Paradigm Shifts in Documentary Aesthetics

Abstract by John Ellis

John Ellis will outline how documentary makers took advantage of the affordances of various digital devices as they arrived in the period from 1995-2015. This transitional period is one of uneven development. Each innovation brought fresh requirements for changes elsewhere in the production process. Digital cameras required digital editing; sound mixing and dubbing were slow to catch up. Temporary ‘solutions’ were developed and trialled. Production and post-production services struggled to cope with the changes, especially in the traditional large broadcasting organisations. Then, quite suddenly, it was all over. The durable infrastructure of film-based production almost vanished in an astonishing short period of time. Digital production had established a new set of routines and standards. Complaints about the ‘problems of the digital’ gave way to regret for the lost disciplines of film-based production.