Top documentary filmmaking techniques.

Documentary films don’t need to be boring. Learn some techniques that offer exceptional opportunities for creative expression.

Dating back to the early days of filmmaking, the documentary genre offered artists a wide range of techniques for expressing their ideas. Video content creators often combine more than one technique to produce a documentary film, and it’s this creative storytelling latitude that attracts them to this type of film. Below are the most popular and effective techniques used by documentary filmmakers today.

The voice-over.

The use of historical or recorded live video footage with a voice-over narration is a time-tested technique for documentary filmmaking. With this technique, the information provided by the voice-over enhances the story being shown and told in the film/video itself.

The participant or observer interview.

A first-hand account or retelling of a story from someone who participated or observed the events is a powerful way to establish facts. Often used to tell the documentary’s main story, this technique demonstrates hard-to-refute evidence.

The use of poetic expression.

This technique combines the artistic use of imagery and music to convey mood and emotion to tell a nonfiction story. For this filmmaking technique to be successful, the filmmaker should master the use of a full-featured video editing and audio mixing solution to polish the final cut. Without narration or voice-over, the audience’s attention is directed to the cinematography.

The montage.

Documentary creators often employ a video montage with voice-over to link the action with words to help the viewer better understand what a character is saying. Mixed with other techniques, such as the participant interview, the montage makes a powerful filmmaking statement.

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