Thursday, 30 June 2011

Evaluation for OCR coursework

This is the final part of my guide to coursework and how to make the most of it. This guide to evaluation largely only applies to OCR work, so if you think you are doing AQA or WJEC, it is important that you check with your teachers about how evaluation needs to be done, as it is very different.

The key principles for OCR are that there are a number of questions which must be specifically addressed in the evaluation and that you should think of it as a creative reflection task rather than a written essay. The evaluation has to be presented digitally, but it can take a number of different forms and you are actively encouraged to be experimental with this. It may be that your school or college restricts the options you can use but you should note that the best marks go to those who really try to engage with digital formats as enthusiastically as possible!

It is important to note that the evaluation element is worth 20 marks, which is a fifth of the marks for coursework overall, so it is important that you take it seriously and do it well.

So what are the questions?

At AS there are seven:

1. In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products? (i.e. of film openings)

2. How does your media product represent particular social groups ?

3. What kind of media institution might distribute your media product and why?

4. Who would be the audience for your media product?

5. How did you attract/address your audience?

6. What have you learnt about technologies from the process of constructing this product?

7. Looking back at your preliminary task (the continuity editing task), what do you feel you have learnt in the progression from it to full product?

and at A2 there are four, which as you can see, contain some overlap with AS, but for which there is an expectation of a greater level of sophistication.

1. In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products ?

2. How effective is the combination of your main product and ancillary texts?

3. What have you learned from your audience feedback?

4.How did you use new media technologies in the construction and research, planning and evaluation stages?

The evaluation can make use of any digital format, but in order to get top marks, will need to really engage with the potential of the medium, so if it is on a blog, we would expect to see lots of use of pictures, links and video, for example. If it is on a powerpoint, the same would apply, but we would probably see even less written text, as we would expect the powerpoint to be presented by someone, so any writing would be just there as prompts. If the evaluation were all to appear on a DVD, the likelihood is that much of it would be in video form. I am going to suggest some ways of approaching each of the questions as tasks, which make them more creative and more fun to do, but which also involves more planning and thought than a straight written answer would involve.

For both AS and A2, question 1 is the same- it's about forms and conventions of media texts. A lot of students have had great success using something we 'nicked' from, which we referenced in the blog on film openings.This involves selecting nine frames from your opening and presenting them as a grid, just like they use on artofthetitle to illustrate openings. In this case, however, each of your frames has to represent a different aspect of the film you have made.

So you might select nine frames, each of which represents one of the following:

The title of the film
Costumes and props
Camerawork and editing
Title font and style
Story and how the opening sets it up
Genre and how the opening suggests it
How characters are introduced
Special effects

here is an example by Tom

Having chosen these frames and put them in a grid using photoshop, Tom now has to do a brief analysis of each to justify his choices. This could be done through bullet points on his blog, though he has opted for full sentences.

"This is our contact sheet for our opening sequence. The first frame is of our main title. We decided to have the main title at this point as it enters dramatically. This is because the music changes and gets louder, also the picture changes from black to the panning shot. We chose the title ‘Retribution’ meaning “punishment that is considered to be morally right and fully deserved”. This title would be typical of an action thriller.

The second frame we chose is of the setting. It is a fade between the building and the skyline panning shot. It has an urban feel and suggest industrial trading. The purpose of the the purpose of the building is to show that the opening is set in a run down, secluded area. These types of shots are typical of openings as they put the audience in the right frame of mind for the film.

The third frame is to represent our costumes and props. It is of the petrol being poured over the hostage character. It shows the murderer character in a suit costume and the gerry can which is being used to poor petrol on the victim. We put our murderer character in a suit as it makes him look more important and higher up to the hostage. It is also a typical thing for openings to do because it helps the audience to understand who is who.

The fourth frame is to show our font. The font that we chose was called ‘Dirty Ego’. We found it on We chose this font because the style of the font looks rough, dirty and it has a stencil like appearance."

Another approach which works very well is this one from Lucy

As you can see, they have integrated some shots from their video into a sort of mini director commentary. Ideally, any bits where you talk about your work will feel more natural and less scripted, but nonetheless this is a really good start for doing some creative reflection on the work.

Question 2 at AS asks about how social groups are represented. A good way of expressing this is to do a bit of comparison between the way you have represented a character and how mainstream media has done it. So for example, if you are doing the magazine task, you might set a screengrab from your work alongside one from a real magazine, as in this example from Romany here:

"The postures of both men are similar in the sense that they’ve both got their hands in their pockets. They also share similar facial expressions – both serious and staring straight at the camera, although Andrew’s eyes are hidden by his aviator sunglasses. In addition to this, both men are wearing similar costumes – jeans and a t-shirt layered with a shirt on top. As well as this, the background setting is very similar – both pictures were taken outside on a field with trees in the distance. However, the lighting used in the photos is different with one displaying a much brighter blue sky and the other a more overcast grey outlook. Also, they have different hairstyles – Andrew’s is longer, darker and covering his face more, whereas the man from Rinoa has shorter, lighter gelled up hair. Overall I think that these elements of the photos represent a normal young social group and that my magazine reflects this throughout – the people featured in my magazine are quite normal looking – there’s nothing extreme or obscure about their appearances."

For question 3 at AS, the emphasis is on the role of media institutions, which should have been an area of your research, so that you have a good understanding of how distribution of films or magazines works. One way of approaching this is to do an audiodub director's commentary which just focuses on this aspect.

Yasmin and Tilly's work here is a good example:

You could easily think of a parallel task for magazines, such as a video walk through of your magazine where you might do a similar voiceover and then embed it on your blog.

Questions 4 and 5 look at the audience from slightly different perspectives. A simple way to approach question 4, which you can build in to your research early on, is to do what the media industries do and profile a typical audience member. Here is an image of the ideal viewer for Yasmin and Tilly's film and their description of her likely tastes:

"This is Shanelle Goodwin. She is 15 years and 7 months old, and lives in the suburbs of Leeds.
she dresses fairly straight forwardly - just jeans and a top. She enjoys sleepovers with her friends, and shopping at the weekends with her pocket money. She shops in places like H&M and River Island, Jane Norman, New Look, and Topshop.
She enjoys films like Mean Girls, Angus Thongs and Perfect Snogging, House Bunny, St Trinians, Sex and the City, Mumma Mia, she enjoys watching them at the cinema and also buying them later on DVD and watching them with her friends, and jelly and icecream.
They would watch Hollyoaks, Friends, Scrubs, Family Guy, X Factor, America's Next Top Model, One Tree Hill. The main channels would be Channel 4; E4; Living Tv; ITV; BBC Three; Comedy Central.
The music this girl would listen to would be anything in the charts, varying from pop, hiphop. r 'n' b, indie music - not really a 'rock' or 'classical' or 'dub-step'. Listens to Kiss FM and Radio 1 for the 'chart hits'.
I think our film would appeal to this girl as she is a stereotypical girly girl who enjoys typical girly things, therefore, if this film was shown at her local cinema, this may appeal to her, as it's similar to other films she likes, such as Mean Girls, House Bunny, and Angus Thongs and Perfect Snogging and St Trinians."

Romany's video for question 5 on magazines is a good way to approach it:

Another excellent option is to use the youtube tagging function which allows you to show precisely how the audience is addressed and to link to other texts online, as in Sven and Jahmal's here:

At A2, the question about the links between the main and ancillary products can easily be addressed by making putting in cutaways to the print work where video is the main task:

and the audience and conventions tasks could be variants on those we have seen from AS.
At AS, the question on preliminary task v final project could be looked at using some screengrab comparisons, but hopefully you will think of something more inventive!

Finally, the question about technologies allows you to bring together your understanding of software, hardware and online tools and how they might all interact in your project. This can be very reflective in relation to your own skills development and like several of the other tasks can be used to build up evidence towards the A2 exam, where for question 1a you are asked about your development across the course. Good visual examples of this reflection on technology are here:

So my advice is to use some of this work as a starting point and hunt around for other examples, but to really go for it and be inventive with what you do. What we DON'T want to see is essays on blogs or powerpoint slides. If it is so dull, you wouldn't read it, then take it from me, no-one else would either!

To see the whole evaluations from some of the students featured here:

Finally, try Elliott's epic video which covers all the questions in one elaborate sweep!

Evaluation- Elliott from cmdiploma on Vimeo.