Marketing dot mp4

I got good news, bad news and some great news.

Good news: Rambling prose, the Ramsay Bolton of marketing, is dead.

Video-Heavy-Text

Companies, from startups to giants, have opened their eyes to the astounding potential of a good video.

Businesses are hosting explainers on their landing pages and creating quick, bite-sized content for social media. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and even Pinterest have included native video players on their platforms.

We’ve done away with heavy-text content. And by nudging static ads out, content marketing has stepped into the future.

But along with all the great videos, video marketing dragged in every mediocre, substandard video, bringing in the most dreaded zeitgeist of the current age – a glut of videos.

That leads me to the …

…Bad news: Winter is here. And it brought Ice Zombies

Great-Content

The online marketing rush is amassing video creators, big or small, good or bad. Content is generated in staggering numbers (link to a legitimate site with statistics that show incredible numbers).

When you click on one video, you practically open up the floodgates for an army of related content to pour through. This is being orchestrated by algorithms that analyse your past searches and promote similar content.In the 1900’s that was creepy and unwarranted. In 2016, it’s called personalisation of your newsfeed.

We are facing a massive brain-freeze in terms of consuming curated content. We’re consuming too much, too quickly.

Watch one video about Brexit and get 30 more ‘related’ videos in your YouTube home screen. Watch those, and before you know it, you are learning about the mating patterns of ostriches.

This army is big. Videos, videos are everywhere.

Great news: You can sit on the iron throne.

As the Master of Online Marketing, Bringer of Leads and Keeper of Client relationships, you, of all people will appreciate the importance of Seer. (Seer = a foreteller)

This blog, right here, is your harbinger. Because we have some interesting predictions for the future of video marketing.

Let me usher you in.

You sell energy drinks? Great. Create a video anyway.

Red Bull gives you more than wings.

Red Bull has a content arm, called Red Bull Media house which has been producing video content from the start.

They target the adventurous demographic – guys and gals – who need that extra boost of adrenaline. Now, Red Bull is synonymous with gaining power, energy, skills and of course the proverbial sprouting of wings.

Every company will become a media company in the coming years. So, what you should be doing NOW, is concentrating on building an audience who are not just customers but are also evangelists.

Don’t stop with one.

Nykaa, a one-stop online shop for beauty products, has pulled-in ‘beauty gurus’ of YouTube fame, to create How-to’s, Challenges, List videos and many other types of engaging videos.

Nykaa has nearly 44k subscribers on YouTube and 109k followers on Instagram. That kinda fan following doesn’t happen with just one video.

Home Depot has more than 122k subscribers on Youtube. Their YouTube channel has hundreds of How-to videos, Expert’s opinions, Challenges, and other home-repair related content, in neatly organized playlists.

These companies are not aiming to produce one mega-hit, super-viral video.

Instead, they try to build audiences beyond their current circle, by producing useful and entertaining content. It helps if this content is continuous, episodic and well, available online.

Every video counts.

Jumping on the bandwagon is all fine, as long as you can create great videos every time.

Bad quality videos can have two results: a) It can go viral for all the wrong reasons or b) it can vanish. It’s going to hurt your brand if your target is to hit the one-hundred-video-mark on your YouTube channel. Bad videos fill your channel but in the end, they really give you a sucker-punch when it comes to Branding.

This can help:

Good video: Replaces content
Great video: Enhances content

A good video has good execution but disregards the content. A great video always, always adds to the script or idea behind it.

Content is most definitely King.

The future of Video marketing is already here.

Online communities and content creators have experimented with a lot of trends in videos in the past 6 months:

  • Facebook introduced autoplay and suggested videos
  • Facebook launched live streaming
  • Businesses make explainer videos and demo videos (this is my personal favourite)
  • Individuals create homemade videos for personal branding
  • Companies use short and sweet animation videos for processes like employee on-boarding, CSR formalities, fire drills etc. (another favourite)

And that should tell you a lot about what the future holds for videos.

Video marketing is at the cusp of a major explosion. They are going to be ubiquitous. Soon, when you think of press releases, sales emails, reaching out to leads, running event campaigns, or branding, you will think of videos.

Thanks for sticking around till the end, even if this post didn’t have any videos for you.

I’d like to thank Vidyard for the reference. And Game of Thrones for the gifs.
This blog was originally published here.


Other blogs:

Pizza for a place in the heart

I sat there in the traffic watching the red numbers on the traffic lights count down.

125..124..123…

The latest song hummed in a slow buzz, while I drummed my fingers lazily on the steering wheel. And bored as I was, I checked my phone:

A: wru?

B: On the way. will reach dominos in 10 mins.

C: Me too!

Me: stuck in traffic… 😦 will be late guys

After sending that text, I casually flung my phone on the passenger’s seat and glanced up.

A man came up to my car. A beggar. Around 60 years old.

His black and (mostly) white hair was in clumps. It was clear he hadn’t washed it in days. He had stubbly beard that had grown out. His last shave must have been three or four days ago. His frame was not-too-haggard; it seemed like he was in good health, but right now he was ravenous. That much was apparent.

The checked shirt and the lungi he wore fit him perfectly. I could see that they weren’t hand-me-downs. So, this man was wearing clothes he owned, was healthy in general, but somehow, right now he couldn’t afford a meal.

I wondered what poor fate had befallen him.

Surely, he can’t have been in this dilapidated state for long.

I got the strong feeling of a middle-class businessman who had a family back home. A family he could no longer go back to, because he wasn’t welcome.

My guts told me that this was a man who had been shunned from his own house.

He reminded me of my dad. My late dad.

Of course, all this was in my head. MY JUDGMENTS.

I opened my window slightly, and looked at him closely. His eyes — oh god the eyes — were shouting out for help.

I asked him, “Are you hungry?”

He nodded.

“Do you want to have pizza?”

He nodded hopefully.

I once again picked up my phone to send one instant message:

Me: U guys carry on. Can’t make it today.

It wasn’t too late to change things between me and my dad.


The ending is open to interpretation. Maybe the driver connected with the beggar and found a father figure in him. Or maybe she sought redemption for doing all the mean things she did to her own father. Or simply, an act of kindness.

This piece is a work of fiction based off my daily experience. I never talk to people on the streets. I admit, I’m scared. I’m terrified of the creeps who come in all shapes and sizes.

But that never stopped me from wondering what would happen if I decided to take them out to eat and had a heart-to-heart conversation with them.

Translation:

lungi — a one-piece loose garment, tied around a man’s waist.

Behind the scenes: Toastmasters – Ovation 2016 video

“And now, I call upon ( fill in your name ) to deliver the address”

Has this line ever brought nightmares to you?

Public speaking. It can be terrifying.

But a bunch of people from an organisation called ‘Toastmasters’ are arguing otherwise. Ask Sundaresan, and he’ll tell you how thrilling it is to stand in front of an audience and deliver a speech.

Well, Sundar, my answer to you is, OF COURSE, speaking comes naturally to you! You are equal parts Toastmasters and Sales Expert – you are hardwired to talk relentlessly!

Now Jayan, who was an experienced speaker, was no stranger to us. We’ve done projects for him in the past. So we already had this good bromance-type of relationship going on with him.

It so happened that Jayan was selected as the Conference Chair for Ovation 2016 – the biggest annual event of District 82 Toastmasters. He wanted to do something creative for the revealing the event. That’s when we came into the picture – as humble video makers.

You see, until then all Ovation conferences would have videos, no doubt. But they didn’t capture the essence of Toastmasters.

“We could double up as capturers of essences”, we offered.

And there we were, Creative Partners with Toastmasters of District 82 for their annual conference.

Continue reading

Krishna – Defender of Dharma: A review

Krishna: Defender of Dharma: A Graphic NovelKrishna: Defender of Dharma: A Graphic Novel by Shweta Taneja
My rating: 4 of 5 stars ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
View all my Goodreads reviews

Buy online: Flipkart, Amazon

I’d like to start off with the reading progress of this Graphic Novel on Goodreads.

Krishna Defender of Dharma Reading Progress

As you can clearly see, I was’t very impressed with the storytelling. Dialogues were filled with large words and very little emotions. And the script wasn’t compelling enough. It was no match to the grandeur of the illustrations that accompanied it.

Krishna is a character I’ve adored all my life. I’ve heard numerous stories of him as the butter-thief, the prankster and the undeniably wise guide of Arjun. As a Hindu, I grew up amidst stories of Kannaiya. I have sung bhajans in his praise; I have danced to his ‘leelas’.

So, when Krishna is such a big part of my life, I had huge expectations for this graphic novel.

And I was disappointed.

That said, I think that the artwork itself is mind-blowing. See, I know all of these stories already. So I would sit late at night, propped against my pillow, open this graphic novel and ogle at the artwork with starry-eyes. It’s worth it.

I think that Indian graphic novels can be done in a much bigger scale and scores better quality-wise. We have the stories. We just need the storytellers to do it right.

Other reviews:

Click here for more on the 2015 Reading Challenge

Trek Diaries : Dhoni Hills

When the four of us set out at 6:30 a.m. on a chilly, cloudy Sunday, we had no solid plans.

We contacted the Forest officers at the Palghat forest department the previous day and had been informed that until the 31st of May it was the ‘fire’ season and the trek was closed.

Our journey date? 29th May. Bummer. 

Also, an enquiry about the timings, brought out a strict reply, “After 11:00 a.m. only”.

And our ETA?  9:00 a.m. Double bummer.

We decided to make plans on-the-go.

The journey was pleasant. There was a slight drizzle when we hit the road from our very dear Ukkadam.

To me, Ukkadam is like the place where all the adventures start, you know. Any Coimbatorean would agree that waving goodbye to Ukkadam is just as exciting as exclaiming, “Hey! Ukkadam vandhachu. Home, sweet Home” after the trip is over.

Journey:

Geetha drove while I called shotgun. The two guys were having a blast from the backseat. I switched off my mobile and then took a deep breath of the freedom from technology. It was electrifying, ironically.

Since it was quite early in the morning, there was no traffic and the road was in good condition. As we drove on the Palakkad road we crossed the Siva Siva temple and within a few minutes we were getting some serious chaaya cravings. So we stopped at a roadside chaaya kada and had piping hot tea in the quintessential glasses.

As we drove towards the mountains, we could see storm clouds swirling atop the hills. Prashanth got excited when he saw the mountains. He took out his DSLR and started clicking away.

 

The mountain-view in those wee morning hours, was priceless. I remember telling Geetha that I haven’t been appreciating these mountains enough. They are the primary reason we have enjoyed this cool climate and have been putting off buying A.C’s, until this fateful, hateful summer of 2016.

mountains

Conversations about the five landscape categories of the ancient Tamils paved way to more serious stuff. Thankfully, (!) we stopped at a Sri Saravana Bhavan for our breakfast. After loading up on ghee roasts and idlis, we came out feeling frisky and adventurous.

It would be a shame if the falls was closed, we thought. Yet, our collective intuition kept us moving.

Kerala was a beauty of it’s own. The moment you cross the TN border, you can notice the change in the atmosphere – the architecture, the men in lungis, the small shops, and the lush greenery contribute to the charm.

After taking a right from Palakkad, the entire scene changed. We were suddenly cut off from traffic and the rush. The route was sprinkled with two-storey houses, small shops and farmlands. No commercial stores or hoardings. Just us and nature. We stopped at a place to buy water bottles and candy (poppins, anyone?) 😀

As it turned out, our collective guts was right. Would you believe it if I told you that when we reached there by 9:00 a.m., they were just opening the trek point after the long summer? Yep, they had rescinded their ‘fire’ season statement and their strict timings.

Yayyyy!! 

I should mention our special ‘host’. He was a tiny, tawny puppy with a fox-ish face. He welcomed us from the minute we got down from the car and lead us to the office and escorted us a little ways up the trek.

When I think of him now, I’d like to give him the name Major Tawny because he took care of us so well and commanded respect.

Major Tawny
The canine who acted as our host

Dhoni Hills has a nice, winding pathway all the way to the top. The path is cleared of mud and big rocks and trees and is roughly laid with stones. It is an easy path for anybody who wants to climb. I don’t think any special gear is required if you want to take this path.In fact, we saw ladies who were dressed in sarees and wearing regular slippers walking on this path.

Dhoni hill pathway
The pathway laid out in stones. This leads all the way up to the falls.

Uphill:

Thus started our trek. A slight drizzle was gently tippy-tapping on our skins. It felt like the forest and the skies were giving us tiny welcoming kisses. Both sides of the pathway were lined with tall trees. You can hardly find any short shrubs or dense foliage here. Dhoni (curious question: Does this falls have anything to do with our CSK Captain?) was all about the high trees topped with green leaves. Greens and browns are about the extent of the colors you can find here. Rarely, would you find a red streak among the branches and even that would duly turn out to be the young leaves, or a bug that is an absolute eye-candy!

colored bug
The only shade of red among greens and browns

There we were, walking up the designated path, and what did we do?

That’s right, we cut across and took the path that was less-trodden, Robert-Frost-style.

We spotted a small stream to the left and we climbed down to this tinkling stream. The guys went ahead of us and climbed down really fast. I was just about to step into a huge stone and use it as a step-down, when I head rustles.

We halted.

And then to our right, we saw an animal run past us and over to the other side of the stream. At first I thought it was a deer, because it was nearly 3 feet high was really light on its legs. Then, I crouched to have a better look.

A dozen foxes raced past us.

I saw their burnt-brick colored fur and those white-capped brushes ( fun fact: The tail of a fox is called a ‘Brush’) and my, was I thrilled! There were nearly 12 to 15 of them of all sizes. I’m guessing the older ones were leading the group (another fun fact: a group of foxes is called a ‘skulk’) and bringing up the rear were the younger ones. They were so tiny…awwwww ❤

When the skulk of foxes were beyond our range of vision and smell, we unfroze. Geetha and I joined the guys at the stream and just stood there absorbing the morning sun and the fresh air of the forest. The stream that we had hit upon was only a dead end.  So we turned back and joined the pathway.

Once again, after walking up the boring pathway (we needed some rough and challenging terrain) we found one uphill track that seemed to cut the long route and take us further on the pathway. This climb would let us bypass one or two bends.

We set about and easily trekked this first climb. Easy-peasy. Then came the second one which was neither easy nor peasy. I was heaving and huffing when I was on the last leg of the climb. Prashanth was really nimble – he was carrying his backpack and had his DSLR slung around his neck – and he was the first to reach the pathway. Geetha moved up in her own pace and joined us soon.

While climbing, I instinctively went down on all fours. That was how I made my journey uphill – like a big cat on her paws. It felt awesome climbing the hills on my limbs. It felt like the most natural way for me to move. I would put my front limbs out and grab trees or latch on to stones. And then when I had a firm grip, I’d move my hind limbs. Feeling the constant drizzle on my head kinda boosted my senses. I was able to smell the mouldy odor of the leaves and plants and my hearing also became sharper. From time to time, I’d pause and take in the jungle, the stormy skies and the adjacent mountains.

The jungle felt more like home and Coimbatore felt less like home.

Uphill climb

We continued on and took a few breaks from climbing. We’d catch our breath while we walked a few meters on the pathway before starting off on the next trek.

The third trek, according to me, was the most difficult of the lot. I could climb up most part of the hill – nearly 80% – but the remaining 20% was challenging.

The drizzle had become heavier and there were only a sprinkling of trees. This combination meant that there was loose mud.

Prashanth was already ahead of me and he was standing there taking photos of us from above.

That’s when I slipped.

I’m fine, don’t worry. I happened to claw my way through the mud and hang on to the rock. I lost my footing for a minute but everything was fine in the end. It was only after I climbed up that I noticed that I’d scraped my hands and they were covered in dirt.

Getting my hands muddy has never been so much fun!!!

I walked, trekked, skipped, ran and reached the top of the hill. From there it was a beautiful walk to the falls. When we reached near the falls, we heard a bark. Guess who?

Yep. Major Tawny was there to welcome us once again.

After this I can’t really tell you much because it seems like the water has washed away so many things inside of me. And now, when I think back to that time, it feels dream-like.

It is almost as if my brain’s got a motto – ‘See water. Forget everything.’

We played in the stream (one can hardly call it falls) for nearly an hour before deciding to go back to civilization. For the first day of the monsoon there was a good amount of running water, but I really hope that this year’s rains show some mercy upon us and shower us graciously.

Downhill:

There’s nothing much to say about our downhill journey. We moved more silently and notably more easily. Geetha wanted to experience the silence in solitude. So, she went ahead on the pathway, whereas the three of us climbed down the hill.

I joked that coming downhill was like landing on the 48th square on ‘Snakes & Ladders’. You just slide down so fast, you’d reach the 2nd square in minutes.

I was close. We found an untrodden path that lead us straight down, skipping past many, many bends.

Downhill trek
Downhill trek that lead us to the pathway

We reached the foot of the hill by noon. We changed clothes comfortably in the rest rooms that were available at the office. Then it was time to say bye-bye.

Our most gentle host, Major Tawny, was back again at the office at the base of the hill. This didn’t surprise us anymore. He escorted us to our car and bid us adieu.

Return:

Needless to say, we were ravenous. Geetha was talking about Pazhampori and had Pazhampori-shaped eyeballs. smiling-face-with-heart-shaped-eyes

We stopped by at Indian Coffee House, at Olavakode. But they didn’t have any Pazhampori. My craving for bread omelette and Geetha’s desire for Pazhampori were still at their peaks. So, we drove to the Mazhampuzha dam in hopes of finding some street food.

Sadly, we forgot the most important aspect of our trip – it was a Sunday. So no shops were open along the route to the Dam. However, we struck gold when we reached the food court at the Dam. We had our fill and then started back to Coimbatore.

Dhoni hills is a serene place to trek, specially in the mornings. It is a very easy trek if you take the laid-down path, but can get a little difficult towards the top if you decide to take the jungle route. It was a boon to have such a pleasant climate while we were trekking, and to me, the whole experience was exciting, enjoyable and fun!

Dhoni Trek

Trek details:

Destination: Dhoni Falls
Location: 10.4km North of Palakkad
Distance from Coimbatore: 60 kms from Ukkadam
Difficulty level: Easy
Timings: 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Entry fee: Rs.20 per person
Uphill trek: 1 hour
Downhill trek: 30 minutes
Amenities: Changing rooms and Toilets at the base of the hill.
Trip Cost: Rs.340 per person

Translations:

chaaya – (Chai) Tea
chaaya kada – Tea shop
Ukkadam vandhachu  – We have arrived at Ukkadam
Pazhampori – Banana fritters
Landscape categories of ancient Tamil – Kurinji, Mullai, Marutham, Neidhal, Palai

Moments from the Trek:

I’m a big sister with a big responsibility

I stopped at my usual spot, the roadside tender coconut stall, after a particularly strenuous yoga session.

Now, this coconut stall  is owned by a family – a husband, a wife and a little girl – and the wife has become a good friend of mine. I have been frequenting their stall for many months now and akka has been really sweet to me.

It was only recently that the little girl plucked up the courage to come talk to me. And might I say, she is such a chatterbox! She would run up to my car window and peep in. She would bombard me with questions like – What is my name? Where do I work? What does my job entail?

Sometimes, she asked really difficult technical ones too: What was the light on my stereo used for? How do the a.c. vents work? How did it feel like to drive a car?

She was a proper little girl who wore her school pinafore, and had her hair down in two plaits, with the tails ending in matching ribbons and all. When I (occasionally) asked about her, she would demurely reply with single-worded answers.

I could see adoration in her eyes wherever she spoke to me. I recognized it because I have had the same look in my eyes, countless times.

I could tell that she was at an impressionable stage in life, and my words could influence her.

One day, I happened to ask her “Do you go to school regularly?” She replied, “Yes.”

The next statement at the tip of my tongue was “Nithya (name changed) , you should study well in school. You should study really hard, okay? Studies are very important.”

A lot of you might not understand what is wrong about this innocuous statement. I’ll make things clear.

Why did I assume that only studies can help her? Why not arts? Or sports? Why didn’t I ask her what she was interested in, before concluding that she had to study well?

Heck. How did I assume that she was NOT good at studies? 

And that was my big revelation. Thankfully, this thought hit me before I could give the poor girl a lecture on studies.

Disclaimer: I’m not against education. In fact, I’m a firm believer in primary and secondary education for kids. 

I simply assumed that she struggled with subjects at school. I simply took it for granted that if she didn’t pass her tests, she wouldn’t grow up to support and uplift her family.

When I break it down, my intention to encourage her was right. Her parents were doing their best, sending their only daughter to school while lumbering in the hot summer selling coconuts all day.

Yeah, I have to encourage the little girl. But I had no rights to steer her into a path she wasn’t interested in.

The biggest mistake I made was to assume the proverbial ‘big sister’ role and begin a lecture even before I knew this girl completely.

C’mon. I had only known her for what, 10 days, and I never bothered asking her what she ‘liked’. What if she was an artist? What if she was the next super singer? What if she was really good at sports ??

Of course, as a responsible adult, I do have the rights to tell her about the importance of education. But I should do it only, and I repeat, ONLY after getting to know her better.

We are at the edge of a paradigm shift. A Court denied alimony to divorcee woman because she is empowered to find a job for herself. There are celebrities who prefer ‘single motherhood’ over marriage. And then, there are young entrepreneurs and young creatives who prise themselves away from the society and blossoming on their own, in their niche.

It is awesome that we are sending kids to school and providing them with basic education. That’s amazing. That’s progressive. That also means that in 15 years, those children are going to hit the cul-de-sac of graduation – engineering. Then where’s the progress?

It is really important to identify an individual’s strength and do our best to encourage that. We have got to ask more questions. We probably have to ask a million questions before we can get close to an answer. But these million questions will help us in the long run.

Nithya and many more Nithya’s are quite shy. They hide their superpowers in their tiny little pinafores and their tiny little ribbons. 

I’m going back there tomorrow and figuring out who Nithya really is. I’m going to understand her better through her likes and dislikes and get to know her dreams. And then, I’m going to give her my big sister lecture.

 

Adding Chemical X to an explainer – HR Cube

“Sugar, spice and everything nice – these were the ingredients chosen to create the perfect little girls.But Professor Utonium accidentally added an extra ingredient to the concoction —

Chemical X. Thus, The Powerpuff Girls were born.”

Ah! What an awesome title sequence! The Powerpuff Girls were my heroes, cute and tough at the same time.

I wish every project of ours was this awesome.

You know what? One did come very close – HR Cube.

 

Our experience with this hiring portal based out of USA, was similar to the title song of The Powerpuff Girls. Suddan and Pritha from HR Cube managed a satellite base, here at Coimbatore.

At the onset, they asked for a marketing video that would target 3 heterogeneous groups of people (do you know how strenuous it is to capture ONE type of audience? Now multiply that by 3) They requested us to use only the 3 colors from their logo. Aaand finally, our deadline was just 3 weeks away.

A challenge from the start. We loved it!

These were the ingredients chosen to create the perfect little video:

  • 3 target audiences,
  • 3 colors,
  • 3 weeks

(Sugar, spice and EVERYTHING ELSE that was nice came later!)

Sugar, spice and everything nice

 

What…? Oh, you’re wondering what Chemical X was?

Patience. I’m getting to it.

We had the brief from the client and we had the vigor for a new project. Now we needed a style. Udhaya, took up the role of the Creative Director. Prof.U’s (yeah, Udhaya became our ‘Professor’) instincts pointed to Motion graphics. He wanted to create something utterly new.

 

Professor U had a formula – “Elegant and Smart. Yet, minimalist.”

Confused much? I assure you, that’s how we felt too.

A little unsure but a lot daring. Eeeks!

 

Scary, I know. But we consoled ourselves that scientists also felt the same way most of the time. It was like the perfect opportunity for us to don white coats and turn into researchers.

Shareef was incredibly supportive for this ‘trial run’. He had to manage our resources, making sure that everyone was on the same page. That goes for the client too. I mean, how else could we convince HR Cube to trust us with something this vague? Shareef made it easier for us to concentrate on our production, while he handled any questions HR Cube posted.

By this point, we had it in our heads that we were scientists. So, it was upto Shareef to change the MPV studio into the perfect lab.

The Laboratory:

Initially, it was all abstract. But Vimida, picked up fast. She even took it further and scripted an emotive story.

Motion graphics are a way to talk about the bigger things in life; social, corporate and economic issues. In this case, it was about what Enterprises thrive on – their people.

It’s no surprise that Enterprises are built from their employees. Vimida wanted this to be the core of the script.

So, she chose to narrate the story of two people – Mark and Eddy – enveloped in the story of Enterprises.

Writing scripts for a motion graphics video, was already a Herculean task. Now imagine writing one with a storyline – it was Super Tough. She handled it brilliantly.

Even though this was only a branding video on the surface,(and branding videos are generally boringggg bullet points), she took up the dare to use the underlying story of enterprises.The script didn’t stop with Mark and Eddy; it went further and tied their stories with that of Enterprises, making it a grand Story of Success in the end.

We knew that this slightly intense project needed more than your regular animation treatment. So likeProf.U ( the real Prof.U this time ) we began experimenting, tweaking our traditional ‘animation process’ in the affair.

Udhaya…sorry Professor U…decided that character design would come later. First, he wanted to set the tone and style of the video.

So, he designed the first few seconds of the video. Only after seeing that shot our confidence level rose. The cloudy abstractness became clearer now.

 

Collaboration – An Artist, a Designer and an Animator :

It was an odd combination.

What were you expecting? Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup?! 😛

Nanda, our artist, was bubbling with excitement (bubbling…Bubbles…teehee 😉 ) He was soooo into the idea of a story-based motion graphics that he volunteered himself in.

Now, Nanda usually is a high-spirited and vibrant artist. This time, he was even more so! Everyday, he would pitch in his ideas for each style frame of the video, and everyday the trio moved a little closer to a rough storyboard.

Let me tell you a little something about Motion graphics – it is like a cheetah-set-on-fire-and-running-at-supersonic-speeds.

Blink. And you miss it.

You would see lots of movements and transitions and things whizzing past you. So, Nanda had to create characters (human characters!!)  that could keep up with the pace of these movements.

Man, he NAILED IT !!

HR Cube character design

He came up with characters that were made from only strokes and negative spaces. That was some Ah-maze-ing stuff, Nanda *applause, applause*. You took character design to another level.

Ahh..delightful Bubbles! So who comes after Bubbles? Buttercup, right?

Well, our Designer, Antony showed us how much of a Badass he was when he gave the characters some sass.

Yup, he LITERALLY defined the skeletal characters, adding a stethoscope here, and a toque there and……

Voila!

HR Cube metaphor

 

You’d begin to see a doc, a chef , an engineer…

It was simply superb!

Antony was also the one who came up with the idea of using a metaphor for the candidate selection process, which is the crux of HR cube’s brand. How did you come up with such an abstract concept, dude?

 

Using arrows to represent candidates!! Now there’s something we have never heard or seen before!

 

Arrows representing candidates

So while the characters were blowing our minds, there came the next powerpuff superhero.

 

As were the characters, so was the animation:

 

Blossom. The sensible, ‘self-proclaimed’ commander and leader… Sara extended this “Strokes Theme”  to the animation. If you think about it, it does make a lot of sense to adopt the style of characters for animation. Logically, aesthetically and obviously – as were the characters, so was the animation.

Sara did a couple of whishy-whooshy animagic for the motion graphics – so that all the elements felt like they were whishing-in and whooshing-out from the viewer’s point of view.

Here, let me give you an example – in one scene, the stroke for ‘TRUST’ comes from outside the frame – this was to subliminally show that the viewer is extending his own trust. Whoaah, that was some deep thought, Blosssss…err..Sara. Kudos!

Trust gif

I feel that the music deserves special mention. The energetic and peppy music added life to every second of the video. Arielle, the Voice over artist, gave a pleasant and sophisticated narration that blended in perfectly with the tone of the video.

I could keep talking about the little animation technicalities that made this video interesting – the teeny-tiny sparks, the action-packed centre of the frame, the subtly gradient background, the fixed camera, the motion-centric storytelling et cetera, et cetera but I won’t elaborate. I’ll let you experience it.

Note: You will have to be ultra-observant if you want to grasp them.

 

Positive results:

 

Not every experiment ends in positive results. We were a lucky bunch. *happy dance*

This project really proved worthwhile of all the man-hours and brain juices we put it.

The support and enthusiasm from our clients during the production was immense. Actually, we had our doubts when we gave Suddan and Pritha a short demo. But their positive feedback encouraged us till the end.

Scientists (that’s us!)  are usually not spokespersons. Our Project manager, Shareef, was again, the man of the hour. He conveyed our thoughts and ideas to HR Cube, who graciously accepted the changes, and gave us enough freedom to explore this path.

Also, Shareef’s best dreams came true – HR Cube agreed to extend the deadline (sleep easy, Shareef). The little extra time worked to our advantage.

Naturally, we are elated about our project with HR Cube as it was one of our creative best in recent times.

Thankfully (read, shockingly!!) we didn’t burn any hands or scorch any hair during the process. So yeah, we will always remember this project as that which pushed our limits.

text poster

Fun fact: Looks like Powerpuff Girls is making a re-entry – to make our lives awesome again!

Check it out.  

My gut feeling told me that CN would bring them back 😉 😉

 

IMG-20160313-WA0009

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.

 

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

    Buywithamazon

 

 

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.