Categories : Médias

05 Jan

The rise of the web documentary

So what is a web documentary? France 24 looks at the question and unveils some footage from Prison Valley. Video.

Bertrand Tronsson (développeur Flash - Upian). A gauche, du code. A droite, la page blanche.

Bertrand Tronsson (développeur Flash - Upian). A gauche, du code. A droite, la page blanche.

‘Web documentary’. The word is on everyone’s lips, more and more frequently, in blogs, in the press, on the Web. It is used to describe anything and everything. Which is exactly what lends the word its charm and makes this moment in time so wonderful: nothing as yet is written in stone. Web documentaries are a new genre. They invite us to do what we want with them. Even if some people give the title without its nobility – what are these corporate videos that proclaim themselves web documentaries just because they are shown as a series on the Net? How much longer can people go on cobbling together some sound and some stills and think that represents a new way of telling a story?

As we see it, a web documentary is essentially about authorial style and a way of broadcasting. Rediscovering some freedom, merging different professions, a profusion of styles. No shackles, no bible, no conventions. It’s a new vision of an old job; telling stories using today’s technology. As Benoit Bringer emphasises: “We shouldn’t regard this new genre as the Grail that will save an endangered press from Internet becoming the leading media (…). But it’s still a pleasure to see the effervescence and excitement this revival of journalism have created on the Web (cf. Espritblog and during one of the worst crises the profession has ever known.”

So what is a web documentary?

At the end of December, a team from France 24 came to see Upian, our production company (who also have an art gallery, incidentally). That was what the journalist, Natalia Gallois, had come to find out: what is a web documentary?

We did our best to give her some answers. The results were screened on 26th December. Here it is. And the pictures speak better than we did. Prison Valley will be a road movie on the Web. Something Alexandre Brachet, el productor, likes to call “interactive cinema”. Otherwise, the 24-hour new channel’s report also gives a few clues as to what Prison Valley’s going to look like…

The rise of the web documentary (France 24)
Screened: on the Net / Broadcaster; France 24 / Production: Electron Libre Productions

The report also gave us the chance to present some of Prison Valley’s web development team (html and Flash). David Desprès (with the headphones) and Bernard Tronsson (without). Jérôme Goncalves, Maxime Quintard, Nicolas Menet and Hans Lemuet are missing. Without them, Prison Valley would be just a documentary without the web.

David Desprès (crazy Flasher – Upian).

David Després (Flasheur fou - Upian).

It’s all there: web docs are a new genre, they’ve prepared the ground. Shown things. Brought about new ways of thinking about narrative. They’re about teamwork, of course. A child of social networking, of the exploded horizontality between sender and receiver. We are some of the many who are trying to think what this means. Trying out some experiments. Over the coming months, this blog might be a tool to examine the new phase web documentaries have now entered – their 2010 phase. Happy New Year!