Director’s message for 9th NSFFI 2019: Introducing New Opportunities

Greetings and welcome to the 9th edition of Bharat ka Rashtriya Vigyan Filmotsav (National Science Film Festival of India).

Part of our (Vigyan Prasar’s) outreach program through one of the most powerful media — motion pictures, this festival has gotten here and needless to say, we wish that this goes on and on. Isn’t it worth reckoning, worth an appreciation for one and all who’ve been behind this successful journey, so far. Hats off!

In this travel so far, we’ve realized and experienced a lot of change — content aggregation, visualization, editing, production, process workflow, technology and more. Amongst these, technology has witnessed maximum delta, maximum iterations! IoT or the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence have been at the head of the list of technological transformations. Whether it’s extracting metadata from unstructured content sources or developing ontologies, exhaustive content research is required to get a faultless story for an effective motion picture, even if it is Science & Technology.

Well begun is half done! From the selection of content, and then its research — all of it requires an effective and relevant content aggregation. Weaving an apt and appropriate story around the aggregated content requires a well-defined thought sequence. So how would one do it when content is to be retrieved from the humongous yet disparate sources — thanks to the Internet. Application of modern technology steps in at every step of content collation, classification, summarization, and visualization. Media conversion is indeed an important aspect here too. From image to text and text to JSON and then JSON to XML, and then to the board room for an analysis of the aggregated content to weave a workflow that’ll eventually produce a very well-filmed movie. It becomes much more pertinent when the content is Science & Technology and especially the audience is not-an-expert one. Highly continuous display of thoughts to keep the attention of the audience active is a challenge. Thus, the script is important and hence the relevance of research that’s been put to gather the content is far more important.

When we talk about media conversion, it’s just not about movie formats being converted but how content images are converted into the text format. Improved character recognition engines like optical character recognition (OCR) have now been replaced by customized Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR) techniques. Machines are trained to identify complex character structures, whether they are as complex as Fractur fonts or hand-written manuscripts. Role of modern technology plays a very critical role in the entire gamut of things required to create a visual masterpiece.

We, at Vigyan Prasar in our thirtieth year of existence, have crossed a number of milestones so far, and aspire to achieve many more in the years to come. Our dedicated scientists have been involved in active hands-on S&T popularization & communication-related research. We’ve come up with a number of new thoughts, practically-realizable workflows, products and by-products. Besides various products in print and electronic media, we’ve recently forayed into a dedicated Science Channel on television and the Internet. We signed a MoU with Doordarshan so that we could take our films to people who don’t have access to paid channels. We’ve begun an hour’s slot during 5pm — 6pm Mon-Fri called DD Science where we bring short science films. On the other hand, we realize the importance of the Internet and thus, launched a 24-hour dedicated Internet-based TV called India Science. Hope you would have realized by now the relevance of discussing these initiatives here. DD Science and India Science are two sources that require films to be screened on a regular basis. This means Vigyan Prasar would need more and more new films, new ideas and new content. A lot of opportunity for science film-makers!

Thus, let’s use this ninth edition of the science film festival as an opportunity and convert it into an advantage for the larger audience. Wishing you all a very happy ninth science film festival.