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A web documentary, interactive documentary, or multimedia documentary is a documentary production that differs from the more traditional forms—video, audio, photographic—by applying a full complement of multimedia tools. The interactive multimedia capability of the Internet provides documentarians with a unique medium to create non-linear productions that combine photography, text, audio, video, animation, and infographics based on real time content. This way the publications progresses over several weeks.
Since it is an interactive work, the narrative advances through the actions taken by the users through public interface. The user is able to modify its journey through the documentary based on their responses. This way the participation by the users are the key element that give meaning to this new audiovisual genre. For the first time in the history of documentary, the viewer acquires control of navigation, in a way becoming the author or creator of its own personalized documentary.
It is possible to say that the sender and the receiver of the media are at the same level. It is difficult to classify web documentary within a determined space, as this new format documentary is the result of the union between the combination of languages and communication systems, along with new interactive experiences where users acquire a key role due to its interactivity.
How web documentaries differ from film documentaries
The web documentary differs from film documentaries through the integration of a combination of multimedia assets (photos, text, audio, animation, graphic design, etc.) with web technologies. In a web documentary, the user has to interact with, or navigate through, the story.
Compared to a linear narrative where the destination of the story is pre-determined by the filmmaker, a web documentary provides a user with the experience of moving through the story via clusters of information. The integration of information architecture, graphic design, imagery, titles, and sub-titles all play a role in providing visual clues to the user as to the sequence through which they should move through the web documentary. But from that point, the users have to explore the components of the story that interest them the most.
Examples of web documentaries
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- Casas Hechas Mujer An interactive documentary about Colombian Caribbean houses with names on their facades by Ariel E. Arteta F. "aikeart"
- Clouds Over Cuba — The Cuban missile crisis and what might have been.
- Hollow Explore the rural communities of McDowell County, West Virginia through Hollow, an interactive documentary featuring the stories of over 30 residents who live there.
- Mumbai Madness The daily trip of a young commuter through the hellish traffic of Mumbai
- Unknown Spring — An anthology project that bears witness to the ongoing recovery of Tohoku.
- A series of web documentary on Dhaka Markets — 80plus1 : Journey around Dhaka: A series of web documentary on Dhaka Markets.
- Journey to the End of Coal — A web documentary that let the user investigate the living conditions of Chinese coal miners.
- Out My Window — a National Film Board of Canada collaborative documentary showing 13 interactive views from highrise apartments.
- Green Unplugged — a Culture Unplugged Studios short form documentary showing worldview on environment and showcased by United Nations Council For Environment.
- Barcode — an ARTE France and National Film Board of Canada documentary about objects and how they reveal the way we live, created with 30 directors and containing 100 videos
- Welcome to Pine Point — a National Film Board of Canada web documentary exploring the memories of residents from the former community of Pine Point, Northwest Territories.
- Big Stories, Small Towns — web documentary about life in small towns made in collaboration with the local communities. To date four towns have been featured - three from Australia and one from Cambodia.
- Becoming Human — "Paleoanthropology, Evolution, and Human Origins"
- Gift of a Lifetime — Audio slideshow storytelling complemented by interactive historical timeline and an interactive human body
- Interactive Narratives — A collection of web documentary content from various sources
- Water's Journey: Everglades — This web documentary includes six audio slideshows, and interactive map, an interactive historical timeline and film/animation clips
- Hometown Baghdad — A series chronicling the lives of three Iraqi 20-somethings in Baghdad
- The Iron Curtain Diaries (1989-2009) — web documentary by Matteo Scanni about the fall of the Iron Curtain
- Farselona — interactive scroll-doc walks the user through the "invention" of Barcelona's Gothic quarter, calling to a dual reflection on whether official history should be taken at face value and whether cities should be seen as touristic products
- One World Journeys Expeditions — A collection of environment and conservation themed web documentaries created between 2000 and 2002
- Canto do Brazil — web documentary about Brazil by a documentary photographer
- Inside Beijing | 融入北京 Inside Beijing is a multimedia project covering the political and cultural capital of China. It focuses mainly on two aspects connected to each other: the urban development of the metropolis and the evolution of the Chinese culture.
- Thanatorama — A journey into the arcane world of the funeral. Between the intimate and the universal, the sacred and the mundane, the religious rite and market rules, Thanatorama played on records and surveys the frontiers. At the heart of the viewer confronted with his own death. To him draw his journey, according to its beliefs, according to his curiosity.
- Prison Valley — Prison Valley is an ARTE web documentary by David Dufresne and Philippe Brault on the prison industry in the recession-hit United States. A journey into what the future might hold.
- New York Minute — An ARTE 6-part miniseries riding through the five boroughs and a web-based, collaborative and multilingual encyclopedia about New York's culture.
- In Situ — In Situ is an ARTE web documentary about urban artists in Europe, by Antoine Viviani.
- WATERLIFE - NFB — The interactive story of the last great supply of fresh drinking water on Earth.
- Where is Gary — An interactive investigation about a real con artist. The documentary maker Jean-Baptiste Dumont challenged himself to find this fascinating guy in ten weeks, with the help of the audience.
- My Tribe Is My Life — an interactive exploration of how young people use the internet and music subcultures to forge identities and relationships.
- Clé 56 (original site) — A 6-part miniseries about 2 patients of a psychiatric hospital.
- Multimediadocumentary Is the new way to create and distribute multimedia documentary using the new mobile technologies. The projects is open to the contribution of everyone (photographers or movie maker) who have some interesting story to show.
- MMDoc #1 Le cittá di Olivetti by Sandro Pisani First edition of the new Multimedia documentary community network, photografy and interview of people and place inherent the project as iPad application.
- 16 Tons — 16 Tons is an online movie about conscience and free market, by Ümit Kıvanç. The documentary uses several versions of the song Sixteen Tons while throwing an ironic look at the history of humanity. It contains extensive sequences of animation, using photographs, paintings, drawings and etchings. The web site provides the option of watching the entire film or each chapter separately. There is comprehensive additional information and further annotation on the details of the film on the page related to each chapter.
- Bagagem What Esmeralina retired, the Joatan lawyer, barber and musician Jandira Afrânio have in common? They all give the intersection of Avenida de Augusto Lima and Rua da Bahia as residential reference. Residents Set Arcangelo Maletta, one of the most popular (and bohemians) buildings Belo Horizonte (MG) - Brazil, the characters in this webdocumentário declare their affection for the place and desmitificam the negative image that some city residents have the Maletta.
- Planet Galata — A portrait of a bridge in Istanbul.
- Communication design
- Information design
- Desktop publishing
- Motion design
- Interface design
- Web graphic design
- Melahat Hosseini and Ron Wakkary (2004). "Influences of Concepts and Structure of Documentary Cinema on Documentary Practices in the Internet". Archives & Museum Informatics.
- Anderson, Kelly (6 October 2011). "NFB, ARTE France launch 'Bar Code'". Reelscreen. Retrieved 7 October 2011.
- Quenneville, Guy (31 January 2011). "Remembering a lost mining town". Northern News Services. Retrieved 1 February 2011.
- Scott-Stevenson, Julia (15 March 2011). "My Tribe is My Life". Special Broadcasting Service. Australia. Retrieved 7 April 2011.
- "Webdocs - Survival Guide for Online Filmmakers" (2011) (Preface by Peter Wintonick + 30 international experts (Cizek, Storm, Brachet, Wolking, Bernstein, Strocchi, Saint-Cyr,...), Not So Crazy! Productions
- Web Documentary course information — MFA in Integrated Media Arts Program, Hunter College, New York
- "Genre Guide" by WiredMovie™ — A reference of genres, terminology and characteristics associated with interactive-web documentaries. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
- Documental web... ¿Qué es eso? escrito por Philipp Barth y traducido por Luna Bolívar para la cadena alemana Deutsche Welle.
- Tesis Doctoral de Arnau Grifeu
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- Documental web... ¿qué es eso? en On Media.
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- Gifreu Castells, A. El documental interactivo: Estado de desarrollo actual. Barcelona: Universidad de Pompeu Fabra.
- Volver arriba↑ Grifeu, Arnau (2013). El documental interactivo como nuevo género audiovisual. Barcelona: Universidad Pompeu Fabra.