Create With Purpose

Adobe Youth Voices Develops the technology skills among youth, providing cutting edge tools and breakthrough learning experiences from creating video, multimedia, digital art, web, animation, and audio to express their voices in society and prepare for 21st centery employment with critical thinking, innovation, collaboration and communication skills. more

June 25, 2012

Urban Shelters - Everyone needs a home

Sense of place characterizes authentic human attachment and belonging to a place. This media piece was done for Adobe Youth Voices Training as an AYV educator. Location Colombo Sri Lanka. June 16 2012.
Inspired by Daphine Nakabugo, my fellow AYV educator, I thought that I would share my experiences of making "URBAN SHELTERS" sense of place, after I am getting first wave of positive responses. I thought informing my process of creation would be useful to fellow AYV educators and specially for my students .

When I got this assignment, I checked the wikipedia and I was able to understand the concept of "Sence of place" in a much broader sense. First I thought that I would shoot a place with a nice scene.  There are beautiful landscapes in my area. I felt that it may not be something global. I wanted something stronger and talking to the viewers mind. 

The Opprtunity
Then, I got a chance to travel Colombo to receive zonta award for my daughter for her community services. I decided to create my "sense of place" story in Colombo. I was in a very good mood like it was a leisure trip, with my wife driving to avoid me getting traffic tickets!  I came up with the idea of doing it on Urban Living. But exactly had no plans on what.

I traveled to Colombo thinking all the way of a theme. Since Colombo is four hours drive from my home. We had to left around 5.30AM in good early morning breeze. We chose a Upul's place to refresh and change ourselves from casual clothes to formal attires. Upul usually helps me with my community work in Colombo. They live in a small house, could be considered as a clean slum, except on heavy rains and city floods. He was kind to invite us for lunch after the event. Thanks to him, we also wanted get back to casual form before returning to Kandy. 

I took some photos at the event but failed to create emotions with too yellowish color, too posh and less variety in scenes.

The real experience
On the way back to Upul's home, I got a real opportunity sitting on the front seat and not driving. I got a very good angles from the middle of the road. I shot low angles through window and windscreen. Bright sun, blue sky with white clouds created a good shooting experience. My mood also was perfect and relaxed. My wife drove me around the city for me to take photos. We returning to Upul's place for refreshing. After lunch. he took me around his community. His daughter also joined us. I also got my daughter to do an act for me of a urban women looking outdoor. I took her shot against the light. Good that she had done drama acting. I got a near perfect shot. A directors cut they say. The best thing I had was about 3 hours photography of urban scenes with varying lights, objects, people and shadows.  I would have captured much softer afternoon colors, If we had waited till late afternoon. 

Creating the Story
I had done about 70-80 shots of the day. Selecting best once were easier. Making to a 15 was harder. 12 was even harder. I kept it to 15 shots initially. Looking into the photos, I was searching for a real story. My friend's daughter's shot was my  best took. Zooming it, You can see me photographing her in her eye.  She always interacted with me with lots of fun. I made her my main character and heroic. Added her brother, father, mother,a friend and the crows on the galle face green canon to be sub characters in story. Finally I had captured "Urban Shelters" in my shoot. My blurred script idea really became completed. Script from shots isn't a bad idea for "sense place" creations.

When editing, I wanted to create a feeling with colors, to amuse the viewer. The Colombo City shot had a interesting bluish look, with blue sky background. Te World Trade Center blue glass walls matched it perfectly. I decided to use a blue tint in scenes to create an emotions in the story. I re-arranged order of scenes many times to create smooth flow of emotions. I used the long wide shot of Colombo sky-rises to established the location identity for my story. Thanks to my friend pro photographer Lanka who taught me to "establish location of the story". Colombo! everyone knows. The Harbor fence, reminded me of some prison at the first sight. A type of shelter people don't want to be. The rest aligned to the story smoothly to show the gradually changing differences of classes of people. I ended the story with the best shot, that's Upul's daughter looking directly into my lens with some hope, i guess from her eyes.

The message
I wanted to create a global message for AYV. Yet, I felt something is missing. I asked myself that "OK! I have shown Colombo's urban shelters, their differences. So what message would it finally deliver to a global audience?"  I started brain stroming with the idea of "need of a shelter", after sometime ended with "Everyone needs a home" message. The idea of putting the message inside a house was entirely my daughter's. I created the house graphic with freehand using windows paint. It has a wonderful set of brushes for free hand art.

Sounds & Transitions
I felt that I had a good story. Sound was my challenge. I wanted a sound that create empathy, some sadness and sense of reality. I wanted to capture the mind of the viewer at the scence.  I tried using shutter click sound of a camera to create a live feeling at transition. It worked. I added black empty spaces between scenes to create a stop and restart effect to make viewer see each scene uniquely. Films use this technique when changing scenes. I I wanted to keep viewer focused, not knowing what comes next. I actually try to show the story like a film rather than a photo story. I avoided captions, narations and text in the middle to differenciate it from a photo documentary. I wanted it to be a short film. One student said that this piece "captures the mind of the viewer like it's a film".

Background Sounds 
I found that the gaps between shutter clicks were empty and dull. I wanted to fill it with a sound. I asked my self "Why people need shelters?" Oh! the rain. Rain made people to want shelters first. That's how rain sound came into the background. I kept the rain sound low as shot done in sunlight. 

The Critical Review
Finally I loved what was created. Mostly of what I learned in the process and what would I do in the next. The critical reviews by youth I teach, were really helpful to me. They critisized everything from shots, angles, colors, sounds, title and message. Good that I had thought them to review media critically. They were the ones inspired me to my best. I

Lessons Learned
I have learned many things in this media creation process. Some of them are 

Follow the process of  planing -> production -> editing -> review -> exhibition

Think wider & See wider
Find an interesting idea to you
Let creative thoughts flow
Create emotions in the story
Collaborate in creation 
Deliver a message
Review Critically
Re-wise & Rework 
Do it with Joy!

My self expression on "URBAN SHELTERS" is that "I had an idea, blur with no complete script, deep and wide. I engaged myself in a creative production process, creating emotions with scenes, colors, sound and a message. I collaborated with others to review and improve it and did it with joy!" 

In abstract "I created with a purpose".

Niranjan Meegammana
AYV Educator
Shilpa Sayura Foundation

June 24, 2012

Stop Motion Animations Tips

  • Do not shake the camera use a tripod 
  • Do not change the exposure during stop shots
  • Do not change the focus unless for a new seane
  • Do not change the set
  • A good stop motion flows like gentle breeze
  • Do not change lighting
  • Always shoot a scene in one session
  • Always shoot more frames than you need
  • shoot photos in hi-res as possible
  • test your setup and camera before shooting
  • Reduce natural light by closing curtains or by animating at night
  • Light your set well with couple of desk lamps 
  • Avoid wearing brightly coloured clothes not to reflect light onto the set
  • Write a script and draw a storyboard to develop your ideas.
  • Know what you are going to say before you speak.
  • Write down dialogs. re-record lines if needed. 
  • Use small movements for smooth animation.
  • Use 15-30 frames per second. 
  • Fast actions need large movements. 
  • For slow action make smaller movements. 


June 23, 2012

Stop Motion Animation


How To Make a Stop Motion Animation

How to make stop motion animations

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