Sunday, 26 January 2020

We, the People of India

I think the preamble to the constitution is one of the most beautiful texts India has produced, putting in words what our best selves can be.

I asked a large number of friends if they would like to join in on a virtual group reading. Sveral jumped in. Here it is.

Video, Audio and Text


Audio-only


Voices
Arundhati Ghosh, arts professional, Bangalore
Dilip D'Souza, writer and journalist, Bombay
Jasmeen Patheja, Bangalore
Karen Donoghue, academic, Shillong
Kirtana Kumar, actor and director, Bangalore
Lalnunsanga Ralte, academic, Shillong
Mitali Saran, independent writer, Delhi
Peter Griffin, writer and journalist, New Bombay
Pervin Varma, development professional and musician, Bangalore
Rahul Ram, musician, Delhi
Rimi N, researcher, Bombay
Sampurna Chattarji, writer, Thane


The quality is rough and I will probably do another version. But I wanted to get this out in time for our seventieth Republic Day.



If you want to do this with your friends (I'd really like to see more versions, especially in other Indian languages) here's a how-to.

1. Record a 'pacing' track yourself.
Be clear, make word endings clean, don't do too much voice acting (because others may not be able to replicate your impressive interpretation; but don't be too robot-voice either). It may take several tries. You should wind up with a recording that's around 50 seconds long in English.

2. Send the audio to your friends. Ask them to listen to it a few times, then record their version.
Best way: listen on earphones on one device, and record on another. Getting the synch really, really close is critical. It can take hours to clean up otherwise.
You may also want to try a karaoke-ish style. That is, text on screen at the right pace. If you, like me, are an amateur at video editing, it can take a while. (I used GIMP to make the text, subtracting one word at a time and naming the files in reverse order, so the full text is 85.png, minus one word is 84.png and so on, until 00.png, which is a blank screen.) Then used GIMP to make an animated Gif. Then an online converter to turn the Gif into a video. There is probably an easier way to do this, but I don't have the skills. Ask a film-maker friend.
I have one version which is just my voice and the text, which I will post in the comments.

3. Mix the audio.
If your friends have been faithful to your pacing track, this is easy. But even the best intentions will produce lost of stuff you have to mess with. FOR EACH TRACK. THIS TAKES TIME!
I used Audacity for the audio editing.

4. You can release the track as an audio file, but you may want to also of a video version. This opens up lots more possibilities if you're proficient with a camera and a video editor.

I repeat, please, please do this in other Indian languages!