Contributed by Namita Singh, Senior Program Manager – Training, Digital Green

March 9th, 2015 was a beautiful day. Twenty people from various Digital Green offices, including India and Ethiopia, had come together in Delhi. There was palpable excitement in the air, some people were meeting each other after a long time, new team members were getting introduced to people from other regions, and some were just catching up with their colleagues. The Training of Trainers (ToT) on Video Production was set to begin.

Rikin Gandhi, our CEO, opened the training, emphasising that the ToT was a step towards ensuring that Digital Green trainers are fully equipped to handle the pace of operations and also constantly innovate to make our video production processes more meaningful and engaging.

The 5-day training was packed. The facilitators, Ajinkya Deshmukh, B Praveen and I, all trainers from Digital Green, had brainstormed to design this training to be as creative, fun and participatory as possible.

Day One started with basics of camera operations such as types of shots, camera angles and composition. While these were basics, we introduced some really cool exercises, such as use the 5 basic shots to establish who that person is. Day Two continued with more fun exercises on the technical aspects of light and sound. One of the groups shot bad and good lighting in the same space and set-up. They demonstrated how a little bit of difference can make a shot either well-lit or badly-lit. Their exercise was so good, that we will definitely use it as an example and instructional video from our next training onwards!

Second half of this day focused on storytelling, where we asked people to go wild with their creativity. We mostly make videos on agriculture, health and nutrition practices, which sometimes gets monotonous and people find it hard to break the pattern and come up with different ideas for their videos. We wanted the participants to start thinking afresh to get out of their monotony. They went so wild with it that we ended with stories about pink baby dragons, politicians and toothache! There was much more on storytelling and narrative techniques the next day. The groups worked on their skills to develop interesting first person and third person narratives with proper beginning, middle and end sequences. Some used voice-overs to talk about road safety and others about benefits of yoga. All the videos generated much laughter (and I believe brought down the stress levels of the participants substantially!), but were also reviewed critically by the facilitators and other participants on technical and conceptual aspects.

On the last two days of the training, the participants were divided into groups of four, each group to develop a 8-10 minute story on a topic of their choice. The first day was for shooting and the second day was for editing. The day for the shoot began early in the morning at 6:30 AM. Groups came up with stories on female foeticide, gender inequity, foreign tourists in India and alcoholism. All the groups worked hard to make their video the best. While there was a lot of excitement to shoot their videos creatively, the participants were also particular about the technical quality, checking and re-checking their shots to ensure that sound has been recorded properly and the visuals look fine.

Next up was a comprehensive review of all the videos. We ensured selection of the best video was a democratic process, with everyone giving marks. The video on female foeticide won the Best Video award – it was shot beautifully, had a good concept and our lead actors acted like professionals. The teams behind the videos on alcoholism and foreign tourists in India were also acknowledged for their effort. Vinay Kumar, our COO, handed out the certificates encouraging everyone to put the learnings into practice.

It was then time to ‘Pack Up’. After these intense 5 days, participants left with some good learnings, lot of motivation and great memories. We do hope to produce more interesting and creative videos following this ToT, so keep watching our videos!