Start of filming

 The origins of the film and video documentary can be traced back to the period of
the European Enlightenment when artists, followed later by photographers, began using
visual documentation to support scientific projects, notably land and sea-borne
expeditions of exploration and discovery. Their efforts predate the invention of the
motion picture camera, which appeared in the last decade of the nineteenth century. In the
twentieth century the history of the documentary was marked by changes in technology
as well as by the political and cultural uses to which documentary films were put. The
first half of the century, the era first of the silent and then of the sound film, saw
documentaries emerging as a distinctive genre but one that had difficulty competing with
fictional drama for audiences in commercial movie theaters. Both totalitarian and
democratic governments in the 1930s financed nonfiction films with the result that in
World War II the documentary form effectively succumbed everywhere to the demands
of propaganda. The advent of television after World War II brought new sources of
funding and new outlets for documentary films, as well as new approaches to their form.
Faced with an enormous demand for television programming, commercial networks and
public service broadcasters alike saw a need to balance entertainment shows with newsbased, historical,

 and human interest documentaries. For some 25 years documentaries
became a staple of network television schedules, watched by mass audiences and
covering all sides of human experience. Deregulation in the 1980s transformed this
situation, with the documentary migrating from commercial networks to cable channels.
While public service broadcasters maintained their interest in the traditional
documentary, video technology made independent production of documentaries more
widespread, further extending the range of subject matter, and enabling documentary
makers with marked individual styles to emerge. By the end of the twentieth century, the
documentary genre had established itself worldwide, though in a wide variety of forms,
and with no general agreement on how the genre itself should be defined. But whatever
technological or cultural changes may lie in the future, documentary makers still face the
challenge of making the right aesthetic choices when they present information about the
actual world in which we live

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