IndiaUnheard Training Camp 2011 – First Day

Today is the first day of the IndiaUnheard training camp and we are so excited! 16 community correspondents who have all been producing videos for the last one year have all been streaming in today and yesterday. They are here to both celebrate their achievements, brush up on training, and to meet and encourage the new batch of IndiaUnheard Community Correspondents who will be joining the camp at the end of the week.

The main goals for the existing Community Correspondents during this special training are to improve upon story development, community impact, and to address the challenges they face working in their communities—often in India’s most far flung corners.  Some must undertake quite a journey just to post their video footage to the office.  However, despite these distances, we feel there is no real separation between those who work directly at the Video Volunteers headquarters office and the Community Correspondents “out in the field.”  One hope for the outcome of the 2011 camp is to reinforce this bond and the knowledge that they are not working alone, but an integral part of a network of community media producers.

Saturday, the first official day was filled with excitement as the CCs regrouped from the previous year’s training, and friends were eager to see each other and catch up in-person!  All the way around, the day was filled with many lovely moments, from watching each other's stories, visiting the Video Volunteers headquarters office and seeing how the IndiaUnhdeard production flow operates and the work other team members put into their videos, to logging onto their Facebook accounts (many for the very first time).

The end of the day was crowned off with a special viewing party of the NewsX channel’s ‘Speak Out India,’ a new weekly half-hour show that airs the CCs video reports every weekend to national audiences.  Before this, none had been able to watch the show, and this was the CCs chance to see themselves and their work on national broadcast TV!  It also gave them the opportunity to meet and interact with journalists and filmmakers from Goa.

Morning Activities

After a year of production, each of these CC’s had several videos under their belt, however, most of the CC’s had never seen each other’s work and some not even their own finished efforts.  So we began the day all assembled together in front of a large screen, and watched several of the CC’s individual videos, including the most viewed and two videos that had achieved significant impact back in their own community.  There were “ooh’s and ah’s,” clapping, cheering, and congratulations all around.  We were all very impressed with their work and what they have been able to achieve!

After seeing his own impact video that helped to bring medical supplies to one village, Daniel Mate from Manipur’s Kuki indigenous community somewhat shyly remarked, “I feel that it’s great, and I feel like making more good videos.  It inspires me!”  Mukesh Rajak, the youngest CC at only 20-years old, and the producer of another significant impact video—on the corruption that was taking place in schools by teachers forcing students to pay bribes—beamed with pride in saying “I am happy that through my video, my community got an impact—I am too happy!  And my community members also are happy because due to that video they got an impact…people in their district are now not giving bribes for taking their exams and things they were having to pay for before.  I am too happy and the community members are also very happy.”

Afternoon at the Video Volunteers Office

Last year, the IndiaUnheard training for the then new correspondents was held in Ahmadabad, so there was no chance for them to see the Video Volunteers office.  This year the whole gang came down to check it out and were a bit surprised to find “that VV isn’t so corporate” and that in reality the office is rather small and quite humble being tucked away on a hill surrounded by the lush Goa forest (and monkeys) all around.  They were very interested to see where everyone in the office sits and even where the phone was physically kept and what kind of phone was being used—especially so since they are often on the phone with their VV counterparts on a frequent basis.

During the afternoon the CCs were shown the IndiaUnheard production processes and all the steps and people involved from inception to distribution of their videos.

Sameer, VV Project Assistant, explained the beginning of the process. The cc’s footage arrives by courier. He opens the envelope and copies the footage from the DVD onto the computer, checking that all the elements are there, and checking their paper edits. He also talked about how he checks how the story has progressed since the last time they spoke and whether any elements are missing.  Sameer is definitely the one who talks to the cc’s the most. He is always talking to the CC’s about their story and giving them feedback, and if something else needs to be done by them before moving to the step production step.

Next, the CCs moved on to the editing process, which was demonstrated by one of the video editors, Kamini, by using Final Cut Pro.  All the CCs were simply fascinated by this aspect, and many want to go on to learn video editing, now that they have seen how it is done!  They were shown how the project file is setup, the rendering of clips, basic editing on the timeline of the rough cut, how the footage is then subtitled, and finally finalized and exported for both online distribution and the NewsX Channel for ‘Speak Out India.’

From there, Kamini, explained and illustrated the procedures of how the CC’s videos are uploaded onto the internet to and also placed onto the IndiaUnheard website.  Finally, she also showed the “video analysis sheet” made for each video that details information about each story—from the topics and themes to the production quality, and where further improvement can be made.

Overall for these production steps, Kamini found that the response from the CCs was pure utter amazement, “You mean you do this for every video? Every video?!”  They did not realize how much work actually went into each video, all the different steps, and all the different people that worked on each step.  They were very impressed.

The few other people based in the VV headquarters office also showed what jobs they do, such as, communications, accounts, graphic design, training, etc.  But perhaps one of the most enjoyable and “hands on” highlights of that afternoon was all of the CCs logging into their Facebook accounts and updating their Facebook status with one key learning from the last year.

Most of the CCs had not yet been able to interact with Facebook, so for many it was their first time logging in.  Despite a bit of a learning curve, and for some, difficulties navigating in English, everyone was very eager to put this social networking tool to use.  Soon the office was abuzz with status updates, with the CCs giggling and laughing as they saw their friends’ messages pop up through their Facebook “News Feed” even though the other CCs were just across the room!

Toward the end of the afternoon, the CCs, still a bit heady with all the day’s activities, trooped upstairs to Stalin and Jessica’s home for the NewsX ‘Speak Out India’ special viewing party that was being held in their honor.  Here, they’d also have a chance to meet the press, interact with them, as well as, tell and share stories of their own personal experiences of being an IndiaUnheard Community Correspondent!  More about this great party in the next blog post—stay tuned!

The camp will go on for three more weeks and we can’t wait to see what is in store!

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