Documentary Movies Films & Video Editing Tutorials & Tips

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Making Documentary Movies Films & Video

Documentary video is very different from TV drama in its nature. Normally, a dramatic video is well controlled in every production stage. But for a documentary maker, she even doesnít know what will happen next in front of her camera. Sheís interested in a subject, then starts to shoot relative footages, but she may not know her point of view towards the subject yet.

This is more significant for the video editor. Unlike drama production, in which the editor knows the story line and the directorís stand in advance, when making a documentary, the whole sequence and theme are only found and shaped in the editing stage.

This gives video editor more freedom and more responsibility as well. You have to go through large amount of footages carefully, choose segments attracting you, form your unique opinion, and deliver it via editing skills.

Most commercial documentaries video are sponsored by certain organization, government, company, or TV station. If you have an idea which some organizations may be interested in and is beneficial to the public, try to approach them, maybe you are lucky enough to get a budget.

You will also find it quite attractive to produce your very own documentary movies. Iím sure you have something to say about human being, society, environment, modern culture, and so forth in your heart, donít you? And especially the negative aspect I guess - at least thatís the case for me :-).

With todayís digital technology, documentary film is neither expansive nor complicated to produce. You donít have to bring whole set of lighting or sound equipment with you. Instead, just take your digital camcorder and shoot. Itís pretty much normal that mini DV footages appear on the largest network TV channels now.

Basically there are two kinds of documentary. Letís discuss separately.

The first kind more concerns about human being and related social matters. Environmental issues, racial and sexual discriminations, peace and war, terrorism, security in your community, how Bill Clinton is spending his life now, any hot topics in the street... you name it. There are endless subjects you can discuss, which many people will be interested.

And this is the category you have to hold your own opinions. People observe things from their own point of view, with their existing prejudice, education, experience, religion, race, sex, ageÖ Different people may have totally different judgement towards the same issue.

Having a unique standpoint, which you believe is valuable to others, is the motivation to make a documentary in the first place. You want to share your experience with others, you want to convince others to agree with you, you want to express your anger, anxiousness, hope, towards a certain subject. This is when you canít wait to make your documentary.

Unlike in music video, in a documentary video you must have a theme and opinion. You donít want to confuse your audience. Even if your documentary leads to a question nobody has a proper answer yet, say, should we conduct human clone, you have to make that question clear and tell viewers the present situation.

When you start editing a documentary, what you have in hand is footages of real people in real life doing what they do everyday. In other words, the visuals you are going to show in your documentary movies is no different from what anybody else can see without a camera. Lots of them are more familiar with the topic than you are. As a result, if you donít have a unique point to present, maybe you donít have to make the video at all.

Now comes another question, how do you develop a unique standpoint, which some people may not agree to and thatís why you are producing this documentary to convince them, by showing the same images anybody can see through their own eyes?

If you use mock up, that would not be a documentary.

The answer is, yes, editing techniques.

The second category of documentary films focuses more on some kind of knowledge. Tune into Discovery channel and you can watch them as long as you can. Tropical forest, rare and not-that-rare animals, physics, geography, modern technology... all kinds of knowledge.

In this category, you normally donít have your own judgement except the fact. You donít challenge Einsteinís theory, do you? You are not urging people to believe in you, but rather telling them scientific knowledge. Or we can say, if there is an opinion, itís from lots of scientists, not from video makers.

More Video Types

Music Video
Corporate Video
TV Commercials
Home Video
Wedding Video
TV Drama
Stage Show
Showreel & Demo Reel
Online/Web Video


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