A documentary film is a non-fictional motion-picture intended to "document reality, primarily for the purposes of instruction, education, or maintaining a historical record". Bill Nichols has characterised the documentary in terms of "a filmmaking practice, a cinematic tradition, and mode of audience reception [that remains] a practice without clear boundaries".
Early documentary films, originally called "actuality films", lasted one minute or less. Over time, documentaries have evolved to become longer in length, and to include more categories; some examples being: educational, observational, and docufiction. Documentaries are very informative and are often used within schools, as a resource to teach various principles.
Social-media platforms (such as YouTube) have provided an avenue for the growth of the documentary-film genre. These platforms have increased the distribution area and ease-of-accessibility; thereby enhancing the ability to educate a larger volume of viewers, and broadening the reach of persons who receive that information.
This poses a real challenge for the translators because they have to render the meaning, i.e. find an equivalent, of a very specific, scientific term in the target language and frequently the narrator uses a more general name instead of a specific term and the translator has to rely on the image presented in the programme to understand which term is being discussed in order to transpose it in the target language accordingly. Additionally, translators of minorised languages often have to face another problem: some terms may not even exist in the target language. In such case, they have to create new terminology or consult specialists to find proper solutions. Also, sometimes the official nomenclature differs from the terminology used by actual specialists, which leaves the translator to decide between using the official vocabulary that can be found in the dictionary, or rather opting for spontaneous expressions used by real experts in real life situations.