In Episode 3 of The Legacy Video Lounge, video biographer and Family Legacy Video president Steve Pender answers the question: What’s a video biography – otherwise known as a legacy video?
According to Steve, a video biography or legacy video is a personal documentary, which can feature a variety of production styles, ranging from simple “talking head” presentations to full-blown documentaries featuring interviews and as many visuals and audio elements (like music and sound effects) as budgets allow.
What kinds of visuals can be used? Anything that can be shot on video or scanned and that helps to illustrate the subjects storytellers will talk about during their interviews – including still photos, newspaper/magazine clippings, diplomas, wedding announcements, plaques, trophies, medals, paintings, drawings, letters, keepsakes, souvenirs, childhood toys, and family videos (or films converted to video files).
Video biographies can include all the elements of the storyteller’s art – images, spoken word, music, sound, text on screen, graphics, like maps, etc.
It’s not enough to just capture stories, we want our families to want to come back and watch again and again. So we need a little entertainment value – which is fine as long as everything that’s included is in service of the story.
Steve has been creating videos that tell stories – first for corporate clients and now for individuals and families for over 38 years. So he knows how to apply the creativity and techniques that big budget productions use. There are certainly advantages to working with a professional video biographer, because there’s a good deal involved in properly planning and producing a legacy video.
But if you’re a do-it-yourselfer, especially if you’re just getting started: Tune in to the History Channel, or get your hands on some of Ken Burns documentaries. Watch them critically. See how interviews are staged, how music and sound effects are used, how photos and other visual materials are incorporated. Then, experiment with these techniques on your own. With some time and practice, you can use these same techniques to give your home-made video biographies a bigger budget look and feel. Contrast and compare a basic “talking head” treatment with a documentary-style video biography here.
If you have any questions or comments, please email them to Steve Pender at firstname.lastname@example.org. And remember: Everyone has a story. Isn’t it time you told yours?