Create With Purpose

Adobe Youth Voices Develops the technology skills among youth, providing cutting edge tools and breakthrough learning experiences from creating video, multimedia, digital art, web, animation, and audio to express their voices in society and prepare for 21st centery employment with critical thinking, innovation, collaboration and communication skills. more

November 1, 2013

YES AYV Creative Youth Media Project Wins WSYA Global Award

YES AYV Creative Youth Media Project implemented by Shilpa Sayura has won WSYA 2013 Award. YES AYV is a Sri Lankan platform that has trained more than 100 youngsters in digital media creation in order to make an impact in the local community with the help of creative digital art. YES AYV Creative Youth Media Project started in 2011 with UNHABITAT and Adobe Youth Voices support. They have trained more than 100 under-served youngsters in digital media creation, enabled collaboration, expression, dialog and digital journalism to report on issues related to them in pursuit of truth, made success in creation and publishing of digital media on interactive social platforms making them active participants in the public interest of their community, country and world. The think an effective use of media creation tools, Social Networks and Mobiles inspires youth to use digital journalism to inquire MDG related issues.

The World Summit Youth Award (WSYA) is a unique global contest which brings together young developers and digital entrepreneurs under 30 years of age - who use internet and mobile technology to put the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) into action and make a difference.

The WSYA selects and promotes best practice in e-Content. It demonstrates young people's potential to create outstanding digital contents and serves as a platform for people from all UN member states to work together in the efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

WSYA Award was given away at WSA Global Congress held in Sri Lanka.

June 12, 2013

Road to the Aspire - From Streets to the Global

Today we concluded last youth meeting of AYV Season II. It had happy as well as sad moments. The sad moments emerged when 10 of the main creative team announced that they will be leaving AYV for higher education and employment. The moment was softened when I said that they shall be our volunteer educators for the season III and given employment in Shilpa Sayura Digital rainbow project.

At first, all youth were happy on the multi-dimensional outreach we made with 
season II. All credits went to social marketing effort where youth did not sleep well since April. All of them had put 100% of their time to produce, edit and promote Child Soldier film from mid August 2012 to Mid April 2013. They even skipped new year celebrations in April. What a commitment! I am lucky to be their educator. When everyone was given the opportunity to express their take away from AYV, we had real stories coming in.  Each youth had developed their social capital through AYV. They got respect from peers, parents and teachers and finally from the nation for their creations. Among them was a special story of a youth touched my heart, as we had enabled change of his life from streets to a global recognition.

Mithun was only 17+ when I met him. He was brought to YES training session by Poornima, whom she had met on facebook. YES is our urban youth development initiative funded by UNHABITAT. He didn't speak a word on first day session. Instead, kept listening and thinking. Sometimes he looked boring. Almost everyday he excused in the middle of the session and left like he has urgent matters to attend. I never counted him to return. But he kept coming, keeping silence. His eyes always seeking something and had a sense of urgency.

I saw him collaborating well within the group. Over a period he developed exceptional technical skills. For all youth he was the techie. One day, I accidentally saw him on street with an another group of boys. They looked like getting ready to do something. There were at least 20-30 boys from two schools. It was a big match day. Fun as well as gang fights were usual. 
I knew, a big fight to come! He was the one who was leading.

Then only I knew that he was a gang leader.  I observed from distance. He did not see me. Police interfered and cleared the crowed. After a week from the incident, he came to AYV session again. That day I changed my day's topic from social issues to personal issues. I asked everyone to "Why youth fight?", Everyone expressed! The common understanding created was that gang fights were a major issue among youth in the city. After the discussion we did a graphic design exercise.  "Youth TALK, Don't Fight" project idea was born that day. During next two week the youth did many creatives expressing their voices on gang fighting in the city. I think it helped Mitun to re-think the kind of life he was living. 

After 3 weeks, I had a chat with Mithun on the issue. He comes from a good middle class family. At home he lacked respect from family members. Being the youngest son he had no voice. His father was a prison officer. He had been very strict and tough on him from childhood. He broke every rule at home when ever possible. He learned martial arts and developed a flair for fighting. He found streets fights as way to gain respect from peers.

I told my students creating media is the best way to earn respect. We discussed about great creators from Lianado Davinci to William Shakespeare, Stephan King to Spielberg. They all earned respect by creating something that people enjoyed. 

Our AYV program was run as a drop-in program. I provided material on facebook, google group and on my creative youth blog to engage them in e learning. Some of my of sessions conducted with only 2-3 members attending. Youth stayed back due to rain, exams, family trips or some other reasons. Mithun was the only youth who never stayed back. He took part in every session and
 did whole lot of collaborative learning with peers. He found AYV as a place to learn and create. He learned fast and learned to lead the team. He got out from fights in streets. He started spending more time in YES AYV project.  He collaborated with Mayor, officials of the city and other stakeholders in implementing YES project activities that ranged from Environmental Photography, Volunteer work, youth event media coverage and leadership adventures  Soon, he became one of the most respected youth in the YES group and city circles.

One day, Mithun approched me and asked my advice as he had difficulty in Chemistry. I advised him to choose ICT for his major. He had only 7 months to prepare for high school final exam. He had difficulty in convincing his school principal, teachers and parents for changing his major to ICT from Chemistry. I helped him to be courageous and to start a meaningful conversation with his parents and teachers. He won! They permitted him to take ICT as major. Since them he became highly energized. He was doing what he liked most "Creative Media & ICT". He took the challenge to complete a 2 year ICT course with in 7 months. I was his ICT teacher. I prepared whole set of lecture notes and conducted a weekly class for four such youth. The blog I created to teach them is #1 in google ranking for keyword "AL ICT" with over 102,000 page views in an year. His quest for ICT inspired me to serve many other youth whom I even haven't met. 

He worked hard and became one of my best students. He became a top leader in YES group. Everyone respected him. After his high school exams, he joined Poornima and Wajira the other two leaders in YES. The trio formed and lead the YES film crew to produce Child Soldier short film. It was their dream AYV project to win an Aspire Award before they become creative professionals.

Since then up to now,  "Child Soldier" film was his life. He was such a contributor that we could not keep him out from the story to story boarding, selecting and buying cameras, making prompts and art direction. During 20 day production he headed the camera team and also acted in the main role. When editing he never left editing process. He was there live and active, day and night, living every moment of the child soldier short film making process. Now, he is on his way to become a cinematographer. Good thing was that his parents were very supportive now. They respect him in family as a grown-up boy.

His good news came after good news. He passed AL ICT and selected by Adobe to take part in AYV summit 2013. This August, he is going to Santa Clara University, USA, with his colleague who brought him to YES project. He has got a two year job in "Digital Rainbow" youth development project funded by UNDEF, Microsoft and World Bank. In Digital Rainbow project, He shall work with YES Team to help train 1000 youth in social media creation and produce 10 short films on social issues. During next two years, Shilpa Sayura Foundation shall support his education endures.  The skills gained as a teen in AYV, helped him becoming an entry level, young professional who is employable. Two years in YES and AYV, helped his transformation from a street gangster to a young Cinematographer. 

His shall receive training to become a AYV educator in this year and a potential board member of YES Films social enterprise to be formed by Digital Rainbow.

His and His Team's biggest achievement is Child Soldier short film. They want to initiate "YES film project" to make Child Soldier 90m movie. Their project idea  now among 6 finalists of Adobe Aspire Award UNICEF Challenge. They ran a very good social marketing campaign, connecting with local, regional, national and international social networks. They were featured in news papers and national TV. They connected with people in a special way with their creation Child Soldier. They gained support of industry professionals and influencial networks. When voting ended they were leading in audience votes. Probably they would win the challenge too. Then a new story of Mithun and his team would begin!

YES and AYV has helped many youth like Mithun to find an alternative space of learning. AYV created new meaning to their talents. They were able to develop their technical, creative and media skills by creating with a purpose. They were able to showcase their talents to peers, parents and teachers. It would have not been possible in existing education system they were stuck in as failures. They went through life transforming experiences in YES and AYV. The creative process changed their life for good. Now they are on a road to the aspire, a journey started from streets, but running to the global.

What more? I am their happy AYV educator!

Niranjan Meegammana
AYV Lead Educator/Ashoka Fellow
Project Director
Shilpa Sayura Foundation

June 4, 2013

Don't go to your beautician! Goto to Photoshop CS 6!

How do you do that folks ?

 1.  Get rid of blemishes first to remove distracting parts.
Select Healing Brush, set brush size, click on a clean spot on the photo and click on imperfect spots and see the magic...

 Select unwanted yellow parts (Gums, Teeth etc) with lasso tool.   Use masking to erase unwanted parts.

 3.  The blur tool helps you to even out skin tones. Get rid of unnatural skin tones. Be careful not to blur hair and eyes.

 Use selective color and play with red tones, hue saturation to give a natural skin color.Micheal Freeman has a great tutorial on color

 5.  Give the person more life by sharping hari, eyes, nose, lines etc.

 Even out features using diffuse filter to give a softer look. Fading 40%-50% shall give the glamour look.

 7.  Duplicate and desturate layer. Set the blending option to 'overlay' and experiment with Gaussian blur effect to make the photo softer, while maintaining it's sharpness.
 Finally use the sharpen filter to improve dul areas.

See You got the Look Now!

June 1, 2013

How to make a successful short film

Scott Macaula writes about learning from peers as the core benefits of attending the Cannes Film Festival. He says Cannes is the best place for that. Now you are not able to visit Cannes, lets visit it online. 

These are his tips for film producers.

Learn how to collaborate :

Have multiple partners. Use a less hierarchical producing model through collaboration.The managing of the flow of information between talents, crew and producers is quite important. For public information create a blog, facebook page and LinkedIn Project. For private information use google docs and google group. A youtube channel and a flicker stream shall help your film rock. 

Work the subsidies :
Covering as much of the budget as possible through soft money like crowdfunding helps. Goto with your film idea to increase the amount of equity from other sources.

Don’t pitch your budget, pitch your story.

Seek new markets. 

Generate good news.
Show some positive creative development — to keep spirits high even as the overall process remains tough?

A good script trumps everything:
Subsidies, rebates, cross-media, foreign sales potential

May 2, 2013

Three Sri Lankan Youth Media Projects Reach Adobe Aspire Award Finals

Three creative media projects done by Sri Lankan youth has reached Adobe Aspire Awards 2013 finals. Among them are a "21st century Girl" photo essay , "3R for Women Empowerment" poster campaign and the "YES film project" video. These creatives were made by youth from Kandy YES and Lahugala Nenasala Telecentre working in collaboration, facilitated by media educators trained by Adobe.


The Adobe Youth Voices Aspire Awards is a global, online media competition that encourages youth to creatively express their vision for driving positive change in local communities. It’s an extension of Adobe Foundation’s philanthropic commitment and its global signature program. Adobe Youth Voices aims to ignite creative confidence in youth around the world by empowering them to find their voice and make it heard. Now in its second year, Adobe Aspire Awards invited young people to explore issues that are important to them, and to present potential solutions through visual storytelling using cutting edge media making tools.

Youth around the world teamed up with adult educators and submitted over 1,000 creative media entries in 9 categories of Music Video, Documentary, Collaboration, Poster Campaign, Narrative, Animation, Photo Essay, Poetry and UNICEF challenge. The youth taking part in AYV Aspire Awards UNICEF Challenge require to produce a short video outlining their proposal for a new or existing initiative that will benefit other youth in their community. Among them 152 original, high-quality media creations were chosen for final round of online viewing and voting. The winning entries shall be judged by a diverse panel of professionals working in art, film, and other creative fields, and also by the general public through social media engagement.

In the finals youth shall compete to obtain higher social scores generated from facebook and twitter to win Adobe Aspire Awards Audience Award. Each facebook Like, Share, Tweet, and Retweet from twitter counts as a vote for the media project. Adobe Aspire Awards shall gives away Android Tablets, Adobe Professional Software and Cash prizes to three winners of each category judged by individual judges and general public. AYV 
Aspire Awards UNICEF Challenge conducted first time, is looking to provide three youth led projects with grants to support the implementation of innovative initiatives showing imagination, creativity and innovation through the use of digital tools and social media. 

The winning projects shall receive software, hardware, cash prizes and opportunities to advance creative ideas toward implementation. Their their entries are featured at distinguished exhibitions, including international film festivals and other arts organization events. AYV program in Sri Lanka implemented by Shilpa Sayura Foundation (, trained over 150 youth in Kandy and Lahugala in creative media production has yield excellent results demonstrated by reaching Adobe Aspire Awards Finals 2013.

Adobe Youth Voices supports young people encouraging them to use of cutting-edge digital media tools to communicate and share their ideas, demonstrate their potential, and take action where they live. AYV is Adobe Foundation’s philanthropic commitment and its global signature program, which aims to ignite creative confidence in youth around the world by empowering them to find their voice and make it heard. The "YES film project" aimed to be a 90m feature film based on "Child Solder" 10m short film submitted by Kandy and Lahugala Telecentre Youth has reached the UNICEF challenge finals while "21st Century Girl" and "3R for Women Empowerment" reached finals in Photo Essay and Poster Campaign categories.

Shilpa Sayura Foundation requests community support for increasing facebook likes, shares and tweets to gain higher votes win Adobe Aspire Audience Award in Photo Essay, Poster Campaign and Unicef Challenge categories at

Speaking to YES media Shilpa Sayura Foundation Adobe Lead Educator Niranjan Meegammana said "Our youth have a great potential to become leading professionals in emerging digital social media field. We need to provide them with right training, resources and opportunities to create media with a purpose". Mithun Kumarasinghe, a youth benefitted from AYV said "Thanks to Adobe, I am now pursuing a digital media technology career to use my talents in creative field, I am lucky to have engaged in Adobe Youth Voices".  All youth spoke of their future plans for entering creative media field. Winning adobe creative scholarship was 13 year old Prabhashna's idea. AYV has inspired youth not only to serve the society, but also develop their their careers through AYV.

AYV has provided Shilpa Sayura Foundation us educator training, learning material and resources for implementing a successful two seasons. Shilpa Sayura Foundation appreciates the support of Adobe Foundation, Education Development Center, TakingITGlobal , 
UNHABITAT, Youth Empowerment Society, Ministry of Education, Lahugala Nenasala Telecentre and Media professionals in AYV Sri Lanka program.

People Media

Resources :


Media :

Top Creative Media AYV Sri Lanka 2013

Following are some of the top creatives produced by Youth participating in Adobe Youth Voices program implemented by Shilpa Sayura Foundation. The training program included Digital Photography, Graphics Design and Photo Editing, Video Production, Script Writing, Storyboarding and Video Editing for Short Films.

 The camera training included basic digital cameras and Canon T4i Rebel DSLR photography and video. Youth were trained in Culture, Environment & Wildlife Photography, Sports and Wedding photography. Software training included Adobe Photoshop Elements, Adobe Premiere Elements and Adobe Master Collection software Adobe Photoshop CS6, Premiere CS6, After Effects CS6, Audition CS 6 & Flash CS6. Adobe foundation, takingITGlobal, Canada and Education Development Center, USA assisted with purchasing equipment and training of Educators online and in USA.

 Among major productions were Child Soldier short film where over 100 members took part in production. The finished product was commended by AYV Educators worldwide as Creative, Excellent and Professional.

3 Creative works were chosen for Adobe Aspire Awards Finals in Photo Essay, Poster Campaign and Unicef Challenge Category.

3R for Women Empowerment

Smiles of a Stone Breaker

ACT NOW even in small ways

My Culture - Our World
21st Century Leader

Music Brings Youth Together

Even Crows Don't Like

Flip Cam Director

Nano Technology

Child Soldier Photo Essay

Watch Child Soldier Short Film

April 7, 2013

Child Soldier Short Film (10m) - long awaited first view

Child Soldier - 1st view comments

Excellent piece of film making! I really enjoyed how you were able to tell the story! This looked like a very large and ambitious work! I really liked how you were able to tell the story of a Child soldier from an innocent child to soldier and finally being saved. The camera angles, music, and scenes were all well done!
Stanley Malec, Film & Media AYV LEAD EDUCATOR, Etobicoke, Canada

Wonderful and very emotional film to watch. The background music was excellent and the camera angles in some of the shots were very nice. In total excellent work and congrats.
Bhuvana Sriram  AYV Educator, New Delhi, India

Congratulations, it's just unbelievable! I turned the lights off and watched it all. Excellent work by your youth and you. The actors(specially the child soldier and the main militant trainer ), the story, the settings, the scenes( some intense and some emotional), the camera work... everything is done so well.
Rajsri Ram Mohan, AYV Lead Educator, Noida, India, 

You did an excellent job conveying the emotions in this story. I like the narration, as it makes the scenes more personal. I can't get over how professional your actors are! Great performance!
Maegan Robichaud , Delia School of Canada, Hong Kong

Although the theme is quite shocking, the film is really a great piece of art. The images, sountrack, and edition have been worked in a connected way. The sequence of scenes showed how well the storyboard was done. The actors,, even though very young, seemed as professionals. Children, for sure have achieved their objectives of creating a film for social change having action/drama to report a story. Congrats to all participants.
Almerinda Garibaldi AYV Educator, Brazil

This is a wonderful piece of art which depict a burning issue that prevail sri lanka for 30 years. using the correct setting and suitable actors as well as the music behind it shows the maturity of the film director and the crew. climax of the film gives us an emotional feelings that create empathy and lighten our thoughts towards this crucial situation of the young children who became victims of war.
Anil Withanage, AYV Educator, Sri Lanka

A mature piece of art that tugs your heart strings - very professional.Thanks for sharing!Congratulations to the entire team.
Jayanthi Sridhar , CSBE, Bangalore, India

I liked how the issue was towards child soldiers. It is one of the major problems in the world. As for the video it was recorded and done well . It had good quality, nice camera angles, and the music fit in quite nicely.
Mahin Islam , Danforth Collegiate and Technical Institute, Toronto, Canada

Awesome. It has the rustic feel of the war torn Sri Lankan regions. The message is clear on how the young boys are forced into war. Great piece. Congratulations on such a wonderful project. You done a tremendous job!
Sathya Narayan, American India Foundation, Bangalore, India

Wonderful piece of work! This video is very touching. It impressed me so much. The message is very powerful. Unfortunately this is the reality and we have to do something about this. Congratulation for your great effort to create this video! I shall present it to my students next week (now they have vacation). I am sure they will enjoy it! It's a very good lesson of life. Thank you very much!
The impact on the audience is great!
Mihaela Runceanu, Colegiul National "Ecaterina Teodoroiu", Tirgu-Jiu, Romania

Excellent! Loved it!
Regina Calcagno, Agenda Global Siglo 21, Rosario, Argentina

So sad! I hope the film will be a strong signal to protect the innocence and purity of children's souls. They are the future!
Carmen Minca, IEARN-CNITV, Bucuresti, Romania

fabulous creativity......
Mujtaba Hussain, Youth Parliament of J&K, Srinagar, India

Child Soldier- very courageous to speak about a topic that is not as talked about let alone made a creative project upon. Good job for just picking up that subject to create a short film on. Your lead child actor is very good. That made your job easy. It was also great to see so many people in your film. It shows the kind of support you have from your community.
Shalaka Kulkarni, Chicago Public Schools, Chicago, United States

Truly amazing, an outstanding piece of work and to share such a story is humbling. Very expressive shots, the silhouettes and the lighting were fantastic. A truly thought provoking piece . Well directed ann executed.
Yamena Farkhani, Redbridge College, Essex, Britain (UK)

Very good film congratulations guys, the actors, the shots, the music in most of the scenes are really good. Excellent work guys!
Christian Hernandez, La Escuela de Lancaster, Distrito Federal, Mexico

Spectacular work! You and your students should be very proud. How did you do the night scenes?
 Rachel Rosen, Free the Children, Lester B. Pearson C.I., Toronto, Canada

A very atmospheric piece with good use of music and also light and sound. It is well paced with good performances.
Rakhee Jasani, Eastside Educational Trust, London, Britain (UK)

I loved how a story was incorporated to convey the message. The shots and filming of this was very well done.
Sara Yan, Danforth Collegiate & Technical Institute, Toronto, Canada

March 1, 2013

31 tips for creating a documentary video

This video explains 31 tips that you can use in creating a documentary video.