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Documentary Voice & Vision

Book Description

Learn the creative and technical essentials of documentary filmmaking with Documentary Voice & Vision. This comprehensive work combines clear, up-to-date technical information, production techniques and gear descriptions with an understanding of how technical choices can create meaning and serve a director’s creative vision. Drawing on the authors’ years of experience as documentary filmmakers, and on interviews with a range of working professionals in the field, the book offers concrete and thoughtful guidance through all stages of production, from finding and researching ideas to production, editing and distribution. Documentary Voice & Vision will help students and aspiring filmmakers think though research and story structure, ethics, legal issues and aesthetics, as well as techniques from camera handling to lighting, sound recording and editing. The book explores a full range of production styles, from expository to impressionistic to observational, and provides an overview of contemporary distribution options.

Documentary Voice & Vision is a companion text to Mick Hurbis-Cherrier’s Voice & Vision: A Creative Approach to Narrative Film and DV Production, and employs a similar style and approach to that classic text. This text is written from the perspective of documentary filmmakers, and includes myriad examples from the world of non-fiction filmmaking. A robust companion website featuring additional resources and interactive figures accompanies the book.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. Title
  3. Copyright
  4. Dedication
  5. Contents
  6. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
  7. INTRODUCTION
  8. Part 1 DEVELOPING YOUR DOCUMENTARY
    1. CHAPTER 1: FINDING AND DEVELOPING IDEAS
      1. What is a Documentary?
      2. Where Do Documentary Ideas Come From?
      3. Your Artistic Identity
      4. Research
      5. The Importance of a Hypothesis
      6. “Casting” Your Documentary
        1. Active vs Passive Characters
        2. Juggling Multiple Characters
      7. The Value of the Documenting Process
      8. Feasibility
      9. The Specific and the Universal
    2. CHAPTER 2: DOCUMENTARY STYLES
      1. A Brief and Selective History of the Documentary
        1. Impressionistic Filmmaking
        2. Dziga Vertov and Reflexivity
        3. The British Film Movement and the Expository Film
          1. TV Documentary as a Subgenre of the Expository Style
        4. Observational Filmmaking
        5. From the Observational to a Reemergence of the Reflexive
        6. Reenactment in Documentary
      2. Conclusion
    3. CHAPTER 3: STRUCTURING THE DOCUMENTARY
      1. Basic Approaches to Documentary Storytelling
        1. Drama: Goals, Conflict, and Stakes
        2. Dramatic Structure
          1. Opening
          2. Introducing the Conflict
          3. Rising Action
          4. Climax
          5. Results and Ending
        3. Imposing a Structure on Real Life?
        4. Rhetorical Structure
        5. Mixed Approaches
      2. Alternative Structures
      3. The Short Documentary
        1. Issue-Based Films
        2. Profile of a Person
        3. Portrait of a Place
        4. Single Event Story
        5. Process Film
      4. Conclusion
    4. CHAPTER 4: THE DOCUMENTARY PROPOSAL
      1. Proposal Elements
        1. Introduction or Synopsis
        2. Background
        3. Rationale
        4. Project Description
          1. Main Characters
          2. Events You Will Film
          3. Structure and Style
          4. Themes
          5. Treatment
        5. Distribution Plan
          1. Target Audiences
            1. Film Festivals
            2. Television
            3. Theatrical
            4. Educational Institutions
            5. The Internet
            6. Community-Based Screenings
          2. Community Partners
          3. Goals
        6. Personnel
        7. Budget
        8. Funding Sources
          1. Foundations
          2. Government Funding
            1. State Arts Councils and Humanities Councils
            2. National Endowment for the Arts
            3. National Endowment for the Humanities
            4. Corporation for Public Broadcasting
          3. Cable TV
          4. Crowd-Sourced Fundraising
        9. Fiscal Sponsorship
        10. Project Timeline and Status
      2. Trailers and Sample Reels
      3. Conclusion
    5. CHAPTER 5: DOCUMENTARY ETHICS AND LEGAL ISSUES
      1. Responsibility to your Subjects: Subject Relations and Release Forms
        1. Who Gets to Represent Whom?
        2. The Impact of Money
        3. Handling Delicate Situations
      2. Responsibility to Your Audience: Objectivity and Fairness
      3. Responsibility to Other Creators: Intellectual Property Rights
        1. Fair Use
      4. Conclusion
  9. Part 2 PRODUCTION
    1. CHAPTER 6: PLANNING THE SHOOT
      1. Crew Size
      2. Crew Responsibilities
      3. Locations
        1. Permits and Location Agreements
        2. Location Aesthetics and Meaning
      4. Equipment
        1. Lighting Considerations
        2. Sound Recording Preparation
      5. Insurance
      6. Crew and Communication
        1. The Call Sheet
      7. Scheduling
      8. Budgeting
        1. The Budget Topsheet
        2. The Detail Budget
        3. Budgeting for a Low-Budget Documentary
        4. Cost Reports: Knowing Where You Are
      9. Conclusion
    2. CHAPTER 7: ORGANIZING CINEMATIC TIME AND SPACE
      1. The Visual Language of Documentary
      2. Shots, Sequences, and Scenes
      3. The Frame and Composition
        1. Dimensions of the Frame
        2. Shot Composition and the Graphic Qualities of the Frame
        3. Closed and Open Frames
        4. Deep Frames and Flat Frames
          1. Receding Planes, Overlapping Objects, and Diminishing Perspective
          2. Horizontal and Diagonal Lines
          3. Deep and Shallow Focus
          4. Shadows
        5. Balanced and Unbalanced Frames
        6. Rule of Thirds, Looking Room, and Lead Room
        7. Shot Size
        8. Shot Size and Character Identification
        9. Camera Angles
          1. High and Low Angles
          2. Front to Back Angles
          3. The Horizon Line
      4. Camera Moves
        1. Pivot Moves
        2. Zooming In and Out
        3. Dynamic Moves
        4. The Moving Frame and Perspective
        5. Motivation and the Moving Camera
        6. Adjusting Your Shot
      5. Shooting with Editing in Mind
      6. Collecting Visual Evidence
      7. Covering Observational Scenes
        1. Filming Group Interactions
        2. Walking and Talking, Showing and Telling
        3. Entering and Exiting the Frame
        4. The Long Take
      8. Stylized Expressive Sequences
      9. Infographics and Animation
      10. Conclusion
    3. CHAPTER 8: THE DIGITAL VIDEO SYSTEM
      1. Film: A Mechanical and Chemical Medium
      2. Video: An Electronic Medium
        1. Analog vs Digital Video
        2. The Video Image Today
          1. Recording Formats
          2. Media Formats
          3. Display Formats
          4. Audio/Video Codecs
        3. Broadcast Standards
        4. Resolution
        5. Aspect Ratio
        6. Scanning Type
          1. Interlaced Scanning
          2. Progressive Scanning
        7. Frame Rate
      3. Time Code
      4. Types of Digital Video Cameras
        1. Hybrid Large Sensor Cameras
        2. Mirrorless Shutter Cameras
        3. Minicams
        4. The Ultra High End: 4K and More
        5. The Basic Video Camcorder: Exterior
          1. The Body
          2. Viewfinders and LCD Viewscreens
          3. The Lens
          4. Servo Zoom Control
          5. Media Bay
          6. DC Power
          7. Camera Function Menus and Switches
          8. Audio and Video Connectors, Inputs and Outputs
          9. External Microphone Inputs
          10. Other Connectors
        6. The Basic Video Camcorder: Interior
          1. The Image Sensor
          2. Three-Chip vs One-Chip Cameras
          3. White Balance
          4. Gain
          5. Shutter Speed
          6. ND Filters
          7. The Analog-to-Digital Converter
          8. The Digital Signal Processor
          9. Signal Compression and Codecs
          10. Color Encoding and Subsampling
      5. Data Rate
      6. Monitoring and Display
      7. Broadcast Standards Worldwide
      8. Conclusion
    4. CHAPTER 9: THE LENS
      1. The Optics of the Lens
      2. Focus
        1. Adjusting Focus during a Take
        2. Selective Focus
      3. Focal Length
        1. Focal Length and Sensor Size: Crop Factor
        2. Prime and Zoom Lenses
        3. Focal Length and Lens Perspective
      4. Aperture
        1. Lens Speed
      5. Depth of Field
        1. Other Factors Impacting Depth of Field
        2. The 1/3–2/3 Rule
      6. Conclusion
    5. CHAPTER 10: CAMERA SUPPORT
      1. The Handheld Camera
      2. Shoulder Mounts
      3. The Tripod
        1. Tripod Head
          1. Pan and Tilt Locks
          2. Pan and Tilt Dampers
          3. Pan Handle
          4. Camera Mounting Plate
          5. Head Mount
      4. The Monopod
      5. The Dolly
        1. Sliders
      6. Jib Arms and Crane Shots
      7. Stabilizing Arm Systems
      8. Drones
      9. Underwater Photography
      10. Conclusion
    6. CHAPTER 11: BASIC LIGHTING FOR DOCUMENTARY
      1. Why Light?
        1. Lighting as Respect
      2. Elements of Exposure
        1. Monitoring Exposure
      3. The Fundamental Sources of Light
      4. Three Essential Properties of Light
        1. Intensity
        2. Quality
        3. Color Temperature
      5. Controlling Light
      6. Basic Lighting Equipment, Filters, and Gels
        1. Lighting Units
          1. Open-Faced Lights
          2. Fresnels
          3. Soft Lights
          4. Fluorescent Lights
          5. LED Lights
          6. HMI Lights
          7. Reflectors
        2. Camera Filters and Lighting Gels
          1. Altering Light with Filters
            1. Neutral Density Filters
            2. Diffusion Filters
            3. Polarizing Filters
            4. Graduated Filters
        3. Altering Light with Gels
          1. Color Conversion Gels
          2. Color Conversion Gels and Mixed-Lighting Situations
          3. Neutral Density Gels
          4. Diffusion Media
        4. Basic Grip Gear
          1. Stands
          2. Gear for Light Control
          3. Clamps
          4. Miscellaneous Grip Gear
          5. The Ditty Bag
    7. CHAPTER 12: LIGHTING AND EXPOSURE—BEYOND THE BASICS
      1. Lighting Interviews
        1. Three-Point Lighting
          1. Key Light
          2. Fill Light
          3. Backlight
      2. Lighting Styles
        1. Lighting Ratios
      3. Exposure Control and Metering Light
        1. Manual Exposure Control
          1. The Incident Light Meter
        2. The Gray Scale
      4. Lighting Observational Scenes
      5. Set Lights, Specials, and Practicals
      6. Stylized Lighting
      7. Exterior Lighting
        1. Location Scouting and Time of Day
        2. Check the Weather
        3. Subject and Camera Positions
        4. Sun plus Bounced Light
        5. Shade plus Bounced Light
        6. Dusk-for-Night
        7. Shooting at Night
        8. Camera-Mounted Lighting
      8. Exposure: Beyond the Basics
        1. Contrast Range
        2. Dynamic Range
          1. Shooting with Dynamic Range in Mind
          2. Characteristic Curves and Gamma
            1. Black Stretch, Knee, and Log Gamma
            2. Color Settings
      9. Conclusion
    8. CHAPTER 13: SOUND BASICS AND EQUIPMENT
      1. The Importance of Sound
      2. Sound Recording Today
      3. Understanding Sound
        1. Frequency (Pitch)
        2. Amplitude (Loudness)
          1. Inverse Square Lawv
        3. Quality (Timbre)
        4. Velocity
      4. Production Sound
        1. Sync Sound
        2. Wild Sound
        3. Room Acoustics
      5. Digital Sound Recording
        1. The Basic Signal Path
        2. Balanced vs Unbalanced Audio Signals
        3. Digital Audio Quality: Sampling Rates and Bit Depth
      6. Production Sound Tools
        1. Sound Recording on Video Camcorders
        2. The Digital Sound Recorder
          1. Microphone Inputs
          2. Level Controls and Meters
          3. Playback, Controls, and Outputs
          4. Digital Recording Media
            1. Flash Memory Recorders
            2. Hard Drive Recorders
        3. Portable Field Mixers
        4. Microphones
          1. Dynamic, Condenser, and Electret Condenser
          2. Microphone Frequency Response
          3. Microphone Directionality
            1. Omnidirectional
            2. Cardioid
            3. Hypercardioid and Shotguns
          4. Microphone Usage Types
            1. Handheld
            2. Shotgun
            3. Lavalier
            4. Wireless Microphones
            5. Pressure Zone Microphones (PZMs)
            6. Onboard Microphones
        5. Microphone Support
        6. The Importance of Headphones!
      7. Conclusion
    9. CHAPTER 14: LOCATION SOUND TECHNIQUES
      1. The Sound Recordist’s Job
      2. Sound and the Documentary Crew
      3. Before the Shoot: Prepping and Scouting
      4. On Location: The Shoot
        1. Evaluate the Location
        2. Devising a Sound Recording Strategy
        3. Setting Up Your Equipment
          1. Setting Levels
            1. Setting Levels on a Peak Meter
            2. Setting Levels on a VU Meter
            3. Setting Tone
      5. Recording Your Audio
        1. Riding the Gain during Recording
          1. Limiters, Microphone Attenuation, and Frequency Filters
        2. Headphone Monitoring
        3. Microphone Technique
          1. Booming: Clean Sound, Consistency, and Being On-Axis
          2. Boom Technique
        4. Recording Room Tone
        5. Wind Noise
        6. Doing a Sound Report
      6. Conclusion
    10. CHAPTER 15: INTERVIEWING AND WORKING WITH SUBJECTS
      1. Building and Maintaining Relationships
      2. On-Camera Interactions with Subjects
        1. Interviewing
          1. Preparing for the Interview
          2. Interview Location
          3. Setting up the Interview: Visual Considerations
            1. Eyeline and Subject Placement
            2. Framing Considerations
          4. Conducting the Interview
        2. Directing Participants in Cinéma Vérité Scenes
      3. Conclusion
    11. CHAPTER 16: PRODUCTION PROCEDURES, ETIQUETTE, AND SAFETY
      1. On the Documentary Set
      2. Set Etiquette: Human and Material Resources
        1. Respect and Protect the Location
        2. Respect Your Equipment
        3. Food and Breaks
      3. Production Safety and Security
        1. Prepare for Safety
        2. Production Insurance
        3. Employment Rules and Workman’s Compensation
        4. International Travel
        5. Common Sense
        6. Rest and Health
        7. Weather
        8. Risky Locations
          1. Water
          2. Air
        9. Security
        10. Electricity and Safety
          1. How Much Electricity?
          2. Electrical Loads and Time
          3. Splitting the Load
        11. Lighting Safety Tips
  10. Part 3 POSTPRODUCTION
    1. CHAPTER 17: POSTPRODUCTION WORKFLOW AND THE PROCESS OF DIGITAL EDITING
      1. Postproduction Overview
        1. Postproduction Workflow
      2. The Process of Digital Editing
        1. The Basic NLE System
          1. The Hardware Setup
        2. Setting Up Your NLE Project
        3. Ingesting Your Video
        4. Working Natively vs Transcoding
        5. Frame Rate Considerations
        6. Working with Proxies (“Off-Line” and “Online” Editing)
        7. Ingesting Audio
        8. Syncing Picture and Sound
        9. The NLE Software Interface
          1. The Project Window (Avid) or Project Panel (Premiere Pro)
          2. The Preview Monitor (Avid) or Source Panel (Premiere Pro)
          3. The Timeline Window
          4. The Sequence Monitor (Avid) or Program Panel (Premiere Pro)
          5. Menu, Icon, or Keyboard: Take Your Pick
      3. Making Simple Edits
        1. Split Edits
      4. Editing Stages
        1. Reviewing Raw Footage
        2. Paper Edit
        3. Rough Cuts
        4. Rough Cut Screenings
        5. Building Your Soundtracks
        6. The Fine Cut and Picture Lock
        7. Finishing
      5. High-End Finishing Workflows
        1. Mastering
      6. Overview of Editing Stages
    2. CHAPTER 18: WRITING AND STRUCTURING THE DOCUMENTARY
      1. Where to Begin?
      2. Story Elements: Character, Exposition, and Plot
      3. Structural Elements: Observational Scenes, Interviews, and Visual Evidence
        1. Observational Scenes
        2. Interviews
        3. Visual Evidence
      4. Chronology: How to Handle Time
      5. Writing Narration
        1. Third-Person Narration
        2. First-Person Narration
        3. Writing Narration
        4. Styles of Narration
          1. Writing the Essay Film
      6. Conclusion
    3. CHAPTER 19: THE ART OF DOCUMENTARY EDITING
      1. Editing Expository Films
      2. Editing Impressionistic Films
        1. Associative Editing
      3. Observational Documentaries and the Continuity System
        1. Continuity of Mise-en-Scène (Shared Shot Content)
        2. Continuity of Performance, Actions, and Placement
        3. Continuity of Spatial Orientation
        4. Avoiding “Too Similar” Shots
        5. Cutaways
      4. Timing, Rhythm, and Pacing
        1. Timing
        2. Rhythm
        3. Pacing
      5. Editing Patterns
      6. Image Transitions
        1. The Cut
        2. The Dissolve
        3. The Fade
      7. Conclusion
    4. CHAPTER 20: ARCHIVAL STORYTELLING
      1. Archival Research
        1. Talk to Somebody!
      2. Ways of Using Archival Material
        1. Metaphorical Imagery
      3. Organizing Your Material
        1. Using Metadata
      4. Who Owns an Image? Copyright and Fair Use
        1. Public Domain Materials
        2. Clearing Rights
      5. The Ethics of Using Archival Material
      6. Technical Issues
      7. Documents
      8. Conclusion
    5. CHAPTER 21: SOUND DESIGN AND FINISHING
      1. Types of Sounds: Speech, Sound Effects, and Music
        1. Speech
        2. Sound Effects
          1. Ambient Sounds
        3. Music: Source and Score
        4. Common Music Pitfalls
      2. Sound Perspective
      3. Sound Design Strategies
      4. Sound Editing
        1. Building Your Audio Tracks
        2. Refining Your Sound Design
          1. Splitting Tracks and Checkerboarding Your Audio
        3. Finessing Your Audio
      5. The Sound Mix
        1. Step 1: Audio Sweetening
          1. Audio Filters
            1. Filters for Frequency Equalization and Noise Reduction
            2. Filters for Reverb and Echo
            3. Filters for Amplitude Compression or Expansion
            4. Filters for Sibilance Suppression or “P” Popping
        2. Step 2: Creating Audio Transitions
        3. Step 3: Audio Level Balancing
          1. The Reference Track and Establishing Average Level Range
          2. Adjusting the Other Tracks
          3. NLE Systems and Audio Levels
        4. Step 4: The Mix Down
      6. Sound Mixing Tips
        1. The Mix Environment
        2. Audio Monitor Reference
      7. Advanced Sound Editing and Mixing Programs
        1. Why Go Pro?
    6. CHAPTER 22: FINISHING PICTURE AND MASTERING
      1. Color Correction vs Color Grading
      2. Color Correction in Your NLE System
        1. Adjusting Brightness and Contrast
        2. Adjusting Hue and Saturation
      3. Titles and Credits
        1. Lower Thirds
      4. Mastering Your Project
        1. Output Formats
        2. Digital Cinema Package (DCP)
        3. Exhibiting on Disc
          1. Pressed or Burned?
    7. CHAPTER 23: DISTRIBUTING YOUR DOCUMENTARY
      1. Film Festivals
      2. Theatrical
      3. Semi-Theatrical
      4. Broadcast and Cable
      5. Educational
      6. Home Video (DVD)
      7. Streaming/Video on Demand
      8. Impact: Engagement Campaigns
      9. Conclusion
  11. NOTES
  12. GLOSSARY
  13. FILMOGRAPHY
  14. PHOTOGRAPH AND ILLUSTRATION CREDITS
  15. INDEX