The Participatory Documentary CookBook

:
community documentary using social media

Jenny Weight, PhD School of Media and Communication, RMIT University
www.geniwate.com e: geniwate@gmail.com

The Participatory Documentary Cookbook by Jenny Weight is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

1. Introduction 2. Definition 3. Community 4. Social Media 4. Hardware 5. Convergence 6. Documentary Storytelling 7. Structure and Story 8. Pedagogical aside 9. Conducting interviews 10. Production and dissemination tools 11. Structure Refrain 12. Crisis! What Crisis? 13. Participatory documentary 14. Conclusion 13. Resources

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My students and I have been making participatory documentaries for some years in my course Transient Spaces (part of the Master of Communication Degree at RMIT University, and an elective in other programs). This cookbook attempts to codify my practical experience of making participatory documentaries using social media. It is light on definitions and theories, and more focussed on techniques and (hopefully) shortcuts.
My approach relies on entry level domestic media technology and free, or very cheap, online services. It is aimed at people with basic skills (in photography, social media and desktop publishing, for example). While many people are ‘beguiled by video’, it is not necessary. This cookbook is not aimed at professionals, and the projects that are presupposed are of a small scale. However the principles presented may be of wider interest. Professional media makers need to harness the media empowerments now enjoyed by ordinary people through social media, both to make and disseminate engaged and ethically responsible documentaries. The style of documentary making codified in this cookbook is an emergent genre. It is allied to a broader media movement which often goes by the name of transmedia, but as the word ‘documentary’ suggests, it is focussed on real world issues. It is also a type of digital storytelling (see Digital Storytelling Overview by Amy Goodloe for definition, research and pedagogy). What makes it a particularly interesting form is its engagement with people — both in the making and the dissemination — which it achieves partly by radically incorporating social media. Participatory documentary using social media faces the same issues of cohesiveness and authorial voice as participatory documentaries have faced in the past. If you are predisposed

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to a particular point of view, you will struggle with this type of documentary practice. Participatory documentaries bring with them their own ethical and political conundrums which each producer must face. However, this practical guide will only obliquely refer to them. Apologies for all typos, inaccuracies, design errors and anything that got left out. I am sorely in need of an editor, but without one, I have had to go with a near enough is good enough attitude. Hopefully there will be another draft in which everything is perfect. I hope to update and expand this cookbook as the genre evolves and my time permits. Please email me feedback and suggestions at geniwate@gmail.com, or visit my blog www.geniwate.com. Jenny Weight, PhD RMIT University Melbourne, Australia March 2012 PS: If you have an iPad, the ibook version of this cookbook, available from Apple’s ibookstore, has more media than this version.

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A participatory documentary tells a story about a community using the community’s own words. That story is disseminated back to that community via social media. Documentary?
According to Bill Nichols, documentaries ...address those concepts and issues over which there is appreciable social concern or debate. If a concept is not in doubt, such as the condensation of liquids as temperatures fall or the evaporation of liquids as temperatures rise, there is little call for a documentary film to address it. An informational or instructional film may still be of use to explain and exemplify the concept, but its organization is strictly devoted to conveying factual information and consolidating our grasp of an undisputed concept rather than coloring or inflecting our very understanding of the concept itself. Their interest as documentaries is close to nil. It is debated concepts and contested issues that documentaries routinely address. Debates and contestation surround the basic social institutions and practices of our society. Social practices are precisely that: the conventional way of doing this. They could be otherwise.

Nichols 2002, 67-8

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Story?
The story presents some controversy internal to the community, or a struggle the community is facing with some other body. Although there may be some exceptions, as a rule, without the dramatic tension provided by a struggle or a controversy, is it not a documentary.

Community?
A community is a group of people with a common cause. It is bigger than a friendship group or an extended family. In other words, members will rarely be intimate with every other member.

Disseminated back to that community?
The documentary is engaged with the community, and has an ethical responsibility towards it. It is dealing with an issue that the community is involved with, and therefore the community is vitally interested in the resulting work.

Social media?
Allows people to communicate and publish their own media directly to each other without mediation. Usually dependent on Web based tools. The material for social documentaries is published via social media back to the community. The material may also be gathered and captured using social media.

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Putting the ‘participation’ in a ‘participatory documentary’
I am taking the term ‘participatory documentary’ from Bill Nichols (2002). However, I am not exactly using it in his way. I will go into this in more detail in the ‘Participatory documentary’ section. Participatory documentaries exist on a ‘continuum of participation’. At one extreme is the indigo-participatory documentary entirely produced by the members of the community. Such works often suffer problems surrounding quality and perspective. It is hard to distance yourself from material that intimately involves you. The drama or conflict that is the essential driver of a good documentary can be overlooked or obscured, perhaps because the producer is invested too much in the community and wants to justify it. The other extreme is an externo-participatory documentary in which a professional documentary producer facilitates the production. These works may suffer problems with integrity. Is the producer inserting too much of his/her own voice? An interesting compromise is the reflex-participatory documentary, when the producer is part of the community. He or she thus has a right (indeed, perhaps an obligation) to include his or her own opinion. An added level of drama can be inserted when the producer’s personal voice and life is implicated. However, such self-reflexive works are not immune from either of the problems suggested above.

The relationships enshrined in different sorts of documentary
According to Bill Nichols, there are different types of relationships between you, your subjects and your audience. They are: “I speak about them to you” The most common formulation of the three-way relationship among filmmaker, subject and audience. The filmmaker has a personal persona, for examJ e n n y  W e i g h t P a r t i c i p a t o r y  D o c u m e n t a r y  C o o k b o o k

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ple he/she is the voice of god commentator or addresses the audience more personally as themselves. Speaking in the first person edges the documentary form toward the diary, essay, and aspects of avant-garde or experimental film and video. The emphasis may shift from convincing the audience of a particular point of view or approach to a problem to the representation of a personal, clearly subjective view of things (Nichols 2002, 14). However, the filmmaker also clearly distances him/herself from the subject matter (Nichols, 15). The audience also clearly suggests a separation. One person speaks and the audience listens (Nichols, 15). “It speaks about them or it to us” This formulation betrays a sense of separation, if not alienation, between the speaker and the audience. The film or video appears to arrive, addressed to us, from a source that lacks individuality. It addresses a subject likewise separated from us, even if it lies within some proximity. This formulation characterises what we might call an institutional discourse, in which the film, often by means of a voice-over commentary, perhaps even a Voice of God commentator with a deep, male voice, informs us about some aspect of the world in an impersonal but authoritative manner. (Nichols, 17) This style often has a marketing/advertising feel. “I or We speak about us to you” This formulation moves the filmmaker from a position of separation from those he or she represents to a position of commonality with them. Filmmaker and subject are of the same stock. In anthropological filmmaking the turn to this formulation goes by the name of “auto-ethnography”: it refers to the efforts of indigenous people to make their films and videos about their own culture so that they may represent it to “us,” those who remain outside (Nichols, 18).
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“By speaking about an ‘us’ that includes the filmmaker these films achieve a degree of intimacy that can be quite compelling” (Nichols, 18). May use first person voice and be very idiosyncratic (Nichols, 18). This may be used by the participatory mode, and is the closest to the participatory form I introduce here. My equivocation is about the word ‘you’ — it is just as likely to be ‘us’. We are telling our own stories to ourselves as much as to anybody else.

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A participatory documentary allows communities to tell their own stories, or present their own issues. The producer of a participatory documentary is responsible for allowing, or encouraging that story to be told, or issue to be explored, in the community’s own words.
There are a lot of theories about community. In the late twentieth century it became common to lament the decay of community in western societies, and various self-help programs were proposed and implemented. The complexity and politics of community theory is beyond our scope. I will offer just one reflection: Community is like beauty: everyone knows it when they see it, but nobody can say why.

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The social media approach to identifying your communities
Identify your communities. Here are some guides: It has more than five people;

It has members you barely or don’t know, but you can say what you

have in common; If you tried, you could work out a way to contact those people you barely

know.

Example
I don’t know everyone in the housing estate where I live, which I’m guessing has a population of about 1000 people. But we share a location, and common facilities such as the playground, where I might have casual conversations with people whose names I don’t know. Other people I have simply never met. We can all talk about the state of the public transport to the estate, for example. If I had to contact them all, I could letter drop or put up posters.

Task
Let’s reverse-engineer your communities: Analyse the people you are friends with in Facebook
Analyse your contacts in your mobile phone
Analyse your email contacts in gmail
etcetera Divide them into groups based on how you met, why they are in your contacts lists. Some of them, such as the plumber you use, probably don’t belong to any of
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your communities (of course, she’ll belong to communities that you don’t know about). Hopefully you’ve now got a few different groups. But are they all communities? Probably not. For example, some of them are family, but you don’t actually share any community with them.

The issues approach to identifying community
Communities share issues. They may not have the same opinion about those issues, but they will agree that it is a source of concern.

Example
I have a lot of conversations about people bemoaning the behaviour of cyclists and motorists, in regards to each other, where I live. This community is tied to a location, and the state of the roads in that location.

Task
Read the local paper, listen to conversations in cafes, keep a diary of the issues that arise in conversations with your friends. What issues re-arise? Is it an issue shared by some people, but not others? Or people take different sides? Hopefully some combination of these two exercises will help you find a community/issue that is ripe for a participatory documentary. However, before you commit to that community/issue, read the chapter on social media.

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External and internal conflicts
Not all communities will make a good documentary. You need to find some drama — some conflict — to wrap your documentary around. Communities can have all sorts of conflicts, but usually they are either ‘internal’ or ‘external’. An internal conflict occurs within a community, when some members want x and some members want y, and it’s not possible to have both. These conflicts can be highly dramatic and make a great story, especially if your talent is articulate and engaging. They can also be difficult territory for the documentary maker, especially if s/he is part of that community. What side of the fence are you on? Are you going to be able to present the other point of view properly? Should you try? Maybe you should just declare yourself, but do you then lose the dramatic tension that lies at the heart of a good documentary? Can you keep perspective? Are you too afraid to hurt peoples’ feelings? Try to think through these issues now, rather than when you’re in the thick of it. An external conflict takes the form of some threat or challenge faced by the community as a whole. Individuals might have different responses to the threat, but all agree that it is a threat. For example, putting a new highway through the middle of a suburb. It is likely that all the residents will think its a bad thing. The drama here lies in the community’s attempt to survive in the face of the threat. Are they fighting it? Are they just trying to adapt to it? Is the community going to break down? Possibly the dramatic tension will be a little harder to get going in this type of scenario. You will need to look for a good angle, or perhaps a couple of strong, extroverted personalities.

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Social media are programmed, networked environments that help you communicate with other people. Different social media have different strengths and weaknesses. Some of them, for example, will be better suited to communicating your documentary than others.

Asking the right questions
You will find an overview of many social media options in the Chapter called ‘Tools’, however before you dive in, I suggest you answer these questions: 1.
How much familiarity do you already have with a variety

of social media?

Low

Medium

High

2.
What sort of media do you want to disseminate?

Audio

Video

Text

Still image

3.
What social media does your community use? (Some of the mainstream ones are Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Yammer. They might use a combination of different things, that’s fine. Older technology such as email lists or a discussion boards can also be social media. If your community communicates by email list, you’d want to include that.
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If you are thinking about doing a documentary on a community that doesn’t use social media, think again! Find a different community! How will they see your work if they don’t use social media? There is no point doing that project. ) Of these three questions, (3) is the most important. (1) is the second most important. The media you make should depend on (3), then (1). Perhaps you should now revise your answer to (2)? Here, I’ll write it down again!

2.
What sort of media do you want to disseminate?

Audio

Video

Text

Still image

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Some students are desperate to make a video documentary. Indeed, they think that a documentary is video. I’m here to proclaim, brothers and sisters, that that is not the case. (Hallelujah!)
Professional video is a lot of work and it requires a lot of skill. You have to think about sound quality as well as image quality on site, and you will require a crew. If the quality isn’t there, it can’t be fixed in post, not even with all the tools now available. Learning video skills is beyond the scope of this cookbook, and beyond the scope of the course that the cookbook is written for. So, what you gonna do? Here’s an idea: still images on a timeline. Look at Angkor Hospital for Children, Seam Reap by Photojournalist Karl Grobl (http://karlgrobl.com/blog/2010/11/angkor-hospital-for-children-siem-reap-cambod ia/). It’s a wonderful project —evocative, communicative, tells a story in pictures (although not quite a participatory documentary). As involving as video would have been. An audio track, or a little bit of text, can contextualise the images and flesh out the issues. You probably already own most of the gear that you need: A smart phone (ie, it captures stills, video and audio, and can
network with social media) A portable stills camera and leads
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An audio recorder (eg, a Xoom) and leads (you may be able to just use your phone, but do a test first) A desktop computer or a laptop. As long as you choose the right sort of project, you will be able to make it on a tablet, too.

But can’t I learn video?
You need to be very judicious in choosing what new skill to learn. I suggest 1 new skill per project! If you’ve never recorded and edited audio before, that’s it. If you have, perhaps you could take on a small video edit, using video you capture on your smart phone. Only if you’ve got those skills under your belt do I suggest you do your first shoot, and then you will need a crew, lots of gear (eg, lighting, mics, tripods) and time to practice skills beyond the scope of the cookbook. If you are still weighing up whether to do video, here are some principles that might help you decide, from Casey Frechette. Make sure you delete all photos and music before using your phone to record video. You want to make as much hard disk space available as possible.

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Of course, if you are experienced and have a crew, you can use more professional gear.

Resources
Filming on an iPhone: what you need to know by Tony Myers (http://www.smartmoviemaking.com/filming-on-an-iphone-what-you-need-to-kno w/) Taking great photos with the iPhone: http://www.imore.com/photography ‘Why Instagram can make you a better photographer’ by Lexy Savvides: http://www.cnet.com.au/why-instagram-can-make-you-a-better-photographer-339 333028.htm Lots of electronic books on making video are available. Online, here’s a free one: Making Better Movies with Moviestorm by Matt Kelland (http://www.moviestorm.co.uk) Volume 1: Basic Camerawork Volume 2: Staging Volume 3: Sound and Lighting Volume 4: Editing Lots of YouTube videos on the basics of using a Zoom audio recorder.

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Convergence is the very complex set of factors which go to make up the media environment we currently enjoy. I can’t go into a proper definition here, but as a producer, you need to be aware that all your decisions are interconnected. Conceiving your idea has ramifications for how you will distribute it … and all the stages in between.
In broadcast media, it is usual to think in terms of pre-production, production, and post-production. For us, these terms do not so neatly delineate phases of a production. ‘Pre-production’ — what you do before you pick up your gear — is still an important phase. Since you are doing interviews, that can be called the production phase. However there are many other aspects of the production phase that will be inter-mixed with post-production.
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‘Episode Convergence’

This ‘episode’ (perhaps it is a blog entry) consists of embedded media, text, and links. It is gathered together at one url, but the bits and pieces were initially published at a variety of locations / services. It takes a bit of thinking to get them working together. How will you divide your story into pieces of media, then marry all the media bits up into episodes?

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There are many theories about storytelling, but I won’t touch upon them in this practical guide. Basic stories usually have a number of characteristic elements. First, a narrative arc: introduction in which the characters and their situation is introduced; a middle bit, in which the characters encounter some obstacle; and a conclusion, in which the obstacle is overcome.
A good documentary will have the first two, and many have the third. However significant numbers of documentaries don’t offer a conclusion — or, perhaps, a solution — but simply end when the problem has been sufficiently explored. You need to be able to identify the first two elements of your narrative arc and possibly the third. Conventional stories have characters. Character — real life people — are also present in most documentaries. Some documentaries focus around individual personalities; others don’t. But if real people are not at least referred to in your story, you are less likely to be telling an engaging story.

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Your structure supports your story. For better or for worse, networked, hypertextual and searchable media allows for many types of structure, including complete chaos (which is to be avoided).

The introduction
This is the easiest part. Even with media published online, which may be republished and re-embedded in other social media, we still want to have a ‘home page’. This is the page you will advertise as the starting point. From it, you will be able to access the other parts of the structure (whatever they are). Having a home page is a rather old-fashioned idea. Online media is tagged and chunked, and it is highly likely that ‘randoms’ will land on any of your chapters other than your homepage. What this means is that every page should have a link back to the homepage. The homepage should have a few features, apart from the introduction to your documentary: a link to the credits; your Creative Commons copyright license; establish the design that will be applied throughout (except when it is

embedded; you will have no design control then); suggest your direction or approach to the material; how to contact you, including whether you are accepting further partici

pation and how you are managing that.
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The argument
Online and interactive media offers, broadly speaking, two types of structure — Dorothy and Alice. A Dorothy structure offers us a clear, linear path through the media. Divergences are virtually impossible, the only control you have is how much you concentrate and when you stop. An Alice structure presents us with divergent paths. We may, indeed, have the feeling that we can go anywhere. Some computer games and virtual worlds are like this. Many online projects exist, structurally, somewhere between these extremes. On the other hand, in industrial media such as radio and television and film, arguments had to be reduced to a linear / Dorothy structure, whether this structure suited them or not. Any online documentary that wants to present an argument should offer the user a simple linear (diagrammed here) or a complex linear (diagrammed on the next page) option, even though users might not engage with the documentary that way. The consequence of the second part of the previous sentence is that each Diagram: A simple linear structure offers a episode also needs to one-way, obvious path through the material. stand alone — to Such projects may not be hypertextual.
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make some sort of sense out of context. To determine what sort of linearity you will deliver, you need to ask yourself a very important question. I suggest you ask it twice. The first time is now, when you are still in preproduction (the ‘preliminary’ structure). The second time is after you’ve finished capturing all your data (that is, the interviews. Any ‘interstitials’ you need can be captured at a later date). This is the ‘final’ structure. The question is about your story:
Diagram: A complex linear structure is a good way to tell a story which represents two conflicting points of view. The matching episodes (for example, different interviewees giving their opinion on the same issue) could be hyperlinked to each other. More than two streams are possible, however the more streams you add, the greater the linearity of the user’s experience is undermined.

Q:
How many points of view do I need to represent?

Perhaps everyone in your community is agreeing about the issue (likely to be an external conflict). That is probably going to result in a simple linear structure (a Dorothy structure). But if there are divergent points of view — if a controversy is emerging — you are venturing more and more down the rabbit hole with Alice.

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Rich Silverman

There's a lot of talk about transmedia narratives being non-linear and a lot of this is bunk. As with telling any story, you start with basics. At least I do. Is there a beginning, middle, and an end? Do the characters have goals to achieve? Are there obstacles? It's basic Aristotle. The rejiggering for transmedia comes after a story is broken and you have to conform the story to your structure. "Form follows function." The non-linear aspects of transmedia storytelling tend to happen within a linear context. If you have a five act structure, you might release the story points for each act in a non-linear kind of way, but there can't be too many points or it gets hard to follow the narrative. Say you have act 1, which has 3 key story points. Those 3 points may be encountered by a user in any order, but since there's only 3 of them it's not hard to follow. I'd think long and hard before releasing an entire narrative in a nonlinear fashion in one great chunk. It's too much to sort through.

If you find that it is difficult to determine what your structure is, you need to go back to your story and refine it. It should actually be quite easy to determine your structure if your story is clear.

So you’ve got your linear structure of one sort or another. You might publish this in a blog, or in video, or in a story-making service such as Storify (etc). But how are you going to control the experience of people that stumble upon episodes of your story in their Facebook or Twitter feed, or even from results in their search engine? You can’t. Don’t even try. What you can do is make sure your episodes stand on their own two feet, by:
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including the link to the homepage, and perhaps other links; making sure there is enough contextualising information so people can at least get enough of an idea about whether your theme interests them; make sure you tag your episodes appropriately.

Diagram: A translinear structure. Although the linear structure exists (in blue), your users are more likely to engage with episodes of your documentary which are embedded within, or linked from, social media such as FaceBook or Twitter (in yellow). Hopefully at least some of these users will convert to spending real time with your linearly structured story. But that is unlikely to happen if your episodes don’t make enough sense on their own.

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Even Dorothy structures will allow for some divergences online. You can use hyperlinks, for example, to link to resource material elsewhere on the Web. You could open different parts of the project in different windows.

To conclude, or not to conclude
Consider the green part of the last diagram. If you are using social media and your documentary elicits interests, you should get some comments. You may find the need to reply to those comments, or incorporate them in a new episode, or perhaps edit an old episode. The point is, it is very hard to reach a point of conclusion in a participatory documentary, or perhaps more exactly, your conclusion will be reached by way of exhaustion. We don’t, as a rule, conclude our conversations, do we? Rather, we run out of things to say, or we run out of time. The same is true of a participatory documentary. You may be able to offer a partial conclusion — one in which you relate what you have learned, and offer your opinion. But that, of course, might attract other comments... Online media is ‘bitsy’, embedded, hyperlinked, repurposed and commented upon. If a story is ‘alive’, it is essentially not finished, because the possibility of new comments and new episodes remain. ‘Conclusions’ are at best tentative and personal, rather than written up by an auteur. This is community media-making in action. The producer of these stories are catalysts. They empower people to find their voice, to work out what they think, and even, perhaps, mobilise. Not being able to create a firm endpoint is a feature of this media. Learn to love it.

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Make your decisions about structure twice: first, the preliminary structure, decided upon at the end of pre-production. The structure will need reviewing after you have done your interviews to become the final structure. Often interview material will throw up material that will require you to make changes. Don’t start editing until you have done this review.

But how long do I make it?
For those doing a video or an audio doco, the question of length arises. It is impossible to generalise when people are doing different media and different projects. A photograph or a cartoon doesn’t have a ‘length’. It is also the case that some video docos are more complex than others, so stipulating the same length for everyone is not fair. Furthermore, if you are collaborating, you might be able to tackle something longer. If you are doing a video doco all by yourself, 8 minutes of tightly edited stuff is long. Some people might easily get 20 minutes because their stuff is not tightly edited. It is better to do something short and tight than long and loose. You want it punchy, especially online where viewers are spoilt for choice. Get an independent assessment of your work at ‘rough cut’ stage.

Y Your social media strategy
In a way, this is all about marketing. But whereas marketers might aim at attracting people that are not already invested in a product, you are squarely aimed at those who will be vitally interested in what you’ve done. So, that hill you are climbing is a lot less steep.

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Of course, if you get people from outside the community interested in your doco, so much the better. For that reason, I hope that you will also reach non-community members ‘accidentally-on-purpose’.... As I’ve said elsewhere, the fundamental part of your marketing is dependent on you finding out what social media your community uses. But you can also embed the project elsewhere, on the off-chance that someone else will stumble upon it. Here’s a step-by-step guide to social media success from a professional marketing company, Simply Business. While some of it is too detailed for a small semiprofessional media project, its a great flow chart to work through what you are going to do: http://www.simplybusiness.co.uk/microsites/guide-to-social-media-success/

Resources
The Tribeca Film Institute website offers lots of interesting insights for those interested in participatory documentary, and the transmedia phenomenon in general. At http://www.tribecafilm.com/tribecaonline/future-of-film/Tips-For-Connected-Docu mentarians.html, Ben Moskowitz offers the following principles:

Ben Moskowitz

#1: Always stay in service of story. #2: To thrive on the web, adopt “systems thinking.” #3: Always be shippin’. #4: Be an auteur, and work backwards from your user experience. #5: Don’t reinvent the wheel. Get Help.

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Well, I don’t think that participatory documentary makers should be auteurs, but read the details in Ben’s post and perhaps adapt some of them to your project specifics. In particular, be prepared for evolving, emergent stories as you gather your data (interviews, research etc). You may finding yourself starting with an issue, or what you think is an issue, then it disintegrates. But you do need to at least have that issue or you will be too unfocussed, and never know when you’ve got what you need. Castells, Arnau Gifreu ‘Differences between linear and interactive documentaries. Featuring the interactive documentary’ http://i-docs.org/2011/12/12/differences-between-linear-and-interactive-documenta ries-featuring-the-interactive-documentary

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At this stage in the course (approximately 1/3 of the way in), I ask my students to provide answers to a set of ‘pre-production’ questions about their proposed documentary. This document sets out what they will do for the rest of the course. It is used to assess the success of the documentary at the end of the course — ie, have you delivered what you promised?
However, it is also used as the basis of feedback about the viability of the proposed doco. I discuss it and troubleshoot it. I don’t allow production to start until it has been signed off. Quite often students are unrealistic, or unaware of potential problems - for example, copyright law - and it is not until you work through the learning contract that these shortfalls are revealed. The learning contract is marked, but since it is only signed off when it is good, cooperative students are guaranteed a high mark. What follows is a sample learning contract.

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Questions you should be able to answer


at the end of pre-production
1. CONTENT
1.1
1.2
1.3
1.4
1.5

1.6

1.7











What community will you make your documentary about? Why is it a community? How do you, or will you, communicate with that community ? What social software do they use? What is the issue, or controversy, that you want to explore? How do
you know it is something that they worry about? Do you hope to propose some sort of answer / resolution / that will be
of assistance to the community? What is the structure of the documentary? (this could be a short
treatment of the way you see your documentary unfolding)

2. TECHNICAL
2.1

2.2


2.3
2.4











What type of media will your documentary consist of (eg audio files,
text, stills, video, animation etc) Given that your documentary will be published online, how will you
tailor production and post-production to be appropriate (eg image
size, frame rate, design issues, copyright)? What are your skills in making this style of media? Are you enlisting the help of any crew during the production phase of
your documentary? (If you are doing a video shoot, a crew will be
necessary.)

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2.5



Will you need to borrow technical equipment from the School techs?
If yes, what do you want to borrow? When do you want to borrow it?
(You must get the borrowing form signed by your tutor in order to
borrow gear, and your tutor must be convinced that you already have
sufficient technical skills to use it.)

3. PERMISSIONS
3.1

3.2

3.3





What talent do you need to get release forms signed for? (All interviewees must sign a release form) Are you going to interview any minors? (if yes, you must get their re
lease form signed by their parent / guardian) Do you need permission to shoot on location?

4. POST-PRODUCTION
4.1

4.2

4.3

What software do you need to edit your documentary? Do you have sufficient skills with that software? Do you have sufficient access to that software?

5. PUBLICATION
5.1

5.2

5.3
5.4
5.5
5.6










What social media will you publish your documentary to and/or
advertise your documentary in? (You can publish to more than one.) What evidence do you have that your community uses that social
media/s? Is the media you are creating appropriate for that environment? Have you become a member of that environment? Have you done a ‘test’ publication? Does the environment stipulate any limits (eg file size, dimensions, file
types, copyright, legal issues) that you will need to meet?
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6. LEGAL
6.1
6.2

6.3
6.4
6.5






Have you got copyright permission for all the content you use? Please provide a signed statement that there is no defamation or
slander. Any other legal issues? What Creative Commons license are you going to use? Where are you going to put that information?

7. RISK ASSESSMENT
7.1



7.2

What are the most likely things that could go wrong with your
project? What is your back-up plan if these things occur?

8. PROJECT MANAGEMENT
8.1
8.2
8.3
8.4
8.5

8.6

8.7











What is the date of your rough-cut showing? What is the final due date? When do you intend to start production? When do you intend to start post-production? Given your production start date, have you already booked any
technical equipment you need? How do these dates work in with assessment deadlines from other
courses? If you are using talent, does their availability suit your production
schedule?

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Reminders

• Collect all credit information as you go! • Backup your data! • Put your schedule dates in your calendar, and set reminders for

yourself! • Save all your passwords somewhere! • Include your Creative Commons logo! • Don’t use exclamation marks, it gets very annoying !

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Nichols 2002, 120

Interviews are a distinct form of social encounter. They differ from ordinary conversation and the more coercive process of interrogation by dint of the institutional framework in which they occur and the specific protocols or guidelines that structure them.

Filmmakers make use of the interview to bring different accounts together in a single story. The voice of the filmmaker emerges from the weave of contributing voices and the material brought in to support what they say.

Nichols 2002, 122

Nichols 2002, 123

Participatory documentaries add the active engagement of the filmmaker with her subjects or informants and avoid anonymous voice-over exposition. This situates the film more squarely in a given moment and distinct perspective; it enriches commentary with the grain of individual voices.
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Conducting an interview for a participatory documentary is very different from other types of interviews, for example, a hardhitting journalistic interview. You are working with your community, not against them; your aim is to facilitate a discussion, not reveal some awful secret (if that happens, you’ll face a conundrum whether to stick with your original intent, or swap to a different type of product). These interviews require sensitivity to your subject, and to your interviewee.

Interview Principles
Your role is to facilitate, not direct. However, you do need to find a focus for the material. In those two sentences lies a tension that will probably haunt the rest of your project.

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Facilitation means: Make sure that that you are getting the best sound and video quality Getting your interviewee to relax. Focussing them on specific issues Reassuring them that you want to hear their story. Empowering them.

Quality …
You should do all the sound and lighting checks prior to the interview starting. While you can drop in other visuals over a sound track, a poor sound recording is more difficult to fix. Always get a still of your interviewee, even if you intend to use video.

Relax …
Start by chatting to them around the topic. Their own interest, how they got involved etc, what their passion is. This stuff may not be used in your doco, but it serves to relax your interviewee, but also flesh out some issues you may not be aware of.

Focus …
A two way exchange of views before the formal interview commences will help your interviewee understand where you are coming from. Ideally this would be done when you are recruiting interviewees. If your doco is partially self-reflexive, you could prepare a little bit of introductory media about your own experience or point of view.

Reassure …
When the interview starts, make sure you give your interviewee time to finish his or her thought. Silence can be edited out later. Interesting things happen if you give your interviewee time to explore. At the end of the interview, ask them whether they have anything else to add, so if there are things you haven’t covered they can say what they want.

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Types of interviews
There are many types of interviews, but the choice of most relevance to a participatory documentary is that between a conversational interview and a nonconversational one. If you are representing yourself within the documentary as part of the community, then a conversational interview is a good choice. The exchange of views, and any disagreements, can be used to good story-telling and dramatic effect. However, be careful not to talk over each other. Silences can always be edited out. A non-conversational interview is the more traditional type. If you are videoing the interview, it is a good idea to get footage of yourself nodding etc. You can edit this in later to break up the monotony of the talking head.

Interview tips
Avoid leading questions — questions in which you might manipulate your interviewee to give you the answer you want. This is especially important if you are interviewing children or vulnerable people. have your interviewee say their name and if relevant their title/profession, and check the spelling, onto the tape at the start of the interview. Don’t talk over your interviewee Provide a drink of water Give yourself plenty of time Find a quiet location Alert your interviewee to the types of questions you are going to ask in advance. An audio recorder and a stills camera are a lot less confronting to inexperiJ e n n y  W e i g h t P a r t i c i p a t o r y  D o c u m e n t a r y  C o o k b o o k 38

enced interviewees than video gear. Consider whether asking the interviewee to diarise or record their own thoughts then send them back to you might provide interesting material / provide extra insight. The first few minutes of the interview may well be unusable, because your interviewee may be nervous, or ‘sussing you out’. Be prepared to fill that time with small talk, or you might want to re-iterate those questions later on in the interview when the interviewee relaxes. Look for and use your interviewee’s passion. An animated interview will result in better material.

Examples
Interviews can be very fraught, and the doco-maker has to be prepared for it. Jasmine Roth (http://jasminecroth.wordpress.com/2010/05/12/today-i-made-an-old-lady-cry ) describes her experience with an interview that unexpectedly became very emotional. What should she do? Sounds like she handled it very well. We've got to be prepared for how to handle unexpected consequences of interviews — and some of this boils down to the sort of doco you want to make, and the level of personal confrontation that is appropriate for your subject.

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Consider how the producer is respectful of the talent in this video by Jonathon Hutchinson (http://jonathonhutchinson.com/2012/01/20/behind-the-scenes-at-abc-radio-nation al-co-creative-feature-making/).

Release forms
Your interviewee must sign a release form, giving you permission to publish the interview and all associated media (eg photo of them). If you are interviewing minors, their parent or guardian must sign the release form. Careful attention must be paid to what images of children will be used (or not); this should be explicit in the release form. Perhaps you want to use a photo of your interviewee that is already online (eg, a Facebook icon). Make sure permission to use that is covered in the release form.

Resources
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The Documentary Interview by Aron Ranen http://www.dvworkshops.com/newsletters/docinterview.html

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The types of media created for a participatory documentary are only limited by the skill of the producer and the social media tools that the community uses.
This section divides useful tools into two types: Production tools Production and Dissemination tools In the convergent world we live in, these categories become a little nebulous. They are only a rough guide. This is not a definitive list. Hopefully the information won’t date too quickly, but that is the risk in this field. If you’ve got all the production tools you need, you can skip the first section and head straight to ‘Production and Dissemination tools’.

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Production Tools
There is a cornucopia of software tools, including ones I don’t know about. Furthermore, they are always in ‘beta’ — always evolving. I suggest you take a very brief, but complete, look at all the options here, make a preliminary but broad choice of tools you might be interested in, then narrow it down further by looking at specific tools more closely. Don’t take too many on — perhaps 4 or 5 at most. Work out an efficient way to learn your tool (everyone has different learning styles, hopefully you know your own method, whether its following the tutorial, or diving in and learning by trial and error). Remember, too, save your work as you go, so if something gets mucked up, you haven’t lost too much. Conquering the use of layers and drafts is very important, and saving your work to some sort of backup system, whether it be an external drive, external storage media such as a data DVD, or onto the cloud. This section is divided into subsections focussing on different types of media objects. The ones with a picture and a graph are the ones I myself use, the rest, alas, are heresay reports — but I’ve checked they all exist. I’d love to get your reviews or updates about any of these tools.

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Video
Qik (qik.com) — uploads video taken on your smart phone to the Qik server. From there it can be embedded in your blog.

Account Cost Logos, advertising Learning curve Works on Quality issues Portability

necessary Best to do your upload over wifi, to avoid phone company data charges. None on your video shallow http://qik.com/phones for a list of phones supported Limited by the video quality of your phone Can be embedded in other social media, eg a blog. More information
ttp://qik.com/info/overview h

Remember to set the private/public settings appropriately, or it may not display. DivShare (http://www.divshare.com/) — upload, store, manage and then embed any file — including video files — into websites. Divshare Plans: $39.99/year 100GB storage and unlimited bandwidth. DotSUb (http://dotsub.com/) — upload videos and put subtitles on them. Screencasting means recording what your desktop is displaying. Also records audio from the built-in computer mic.
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Screencast-o-matic (http://www.scr eencast-o-matic .com/screen_recorder) — video your desktop.

Account Cost Logos, advertising Learning curve Works on Quality issues Portability

not necessary free a logo appears in the bottom left corner of your video very shallow Online service on Mac and PC via a browser. You may need to update java for your browser. Resolution is low, audio quality may be quite low. Among other options, the software creates an mp4 on your desktop. This can be opened in an application like iMovie and edited. New audio tracks can then be added (possibly using Garageband synced with iMovie, which is what the example above demonstrates).

Quicktime (http://www.apple.com/quicktime/download/) — video playback and editing tool from Apple. The basic version is free, you have to pay for the advanced. The basic version does allow you to screencast, and as this is desktop
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software, the file is automatically saved to your hard drive, rather than having to download it, as with Screenr. Screenr (http://www.screenr.com/) — video your desktop.

Account Cost Logos, advertising Learning curve Works on Quality issues Portability

not necessary free Logo appears bottom right of the video very shallow Online service on Mac and PC via a browser. Plays on iPhones May be superior to screencast-o-matic but this needs testing Embeds screencasts in your blog

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iMovie (Apple shop) — Video editing software for Apple laptops and desktops.

Image: iMovie project window, showing timeline, raw footage, and some of the display

Account Cost Logos, advertising Learning curve Works on Quality issues

not necessary free on an Apple laptop or desktop computer none intermediate to high Apple software which must be downloaded and installed. Not as flexible as professional video editing software like FinalCut Pro, but for simple edits its perfectly fine. Avoid the transitions and effects, they quickly lose their novelty. Audio is best edited in Garageband (see below). You can export the video in a variety of ways, including into Quicktime and Final Cut Pro. Audio synching is limited in iMovie, and it is better to do it in Garageband. Resulting video can be uploaded, includes a wyziwyg uploaded to YouTube.

Portability

Pixorial (http://www.pixorial.com/) — upload, edit and organise video files. Has an iPad app.

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Stupeflix.com (http://studio.stupeflix.com/) — create videos by combining image and audio. An easy way to get into video podcasting. Cheapest account is $5/month or $29/year.

KickYoutube (http://saveyoutube.com/) — is a web application that converts YouTube videos to any format. Type in the word kick after the www. in the YouTube url. Korsakow (http://korsakow.org/) — Free desktop application for creating nonlinear video projects. Post on its uses for documentary: http://korsakow.org/live-audio-visual-performance-in-australia

Audio
Audacity (http://audacity.sourceforge.net/) — edit audio. You can record direct into the computer too, although the quality won’t be great. Account Cost Logos, advertising Learning curve Works on Quality issues Portability not necessary Free None basic use is shallow, although some of the effects need more learning Apple, not sure about Windows None, but the ability to fix poorly recorded audio is limited. Can be exported in various formats, uploaded to iTunes or SoundCloud.

iTunes (http://www.apple.com/itunes/download/) — Manage your music collection and convert CDs and other sound recordings to mp3. Account Cost Logos, advertising Learning curve
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Works on Quality issues Portability

Mac and PC. None May be a useful way to store your soundtrack then combine it or upload it elsewhere; unless your doco is a podcast iTunes is unlikely to be your distribution mechanism.

Garageband (Apple shop) — compose and mix audio tracks.

Account Cost Learning curve Works on Quality issues Portability

not necessary free on an Apple laptop or desktop computer intermediate to high Apple you can export the audio a variety of ways, so there should be no quality issues. Within the Apple ecosystem, you may be using Garageband with iTunes, in which case you will have a compressed MP3.

Logos, advertising none

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Myna (http://advanced.aviary.com/tools/audio-editor) — online audio recording and editing tool. Transcribe (http://transcribe.wreally.com/) — free browser-based service that gives you control over the pace of the audio playback. Account Cost Logos, advertising Learning curve Works on unnecessary free none shallow Works best on Google Chrome, according to their website, but I haven’t tested whether there are huge problems. Dependent on your own transcription ability

Quality issues

Photographs
Instagram and FourSquare Although Instagram, FourSquare and similar services (including Path?) are dissemination tools in their own right, I don’t believe that the media derived from their use can result in a significant enough work to deserve the title of ‘documentary’. A documentary is a significant piece of work, presenting a story if not an argument. Perhaps a series of Instagrams, consisting of image and text, could be strung together to present an argument to your Instagram
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followers - and I’d love to be proven wrong, please send me your work - but until I see it I’ll say that these services are production tools, creating media to be compiled later, elsewhere, rather than dissemination tools. Instagram and Foursquare do similar things. They both allow smart phone users to send a combination of still image and text to a variety of services, including Twitter and Facebook. You can also email the media to yourself, and I strongly recommend you do that if you are intending to repurpose it. Instagram allows you to play around with the image more; FourSquare is a more established networking platform. However if you’re just creating your media to play around with on your computer later, neither of these nuances is important. FourSquare (https://foursquare.com/) Account Cost Logos, advertising Learning curve Works on Quality issues Portability necessary Free References to foursquare can be found in posts, but can be stripped out of re-purposed media. shallow Various smart phones Text length limitation; no video or audio. Can be viewed via a Twitter or Facebook feed.

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Instagram (http://instagr.am/) Account Cost necessary Free

Logos, advertising References to Instagram can be found in posts, but can be stripped out of re-purposed media. Learning curve Works on Quality issues Portability shallow Various smart phones Text length limitation; no video or audio. Can be viewed via a Twitter or Facebook feed. Make sure you email your instagrams to yourself if you want to repurpose them.

Image: Displaying my Instagram on Flickr. From there you can embed it in a blog, on Facebook, etc.

Preloader (www.preloadr.com) — web based photo editor that claims to be the best way to upload and optimize photos to Flickr. Sign in with your Flickr account. Gimp (http://www.gimp.org/) — image manipulation program. It tackles tasks such as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring.

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PhotoSynth (http://photosynth.net/) — take a bunch of photos of the same scene or object and automatically stitch them all together into one big interactive 3D viewing experience that you can share with anyone on the web (currently Windows only). Big Huge Labs (bighugelabs.com/flickr/) — utilities and toys to edit and alter digital pictures. You can create puzzles, movie posters, magazine covers, mosaics, calendars, badges, billboards and many more besides. A bit gimicky. ImageChef (http://www.imagechef.com/) — create custom images by combining text, symbols and photos. Cellsea (http://www.cellsea.com/media/index.htm) — add effects to your pictures. Paint.NET (http://www.getpaint.net/) — Open Source image and photo editing desktop application for Windows with support for layers, unlimited undo, special effects, and a wide variety of useful and powerful tools. Snipshot (http://snipshot.com/) — picture editing application. Minus (http://minus.com/) — create photo galleries by dragging photos form your desktop or any folder in your computer and drop them into your browser to create and share photo galleries. Photovisi (http://www.photovisi.com/) — turns your pictures into a collage which you can then download free (high quality paid versions are also available). Dropmocks (http://www.dropmocks.com/) — create photo galleries really easily by dragging photos form your desktop or any folder in your computer and drop them into your browser to create and share photo galleries. Online Photo Tool (http://www.onlinephototool.com/) — edit and save your images, screenshots and photos online. Looks quite basic. Registration required.

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Pixer (http://pixer.us/) — online photo editor. Looks good. Phixr (http://www.phixr.com/) — online photo editor. BeFunky (http://www.befunky.com/) allows you to apply a variety of effects to your own photos or from photo sharing sites. Free, no registration. Picnik.com (http://www.picnik.com/) — photo editing web application. Free. Storybird (http://storybird.com/) — create short, visual, digital stories which can then be shared and embedded into blogs and wikis. Animoto (http://animoto.com/intro/animoto/19?gclid=COPDy9Xyrq4CFYMmpAodnQ1wP w) — combine stills and a soundtrack and on a timeline to make a video. Free

Drawing
IPad — I love drawing on my iPad. It’s much easier to use your finger, or an iPad stylus, than mouse or trackpad on a laptop. There are lots of iPad apps for drawing, either cheap or free. I won’t try to list them all here. Seashore (http://seashore.sourceforge.net/The_Seashore_Project/About.html) — image manipulation program much like GIMP, but some prefer it to GIMP, but it lacks curve and shapes. It does support layers, alpha channels, gradients and textures, making it a very flexible tool. (Mac OS 10.4.11 or later) Inkscape (inkscape.org) — vector graphics editor along the lines of Adobe Illustrator, but it’s free and open source. Vector graphics can be scaled up or down in resolution without problems, making them highly flexible for projects that require the same image in different sizes. The software plots the curves and points to make them adjust cleanly to each size required. It’s not so good for photographs and other bitmap images. (Win, Mac, Linux)
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Aviary (http://www.aviary.com/) — online suite of tools, not just graphics; sound editing is available too. It has a pro subscription for an annual fee as well a free membership available. It takes a Pro membership to keep your creations private, however. Completed images can be exported as flat images (JPG or GIF), but the FAQ says that eventually you will be able to download unflattened images. Toondoo (http://www.toondoo.com/) — a web application to create your own comic characters and comic strips. Must register. Free. Sumo Paint (http://www.sumopaint.com/start/) — professional image editing and painting software in your browser. Free account with ads. Looks good. Glogster (http://www.glogster.com/) — create online posters that can be shared or embedded. Stripgenerator (http://stripgenerator.com/strip/create) — cartoon strip generator. VectorMagic (http://vectormagic.com/home) — converts images to vector images, this basically means that it allows you to scale an image without making blurry or pixelated, retaining its crispness. Free. See the photography section for general image editing software.

3D Drawing
SketchUp (http://sketchup.google.com/) — a desktop application from Google to create and share stunning 3D (non-character) models easily and intuitively. Free Blender (http://www.blender.org/) — create 3D characters. Online application, free. Alice (http://www.alice.org/) — 3D programming environment to create an animation for telling a story, playing an interactive game, or a video to share on the web.
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It uses 3D graphics and a drag-and-drop interface to facilitate a learning to program. As indeed is the case with all these tools, test the quality of images etc before committing to use this.

Interview tools
Tinychat (http://tinychat.com/) — create private video conferences with up to twelve people in a room with HQ video, protected by passwords and moderators. Your conferences can be recorded and embedded on your website. You might want to upgrade to pro for 1 month to improve the quality ($10.00) Vocaroo (http://vocaroo.com/) — a web service for recording voice. Voxopop (http://www.voxopop.com/) — message board/forum system that uses voice recordings instead of text. Can be private or public. Google chat — You need a gmail account, and you need to pay for VOIP. Skype VOIP phone calls (http://www.skype.com) — make audio calls, video calls and live chat with Skype. Also conference calls.These can then be recorded (for example, by using screencast-o-matic or screenr) and used in your doco.

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Account Cost Logos, advertising Learning curve Works on

necessary varies from free to cheapish, according to the type of call you are making image or audio capture may be logo-free intermediate. Not a particularly good option if your interviewee is unfamiliar with Skype. Mac and PC, also on mobile phones and tablets. However, your ability to record the interview may depend on the device you use. audio quality may be quite low and out of sync with image. Image will also be pixellated and suffer lag. Judicious editing will probably be required. That said, people are becoming accustomed to Skype quality in current affairs. the audio from the Skype may be poor, especially when decontextualised from the Skype environment. Cleaning it up in Audacity (or even better, something like iZotope Music & Speech Cleaner, but this software is not free) may assist.

Quality issues

Portability

Google + hangouts — Group video chat. You need a gmail account, and your interviewees need to be using Google +.

Animation
Picture2Life (http://www.picture2life.com/) — edit, collage and animate pictures online. Go!Animate (http://goanimate.com/) — create animated comic strips and cartoons. Kerpoof (http://www.kerpoof.com/) — draw, tell stories and create cartoons and animations. Aimed at children.
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Voki.com (http://www.voki.com/) — produce animated characters to which you can add your voice (or anybody else’s). May be too gimicky for serious work. Acapela.tv (http://www.voki.com/) — create text-to-speech animations. Free. Works in most browsers. My ‘talking head vids were made by combining Acapela and Screenr. Bitstrips (http://www.bitstrips.com/) — create comics on any topic. Individuals can use Bitstrips for free, or you can have a paid group account. Xtranormal (http://www.xtranormal.com/) produce short films with virtual characters and a text to speech facility. Doink.com (http://www.doink.com/) — create and share animations.

Graphs, timelines, charts
Timetoast (http://www.timetoast.com/) — create interactive time lines, which can be shared anywhere on the web. Gliffy (http://www.gliffy.com/) — create professional-looking flowcharts, diagrams, floor plans and technical drawings. Create a Graph (http://nces.ed.gov/nceskids/createagraph/default.aspx) — Guess. Dipity (http://www.dipity.com/) — create embeddable media-rich timelines. Great for research and history projects. Visually (http://visual.ly) — make your own infographic Timeglider (http://timeglider.com/) — web application to create visual time lines of events. Perfect for History, but useful for any subject exploring a sequence of events.
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Text
TypeIt.org (http://www.typeit.org/) — type in text requiring foreign accented characters in a variety of languages, even if you don’t have a specialist keyboard. You can edit your text in the box and then copy it to your document, e-mail message, etc. PDFCreator (http://sourceforge.net/projects/pdfcreator/) — desktop application that turns anything in your computer (Windows only, I think) into a PDF file, be it word documents, PowerPoint presentations, web pages… etc. Pen.io (http://pen.io/) — create, publish and share text based web pages.

Slideshows
Prezi (http://prezi.com/) — web application that allows you to create stunning visual presentations. Think PowerPoint meets mind map. PhotoPeach (http://photopeach.com/) — slide show maker. Fotobabble (www.fotobabble.com) — create talking photos in a few clicks by adding a voice to customisable slide-shows. Photo Story 3 (http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?displaylang=en&id=11132) — Windows desktop application that makes film clips of your photo slide shows to which you can add commentary, soundtrack and transition effects.

Copyright-waived media resources
Creative Commons Search (http://search.creativecommons.org/) — massive repositories of media and resources which you are legally free to use and share.
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Jamendo (http://www.jamendo.com/en/) — royalty-free, Creative Commons music in all major european languages.

Putting it all together
Capzles (http://www.capzles.com/) — free web application that allows you to combine your photos, videos, blog posts and mp3s into rich multimedia storylines. Creative Commons (creativecommons.org) — design and apply a copyright license to your work.

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Production and Dissemination
This section focusses on tools in which distribution becomes part of the production focus. I have attempted to divide these tools into what sort of medium focus they have, but such distinctions are getting harder to make all the time. Tools are becoming more and more convergent (and therefore powerful).

Video focus
YouTube (http://www.youtube.com) — upload your video, make it available for embedding elsewhere
Image: still from Burgundy Voices by TVMcGill, DESTA, Youth In Motion and others http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TS3ZrF4Upqk

Account Cost Logos, advertising Learning curve Works on Quality issues Portability

necessary Depends on length of the video, see Youtube for details On the video frame shallow All browsers, platforms You pay for what you get. For the free service, Vimeo is recognised as having better quality. Embeds in many different social media.

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Vimeo (http://vimeo.com) — upload your video, make it available for embedding elsewhere.
Image: still from Hair we Go (Short Documentary) by D.I.S GUISE http://vimeo.com/21727900

Account Cost Logos, advertising Learning curve Works on Quality issues Portability

necessary Basic account is free, you can upload 500mb per week. minimal shallow All browsers, platforms The Free account includes HD uploads; even better if you pay. Embeds in many different social media.

Blip (http://blip.tv/) — upload your video, make it available for embedding elsewhere
Image: Still from Ctrl Alt Shift: a documentary about VJ/AV culture, by Dean G Moore & Simon Lane http://blip.tv/djsounds/ ctrl-alt-shift-a-documentary-about-vj-av-cultu re-by-dean-g-moore-simon-lane-2284184

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Account Cost Logos, advertising Learning curve Works on Quality issues Portability

necessary Basic account is free none shallow All browsers, platforms Good Embeds in many different social media.

Seesmic (https://seesmic.com/) — video blogging service which allows its users to post and share video updates.

Still image focus
Flickr (http://flickr.com) — upload and share mainly images, and also limited video. Contains a massive collection of Creative Commons photographs and pictures. Flickr is great as an archive. You can embed your images into other social media, including a blog, a twitter feed and Facebook. I wouldn’t use Flickr as my only dissemination tool. Although it has a follower service, unless your story is wholly imagistic, you are unlikely to produce a complete documentary this way.

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Account Cost Logos, advertising Learning curve Works on Quality issues Portability

necessary Free, or you can upgrade to premium if you are a heavy user. When you embed your image, it will have text saying its from Flickr shallow All browsers Jpeg quality for web applications is fine. You can also embed a slideshow

Audio focus
Soundcloud (http://soundcloud.com/) — Capture a voice, moment or music in seconds or upload audio you’ve already created. Account Cost Logos, advertising Learning curve Works on Quality issues Portability necessary Various accounts; the free account gives you 120 upload minutes. Can be minimal Shallow All browsers Uploads the following file types: AIFF, WAVE, FLACC, OGG, MP2, MP3 or ACC Interfaces particularly well with Tumblr (http://soundcloud.com/101/tumblr), but embeddable in many social media. Wordpress plugin available.

Audioboo (http://audioboo.fm/) — audio-blogging site, you can send in updates through the web, phone or its own iPhone app. Perfect for blogging on the move.
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Podomatic (http://www.podomatic.com/login) — podcast publishing service. Upload your audio or video files. Free for the first 500MB

Text focus
Email Lists — emails for a group, delivered to your inbox. Account Cost Logos, advertising Learning curve Works on Quality issues necessary None May be some in the email list signature shallow Any email client on any networked computer or smart phone People are leaving email lists for newer forms of social media. Make sure the people you want to reach are still on the list. Can be received in any email client

Portability

Discussion Boards — A rather old-fashioned type of social media which only handles text, still popular among the pre-social media set. If your community uses a discussion board, you need to advertise your doco there with a link. Your actually documentary would be published elsewhere, for example in a blog or in Storify, etc. Account Cost Learning curve Works on Quality issues
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necessary None Shallow-intermediate This is older technology and I can’t generalise May not display any rich media; you may have to just provide a link
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Portability

Cannot be embedded in other social media. Can only be used to advertise the existence of your doco. Not a preferred dissemination option

authorSTREAM (http://www.authorstream.com/) — publish and share your PowerPoint presentations. Download published presentations as videos. Slideshare (http://www.slideshare.net/) — upload and share your PowerPoint presentations. Presentations can then be embedded into blogs or wikis. Twitter (twitter.com) — post short messages, including website links, to your followers. They can be received on any networked device. Account Cost Logos, advertising Learning curve Works on Quality issues Portability necessary None Not attached to individual tweets, but generally hard to escape Shallow to complex, depending on use All devices, although you may need extra (free) software. 140 character limit Tweets can be embedded in other social media such as a blog, or sent to and fro services such as Facebook.

Inter-medium focus
Facebook groups (http://www.facebook.com/) — make a group for your project and invite your facebooks friends in to see it. You can also put the episodes of your doco in your Facebook updates.

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Account Cost Logos, advertising Learning curve Works on Quality issues Portability

necessary None Ubiquitous, although not attached to individual posts Shallow - intermediate depending on your use All browsers and FB app on smart phones There is a lot of third party advertising on FB, some of it disguised as posts from your friends! FB’s API is a closely guarded secret, therefore portability out of FB is limited.

Storify (http://storify.com/storify) — Compile and present your story in on one page is possible using Storify. You can import content from many other social media platforms into Storify. You can republish a complete storify project back into a blog, or link it to Facebook, etc.

Account Cost Logos, advertising Learning curve Works on Quality issues Portability

necessary to create and save your own storify none check shallow All browsers, and on the iPad. There are limitations to this approach to story telling. Lots of experimentation will pay off. Can be embedded or linked in other social media

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Blogging Wordpress probably remains the blogging software to beat. Other blogging software includes Typepad and Livejournal.
Blogs are a great way to present photojournalism. Image by fcignelli from http://francocignelli .com/2012/01/26/my-upcomingholidays-are-making-me-happy/

Wordpress (wordpress.com and wordpress.org) — WordPress.com is a hosted blogging platform and content management system. As it hosted, you don’t need to find your own web space, WordPress supplies it for you. WordPress.org is a self-hosted version of the above. It’s highly customisable but you need your own web space and basic knowledge of html coding. Account Cost necessary to write in your own blog you may wish to pay for commercial hosting, in which case you should get good support. Cost varies. You can get free Wordpress hosting from Wordpress.com (or RMIT students can get an RMIT Wordpress blog)

Logos, advertising Tiny by-line at the bottom of your blog

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Learning curve

intermediate to high. You can probably design a project to match your technical skill level. Sticking to text and image can be very effective and easy. Your biggest challenge will be thinking through the structure, as blogs presuppose a diary type organisation which may not suit your project. Overcoming this presupposition requires greater skill. There are tons of resources for Wordpress, including a free downloadable Wordpress user manual from http://interconnectit.com/products/wordpress-user-guide/ which probably has everything you need. All browsers You can embed just about any type of media that you can find on the Web in a blog, with the exception of programmed media. Plugins and scross support from other social media platforms increases almost daily. Works cross platform. You can have subscribers, or send your blog posts to Facebook and Twitter, etc. People can receive your posts by RSS, via an RSS readers such as Google Reader, then into Flipboard on your iPad.

Works on Quality issues

Portability

Microblogging — simple blogging platforms. Lacking in the configuring options of systems such as Wordpress, they may offer sufficient options for simpler, non-technical projects. The two main ones are Tumblr and Posterous. Posterous (posterous.com) — simple blogging platform. You can email updates.
Image from http://lostnowfound. posterous.com/ by Jamie Graham
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Account Cost Logos, advertising Learning curve Works on

necessary to write in your own blog None None low to intermediate Mac and PC, mobile phones (iPhone and Android apps) and tablets, particularly designed for mobile blogging. Mobile methods include sending an email, with attachments of photos, MP3s, documents, and video (both links and files). You can embed just about any type of media that you can find on the Web, with the exception of programmed media. Works cross platform. You can have subscribers, or send your blog posts to Facebook and Twitter, etc.

Quality issues

Portability

Tumblr (www.tumblr.com) — post text, photos, quotes, links, music, and videos, from your browser, phone, desktop or email.
Image by Jotting Matt from http://jottingmatt.tumblr.com/

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Account Cost Learning curve Works on Quality issues

necessary to write in your own blog None low to intermediate Mac and PC, mobile phones (iPhone and Android apps) and tablets. You can embed just about any type of media that you can find on the Web, with the exception of programmed media. Works cross platform. You can have subscribers, or send your blog posts to Facebook and Twitter, etc.

Logos, advertising None

Portability

Google + — An evolving platform, you can embed all sorts of media on Google+. At time of writing, I’m not sure how many people actually read their feed. You may need to subsidise the google+ post with an email/Twitter alert. Account Cost Logos, advertising Learning curve Works on Quality issues Portability necessary None minimal Shallow. You need to have people in your circles. All browsers Can embed video and stills and text. However it may not do justice to your project. An evolving platform. Currently doesn’t get embedded elsewhere.

The Pool (http://pool.abc.net.au/) — hosts lots of project calls, and perhaps one of them is right for your project. A collaboration between Australian universities and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
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One of particular

relevance to participatory documentary is My Tribe (http://pool.abc.net.au/users/my-tribe-hq)

The aim of my tribe is to bring makers together to create a collection of work exploring ideas of belonging, community and social identity. To add to this mix we are developing an interesting series of production projects with media industry partners - and we're also supporting education Account Cost Logos, advertising Learning curve Works on Quality issues Portability necessary None minimal Shallow. You need to have people in your circles. All browsers Can upload video and stills and text. There are file size and type limitations, read the fine print. An evolving platform. Currently doesn’t get embedded elsewhere.

Interest group websites
Many communities have their own website with some sort of publishing policy for guests. These can be a great way to get your work back to your community, but you need to research a few issues, which may include, depending on your project: What sort of media will they take? Published in what format? (Eg, embed a YouTube clip? If your doco is at all critical of the community, will they accept that (ie, do they want editorial control?) Who owns copyright? Are there deadlines?

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Geographical focus
Google Maps (maps.google.com.au/) — If your doco is built around a location, consider using Google maps. You can use the map as the basic interface, then embed other media, including video and Image: mapping the 2011 London riots audio. Then you could embed the whole thing (http://geniwate.com/?p=226) elsewhere, for example in a blog. Account Cost Learning curve Works on Quality issues Portability necessary to create and save your own map none low to intermediate Mac and PC, mobile phones (iPhone and Android apps) and tablets. You can embed image, video and audio. Not tested on all browsers. You can embed the map in other social media.

Logos, advertising Google logo in bottom left corner.

Moveable Feast (http://www.mvabl.com/) — Arrange text, photos and videos on a map to create an immersive virtual tour. The creation tool allows you to drop pins on the Google Maps interface. At each location, you can add text, audio, photographs and video from your personal files. After you hit publish, other app users will be able to download your tour, either experiencing it on-site or remotely. Read a review at http://mashable.com/2012/02/24/moveable-feast

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Knitting it together
As the documentary producer, one of your main tasks will be combining a range of tools to do your post production, publication and dissemination. All these tools must be combined to achieve one ambition: that your documentary goes back to the community that it is about.

An example
You are doing a documentary about a recreational hockey team’s struggle to find new players. You know they use Facebook, but not all of them are active. You have some of their mobile phone numbers, so you can text them, but you don’t have all of them. Perhaps you can disseminate your documentary to the Facebook group and your own Facebook feed, send a link to the people who you have a phone number for, and hope that word of mouth gets it past on to the rest of the hockey players. You need to have some ‘connectors’ among your friends, texters and followers. These are the people who will send your media on to more members of the community, either by specifically targeting people they know, or republishing it in their own Facebook feed, Google + feed, etc. You can encourage potential connectors to behave this way in the way you publicise your documentary. To send a text message about your documentary, you are going to need a website link. Perhaps you could also send them an image ‘teaser’, if its only a few people. FaceBook is much more flexible. You can send episodes of your documentary to a FaceBook group and to your own FaceBook feed. These episodes can be much more than a link. They can also contain embedded video, audio or images.

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Text messaging and FaceBook is a dual dissemination strategy. Depending on what social media your community uses, it could become much more complex. Disseminating your project to all your followers on twitter, emailing the link - with teaser image — to others, if people are subbed to an RSS feed attached to your blog they’ll get notification of new content that way. Do a search for online groups dealing with your subject and try to contact them. Some of your ‘marketing’ will be very directed. Other bits of it might be more of a ‘hopeful scatter’ approach. The more you do, the more likely the doco will find that audience, and stumble upon audiences that you didn’t know you had. So what are you going to produce? A web address with a distinct url which contains your introduction, copyright license and credits; A series of episodes including embedded media (image, audio, video); An ordered, either simple linear or complex linear ‘progression’ through those episodes (at least, probably); Possibly a conclusion

Episodes
An episode tends to be comprised of combinations of different media stored on different websites. Be careful when dealing with the design, it can get complex and messy. Remember KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid. If an episode is too crowded, try breaking it into two parts (and two pages/posts).

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Other useful tools
These tools don’t directly produce your project, but I swear by them, not just for production work, but for life!
Dropbox (http://dropbox.com) — store your project work on the cloud, and access it anywhere. Account Cost Logos, advertising Learning curve Works on Quality issues Portability necessary First 5 Gig is free; after that there are several pricing plans. no shallow All platforms and devices, so long as you install the software on all of them It can take a while to update the files, and working on a file from dropbox can be slow Fantastic. My problem with Google Docs is that formatting in text files can be changed. Dropbox maintains the integrity of your original file, working with the software on your desktop.

Apple’s iCloud may one day end my reliance on Dropbox, but it is not competitive at the moment. Wunderkit (https://www.wunderkit.com/) — collaborative project management tool. There are many of these types of tools, I’m not saying this is the best but its useful to have one.

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Account Cost Learning curve Works on Quality issues Portability

Necessary; you have a master password to protect all your other info Basic account is free shallow Browser based and IPhone. Only basic project management techniques supported Other people with an account can collaborate.

Logos, advertising no

Hootsuite (hootsuite.com) — read your social media feeds, including Twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn and (if you pay) RSS feeds. Browser based.

Cost Logos, advertising Learning curve Works on
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Basic account is free you get Hootsuite marketing shallow Browsers and smart phones
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Quality issues Portability

good, but you might find you need to upgrade from the free account. Other people with an account can collaborate.

Passwords and pins (http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/passwords-and-pins/id387162778?mt=8) — little iPhone app means I keep all my passwords with me wherever I go. It is not on the cloud, therefore quite secure. Presumably a similar app is available for Android. Account Cost Learning curve Works on Quality issues Portability Necessary; you have a master password to protect all your other info $0.99 shallow IPhone. I’m sure there are similar apps for Android. none You can back up to your computer’s hard drive using some free software.

Logos, advertising no

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Some people think that structure is the boring part. But when you understand what you are doing — designing your user’s experience — it not only becomes pivotal, but endlessly fascinating.
No matter how hard we prepare in pre-production, it is only after doing the interviews that we really know what is possible and what is not. Making a media project, especially when you are inexperienced, is an iterative process; it does require us to re-examine our expectations as we go along. Giving yourself the time and space to be able to do this when necessary is part of the risk-management process.

Self-help questions
You have got all your data and are moving from the preliminary structure to the final structure. Do you have any lurking sense of unease?

Yes?



No!

Are you kidding yourself?

Sadly, yes I am



No!

Really?
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...

Best to make hard decisions now than half way through the edit. Go back and read the Structure and Story again. Yeah. I know.

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Crisis 1: You didn’t get the material



you expected
Content you hoped to get — the argument you hoped to mount — not supported by the interviews? So flip it! Suddenly you have an argument for the other side of the coin. Also, you can use the drama in having to reinvent your doco and reconsider your assumptions in a self-reflexive way. A more interesting argument emerged in the course of the interviews? You have two choices: 1.If you have enough material, you can go with the new argument. However, beware that the new material might require a wholly different approach, and it may no longer be a participatory documentary. You can't just 'shove' the new theme inside the previous structure, the project will lose coherence. You’ll need to change the whole structure and argument of your documentary. Furthermore, have you really got enough material to address the new theme? Think about the workload implications. Don’t disappear down the rabbit hole unless you are very sure you can cope with it. 2. If you haven’t got enough material, stick with your original argument. Save the other thing up for the next project. This option will always be the most efficient. So long as you have got enough material for your original concept, its fine. Next month you can work out what to do with the other stuff. One issue taking over?
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Tessa Mudge, for example, ponders

The nudity issue is obviously dramatic, but perhaps it dominates to to the point of getting in the way of more subtle complex issue. Tess probably doesn't want her community ending up seeming like it is obsessed with nudity, and she fears she is losing perspective.

I feel like the Seb-nudity issue is taking up quite a large portion of the delinquency themed mini-doc. But then again, this has been one of the bigger issues within my community…I feel like I’m getting too close to it. (http://tessmudge.wordpress.com/2009/05/15/taking-ove r-my-bad-behaviour/)

Perhaps its time to talk it through with someone else? Clarify where the drama and the story is. When you’re editing, make yourself a checklist / reminder list, tape it to your computer so you can keep yourself focussed. If you are making a timebased work, keep within your time limit. Not enough drama? Jonathon Hutchinson (http://raws.adc.rmit.edu.au/~s3044956/blog/?p=272) has a different type of problem in the editing room: he's trying to resist his documentary ending up as a promotion for his community. In other words, he hasn’t found enough drama, enough controversy and conflict. Perhaps he can save his project, as least partly, by turning himself into some sort of antagonist. EG, presenting himself as disapproving of the community. This can seem very manipulative and fake, but it might be the best thing to do.

Crisis 2: little money, limited domestic gear, tight deadline
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KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid
All the little tools and apps floating about give you so many options — so long as you use them judiciously (ie, you don’t want gizmos to get in the way of your story), stick to your aesthetic (just iterate a couple of cool effects rather than use everything you find), and keep to your schedule. Rule of thumb: 1 new skill per project is enough of a challenge. That rabbit hole is always lurking.

Creating visual interest
If you’re not experienced with visuals, you can still do a lot with all of the tools available. Just don’t overdo it. Find an effect, and a colour scheme, and stick with it. Better to be slightly boring than indulge in a blamange of colours and effects in which your argument and story gets lost. Here’s some examples. 1. Some still image editor wizardry, then stick them on a timeline:
Image: Floating Chicago — A collection of mirrored skyline timelapses by Craig Shimala (http://vimeo.com/24084352)

Awaiting copyright clearance

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Consider a beautiful and interesting still coupled with your audio interviews. You could make that still using your mobile phone and a free app such as Instagram. 2. If you can’t get the actual image that you want, perhaps you can construct the images you need. Consider Cynthia von Buhler’s use of dolls in Speakeasy Dollhouse.
Image: Cynthia von Bubler 2012 Speakeasy Dollhouse (http://www.speakeasydollhouse.com) Reproduced with permission.

3. Drawings and animation.
Image from ‘We learn about the telephone’ (1965) Fairbanks (Jerry) Productions (http://www.archive.org/ embed/WeLearnA1965)

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4. Re-enactments. Probably beyond the scope of most semi-professional projects. They can seem very fake if not done well. Exactly what you don’t want in a doco (unless it is a mockumentary).
Image from ‘We learn about the telephone’ (1965) Fairbanks (Jerry) Productions (http://www.archive.org/ embed/WeLearnA1965)

5. Archives. Wonderful public domain work available at archive.org and Library of Congress among other places.

Image from ‘Berlin Documentary’ (1961) National Archives and Records Administration (http://www.archive.org/details/gov.ar chives.arc.68514) Public domain

Creating audio interest
You can get free music loops and free sound effects. Have a look for free Apple loops and effects, available in Garageband, and to a lesser extent, in iMovie. Others mentioned in the Tools section. Easily make your own abstract audio effects in Audacity, or change pitch on voices and add echoes, etc. Use such things judiciously to add mood.
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Free and very cheap sound effects are available online. Just use your search engine.

Colour schemes
Remember your colour symbolism. If you are unsure about a colour scheme, copy a colour scheme from another websites. Remember to keep colour contrasts strong when text is important.

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While this cookbook shies away from theory, I will now do my level best to indicate where, in the spectrum of documentary, participatory documentary belongs. Its radicalness stems entirely from the use of social media.
Bill Nichols’ seminal book Introduction to Documentary (2002) uses the term ‘participatory documentary’ to refer to film/video documentaries in which the documentary maker represents him or herself within the documentary as part of the community s/he is investigating: …someone who actively engages with, rather than unobtrusively observes, poetically reconfigures, or argumentaNichols 2002, 116 tively assembles that world. The filmmaker steps out from behind the cloud of voice-over commentary, steps away from poetic meditation, steps down from a fly-on-the-wall perch, and becomes a social actor (almost) like any other. As such, the representation of the world experienced by the viewer is explicitly depicted as that of the doco maker, who is …someone who actively engages with, rather than unobtrusively observes, poetically reconfigures, or argumentatively assembles that world. The filmmaker steps out from behind the cloud of voice-over commentary, steps away from poetic meditation, steps down from a fly-on-the-wall perch, Nichols 2002, 116 and becomes a social actor (almost) like any other.
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Nicols’ Examples
Portrait of Jason (1967) Dir. Shirley Clarke (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0062144/) Word is out (1977) Dir. Nancy Adair, Andrew Brown and Rob Epstein Man with a movie camera (1928) Dir. Dziga Vertov; (http:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=00ZciIC4JPw) Sherman's march (1987) Dir. Ross McElwhee Crumb (1984) Dir. Terry Zwigoff (http:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=FlT4QZchxQw) Kurt and Courtney (1998) Dir. Nick Broomfield (http:// www.imdb.com/title/tt0138563/) Jupiter's wife (1995) Dir. Michael Negroponte (http:// www.imdb.com/title/tt0110217/) Rabbit in the Moon (1999) Dir. Emiko Omori (http://www.imdb.com/title/ tt0181781/) Chronique d'un été (Chronicle of a summer) (1960) Dirs. Edgar Morin, Jean Rouch (http://icarusfilms.com/new2003/sum.html) (good doco about a community)

Updating the theory
My use of the term ‘participatory documentary’ focusses more on the idea that communities can tell their own stories, albeit usually with the help of a profesJ e n n y  W e i g h t P a r t i c i p a t o r y  D o c u m e n t a r y  C o o k b o o k 88

sional, who has the story telling, aesthetic and technical skills. When that professional is also a part of the community, and represents him or herself engaging with that community, an extra dramatic dimension can be added to projects. In participatory documentary, according to Nichols, the ethics and politics of encounter is at issue, the relationship and responsibility between filmmaker and social actor (Nichols, 116): Filmmakers collaborate with their social subjects (Nichols, 118). The filmmaker may be like an investigative reporter (Nichols, 119) or might establish 'a more responsive and reflective relationship to unfolding events that involve the filmmaker. This latter choice moves us toward the diary and personal testimonial. The firstperson voice becomes prominent in the structure of the film...” (Nichols, 119) Consider how diary-like much social media is. Social media does indeed seem to be the perfect vehicle for such documentaries. Nichols stresses the filmmakers’ (sic) direct encounter (Nichols, 123) in his definition of a participatory documentary. I stress the empowerment of the community and its interviewees to tell their own stories. While there will always be an element of negotiating the relationship between the producer and the subject, this need not be as overt as Nichols’s formulation.

I choose to define the role of the documentary maker in participatory contexts as a facilitator. This term is meant o imply the changed nature of the ethical and political conundrums that Nichols explores.
The potential for the subject to be way more responsible for the production of their own representation through social media de-centers the doco producer’s role. Nevertheless, most projects are still going to need a single visionary and driver to get a project to completion — or, if not completion, a project advanced enough to provide a significant engagement. One of the aspects of this emergent form is that such project are never really completed.

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The reason why a new type of participatory documentary has been able to emerge is technological. Now that we have burgeoning DIY media practices being produced and distributed online via social media, the way in which documentaries can be produced, and the voices that can be heard, are much broader. Hence, my use of the ‘sic’, above, with regard to Nichols’s focus on filmmakers. Documentary need have no video content (even in Nichols’ day, photojournalism and radio documentary flourished; his analysis was always too focussed on film and video). From my perspective, a documentary that is going to be published on the web via social media platforms is necessarily participatory, because social media is definitionally participatory — it involves community and identity (however those rather nebulous ideas are defined). So it makes sense to make docos that wear the participation of the documentary maker on its sleeve. The call of more traditional observational documentary is often hard to resist, especially by inexperienced doco makers — whether for reasons of shyness or because they don’t think they are interesting, they shy away from putting themselves in the frame. Another reason espoused by some documentary makers is that they won’t get the story told that they want to if they are too reliant on participation. That’s true, they won’t — but it might be a more relevant / valid one. When you are feeling like keeping yourself out of the frame, remember that drama happens when you place yourself in front of the camera. You are putting yourself on the line, and saying to your community, “I am no better than you, I struggle with the issues too”. Perhaps you will get into a debate while the camera is rolling — great! That’s fantastic footage! Such involvement also lends an element of ethical responsibility and gravitas to your project. In the documentary genre, that can’t be under-estimated.

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References
Nichols, B (2010). Introduction to documentary. Bloomington : Indiana University Press. (available as an eBook)

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There are lots of elements to balance in the production of a participatory documentary. It is easy to get too focussed on one part at the expense of the bigger picture. Great content, with a plain, unobtrusive, design and a clear, well-signposted structure will always be a winner.

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While some of his examples might need translation for your own project, consider these 4 Simple Principles Of Getting To Completion (http://designtaxi.com/article/ 101795/4-SimplePrinciples-OfKeep the scope as simple as possible. You don’t need to do Getting-Toeverything with this project. In fact, if you can just do one thing, Completion/) by that’s perfect. As small a thing as possible. Don’t redesign an entire Leo Babauta: city—just work on one building. If the project starts to get complex or seem overwhelming, narrow the scope. Do less. It’ll help you get things done. Practice ‘Good Enough’. Perfectionism is the enemy of completion. Nitpick and worry about getting it “just right”, and you’ll never get it done. Done is better than right. So if you start to nitpick and worry about perfect, say “screw it” and then just try for “good enough”. You can always make it better in the next version. Kill extra features. Similar to simplifying the scope, you’ll want to try to make your creation do as little as possible. Want it to talk and walk and cook breakfast? Just try for talking. Want your website to publish great content and have social networking and podcasts and news and a newsletter and a membership area? Just shoot for great content. Whenever you find yourself adding new features, see if they can’t be killed. Make it public, quick. Your goal should be to get your project in some working form out to your customers/readers/public as soon as possible. In as few steps, as quickly, as easily, as simply as possible. Remember: don’t worry about perfect, and don’t let this first public release be wide in scope or full of features. Release it with as few features as possible. Releasing it publicly will 1) get you to done faster and 2) put some pressure on you to make it better, quickly.

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Some interesting projects
This is an emergent genre, so these project engage with the principles I have suggested to various degrees. Most of these works are semiprofessional in nature. I’d love to add more projects! Email me at geniwate@gmail.com
Twittamentary http://www.twittamentary.com/

A performance

documentary about Starbucks: http://
bloggasm.com/anti-starbucksfilmmakers-hijack-the-coffeecompanys-own-twittermarketing-campaign

Twittamentary explores how lives meet and affect one another on the fast growing micro-blogging phenomena that is Twitter. Twitter users have contributed stories on a single theme: How Twitter has affected your life and the lives of those around you. What’s your Twitter story? The documentary is directed by Singaporean filmmaker and Tweeter, Tan Siok Siok

Lives connected by Peter Mayer http://livesconnected.com/

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Ian Fisher - American Soldier by Craig F Walker http://photos.denverpost.com/ photoprojects/specialprojects/ianfisher/ Patient voices http:www.patientvoices.org.uk Cancer and I by Argadita Gondhowiardjo Homeless This project offers a simple structure, in which different stories are told using video broken into chapters. Hair we Go by D.I.S GUISE http://vimeo.com/ 21727900 Burgundy Voices by TVMcGill, DESTA, Youth In Motion, along with many others http:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=TS3ZrF4Upqk The Wrong Crowd (www.abc.net.au/wrongcrowd/) – online documentary uses QTVR Us mob by David Vaidevaloo. One of the earliest online documentaries to really embrace participatory principles, both in the making and the sharing of the documentary. Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone is a year-long exercise in reporting from every war zone on Earth. More journalistic than documentary, perhaps, nevertheless an interesting use of networked, mobile journalism. Eighteen days in Egypt http://beta.18daysinegypt.com/ wonderful participatory project, as yet unfinished. ‘aims to facilitate the telling and the hearing of some of the unwritten and unspoken stories of ordinary people so that those who devise and implement strategy in health and social care, as well as the professionals and clinicians directly involved in care, may carry out their duties in a more informed and compassionate manner. We hope that, as a result of seeing the stories, patients, their carers and clinicians may meet as equals and work

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Smokescreen: underneath the haze by Rod Chapman http:// transientspacesdoco.wordpress.com/ Rod explores the way smokers feel about social ostracism. Community through crisis: Victorian farmers' market community by Emily Naismith http://www.google.com/maps/ms? ie=UTF8&msa=0&msid=116510104326549405897.0004681c68d927910ce0e&z=7 and http://raws.adc.rmit.edu.au/~s3134903/blog2/?p=393 Social software used: blog, google maps, Linked in to preexisting online communities via social software: Facebook Capture Wales http:// www.bbc.co.uk/wales/audiovideo/sites/ galleries/pages/capturewales.shtml Radio Lajee http://www.radiolajee.com A community project from a palestinian Refugee Camp facilitated by Daz Chandler. Griefing and you by Harry Milonas and Fraser Allison http://raws.adc.rmit.edu.au/ ~s3107781/blog2/2009/06/griefing-you/ Also at http://www.gametrailers.com/usermovie/griefing-you/320050 Harry and Fraser consider whether griefing is a form of delinquency in gamer communities. Social software used: blog, linked to preexisting online communities via social software: gametrailers, machinima.comThis doco is made using machinima. Good instructions here http:// www.machinima.com/film/view&id=26902 Le grande velo polo clique by Jonathon Hutchinson http://raws.adc.rmit.edu.au/ ~s3044956/blog/?p=274le_grande_velo_polo_clique (Also available at http:// www.pool.org.au/video/jonathon_hutchinson/le_grande_velo_polo_clique" and http://legrandevelopoloclique.blogspot.com/ and http://twitter.com/velopoloclique
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Everyone has a story to tell. All over Wales, people are making Digital Stories about real-life experiences and each story is as individual as the person who made it. Each Digital Story is made by the storyteller themself, using his or her own photos, words and voice.

Social software used: blog linked to pre-existing online communities via social software: twitter The War Experience: Memories of World War II http:// thewar.coe.uh.edu West Papuans in Melbourne by

On these pages, you will find stories created by graduate students at the University of Houston, as well as personal stories submitted by individuals who were affected directly or indirectly by the war and its aftermath. In addition, visitors to this site are invited to submit their own stories by clicking on the "Share Your Story" link and following the on-screen instructions.

Adelka Sarkozi http://papuandocumentary.wordpress.com/ Adelka explores how this ethnic group maintains its identity when they are political refugees. Social software used: blog, youtube linked to pre-existing online communities via social software: Myspace page Bombay Beach http://vimeo.com/ almavimeo/bombaybeachtrailer I'm seeing a number of trends with younger, up-and-coming filmmakers. One is filmmakers pursuing hybrid strategies, in which documentaries are inflected with elements more commonly found in fiction films. Alma Harel's documentary, "Bombay Beach," is a great example. She visited the town of Bombay Beach, got to know its residents, and then, while documenting their day-to-day lives, worked with them to create dance and fantasy sequences that attest to these subjects' own imaginative, creative lives.” (Scott Macaulay, http:// 350 South: An American Journey and Road to Revolution (not yet available) www.pbs.org/mediashift/2012/01/6filmmakers-talk-about-documentary-filmsin-the-digital-age009.html)

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Nuno Bernardo, Head of beActive Media & MIPCube: We wanted audiences to be part of the documentary. So, last year when a young Irishman called Ian Lacey approached us with this crazy idea of cycling from the most northerly point of Alaska to the south of Argentina over 350 days, we had the right subject with which to start our first experience of developing a transmedia documentary: 350 South. Of course, we used traditional social media tools: Facebook, Twitter and daily video blogs that audiences can follow. But we also created the right context so the documentary can be affected by audiences. We used Spot Adventures’ GPS tracking service to enable everyone to know where Ian and his cycling partner, Lee, are at any given moment. Both Ian and Lee are available almost daily on social media, contacting viewers. And the results started to appear. Viewers that live near the route they established started to contact the adventurers, offering them a meal, a place to sleep or a pint in the nearest pub. They are physically interacting with the adventurers, and as everything is recorded on camera, they become part of the documentary. Audiences also unite in cycling events, helping the adventurers to overcome some challenges and also telling their own stories... Why is all this important to us? Because we have generated a community of fans and followers that are deeply connected to Ian and Lee’s stories. The fact that more and more people every week join the experience enriches the content and the documentary itself. At the same time, we are developing the roots for a growing community which is part of the film-making process and will probably be our best marketers when the documentary is released. So far, 350 South is available online and five minute interstitials are being broadcast on TV .... Later on, the documentary will be made for TV and as a book. ... Starting in Turkey’s megacity Istanbul, the “Road to Revolution” is going to cross some of the most tense and effervescent countries on the planet – Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. The project is starting as a web doc and a weekly column in a news magazine and will later cross to other platforms including TV and print as well as being made available as a feature film. The approach is similar to 350 South: using transmedia and social media tools to make the audience a part of the experience from day one.
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Bad Behaviour by Tess Mudge http://tessmudge.wordpress.com/2009/05/28/queenscollege-documentary/ Social software used: blog, youtube and links to Flickr, Google Maps, linked to pre-existing online communities via social software: facebook The Jewish bond by Jasmine Roth http://jasminecroth.wordpress.com/2010/05/27/ the-jewish-bond/ Also disseminated on FaceBook. Somewhere Between http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/677091478/somewherebetween-a-documentary-film Not sure whether this would make the participatory criteria, but it may, at the low end. One day in Cabramatta http:// ice.org.au/project/one-day-incabramatta/ ...a community storytelling project running created in partnership with SBS and running alongside the SBS Series ‘Once Upon a Time in Cabramatta’, which is the untold story of how the Vietnamese community overcame adversity and found their place in modern Australia. To collect stories and create a sense of sharing and exchange the One Day in Cabramatta Mobile Story Exchange Cart will be a travelling hub of storytelling activity, inviting people to enjoy a cup of chilled chrysanthemum tea in exchange for sharing their thoughts on a story card. These cards will then be compiled into a legacy book about the project, which will be presented back to the Cabramatta community. The Gastown Project http:// www.gastownproject.com/ Vancouver Sun project showcasing Gastown, Canada’s oldest neighbourhood, through profiles of its residents.

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Digital storytelling
‘Tradigital Stories’ by Fred Mindlin http://paper.li/fmindlin/1309151130 Tiny Story: A Short Film About The Fundamentals of Narrative Design http://paper.li/ fmindlin/1309151130 then click on ‘Tiny Story: A Short Film About The Fundamentals of Narrative Design’ Map-based storytelling - http://paper.li/fmindlin/1309151130 then click on The Power of Place and Data-Driven Storytelling

Digital storytelling and education
‘Meshing the personal with the professional: digital storytelling in higher education’ http://seminar.net/index.php/home/ ‘Digital storytelling’ by Amy Goodloe, UC Boulder http://www.slideshare.net/ PerpetualRevision/intro-todigitalstorytellingfor-pdf ‘The educational uses of digital storytelling’ http://digitalstorytelling.coe.uh.edu University of Houston.

Community and documentary
‘Change the Story to Change the World‘ by Duane Elgin http:// www.abundantcommunity.com/home/posts/friends/parms/1/post/ 20120227_change_the_story_to_change_the_world.html

Future of documentary
Diverse resources at http://i-docs.org Living Docs: http://beyondthebox.org/new-partnership-with-visions-ofdocumentary-storytelling-on-the-web/#.T2ADaNFhf5G
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Sandra Gaudenzi and Arnau Gifreu ‘The i-docs’ “evolution”, in just 10 points’ http://i-docs.org/2012/02/26/the-i-docs-evolution-in-just-10-points/ Living Docs: http://beyondthebox.org/new-partnership-with-visions-of-documentary-storytellin g-on-the-web/#.T2ADaNFhf5G

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