Constantly changing technology offers students limitless possibilities in developing media-based presentations for the documentary category. Students may create documentaries using slides, film, videos, and/or computers. Whatever presentation format is chosen, students must be able to operate all equipment during production and at each level of competition.

Important: The most important aspect of any entry is its historical quality. Students should not get so caught up in the production of a documentary that they lose sight of the importance of the historical quality. Judges are not looking for glitzy productions; rather, they are looking for solid research and a thorough analysis of the chosen topic.

Slide Presentations

Although computer based presentations are now more prevalent, slide presentations are still an effective tool. Slides can be either purchased or produced by students. The key to an effective entry is a good combination of visual images and recorded narrative. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Develop a storyboard of the types of images that explain the theme.
  • Photograph pictures from books to build a slide collection and avoid too much repetition.
  • Music is an important addition to the recorded narrative.
  • Make sure the narrative fits with the image on the screen.
Film and Video Presentations

The availability of affordable video cameras has increased the use of this entry category. Editing software is widely available, which enhances the production quality of the documentary entry. Many communities also have cable access stations that have video equipment available for public use. Following are some suggestions for film and video entries. Students should:

  • Operate all camera and editing equipment.
  • Develop a storyboard of the scenes they will be shooting.
  • Present a variety of panning shots, interviews, live action, and still subjects.
  • Keep track of the scenes in a notebook or on index cards to make editing easier.
  • Include music as an effective addition to the finished project.
Computer-Based Presentations

The computer is now a commonly used tool for creating documentaries. Students are using computers to create special effects, animation, graphics, and other visuals for use in slide or video presentations. Students who choose to use the computer to create their entries should have access to computers with multimedia capabilities and should be familiar with at least one type of presentation software. QuickTime and Adobe Premiere are two examples of software packages that are used to create projects. Students should also have access to editing software (such as iMovie or Microsoft Movie Maker that they are able to use themselves.