Documentary Techniques Used
(people filmed in uncontrolled situations; usually no added music;
usually no use of narration; lengthy scenes to reveal glimpses of character; suggests an
objective observing of reality by audience; requires active participation on the part of the
(staged reenactments of events from the past in order to recreate the feel
of real life events; the settings may be recreated or staged, and the people involved are
(use of direct cinema or other documentary footage or photographs
from the past in order to review events that took place in the past or provide some
perspective on events from the past)
: This is sound that is present, or available, in the context of the scene
being filmed. It may consist of the background sounds (of traffic, birds, wind, planes
flying overhead, machines working, children playing, etc.) It is always applied
synchronously; that is, the sound emanates from within the scene (not external to the
scene). If we hear music, for instance, we hear it because someone is playing a car
radio or is attending a performance or is present in a scene where music is playing.
technique (we see subject talking on camera, and we see and hear
the interviewer asking questions in the same shot or in part B of a two-part parallel
track; suggests journalistic basis of reporting).
technique (we see subject talking on camera, but we don't see or
hear the interviewer asking questions in the same shot; this gives the impression of the
character speaking directly to the viewer.
(in one case, we hear a character speaking about some
issue/problem/conflict), and we may or may not see that person engaged in some action
on the screen at the same time; gives impression of audience overhearing the character
reveal thoughts and feelings / in another case, the voiceover is done by a narrator
(someone not seen in the film) who comments on action; this suggests a more objective
voice than the prior example)
(we see and hear the narrator of the film as the narration is presented;
suggests an intimacy between narrator and audience; this type of narration is seldom
objective--its biases reflect the speaker's background, conflicts, values)
Use of titles or other written information displayed on the screen; often used
in Ken Burns' documentaries to suggest divisions (like chapters) of the film.
or sound, within scenes or through scenes, to complement visual images;
sound track, theme, montage-music, all applied external (asynchronous) to the visuals.
The art of the frame (composition of a particular shot; each image is crafted to
communicate particular ideas or elicit particular emotions)
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