Learning to shoot – videography masterclass for the Changing the Story Team, Kohima

This blog is part of Changing The Story’s #YoungChangemakers series. If you are a young person leading alternative actions for civil society building in the Global South and would like to be featured in the series, get in touch!

Credit: The Kohima Institute

Written by Achabu Kire, a young Changemaker on the Phase 2 project ‘Participatory Arts for Health Improvement in North East India.’

By the end of June 2019, the Changing the Story team members (Achabu, Keduo and Ben) from the The Kohima Institute were excited and looking forward to receiving technical training in documentary filming making from Dr.Richa, a young and passionate video producer who owns a studio called ‘Richa Productions’ in the hilly capital city of Nagaland state in India, Kohima.

Dr. Richa was due to meet us at The Kohima Institute office on 8th July and we prepared for the visit by checking his work online. Some amazing music videos and short films by Richa Productions were viewed and discussed. We also found that Dr.Richa was the moving spirit behind a one-day annual event known as ‘August Rush’. A celebration of Arts in every form, this annual event is held in Kohima on the 15th of August to support and promote art-based culture in Nagaland including Naga-handicrafts, cuisine, music, the growing film industry, photography, painting, costume play and street art.

After an introductory session on July 8, we started our training the following day. Dr.Richa began by explaining the basic workings of the camera, the different kinds of cameras and lenses, and how to take shots and angles.

After giving us a good basic grasp of cameras and the way they operate, Dr. Richa introduced us to editing software, namely Vegas Pro, Premiere Pro, After Effects and Adobe Photoshop. He stressed the importance of equipment like a good desktop for editing, a hard drive for storing video footage, a good audio recorder, camera and tripods.

At this stage, the training sessions were shifted to the evenings because Dr.Richa, being a very busy person, does all his recordings and editing by night.

The following days we had some really incredible experiences recording audios and videos of several artists at Richa’s studio. The recordings were on producing both original as well as cover songs and music by young aspiring singers and musicians and after each recording, we did the video shootings at the studio itself. Recording for hours as well as shooting and editing the videos to get a perfect result was tiring but we discovered that patience and persistence were rewarded. So, bit by bit, we learned how to put an audio track into a video track and how to study an audio wave and match it with a video. Then there was the process of editing the video footage in Vegas Pro and exporting it into After Effects, where the videos were refined by scaling, correcting colours, adding text animations, and adjusting positions.

Dr.Richa also made a plan to take us for a shoot on site; he gave us a song and asked each one of us to come up with a script to go with it. Each of us produced a different script and presented it for team discussion. Through discussion we learned what was doable as well as the barriers within the scripts and ended up with the most practical and budget-friendly elements that could be tackled during a shoot.

On Sunday July 14, Dr. Richa took us for a shoot at Jakhama Village, an attractive Naga village close to Kohima. He had explained that outdoor shooting was best done early in the morning, between 6 to 9am, and also in the evening around 3 to 5 pm when the sun was softer, so we moved out before sunrise. That day, we not only learned valuable tips on lighting, plus camera angles, positions and settings, but also basic preparation and considerations to keep in mind while going for a shoot. It was great experience for the team. We returned by late noon and the following days were taken up with editing the raw footage we had obtained.

Dr. Richa training CTS team on handling equipments at Jakhama Village. Credit: The Kohima Institute.

We were also given an assignment to edit the raw footage of a local wedding and, while doing our assignments, we gradually became more familiar with the editing software. The training lasted till August 7 and Dr. Richa also invited the team to join him for the shoot at August Rush on 15 August 2019, which gave us another chance to improve our skills.

Within this short span of time we have gained many insights into videography. We really look forward to using our new skills to achieve the best in our filmmaking journey. The videography lesson has provided us with so many basic yet important skills that will continue to help us with our workflow. It has boosted our confidence to address ourselves as young professional filmmakers as we go out and start shooting for our documentaries. It has also given us an insight into the wide and creative world of videography and we couldn’t be more excited to put our skills into use for the Changing the Story project. We also believe it can help us built a new career opportunity in the long run. Videography is a limited field in Nagaland but there are also some talented and ambitious youths who are already making a positive impact in the society with their creative films and videos. So it is also our aspiration that we make use of these skills for a better cause for our society and I believe there are still many great stories to capture.

The team members are immensely thankful to Dr. Richa for rendering us his valuable time and knowledge to improve our skills. Special thanks also to Dr. Michael Heneise, Dr. Amrit Virk, Ms.Rose Yhome, and Changing the Story for giving us this wonderful opportunity.


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