Capturing Reality

Capturing Reality

National Film Board of Canada

A journey into documentary filmmaking with some of the world’s top directors.

Project Details

Capturing Reality is the NFB’s landmark exploration of the art of documentary. The film, directed by Pepita Ferrari, features 38 of the world’s leading documentarians, including Errol Morris, Werner Herzog, and Albert Maysles discussing the nuances of the form, explaining the challenges of their craft, and providing insights into their filmmaking.

Denman worked with producers at the NFB to reimagine the film on the web. The result is a companion interactive documentary showcasing 163 interview clips, curated from over 80 hours of amassed footage. Each clip is organized and searchable by topics related to documentary craft, and by the filmmakers featured. Viewers can navigate freely through the content, watching all of the interviews with a particular filmmaker, or those related to a specific topic.

Capturing Reality takes on topics that vary from the ethereal – such as role of documentary, the relationship between the director and subject, and notions of truth, perspective, and ethics – to the practicalities of how to get access to documentary subjects, and a wide range of production and post-production filmmaking advice.

The interface is elegant, sitting in a layer on top of immersive full screen video. The user always has access to each clip’s titles, player controls, and links to each filmmaker’s biography and short filmography, but the focus is always on the video content. When users wants controls they move their mouse or touch the screen and those controls appear. A soundtrack created by Robert M. LePage rounds out the experience.

This project was originally developed in 2010 and premiered that year at the International Documentary Festival in Amsterdam. In 2018 we were given the opportunity to revisit the experience and redesign it for web and mobile device users using contemporary technologies.

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