Production of interactive documentary in the latin area (I)

The content of this series focuses on an introduction to the new format of interactive documentary in the Spanish and Latin area. Several examples are cited and three representative projects produced recently in the Spanish area are discussed in depth: Guernika, pintura de guerra (CCRTVi and Haiku Media, 2007), Las Voces de la Memoria (RTVE, Association of Relatives of Alzheimer’s Disease Patients of Valencia and Barret Films, 2010), and Metamentaldoc (Universitat de Vic and Pintao, 2011). Guernika, pintura de guerra is the first interactive documentary produced in Catalonia in collaboration with the prestigious program “30 minuts” of TV3, the Catalan regional television station. The project consists of three parts of interactive nonfiction content that users can consult on three different platforms: the Web, digital terrestrial television (DTT) and at the Media Center. The content explores the interactive documentary format and can extend the viewing experience beyond the conventional documentary. Las Voces de la Memoria is a transmedia documentary project about Alzheimer’s disease with the support of Spanish Television (TVE). Finally, Metamentaldoc is a web platform which shows an audiovisual documentary and an interactive documentary dealing with the the documentary genre nature.


Figure 1. Guernica, pintura de guerra. Second screen after the presentation of the interactive format on television if the viewer chooses the Documentary category.

 Overview of the production in the Latin area The analysis of the development stage of this particular area of ​​knowledge shows that we have a new media in the emergency state looking for its place in the new ecosystem. Of the three main categories analyzed – Related Events, Specialized Companies and Specific Researchers – we found that even today there are few major exponents and the few that exist are concentrated in the Anglophone and Francophone areas, predominantly in countries like Canada, England, France and the USA. If we look at the production of publications in the field of interactive fiction and nonfiction, the numbers unmistakeably reflect two things: first, that there is much more fiction produced than nonfiction, and therefore the main budgets and subsidies are invested in this first area; and second, that we are a step behind the Anglo-Saxon culture in relation to the analysis, production and dissemination of interactive media. The reality is that in the Latin area there is still relatively little research on this field, although recent initiatives indicate a growing interest in this type of narrative. The same can be said for production, although there are some exceptions, which we mention below. 1

Figure 2. Guernica, pintura de guerra. Interactive format using conventional television

The case of Spain Interactive documentary production in the Spanish area began in 2007 with a very ambitious project, Guernika, pintura de guerra (2007), and currently one or two projects are produced every year. However, the numbers are growing exponentially. The projects (till January 2013) have been sponsored and produced mainly by television stations (TVC, TVE, etc.), production companies (Barret Films, Haiku Media, 2 de Mayo, etc.), and postgraduate studies and educational institutions (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, ​​Universitat de Vic). Following is a short list of these pioneering projects, which have started using the genre to tell stories and narratives. They are mainly in Spanish, but some are in Catalan and some in English. Guernica, pintura de guerra  [Guernica, War Paint] (2007). Accompanying the audiovisual documentary and working together with the team of the prestigious TVC program “30 minuts”, CCRTV developed three interactive documentary parts that users could consult on three different platforms: the Web, digital terrestrial television (DTT) and at the Media Center. 3

Figure 3. Basic interface of the webdoc project

Seventy years ago, the German air force, on the orders of General Franco, bombed Guernika, the sacred city of the Basques. The brutal attack inspired Picasso to paint his masterpiece: “Guernika”. Since then, the painting has become a universal condemnation of the savagery of war. This idea led to the creation of a linear documentary called “Guernika: war painting”, a project produced during 2006 by the prestigious team of Televisió de Catalunya’s “30 minutes” program. 14

Figure 4. Complete scheme of the modalities in the web i-doc

The novelty and importance of this documentary lies in the fact that, as well as the production of the audiovisual documentary, Interactiva CCRTV worked with the “30 minutes” team to produce three pieces of interactive content that users were able to consult using three different platforms: the web, digital terrestrial television (DTT) and Windows Media Center. The Windows Media Center is a software module designed for digital entertainment through television and designed for the operating system Microsoft Windows XP and Vista. This additional content explored the format of the interactive documentary and broadened the viewer’s experience beyond the conventional documentary. The three applications included information on the history and provenance of “Guernika”, an analysis of the iconography, composition and conservation of the painting, and biographies of those who have had a close relationship with Picasso’s masterpiece. 5

Figure 5. The travels of Guernika. Illustration of the time browsing mode combined with the spatial browsing mode – geographic map. Years submode


Figure 6. Chronology. Illustration of the time browsing mode. Years submode

With “Guernika, pintura de guerra”, Televisió de Catalunya created an innovative interactive experience. The documentary program “30 minutes” on the painting’s history was broadcast on television on Sunday 21 January 2007, as well as simultaneously on three digital platforms: DTT, Media Center and an Internet website. This enabled viewers to interactively access a great deal of additional information, including analysis of the painting, documents, interviews, biographies and games. The added value was based on the fact that this initiative combined the extensive experience of “30 minutes”, the leading program for major reports and documentaries for the TV3 news services, with new generation interactive applications developed by CCRTV Interactiva. In short, it was a new way of watching television and conceiving of an audiovisual production from a multiplatform perspective. The regional television channel explained that the documentary was shown on a double screen: one showing the documentary and another with a menu providing interactive access to a large amount of additional information, such as analysis of the painting, interviews, additional documentation and games. 8

Figure 7. Characters. Illustration of the testimonial browsing mode. Historical figures submode.


Figure 8. Interviews. Illustration of the testimonial browsing mode. Interviewees submode.

Television viewers with an interactive DTT decoder and MHP[2] could consult all the information in the interactive content, both while the documentary was being broadcast and on subsequent days. They could also play an interactive question and answer game related to the content of the report. Meanwhile, in a further development of the interactive television experience, a version of the content was developed for users of the Media Center, where in addition to further information about “Guernika”, users could also access extra material from the documentary such as interviews, documents and images not included in the montage. 11

Figure 9. Shafrazi experience. Generative interaction mode. Example of graphic generative contribution.


Figure 10. Shafrazi experience. Generative interaction mode. Example of textual generative contribution.

Viewers were also able to experience new ways of viewing the content of “Guernika, pintura de guerra” which linked the images in the documentary and the content in the application using remote controlled interactivity. Finally, an interactive legacy of this interactive digital format is the completion of the interactive content with a website where users can browse the extensive content related to the history of the painting and view the documentary, as well as additional interactive material. This interactive documentary also includes the Shafrazi Experience application, where users can become “Tony Shafrazi” – the man who spray-painted “Guernika” in 1970 in protest against the United States positionin Vietnam – and paint an image over the painting[3]. 7

Figure 11. Painting against war. Illustration of the spatial browsing mode. Photographic map submode.


Figure 12. Discovering Guernika. Illustration of the spatial browsing mode. Graphic map submode

The combination of the audiovisual documentary and interactive content, was the first of its kind in Spain and it received a number of prizes in the United States. It won the gold medal in the Horizon Interactive magazine and news category and silver in the Flash category. At the prestigious Promax awards [4] in New York, it won the gold, silver and bronze medals across different categories. Arnau Gifreu Researcher, lecturer and producer   References Barret Films; RTVE; Asociación de Familiares del Alzheimer de Valencia. Las voces de la memoria. Spain (spanish), 2011. CCRTV Interactiva; Haiku Media. Guernika, pintura de guerra. Spain(catalan), 2007. Blasco, I.; Campos, G.; Figueira, M.; Gifreu A.; Molinos, M. Metamental-i-doc. Spain (catalan and spanish), 2010). Facultat d’Empresa i Comunicació. Universitat de Vic. [WEB].

[2] The digitalization of television allows the opportunity of interaction between the user and channel in the media, traditionally passive and linear. To enhance this relationship in terms of interactivity, it is necessary to have a back channel information, currently provided by MHP devices.