The making of an intergalactic explainer video – Almamapper

Heeblue wavegy!

I just said ‘Heya People!’ in alien. Bet you didn’t know that.

I couldn’t speak alienese either until Xeno came by to our studio. Yep, I’m talking about this swole triangular alien-guy-person.

Almamapper's Xeno

Pankaj and Chandra are earth-borns who were looking to skyrocket their website/app Almamapper. The duo contacted Vibin and what do you know, they instantly connected.

 

Being Bro’s from Pune and all.

 

Shareef co-ordinated a call with the friendly folks, and we got to know that they were scouring outer space for video makers who can give them an offbeat video.

 

Heyyyy that’s us!!

 

We’re wacky,

we’re itching to add weird-ity to our work

AND we’re great video-makers (their words, not ours).

 

Udhaya, Vimida, Vibin and I sat down for brainstorming. We didn’t have to think for long, because Vimida pitched an idea – an alien who wants to study on earth – and it stuck.

While writing the script, I was fully engrossed in telling the story of Xeno, the quirky, tech-savvy alien. Vimida suggested that I use a repetitive (anaphoric) rhythm with the words ‘Enter…’. And as you can see, that created a nice tippy-tappy pattern in the script. After a while, even you’ll start guessing where the narrative will say the next “Enter…”

Yep, that was rad.

Doing the visuals was great fun. We were given COMPLETE creative freedom from Pankaj (I’m still stumped. Full freedom? Does it taste better than Dum Biryani?!) We imagined intergalactical worlds and how everything would be shaped differently, even the characters!

 

Ganesan and Mahesh took it up from there and came up with the entire storybo….

OMG – brain flash – I think this is the first time we got THIS excited about shapes after kindergarten!!

…with the entire storyboard in a couple of hours.

 

Ganesan withdrew into his artist’s corner – an unofficial corner at the office where he goes to get inspiration ( btw it only works for him. I checked) – and brought out the four main characters – fully formed and ready-to-rock.

Almamapper character

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Xeno, Prof.Bree, Peter and Inya were born out of the sweet marriage of geometry and art.

His illustrations also brought crazy-amounts of details to the frame with only the basic shapes and minimalist characters.

 

Exhibit A:

Almamapper style fram

 

 

Mahesh and Dinesh drowned the video in a full 2D render, although parts of it were composed of 3D elements. Dinesh spent hours pouring over “particles simulation” in After Effects for the first few seconds of the video – woaaahhh…the galaxy scene blows you away right from the start, doesn’t it?

When Mahesh was handed Almamapper and a tight deadline, of course he came up with stunning animations that left us in awe. Pankaj loved the style frames and the demo we sent him and told us he was excited for the full video. Let me tell you, it’s not easy animating sooo… many characters ( nearly 4 full-length characters and several other bust-length characters ) especially when Mahesh was hard-pressed for time. Besides, the quality of the video could get affected if we hastened production.

We were petrified; like seriously, nail-biting, hair-pulling kinda scared about the deadline. That’s when Shareef jumped in and spoke to Pankaj, explaining our need for extra time. His assertiveness convinced Pankaj and Chandra and they extend our timeline.

Bahhhh….now you know our secret weapon 😛

Prasad killed it in the music segment. His use of sci-fi sounds in the scene where Xeno is comparing colleges is bang on! Chelsea was our first and only choice this time, because duh, voice acting is the main spaceship that carries this narrative. And she did a splendid job.

Now for the solo rant:

It has been a while since we added to our list of zany productions ( FunMango, Wizzki, Vizdesk ). Almamapper proved a worthy challenge, because we had only 10 days – 10 FRIGGING DAYS – to do a full on CREATIVE project.

I mean no disrespect, but Creativity is a Bi..ahhh…BIG RESPONSIBILITY, yeah, ahem, that’s what I meant.

So trying to rope in Creativity in such a short time is next to impossible – but we pulled it off with style! Can I get an Amen? Thank you.

*drops mike hard on the floor*

Overall, Almamapper is the kind of video that you have to watch twice – once for understanding the content and the second time to discover all the bonus easter eggs 😉 Needless to say, we are extremely happy for the opportunity to make an avant-garde branding video for Pankaj and Chandra.

P.S. And to answer your question, yes. Full freedom does taste better than Dum biryani – by a very small margin.

 

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Room by Emma Donoghue: A review

RoomRoom by Emma Donoghue
My rating: 4 of 5 stars⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
View all my Goodreads reviews
Buy Online: Flipkart, Amazon

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Jack is five. He lives in a single, locked room with his Ma.

This blurb should tell you what the premise is. Note the present tense used.

In the beginning, for the first hundred pages, all we get is the frame-by-frame, second-by-second relay of things that Jack and Ma do in their time in Room.

How they brush their teeth, what they eat for breakfast, what time they eat lunch, how many teeth Jack has etc. And these things happen over and over again, and we readers are exposed to every second of it.

It gets tiresome.

Linearity without any relief like change of scenes, or change in Point-of-view is laborious. But it is in line with the theme here : holed-up one-roomedness.

It is claustrophobic for me. 

Ironically, it is the entirety of Jack’s world. 

Continue reading

In…completeness

Incomplete

Twinkle Twinkle little
How I wonder what
Up above a world so high

Damn. This is for that nagging feeling that is left behind by incompleteness. Especially incompleteness in things that we trust the most. Like a nursery rhyme, for instance.

Xeno

A character that is made of triangles and only triangles.

Xeno

Know thy purpose

A recent ad in the newspaper claimed to conduct fun activities on Women’s day and decided to call it ’empowerment’.

Time we understood the purposes of different things:

Purpose of women empowerment

Ain’t he cute?

cute panda

Being Square

Monachopsis

The Karo Mutterfly Recipe

Roughly 25 years ago, all ad-breaks on television were filled with reallllyyyyy catchy jingles.

Remember them?

Ahhh!  Wonderful nostalgia.

Our latest video for Mutterfly is going to bring you truck-loads of nostalgia – pukka – 100%.

Akshay came to us with a clear proposal. He was impressed with our Stayzilla musical and wanted a video that was just as ‘zippy and addicting’. Possibly with a 90’s touch-of-magic.

Sundar understood that the founder of Mutterfly was looking for a musical/commercial/branding video.

He duly handed it to production and this was our first thought:

“A jingle?!  Just like in the 90’s ?! JOLLY! JOLLY! JO….LLLLLLY! ”

Udhaya decided to go with a concept that connected to our nativity. We’d show the core message – an app that used food-sharing to bring neighbours closer – with a lovable character. This concept covered all kinda folks, from bachelors to home cooks.

Vimida listened to the good ol’ jingles for hours and then finally hit upon a suave granny character. You guessed it 😉 Nikki’s granny was the perfect mascot for Mutterfly. She was charming, kind to her neighbours and reflected the yester-generations.

Mutterfly grannie
Nikki’s granny

 

But a jingle is supposed to, well, jingle, na?

The scripter dropped some food references and small servings of hindi phrases here and there to make it more rhythmic. Vimida’s brain was buzzing along to a rough tune, while she wrote this down. And as she sang the track, you could almost hear Nikki’s granny giving her ‘the seal of approval’.

Prasad drew out the MOST pumped up, foot-tapping jingle, specially made for Nikki’s Granny. Akshay loved the sub-urban, folksy feel that this desi-number was spreading.

Then, it was time for storyboarding and animation.

For Ganesan, who loves sketching scenes from the country-side in his free time, this project was really exciting. He sketched Nikki’s granny and her younger self – a cute little girl with pigtails; I HAVE to talk about Ganesan’s ingenuity here: he actually created all the styleframes (even the period ones) in color, in advance. And then applied a filter on top to give it that ‘sepia’ look – “just in case the client requests them in color”. Props to him on his futuristic thinking.

Print

Print

 

Sara, our animatron is a quiet interviewee. Ask him what part of the video was challenging and his reply is a calm smile. But after a lottttt of pestering questions, he finally hinted at struggling a little for the dance scene. (Rumour has it that he choreographed the moves himself and then taught them to his animatables. *insert impressive emoji*)

Thanks to Ganesan and Sara, this video turned out to be visually enticing in places like the logo entrance and the transition from our granny’s past to her present – WAH!

 

Nikki’s granny is soooo adorable – whether she’s young or old – whether she’s eating parathas or pizza – she’s got great gusto. And that just makes me wanna give her a BIGGGGGG hug 😀

Pretty soon, we began humming lines from this upbeat musical. I bet you won’t find a single Indian who can resist saying ‘Hai, hai’ and ‘karo Mutterfly…karo Mutterfly’.

As always Shareef was a constant support to us in every phase, be it getting the music from Prasad or shuttling ideas with Akshay, he kept up the spirit during production. Going in, we had great expectations for this project, given its zany composition and the funky animatables. And all that work truly paid off when we heard the good news.

Sundar was ecstatic when he shared the stats of this video; our video had grabbed 707 views in the first week that it was uploaded on our YouTube channel –  that is more than 10% of our subscribers – yayyyyy! It even scored a tremendous 6.7K views on Mutterfly’s facebook page.

I’m telling you, dancing grannies are all the rage in 2016! 😉

With Mutterfly we kickstarted 2016 in a HYPER-JOLLY mode.

Mutterfly is truly one of those tracks you really can’t stop mid-way. You HAVE to finish it.

And a 5, and a 6, and a 5, 6, 7, 8….

“When Nikki’s granny was very very young…neighbourhood was verrrrry fun….mmmm….”

You make great sandwiches! Happy Women’s Day

So, I saw this advert in the newspaper today:

Jpeg

And I thought, “Wow, women empowerment programs by The Hindu and PSR. Must be really good”.

And then, THIS caught my eye.

P_20160307_085330_MT

Imagine my disappointment. Strike that. Imagine my rage.

Seriously guys? A cooking competition???

A leading newspaper and a giant in the garment business – both of them claiming to be modern and progressive – are acting in the most backward manner.

STRIKING DISCLAIMERS: 

I am NOT calling cooking a lowly activity.

I am NOT insulting cooking or the people who enjoy cooking – be it man or woman. 

 

My point is this – a contest doesn’t fulfill the purpose of empowerment.

Competitions (it just so happens that here it is a cooking competition) can’t be classified as ’empowerment’, especially women empowerment.

In a competition what we do is pick 3 winners. That means nearly 97% of the participants go home feeling like losers.

They leave the event feeling the same or feeling worse than how they came in.

How is that empowering??! Someone please explain that to me.

The purpose of events like cookery shows and the purpose of an actual program to empower women are very, very different.

Purpose of women empowerment

 

Now, I don’t want to transform into a super-feminist and complain about the state-of-affairs in our city. But I do want to suggest some activities that I consider to fall under women empowerment.

Here’s what you could do on women’s day if you really want to help women break out of their shells:

  • Initiate small-business opportunities: If you want to do something cooking related, go ahead and conduct a small session on how to start her own small business making and selling her special item (personally, I think that home-style Biryani would be a huge hit).
  • And when I say start business, I don’t mean a Facebook page alone. Yes, that’s a starting point, but she can be equipped with other business-related skills like inventory management, website development, sales, marketing etc. without relying on anybody else to do the ‘technical‘ work for her, while she (ironically) slogs in the kitchen.
  • Give her some personality and professional training so that she can not only start out, but also make a thriving business for herself.
  • Leadership training: Bring women together and bring a consultant trainer to identify the leaders and pick them out for further training. We need more women leaders.  We have lost them to diapers and dirty dishes.
  • Start a purpose-driven networking session for women from different backgrounds and watch the magic unfold. Women will instantly start networking with the right kind of people. Say, Mrs.Latha (totally fictional) is in the IT and is looking for someone who can do some content writing for her website. She can meet Miss.Divya (also fictional), who does freelancing. And there you have a working relationship. Now, women will be grateful for such opportunity.

If you think that all the above is only for aspiring business women, don’t fret. There’s more:

  • Conduct ‘talent hunts’ to find out the hidden talents in housewives. You’d be surprised how many  latent prodigies are hiding behind that coy demeanor.
  • When you organize an event, bring an expert from a field and conduct a workshop on any new skill you think would help her future (NOT sewing. We have had enough of those in our craft classes in school. Besides, we learn to sew when necessity hits.)

Think  IT training, Website development, Android app development. 

  • Teach a new skill/ enhance their existing skills – drawing, singing, painting, DIY crafts.A lot of them learn arts till they’re about 17 then stop all of a sudden. Who knows where her singing skills might take her one day!!

Please encourage women artists (however small).

  • Expose housewives to the world of soft skills like business etiquette, phone and email etiquette, language training – now I’d be impressed with anyone trying to do that. I know it costs a lot for this stuff, but I’m sure that a few hundred chairs and one trainer is much cheaper than the LPG and raw materials you need for conducting a cookery show.
  • Conduct a workshop on how to manage  Biowaste better – there is a group that does a wonderful job and my mother herself is involved in it. She has been talking about biowaste management in various settings. I’d like to see some big players show some interest in it.

So, those are a few suggestions from my side. I’d like to see a world where cooking is disassociated from the women sector and is simply a task for a human being’s survival.

The hungry can cook for themselves. Let’s support Women pursue their dreams.

P.S. I cook more than noodles. I make decent south Indian meals and nobody has been severely injured or taken ill because of my cooking. So please don’t turn this into a mockery of my culinary skills.

Let's get more empowered