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A web 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.
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) and the requirement on the part of the viewer 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 viewer 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 viewer as to the sequence through which they should move through the web documentary. But from that point, it becomes the viewer's discretion to poke their heads into the nooks and crannies of the project, exploring the components of the story that interest them the most.
- Museums and the Web 2004 — Influences of Concepts and Structure of Documentary Cinema on Documentary Practices in the Internet, Melahat Hosseini and Ron Wakkary
- Web Documentary course information — MFA in Integrated Media Arts Program, Hunter College, New York
Examples of web documentaries
- 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
- MediaStorm — Contemporary web documentary projects
- One World Journeys Expeditions — A collection of environment and conservation themed web documentaries created between 2000 and 2002
- Journey To The End Of Coal — A web documentary that let the user investigate the living conditions of chinese coal miners.
- Canto do Brazil — web documentary about Brazil by a documentary photographer
- Gaza-Sderot — A video reports on the day-to-day experiences of men, women and children on both sides of the Palestinian-Israeli border.
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