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Team SMC's travel to the Raman Research Institute, Bangalore.........

Updated: Nov 2, 2022

Work travels are always interesting, in the sense that they give you a chance to interact with new people, share ideas and also, work in a totally different place. Although, for media people, this is a bit of a tedious process. Packing all the equipment properly and carrying it to the destination is a journey in itself. I would probably have to write another blog to describe it. This becomes furthermore prolonged when the famous Bangalore traffic adds to it!

But when our car took a turn at the Mekhri circle and started on the C.V. Raman road, a total shift could be observed as we entered the campus of Raman Research Institute (RRI). It was like entering a quiet forest in the heart of Bangalore city. The campus is beautiful, green and welcoming.

After a night’s rest followed by the famous south Indian style breakfast, team SMC was in action for the first shoot. Our day would begin early in the morning and end late at night. Interviewing people was the most interesting part of the schedule. Senior scientists, faculties, technical staff members, and students were interviewed. One thing I could make out is that people love to talk about their work. Many of them were facing cameras for the first time in their years of careers. Yet, they felt happy talking about their work and journey at RRI. Every time we entered any new laboratory or engineering section we were welcomed like guests. The lab members were excited about their work being covered and explained the instruments and experiments to us with great enthusiasm. Interviewing people is a real skill. I learnt it by observing one of my senior colleagues, Vivek kannadi. He had a quick insight into what people would be comfortable talking about and what they would be able to talk more about. We had already done a bit of research on each scientist; and shared with them the set of questions we would be asking.

Also, capturing the right moment in the camera in the right frame is again a skill, which I learnt from another colleague, P. Imayavan. Our team was a blend of media as well as science. We could cover the research at RRI which ranged from very small (nanopore systems) to very large (cosmological events), to name a few along with the special coffee that was served in most of the labs. Research done by scientists is very dear to them, just like a child is to its mother. They won't stop talking about it!

At night we would watch the entire day’s footage in a conference room. This would give us an idea about what we’ve got and how to put it together. We also conducted a workshop for the students at RRI on how to communicate their research in a simplified manner, avoiding the use of jargon. It was indeed a very useful exercise since we came up with ways to explain quantum entanglement and quantum teleportation to a general audience. This was evident in their interviews which were taken after the workshop.

As a part of this project of making theme-based videos on various departments at RRI, we also visited the Gauribidanur Radio observatory. We reached there on the night before our shoot. Night at the observatory is really beautiful; it’s like sleeping underneath a blanket of stars! The next day, as we got ready to set out for work early in the morning, we were welcomed by a heavy downpour. We waited for a while and then set out with umbrellas and covered cameras. But hopefully, the rain was compassionate towards us and stopped in some time. We walked through the place covering all the antennae systems and the data processing and manufacturing units with our gimbal and slider. The workers operating the antennas were demonstrating them to us as if they were a part of them. We had a few interviews taken in Kannada as well. The barrier of language goes away even in science after a particular period of time. A scientist from RRI also accompanied us giving an overview of the place. They made sure that we had a comfortable journey.

I am thankful to Science Media Centre, IISER Pune for giving me this opportunity.

During these 15 days, we conducted interviews at almost every location at RRI and tried to capture every spot in our camera lens. We got a chance to visit the museum as well. It was a beautiful experience to walk through it.

It was a great experience to work with people at RRI and with those at the Gauribidanur observatory. One thing that was common in all these places and which could be felt through everyone’s words is the presence of Sir C.V. Raman. His virtues of ‘thriving for excellence' and the 'no-compromise attitude’ still continue to rule the place. And that is what makes science worth doing.

Neha Kanase, Science communicator

Science Media Centre, IISER Pune

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