360MC Research and Development is the foundation module for your Level 3 MP course. It is a big, long and comprehensive module specifically designed to help you develop ideas and methods for your final media project (FMP). This blog has been designed to help you with the process of R&D. It is a guide and a helpful starting point for your studies – it doesn’t contain everything you need to know. It’s supplementary to the lectures, workshops and content on Moodle – it’s not instead of!
This term you have lots of time to explore and experiment – to find your subject matter, improve your knowledge and develop your style.
Now’s the time to grow your ideas and develop them towards making one brilliant final piece (your FMP).
What is research?
The dictionary definition says: Research comprises “creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of humans, culture and society, and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new applications.”
So research is about seeking out and then analyzing “layers of information” to improve your knowledge and understanding of your chosen subject matter.
Research is about being curious – every day! It’s NOT BORING work. It’s interesting, the more you look, the more interested you will become… (I promise you)
Research is essential to making good media products. Without research your work has no backbone or structure, no credibility, no integrity!
How to research?
Research is action – it’s not passive. You need to DO STUFF to research well. You need to purposefully and specifically seek out information (you might learn some other interesting stuff along the way – don’t discount this, keep notes about anything that strikes you)
- Google your subject matter and marvel at the amount of information that comes up! Dive into some of this – write notes on any facts, stats, comments that strike you as important (remember to note the reference to – and consider the integrity of the sources you are looking at)
- Question, question, question. Good research is all about asking good questions (and listening to the answers). Start by asking questions of the internet and of the people around you. You’ll be surprised at how much your presumed knowledge might not be correct.
- Then you need to get more defined information – a good way is to Google specific questions that you want to know more about. Make sure you look for articles published in authoritative and important journals or other publications.
- Then you need to talk to people. Interview people with experience and/or knowledge of the subject you’re looking at. Don’t be shy about this – most people are happy to talk about themselves. Prepare a few questions and ask to record the conversation. This is the best way to get real and relevant information for your work.
- Read and watch and listen to as much relevant stuff you can get your mind around.
- Make notes as you go. Keep looking back at these notes. Look for the gaps in your knowledge so you know where to next.
- Talk a walk. Walking is a good way to focus your thoughts and absorb all the information you have been collecting. Also this is especially good for when you’ve got an idea is germinating – walking can inspire inspiration.
- Take a bus ride. Conversations on buses are often fascinating and often inspirational. You’ll hear what’s concerning and/or interesting people. Also a good way to develop your scripts – hearing how people really talk is a good way to learn how to write speech for your characters.
- Research is about gaining knowledge and understanding to improve your work
- Keep track of your research in a notebook/Sketchbook/Blog
- Use the research to help you formulate your question or direction
- Collect and record your data – interviews/ focus groups/ primary sources
- Reflect on your findings
When you feel you have a good “talking” knowledge of your subject matter (this means you can speak with some authority on it) THEN you are ready to go to the DEVELOPMENT stage.
What is Development?
Here we define development as “a process of change”.
This means you need to show us how you have taken your original idea or a basic technique and made it better (or different).
How to develop your work?
Again this is active work – you need to DO stuff to develop your work. Don’t skip the development stage – this is where you find out if your idea is viable and credible as an FMP.
- Recces – make sure you record your recces, your memory won’t recall all the details. Reece at different times of day so you are aware of differences in lighting and noise.
- Test shoots – film at your location, or with your actor, and try out different shooting/editing techniques until you are happy you can achieve the look/feel you want
- Try-out a range of technical kit – make sure you understand the kit you are using before you shoot! Develop your skillset.
- Record audition tapes of actors or contributors – make sure they are “good” on camera
- Script run-throughs – record these so you can look at the gaps, areas that aren’t working well
This is the time to test out ideas, to challenge yourself and make mistakes! Don’t skip development stage – you will learn stuff…
Here’s a pictorial representation to help you:
Tedex lecture – Six reasons why research is cool