Techniques of Filming Documentaries

Filming a documentary involves utilising different techniques than when you film a movie (the latter can even have techniques such as ‘ghosting‘); it showcases reality and events in order to provide information on a wide variety of topics. Knowing your audience before beginning to film a documentary is essential to get the right tone of voice and technique.

A narrator is generally featured in documentaries with the purpose of providing the audience with important plot information. In the beginning of the documentary, exposition is needed to introduce the focal points of explored theme. As a first point of contact with the audience, it’s essential to create a good first impression.

Popular Documentary Sub-Genres

The Fall of the Romanov Dynasty by Esfir Schub, a pioneering Soviet filmmaker, launched compilation films in 1927. This technique involves editing pre-existing footage and compiling it into a film. Although new commentary and footage can be present in compilation documentaries, it’s mostly categorised by the use of archive footage.

Established around 1958, direct cinema documentaries characterise reality in its purest and truest form while challenging its relationship with cinema. Hand-held cameras promote intimacy with the subject of the documentary, resulting in movements associated with the genre.

Interviews are popular within the documentary genre. It typically involves people speaking directly to the camera in regards to an event, and answering the filmmaker’s questions about their personal experience. They provide a closer level of intimacy with both the people and the subject of the documentary.

What Makes a Great Documentary?

Having a great story to tell is a necessary step to produce a great documentary. Editing your footage is just as important; the music choice, for example, not only provides historical context but also offers an emotional atmosphere that helps the audience to better connect with your story.

All of the post-production processes are essential; editing a documentary can take longer than expected, especially when the theme is a sensitive one. Documentaries are increasingly more similar to films, or even TV shows, providing in-depth insight into various realities of our world.

Every documentary film is important, as it showcases the reality of what is happening around the world. At Video2DVD Transfers we provide high-quality transfers of your old VHS to DVD, so you can enjoy your favourite documentaries whenever you want. Just get in touch with us by giving us a call on 0800 592 433 to speak to our friendly team. We’re always happy to answer any query you might have!

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