Capture Your Family History on Video This Summer

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Summertime family get-togethers are great fun. According to award-winning video biographer Steve Pender of Family Legacy Video, Inc., they're also perfect opportunities to record the life stories of family elders.

Trust me, whether you hire a professional video biography company like Family Legacy Video® or do it yourself, your family history interview will become an instant family keepsake – and you’ll thank your lucky stars you did it.

Summertime is prime time for family visits and reunions. This also makes it the perfect time to capture family storytellers on video, according to award-winning video biographer Steve Pender. “Summer get-togethers give us a chance to reconnect with family members we may see only once a year, or once in a blue moon,” says Pender, President of Family Legacy Video, Inc. “With a little planning, reunions and family visits can also provide a great opportunity to record the life stories of family elders like parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.”

Pender is a thirty-five year video industry veteran. He discovered his passion for personal history in 1998, when he created a video biography featuring his paternal grandmother. He founded Family Legacy Video, Inc. in 2003 to help others preserve, celebrate and share their life stories on video. “In the decade since I started Family Legacy Video®, I’ve seen a growing awareness among the public of the importance of recording, on video, the remembrances of family elders while they’re still around to tell their life stories,” says Pender. “And now that summer is here, I urge folks to take advantage of summertime family visits to capture the stories of their loved ones - before it’s too late.”

Families can certainly hire a professional video biography company like Family Legacy Video, Inc. to provide legacy video production services. But for folks who’d like to do it themselves, Pender offers the following tips:

  •     Plan ahead. Make sure the desired family storyteller or storytellers are willing to participate, brief them on the questions they'll be asked, and find out what they’d like to talk about.
  •     Schedule a time for the interview. Having a firm appointment is a statement of commitment. Folks who approach the project with an attitude of "we'll get around to it sometime during the reunion," probably never will.
  •     Set up away from the crowd. Find a quiet place for the interview in order to avoid distractions, keep the storyteller from feeling self-conscious, and guarantee sound that's as noise-free as possible. Maybe a hotel room is the best bet, or perhaps the host of the family event has a room available. Be ready to record when the storyteller arrives so he or she isn't kept waiting.
  •     Make the same location do “double duty.” If multiple interviews are scheduled, don't waste time looking for different locations for each of them. Use the same room. This way, the video gear only has to be set up once. Then, between interviews, shift the camera and subject positions slightly. Simply shooting into a different corner of the room or changing some of the background objects can give the same room a whole new look on video.
  •     Use an external microphone. To prevent the interview from sounding like it was shot in a tunnel, utilize a microphone other than the one built into the camera. A professional video biographer will always have the proper audio gear. Non-professionals will need to obtain a lapel microphone, also called a lavalier, which mounts on the storyteller’s collar or lapel. One place to look for a lapel microphone is a local consumer electronics store.

Above all, Pender advises, don’t wait. “After I give a presentation I always have people approach me to tell me how they’d wished they’d recorded their parents or grandparents before they passed on. Personally, I don’t think I could have forgiven myself if I hadn’t created that first video biography of my grandmother. I treasure it, and I know all my clients feel the same about the legacy videos I’ve created for their families. Trust me, whether you hire a professional video biography company like Family Legacy Video® or do it yourself, your family history interview will become an instant family keepsake – and you’ll thank your lucky stars you did it.”

Family Legacy Video, Inc. is an award-winning legacy video company providing video biography services and products that help individuals, families and organizations preserve their histories and stories through custom legacy videos. The company, based in Tucson, Arizona, offers video production services to clients across the United States as well as how-to guides and video biography webinars. For more information about Family Legacy Video®, visit http://www.familylegacyvideo.com.

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