FMP Research

Audience Research

It is important when creating a documentary or factual film, in fact, any production to understand the audience you are appealing to which can affect some of your production and pre-production decisions. Obviously, not everyone will like watching documentaries and the people that do will like different types. 

I looked into available studies carried out online however I didn’t have much luck locating a general or UK-based one dedicated to documentaries. All the studies also available were way too overcomplicated, so I decided to carry out my own. Some disadvantages to this were that my data will only be collected from friends and family so the data will not be widespread and general. It’s also likely that the gender section may be biased as I have more male friends than female.

However, through collecting my own data I was able to get to the point and collect the data I thought was relevant and will be able to appeal to my direct audience which will be my friends and family but will also give me a general idea if I was to release it for widespread viewing.  

Looking at these results there is a clear audience for documentaries, what was surprising to me was there was not one person who would not watch a documentary and that the documentary of choice would be wildlife over any other type. I expected crime and drama to be quite high and while it was second place it did underperform to what I was expecting based on news and interaction with others. 

Case Studies

As part of my research, I want to look into existing reality documentaries in the style from which I want to take inspiration and ideas.

These programs consist of the following:

  • Inside the Ambulance
  • Police Interceptors [Channel 5]
  • Heathrow: Britain’s Busiest Airport [ITV]
  • Undercover Boss

When watching and taking notes on these programs I want to look specifically at several points of the program which will consist of:

  • Title Sequences & Graphics
  • Content
  • Shot Types
  • Equipment
Inside the Ambulance

Based on Episode: Inside the Ambulance – S12 E01

Duration: 45:23

Title Sequence & Graphics

When watching the introduction to Season 12 of inside the ambulance I have observed quite a lot of things. To start the intro sequence itself is around 1 minute 30 which is rather long for an introduction however since the program is 45 mins it does not take up too much of the run time, personally, from my view, I feel like this could be cut in half as it goes on for a while and gets a bit borning.

The main structure is a mix between b roll drone shots of the area and ambulance as well as cuts to the paramedics in the front of the ambulance and in the rear which are taken from previous episodes. This is accompanied by a scripted voice over which almost gives a short voice-over describing the program in a dramatic way.

At the end of the sequence for a couple of sections, a graphical element with the program name appears and then cuts to the program start.

The outro sequence consists of a summary of how the patients are now doing followed by some ending talk from the paramedics and a zoom out drone shot which then cuts to credits.


As to be expected this program is filmed over multiple days and cut up into a single 45 min program, day and night. Throughout the program they switch to different crews to get a fresh perspective this is also based on the footage collected.

Looking away for a moment from the core aspects of the program which is working with people in need, you also get a good perspective of the paramedics themselves being able to see into the conversations they have during the day while driving or on break and getting to know a bit about them. Once again this is narrated by a voice actor.

When they are on scene outside or in a house sometimes they use cut-away interviews to talk to the people involved directly about a subject or situation. These are most likely filmed after the incident in a studio location.

Shot Types

A typical shot they like to use within all of this program is a multi-shot showing both paramedics sitting in the front seats of the ambulance, they use a multi-camera setup to get this shot from different angles. They can also do a solo shot on the driver or passenger but this is used less often. You also get a mix of look away and b roll footage which is from out the window or from a drone this is normally used to switch camera or scene or an attempt to liven up a part of the program & show the area.

Rapid shot changing is used to show a tense situation like when they are responding to a call, in more relaxed sections the shot changing is slower and more relaxed. Time lapses are also used in places as b roll or to show time change.

The cutaway interviews use a standard mid-shot with a shallow depth of field to blur the background and keep the focus on the subject.

The on-scene camera footage seems to be mainly point of view based, on the chest and shoulder-mounted cameras, sometimes these are stabilized and other times they are not but this can allow for a more realistic feel and this is something I have been debating about in my project.


In this program, they have a love for GoPro technology the ambulance itself is rigged with an impressive Multicam setup that can capture all the action from many angles. The paramedics themselves on average wear 2 GoPros sometimes stabilized by a gimbal. They do this because camera crews are likely to get in the way and make it harder to do their jobs, it may also make the people involved tenser which is not ideal in the situations.

The cutaway interviews are likely to be done by a cameraman with a full camera tripod-mounted, audio setup.

Police Interceptors

Based on Episode: Police Interceptors 2021 – S17E10

Duration: 47:43

Title Sequence & Graphics

The intro sequence for this program is extremely similar in style to other programs I have been looking at, the sequence itself is 1:45 which is quite long once again however I feel like this one was less boring in parts since it had more action. It is also a mix of drone & b roll shots as well as clips from previous episodes and seasons. I would say it’s more previous clips than b roll which is nice because you get a good idea of what happens during the show in the first minute.

Once again it is narrated by a voice actor, the narration some of which has to do with the clips on screen but the majority again is describing the program in a dramatic way. This intro different from some of the programs I have looked at at the end of the main montage has a coming up in this episode and gives you a short glimpse into what the program contains without giving too much away which I quite like. It is all accompanied by a standard bed music track which adds to the sequence but is not too vibrant and works with the show audio.

At the end of the coming up section you do have a graphical sequence which is a couple of sections long in which you see more clips overlayed onto the show name text which then zooms out to reveal the entire text and cuts to a drone shot showing the area as the program starts which is extremely similar to inside the ambulance.

In terms of graphics, they do have a graphical section to introduce new officers which includes their name, years on the force, and some other information with some images and what looks to be a green screen overlay of the person themselves. This takes the place of having something such as a lower third.

The outro is also similar in that it shows the outcome of some of the people involved and then cuts straight to credits. 


The content is clipped and collected mostly from random traffic patrols, sometimes there are planned operations that involve more planning however the camera crew and editors have to piece together what they can get in the moment as it is all still so fast-paced you don’t have time to decide where to put the camera.

There will be multiple crews equipped with a camera crew and footage is recorded during the day and mixed up into edits and episodes like inside the ambulance it’s not all recorded on the same day or at all in order. Sometimes if the cars have dash cameras and no camera operators they can base a section purely on built-in cameras on the cars and officers.

Because there’s a physical camera operator the camera can follow the subjects anywhere for coverage this includes anything from in the police station to the middle of a random forest.

Shot Types

The program structure is again main content mixed with drone shots and pull-away shots. This program is also heavily based on driving so a lot of the shots are from the vehicle which includes shots in the frame of a dashcam and interior cameras to get solo and duo shots on the drivers and passengers. They do cut to outside shots of the cars, a lot of the time these are pre-recorded and not actually the car in question at that moment and this is one of the tricks the show uses to get a higher range of quality shots, saying this sometimes the outside shots are “real” done by another police car with cameras or a camera car but this is not seen as often. The reason for this is camera cars are not legally allowed even working with the police to go at increased speeds and around traffic.

Sometimes they even use static and moving CCTV camera footage that they would have collected from the police themselves or the property owner which gives you another perspective.

Similar to inside the ambulance the show also cuts quicker intense situations whereas in calmer situations the shots are longer. 


In this program differently from inside the ambulance they do have a proper camera person who sits in the cars and is out and about collecting the footage however, they do still heavily rely on car-mounted cameras such as Go-Pros and also the body cams that the officers are wearing.

The main camera has no stabilization its likely that its shoulder-held based on its position, you see what the camera sees so when they are running after a suspect there is a lot of camera shake and noise which creates quite a realistic effect and really is the point of a documentary like this to see it how it happends. The audio seems to be mounted to the camera as there is no secondary crew member to do a boom mic.

Heathrow Britains Busiest Airport

Based on Episode: Heathrow Britains Busiest Airport S04E02 

Duration: 23:42

Title Sequence & Graphics

The intro sequence is similar to others I have looked out for, a mix of general footage of the airport and clips from previous episodes and series. Once again it is narrated and includes a small graphical sequence displaying the name before starting the program which seems to be the industry standard sequence. The intro is around 1:05 which is slightly shorter than some of the others but still rather long, It flows nicely and does not drag which is good.

There doesn’t seem to be any graphics such as lower thirds, and the program ends out with a quick look at the next and then cuts to credits. episode 


This program is shorter than the others we have looked at being around the 25 mins mark, the standard times of these style documentaries is around 25 to 45 mins. The main content consists of their duties around the airport at the start of this episode we see an airside operations member in training which is also mixed with cut-away shots of planes and other things, this is filmed by hand with a cameraman. A lot of the program its self is narrated to explain the current situation and move between scenes this can make up for information gaps if you cut to another person doing something without context.

Since it is a shorter program you don’t follow as many people and roles in this episode there seems to be one main story going on with a couple of small things dotted in. 

Shot Types

Similar to the other programs we have looked at we have the vehicle shots in which you see footage from the front, rear, and cab of the vehicle depending on who is speaking and these shots switch to get an understanding of the environment and situation. Most of the shots you see are hand-held long to mid shots done by the resident cameraman, looks to be single-camera only but you can see cuts to make it look like it’s a separate shot. 


Once again they are using a lot of go pro-technology especially in the vehicles for the front, rear, and cab views. They do have a dedicated cameraman who follows inside the airport but can also be seen sitting in the vehicle’s back seat for another angle. The camera is not stabilized still to get the realistic feel and is probably shoulder-mounted. It is possible that there are multiple cameramen however it’s hard to tell. 

Undercover Boss

Based on Episode: Undercover Boss S10 TGI Fridays 

Duration: 40:40

Title Sequence & Graphics

The intro sequence consists of mainly a preview of each person and the subject, in this case, the restaurant, and then also a preview of the outcome before a small graphical sequence. The graphical sequence depends on the undercover boss you are watching since it’s a template show and they use it in many different countries, they are all quite similar. As normal it is all narrated to give some context on the company and the show throughout the sequence.

This show does use lower third graphics with display names and titles of the people involved. Other graphics can be seen to show the distribution of company chains across the globe in a store finder type sequence.


The outline of this show is that a boss goes undercover within chains of their own organization to work with members of their staff and see how they can improve and then give feedback in the end. 

You also get a lot of background on the owner and also the employees with share some insight into their personal life most of the people featured are chosen because they are struggling in some way and are gifted and recognized for their work.

Throughout the program, the narration is still used to refresh the viewer if they have just started watching or come from an advert break and to give context and understanding on some parts of the footage.

Music is also used to build suspense and create a mood in more tense and emotional situations.

Shot Types

Throughout the intro and the opening of the program, a variety of shots are used which are a lot more cinematic, and throughout than we have seen in the other documentaries, this program is slightly different in nature but still follows the theme of day to day life just with extra parts.

In the main content of the show, the cameras are handheld with limits the shots however they have some longer standard shots but once again cut around multiple cameras to give the effect of new shots.

There is a lot of pre-filmed shots which are shot from a tripod-mounted camera especially the shots at the end of the program which are done in a studio-like environment in which they don’t have to be so portable. 


In this program, you can see in some of the shots or by way of filming that there is an entire crew supporting with multiple cameras and dedicated sound equipment since its setup to be a “tv program” they don’t try and hide the cameras in some scenes.

No stabilization is used for the handheld shots but they do try and minimize camera shake as n mentioned in shot types they do use mounted tripod shots in some parts and ending of the program. 

Sony Vs Panasonic

Panasonic Lumix SH1

Technical Specs & Features

  • Netflix Approved Mirrorless Camera
  • 6K video with full-frame capture
  • 24MP full-frame CMOS sensor
  • H. 264 and H. 265 internal recording
  • Unlimited video record time
  • Dual-SD card slots
  • In-body image stabilization
  • Hinged and fully articulated rear screen
  • HTMI Output
sony fs5 mark 1

Technical Specs & Features

  • Super 35mm Single-Chip 11.6MP Exmor CMOS
  • XAVC Long, XAVC Proxy, H.264 / AVC, 4:2:0 8-bit, MP4 wrapper, AVCHD Recording
  • Dual-SD Card slot
  • 1 x Stereo mini-jack
  • XLR Input
  • In-body image stabilization
  • Hinged and fully articulated screen
  • STI Output
Focus & Stabilization Experments

At the start of this project, I was very torn about which camera to actually use for this project and if you look at older posts and pages I kept changing my mind so I decided to put them both to the test. The main things that were important for me were the focus and the inbuilt stabilization as I would be shooting a ton of it handheld if not all.

To test it I tried both cameras and all the lenses on the same route following quest (Jack) from reception to the learning hub. I then also put these side by side in one section of the video to fully compare and these were the results and findings.

All of the footage was filmed in 4k and edited down to 1080 as I also wanted to experiment with that. 

The first camera I tried was the Sony which I held by the top grip and lens, I was not as much worrying about the exposure or anything like that at this time. The sony only has a standard lens which is [Insert Lens Here] but has great control and zoom capabilities, I was very pleased with the stabilization and it felt nice to hold.

Next was the Lumix with the Sigma 50mm lens which I held via the side grip and lens. This is one of my all-time favorite lenses just because of how clean it looks and the depth of field. I have to say though I was really not impressed with the stabilization however the focus was good once I had focused it. I used a feature called focus lock which would keep the focus on quest (jack) during the walking scene. It was a right pain to hold especially with the external monitor mounted (even without its heavy) and I could not hold this for an extended amount of time in that position.

This is where now I had put in the side-by-side comparison using the footage from each camera we had just seen. The lumix had a nicer picture but I hadn’t really set it up for that so that’s beside the point. The 50mm lens really gives more of a cinema look which I really liked but does not really fit with the documentary style I’m going for. You could really see here though the difference in the inbuilt stabilization, the sony was a clear winner.

Next I tried the Lumix again but this time with the 18- 35mm lens. I totally screwd up the focus on this shot, the camera is quite hard to focus (with an external monitor and focus assist it’s nicer). I have to say I’m not a big fan of this lens but having a zoom option over the fixed 50mm would be nice. The stabilization was even worse with this lens.

The last sequence was the same setup as last time just this time I was holding the cage Handel and the lens to see if it felt any nicer to carry. Again the focus was a bit crap that was my bad really, just wanted to get it done quickly to see. In conclusion, it was equally as bad holding it like this, it was going to be heavy anyway and if anything it made it harder to follow.

Overall I still love both cameras, but which one am I going to use? Well, the answer to that is both. The sony is no brainer when it comes to the main filming and handheld shots due to the stabilization, zoom, weight, and easy controls. Saying that the Panasonic is great for b roll and I love the 50mm lens so I’m going to use that when I do my interviews. 

Other Students work

This is a promo video some students made last year for the college I thought it would be good if I looked at this as part of my own project because it a way it is kind of similar. There’s a couple of videos out there like this that students have made, this is a more recent one (which in fact features some of my friends) and this is one of the better ones I have seen. They are focusing on the Film and Tv department interviewing students & staff as well as showing off some of the facilities and equipment. What I liked best in this production was the setup they had for the interviews, the tube lights paired with a key light to create a good interview environment. They had also put effort into designing the graphics throughout. I also like the transition at the start it really pulls in your attention. I think they could improve on the actual video thumbnail I think that spoils the video a bit since it makes it look quite amature when the actual video itself is good. Other than that there are not many bad things they could have had more of a variety of interviews but the variety of shots is good. 

This video was in fact done by charlie who is in my class, this video was done this year. This video has a mix of shot which shows off some of the colleges and it also features an interview with a tutor and herself talking to the camera. The thing that throws me off really about this video is that the audio is really bad quality and this really takes away from the video itself. When Atilla is talking about the new equipment as well the camera is showing the older kit, it would be nice if the shots matched the voice-over. It also seems to be mainly focused on film and television which does send mixed messages because it shows dance and other areas of the college. The video has potential but would need a couple of changes in my opinion.

This one is slightly older being created in 2019, this one once again focuses on the film and tv course. You get to see the facilities through a range of shots and interviews with a couple of students. What I like most about this production is how they use the graphics especially for the transitions. I like them because they are on-brand with college colors and it’s a bit of a more interesting way of doing a transition rather than a basic fade. The end of the video is slightly odd it just shows you a couple of random displays on the walls.


Due to some videos being removed from youtube they can no longer be referenced. (n.d.). Undercover Boss ( Season 10 ) TGI Fridays || Full Episodes. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 Apr. 2021]. (n.d.). Heathrow Britains Busiest Airport S04E02 1080p. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Apr. 2021]. (n.d.). Inside the Ambulance – S12 E01. [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 Apr. 2021].

DPReview. (n.d.). Panasonic Lumix DC-S1H review. [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 Apr. 2021].

Monlux, C. (2019). Sony PXW-FS5 Review. [online] Videomaker. Available at: [Accessed 23 Apr. 2021].

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