One of the most common forms of film and video is the documentary — the documentation of real life occurences.

In the 1920s and '30s, when the documentary was in its infancy, individual shots within a film were short and static. This was dictated by the equipment: hand wound cameras and prime lenses. With the advent of small, lightweight, portable equipment in the late 1950s, the look and style of the documentary changed. Today, individual shots within a documenatary are often much longer and contain more movement than in earlier films. Documentary film crews are generally small in size. With the development of the video camcorder in the 1980s, the documentary crew has been reduced to one person recording both picture and sound (actually, that was the size of the crew with Robert Flaherty first filemed NANOOK OF THE NORTH in 1922, but he recorded only picture).

Our assignment was to create a short (3-5 minute) video based on our daily activities. The finished, edited (with sound) assigment was to be representative of one of our typical days, and was to include a title shot and our name.

This was an exercise in documentary film making. We were to let the material we shot and edited suggest and dictate the look of the project. We were told not to try to impose a pre-concieved idea about how it should look, but that, of coure, is easier said than done, Once the material was shot, we were then to decide how to edit and cut it #151; not while shooting.

My approach used a time lapse technique to record my office antics. I used my trusty desktop minicam and some timed video grabber software to snap an image to disk every 70 seconds. A couple of different camera angles were used to capture my various desk positions. The beginning and ending sequences were shot in real time at 15 frames per second to maintain that jumpy computer video conferencing look. The resulting material was edited using Adobe Premiere to match a Junior Brown guitar instrumental soundtrack.
wesley wright
july 22, 1997