Sunday, 14 December 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:

Thursday, 23 October 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, 25 August 2008

Digital Storytelling at Holy Cross

When Holy Cross High School, Siolim turned 75 years old it tuned on into an ancient learning approach and combined it with sophisticated modern technology – the digital story. The digital story is a media artifact. It is a personal narrative that enables new approaches to reflection and engagement from our story teller students. It is made from digital images and sounds. Selected students of the school participated in a hands on and minds on Digital Story Telling Workshop from August 18 to 23, 2008 facilitated by Gocreat.

Our little story tellers spent six enthusiastic fun-filled and intensely serious afternoons and have produced for us their little stories. “My favorite place” was the theme and the students were free to craft the story just as they wished. The digital stories they made invite us to enter their intimate world ranging from their living room at home, to the bounty that Mother Nature has given Siolim - the springs and rivulets and one of the presiding deity of Siolim – Sateri. You will see that our little citizens indeed have their heads, minds and values in the right place. At the end of the workshop we are optimistic about all that is central to life and love, to humanity and its survival. No words can be a substitute to experiencing the films of these young people.

Here are the final cuts of their short films...

'Sateri Mai' (in Marathi) by Alisha Govekar

'My House in the Past' by Bryan Britto

'Zhar' (in Konkani) by Delaila Fernandes

'My Beautiful House' by George Monteiro

'When I First Caught a Fish' by Michael Fernandes

'Vhal Mhozo Ixtt' (in Konkani) by Nabila D'Souza

'The Ground and Me' by Rowena Petters

'Ticketless in Borivali Park' by Sharon Sebastian

'My Dream - Football' by Valencia Braganza

'My Living Room' by Yohann Fernandes

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Learning Digital Storytelling, our first results

by Salil Konkar

As mentioned in previous posts, the GoCreat and Siolim Diaries groups had merged sometime in January to learn and explore multimedia techniques; as one of the outcomes of this, we had decided to learn Digital Storytelling, with the objective of providing the group with a platform to learn and experiment with basic film-making techniques as well as to build capabilities within the group to document village stories in an audiovisual format, something that has been one of the main interests of the Siolim Diaries group.

For the Digital Storytelling workshops, Milan, Gasper and I planned some sessions and we conducted them first over two consecutive days in February (27th and 28th) and then at regular intervals based on the availability of the participants and the progress made by the participants with their individual stories. Though we started out with around 9 people in the group, the number started dwindling as participants found it more and more difficult to devote time for this, mostly due to academic or work pressures, though some may also not have found the whole concept very interesting. We finally ended with just two participants – Sammit and Preeti – who finished scripting and storyboarding their digital stories by April. Preeti managed to collect all the visual material as well, and we recorded her voice-over on April 11. After that, we spent a few more sessions working on her ideas for the film and finalising how it should be made. With all the material that we had on Preeti’s story, I spent a couple of days putting it together in the editing software and producing the film. So by the first week of May, we had our first digital story ready! The group met on May 6th for a screening of Preeti’s short three minute film, and discussed it while playing it over and over again.

Click below to see Preeti's film.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Big Bellies and the Invisible Seed

by Milan Khanolkar
inspired by a trip to the weekly Wednesday market in Siolim)

On the banks of a river there was a village. The village covered itself with greenery, lived in its own world with little care. Its greenery was its life; people from across the river visited the village for this. Experiencing the living greenery of the village would make the visitors connect with the freshn
ess within them. Someone discovered the poet within her; another found the painter or poet within himself. For yet another it kindled the writing muse and for some others the joy they had within. Some visitors stayed back while others returned to where they came from.

One day a boat arrived in this village with five people on it. They had large stomachs with overgrown paunches that reached their feet. The moment they touched their feet on land they felt a burning hunger within. They felt as if they wanted to eat everything edible and alive in the entire village there and then. They allowed this feeling to get the better of them and promptly starting feasting in and on the village. They kept eating till they had consumed the small farmers, their land, their cattle and their families too. The small farmers were the village protectors and once they were consumed there was no one left to protect the village. Then with enthusiastic frenzy they ate up all the traditions, the symbols, the deities and the religiosity of the village. Their stomachs were so large that no matter how much they ate, their stomachs expanded to fit what they ate. Once they had eaten many hills in one go. How long could it take them to finish this village? After they had consumed the village they rubbed their hands on their stomachs and said there is nothing left, so let us depart now.

Once they were in their boat, ready to leave, an ugly bird came and whispered in their ear. They decided to change their decision to leave. The bird told them that there was still something left in the village and unless they consume that too, they cannot return to where they had come from. Once a week, in a sacred place the village deity would come with a basket of seeds. The village deity is visible only to the villagers and the villagers alone can collect seeds from the deity. These big bellied now realized that had they spared the villagers they could have used them to get the seeds from the village deity and then had the seeds too. But now that the villagers were no more how were they to get the seeds? The deity too, sitting in her place, began to worry as to why the villagers were not coming to collect seeds.

And so the deity keeps waiting, hoping that at least one villager will come to collect seed. The big bellied too cannot leave the village till they eat the remaining seed.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Exploring the 'Market'

by Salil Konkar

Over the course of a month or so, for the ‘Market’ project, some of us from the combined Siolim Diaries and GoCreat group made trips to the Wednesday market in Siolim and spoke to a few of the local vendors there - two women selling coconuts and brooms, another selling pottery that she makes at home. While talking to the potter (Luisa) we asked her if we could some see her at her workplace while she was working - she was most willing, and a week later, on 8th February, we were at her place interviewing her while watching her making the pots. She took us around and also showed us the kiln where she fires the pots and her other clay ware. We learnt that besides selling at the Siolim market on Wednesdays, she also sells in the Calangute market that runs on Saturdays.

On Saturday 9th February, we were at the Calangute market. We saw Luisa sitting close to the entrance of the market, with more stuff than she brings to sell at Siolim (sales are better at Calangute because of the larger tourist crowds there). We walked through the crowded market amidst the loud yelling of fisherwomen and vegetable vendors, and the mechanical sound of a machine pressing juice out of sugarcane.

Having gathered some raw material for making a short film, the next thing on our minds was – how do we put all this together? That’s when we found out about the Centre for Digital Storytelling, based out of Berkeley California, which conducts workshops in digital storytelling, and which has also published on their site a ‘cookbook’ for conducting similar workshops. We found the techniques that they used most interesting and decided to follow them to learn digital storytelling as a group. This would provide the group with a platform to learn and experiment with basic film-making techniques as well as build the capabilities within the group to digitally document village stories in an audiovisual format, which has been one of the objectives of the Siolim Diaries project.

Monday, 21 January 2008

Rahul Srivastava Speaks

Rahul spoke to the Siolim Diaries group as well as members of the GoCreat group on 21st Jan 08.

Click here to see details and listen to the audio recording.