Thursday, 6 June 2013

On the Ball: Tying up all the loose ends

The last three posts of mine have been about my vidcast 'On the Ball' which looks at the problems plaguing Indian football and discusses how to correct them.

But there is much you will surely want to know about how all this took place. How did I get all these people to come to speak to me, how much did it cost? What about copyright infringement, all the behind-the-scenes information.

That's what I tell you here.

Gathering of sources

I planned to speak to three groups of people. The first were the fans, the ones who the players actually play for. The second were media personnel, the third were sports professionals.

The first fan I interviewed was Abhishek Iyer. He's been a friend of mine since we were toddlers and we've watched several football games with our friends. He is an ardent football fan and a couple years ago, he went to watch Blackburn Rovers take on Pune FC when he was studying (he still is) at a University in Pune.

He was therefore the best person to interview since he had seen the best (in a manner of speaking) of both worlds, witnessing an Indian I-League side take on a well-known European name.

Abhishek had a friend named Somnath whose brother I met at a family function. And no, I am not rambling a la Abe Simpson because his brother happened to be Apratim Mukherjee, a Risk Management Consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers who had done in-depth analysis on Manchester United's floating on the New York Stock Exchange and knew the ins and outs of finances in Indian football.

The second group of fans I met with belonged to the Arsenal Supporters Group Bangalore Gunners. They organise screening of Arsenal matches and I wanted to film one of their screenings. I got in touch with them through their Facebook group, asking them whether I could film. The game I did film was the one against Manchester United, and there, I was able to interview a broad cross-section of fans who supported different clubs for their take on Indian football.

That day was doubly iconic because of the Guard of Honour afforded to United and because the group were gathering signatures to send to Arsenal as they were applying for official recognition.

For that game, fans who support not just Arsenal but Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool were all present and after taking permission from those concerned, I was able to interview a good cross section of fans from all four clubs. Although I did ask for female fans to be interviewed as well, they did not consent.

At the screening, I was also able to fix up an interview with two members of the organising committee, Akash Deep and Vivek Vijayakumar. Both of them have followed both Indian and European football for at least ten years and are well versed with both versions of the game.

Akash asked me a day after the screening as to whether I would like to watch a local game, something I had never been to before. One of the teams featured, Rangdajied FC, featured a footballer who was an ex-schoolmate of Akash. Because we (or rather he) knew someone in the team, we were allowed to enter the team’s dressing room. That meant that I was able to interview Ericson Lyngdoh and his brother Eugeneson, who plays for I-League side Shillong Lajong FC and had come to watch his brother play.

These footballers ultimately play for the fans, and when you don’t have fans at the stadium, you have to dig deep and muster the will to play yourself. Both Ericson and Eugeneson were keen to speak out on the current state of Indian football and what needed to be done to bring fans to the stadium.

Also present at the screening was Chinmoy Aroutray, who volunteered at the SPT Sports Academy on weekends. He gave me the number of Mr Kanishk Saran, the Vice President of the Academy’s parent company SPT Sports Management Pvt. Ltd. After meeting him in his office, I was given permission to film at the academy, interview parents and get a coach on camera.

The second academy I went to was the XLR8 Academy. I owe its discovery to Lyonoidus, the only bloke who has commented on my blog so far. He told me about the academy and once I had spoken with those concerned, was able to film and interview there.

The third was the Arsenal Soccer School in Oman. Few academies do youth development better than Arsenal, so why not go to the best? When I was there in March, my dad – who knows someone at the Academy – gave me a contact. I then got in touch with said contact and was able to film.

All the journalists I interviewed were either personal or professional contacts. The three personnel I interviewed at Sportskeeda were all former colleagues of mine. I had worked at the company for nine months and they were more than happy to help me. 

While at Sportskeeda, I was introduced to Amoy Ghoshal, who reports on Indian football for the site from Kolkata. A former Hindustan Times and journalist, he agreed to be interviewed. It was also there that I met Ameet Nadi, who had spent ten years playing state-level cricket before branching into coaching at the Karnataka Cricket Academy and was therefore the best to quiz about the nation’s sporting culture.

Vineeth Krishnan is a former course-mate of mine. We did our undergraduate degrees together and he then went on to work for Times of India and ESPN. I emailed him and he agreed to a Skype interview.

Both Arya Yuyutsu and Kanishkaa Balachandran were coursemates of mine at the University of Sheffield where I completed postgraduate studies in Broadcast Journalism. They now work at ESPNcricinfo and I approached them to find out why cricket was so successful and how that contributed to the stagnation of football. 

Legal and Ethical considerations and distribution

Ericson did not want to be interviewed on camera as he was concerned about how he would come across. Since that was the only tool I had, I assured him I would only rip the sound from the interview and overlay that with images of him and his team mates.

All the filming that took place in both Oman and India was only taken and put on the public sphere after taking permission from all parties concerned. In the case of the Arsenal academy, I personally met them and showed them what footage I would be using. Any assurance that the footage would be used for academic purposes had to be compliant with the law.

In India, the Copyright Act of 1914 states that copyright will not be infringed by any fair dealing with any work for the purpose of private study, research, criticism, review or newspaper summary (Sharma, 2009).

Since Arsenal FC are in the UK, it was best to check that any filming was in accordance with British law as well. Fair dealing with copyright work for the purposes of criticism or review of that work or of another will not be treated as infringement subject to sufficient acknowledgement and that work being made available to the public (Banks & Hanna, 2009) according to the 1988 Copyright Act.

In addition, children were being filmed. I made sure that only those over the age of 16 were shown with their faces on camera. The others have been shown with side or rear profiles only, thereby adhering to the law that states that a child under 16 must not be filmed unless a parent or guardian is present (Society of Editors, 2009). Coaches from the Arsenal Soccer School were present during the filming.

In addition, Omani law states that public libraries, educational establishments and institutions can make a single copy of a published article or work for study and research if there is no direct/indirect financial gain (Curtis, et al., 2009).

In keeping with that, all three videos have been uploaded on YouTube and are available for the public. I have also made contact with my former employers at Sportskeeda to see if they will host my vidcast. I can now confirm that that has been agreed upon.

All archived footage was taken with the permission of those concerned. 

Even then, the responsibility to do the right think with the footage always lies with the journalist. (Jacquette, 2007) 

Social Media interaction

Truth be told, there wasn't much to begin with. I used the Bangalore Gunners Facebook page to rope in potential interviewees and fix up a filming date.

That aside, had agreed to publish my vidcast and that means sharing it on all Facebook pages the site have in connection to football. which is about nine different pages. 

Surely Skype counts as social media? Yes? In that case, three of my interviews were conducted via Skype. Apratim, Vineeth and Amoy were all reached via Skype.

In addition, I got in touch with Arya, Kanishkaa and my former Sportskeeda colleagues through Facebook and that was how I arranged everything with them.

Logistics and equipment

This project wasn't cheap. When I began the project, I had around 85,000 rupees in my bank account, or close to £1,000. By the time I had finished, I was down to a little around Rs. 20,000 or around £225.

Most of that money had been spent on the project. But the reason that is the case is because the logistics of video journalism (broadcast journalism) are quite expensive. (Thompson, 2005).

Take for instance the time I went to the XLR8 Arena, which is a good 20 kilometres from where I live. Public transport over such long distances in unviable in Bangalore and few people are willing to wait for an hour while I film. I therefore had to hire a cab to and from the Arena and make the cabbie wait there for an hour while I filmed.

It was the same when I went to the STP Academy. Cabs were unavailable on that day because they were all engaged and I therefore had to engage an auto rickshaw for the journey, the standard mode of public transport, make the driver (who was known to me) wait there and then take the same auto back because the academy was quite isolated.

Even when I did arrange for a cab well in advance, there was the occasional cock-up. The cab service that was to send a car for me was overbooked and therefore could not convey me to my destination. I think I screamed at the customer service rep on the phone for a good twenty minutes before gathering the common sense to ring up another cab company who sent me a cab straight away. Halfway through my journey, the manager of the first cab company did call back to say he had a cab waiting for me and apologised but by then I had already set off for the academy.

When I went to interview Arya and Kanishkaa, the rain was pouring down and obtaining an auto was rather difficult. I therefore asked the driver to take me there, wait for an hour and then take me back because there was no guarantee that I could get transportation back as it was rather late at night.

In addition, shipping the assignment to the UK cost around Rs. 5000 or £60. The pen drives which contain the date cost another Rs. 2,000 (£25).

The camera I used was a standard Canon PowerShot SX210 and the tripod I bought was of standard make, the one available in most shops. It came for around £10.

Adobe Premiere Pro was the editing software I used and Moyea Video Converter was used to boost sound levels. In that case, I grabbed the video straight from what I had filmed while the audio was imported once it had been boosted. Coordination between the two therefore was very important.

Conversion of video from one form to another was done using Leawo Video Converter while Skype interviews were recorded using the rather aptly named Video Capture Software from Softonics. Evaer, a software specially designed for Skype capture, was also used.

YTD YouTube Downloader was used to download all the required videos.

Screengrabs that you see in the videos were captured using MS Paint.

Technical concerns

The biggest technical concerns arose from the camera itself. It did not have a strong or precise enough microphone to capture the voices of those who did speak softly while capturing unwanted environmental noise.

I had initially bought 8.5 GB DVDs in an attempt to create a DVD via Windows DVD maker and ship it to the UK but after wasting four DVDs which either got stuck or refused to record due to errors, my dad suggested buying pen drives and recording the videos on them.   

Uploading the videos onto YouTube was also tedious. They took about 24 hours apiece and it was very frustrating to have to wait. 

In addition, Adobe Premier Pro kept crashing on me and the heaviness of the programme meant my laptop was frequently overheating.

In the end though, I hope that my project is similar to Radamel Falcao joining Monaco. Expensive but totally worth it.


Banks, D. & Hanna, M., 2009. McNae's Essential Law for Journalists. 20th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Curtis, Mallet-Provost, Colt & Mosle, 2009. Focus On: Copyrights and Fair Use. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 07 June 2013].

Jacquette, D., 2007. Journalistic Ethics: Moral Responsibility In The Media. 1st ed. New Delhi: Pearson.

Sharma, A., 2009. Indian Perspective of Fair Dealing under Copyright Law: Lex Lata or Lex Ferenda?, Bhopal: National Law Institute University.

Society of Editors, 2009. Newspaper and magazine publishing in the UK: Code of Practice, Cambridge: Press Complaints Commission.

Thompson, R., 2005. Writing For Broadcast Journalists. 1st ed. New York: Routledge.

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