Television is a dramatic medium. The use of dramatic techniques is not only related to fiction but also to non‐fictional content. Although some dramatic techniques have been employed in scientific documentaries for a long time, in the last few years they are more and more popular. But the relationship between television and science is not an easy one. This medium often selects the topics that have a greater dramatic potential, leaving aside those that are conceptually complex and can hardly appeal to emotion. But, on the other hand, science tries to explain the world using specific tools, such as mathematical logic and empirical experimentation, which are mainly addressed to reason, not to emotion. This article tries to identify some relevant techniques employed by science documentaries, in order to adopt a form that fits well in today’s television context and, at the same time, are appropriate to communicate scientific content to a general audience. It shows some of the results of an international research project on Narrative strategies of scientific documentary in Europe, carried out by Universidad de Navarra, Universidad Pompeu Fabra, Universidad de Valencia, Universidade do Porto and Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC). We have selected a sample of 50 successful European scientific documentaries, produced after year 2000, of different countries, languages and styles. We have analyzed several aspects of the narrative techniques employed. Scientific documentaries are immersed in a process of adaptation to a television context in which entertainment is increasingly important. As a result, a combination of traditional and new narrative techniques and strategies are being used. Among the traditional techniques, story‐telling is still one of the most powerful resources to maintain the viewers’ attention and, at the same time, offering a unitary discourse, in which scientific content can be assimilated easily. Among the new techniques, the use of 3‐D animation is especially important, as it allows presenting certain topics which traditionally were inappropriate for television, since images were scarce or uninteresting. The popularization of production tools for 3D animation has allowed creating some hybrid forms of information and fiction, which can be good tools to present scientific knowledge to a wide audience. However, the use of these tools can create some problems of accuracy and scientific rigor, which must be taken into account. Presentation Preference Oral presentation

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Telling stories about science
The case study of scientific television documentary in Europe

Bienvenido Leon   University of Navarra

José Azevedo   Universidade do Porto

Miriam Salcedo   University of Navarra

Television is a dramatic medium. The use of dramatic techniques is not only related to fiction but also to non‐fictional content. Although some dramatic techniques have been employed in scientific documentaries for a long time, in the last few years they are more and more popular. But the relationship between television and science is not an easy one. This medium often selects the topics that have a greater dramatic potential, leaving aside those that are conceptually complex and can hardly appeal to emotion. But, on the other hand, science tries to explain the world using specific tools, such as mathematical logic and empirical experimentation, which are mainly addressed to reason, not to emotion. This article tries to identify some relevant techniques employed by science documentaries, in order to adopt a form that fits well in today’s television context and, at the same time, are appropriate to communicate scientific content to a general audience. It shows some of the results of an international research project on Narrative strategies of scientific documentary in Europe, carried out by Universidad de Navarra, Universidad Pompeu Fabra, Universidad de Valencia, Universidade do Porto and Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC). We have selected a sample of 50 successful European scientific documentaries, produced after year 2000, of different countries, languages and styles. We have analyzed several aspects of the narrative techniques employed. Scientific documentaries are immersed in a process of adaptation to a television context in which entertainment is increasingly important. As a result, a combination of traditional and new narrative techniques and strategies are being used. Among the traditional techniques, story‐telling is still one of the most powerful resources to maintain the viewers’ attention and, at the same time, offering a unitary discourse, in which scientific content can be assimilated easily. Among the new techniques, the use of 3‐D animation is especially important, as it allows presenting certain topics which traditionally were inappropriate for television, since images were scarce or uninteresting. The popularization of production tools for 3D animation has allowed creating some hybrid forms of information and fiction, which can be good tools to present scientific knowledge to a wide audience. However, the use of these tools can create some problems of accuracy and scientific rigor, which must be taken into account. Presentation Preference Oral presentation

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