Saturday, 9 March 2013

"I'm not really qualified to be doing this full-time for a big brand but that doesn't stop me" - The solace of multimedia production

My guest writer on today's post is Akash Iyer, a multimedia video producer with skills and ideas that will amaze the socks off you.

Over to him.

When Youtube began, most people in the Indian subcontinent were still accessing the internet via a dial-up connection. Streaming videos wasn't something we could afford to do casually. 

Things have changed a lot now. 

Around 500 years’ worth of content from YouTube is watched on Facebook every single day.

In early 2010, I uploaded a video of me strumming the guitar and mouthing funny lyrics about a broke teenager. The video was shared repeatedly and ended up getting a few thousand views which was a lot for us at the time. 

Overwhelmed by the reaction, I started uploading more of these music related videos on my channel. Coincidentally, this was when my friends and family rechristened me a "view whore".

At the same time, we were doing a project called "The Saints are Coming" which was basically us teaching under privileged kids to play football. We had a lot of volunteers on board so we could afford to have an extra camera man. We ended up with a lot of footage at the end of our project. 

It was time to put it together. Enter Sony Vegas. 

Back then I wasn't as equipped as I am now, both in terms of resources and knowledge. I had no option but to do a crash course on how to use Sony Vegas on YouTube (circle of life, eh?). After about a week of trial and error I finally had my first real video/report/documentary (or whatever you want to call it). 

Sadly it couldn't reach its audience thanks to my room mate, who accidentally erased the video. But I had learnt a lot in the one week that I had spent editing the video. Repeatedly watching the kids' interviews' and how happy they were made me cry. 

I was way too inspired by the kids in this project to go back to being satisfied with my nine to five job. 

I couldn't resist the idea of voicing my opinion infront of a webcam from the comfort of my bedroom and get people to watch it. So I started vlogging about sports and built a decent audience. 

August 2012. Balaji Shakthivel, a very popular film maker from Chennai selected one of our sketches as the best at a short film contest for The Chennai week fest.

Our film was shared over and over again on social media, hitting 50,000 views in a space of two days. By this time I was inspired enough to quit my regular job and take up a job at Sportskeeda as a video producer. 

Now, I mostly make vlogs, comedy sketches, reports, short documentaries, promos, screen casts, animation, interviews etc as a part of my work. I am not really qualified to be doing this full-time for a big brand but that doesn't stop me. 

A YouTube degree on iMovie and after effects is all anyone needs to start off with. Ultimately its all comes down to how badly you want results. 

I don't follow any single approach to a project, but the skeleton is the same:

1) Research - Dig up all the dirt on your project

2) Brainstorm - After judging whether the project is capable of going viral I spend some time brainstorming. 

3) Stick to the plan - After taking a decision on the vibe that you want the video to create, stick with it. Some subjects work better with humour but some don't.

4) Pick up as many shots as you can but remember to not over do it and come back with 64 GB of footage for a five-minute clip. During post-production, you are the one who has to watch all the footage so be efficient and take only what you need. People generally storyboard but I don't do it. I would definitely do it if I had enough resources.

5) If you are interviewing someone make sure you get to know them a little bit before you begin. Apply your communication skills well to create chemistry between the camera and the subject. 

6) Post production depends entirely on the subject and the kind of vibe you want to create for the video. I usually prefer creating light-hearted videos so I try to keep it short and funny.

7) Following up to your production and promoting it across social platforms is how you actually get the video to go viral.

8) After your video has been in circulation for a while, analyse the response on YouTube analytics. 

Here is a recent video I did for Sportskeeda following that plan, where my colleagues and I filmed at a fight club in Bangalore, India.

Sometimes you could spend an entire day editing a video and still not get a good response and sometimes a video you spend half an hour on goes viral. The internet can be both demotivating and overwhelming so it is important that you show faith in your skills while constantly working on developing them. 

Results may come instantly or after a while but your work is never useless. So learn more techniques and how to apply them effectively. 

2013. In a couple of months I ll be heading to Symbiosis Institute of Media Communication in Pune, India to major in video production. As I go through my queue to look for projects that could look good on my portfolio, I realize that the only project I still haven't completed is the one that inspired me the most. 

"The Saints Are Coming". Why did I not finish it? 

Maybe because deep inside I know that I owe it to the orphanage to go back there and do the whole thing again. 

Or maybe I'm just too lazy. 

Inspiring words from Akash there: he only goes to show that anybody can be creative. All they have to do is find it within them. Here is a sample from his successful vlog:

Until Next Time,


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