Animating Sri Lankan history for everyone
By Sadira Sittampalam
History as a whole has been very Euro-centric. This is an issue that we have been talking more and more about in recent years, which has culminated in a growing movement, and we are starting to share more stories from an Asian perspective. Patta History is our contribution to this movement, telling our Sri Lankan history to enable people to learn about factual stories of Sri Lanka’s history in a fun way.
The channel Patta History launched its first episode on November 1st, 2020 giving Sri Lankan’s a rare opportunity to see their history fleshed out with some vibrant animations. It came as a way to help Sri Lankans to reconcile with their past, understand what shapes, and hopefully learn from the mistakes that were made in the past. While the idea for the channel has been present for years before this, it was only during the first COVID lockdown in March 2020 that the founders of Patta History revisited the idea, this time with some more determination.
They began with a core team of some of the most talented individuals in the industry, growing with two new additions since then. The Patta History team comprises Duval Weerakoone - Director, Delano Perera - Narrator / Editor, Uvindu Sandakath - Lead Researcher and Assistant Screenwriter, Ashwitha De Mel - Production Designer and Storyboard Artist, Roshan De Selfa - Art Director and Lead Artist, Liswith Obinamuni - Unit Production Manager and First Assistant Director, Dhyresh Mendis - Brand Guru, Shamika Makalanda - Sound Designer, Sandaruwan Senewirathna - Editor, Kanishka Manoj - Assistant Illustrator, Ruwani Hettiarachchi - Lead Screenwriter and Executive Producer, and Geeshan Bandara - Executive Producer. They also have two new additions, who are Nishu Gunawardana - Community Manager and Duminda Hettiarachchi - Administrator and Web Developer.
In less than a year since its launch, the channel has grown to over 6,000 subscribers on YouTube, with over 96,000 views since its inception, garnering viewers from all over the world. They have created over 25 episodes consisting of multi-part stories, Sinhala language stories, and even the new YouTube shorts! The sheer amount of effort put into every stage of creating all this content has accumulated into some truly artistic renditions of our history.
Despite being a small team, there are various levels of production that go into making even a single video. The process of creating a video begins with finding stories that they think would be interesting to viewers or finding stories that are not that well known. They ensure the stories have met a rigorous set of standards before they move into production; with the lead researcher delving into an expansive library to bring out all the necessary nuggets of information; then, along with the lead screenwriter, a script is developed. The script is then brought to life by the Storyboard Artist who tries to answer two key criteria: ‘Does it communicate the script effectively?’ and ‘Will it match the workload of the illustrators?’.
The hallmark of Patta History is its unique style that was created by their lead artist, which is brought to life in vivid colour with the help of the Assistant illustrator. The narration of the story is then completed along with sound effects and music. This is compiled in a final editing process that culminates in a complete episode. The Unit Production Manager moves everything according to plan and ensures workflow is smooth, while the director oversees and approves the final product before release. The lead researcher also conducts checks throughout the production process to ensure the piece remains historically accurate.
However, this standard of production quality is not without its challenges, as the cost of production to keep the channel running is one of the team’s biggest challenges. Right now, they hope to get more fans to contribute to their Patreon, so they can continue creating stories that are well-researched and accurate to Sri Lankan history. This is also one of their other major obstacles as finding unbiased accounts of events that happened in history is also quite challenging. As it is often said that ‘history is written by the victors’, Patta History is committed to fact-checking and obtaining as many sources as possible when writing their stories, to ensure that they do not favour any side unintentionally.
In the future, Patta History hopes to keep bringing the country these fascinating stories of Sri Lankan history, delving further and further into things that should be common knowledge. They hope to get to this stage through increased support on their Patreon as they need this support to sustain their channel. They have a few more exciting things developing at Patta History in the next few months, but are keeping it under wraps - but their Patreon members will be the first to know!