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Chapter 4

Documentation Methods and Products

Unprocessed information can be transformed into a useful product. This chapter discusses documentation methods, products, and product handling and distribution.


4-1. The documentation method depends on the purpose of the documentation, the environment in which the documentation takes place, and the support available to the soldiers documenting the event. The following paragraphs discuss the different documentation methods.


4-2. Motion media is VIDOC of activities or operations as they occur. It is complemented by audio documentation. Motion media technology can be used in daytime, nighttime, and limited visibility operations. The following paragraphs discuss examples of motion media.

Motion Picture Photography

4-3. Film-based documentation taken with a motion picture camera results in a series of images, which when viewed in rapid succession give the illusion of motion. The film, which captures positive and negative images, must be processed and developed. Film can be processed in either color or black and white. Figure 4-1 shows an example of film-based documentation.

Figure 4-1. Film-Based Documentation

Figure 4-1. Film-Based Documentation

Video Camera Recorder (VCR)

4-4. Video cameras capture and record images electronically. Videotape formats are generally classified by the width of the magnetic tape used. The videotape formats are described below:

  • 1 inch. Used for professional or broadcast quality video recording and editing. The tape comes in large, open reels. This format is used on a limited basis industry wide and never in the tactical environment.

  • ¾ inch. Used for industrial video. The tape is stored in 3/4 inch-thick cassettes. This format is used on a limited basis industry wide and never in the tactical environment.

  • ½ inch. Used by most consumers for home videotape. Both Video Home System (VHS) (the most popular home videotape format) and Beta are 1/2 inch, as are their higher-quality counterparts (Super-VHS and Super Beta, respectively). The tape is cassette-based.

  • 8mm and HI-8. New consumer format for use in handheld camera recorders (camcorders). The tape is cassette-based.

  • Digital Video. Images are recorded and played back on the camera's disc drive, memory chip, or other digital storage device.

4-5. Small format (1/2 inch or 8mm) videotape is particularly useful in combat documentation as there are several light, highly portable systems that produce acceptable quality products. Larger format (3/4 inch or 1 inch) videotape, often referred to as production format, is necessary for materials that may be included in sophisticated video reports or that are unique documentation which needs to be transferred to a standard format for archival, reproduction, or distribution. This format also permits broadcast use to support PA and PSYOP. Figure 4-2 shows an example of motion media using video camera photography.

Figure 4-2. Video Camera Photography

Figure 4-2. Video Camera Photography


4-6. Still photography involves producing, processing, and reproducing still picture films, prints, and transparencies. These images can be captured using film or digital camera photography or can be taken from motion picture or video photography. The following paragraphs discuss examples of still photography.

Digital Still Video Photography

4-7. Digital still video cameras capture images electronically. The images are stored on a floppy disk or card reader and can be viewed on a personal computer and printed immediately. The images can be printed in black and white or in color, depending on the capabilities of the printer. They can be printed on photo or copy-quality paper, depending on their intended use. Some cameras also have night vision devices that permit them to be used during darkness or other limited light conditions.

4-8. Because digital technology is relatively inexpensive and simple to use, it is available to forces at all levels. Digital still video cameras can capture images such as terrain features, tactical deployments, intelligence information, and tactical operations taken directly from the battlefield. These images can be used from the local level through the NCA level to enhance critical and timely operational decisions.

Film-Based Still Photography

4-9. Film-based still documentation is taken using still film cameras, which results in top-quality photographic images. The film, which captures positive and negative images, must be processed and printed. Film can be processed in either color or black and white. Processor capabilities range from compact, low-quantity processors to high-quality and volume printing processors. Photos can be scanned to allow for transfer of products and captions into analog or digital format for transmission. Film-based still photography has the same capability for capturing images as digital still video photography; however, its processing speed is slower. Figure 4-3 shows an example of still documentation.

Figure 4-3. Still Documentation

Figure 4-3. Still Documentation


4-10. Audio documentation is done by using portable microphones and audio recorders or by using audio recording systems that are integrated with video tape recorders. Audio documentation uses high-fidelity sound technology and standard size magnetic cassette recording tape.


4-11. All VI units must document captions at the time visual images and sounds are recorded. Original captions are an integral and permanent record of the documentation. Still and motion media documentation will include captions in accordance with (IAW) DOD Directive 5040.2, DOD 5040.4, AR 25-1, and DA PAM 25-91.

4-12. The VI soldier acquiring the documentation will verify the accuracy and security classification of caption information with the command he supports. The captions will be factual and objective. Figure 4-4 shows an example of recording notes for captions.

Figure 4-4. Recording Notes for Captions

Figure 4-4. Recording Notes for Captions


4-13. The following paragraphs discuss products acquired through various means.


4-14. Photographs, either digital or film-based, can capture critical images such as terrain features, tactical deployments, intelligence information, and tactical operations. These images can be used from the local level through the NCA level to enhance critical and timely operational decisions.


4-15. Multimedia describes the ability to combine audio, video, and other information with graphics, control, storage, and other features of computer-based systems in the communication of information. The combination of several media often provides a richer, more effective flow of information or ideas than a single media, such as traditional text-based communication. Typically, multimedia presentations are recorded continuously onto a motion medium, such as film or videotape, for replication and/or time delayed playback, but they may also be presented in real time.

4-16. Multimedia products can be used for a variety of purposes, from meeting training requirements to serving as a means to transmit public information. They allow commanders to review the operations and training of their forces, and introduce new and improved operational techniques and developments to subordinates.

4-17. There is a range of quality in multimedia products, which is a direct result of the time available for editing. Many times, the intended audience determines the amount of time a particular product is given.

  • Rough edit video report productions are normally products used by commanders and staff at a local level to support their operational needs and are not viewed at higher levels.

  • Fully edited video productions are normally products used by the theater command, joint headquarters, DOD, JCS, or NCA to support operational needs.

4-18. VI productions are generally defined as the results of sequencing, according to a plan or script, original and/or existing still and/or motion images into a self-contained, complete, linear presentation for conveying information to or communicating with an audience. The inclusion of a scripted audio aspect defines a VI production specifically as an AV production. Figure 4-5 shows an example of a linear presentation.

Figure 4-5. Linear Presentation

Figure 4-5. Linear Presentation


4-19. Audio documentation can accompany video documentation, complement still slide shows, or stand alone, depending on the purpose of the presentation.


4-20. Graphics are the product of designing, creating, and preparing two- and three-dimensional visual products manually or with computer-assisted imaging equipment. This capability can produce accurate and informative operational decision graphics or enhance maps, aerial photographs, and satellite imagery. Graphics help create overlays with terrain and friendly, enemy, and targeting positions. They incorporate visual imagery into maneuver control systems to enhance accurate representation of the battlefield. Graphics are also used to prepare charts, posters, and visual materials for brochures, publication covers, briefings, displays, and models, as well as rough sketches and paintings for operational and historical purposes.


4-21. The exploitation and handling of all VI products follow a basic four-step procedure: processing, reproducing, transmitting, and distributing. This procedure encompasses the following functions:

  • Acquiring/receiving raw material.

  • Evaluating and screening contents for functionality, operational relevance, and quality.

  • Processing still negative and color slide film with conventional wet chemistry, when required. (Conventional film is used for backup only.)

  • Converting conventional still negatives and transparencies into electronic images.

  • Making color prints or transparencies from electronic images.

  • Reviewing motion and still imagery for quick and refined video reports.

  • Creating an appropriate product.

  • Duplicating motion and still imagery, as required.

  • Transmitting imagery and products over available communications systems, via official correspondence channels or courier.

  • Distributing products, as required.

4-22. Commanders and leaders at all levels must apply OPSEC to the handling, releasing, and distribution of acquired VIDOC.

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