of short films seems to be that they are often quirky in some way. This requires a lot of imagination, and there's the rub!"

Very good point- it's all in the execution.

Advice from Rob carlton: "Centres can do documentaries as an option if they want to under the A2 short film task.
However centres should be aware that those who have attempted it so far have found it problematical to get their students to produce a whole documentary film lasting only five minutes, with moderators reporting that these have either tend ed to end up looking like news pieces or unfocussed social realest films or unfocussed cross overs between music video and documentary .
Students may find the A2 short film task more accessibile and engaging if they stick to fictional/narrative based short films."

So, overall fiction and non-fiction are both possible, but bear in mind the advice here. The most important thing is that it is a complete short film!

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Clarification 9: key Terms for Moving image

We often receive requests asking for clarification of key terms from G321 Textual analysis. A full glossary is beyond the scope of this blog, but a quick google reveals the following useful sites here and here

Particular terms which a recent correspondent wanted clarification on were those in italics here

- Production design: location, studio, set design, costume and make-up, properties.

- Soundtrack: score, incidental music, themes and stings, ambient sound.

Properties are better known as props or objects.

Themes and stings are music terms
Theme: A melodic or, sometimes a harmonic idea presented in a musical form.
Sting: distinctive background music used to add emphasis to an important moment in a film or tv programme

We were also asked what exactly do we mean by cross-cutting and parallel editing and how are these different? A brief explanation of cross-cutting appears here, though I think they are interchangeable as terms.

The best book for all moving image terms is probably still ‘Film Art’ by Bordwell and Thompson, which I first bought as an undergraduate back in 1979. The latest edition, much updated, is available on amazon.

Clarification 8: G325 scripts

"I have asked for copies of exam scripts for G325 in order to see how the grades looked in terms of an A, a B and C. Mainly because I felt a bit insecure teaching it last year. Unfortunately all the grades have clearly been moved by a very significant margin e.g. 12 marks overall, which I was not aware of when I was given the marks originally.

They have not been broken down according to the questions so I have no idea what marks are awarded for what questions. This makes it very difficult to create a good exemplar to deconstruct in class.

Is there any way I can find out and has anyone else had this problem?"

This relates to the tables Rob put out on the list last week. The boundary for A grade had to come down a lot, as is common on the first full sitting of a new paper, so a candidate scoring 68 this time was raised to 80. All papers should contain the original marks allocated.

I wouldn't worry about the scores for deconstructing an exemplar in class- get the students to have a look at the answers and map them against the mark scheme in the different levels. their ultimate target should be to get their work to level 4 in all areas, so what would the papers they are looking at need to do in order to achieve this?

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Clarification 7: Theory (and a comment on INSET/CPD)

"Having relevant theory that covers ALL aspects of the exam is something that would be useful-and not something that is reserved for costly INSETs. What didn't help last year was (in my opinion) a satisfactory answer to some aspects of media theory on this forum for the exam. (The thread was closed). As HoD, I am seriously considering the future with OCR A-Level Media Studies."

Two things here

1. Though there is plenty of relevant material on 'theory' in the A2 textbook, our view of this for the spec is that we did not want it to go down the route of rote learning so have deliberately left it more open. To have hundreds of answers all trotting out the same 'line' does not represent good learning, so we have a much more open view of what candidates might refer to than perhaps teachers think we have! The main problem in the exam responses was the total absence of reference to theory in candidate essays (particularly q.1b), despite it having been taught in many cases (as evidenced by material on centre websites and anecdotes from teachers I have spoken to). So the challenge is how to teach it in a way that students will then be able to use it. So i'd stress, there is not a fixed body of theorists that they have to reference.

2. On costly INSET. I would hope that people feel they get value for money from the INSET we provide- I certainly always try to give it; I would argue that it is part of the continuing professional development for teachers that they take advantage of such sessions and that schools and colleges, even in these cash strapped times do have money available for it in their budgets. In addition, we do go to great lengths to try to provide the maximum amount of options for getting people better informed- autumn traditional day events, the conference in March, the e-community, the Get Ahead blog, Julian's twitter feed, the media magazine blog...

and from Julian McDougall: "Regarding stretch and challenge, I would just restate my 'mantra' on this which is that the majority of A2 Media with OCR is either coursework or related to coursework. For an A2, the only 'pure theory' work a student has to engage with is a one hour exam answer, so I think a comparison with other subjects / boards would be unlikely to lead to the conclusion that OCR are asking for more academic / theoretical endeavour. Please refer to the examiner's report and look at the exemplar scripts and commentaries when they are made available as these have been produced to demonstrate a variety of ways of getting to particular mark bands. The most important quality a candidate needs to demonstrate for Section B is making connections between ideas. That said, the weakest area was question 1b where candidates often struggled to 'apply' arguably more basic genre theory to their own work.”

Clarification 6: Digipak

If you look up digipak on wikipedia, you'll see it contains four or six frames. There are loads of examples on play.com and several linked to this blog via candidate blogs. This one contains a digipak which is very well constructed and comprises six panes. Scroll down to find it.

"When making the music video as a group, is one digipak per group enough or is each member of the group meant to do their own digipak? I know that individual presentations are required but not sure about digipaks"

One set of products per group is fine, but it can be quite good to see each member of the group making their own ancilleries so the group has more to discuss in the evaluation about how to reach the audience. Evaluations likewise can be done as a group, but as always, teachers need to be clear on individual contributions in their marking.

From Kirsty Lowdon: "I just wanted to feed back my own experience of this artefact based on our own coursework component last year. Apologies if it is a long response, but I thought that it might be worthwhile information. There seems to be quite a lot of confusion about it, but I actually think that the students are the ones who get this right, even without trying that hard. My A2 students excelled in their coursework and were very successful with the digipack aspect, many of whom received 10/10 for their attempt.

We felt that it was really important for students to actually get out there and look for concrete examples of digipacks as part of their research and planning. They needed to handle the product and consume it in order to work out what it was. They actually went together to HMV (having asked the store manager) and analysed the digipacks available within the store. They soon worked out the difference between a digipack and a regular CD cover. Essentially that a digipack offers the audience a lot more in terms of content than a regular CD cover.

From this they then produced convincing digipacks which included some or all of the following aspects (depending on the group choice):

Membership postcard/flier
Lyric section
Disk impression
Band info section/booklet
Free image/poster

My students didn't produce the actual CD that went inside it, and this was not commented on by the moderator. However, some students included an impression of the disk on paper and just placed it inside for the effect. I think it really does depend on what the students feel makes the product look convincing.

By doing this, they were able to construct convincing artefacts which met the criteria. At the end of the day, it is a digipack and not a CD cover that they were making.

I think that it would be prohibitive as a teacher to stipulate completely what is required as this restricts student creativity (something that they might be expected to comment on in their exam and certainly something that the specification promotes).However, I think that it is safe to say that something more is expected than just the front, spine and back in order to actually meet the definition of a digipack.

This approach worked for me this year and I genuinely feel it was because students were made to discover for themselves the various forms the artefact can take"

Clarification 5: UMS

Sometimes your coursework results are lower even though the moderator has not adjusted them, or lower than the scaling applied by the moderator. This is due to the impact of UMS, which depends upon where the boundaries for a unit (in any subject) are set. Thus if the boundary for an E is 45 rather than 40, anyone on 45 will be moved to 40 and anyone lower will also drop. It also impacts on marks in between the A and E boundary. It is very complex to explain but exams officers should be able to talk you through it.

there are various explanations online, none of which are entirely satisfactory, including a youtube video. A search for 'uniform mark scheme in google will take you to some- take your pick for which makes most sense!

From Rob Carlton: "Form Rob Carlton: From a quick read of some recent posts it seems there is some confusion over the UMS mark system (employed by all awarding bodies).

It is important to bear in mind that nobody can lose a grade through the UMS conversion process and no candidates are disadvataged.

If I take for example, the grade boundary for a grade A this summer for Unit G321 (Foundation Portfolio) which starts at 81 raw marks; if a candidate scored 81 raw marks their mark would be converted to the same point on UMS grade boundary (the UMS grade boundary is fixed for the life of the specification). Grade A on the UMS scale starts at 80 marks out of 100 so the candidate's raw mark on the boundary of 81 in this case would convert to a mark of 80 UMS and they would still receive their grade A.

OCR have an explanation of UMS for teachers and parents posted here
or if you prefer, OfQual's explanation is posted here (see pages 12 and 13 of the document)

Clarification 4: A* grades

" would like to know which institutions achieved the A* in OCR Media Studies and some advice to their methods and content."

This can only be done if individual centres are willing to post something to the e-list as obviously there are privacy issues for centres and their results.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

3000 hits in 17 days!

I hope this blog is becoming as useful as the number of hits suggests! Do let us know by posting a message to the e-community at OCR

Clarification 3: centre reports

How do we get our centre feedback?

Centre feedback is available on Interchange, rather than as a hard copy. Your exams officer will be able to print it out for you.

Clarification 2: Blogs and Evaluations

Can the evaluation be on the blog too?

As much relevant research and planning evidence as possible should be on the blogs, if that is what is used. The evaluation questions should be explicitly addressed at the end of the project, which could also be on the blog, but should be clearly flagged up as the evaluation. There are good examples linked here.

If paper R&P is used at AS, try to keep the size of folders down- paper only rather than big binders. Leave out piles of questionnaires and just send one rather than sending them all!

Clarification 1: Soundtracks

Often, people ask questions on the e-community asking for clarification of spec issues. As the same questions frequently come up, I'll post our responses here too so people can check this blog first before asking!

What is permissible for soundtrack use?

* The Music Video should be the only area where candidates are using found material
* Copyright permission should be sought from the artist/label
* All material for all other tasks to be produced by the candidates with the exception of non-original sound or image material used in a LIMITED way in video/radio work - which means using sound or video that they will have difficulty in recreating themselves e.g. an explosion or news footage

For a music video, students could use any band/artist BUT in my experience it works much better to use a little known band so that the 'image' of the original does not 'hang over' the project. Thus their actors can play the part of a band without the audience always having the original in mind.

For all other AS and A2 video, copyright audio MAY NOT be used. Soundtrack must be original or from a royalty free source. This could however mean that the students perform an existing song/piece of music themselves- as the audio is made by them. Remember that soundtrack for projects other than music video need not only be music or need not feature music at all. it's all part of the creative process. Good use of foley sound is worth a lot of credit!

Monday, 13 September 2010

INSET Events Autumn 2010

Please try to get to one of this term's training events or register interest for a venue where one is not yet scheduled. The URL to visit is on the poster.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Headlines from examiners' report

It is important to read the whole thing, but if I had to pick eight headlines...

1. Set up a blog hub if you are using blogs with your students

2. If submitting disks, reduce it to one or two well organised and labelled DVDs for the whole centre

3. Go for a multi-task creative evaluation- NOT an essay!

4. Get the students to keep lots of research and planning evidence- a post a day throughout the project!

5. If doing Magazines, make sure you have decent DTP facilities and the students can use them!

6. If doing film openings, make sure titles are properly researched and properly done- actors, key crew members and company names should be on there!

7. Start preparing for q.1a and b of the A2 exam right from the start of the course!

8. See part B of the A2 exam as a chance for students to apply ideas to their own CONTEMPORARY examples

Thursday, 9 September 2010

1400 hits in five days!

You may have noticed the counter below the advert for the MLC. I put it there last saturday to see how many people would use the blog after reminders on centre reports and the e-list and am pleased to see the huge number of hits to date! Of course not all are unique visitors, some are returners, but this is very encouraging as I believe the resources here will help people a lot in their work!

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Collective Identity: Englishness

If you are thinking of doing this topic, an obvious example would be the new series 'This is England 86' which starts on tuesday (7th sept) at 10 pm on Channel 4. A good comparative study would be the work of photographer Simon Roberts, whose exhibition 'We English' has just ended at the National Media Museum. his blog is a fabulous resource both for his own work and the wider set of debates around collective identity and Englishness- well worth a look!

Some stats on the A2 exam

Examiners were asked to keep some data on Section B of the exam in June so that we would have a sense of which topics were covered and what examples tended to be used.

I have analysed the data from a sample of 15 examiners, who marked a total of 165 centres (around one third of the total cohort), totalling 3034 candidates. In 24 cases, centres seemed to have covered more than one topic- which is quite a small number.This table gives a snapshot of the numbers involved. At INSET, we will look at some of the examples that were commonly used and what examiners identified as working well and what went less well. A summary overview is available in the main examiners' report.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Summer 2010 blogs

We have added a number of blogs from work submitted for G321 and G324 which illustrate either particular strengths or particular issues in relation to planning, research, construction or evaluation evidence. Links are already accessible down the sidebar, with comments on each blog to follow as posts below.

June 2010 examiners report

Can be downloaded here

Scroll down the page to find it

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

A2 Blogs

The evaluations from this A2 group are available on the INSET disk as well as linked here. One of the candidates' G325 exam answers for questions 1a and 1b are also on the disk, which give a good indication of successful strategies for using the coursework in a response. As the candidate refers to the AS project, the blogs are linked here too.

This extensive A2 music video blog contains many features which help it to attain level 4 for both research & planning and for evaluation.

This A2 trailer task blog is also accompanied on the INSET disk by extracts from the candidate's exam answer. A moderator's commentary will also be available to delegates.

The short film task is very popular. This blog illustrates a very solid level 4 approach to the research, planning and evaluation.

Another good A2 blog.The evaluation may be a bit text-heavy but is nonetheless very substantial.

This blog uses a lot of good visual material for the music video task.

Another blog where the candidate's exam response is available on the INSET disk.

A youtube video evaluation using chromakey and a presentation.

A centre with a plethora of excellent blogs

A more limited blog for the documentary task

What grade would this get? An interesting question! is this commercial music video any better than what students produce for A2?

This single post blog is just an essay pasted in, rendering the format pointless.

A rather nice video evaluation which makes use of a range of techniques.

113 post A2 Music Video blog which documents the whole process very well

AS work

On the INSET CD, some material will appear which exemplify the characteristics of particular levels for construction. Some of the blogs are linked here, for further reference.

This level 4 video would not score so highly for the blog, which could do with more extensive evidence of the process and particularly a less writing-based evaluation to match the high standard of the video work.

This level 3 video features a quite extensive blog with some more varied evaluation tasks.

This blog accompanies a level 1 video available on the INSET DVD. It is quite substantial, but at time unfocussed and too text heavy; it would score more highly than the final video however, as there is a lot of evidence of the process here. The evaluation is quite weak and simplistic and again very text heavy.

The level 3 magazine here is quite stylish and follows conventions meticulously, but the blog is very brief and heavily text based for the evaluation. Pictures in the magazine could be more varied, with the use of more than one model.

The evaluations on video by this group make good use of creative possibilities with a mix of answering questions to camera and insert video footage from the project. In addition, the group has done over 60 posts detailing the project. In all three categories, this work attained level 4.

In this blog, the creative potential for research, planning and evaluation tasks is fully exploited in imaginative, original and lively ways. Indeed, the whole site is designed and built by the students themselves from the basic Wix template. Research, planning and evaluation all gained full marks, though the actual finished video was level 3.

In this blog, the candidate has produced a very limited number of posts and an evaluation which only randomly connects with the seven questions. The finished magazine has potential, with some good images and a sense of targeting its audience, though the double page spread looks rather minimalist. There is evidence of research collated in the powerpoint slides, but planning is very limited. The older posts indicate that the candidates had the choice of two tasks and had done both preliminaries.

This blog makes a lot of use of scribd and slideshare embeds. Though this is fine, it can start to give the impression of lots of illustrated word documents uploaded and then embedded, when maybe more use could be made of the blog itself for illustration and development of the process?

This magazine task blog from January is generally quite good at showing how the project develops, with screengrabs of various stages of construction. This one likewise is quite extensive.

Lots of centres use blogger, with wordpress being the second most popular blogging option. There are others, however. This centre uses weebly, which has the advantage of the website 'look' with tabs, but maybe gives less of a sense of the journey of the project. This wordpress blog illustrates the way in which organisation may be made simple, but it
does involve the reader clicking on every title in order to view all the work. This one is also quite tricky to find your way around and needs simpler, clearer organisation. Blog.co.uk does not seem to offer much potential as illustrated here.

Aggghhh! colourscheme! And all text too. Why use scribd for the evaluation? He might as well have just typed it into the blog. A good one to get your students to deconstruct to consider the pitfalls to avoid.

This blog is simple but makes good use of images and takes us through the process well. the magazine is really well done, though a bit too reminiscent of kerrang!

Prezi is a useful tool to try out. This evaluation is rather artistic, like a Saul Bass graphics sequence, but maybe isn't yet using the potential of the format.

Organising your blogs both for use during the year and when submitting for moderation is important. This school is a good model of practice.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Marking the blogs and evaluation

The two blogs linked on the sidebar are both examples where level 4 would be appropriate for both research and planning and evaluation.

the A2 blog contains 71 posts and is very extensive. At the top are the finished productions, followed by evaluation tasks, with the research and planning chronologically from the bottom. Task 1 makes good use of their own video and videos researched, with bullet points to expand ideas. There is substantial thinking involved in a task like this, selecting appropriate images and showing how they match conventions. Task 2 involves some creative work and good use of available technology. Task 3 is wordy but reasonably thorough and Task 4 contains a summary of key points about technology use with some attempt to show how it all integrates, particularly in the image. Overall, the evaluation gets into the bottom end of level 4, with 17/20.

Research and planning is very thorough- remember this is an individual blog- and takes us through the project journey, illustrating the process very well, including early ideas, refinements in the light of feedback, the planning and logistics and where ideas have come from. Taken with teacher comments on how the candidate worked on R&P, it scores 19/20.

The AS blog is organised in the same way, with the final production accessible for the moderator at the very top. Again with 56 posts, this is very substantial individual evidence. The nine frames task is expanded upon in a lot of detail and each of the other tasks takes up a different approach to consider the question, each using some form of illustration and often stretching the use of the technology, with task 5 for example showing the use of labels on youtube as well as voiceover. The level of detail and sophistication gives this evaluation top marks 20/20.

The research and planning is similarly detailed, thorough, systematic and well illustrated making good use of the blog format and all online potential and covering a huge range of areas, all of which has benefited the production. Again it scores top marks 20/20.

Updates and links to resources

the OCR media teachers conference 2010 here
example scripts from january G325 including examiner comments can be found at the bottom of the page linked here

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Annual Conference!

To book: course code OMSF4 on www.ocreventbooker.org.uk

Saturday, 9 January 2010


How are people approaching the new A2 units? In early february, we will be looking at successful strategies for both the coursework and the exam, based upon what we see in the January entries. Until then, there may not be much happening on this blog as you'll appreciate we are likely to be heavily involved in examining and moderation.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Feedback, Manchester event Nov 6th

We made some changes for the Manchester event and ran the exam sessions in the morning; we still ran out of time for the A2 production unit, but at least we felt we had done complete justice to three out of four! the feedback was the best yet, so thank you to the Northern delegates!

Friday, 16 October 2009

Feedback on the London events

At each training event, delegates are asked to complete a feedback form. in the interests of transparency, the summary of forms from the first two events are displayed here. The top two pages are from the 9 October and the others from 15 October. At each event there were nearly 40 delegates, of whom around 60% filled out a form.

Saturday, 10 October 2009


At each event, participants are asked to put any questions they have on post-its and we will attempt to respond to them. The questions and answers are then posted on here to provide a useful resource for everyone! Each time, we will add to the relevant unit. Where possible other links and resources will also be added. If you have any further questions, feel free to e-mail me petefraser@me.com and I will add the answers on here.

General issues

How do students get an A* grade

They need 320 marks, of which at least 180 must be obtained in the A2 units.

When are moderator's reports due?

You should have received it when you got your results in August. Please contact the Qualification manager, Rob Carlton and he will find out what has happened. the same is true if your coursework has not arrived back yet!

Is it fair for a moderator to put down a whole centre's marks? It seems unfair on some students.

This is the nature of moderation in all subjects. It relies on your rank order being consistent so that any mark changes to adjust a centre to national standards can be applied to the whole of your cohort. If a moderator thinks marks are wrong in a particular mark range, he/she can change that range only, provided it does not affect the overall rank order. This policy applies for all boards in all subjects- not just media or OCR.

What if any dialogue is possible when there are glaring errors in the coursework moderator's analysis?

Where centres believe a genuine mistake has been made e.g. a preliminary task penalty applied
when the preliminary task was carried out, please contact Rob Carlton, the Qualifications Manager in the first instance. This does not apply to disagreements with moderation decisions. All other concerns about moderation should go through the results enquiries service as published on the OCR website.

I welcome the openness of the A2 spec but am nervous about the 'quality' of marking given some past experience

We are working hard to ensure that markers only work on one paper, that team leaders emphasise quality control in their role and that checking escalates up the chain more to ensure consistency of standards. There is also additional training for moderation team leaders coming up soon. Hopefully, all this illustrates our committment to improving the level of confidence in the marking process.

Are there standardisation meetings for teachers of this course?

These days are it! If you would like a visit from a senior moderator to help further, please e-mail the Qualifications Manager, Rob Carlton to discuss.

How important is it to use the endorsed textbook? The centre cannot afford to buy a set for all students.

At the risk of upsetting my colleague, who wrote it, at least if the teacher has a copy, any useful pointers can be used in the classroom. However, you should not photocopy chunks for all students!

What is the tolerance between a centre's marks and the moderator's marks?

3. so if you give 79 and the moderator thinks it is 82, the marks would not be changed.

Is there any way around school firewalls blocking the use of blogs?

Put pressure on management and report it to the Media Education association who are lobbying about this issue. The only alternative is to set them up from home and get students to do their blogging from there.

Has OCR thought of providing a central blog hub or site that centres can upload coursework to, construct blogs etc

yes, there is an area called the repository for coursework which a number of subjects used last year but we felt that for media this would not be a feasible option given the file size of video work. For blogs, it would again create many complications; you are definitely better off using a free site like blogger.

When I tried to expand comment boxes for the marksheets, they fail to print out. What can i do?

Put extra comments on a word document and print that additionally.

What do I do about a student who does not contribute to group work but the product is high quality?

Make clear in your comments why your mark is so much lower for that individual!

Friday, 9 October 2009

G321 Foundation Portfolio

What universal formats should be used?

PDF for print, JPEG for pictures, MP3 for audio, Video should be on a DVD readable on domestic players. If online, in a blog, it needs to play without problems; only having it online risks the quality being reduced for playback, so bear that in mind!

Are we allowed to use Publisher for print coursework? Our moderator suggested it wasn't good enough.

In general, it seems that Publisher is quite limiting in terms of what students can do with it, which might make creating an effective layout too problematic. However, some teachers at the session suggested that with clever use you can get more out of the program than you might expect.

Is there a problem with teachers putting comments on students' blogs in a formative way?

No that's fine

As the LEA will not allow access to blogs in the classroom, we may use powerpoints. Do these have to be filmed?

Not necessarily, but it has worked well for those centres who have filmed them.

Will the moderator accept a password to look at student blogs on our VLE or prefer them on disc?

Yes, a password is acceptable, but if you find putting them on disk keeps them in a format which shows their intentions, that is fine too.

we were told by the moderator that electronic R&P is compulsory at AS

This is not the case at AS.

I am new to Head of Dept, we have DTP and Fireworks available to create school/music magazine. Does this sound sufficient?

Answer from the floor on this one was that Fireworks is fine for image manipulation

How does OCR check the coursework moderators' comments? Our June 09 was full of inaccuracies – candidate nos incorrect, one number not related to any students in our centre, one referred to print prelim – candidate did film

We are currently working on quality control with team leaders doing increased checking in future. It sounds as if there may have been a clerical error in this instance with the report going to the wrong centre

How much research should be done? Or to put it another way what type of research?

there should be some research into similar products and target audience and to institution so that they can answer the evaluation question.

Can students use copyright music or not?
They need to identify sources of copyright free music/sounds at AS.

How can we avoid using popular copyrighted music in rom-com where it's part of he conventions of the genre?

Someone suggested getting the students to record the track, which would be acceptable.

What comments and what level of detail is best when marking?

There needs to be a balance between ref to spec and giving examples from work to back up decisions. Comments are not about selling the product to the moderator and should mention weaknesses as well as strengths. The commentaries on practical work from exemplar pieces may be helpful for this.

If a podcast is submitted for the evaluation, is it possible to include interview and prompting by the teacher?

Yes and this is a good idea to ensure they give more detailed answers and don't just read an essay

What evidence of process in research and planning would you suggest for video?

storyboards/animatics, photos of costumes, locations, props, actors....see the Chestnut Grove blogs for some good examples (link at top of blog)

If a powerpoint shouldn't look wordy, how can they tell us what they have done in enough detail?

Images annotated can work very well and say a lot more than hundreds of words; bullet points, links, bits of audio are all possible to link in.

we were told we should have filmed the presentation

That is not a compulsory element- a moderator could offer that as a suggestion, and it certainly can help if presentations are filmed or audiotaped as it means you have more evidence to show

It would have been helpful to know for definite that electronic research and planning at AS was best

This was always suggested as an OPTION, but we have seen lots of good paper evidence; from the point of view of reducing postage and huge volumes of stuff for moderators to wade through and from the point of view of preparing for R&P at A2, it is recommended, but there is certainly no penalty for using paper at AS

Why is it a requirement to use dialogue for opening sequences?

It isn't. There should be appropriate sound for whatever is created. if it really looks like we should be hearing dialogue and there is only music, that is an issue, but an abstract title sequence might well be wholly music-based. Also for consideration: atmospheric sound

What if no social group is represented in the title sequence? How will they evaluate it?

They might well not- they would just make it clear why they have gone for a different approach; although all seven questions should be addressed, it is quite possible some will have more detail than others.

What is judged as minimal, basic, proficient, excellent will always be subjective

Absolutely right and the examples used at the INSET days are designed to give a steer as to where the national standard ought to be for each of those for construction. Marking coursework is not an easy task and moderating it is just as hard, but we need to have a set of expectations in order for the process nationally to be fair and for results to be comparable.

Our moderator commented "mise en scene for productions tended to be based in school which didn't really enable candidates to show excellence". Does that mean we should not use schools as a location for productions?

It means that candidates need to pay close attention to how they construct their mise-en-scene. it is always possible to disguise your set with careful use of props and camerawork. If they do have to film in school, they need to invest time in the planning to make it look effective

Will the structure of blogs be marked? If they forget something and add it later will they be penalised?

No. They can change the dates on posts anyway by going into settings on most blog options, like blogspot.

Will students lose marks if music or films can't be uploaded to blogs?

No they just need to explain why they can't get it to link or put them in a different format, such as on a disk

Our moderator thought some of the images were not original, but they were!

Make sure that all images for print work are clearly identified as their own by candidates, so that they show the process they have gone through

Where can we get copyright free music?

there were suggestions from the day but for one I couldn't read what the teacher had written and everything i tried won't link! Looks like igt music? the other www.freeplaymusic.com

How do I create an animatic?

1. draw storyboard frames- nice and bold, black pen if possible
2. take individual photos of each frame
3. upload the photos to the computer
4. import the photos into the edit programme
5. drop each image onto the timeline and cut to the required length
6. put music or other sound on the audio timeline
7. add titles or effects/transitions as required
8. export to quicktime and upload to youtube or vimeo
9. embed the video onto the blog or save it to a Cd

How do I set up a blog?

there should be a simple pdf for blogger here available to download, along with some other useful documents

Do students each have to have their own blogger account?

Could do or you could set them all up and share a password/gmail address

To what extent is creativity marked? Its not on the markscheme for G321. If a sequence is technically almost flawless, should it get a top grade?

Yes it should given the criteria, but the intention is always to encourage a creative approach.

Should blogs contain individual or group entries?

Can be either, but for a group blog, tagging their posts would be advisable.

Is there an example of a director’s commentary anywhere?

Here is one- their channel on youtube features some more:

Thursday, 8 October 2009

G322/3 Key concepts

Any ideas how to approach the area of ethnicity within a multi-cultural classroom? Any ideas for teaching ability/disability, regional identity?

Loads of TV drama has a good range of representation- a good resource is the English and Media Centre TV Drama pack. It is hard to find a TV drama that doesn't provide you with something! From 'Skins' to the soaps, from 'the Street' to the hospital dramas, it's worth keeping a stock or buying a few box sets.

Is it a good idea to set up a thesis before starting the question?

No point- just get on with it!

Can we get marks for individual questions for examined papers from OCR? To know which questions are eliciting stronger responses.

yes if you request the papers back, but you will have to pay a fee for each paper.

Terminology – is it based primarily around technical codes?

no, it's around codes AND representation. Think of terminology as language you wouldn't use if you were talking about the subject with your parents

As a case study would it be viable to compare independent cinema house(s) vs multiplexes?

yes but not on their own, as you need to consider all aspects of the process for a media product, not just the final stages .

Can we have the actual marks for the exemplar essays?

We prefer them to be distributed as examples of particular levels.

Although OCR can’t produce a TV drama compilation on DVD, can anyone suggest some good episodes of programmes available on DVD which they have used.

Suggestions welcomed- e-mail me and I’ll put them on the blog!

Can we have an example of how editing specifically informs representational issues?

We will try tfind something which provides a good illustration and post it here

Can we use soaps or not?

Yes- may not turn up in the exam, but in theory they could. Doesn’t hurt to use them anyway in your teaching.

Does examples refer to examples from the exam text or from examples from programmes studied in class?

Just from the exam text

Is the mark scheme totally separated e.g. could they get full marks for terminology yet only 2/20 for examples


Why is there no markscheme for the exam in the specification?

It is on the OCR website and has been for a long time; a copy was also given out in the INSET pack

How can a student achieve 10 out of 10 for terminology without going OTT?

Using technical terms appropriately and with relevance enables them to access the top band.

Our students are always asking ‘how many terms do I need to get the 10 marks? we explain that they need to use terms across the four technical elements. they then ask how many of each? Is it better to use five terms correctly than use 20 and get a few wrong?

There really is no fixed number, but if they use a couple of terms for each they will be well on their way! Better to use them all correctly, but if they have a go they would not be penalised- marking is positive.
How would you link match on action, eyeline match, shot/reverse shot to issues of representation?

Issues of power in a sequence would make these relevant- how we are positioned as viewers in relation to the characters? how are they positioned in relation to each other are all relevant. A good book on all this is Bordwell and Thompson's 'Film Art'.

we want to use 'Skins' in our teaching- is this ok?

Yes fine

How much representation or narrative theory should a student be expected to apply for the analysis?

Depends what we mean by 'theory'. It is unlikely to be useful to include abstract theory. An understanding of issues around representation would be essential for the exam, but it is not really about application of abstract theory.

Section B

Can we have some resources for section B?

there is now so much material on the web it is hard to know where it stops! James Baker has provided the following links and comments:

changes in the nature of audience behaviour over the past 25 years

UK audience behaviour - research by the UK Flm Council

Patterns of film consumption in the UK

excellent online guide to all aspects of film production, distribution and exhibition

guide for aspiring filmmakers into aspects of distribution and exhibition

use of IMAX in Hollywood feature production

guide to film distribution from the FDA

BFI guide to film distribution and exhibition

Film Council distribution statistics

great, analytical account of Hollywood marketing campaign for the Dark Knight

What does significance of proliferation of hardware mean in relation to film?

It can refer to the changing ways of distribution and exhibition (e.g. digital projectors in cinema, people having mobile devices on which they can watch films, growth of 3D and IMAX) or even changes in production (high quality digital cameras)

I cover 4 case studies, can students refer to as many as this in the exam?


Last summer's section B question frightened off my unsophisticated students. Language like 'technological convergence' is too hard for an exam paper- ok for the spec (for teachers)but not for the students. Please use simpler vocab.

It is legitimate in any subject for any term from the spec content to turn up in the exam. We are careful with difficult non-Media language in the exam, but terms from the spec will come up.

Could a case study for magazines be two large rival firms?

It could, but ensure you cover the seven aspects in relation to them

is it ok to compare Working Title with a genuine UK independent production company e.g. Vertigo films?


Can we see an A grade on newspapers?

We'll try to find one from january and post it here

Can we introduce a choice of questions for section B?

Usually changes to the spec have to go through QCA and this can take a long time. After a full run of the whole spec we will consider whether changes to any papers should be requested.