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Types of Documentary Videos

A few weeks ago, we started our comprehensive blog guide on the types of video content used in film production. After a quick overview we have since covered educational videos, promotional videos, and informational videos. This week we’re bringing our penultimate blog in this guide: documentary videos. Documentaries are a well-known and long-loved form of media which aim to document some aspect of disciplines like history, science, or sociology. Commonly, documentaries focus on a specific event or movement, or aim to provide broad knowledge on a specialist topic, like black holes or marine life.


Documentaries are educational and informational, yet their formal differs from both the educational and informational video format. Documentaries aren’t training videos designed to impart technical knowledge on the viewer, and they aren’t dry informational snippets designed to offer surface-level understanding of a topic. Documentaries must blend aspects of entertainment to keep their viewer engaged, while also delving deep into the history and context of the discussed topic to offer a comprehensive and factual account. Types include:


Observational Documentary

Observational documentaries are possibly the most well-known. Commonly referred to as fly-on-the-wall filmmaking, observational documentaries aim to provide a true objective view of the subject being discussed, without it being tainted by subjective ideals or the narrator’s personal opinions. An observational documentary usually has little narration and most often contains long, unedited shots which reflect the nature of patient observation.


Performative Documentary

Performative documentaries focus on the narrator or filmmaker’s personal experience with the topic and their involvement with the events of the documentary. A huge step away from the objective reporting of observational documentaries, performative documentaries rely on subjective opinion and are often stylised in a way personal to the presenter. There are often emotive themes as the personal nature of the topic is explored in relation to the filmmaker’s experiences.


Participatory Documentary

The participatory documentary style broadly includes performative documentaries but is less specific in its scope. Participatory documentaries are the antithesis of observational ones; rather than being a fly on the wall, the filmmaker is an active participant in the documentary. This may be done through interview style Q&A sessions, or the presenter may be featured as a character in the documentary itself.


If you’re looking for a film production company to create some documentary style video content for your business, look no further than Title Productions! Check back next week for our final instalment, entertainment videos!