Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The reel communication!

If you have an insatiable passion for telling a story that will enthrall an audience, go for this medium

FILM, television and radio are powerful media as they reach people regardless of age, sex, income, or educational level. “Television and films offer sight and sound, and make dramatic and life-like representations of people and products whereas radio creates impact with the help of sound effects,” says Prof. Ashok Ogra, Director, Apeejay Institute of Mass Communication, who has worked with Doordarshan for 15 years.

With the advent of liberalisation, both film and TV have exploded in their reach and growth. India currently produces the world’s largest number of films and at the last count has over 800 TV channels offering news and entertainment. Same is the case with FM radio after the sector was opened to the private sector. A recent report by KPMG says the employment potential of the sector is going to treble in the coming five years.

The ‘reel-life’
So what goes behind creating this ‘reel-life’ experience? Every programme (film, TV serial, and radio) has one common stage in the order - concept, story, script, production, post-production, release and display. Irrespective of the medium, concept stage is very important. Based on it a story line is made which is further made live in the form of a script. Once the script is ready, it is the production team’s responsibility to give it a real shape. Then further editing and polishing is done in order to make it more presentable before finally releasing it to reach the public.

Aparna, a dialogue writer, shares her experience on the job. She says that a dialogue writer creates the conversation and builds moments while working on each scene and character in the screenplay. He or she is also responsible for creating characters’ accent or dialect. “Making each scene interesting by adding emotions, one liners, some quirk, some comedy, romance or even anger is interesting,” she says. Aparna has worked on at least eight feature films including Aisha, Chance pe Dance, LSD and Yeh Saali Zindagi and has also been independently writing for TV shows.

She adds, “I love my profession because it does not feel like a ‘job’. There is lot of creativity and liberty in what I do. You would usually see writers working through the night, preparing scripts for the next day’s shoot. So this field is definitely not time-bound. I love talking, communicating, meeting various kinds of people. This helps me in developing characters and creating moments.”

Career scope
A plethora of job opportunities are on offer such as producer, director, script writer, reporter, anchor, sound recordist, editor, cameraman etc as each film or a TV programme would employ a number of people at different stages.

The best part of choosing this area is that one can opt for working with a production house or broadcasting organisation. A person can also work on a freelance basis. Apart from this, there are jobs in the advertising agencies, Personal Relations and Event Management firms and in academia.

Prof. Ogra shares, as per the KPMG-FICCI 2011 report, the Media & Entertainment industry is expected to be of the staggering size of over Rs.127,5000 crores by 2015, up from the level of Rs. 73,800 crores in 2010. “This growth is bound to give a further fillip to this field. So, I have a very positive recommendation to all the aspiring professionals,” he says.

Develop a skill-set
To start with, there are a lot of colleges which offer training in all the options mentioned, including both short-term and long-term courses. Most of them can be pursued after graduation. But apart from regular studies, a person should have a passion for it. He should be an avid observer of nature, human emotions and different cultures. Besides having the knowledge of the domain, the person should have good knowledge of different art forms, which not only helps the person to perform well but helps him or her to interact with other team members. Also, the person should have an attitude to welcome the critics, good interpersonal relationship, imagination, creativity, and above all patience. The industry offers not only jobs but career growth in all related areas; depending on determination and area of work.

“Actor, a statue of hope!”

Meet Deepesh Bhan, a struggling actor who believes that a performer is ‘ummed ka putla’ (statue of hope) who must keep his or her will power intact to succeed. Starting his career through a comedy show ‘Comedy ka King kaun’ of Balaji Telefilms and acting in many advertisements, he is now working in a couple of popular TV soaps including FIR.

Q: Your journey till now?
A: Struggle is at every stage while glamour takes long to come. After being in theatre world for four years, I came to Mumbai seven years ago. Though it is tough, but now I am sailing through.

Q: Is the first break tough?
A: Audition is not the beginning. You are tested for the way you talk, walk, stand etc. Even when people say “Wow! That was good”, it’s not sure that you’ll hit the chord.

Q: Why shift from theatre to TV?
A: You can’t earn your living from theatre. There are many examples in our film industry who made this shift, though the passion remains.

Q: Is language important?
A: Yes, viewers relate to a character through the language he speaks. So, one has to be perfect. Being from north India, I worked well in roles as of a boy from Haryana, Punjab or UP, but I faced problem when I was given a role of a Gujarati boy.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Not just cooking!

Apply science for a better living including good food and nutrition, clothes, hygiene, consistent development, communication and good community living. Home management is only a small component of the discipline.

HOME Science is the application of science to bring home and family life in sync with changing surroundings, and even today the programme is only open to women. Projects in each subject and lab practical are a regular feature in the academic life of Home Science graduate

“Some needed lots of effort - like identifying a child labourer in our locality and developing his or her profile,” says Ritikaa who passed out of Institute of Home Economics. She also says, it is not just about cooking, which is a common misconception. She is currently pursuing Master’s in Psychology and working as a special educator and counsellor at a school.

Scientific techniques are taught to cope up with day-to-day problems and field project works are done to learn their application. The course helps in overall personality development of the person.

In case of BSc (Home Science), a student gets a chance to choose his or her specialization in the third year. For example, Manav Rachna International University (MRIU) offers a BSc, MSc and diploma programmes in Nutrition and Dietetics. “Our programmes specialize a student directly in the food and nutrition field. Lifestyle diseases are on an increase and people are getting more conscious about their dietary habits. So, the subject is gaining importance,” said MRIU’s Dean Dr. G L Khanna.

Home Science graduates can opt for an array of career options in food sciences, sport academies as personal consultants and even MNCs hire them for the wellbeing of their employees. Nutritionists and dieticians also have openings as researchers in natural food making companies like Dabur. The salary structure for an undergraduate starts between Rs. 10,000 and Rs. 20,000. If they pursue postgraduation then they can earn even Rs. 40,000. And for those with experience, the package will increase manifold.

A career for compassionate minds!

Art of self control and understanding of a human mind and heart are the mantras for a teacher of special children.

CHILDREN with disabilities are so special that a person working for them has to have a mind which can understand and comprehend situations as well as people. “The job is not easy. People need to have the art of being patient, good presence of mind, compassion and commitment to duty,” says Aparna Babu who is working with children with special needs for many years now.

Any 10+2 student, irrespective of what stream he had in senior secondary can pursue a course in this field. There are degree, diploma and certificate courses available in various colleges in the country recognized by the Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI). An aspirant can choose to study to work for visually impaired, hearing impaired and/or mentally retarded persons. There are specialized degree programmes available in the fields of Locomotor and Cerebral Palsy, Autism, Vocational Counselling, and care giving.

These programmes train students for a whole range of services for children with disabilities. Special schools are on a rise in the country along with major non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who are concentrating their energies and resources to set up help in this particular avenue. “As per the new Inclusive Education paradigm, all the children would be in the same class, studying together irrespective of abilities. Therefore, special teachers, facilitators and guides with this degree are required for this endeavour,” Aparna explains.

As far as the salary structure is concerned, the package may not be that high. As a teacher one can receive what the teachers receive according to the 6th Pay Commission as per the grade whereas counsellors receive more. If we were to give a starting range, one could begin between Rs. 9000 to Rs. 15000 depending on the profile.

The task is challenging because people in this field need to have the art of self control and knowledge and understanding of a human mind and heart. A person needs to be mature enough to deal with any situation, especially the unexpected ones. So though a 10+2 student can look forward to a career in special education, he or she should have a detailed study of how to understand and empathise with special children. “A developed, mature understanding and a strong sense of mind is the need more than age. So if a student of 17 had the passion to work in this field, I would just say, come on board to build our society,” Aparna stresses.

For this reason, a little extra knowledge in terms of higher studies is also advisable. Moreover, there is growth in position in any particular organisation on the basis of the educational qualification. But the amount of satisfaction attained is incomparable.

If not MBBS, be a paramedic!

Paramedics are the professionals who support both the doctors and patients simultaneously. Patience is their most-needed quality.

AS soon as you visit a doctor for any ailment, you are led to a lab and tests are done. Who performs this necessary task for you? Doctors? No, they are the paramedical professionals. Optometry, Radiography, Lab Technology, Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy and Rehabilitation are some of the prominent disciplines in allied sciences.

Admission procedure & job scenario
It varies from institute to institute. It has been felt that the paramedical staff does not get due recognition at times and that is why courses at Master's and PhD level have been started. But at an operational level, a paramedical job does not require higher studies but field experience is most important. Most institutes prefer to admit students through national-level admission tests while others through state/institute level tests. Here is a ready-reckoner.

Good news is that finding a job in this area is easy once you have your degree or diploma as no hospital or clinic can run without a paramedical staff. Anurag Saxena of RP Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences in AIIMS says, “Students pursuing the course are able to find part-time jobs in their first year itself at a stipend of around Rs. 7,000. After completion of the course, the salary begins from Rs. 15,000 and if the person has some part-time experience, he can get even higher.”

Apart from working in clinics and hospitals, you can work from home and become self-employed also, like a physiotherapist. One may find a physiotherapy centre within a 3-km-range. But yes, then investment is a concerning factor as machines used are expensive. Paramedics can also go for clinical research after pursuing further studies. Read more...

It is team work and the person has been supportive to both the doctor and the patient at the same time. “Patience is the most important quality paramedics should have. They should be able to listen to the patient and understand his need all the time with a smile,” says Treta, who pursued a course in pathology. Other qualities include ability to work for long hours, good scientific vocabulary and fine presence of mind.

A world in a Handset

Over 80 crore mobile phone users are in India, offering a world of opportunities in mobile content space. This industry needs a lot more than just technical skills.

THE ‘special and very clever’ men in dark suits are indeed making way for boys and girls next door – people like us – as has been affirmed through song and dance by that famous BlackBerry advertisement. The other day even a friend of mine showed me his newly acquired smartphone and some of the things he does on it.

“I Gtalk, gmail, use Facebook, play Angry Birds, watch videos, read books, newspapers,” he told me excitedly. I thought I was as impressed by the prodigious functionality of that gizmo as I felt curious about the scores of people who made a mere handset perform all those interesting activities. Aren’t they the people who should be called ‘special and very clever’?

The world of mobile content
Today, a suitable mobile phone device allows us to do an ever-widening range of things. Collectively known as mobile content, such things could be games, wallpapers, ringtones, video, mobishows, news, maps, Live TV, Radio, music, and SMS-based services and applications or apps. Indeed, mobile content is increasingly matching anything that a laptop computer can do. The experts like to classify mobile content into three main categories: Mobile entertainment, Mobile apps, and Mobile games.

Just like various applications that we run on personal computers, use of mobile content also depends on the operating system (OS) of the cell phone. Broadly, there are eight operating systems used in the cell phones: iOS, Blackberry OS, Android, J2ME (Java 2 Platform, Micro Edition), Brew (Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless), Windows Mobile, HP webOS and Symbian OS. Their superior user interface (UI) has made Android OS and iOS the most popular these days. While an Android OS, for instance, will allow you to change the default web browser on your mobile handset with the touch of a few buttons, a Symbian OS will not.

A business and a brand
India’s mobile phone subscriptions have grown phenomenally in the last decade to reach over 80 crore, a huge market for phone service providers as well as other companies to tap by investing in mobile content, such as games and videos. Often referred to as Value Added Services (VAS), such services help companies increase their revenues and improve their brand awareness.
“Growing penetration of smartphones has made it imperative for companies to invest in the content space. It is also financially attractive because consumers are willing to pay for good content,” says Rajasekar Raju KS, Director - Social Media Marketing, Impiger Technologies. The company has been providing text and video-based multimedia content to both Indian and foreign mobile subscribers for the last seven years.

It is quite a challenge for the companies to be able to make rich but memory-guzzling applications available on a small piece of hardware that a handset contains. A subscriber will not like to use an application that will take up the entire battery capacity in downloading just one page. And they may also like to have as many applications to run on their devices as possible. So companies now have dedicated R&D teams to create or adapt applications that will run smoothly on mobile devices.

At Adobe Systems India, for example, a team has been working on making a mobile phone-compliant version of Photoshop. “There are sub-teams working on moving Photoshop features online, design and development of licensing technologies, building user interface, and the look and feel of the website, etc,” says Sourabh, a computer scientist working with the company. Sourabh developed interest in the cell phone world while doing his B.Tech and then M.Tech in Information & Communication Technology at IIT-Delhi.

Creativity is the mantra
Mobile content is your field, if you like to create and experiment. For any job here, you require a great attitude and the ability to conceptualise. You should know, for instance, why the Superman had to be a strong, tall and handsome man and Pinoccio a lean boy. You would do well to be a good learner of emerging technologies in order to remain competitive. Also valued is your ability to understand the medium and users and some general knowledge. If you have seen games having characters resembling a film star or a politician as the protagonist, you will know they are there because of their relevance to the present scenario.

Education-wise, some technical competence is the first step. An engineering degree in computer science or Bachelor’s and Master’s in computer applications are good. Following that, short- term courses in graphics development, designing, visual arts, to name a few, will help you excel in this field. A regular student can do a course on the side or work as an intern in a company to learn the domain-specific skills.

“I did a course in J2SE (a platform of the Java programming language) from NIT-Silchar under AX LABS. I also learnt J2EE (a Java-centric environment for developing Web-based applications) and gained hands-on knowledge by working as an intern at 2ergo, a company providing mobile-phone marketing and messaging services,” says Devansh Mohan Kaushik, a third year student of Electronics and Communication Engineering at NIT- Agartala.

The job arena
The mobile content industry has a place both for a programmer and a person with primarily artistic skills. An application begins with someone thinking about a concept which is then converted into a design. Features like movement of characters and sound are added to the design which is brought into action by a programmer. Before it reaches its final destination, a test run is conducted.

There is a wide variety of areas to work in. You can become a content writer, copywriter, scriptwriter, designer, audio and video production professional, voice rendition technician or programmer. The industry sees video and 3D content as its future and requires skills like radio jockeying, anchoring and videography. One can also start on one’s own by turning into an application owner, developer or distributor.

Manish, a contractual game designer, says he is happy being a freelancer than tie down with a single company. He has developed several games for the J2ME platform, including ‘Castle of Clouds’ and ‘Dilaer aur Dilrooba’ and is working on a game for iPhone. “I am enjoying it. As and when I am given an idea, I work on the game mechanics, that is, the rules of play and the user interface design (UI). At times, I try my hands on the look and feel of the game also,” he says.

A gadget industry needs engineering skills at every stage. An engineer has responsibilities from knowing the raw material until it is converted into a smart phone. Simple things which may go unnoticed by a user involve much research and development. “For a gamer there are plenty of issues to plug - issues like signal should not break down while driving, no interference from adjacent and core channels and proper signal in idle mode also,” says Saurabh Nangia who has worked as an R&D Engineer with Nokia. He did his B.Tech (Electronics & Telecommunication) from Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University before doing a six-month course in Telecom Engineering and Management at IIT-Delhi.

Currently, it’s difficult to find specialised courses in mobile content in India. Spotting a job opportunity is also not easy. Content providers are generally dependent on the telecom service providers. “But with a bit of Google search and attending mobile application and VAS conferences, a career is not far away also,” says Rajasekar.

One needs a lot of patience, such as when browsers do not work right or a code will not validate. Application development goes through many processes. It takes days together to achieve that ‘little’ finishing. Meeting expectations of the client is tough. You need to develop the end product with whatever story-board or assets he provides. Getting noticed in this industry is a challenge too; you have to prove the quality and competitiveness of your product.

Then there are technical barriers, like deciding important elements of your application according to different sizes and types of mobile screens. You also take time to even understand the mobile browsers. When Manish entered the gaming industry, he was asked to fit graphics for the entire mobile game in less than 35 kb. “I had just come from the PC game industry that does not suffer from such enormous size constraints. Thankfully, things are really changing now,” he says.

Career progression
Remuneration depends on your performance. An entrant could kick off with Rs. 2.5-3.5 lakh per annum depending on the skill required. In three years, you could command Rs. 5-7 lakh per annum. An engineering graduate with programming knowledge can start at Rs. 4 lakh per annum reaching till Rs. 15 lakhs with experience. Most of the successful professionals have been found to own their own content development company or become an aggregator.

Satisfaction from the job is the key to rising higher. For a mobile content professional, success comes more in terms of enjoyment while working. You learn new technologies. You get to play with different types of graphics and also media elements.

Mobile content also offers Indians opportunities to work in other countries. However, foreign companies have been outsourcing their work to developing countries like India. So the opportunities are improving all the time. If you have the skills and the confidence, the whole world is there for you to work in.

“Outsourced business is growing in India.”

Q&A with Ram Warrier, Business Head, MAAC (Maya Entertainment of Advanced Cinematics)

Q: What are the qualities a gamer should possess?
A: A gamer must be a self-starter, setting goals for himself and does not need to be prompted what to do, but find solutions himself. He should be a good learner and understand upcoming technologies.

Q: Is making games for mobile different from other interface?
A: Yes. Games developed for mobile phones are optimised and not heavily programmed. They are art-intensive. It is a challenge in terms of looks, graphics, effects and navigation. This is why, the games on mobiles are developed for a mass market and they fall in the category of casual games.

Q: Is the Indian market looking up?
A: The Indian Gaming Industry is expected to reach 830 million by 2012. India is fast emerging as an important destination for outsourcing because of low-cost and high-quality advantage. Games developed in India have been successful internationally, enhancing India’s reputation for technical and infrastructure capabilities to provide services that meet international standards.

Q: What coursed do MAAC offer?
A: MAAC has a dedicated career programme in Game design and Integration (DGDI). It covers all nuances of game art, design and the integration of game asset elements including Digital Asset Creation and their integration in the game engine.

Q: What are the career opportunities?
A: A person can go for 3D Game Designs, Game Testing jobs, 3D Game Modeler, Web 3D graphics, game production, Interactive product demos and walkthroughs.

Q: And the pay scales?
A: A gaming artist or game tester draws a salary of around Rs. 10,000-12,000 per month. A programmer draws a salary up to Rs. 30,000 per month.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Anna released; refuses to leave jail, firm on his demand

New Delhi, Aug 16 : Gandhian Anna Hazare was tonight released from judicial custody but he refused to leave the jail premises unless he was allowed to go on fast at Jai Prakash Narayan Park with his conditions.

"Anna Hazare has been released but he is not coming out of the jail as he wants to go straight to J P park and start his protest there," Manish Sisodia, Anna's close aide, told mediapersons after he was also released this evening.

Mr Hazare is now sitting in the office of Director General (Tihar) Neeraj Kumar and waiting for the government's response.

Mr Sisodia, however, denied to having received any information about sending Anna outside Delhi.

As hundreds of supporters gathered outside Tihar jail carrying candles, Mr Sisodia continued the protest with them there itself.

He said Anna has requested that the movement should not die down.

Mr Hazare was sent to seven days judicial custody this afternoon after he was arrested by Delhi police for defying prohibitory orders.

Security was stepped up at J P park immediately after Anna put forth his demand. His supporters started reaching the spot after which police had to detain them.

Kiran Bedi, Shanti Bhushan released from detention

New Delhi, Aug 16 : Gandhian Anna Hazare's close aides Kiran Bedi and Shanti Bhushan were released this evening, few hours after they were taken into preventive detention for allegedly defying prohibitory orders.

Ms Bedi, a former IPS officer, and Mr Bhushan, senior lawyer, were taken into custody when they arrived at Rajghat to participate in the protest announced by Mr Hazare.

Mr Hazare along with seven others was sent to seven days judicial custody by a Special Magistrate following their arrest under Section 107/151 of the CrPC early this morning.