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Corey Evans

A2 Media Studies: Coursework Evaluation

We were all set the task of producing a 5 minute documentary on an issue of


our choice. To prepare this we watched various documentary clips and were
asked to analyse them in order to further our own knowledge about
documentaries. We were also asked to produce a 30 second radio trailer and
a double page listing for a magazine in order to distribute and advertise our
finished documentary. We decided to use the issue of ‘Social networking’ as
our main theme for the documentary as we feel it is a contemporary issue at
the moment causing much need for debate. We also decided that channel
four would be the most applicable TV channel to use for our documentary as it
is targeted to a younger audience, but as it culturally popular it will also attract
a more mature audience.

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

To an extent our documentary follows with the main common codes and
conventions of TV documentaries. However due to the research of
documentaries prior to the filming we based our filming on the research and
notes we conducted during the research of conventions such as: Misé en
Scene, Camera, Sound, Interviews and The voiceover technique. We noticed
that the issues tend to use a contemporary and relevant issue that is current
in the particular social context. We applied this notion when planning the
theme of our documentary: Smoking, Underage drinking, Drug use, Casual
sex, The effects of the recent government changes and its implications,
Recession and the influence of the overall media were all original ideas on
what could possibly make an interesting issue for our documentary. However
due the heavy ambiguity of the other ideas we decided, that ‘Social
Networking’ would be a more accessible and intricate issue to explore.

One of the documentaries we analysed prior to our documentary was ‘Are the
Net-police coming for you?’ A panorama documentary series on BBC. The
documentary explores the negative implications of the illegal downloading on
the music industry. In the documentary there were various interviews with
specialists in the field, cutaways of computer shots during interviews and
numerous amount of montage of shots. We decided that this documentary
would be most applicable to analyse as it highlights issues with the 21st
century profound obsession with a cyber reality. Throughout the documentary
Corey Evans

there was a series of conventions and techniques used to convey the issue
concerned. These include:

Mise en scene, this is when everything in the current shot is considered to


give effect. For instance the lighting, costume, props etc. are all chosen to
subliminally suggest connotations to the audience member. For example,
filming an interview in a bedroom, to suggest a more stereotypical suburban
family connotation, like the image shown.

Example of mise en scene in our An example of mise en scene in


documentary. ‘Are the Net police coming for you?’

Camera shots are usually another technique used when producing a


documentary in order to again hint at the audience at the issue concerned.
The camera angle can change the relevance of the clip shown and how it is
effective, for instance if it is a low angle shot then it would suggest that the
character is inferior. It is common for interviews to take place not talking
directly to the camera but to the speaker, this adds realism as the audience
member feels like the are listening in, a technique to increase there attention
span when being informed.

An Example of ‘absent speaker’ in our


documentary. An example of an absent speaker been spoken
directly to in ‘ATNPCFY?’
Corey Evans

Presence of Experts and Interviews are frequently used in documentaries


in order to maximise informing of the subject at hand. We adopted this in our
documentary as we wanted to bring in relevant facts about the social
networking phenomenon and inform the audience member, which would be
difficult as some issues were beyond our own intellect. Another reason
interviews and the presence of experts are used is to also try and establish a
more genralizability of opinions on the issue.

A Computer Specialist, an expert’s perspective on this Jo Whiley, a regular on Radio 1 and


field, also mise en scene to illustrate issue. relevance to the issue.

Cutaways and montage of images, are a common convention of a


documentary. They are used in order to divert attention during the
documentary in order to increase the attention span. Another technique they
can be used for is they also illustrate the information given in the documentary
for the audience member. The overall purpose is to enhance entertainment
and information given.

An example of a montage shot


One of many montage shots/cutaways in in ‘ATNPCFY?’
our documentary.
Corey Evans

Sound, The sound used in this documentary was contemporary and up to


date music, this arguably was due to the young targeted audience in order to
relate to them easier and make it beneficial in there informing. It would also
attract a younger audience as it is a crucial issue for them to be aware of. We
also used this notion in that we used a contemporary sounding background
noise to our documentary in order to convey relevance to them concerning the
issue, as our primary target audience would be a young one as the issue
concerns them.

Title, ‘Are the Net Police Coming for you?’ using this as a starting point we
decided to use a title that indirectly speaks to the audience member through
the use of a rhetoric question. We decided to adopt this notion as we felt
through the use of speaking (indirectly or directly) to an audience member
would evoke more thought and therefore increase the likelihood of them being
keen to watch the documentary.
Corey Evans

Furthermore we did get criticism during the audience feedback about our
documentary lacking realism to it, however we did bear in mind the codes and
conventions we researched during the production of the documentary. Our
documentary did though have good quality of footage in relation to the
voiceover this was due to excessive filming of potential cutaways that we
planned using during the filming period.

During the Planning of the production we encountered very minimal problems


this was most likely due to there being a heavy emphasis on just research
which arguably is a reasonable and simple task, during the research of the
documentary’s we watched we did notice that there was an increasing amount
of conventional techniques documentary producers use in order for effect on
the audience member. These tend to go unnoticed when watching them; they
do however provide a crucial role on the effect on the audience member. For
instance a camera shot close up of a man crying with silence behind it would
emphasise negative emotion therefore evoking more emotional response and
critique from the audience member. Camera shots and other techniques like
these were found to be extremely significant during the research of our
documentary, so this became then a priority to admit subliminal techniques in
order to evoke more reaction and opinion from an audience member. These
can be clearly seen in our documentary when we use cutaways of various
people saying ‘yes’ to the question of ‘Do you have a social networking site?’,
the repletion of yes further emphasises a persons innate
response to conform, which is recognised through the
amount of people using social networking sites, the
cutaways then further exaggerates the amount of people
who do use them. Not only that but we then decided that
it would be the ideal to use people of different ethnicity,
religion, gender and age in order to represent the wide
market of social networking, and furthermore putting
forward the point that social networking really is a global
phenomenon.
Corey Evans

The production of the documentary was in two stages after the original
planning and research we did. Firstly there was filming. We tried to plan as
much as possible prior to when filming was due to start but a problem that
arose during the filming which arguably we saw as inevitable was the ideas of
what to film. Three essential genres of filming were seen as crucial during the
documentary: Montage still/shots; cutaways and
interviews. During the planning of the filming process
we decided of what to film by brainstorming ideas of
either social networking or overall cyber connotations,
we then watched documentary’s particularly ‘Are the
net police coming fro you’ (As it was cyber based) and
assessed what they too filmed as we thought this
would be most relevant to our documentary and would help in doing so. We
noticed frequent amount of computer cutaways with various users of again
different gender/religion/ethnicity and age etc were using he computer, even
though our college has a limited amount of people concerning these
stereotypes we did apply to the best of ability a wider audience when filming
cutaways and future montage shots. However during the end of the couple of
days we had run out of ideas of what to film, we had recorded everything on
our brainstorm and everything we saw as relevant to the documentary through
watching ‘ATNPCFY?’ and various other documentary’s (Surprisingly there is
little or no documentary’s about
social networking!) and we carried
out the ideas we recorded during
the filming. During the second week
we were struggling to find what to
record after we’d finished our
interviews etc. however like I
previously mentioned we did predict
this inevitable
Problem to come hence why we
carried out heavy emphasis on our
planning and research during pre-filming. However this problem was soon
resolved by simply using our common sense and deciding to get more than
enough footage in order to use a more ‘Pick what we need to use’ style of
filming our piece, as we concluded it was better to have to much footage than
not enough, obviously. One thing that proved easier than originally thought for
our filming was organizing appropriate interviews. Our imagination at the start
struggled with who to interview and the sort of questions we could ask, this
then got resolved quite simply by agreeing that as the documentary would
appeal to a wide audience we would like the views of different perspectives on
the issue of Social networking, so ultimately we decided on A youth worker, IT
specialist, A student and a Parent. The questions were all revolved around
there status in order to emphasis importance on there perspective.
Corey Evans

The second stage of the production was the role of editing our filmed footage
in order to make it into a documentary. Overall this task had minimalistic
problems; personally I believe this was due to a good amount of limited time
of ensuring we would not slack but at the same time a sense of not being
rushed. During the editing of the documentary we also had to construct a
voiceover script, arguably there are two ways to approach this task either
before the editing to revolve the editing and interviews around the voiceover
or to produce the script after and revolve the voiceover around the
documentary footage. We decided that it would be easier If we produced the
voiceover script before. To record the voiceover we had to use a small empty
room in order to reduce any potential background noise that
could jeopardise the quality of the voiceover. There was a
frequent problem in the recording of the voiceover that was
the same room was also used by every other media student.
However this was resolved simply by waiting fro it to be free
and simply recording our whole voiceover in one session. In
all fairness I believe this had no negative consequences the
only obvious one being, that when we needed to record
further footage for the voiceover we had to use another
room, so therefore the sound levels were inevitably differed, we tried to the
best of our ability ro resolve this and It seems that the only clear distinct one
that appears noticeable is the statement just before the title shot The only
difficulty during the editing of the documentary was factors such as technical
difficulties and deciding on how to edit the piece. However a more problematic
difficulty was not with the editing itself but choosing the pieces of footage to
use on our documentary. It wasn’t that we had too much; more we were trying
to match the relevance of each image with the voiceover. However like
previously mentioned this didn’t in the end cause a huge struggle. During the
editing we did all use systematically learn how to use the final cut programme,
which all in all furthered our overall IT skills.

Screenshot of the editing


process.

After the editing the next stage in the process was producing ancillary texts
that would advertise our documentary to an audience. We systematically
created a listings page using ‘indesign’ and ‘Photoshop’ and a 30 second
radio trailer created using the ‘garageband’ programme.
Corey Evans

In producing the radio trailer my primary task was researching previously


done radio trailers that to advertise documentaries. During the research I
noticed that it was more common an advertisement would be advertised on a
more sophisticated network as it was extremely rare that a documentary
would be advertised on a more informal and modern station such as ‘Radio
1Xtra’ or ‘Capital FM’ etc. So after researching two primary advertisements for
documentaries (‘Stephen Fry’s Last chance to see’ and ‘The A-Z of Dr.
Johnson’) I produced a written analysis of them both which I then uploaded on
our blog and using techniques such as sound being a similar connotation to
the documentary and exerts from the documentary being important I produced
the radio trailer. The research and planning can be seen in the following link:
Research and Planning of Radio Trailer

To produce it I encountered few problems, due to the use of the programme


‘Garageband’ at AS media, I found it relatively easy to grasp how to use the
programme. One task that I had to do was to create a voiceover script for the
radio trailer this again encountered minimal problems as it was only for a 30
second trailer, the music I used was decided with the codes and conventions
of what I researched in mind and finally the exerts were added in with what I
believed to be the key points of the documentaries message.
After all these tasks were completed there is little I would go back and change
upon, however that said a main self criticism that I think could be applied to
the duration of our planning/researching and producing of all three media
texts I believe that the only room for improvement would have been stricter
time keeping in that it was in all honestly it was in some cases a rushed effort
in order to try and meet all the given deadlines for the drafts to be handed in
etc. however I do believe that this did not effect the quality to much as where
we felt something needed improved we would continue to work on it. Overall
both I and my group found this task simple and straightforward, admittedly
tedious at times but overall it was fair to say the task was enjoyable that we
did get committed to completing to the best of our ability, admittedly there are
rooms for improvements on the completed piece but there is little doubt that
we all committed our full efforts and time to the completion of this
documentary, which arguably is more crucial when creating a media text.

Screenshot of our completed radio trailer.


Corey Evans

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

Each three of the main texts were all researched with a similar frame of mind,
to portray the issue raised through a contemporary way in order to reflect the
very epitome of the issue raised. For instance when we watched
documentaries In order to prepare for making our own we concentrated
heavily on the ones involving not just computing themes but contemporary
themes (such as underage drinking/sex etc.) in order to establish a similarity
in the way the issue is conveyed. We established that contemporary issues,
when explored follow three similar themes: Ambiguity (on the advertising
primarily), Simplistic and straight forward and Repetition of the theme
conveyed through cutaways and montages.

All three of our texts individually play a role in the overall combination. For
instance all three individually target a younger audience. All three have similar
connotations, for instance ambiguity on the subject in order to evoke a
response to the issue raised. This technique can be seen in the title of the
documentary for instance, the fact that the question is rhetoric alludes to the
idea of ambiguity and a desired need for the audience to think about the
question put forward. The radio trailer uses non linear language format in the
process of the script writing this to convey an ambiguous tone as if listened to
by the public they are simply faced with a short sentence followed by music.
This creates should hopefully convey a connotation of curiosity in which the
audience member would want to be informed by. Moreover the listings page
uses the title of our documentary to create an ambiguous title in itself and
directly linking the documentary with the magazine listings page (i.e due to
use of title) Together with the radio trailer and the magazine using a
connotation of ambiguity this not only advertises the documentary subliminally
through repetition of the use of the rhetoric question : ‘Is the social net-
working?’ but it also creates a brand of questioning as neither the title, radio
trailer or the listings page fully inform what the answer of the question is, thus
increasing the likelihood of people watching.
Corey Evans

Another technique that all of our ancillary and our main text have in common
is that they all try to keep a simplistic and straightforward manner, this is
purposely designed as it evokes a connotation of contemporariness, which
arguably is the epitome of the issue at hand. This theme would also appeal to
a more culturally aware audience as the issues raised would be a more
contemporary issue for concern, this is not necessarily the primary audience
we enable to address but it is arguably still appealing to a more wider
audience. That said however the documentary [filmed] in a simplistic way
could evoke a more traditional response due to the minimal complexities in
filming it. Overall the simplistic manner of the documentary, radio trailer and
listings page create a contemporary feel due to the minimalistic manner of
them and the way they convey the information straightforwardly, this creates a
connotation of simplicity and contemporary, however the minimalism of
complexities could attract a more traditional audience, so therefore overall
attracting a wider audience.

Screenshot of our listings


page. Conveying simplicity.

Another theme that all three of our media texts are able to produce is a
semantic of cyber. Firstly this is conveyed in our documentary through the
constant montage of computer related images; such as mobile phones,
computers, and various companies that primarily dominate the revolutionary
shift in the virtual world (Such as ‘Orange’, ‘Vodaphone’, ‘Apple’ etc.) not only
that but there is also a frequent amount of cutaways that involve pictures of
the internet, this purpose is to illustrate to the audience member the amount
(as it were) of relations to the ‘virtual world’ in the interviews and voiceover
used, thus reiterating to the audience member the relevance of the virtual
world.
Corey Evans

Overall we tried to systematically produce important texts that we believe an


overall audience would appreciate and it would appeal and interest a wide
amount of people, this notion is applied to in all three of our media texts, seen
in the finished documentary by the actual representation of a
wider audience in order to emphasis the appeal to a wider
audience. Secondly it can be seen in the simplistic and
conventional listings page that was created; the simple colour
scheme and use of neutral colours would appear to appeal to
a wider audience and it also like previously mentioned holds
semantically the theme of contemporary and modern,
furthermore urging the reader to be enticed in the issue at
hand, arguably the most crucial element when presenting a
documentary. Finally the radio trailer has the use of a contemporary
soundtrack and the voiceover Is short and ambiguous playing on a typical
attention span people tend to have when listening to the radio and further
captivating the attention of the listener, the ‘Catch Corey, Jay and Amer…’
hold the tone of informal due to the use of first names, this would (through
research shows) add more familiarity with the listener, thus encouraging them
to consider watching the documentary.

Voiceover : "21st century is a virtual reality"

*Music kicks in*

Voiceover: "400 Billion actvive posts and fileshares every 24 hours" (Fact to furthermore entice

audience member)

*Music volume increases*

Voiceover : "Billions of the people worldwide"

*Music tempo slighlty increases*

Voiceover : "Is the social net working?"

*Music continues to play but gradually slows tempo down.*

Voiceover: "Catch Corey, Jay and Amer This Saturday at 8!" (First names increases familiarity possible

to enitce audience member)

The radio trailer script, conveying the ambiguity through


rhetorical questioning.
Corey Evans

What have you learned from your audience feedback?

During the first screening of our documentary we asked the audience to


complete a questionnaire of what was good, bad and needs improving on our
documentary. From this feedback we found various areas where improvement
is necessary for instance from the feedback we received we found that the
sound levels of our documentary were a highlighted area of improvement, we
did actually realise this during the production of the documentary, and in all
fairness the sound levels did vastly improve from when we originally recorded.
Another room for improvement we found from our audience feedback is that
we needed to improve on our editing, arguably I could see where people were
coming from and in all fairness to the group we did try to edit as much as we
could during the production just the limited time however, there is room for
improvement in the editing of our documentary. Another issue with our
documentary that was found during the audience feedback was that we found
that our documentary failed to have realism to it in the sense that compared to
an actual documentary ours failed to convince the audience. This finding we
didn’t expect as we didn’t really consider that it should be a realistic
representation of a documentary more a project that is modelled on an actual
documentary, the issue with making it into a real documentary is that we had
a limited filming time and location and also actual documentary tend to have a
solid year of research and filming footage as a foundation whereas not just
our group but the entire class
had only a couple of weeks to
films and plan and produce
and edit etc, That said
however we did research
numerous documentaries and
did bear in mind several codes
and conventions that we saw
to be crucial in the production
of our documentary, we then
applied these to our
documentary but due to all of
our group being amateur
filmmakers this research of
codes and conventions was probably conveyed poorly, compared to the
professionalism of actual documentary makers. Furthermore drawing on my
former statement, we were shocked but at the same time it is a fair criticism
that we would consider more if we were to do it again.

Following the class/audience feedback our teacher then had the responsibility
of assessing our other ancillary media texts. The fundamental criticism of the
radio trailer was that the Voiceover was not clear. I was not shocked by this
criticism as it was more my intention to convey a more ambiguous and
abstract voiceover to evoke a reaction from the audience member to have the
desire to find our more about what the documentary would be about, the only
clear bit admittedly of the voiceover in the radio trailer is the conclusion of it
when the voiceover presents the date and time the documentary is to be
Corey Evans

screened, this again was intentional as I wanted to give the effect of questions
and no answers and then directing the audience member where to get the
answers (to the otherwise ambiguous statements) – towards our
documentary. The statements and then the clear direction at the end is a
proven methodological way of advertising, for instance the famous ad
campaign of ‘Martini is…’ in the 1970’s.

Another criticism that was given by teacher is that it didn’t follow the normal
conventions of a normal advertisement. I personally was shocked by this
criticism as I found that as it was clearly mentioned at the end a clear date
and time to watch the documentary (with the title proceeding it) that it was
clearly a documentary, however I can see the professional angle she is
coming from as it doesn’t follow with the overall conventional advertisement
technologies but again I believe this was semi intentional as I wanted my
advertisement to be more stand out again further emphasising the audience
member to want to watch it.

Our teacher then evaluated the listings page. Our teacher commented on the
use of variety in the images as this overall leads to a more desired effect of
attracting an audience member visually, I believe this was due to student c
having very good skills with the programme he created it on. Furthermore my
teacher commented on the way that the Listings page clearly advertises the
documentary, which is an essential factor of it. Our teacher didn’t really
criticise the radio trailer in terms of technological issues or layout problems.

A professional listings page (Left) Compared to our one (right)


conveying many professional conventions.
Corey Evans

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

During the planning of our media product we watched various documentaries


and had various group discussions on the codes and conventions of
documentary filmmaking. During this process of planning and constructing
valid research for our project we used minimal media technologies. We did
however use some as an element of enhancing our research and planning
prior to the project, for instance the internet as a whole was an extremely
valuable source for information regarding our project as a
whole. Specific programmes within the internet also
helped us enhance our own research and construction.
For instance ‘4OD’ and ‘BBCiplayer’ became helpful tools
in the research of documentaries due to the access of
watching previous documentaries in clear quality and as
a whole compared to sites such as ‘YouTube’ where they
tend to be broken up in parts. Furthermore another obvious example of media
technologies to help further our research would be the DVD player, to watch
DVD’s. During the entire process of Planning and researching there were
minimal software and computer programmes that were even necessary to
construct valid research and planning, however
wherever the areas we needed technologies they did
provide extremely helpful, especially the internet and
we encountered the absolute minimal of problems.

After the research and planning was completed we then moved onto the
construction and production of the documentary. This process of all of them
involved most use of a wide range of media technologies, computer
programmes and various uses of software.

Firstly we started of with the filming this primarily involved minimal use of
computer software. This task consisted of essentially using video camera’s,
tripods and microphones. We would usually head to Solihull Town Centre in
order to gain more interesting footage and when an interview was taking place
we would try to make it take place within the college, not just for practicality
but also in a way of professionalism, the only exception to this is when we
filmed a ‘carphone warehouse’ worker within the shop. This was however
done intentionally as the setting of where she works
additionally sets up a semantic that is clearer to the
audience. During the filming there were a few noticeable
frequent problems with the cameras and the equipment
that surrounds it. For instance setting up the tripod and
dismantling it became very time consuming and especially
(as it happened on a few occasions) we would end up with a
faulty tripod so therefore ensuring more time was wasted.
However that said during the filming we encountered very
few problems.
Corey Evans

After the filming was completed we then moved on to importing the filmed
footage to the final cut express programme. To import all the footage was to
say the least a simple and comprehendible task, the task after this however
proved more difficult. In order to have a produced documentary there needed
to be numerous amounts of editing to the footage we filmed. In all honesty I
found this task tedious and time consuming as factors such as
sound levels, cutaways and the montage of the shots required
intricate and precise editing, however I did commit my full
concentration, I just feel looking back that if we
took more consideration to this issue prior to filming then we
could have had more time committed to the substance of the
documentary, as we did consider it just it seems we didn’t
understand the problems with it. That said however it wasn’t a difficult task
and the final cut express programme was a relatively easy programme to
come to grips with as it was fairly simple and we as a group encountered few
problems with it, however the problems we encountered were primarily
technical difficulties and they were easy to solve after help from our college IT
technician.

Another media technology that I wasn’t familiar with and should be worth a
mention is the 'Apple MAC software.' Prior to the
documentary project I had rarely used this software and
was extremely unfamiliar with it, however it the Apple MAC
software is extremely easy to grasp and after about an
hour of it i became very confident with the software.

Furthermore, another media technology we used was ‘Garageband’. We used


‘Garageband’ to produce the 30 second radio trailer. In AS Media we used
‘Garageband’ as a practise project to make a radio show, in all fairness the
programme is extremely simple to use with it being primarily drag drop and
then a tiny amount of editing. However a problem I found when producing the
radio trailers that due to the copious amount of different sounds and styles it
was extremely tricky to try and find a suitable sound with
our theme in mind. However that problem was extremely
insignificant and when we found a backing music that
suited the tone of our documentary (contemporary) it was
then simply a case of adding a voiceover which again
was an easy task to do. The capabilities of grasping this
programme with the group can be conveyed through how
short a period it took to produce the radio trailer compared to the
documentary, we did however strive to our very best and we were happy with
the finished product.
Corey Evans

Another programme we used briefly was 'Comiclife'. We used the programme


'Comiclife' in order to produce the 12 Frame Storyboard of our documentary.
In all fairness due to the very brief time of using
this programme (1 or 2 lessons at most) there were very
few skills to be learnt, necessary to our objective
anyway. That said however this programme is extremely
basic and simple to understand and during the completing of
the objective I encountered absolute minimal problems.

Finally two other programmes we used that again we used a lot of in AS


Media were 'InDesign' and 'Photoshop'. We used these programmes to
produce our listings page and also briefly in for this evaluation and fitting the
images in. Due to our frequent use of these programmes in AS media we
found that again these programmes were easy to grasp as it was simply just a
need of being reminded how to use them rather than learning from scratch
which I think helped greatly in the production of the listings page particularly.
The only one criticism that I found with Photoshop and InDesign is that in al
honesty I find that they over complicate the simplest task simply, for instance
cropping and enlarging pictures. That said however overall both programmes
fundamental skills in using them are easy to grasp.

Overall I believe this Project went extremely well. We committed not only
our lesson but our free time to the completion of this project, as a group
we all co operated excellently and got every necessary task completed
without any worry by the deadline. Furthermore I am happy with the
overall end result of the project and am pleased with the product(s) we
produced, I believe that we all committed all our efforts and arguably it
paid off. If I was to do this project again the only issue I could see being
solved much sooner would have been to able to comprehend the
amount of time needed to edit the documentary and to further the extent
of research in the documentary and radio trailer. Another self criticism
that I believe is fair to say is that i think if we received more peer advice
and took into consideration other projects and received advice from the
peers rather than relying on our teacher and/or IT technician I believe
that some issues could have been resolved quicker, Overall however
like previously mentioned I am extremely happy with the end result and
our efforts as a group, the tasks have not only furthered my skills in
media production but my overall skills of IT.