Monday, December 15, 2008

Focalpoint SFX

For six days between 17th and 22nd November 2008, the St. Francis Xavier Higher Secondary School in Siolim (generally referred to as SFX) had ten eager and enthusiastic participants working hard on making their own digital short stories. The participants sailed through the 'Test Drive DST' session on the first day, facing head-on the intricacies of Movie Maker and the challenge to make a 1-minute story based on photos and music provided to them. Most participants were able to finish their 'mini-DST' projects in the 2 hours allotted to them. Of course, some fine tuning like managing audio volumes or visual transitions would have required much more time, but that didn't matter since the idea was more to give the participants a hands-on of the DST process and less to have them come out with a technically and artistically perfect product. After all, there would be ample time later in the workshop for them to perfect their skills. Here are two samples of the outputs of this exercise:

'A Life of A Girl' by Velisha Araujo

'Truth of Life' (in Hindi) by Roshan Salgaonkar

In the weeks before the workshop and during the initial DST presentation from GoCreat, Fr. Paul Sagayam, Principal of SFX, had been a big help to us - not just in welcoming the idea of having the workshop, but also making sure we got all the onsite support we needed to set up the lab in preparation for the workshop. This is what Fr. Sagayam had to say when he paid a brief visit on Day-1 of the workshop:

In the days that followed, the participants made drawings, told their stories, wrote and rewrote scripts, travelled around Siolim taking photos for their stories, did the storyboarding, and finally made their stories into short films using Movie Maker. Their indivudual stories follow...

'The Riverside' by Cheryl Mascarenhas

'My Village and Me' by Claricia D'Souza

'Beyond Your Wildest Imagination' by Denzil Gomes

'A Thinker's Paradise' by Fiona D'Cruz

'My Eighth Wonder' by Hortencia Pereira

'Vacation in Majali' by Prajakta Sail

'Nature Lover' by Richa Pednekar

'Heaven of Water' by Rochelle Fernandes

'The Playground' by Roshan Salgaonkar

'Trees' by Velisha Araujo

As in previous workshops, the whole process was as uplifting and exciting to the GoCreat facilitators as it was for the participants, and we thank our young participants and the school for this. On the last day, we decided to give a video camera to the students to play around with and also to record for us their feedback; from the footage it certainly looked like they had a good time with the camera. As for the feedback, if only they had kept the mike on... :) But we used their raw video clips, added our own footage from the previous days and made a 3 and a half minute video which I think brings out the fun we had at the workshop. Here it is:

Friday, November 14, 2008

Upcoming Workshops in Video, DST and online media tools

GoCreat will be partnering with Video Volunteers to conduct a few workshops in Goa specifically for grassroots activists. The workshops will help participants in using video, new media tools and DST effectively to communicate and project online, issues they are tackling on the ground. Here is the tentative outline.

We will be conducting a workshop in Benaulim (South Goa), a village where citizens are actively protesting rampant and un-planned development that is destroying the lush green fields and charm of the countryside. This workshop will be on Video Blogging and Online Activism. This is a two-day workshop on 18th and 19th from 10am to 6pm.

Participants will be using camera phones (to be provided by VV) and will each be creating a film on a topic/issue of choice in Benaulim village. As such, participants will need to come prepared with an accessible story/issue they would like to tackle in 3 hours of field work made into a short (1min-3min) film.
Resource persons: Namita Singh and Gasper D'Souza

Day two of the workshop will deal with online activism - promoting your cause/video through New Media tools.
Resource person: Freeman Murray

Next, we will be conducting a series of workshops over 4 days from Nov 25th to 28th as follows from 10am to 2.30pm:

Nov 25th: Introduction to Online Activism.
This session will take participants through the New Media tools available to highlight, create awareness and promote the cause online.

Nov 26th: Video Blogging
The session will seek to help participants to work with simple equipment (like cellphone cameras) to create effective visual documents of activities and post these online to blogs and social media sites.

Nov 27th and 28th: Digital Storytelling
This is a hands-on workshop where we will take participants through the process of creating a digital story - a short personal story using pictures (still images, paintings, newspaper clippings etc), the participant's voice and background music.
We normally conduct these workshops over a period of 5 days and is a process oriented workshop. So this is going to be a squeeze and more product oriented. So our aim will be to help participants to put together a product - their digital stories, in the 2 days.

Participants at this workshop are required to bring in a wide variety of images (between 10 to 15 photographs, scans of drawings/paintings, scans of newspaper clippings etc) that concern the issue/story they wish to tell along with an idea of the storyline (i.e. their personal story - what to say on the issue).

We will go through the process of putting the images together in sequences (a time-line) and record the voice of the participant for each story.

This is the first time we are directly addressing workshops for activists. It should have it's own challenges. Stay tuned for our experiences and workshop outcomes.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Test Driving Movie Maker

One of the ideas that came out of the brainstorming that happened within the GoCreat group, after the Holy Cross DST Workshop, was to have the participants get their hands dirty with Movie Maker right on day one - go through the whole process of making a DST, based on material that we would provide. Get the technology barrier out of the way (not much of a barrier for these youngsters I must say) and acquaint yourself well with the steps that you would be following while making the 'real' Digital Story. Since the second DST workshop that we planned to conduct in Siolim (at SFX Higher Secondary School) was fast approaching, it was decided to apply this idea there.

And so was conceived the 'DST Test Drive'. Based on a maximum of four images (from a set of 10) that the participants would be asked to select, they would write a script, record it in their voices, select a background music (from a set of four pieces), put all this in a Movie Maker project and churn out a short 1 minute film, all in 2 hours flat. A recipe for disaster? What better way to find out than to try it within the group.

So we decided to hold a 2 hour session on Movie Maker for GoCreators, on Wed 22nd Oct at ICG; 6 people signed up for the test drive. We used the 'Production Kits' from the Holy Cross Workshop as the raw material - these were participant-wise folders created during the workshop, containing (for each participant) the audio recording of his/her narration, the photos and the background music that went into the DST. Having this ready-made meant that the test drivers could focus completely on Movie Maker alone and wouldn't have to spend time on other activities. The session went quite well and gave us the confidence to proceed with the planned 'Test Drive DST' module in the next workshop, at SFX.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Fluid Borders - Hallo Goa Nara

What happens when you put a bunch of 20 odd students from 2 cultures, not knowing each other's languages, in one space, for one day? On September 6, a group of university students and professors from Nara, Japan got together with students of Goa University for a day-long cross-cultural interaction at the International Center, Goa. This interaction was a part of the Toyota Foundation funded "Goa - Nara Neighbourhood Project"

Fluid Borders is an audio presentation of the day's events.

View the Audio Slideshow

De-constructing Goa-Nara

I realised just how much of a hassle it can be, specially for beginners like myself, to balance between audio and photography. Both require just as much thought and attention! For each scene, I made sure I got my images first. I then put down the camera and began recording the audio. But in many instances I found that I needed to capture audio and simultaneously also get a still image. Those were time when I had the mic in one hand and framed shots with the other. A good experience!

Following advice from great teachers like Cyndy Green and Angela Grant (if these are not already on your daily reading list, I strongly recommend you have them), I have begun my multimedia work with a strong emphasis on audio. So, besides making sure I got my shots as I normally would in photojournalism, I also ensured I had good audio for all scenes.

Back home, I edited my audio recordings (using Audacity) down to the clips I thought I could use. Then came the task of sequencing the audio. For this, I used the two interviews I did on location as a rough backbone to go through the timeline (I did mix the interviews around, taking portions from one spot and moving them to another - before or after).

Next, I selected the good live audio from the scenes and inserted them between the interview clips. Finally, I recorded my voiceover to tie together the various segments. I kept voiceover down to the minimum, using it only where absolutely required.

Reading Cyndy and Angela, I realised how important it is, for us photojournalists, to get the audio track right. My endeavour is to try and get an audio that could even go as a standalone piece - perhaps on radio a la NPR (potential buyers, please note :-) ?). Not sure how much I succeeded towards this end.

Anyway, I finally got down to picture selection and editing. (Note: I more or less had a pretty good idea about the images I had, before I began the production). I then sequenced them and got the images and audio into SoundSlides. Here I had to adjust the timings for each image to match audio and images and the result is what you see.

One key point is background music. I've used music by gurdonark, under the CC license from This is a must have site on your list for production. Under the license, music is free to re-use and distribute with attribution to the creator.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Holy Cross School - Final Cuts

At the end of Day 6 of the DST Workshop held at Holy Cross High School in Siolim, 10 films were complete. Salil Konkar, Alito Siqueira, Gasper D’souza and Preeti Padgaonkar sat editing the films under direction from the participants. And the young enthusiasts knew exactly what they wanted!

Here are the final films.

'Sateri Mai' - Alisha Govekar:

'My House in the Past' - Bryan Britto

'Zhar' - Delaila Fernandes

'My Beautiful House' - George Monteiro

'When I first caught a Fish' - Michael Fernandes

'Vhal Mhozo Ixtt' - Nabila D'Souza

'The Ground and Me' - Rowena Petters

'Ticketless in Borivali Park' - Sharon Sebastian

'My Dream- Football' - Valencia Braganza

'My living room' - Yohann Fernandes

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Hallo Goa Nara

The one day program titled "Hallo Goa Nara" Goa Nara students interaction programme will be held on September 6th at the International Centre Goa. In this regard professor Alito Sequeira from the department of Sociology Goa University, professor Kyoko Matsukawa from the department of Sociology Nara University, Gasper Desouza photojournalist whose work has appeared internationally, Preeti Padgaonkar a student from the department of Sociology Goa University sat together at a restaurent in Panjim, Goa discussing what the event should focus on.

As our Japanese collegues do not share common language with Goan students various activities such as dancing and painting were suggested. It was emphasized that the language should not be a barrier in interacting and the variious activities of the day should give a glimpse of the other person and culture.