Check out NFB’s latest production: Welcome to Pinepoint (January 2011!). This interactive documentary tells the story of a city that has been totally destroyed in the last ten years. Although the documentary is fundamentally linear (you can only press the next/previous tab and click on some photos) the quality of the narrative, and of the combination between graphics and video, is outstanding! A real piece of craft work… and maybe a good example of Lev Manovich’s “deep remixability” applied to the new media documentary world.
Welcome to Pinepoint makes me wonder if a great story is actually not often better when delivered in a fairly linear way. If we want to know “what has happened”, than linear (or maybe immersive game) narrative is best. But if we want to feel part of the story, contribute to it, or maybe just get lost into it… then interactivity has its charms…
The difference between “wanting to know” and “wanting to be part of” is probably the fundamental switch that should determine the level of authorial control needed in an interactive documentary… Am I simplifying things too much?
Do let me know what you think….