Rajani Ramanathan  


 A city as old as time by Rajani Ramanathan
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February 2021 - A city as old as time

About the Image(s)

A city as old as time. A city that has seen the world turn, tides change and generations of humans be born and die. In Mark Twain's words, "Banaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together.
Varanasi or Kashi, also known as Benaras, has been standing the tests of time for over 5,000 years, is said to be one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world. This video is part 1 of a three part video series that shows you the vibrant life by the ghats of the holy river Ganga, also known as Ganges. According to the Sthapatya Veda, the age old Indian tradition of architecture, the temple and the town should mirror the cosmos. The temple architecture and the city plan, therefore reflect the cosmos in the way it is structured and numerous examples are still visible. Join me as I walk you through this "city of light”.
Please give me feedback, is it too long? Any suggestions for improving the narration, was it too much information?


This round’s discussion is now closed!
12 comments posted




Dick Burr   Dick Burr
Rajani,

We talked about trying to correct the sound on your video. I will wait to critique after you get the sound corrected.

Dick

Rajani,
Now that you have remastered your video, I will offer my critique.

First, let me just say that I loved your verbal narration of this beautiful video. Your beautiful voice and accent lends ideally to the subject of your video.

You have amazing still shots through-out the video. At :23 you had a very nice shot of the sun directly over the head of the gondolier of the boat in the river. At :34 there is a shot of what looks like a two story pontoon boat, beautifully decorated with a lot of birds flying around it. WELL DONE.

At 1:47 your video seemed to stop, all except the birds flying in slow motion. (Amazing) Did you do this with post production or was that done while filming the video? A very impressive effect.

The birds give the opening scenes a very eerie feeling. You must have been on a boat in order to get those shots.

From 3:37 to 4:17 are your beautiful sunset shots, while you are explaining how the sun is honored in three ways. It looks like you used HDR techniques to do some of these shots.

As I watched your video, I see many people worshiping or meditating, but I don't see anyone with cameras taking pictures. Were you one of the few taking pictures and were you welcomed or looked down on for doing so.

A question about the sound that you used through-out the video. It sounds like it could be an ancient chant. What is it? I think it worked very well with your narration.

Your narration tells the story of the City, the culture and the people. Excellently Done !!

Did you consider having your head shaved? :)

In your narration, you talked of the countless paper boats filled with flowers that people placed in the water to carry their prayers. Are these sold by merchants? Could you speak a little about this?

You said that this is part 1 of a three part video. I hope you are going to share the other two parts with us.

The narration was excellent, the still shots were gorgeous, and the video sections left me in awe and wondering how you achieved them.

I feel that you are extremely talented, and I am so glad that you are in our group.

Dick






  Posted: 01/21/2021 23:24:40
Rajani Ramanathan   Rajani Ramanathan
Dick,
Thank you for such detailed feedback, I appreciate your constant encouragement. It is because of your feedback from an earlier video, I decided to try and narrate in this one instead of writing too much text on the video. I ended up learning a fair bit on sound recording because of your feedback on my first try :)

To address your questions:
1. The background chanting I used is called the "OM" chanting. Om is considered the basic sound of the universe ( in fact, scientists believe the sound is similar to vibrations recorded from the sun) chanting it symbolically and physically tunes us into that sound and acknowledges our connection to everything in the world and the Universe. The rhythmic pronunciation and vibrations have a calming effect on the body and the nervous system similar to the effects of meditation. It is widely used while meditating or doing yoga, most religious Hindus chant this while doing the rosary in many cultures (Bhutan, Nepal etc.)
2. The videos sections where I slow the birds flying around was shot on my phone using the "Slow motion" video option
3. I actually had my head shaved when I turned one years old - not my decision :)
It is a common custom to shave the hair after the child turns one and the ritual is called "Mundan". A child's hair is uneven and mine in fact was shaggy I believe. One of the reasons it is done I believe is to let the hair grow evenly. Another scientific reason is that Vitamin D is made faster and in more quantity in baby's body when exposed to sunlight without clothes and hair. When a tonsured head is exposed to sunlight it absorbs the sunlight better.
To answer your question, I will not shave my head, I love my hair. Guess my vanity will not allow it ;)
4. I will elaborate more on the paper boats in my next video if I can, it is sold by local flower merchants. It is a very common practice to sell flowers since we offer flowers to God while worshiping in Hinduism.
5. I do not use HDR techniques while shooting or processing my photographs but I do play a lot around with layers and dodging in post production to make the photographs more appealing. If you do visit Varanasi, sunrise will not look similar due to pollution. So I am not documenting reality but take a lot of creative latitude as an artist :)
6. There are probably more photographers than pilgrims now in most places around the world. While composing, I try my best to make sure I am not including them in the shot, which is not always possible. I do crop them out extensively or will most often not use the photograph if the cameras are distracting from the main subject.

Hope I addressed all your question. I was concerned that my video was probably too long and too much information. But from your feedback, I think you liked getting the details about a different culture, so I will try to make the next 2 segments informative as well. Thank you again for such detailed feedback, happy to answer more questions if you have any.   Posted: 02/02/2021 13:54:04



Peter Shi   Peter Shi
Rajani,
1. Very interesting story about ancient Indian cities and people living along banks of Ganga River! Good to learn the history, culture and religion from it
2. Narrator's commendatory and beautiful video footage draws audience attention throughout
3. Consistent horn effect and traditional folk music match the content very well
4. J cut editing technic used at 0:39
Expecting the future episodes   Posted: 01/24/2021 16:06:41
Rajani Ramanathan   Rajani Ramanathan
Thank you Peter. I feel like I am not a videographer since I prefer to focus on my photography, so in this video tried making the narration elaborate to add interest for my photos. I did not understand your following comment,

"4. J cut editing technic used at 0:39 "

please let me know if it is something if I should correct with my editing, I do want to learn better techniques like you.   Posted: 02/02/2021 13:30:26



Syed Shakhawat Kamal   Syed Shakhawat Kamal
Hi Rajani
Happy new Year my friend. Hope this year brings you joy, happiness and health. The opening scene with Om really made it very interesting. The almost 12 minutes long video presentation has very informative narrative. The outstanding images of all activities of Varanasi made this a worthy documentary to watch and enjoy.
Enjoyed it my friend and can't be better than this I believe.
Great work & Cheers.
Kamal.   Posted: 01/31/2021 14:24:50
Rajani Ramanathan   Rajani Ramanathan
thank you Syed. I think the festival you depicted in your video and the one I will showcase in second part of this series maybe are at the same time of the year in November?
  Posted: 02/02/2021 13:31:44
Syed Shakhawat Kamal   Syed Shakhawat Kamal
yes dear friend.
they probably are from same time period.
cheers.   Posted: 02/02/2021 13:34:42
Rajani Ramanathan   Rajani Ramanathan
Interesting Syed, would love to visit and experience it for myself!!   Posted: 02/02/2021 13:57:36
Syed Shakhawat Kamal   Syed Shakhawat Kamal
Sure my friend. You are welcome to visit. And let me know when you plan to visit. Thanks.   Posted: 02/02/2021 14:10:42



Harry Zhang   Harry Zhang
Hi Rajani:

When watching your video, there is a scene of the scene, ancient, tradition, and a deep attracting me, frankly, I am very expected that there is a chance to go deep into such a scene, understand the local culture, History and customs, with growth of your own knowledge and experience, I also like it in the film, you can make people can be quiet, sedimentation, go to appreciate, think!
In this era of hardship, people who wish to stay away from the epidemic, everything goes well, and well!

Thanks Harry Zhang   Posted: 01/31/2021 15:31:30
Rajani Ramanathan   Rajani Ramanathan
Thank you Harry and welcome to the group. Really enjoyed your video as well. Like you, I try to showcase the places I visit such that the audience would like to go there :)   Posted: 02/02/2021 13:32:47



Harry Zhang   Harry Zhang
Hi Rajani:

When watching your video, there is a scene of the scene, ancient, tradition, and a deep attracting me, frankly, I am very expected that there is a chance to go deep into such a scene, understand the local culture, History and customs, with growth of your own knowledge and experience, I also like it in the film, you can make people can be quiet, sedimentation, go to appreciate, think!
In this era of hardship, people who wish to stay away from the epidemic, everything goes well, and well!

Thanks Harry Zhang   Posted: 01/31/2021 15:31:30