Why Web Documentaries?

In an age of the declining of traditional media and journalism moving online, it is becoming apparent that stories must be told in a way that stand out from the crowd. A web documentary can be a useful tool to help journalists to do this.

A webdoc is a documentary made especially for online viewing, which often tells a story in a non-linear, interactive way. It is a useful tool for creating some mindblowing data visualisations and developing data stories into a multi-layered production.

This year, for the first time at the Summer School, we will be running a series of talks and hands-on workshops to teach you the basics of web documentaries.

Teaching you these skills will be Katerina Cizek, an Emmy-winning documentary film maker from Canada and Arnaud Dressen, from France, the creator of Klynt software for making web documentaries and a filmmaker.

Webdocs range from the inexpensive to big projects that cost hundreds of thousands of pounds. From projects that were made on a shoestring by a small team of people who have editorial, photography, video and technical skills and a lot of enthusiasm, like The Iron Curtain Diaries to much bigger ones like Kat Cizek’s HIGHRISE which is produced by the National Film Board of Canada.

France and Canada leading the world in the production of web docs, but it is still a relatively new medium in the UK and not yet widely used by journalists. However, as with data journalism, which was unheard of until a few years ago, it only takes a few front page stories and documentaries to be released, for web docs to become a hit here too. You can start learning the skills now and be ahead of the game.

What will you learn at the summer school?

Talks by Kat Cizek

A Web-Documentary Primer. Kat Cizek (Fri 12 July).
This introductory class is a highly visual journey into the emerging genre of web documentaries (non-fiction storytelling created for and often with the web), showcasing the world’s best-in-class digital docs. With clips and handouts, we'll highlight emerging trends in the creative application of digital technology to documentary, with a special focus on investigative journalism.

HIGHRISE – the making of an Emmy-winning web-documentary. Kat Cizek (Sat 13 July).
Go behind the scenes with the director of the National Film Board of Canada’s HIGHRISE project, a multi-year digital documentary experiment exploring the human condition in global vertical suburbs. This highly visual presentation will walk you through the creative, technical and editorial decisions that led to the creation of 2 web-docs in the HIGHRISE story universe. We’ll highlight the project’s unique collaborative and participatory methods of co-creating new forms of digital documentary media. Will include access to the "HIGHRISE toolkit" handout.

Webdocs: where to start: from skills to finances. Kat Cizek (Sun 14 July).
How can I make a web-documentary? This beginner's class gives a basic overview of what every digital documentarian needs: the skills, the resources, the financial opportunities and the production process of this emerging storytelling form. Will include take-home tips and handouts.

Hands-on classes by Arnaud Dressen  These classes are now FULLY BOOKED
You must bring your own laptop with a demo version of Klynt software downloaded in advance (it is available free of charge). Please see technical and software requirements. A limited number of places available. The workshop is FULLY BOOKED, please add your name to the waiting list

Webdocs: Klynt 1/3 : main features. Hands-on. (B) Anraud Dressen and Maria Gemayel (Sun 14 July) 
This three-part CAR workshop offers a practical course for journalists willing to create immersive datavisualisations that include audiovisual stories. Based on the innovative editing application Klynt, this session will follow a step-by-step approach to produce a visually rich narrative using such platforms as Google Maps and YouTube videos with a pre-defined sample project. Part 1 will offer a general overview of the sample project and introduce the main features of Klynt.

Webdocs: Klynt 2/3: story architecture. Hands-on (B) Anraud Dressen and Maria Gemayel (Sun 14 July)
Using a predefined datavisualisation sample project, selection of videos and text materials, participants will learn how to enrich a map-based datavisualisation with existing YouTube videos.

Webdocs: Klynt 3/3: user experience.Hands-on. (B) Anraud Dressen and Maria Gemayel (Sun 14 July)
In this last session, we will focus on simple tips and tricks to enhance the immersive experience based on best practices and stories that would lend themselves to web docs.

Here are some web documentaries to inspire you:

The Iron Curtain Diaries Matteo Scanni, one of the web documentary’s producers taught the CIJ’s first webdoc seminar last January during the CIJ Investigative Film Week. (Free)

HIGHRISE. Out of my Window An Emmy-winning web documentary by this year’s speaker Kat Cizek. (Free)

Journey to the End of Coal by Honkytonk Films. (Free)

Les Communes de Paris a map based web documentary in English.

The Marlboro Marine By Luis Sinco /Los Angeles Times. (Free)

The Defector: Escape from North Korea selected for the Sheffield Film Festival. (Need to pay to watch).

With thanks to Matteo Scanni, whose excellent talk at Perugia Journalism Festival and inspirational documentary The Iron Curtain Diaries, as well as his first ever web docs talk during the CIJ Investigative Film Week made this possible.