I found this short opinionated documentary “A Threat to Cambodia’s Sacred Forest” on the website of the New York Times. The video is about how Chong people who have lived in a valley for over 600 years protested against building dams in that area, which might destroy Chong people’s “forest, livelihood and heritage.” I really think this video has done a great job in terms of the quality of its videography and storytelling.
I feel surprised that few footages of interviews appear in this video. Instead, the producer uses text to give viewers some introduction about background information. There are not many A-rolls, but B-rolls are dominant in this video, which makes the whole video flow smoothly. When I watched this video, I felt I was just watching a film instead of a news documentary. I was directed from scenes to scenes without being constantly interrupted by interviews. Because the B-rolls with some support of text do provide all information viewers need, this technique does work well in this video and succeeds in telling a powerful story.
I also love the audio a lot. The nat sound is great. The sound of bird, leaves, and water makes viewers feel they are actually in the valley. It also gives people a kind of feeling that the forest is sanctuary for wildlife. After the sound of the forest, there’s sound of people doing chiseling work, which is absolutely unharmonious with the sound of the nature. This is a great and powerful contrast.
The combination of different type of shots and the nice composition of each shot are also really appealing to me. I love how different types of shot are adopted. For example, there are wide shots of the valley. There are medium shots of people. There are also shots of the woman’s hands picking up mushrooms, which captures details. I also love how the producer shoot footages from varying angles, which makes the whole scene more real to viewers. The producer combines the footages shot by a still camera and a moving camera very well too. When the family are sailing on the river, the moving shot makes viewers feel they are sailing on the river with the family too. However, when the monks are passing, the camera doesn’t move. Viewers see those monks enter into the picture and pass one by one. Although the camera is still this time, it is the monks’ moving that stands out in this way. Another thing I have noticed is that the composition of almost every shot is great. Principles of simplicity, rule of thirds, balance, framing and leading lines are paid much attention to, which succeeds in giving viewers delightful visual experience.