A level Media Studies support site

A level Media Studies support site
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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

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

Sound
- 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):

Front
Spine
Back
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.