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Published on Sep 11, 2015
This short video demonstrates a step-by-step approach that frontline documenters can use or adapt when filming a human rights incident scene also sometime referred to as a crime scene. Often the "Spiral Approach" shown here cannot be followed as illustrated because a space is too small, you can only film from one precise point versus being able to walk around the scene, a wall is blocking your path or any number of other reasons. So while you will likely have to modify the approach to fit your situation and ensure you are filming safely, these basic principles apply: As possible, capture narration and visuals that verify the time, date and location of the scene.
As possible, film from every corner or side of the scene.
As possible, capture overview, wide, medium and close-up shots of the scene.
Why it's important to film a human rights incident scene (a crime scene):
Frontline documenters typically focus their filming efforts on capturing the crime as it happens – capturing the police using excessive force during an arrest, bulldozers leveling homes or oil as it pours out of a crashed tanker so you may be wondering why you might want to film in the aftermath of abuses? While footage showing the actual commission of an alleged crime may be valuable, it is also often valuable to have documentation of the before and after for several reasons. It can be:
Used to easily illustrate an overview or layout of the crime scene allowing judges and juries to more readily understand what took place;
Valuable to show how other types of evidence were collected. For instance, it can be used to document the exhumation of a mass grave; and
Used to verify that evidence has not been planted or falsified.
Here's a good story that shows us why filming the aftermath can be just as important as filming the act of the crime itself.
If you film the aftermath of a situation, your goal will be to enable others - investigators, lawyers and possibly judges - to visualize the scene, as the videographer first sees it. When well done, the person watching the footage should be able to hand draw a map of the scene -- having never been there before -- using just the video to understand what took place.
Feel free to download this video and re-edit to fit your situation and if you do, we would love to see your version of it.