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 12, 2013

Road to the Aspire - From Streets to the Global

Today we concluded last youth meeting of AYV Season II. It had happy as well as sad moments. The sad moments emerged when 10 of the main creative team announced that they will be leaving AYV for higher education and employment. The moment was softened when I said that they shall be our volunteer educators for the season III and given employment in Shilpa Sayura Digital rainbow project.

At first, all youth were happy on the multi-dimensional outreach we made with 
season II. All credits went to social marketing effort where youth did not sleep well since April. All of them had put 100% of their time to produce, edit and promote Child Soldier film from mid August 2012 to Mid April 2013. They even skipped new year celebrations in April. What a commitment! I am lucky to be their educator. When everyone was given the opportunity to express their take away from AYV, we had real stories coming in.  Each youth had developed their social capital through AYV. They got respect from peers, parents and teachers and finally from the nation for their creations. Among them was a special story of a youth touched my heart, as we had enabled change of his life from streets to a global recognition.

Mithun was only 17+ when I met him. He was brought to YES training session by Poornima, whom she had met on facebook. YES is our urban youth development initiative funded by UNHABITAT. He didn't speak a word on first day session. Instead, kept listening and thinking. Sometimes he looked boring. Almost everyday he excused in the middle of the session and left like he has urgent matters to attend. I never counted him to return. But he kept coming, keeping silence. His eyes always seeking something and had a sense of urgency.

I saw him collaborating well within the group. Over a period he developed exceptional technical skills. For all youth he was the techie. One day, I accidentally saw him on street with an another group of boys. They looked like getting ready to do something. There were at least 20-30 boys from two schools. It was a big match day. Fun as well as gang fights were usual. 
I knew, a big fight to come! He was the one who was leading.

Then only I knew that he was a gang leader.  I observed from distance. He did not see me. Police interfered and cleared the crowed. After a week from the incident, he came to AYV session again. That day I changed my day's topic from social issues to personal issues. I asked everyone to "Why youth fight?", Everyone expressed! The common understanding created was that gang fights were a major issue among youth in the city. After the discussion we did a graphic design exercise.  "Youth TALK, Don't Fight" project idea was born that day. During next two week the youth did many creatives expressing their voices on gang fighting in the city. I think it helped Mitun to re-think the kind of life he was living. 

After 3 weeks, I had a chat with Mithun on the issue. He comes from a good middle class family. At home he lacked respect from family members. Being the youngest son he had no voice. His father was a prison officer. He had been very strict and tough on him from childhood. He broke every rule at home when ever possible. He learned martial arts and developed a flair for fighting. He found streets fights as way to gain respect from peers.

I told my students creating media is the best way to earn respect. We discussed about great creators from Lianado Davinci to William Shakespeare, Stephan King to Spielberg. They all earned respect by creating something that people enjoyed. 

Our AYV program was run as a drop-in program. I provided material on facebook, google group and on my creative youth blog to engage them in e learning. Some of my of sessions conducted with only 2-3 members attending. Youth stayed back due to rain, exams, family trips or some other reasons. Mithun was the only youth who never stayed back. He took part in every session and
 did whole lot of collaborative learning with peers. He found AYV as a place to learn and create. He learned fast and learned to lead the team. He got out from fights in streets. He started spending more time in YES AYV project.  He collaborated with Mayor, officials of the city and other stakeholders in implementing YES project activities that ranged from Environmental Photography, Volunteer work, youth event media coverage and leadership adventures  Soon, he became one of the most respected youth in the YES group and city circles.

One day, Mithun approched me and asked my advice as he had difficulty in Chemistry. I advised him to choose ICT for his major. He had only 7 months to prepare for high school final exam. He had difficulty in convincing his school principal, teachers and parents for changing his major to ICT from Chemistry. I helped him to be courageous and to start a meaningful conversation with his parents and teachers. He won! They permitted him to take ICT as major. Since them he became highly energized. He was doing what he liked most "Creative Media & ICT". He took the challenge to complete a 2 year ICT course with in 7 months. I was his ICT teacher. I prepared whole set of lecture notes and conducted a weekly class for four such youth. The blog I created to teach them is #1 in google ranking for keyword "AL ICT" with over 102,000 page views in an year. His quest for ICT inspired me to serve many other youth whom I even haven't met. 

He worked hard and became one of my best students. He became a top leader in YES group. Everyone respected him. After his high school exams, he joined Poornima and Wajira the other two leaders in YES. The trio formed and lead the YES film crew to produce Child Soldier short film. It was their dream AYV project to win an Aspire Award before they become creative professionals.

Since then up to now,  "Child Soldier" film was his life. He was such a contributor that we could not keep him out from the story to story boarding, selecting and buying cameras, making prompts and art direction. During 20 day production he headed the camera team and also acted in the main role. When editing he never left editing process. He was there live and active, day and night, living every moment of the child soldier short film making process. Now, he is on his way to become a cinematographer. Good thing was that his parents were very supportive now. They respect him in family as a grown-up boy.

His good news came after good news. He passed AL ICT and selected by Adobe to take part in AYV summit 2013. This August, he is going to Santa Clara University, USA, with his colleague who brought him to YES project. He has got a two year job in "Digital Rainbow" youth development project funded by UNDEF, Microsoft and World Bank. In Digital Rainbow project, He shall work with YES Team to help train 1000 youth in social media creation and produce 10 short films on social issues. During next two years, Shilpa Sayura Foundation shall support his education endures.  The skills gained as a teen in AYV, helped him becoming an entry level, young professional who is employable. Two years in YES and AYV, helped his transformation from a street gangster to a young Cinematographer. 

His shall receive training to become a AYV educator in this year and a potential board member of YES Films social enterprise to be formed by Digital Rainbow.

His and His Team's biggest achievement is Child Soldier short film. They want to initiate "YES film project" to make Child Soldier 90m movie. Their project idea  now among 6 finalists of Adobe Aspire Award UNICEF Challenge. They ran a very good social marketing campaign, connecting with local, regional, national and international social networks. They were featured in news papers and national TV. They connected with people in a special way with their creation Child Soldier. They gained support of industry professionals and influencial networks. When voting ended they were leading in audience votes. Probably they would win the challenge too. Then a new story of Mithun and his team would begin!

YES and AYV has helped many youth like Mithun to find an alternative space of learning. AYV created new meaning to their talents. They were able to develop their technical, creative and media skills by creating with a purpose. They were able to showcase their talents to peers, parents and teachers. It would have not been possible in existing education system they were stuck in as failures. They went through life transforming experiences in YES and AYV. The creative process changed their life for good. Now they are on a road to the aspire, a journey started from streets, but running to the global.

What more? I am their happy AYV educator!

Niranjan Meegammana
AYV Lead Educator/Ashoka Fellow
Project Director
Shilpa Sayura Foundation

June 4, 2013

Don't go to your beautician! Goto to Photoshop CS 6!

How do you do that folks ?

 1.  Get rid of blemishes first to remove distracting parts.
Select Healing Brush, set brush size, click on a clean spot on the photo and click on imperfect spots and see the magic...

 Select unwanted yellow parts (Gums, Teeth etc) with lasso tool.   Use masking to erase unwanted parts.

 3.  The blur tool helps you to even out skin tones. Get rid of unnatural skin tones. Be careful not to blur hair and eyes.

 Use selective color and play with red tones, hue saturation to give a natural skin color.Micheal Freeman has a great tutorial on color

 5.  Give the person more life by sharping hari, eyes, nose, lines etc.

 Even out features using diffuse filter to give a softer look. Fading 40%-50% shall give the glamour look.

 7.  Duplicate and desturate layer. Set the blending option to 'overlay' and experiment with Gaussian blur effect to make the photo softer, while maintaining it's sharpness.
 Finally use the sharpen filter to improve dul areas.

See You got the Look Now!

June 1, 2013

How to make a successful short film

Scott Macaula writes about learning from peers as the core benefits of attending the Cannes Film Festival. He says Cannes is the best place for that. Now you are not able to visit Cannes, lets visit it online. 

These are his tips for film producers.

Learn how to collaborate :

Have multiple partners. Use a less hierarchical producing model through collaboration.The managing of the flow of information between talents, crew and producers is quite important. For public information create a blog, facebook page and LinkedIn Project. For private information use google docs and google group. A youtube channel and a flicker stream shall help your film rock. 

Work the subsidies :
Covering as much of the budget as possible through soft money like crowdfunding helps. Goto with your film idea to increase the amount of equity from other sources.

Don’t pitch your budget, pitch your story.

Seek new markets. 

Generate good news.
Show some positive creative development — to keep spirits high even as the overall process remains tough?

A good script trumps everything:
Subsidies, rebates, cross-media, foreign sales potential