Prem Rawat's Connect magazineScreen Presence
Making videos for a worldwide audience

Somewhere in the world right now, a video event is coming to an end - while, in the next time zone, another is just about to begin. Around the globe, around the clock, people want to be reminded of the joy that dwells in the heart. Now, thanks to modern technology, Maharaji can always be there, on screen, to deliver that inspiring message in his own words.

On June 17, 1971, Maharaji first spoke publicly outside India at Conway Hall in London. Happily, despite the mood of enthusiastic chaos that surrounded this historic event, someone had the good sense to capture it for posterity.

Over the next 20 years, most of Maharaji's public appearances were recorded and, in some cases, filmed - but most of these recordings were only ever replayed on a sporadic, "special occasion" basis.

Since 1991, though, it has been possible to watch a video of an entire event within weeks of it taking place, no matter where you happen to be. New "compilation videos" are also now available on a regular basis. These bring into focus the different themes that Maharaji speaks about as he travels.

Prem Rawat's Connect magazine The recently released video, Two Worlds, for example, uses clips to highlight the distinctions that he makes between the world of thought and the world of feeling. Introductory videos, such as Introducing Maharaji: Fulfillment, require an even greater commitment to professional production values. A short narration provides context and perspective and this is followed by a succinct message from Maharaji.

Video production requires a growing team of dedicated people to give their energy and time. Through their cooperation and enthusiasm, the finished results grace our screens.

One member of the current team is 47-year-old Rosie Lee, a one time teacher who holds a degree in production and has lived in Los Angeles for the past 11 years. She says: "Now that people are interested in Maharaji all over the world, we are beginning to customise videos for different places. At the moment, we are considering different versions of the introductory tapes for different countries.

"For a video that makes use of a narrator, we might think about using a professional German or Hindi script reader to do the voice-over. We might also change some of the illustrative footage so that it better suits certain areas of the world.

"Developing videos for use at events where Maharaji is actually going to speak in person is a special treat. It starts by listening to what he says and gathering up profound and poetic statements. The process continues as the visual medium is created to accompany the beauty of his words. We then give what he gave us, back to him. It's a cycle of effort and grace."

When asked how it feels to work as part of the video team, Rosie began by quoting a recent remark from Maharaji at a conference in Miami: "Knowledge is like this distant star, and you're trying to point to it."

Rosie then went on to say: "Layers of feeling were triggered within me as I listened to this vast statement. I thought of the situation. Here I am, sitting in a function room in a chilly, glass and marble building in a city of millions, in a world of billions, listening to these words, live.

"Maharaji was talking about the process of introducing someone to Knowledge. And the luck of it all, for me, seemed profound. Making videos for a worldwide audience is an exciting challenge, and it is my heartfelt hope that we can provide a video menu which is diverse enough to point more people towards that distant star."

Prem Rawat's Connect magazineLive link-ups

Recent releases include The Human Side - a video about the feeling of participation. Videos in the pipeline include Dancing Ground - about the joy of attending an event where Maharaji is speaking. In response to recent suggestions, the team are now conferring with people from various countries about future videos, specifically designed to address a local or national need.

They are always interested to hear from people with Knowledge who have experience in TV or video production - and are open to the possibility that the styles of video they produce may change as the team evolves.

Right now the feasibility of a very exciting new idea is being assessed. The aim is to facilitate "live link-ups" which could allow an address to be simultaneously transmitted, via some form of closed circuit satellite network - to selected event venues across the globe.

10 Connect 1998


From Stage to Screen

Whenever and wherever Maharaji speaks in public, a camera crew is on hand to capture the moment. Even at the smallest, most remote location, there must be a minimum of two cameras. This is partly for safety (if one camera goes wrong, the record of the event is lost forever) but its also to help capture the full spirit of the event.

Just as care is taken to ensure a high quality image, the sound quality must also be given close attention. Words are recorded separately on to digital audio tape by a specialist engineer.

The production process

After the event this DAT, along with the camera tapes, is given to a volunteer who, in turn, takes them to an international courier company. Soon after, they arrive at the studio in California where the DAT is copied on to conventional cassette and is transcribed by an audio typist. A transcript helps greatly with the process of planning the final camera cuts.

While the text is being transcribed, the camera tapes are logged into the library and the editors start selecting music and shots for the opening sequence of the video. They then begin the production process proper by choosing the best camera angles and the best audience shots.

There is a complex, technical side to this editing process that few people ever think about, though they would certainly notice if it were not to take place. On the visual side, this involves a process of color correction.

Similar effort is made, on the audio side, to enhance the sound quality. Some halls have poor acoustics and tapes pick up a lot of ambient noise, such as air-conditioning units "humming" or translation headsets "whispering". State of the art sound filtering systems remove these distractions before the video is judged ready to leave the studio. Usually a full-length event-video will take about two days to complete.

Once it is ready, a group of people sit down to watch it for a final quality check. It then goes down the street to Visions for duplication and distribution to begin.

The Video Generation

Matilda MacAttram is a 29-year-old journalist who lives in London. She works for a business publication, has a keen interest in arts and crafts, and often enjoys going out clubbing.

She received Knowledge last year but first heard about it 12 months earlier, through an old friend from her college days. "This friend of mine said one or two things about life that intrigued me. I kept asking her more and then, one day, when I was round at her house, she put on a video.

"I just thought: 'I feel sure that I know this man. but I don't know how I know him.' I asked to see another video and my friend explained that there were special screenings that I could go to in my area. I took the address and kept meaning to go but lots of things happened. First I got the flu, then my car got stolen. I never forgot the feeling but what with one thing and another, it was about a year before I finally went to an actual video event. I went on my own, yet somehow, that didn't matter. I sat down by myself and I watched the video by myself. It felt like there was nobody in the room but me and him. Everything he said made sense. He was so articulate - such a good orator. He said things that I had always known were true. He was so cool.

"Afterwards, a woman stood up and said that there was more to this; that he travels round the world showing people something called Knowledge and, if you want it, you can have it. So I went up and said: 'Well, I'd like Knowledge. I'm ready for this right now.'

"But she said: 'You can't just have it straight away. You have to keep watching videos for a while.'

"I felt most indignant! Very affronted. I nearly walked out there and then - but I thought I'd stay for the second video of the evening, which was for people who wanted to know a little bit more.

"In that second video, he explained why he wanted people to wait a little while before they took Knowledge. And when he said it, it felt just fine.

"I left the event in a mood of indescribable contentment. I felt completely whole - and I continued to feel this way for about three days. It was wonderful. So I went again and he said more really nice things just what I needed to hear - and I started going regularly."

The advent of video events has marked a watershed in the way Maharaji is presented, ensuring a clear, simple connection for a whole new generation of people with Knowledge. There are now more than 14,000 events held a month in over 2,000 locations around the world. Local events like these allowed Maharaji to speak directly, without the need for any third party, to people in every part of the world. And thus the video generation was born.

Christine Sanogo, a housewife from the Ivory Coast, attends her local video event because "It's just like I'm at a real program. The videos put me in direct contact with him and they inspire me."

Darren Lee, a designer from England, says: "Video events are the only access I have on a weekly basis to Maharaji. I keep coming back because I want to learn more and I enjoy the video events. It is good to be with other people enjoying the same thing."

Not one-sided

Most people who hear Maharaji for the first time now do so through a video and this may seem a little odd to some, who can remember a time when individuals would effectively speak about Knowledge on Maharaji's behalf. They may wonder whether this new, seemingly one-way process of communication, is a little limited.

Grace Akyea from Ghana, though, says: "Videos do not seem, to me, to be one-sided at all. He explains everything and as I listen, all my questions are answered. Things become perfectly clear."

Matilda, back in London, makes much the same point. She says: "After I had been coming for a while, someone started to tell me how things used to be. This person described a time when there were no videos. If you went to an event, people just used to take it in turns to stand up and speak. I really can't imagine that. It's so nice to be left alone; to be able to listen to Maharaji without having to hear that tainted through someone else's interpretation of what it means. If you need something explaining, he will do it. If you get lost, he will bring you home. There is nobody to get in the way. It keeps it all so clear. It shouldn't be any other way.

"Soon after I received Knowledge, someone said to me: 'You were really lucky to get Knowledge from Maharaji in person', I just looked at her in amazement: 'Who else could you possibly get it from?"

Prem Rawat's Connect magazine"The opportunity exists to be very clear
about Maharaji's message:
hand them a video"

Miami Beach presentation, May 9, 1998

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