Technology used in documentary production.

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Technology Used in Documentary Production


There are three basic types of camera:

  • Film camera (35mm, 16mm, 8mm);
  • Analogue video camera (Betacam Sp, U-Matic) – these became widely available in the 1970s;
  • Digital video camera CDv, Mini Dv, Digi-Beta)- these became widely available in 1995 and are now nearly all broadcast quality.

The advantages of the video camera:


  • The film camera retails from approximately £10,000; the analogue video camera from £8,000 and broadcast quality digital video camera from just £1000;
  • The average cost of 35mm film stock for a 90-minute documentary would be around £5,000 while the average cost of digital tape stock for a 90-minute documentary would be less than £100.
  • The film processing and lab fees for a 90-minute documentary would be around £5,000, while there would be no such fees for digital tape stock that doesn’t need to be processed.
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  • Film cameras can be heavy and clumsy to use;
  • Cheaper film cameras are noisy, causing sound problems; Film stock needs to be kept at a certain temperature and requires 'warm-up' time, which is costly when 'time is money' on a production;
  • Digital cameras are lightweight and portable.
  • 60 minute digital tapes are half the size of a pack of cards; digital cameras record CD quality sound directly in-synch with the picture, saving the need for post-synching the sound.


Non-linear editing has revolutionised the video and filmmaking industry in general as it gives ...

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