Tag Archives: video

Monday’s Link Roundup.

This Monday’s Link Roundup has its usual collection of eclectic gems. One of my favorites is The QWERTY Effect: How Typing May Shape the Meaning of Words. I’m wondering if this effect only applies to touch typists. What about those of us who peck away with a couple of fingers? ;-) Another story I love because it’s absolutely serendipitous is MacDonald clan photos found by great-great grandson in antique shop. 

  • This Is My Home: Inside Anthony’s Parlor of Curiosities. [Video]“…a friend and I were strolling down a street in the East Village when we stumbled upon a whimsical place — a kind of curiosities parlor that stretched, narrow and full of unusual objects and private memories, from the street site of the building to the backyard. Inside it was Anthony Pisano … We, it turns out, we not the only ones mesmerized by Anthony’s curiosities and unusual lens on the world. This Is My Home by filmmakers Kelsey Holtaway and Mark Cersosimo is a beautiful short film, in the vein of This Must Be The Place, that captures Anthony’s singular character through the contents of his home and his heart.”
  • Tiny Libraries, DIY Reading Rooms, and Other Micro Book Depots. “We wanted to venture into DIY territory and visit some of the tiniest — but gutsiest — libraries around the world. These are unusual places where lit lovers ventured to create a mini community athenaeum, and guerrilla librarians have set up camp in the face of budget cuts and closing institutions. Each micro library’s aim is different, but whether they’re promoting independent/alternative presses, or simply trying to encourage reading, these plucky, little libraries deserve your attention.”
  • Parting Words. “When Brenda Wineapple closed her laptop on “Sister Brother,” her dual biography of the siblings Gertrude and Leo Stein, she cried. Stacy Schiff, having written the final words of “Cleopatra,” was still worried. “I lived a little bit in fear of her,” she explains. When Doris Kearns Goodwin finished “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln,” she built more shelves in her library annex (once the family garage) to hold all the books she had acquired. Each of these distinguished, prizewinning, best-selling biographers was saying goodbye to a subject with whom she had been living for a long time. For authors of biographies, this intimacy is normal, almost inevitable.”
  • MacDonald clan photos found by great-great grandson in antique shop. ““If you are an antique collector and somebody asks would you like to look in the back, you jump at it, because it is where the treasures are hiding.” Alas, the backroom was more disappointing than the front. That is, until Mr. MacDonald spotted a stack of black and white photographs in Edwardian and Victorian frames. He was intrigued. And then astonished. The faces staring up at him belonged to his long dead relatives, an influential Halifax clan of MacDonalds bound by marriage, friendship and political alliance to Sir Charles Tupper.
  • Finding Your Book Interrupted … By the Tablet You Read It On. “Can you concentrate on Flaubert when Facebook is only a swipe away, or give your true devotion to Mr. Darcy while Twitter beckons? People who read e-books on tablets like the iPad are realizing that while a book in print or on a black-and-white Kindle is straightforward and immersive, a tablet offers a menu of distractions that can fragment the reading experience, or stop it in its tracks.”
  • The QWERTY Effect: How Typing May Shape the Meaning of Words. “A keyboard’s arrangement could have a small but significant impact on how we perceive the meaning of words we type. Specifically, the QWERTY keyboard may gradually attach more positive meanings to words with more letters located on the right side of the layout (everything to the right of T, G and B).”
  • The 10 Best Movies Adapted from Memoirs. “Though hundreds of movies made each year are adapted from novels and short stories, relatively few are built from memoir — despite the fact that the form has been at least as popular as novels in the last two decades, and may be more beloved by the general public…we got to thinking about the few really great films adapted from memoirs. Click through to see our picks, and let us know if we’ve missed any of your favorites.”

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Encore! The #1 Secret to Creating an Engaging Video Life Story.

What makes a video biography memorable?  Is it the person being interviewed? Or is it the inclusion of archival photos and movies? Or could it be the clever use of audio and visual effects? All of these are significant but the most important factor – the #1 secret to a first rate video biography is … Read more.

Encore! 6 Top Sites for Free Online Videography Training.

If video personal histories appeal to you but your experience with video production is limited, help is just a click away! You’ll find a wealth of valuable resources in these five sites…Read more.

Monday’s Link Roundup.

This week’s Monday’s Link Roundup includes 5 video presentations. I don’t know how that happened but they’re all terrific! My favorite is Words of the World: The Secret Stories of Words. And for a clever and creative way to document personal artifacts, you’ll want to take a look at The Things We Keep. For optimum viewing go to full screen and use the pause button to make it easier to read the text.

  • Words of the World: The Secret Stories of Words. “We love words. So we’re all over Words of the World — a fantastic collection of short videos about words, presented by experts from the University of Nottingham’s School of Modern Languages and Cultures.”
  • Reading my parents’ wartime letters. “When I was a child, my mother would sometimes look off into the distance and tell me, “Your father and I were separated for almost three years during World War II, and we wrote to each other every other day.” [Thanks to Philip Sherwood of Lifewriters for alerting me to this item.]
  • The Best Way to Archive Anything: L.O.C.K.S.S. “In recent years, dozens of articles have appeared in this newsletter and in all sorts of other genealogy publications claiming to tell how to preserve documents, family photographs, and other information. I don’t think that any of the articles are “wrong,” but it strikes me that very few of them ever described the most effective storage method of all.”
  • The Things We Keep. A video by christian svanes olding. “I wanted to know what it would look and feel like to walk into someone’s home and discover that the objects inside are able to express themselves through the lens of an augmented reality, with a particular focus on memory and personal relationships.”
  • 1967 Documentary Romanticizes Bookbinding. “The 1967 documentary Bookbinders, part of the America at Work series by the AFL-CIO, which frames the book production process with enough romanticism to make today’s most notorious “better-nevers” nod along like the bobblehead dogs on the dashboard of a New York cabbie.”
  • Video: The Flip-Pal Portable Scanner. “At the recent RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City, the busiest booth in the exhibits hall usually was at the company selling a one-and-a-half-pound battery-operated scanner called the Flip-Pal.”

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The #1 Secret to Creating an Engaging Video Life Story.

What makes a video biography memorable?  Is it the person being interviewed? Or is it the inclusion of archival photos and movies? Or could it be the clever use of audio and visual effects? All of these are significant but the most important factor – the #1 secret to a first rate video biography is good story telling.

Basically your video biography needs to have the same narrative structure  that goes into creating a good feature film – pacing, suspense, and character development.  It’s true that your production isn’t for broadcast and will only be seen by your client’s  family and friends. But that’s no excuse to make it boring!

Here are a few ways you can improve your story telling.

Launch your story with A compelling opening.

And I don’t mean flashy effects. That’s window dressing. A good feature film captivates you in the first few minutes of the story. Edit a clip from the main interview that establishes your subject’s character. It might be something that’s funny, heavy with portent, sad, or revealing.  Cut that into your opening. Later decide what visuals (e.g family photos, home movies, etc.) you might want to accompany this opening segment.

Keep the story moving.

It’s not enough to string together the chronology of a life.  You need to use  techniques that will give the narrative energy and create momentum. One  approach is  to shift the emotional tone. For example, after your subject has recounted a sad story fade to black and then come up on an account that’s happy. Or if your subject has been railing at the world, jump to a tender story. Trust me it works.

Another way to keep the story moving is to create a jump in time. This can improve your storytelling immeasurably by eliminating material that’s lackluster. For example, the story of a woman who struggles to get an education during the Depression and eventually goes on to university is riveting. But her university years are less interesting. What’s really intriguing is how she gets her first job after graduating. So find a clip from her interview that can be used to jump directly to her first job. It might be something she says like, “I had great fun at university but it was my first job that really tested me.”

Create suspense.

Suspense is the principal engine that  drives your story. Suspense is created by your audience asking and getting answers to such basic questions as, “What is the subject’s quest?  How does the subject resolve the challenges along the way? Will the subject reach a goal?  What happens when the dream is achieved or not achieved?”

Here’s the bad news. Unless you’ve asked these questions in your interviews you’ll likely have little to help you create suspense.

Keep your editing tight.

As  Sheila Curran Bernard, an an Emmy and Peabody Award-winning writer, said, “In documentary, as in drama, you have to collapse real time into its essence.” Believe me, not everything your subject says is worth including in your video. Eliminate anything that doesn’t  support  your main story. For example, an anecdote about “Aunt Flo” might be interesting but unless it somehow illuminates some facet of your main subject, Aunt Flo should go! To give you some perspective on this, I shoot an average of six to seven hours of interview for a one-hour video biography.

Provide A Good Closing.

Your ending should provide a satisfying resolution to the central journey. It must be short and not introduce any new story lines.  The final scene can be in the form of a simple summary statement from your subject. Or it can be some end cards that bring the story up-to-date. Whatever you choose, don’t make the mistake of creating multiple endings.

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Photo by Steev Hise

7 Key Questions to Ask Before Transferring Your Video Tapes to DVD.

sevenIn a previous post I talked about the importance of protecting your family media treasures. I stressed the need to transfer your films and video tapes to a digital format. You can do this yourself if you have the equipment but if you don’t, there are numerous service providers who can help you.

The problem arises when you try to decide how to choose the right company. Should you go with a local company or a large national chain? Does a more expensive service necessarily mean a better final product? Here are the 7 key questions you need to ask a transfer service before agreeing to leave your video tapes and films with them.

  1. What video and film formats do you accept? The more professional the company the more likely they’ll be able to handle a wide range of formats including the following: VHS, S-VHS, VHS-C, Video8, Hi8, Digital8, MiniDV, and Betamax in either NTSC (North American standard) or PAL. The most common film formats are 8mm, Super8 or 16mm.
  2. How will my original tapes be returned to me? It’s scary shipping off your treasures. The last thing you want is for them to be lost in the postal system. Use a reputable courier service to deliver your videos to the transfer facility. And ensure that they will return your videos by courier as well.
  3. How many hours of video can I get on one DVD? The DVD movies that you rent are made by an expensive process that involves preparing a glass master and pressing multiple DVD copies. You can read more about the process here. A less costly process which uses a laser to burn information on a DVD-R disk is what consumer transfer facilities use. To maintain a high quality image you shouldn’t put more than 90 to 120 minutes on one DVD-R. Avoid any company that tells you that they can put more than that on a DVD-R disk.
  4. Will my video look better when it’s transferred to DVD? The answer is no. Some larger facilities may be able to slightly enhance the original quality of the video. But if the image on your video is badly faded, there is no way to bring it back to life. Don’t believe a company that tells you they can perform miracles.
  5. Do you use professional video processing equipment? If the answer is yes, the company should explain that they use a time base corrector, a detailer, and processing amplifier. This equipment will produce a better quality DVD than can be made on your home computer or at a “Mom and Pop” operation.
  6. Do you have testimonials from satisfied customers? Satisfied, happy customers are a good indicator of a well-run company. I always look for testimonials.
  7. How long have you been in business? I would tend to use a service that has been around for a few years and established a good reputation.

Photo by David Cardoso