Inspiration and research: what ís a web documentary?


How to make a web documentary? What ís a web documentary? This was the starting point for Bits and Bytes United for pitching for an assignment of Schiphol 100 years.

There are so many descriptions and such a varied examples we’ve found: webdocs, i-docs, new media documentaries, docu-games, cross-platform documentaries, interactive documentaries and more. Where to start?

What really helped and inspired us to take-off and create our concept was in selecting the type of interactivity and narrative perspective. We considered the following after research:

Types of interactivity:

  • ‘Hitchhiking’ (semi-closed): the viewer can follow different paths and can move through the content, but can not add.
  • ‘Participative’ (semi-open): the viewer can make a contribution (user-generated content) but has no effect on the structure.
  • ‘Experiential’ (fully open): The maker designs ‘experiences’ in a dynamic environment and the user and the web documentary are always in motion and change in relation to each other.

Types of narrative perspective:

  • Poetic: translate the material into an abstract, lyrical form.
  • Argumentative: tells a story (from the perspective of the producer).
  • Observational: show spontaneous situations without strong presence of the producer. The camera is a fly on the wall.
  • Participating: the creator actively participates in the documentary, asks questions and shares his experiences with the viewer.
  • Executive: personal stories are central, not just the facts.
  • Choice: offer varying perspectives.

Sources for research and inspiration 
My eternal thanks go to great pioneers and visionaries in the field!

I will start (and dwell) with Dr. Sandra Gaudenzi. She is one of the co-directors of She wrote the incredible “The Living Documentary: from representing reality to co-creating reality in digital interactive documentary”. Check out: the (and the great resources) and the Interactive Documentary Archive.

Other great sources of inspiration:

  • An interactive curated database of the people, projects, and technologies transforming documentary in the digital age.
  • docSHIFT Index, an archive library of sortable, searchable interactive and digital documentaries.
  •, the Interactive section: the National Film Board of Canada’s award-winning online Screening Room, featuring over 3,000 productions
  • IDFA DocLab: a festival program for new media within the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam(IDFA). The mission of IDFA DocLab is to showcase interactive documentaries and other new digital artforms that succesfully push the boundaries of documentary storytelling in the age of the interface.
  • A great inspiration was: The Spirit of ’45. The Spirit of ‘45 is a film based on a particular thesis from filmmaker Ken Loach. Read how they did it.

Read more on the outcome a co-creation between creative teams in our portfolio: 100 years Amsterdam Airport Schiphol: browse, share and upload your story/ies!


Online museum: 100 years Amsterdam Airport Schiphol: browse, experience and share!


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