Of Shemaroo’s buzzing 2017 and how it did it all come together

Shemaroo Entertainment had quite a buzzing year in 2017. Having come up with various DTH services, it was also occupied with hectic promotional work to garner customers. Shemaroo head of operations and OAP Mahesh S Newalkar elaborates on the busy period whilst enlightening with the round figures of promos it developed. He says, “In the past one year, we have launched various services on the DTH platforms under different genres like devotion, spirituality, comedy, kids, regional language, Bollywood and classic cinema. Thus, it requires us to communicate the show line-ups and even have engaging promos to attract new customers. To meet both the objectives, we produce almost 50-60 promos in a month and during seasons when there are promotional offers, the number goes up to 80.”

Now that translates to a staggering two or more promos per day, which really is a Herculean task given the limited time at disposal to do the same including the ideation of the concept. So how does Shemaroo go about that? “To overcome such situations, we often have the entire team ideate including the business divisions. Some selective ideas are then further polished by the creative leads. We encourage everybody to throw in whatever ideas come to their mind, as crazy ideas are often the starting point of original creative solutions. Creativity has to flow and labelling any idea as good or bad only stunts people’s ability to think.”

“Additionally, the presence of all relevant team members during the ideation reduces the scope of any ambiguity and keeps everybody on the same page. I feel when people are involved in a project since its inception, the level of commitment and ownership is very high,” he added.

The promos made, stretch across three platforms – TV, apps and also YouTube. Newalkar highlights the difference in design in each – “While promo for any medium has to be engaging yet informative, the only difference is the subscription or download information as the main emphasis is always on the plate design for call to action (CTA). For promos on television, the missed call number and other price mandates along with the terms and conditions need to be communicated very clearly to avoid any legal issues. As for a promo for an app, an overview of the user interface along with offerings need to be highlighted.”

Stringent deadlines definitely call for precise planning, quick ideation followed by swift execution. But during the execution phase, Newalkar says that they need to restrict themselves from going overboard with more graphics as it hampers their delivery deadline. He also expresses the regret they feel about not having more time to build on animation and graphics to further enhance the look and feel of the promo.

In actuality, from cracking the concept of the promo to the final post production, the entire process on an average takes around three days and involves at least six team members. However, Newalkar reveals there have been instances when they have delivered promos in a short span of only eight hours as well!

But to execute the same requires a strong staff, as he then explains how the strength of Shemaroo’s operations and OAP team has multiplied recently. He says, “In just a span of two years, the team size has almost doubled from 50 people to a strength of 90 now. The team is full of young, dynamic and creative individuals, who are always ready to brace new challenges and are extremely committed to their work. Though the experience of each professional ranges from anywhere between six to 15 years, there is no hierarchy and each one is always open to learn from the other. This team at Shemaroo entertainment, services multiple business divisions like DTH, IPTV, VOD, Youtube, domestic and international mobile and works on some marketing collaterals as well.”

He further goes on to explain, “The OAP team at Shemaroo is broadly bifurcated into three main functions- pre-production, production and post production. Pre-production comprises promo producers who ideate and conceptualise, script writers, graphic visualisers who plan the visual graphics and pro-editors, who identify video shots. Production function comprises voice over artist, graphic designers, motion graphic animator and video editors. Post production team comprises sound designers and the quality check team. The final stage of quality check is very important as it ensures all the mandates are fulfilled as per platform guidelines.”

Then there’s the OAP lead who “guides the team to understand the requirement from the client” and “keeps them motivated all along, ensuring no deadlines are missed, without compromising on the quality.”

But how was the experience of working with the team on various projects? “We saw an opportunity in the infotainment sector with children being glued to laptops and tabs and parents and teachers deviating from the traditional methods of learning. We started curating a list of popular mantras. A team member, Ameya Joshi who has a deep understanding of devotional content was appointed to lead the project. We carefully chose the ones which were popular and easy to chant.”

“Our graphic designers Yogita Jadhav and Swapnil Khemnail, designed the look and feel of the project. The design template and animation was done by the motion graphics team Vishal Sasane and Gaurav Thorat. We had to keep in mind that the visuals had to be bright, colourful and engaging as it was supposed to cater to kids. It was edited by our senior editor Krishna Kumar and Vaibhav Banker.”

He further states, “While the visuals were being worked on, another important aspect was choosing the right voice. We appointed Inner Voice Services for the music direction and to scout for young vocal talents. We auditioned over 50 kids and shortlisted 10 who were classically trained and had a good diction.”

The chants and prayers were chosen from Vedas and ancient books, and finally created 22 mantras in just a span of 10 days. “These videos were then uploaded on YouTube and shared with our DTH operators for the devotion services that we offer. It also gives me great pride to share that the mantra kids project has garnered more than one million subscribers and over 1.5 million views. We have received rave reviews from parents and teachers who now use it as part of the teaching module for prayers.”

A lot of times, creativity has to be compromised due to budget and time constraints. Has that ever been a case at Shemaroo? “Last minute requests and stringent deadlines are part of our business. Having said that, we do have a promo calendar created in advance for the entire month and anything urgent that crops up does somewhere disrupt our schedule. The calendar is designed in such a way that we have enough time for planning, execution and re-work, if any. There are quite a few occasions when we have a sudden and urgent request from teams to deliver a certain promo, sometimes overnight or in a span of few hours. This is usually during live events. The team then rises to the occasion and goes that extra mile to deliver the required promo to the best of their abilities without compromising on the quality. Of course, this is a high-pressure environment and it’s only each members drive and commitment that leads to the desired results.”

There’s more than just promos that Shemaroo work on, though, as they specialise in a whole host of other creatives, including short movies. “In addition to all the work mentioned above, we also create in-channel packaging elements, logos for properties and services, channel indents, show packaging elements, short format videos, channel programming logic and scheduling, 15 minute version of full movies and lyrical videos, creative banners and thumbnails for our services on YouTube, UI Designs for mobile, promotion and marketing collaterals, video format conversions trailers, posters, metadata for IPTV/ VOD,” Newalkar concludes.