Chapters: A great way to organize a video biography.

You’ve videotaped your family interviews and collected your photos, films and other visuals. But now that you sit down to edit, the prospect of creating a video that may run a hour or longer is daunting. Just how do you put together a video biography that’s informative and entertaining without getting overwhelmed in the process?

Think: Chapters.

Any large project can be intimidating until you break it down into smaller steps or tasks. Editing your video biography is no different. And organizing your video by chapters is a great way to whittle away at it a little at a time.

If you organized your interview questions efficiently you’re probably ahead of the game. It should be easy for you to group your interview segments by themes like “Grandparents,” “Parents,” “Earliest Memories,” “School Days,” “The War Years,” etc. As you edit, focus on one chapter at a time. Treat each chapter as a “video within a video” with it’s own title, musical theme, tempo and unique beginning, middle and end. Focusing only on the chapter you’re currently editing will prevent you from being overwhelmed by the total length of your project. Before you know it, you’ll be done.

Structuring your video biography around chapters also makes the viewing experience more enjoyable and manageable. It’s much easier for your audience to digest material in smaller bits. And by varying the mood and feeling of each chapter you help keep your viewers engaged and interested. A long video without chapter breaks and no variety in music, mood and pacing can lull your audience to sleep – and the last thing you want your family members to do is to wind up using your video biography as a sleep aid.

Chapters also make things easier for folks who don’t have the time or the attention span to view an entire video in one sitting. By keeping track of the chapters they watched they’ll know exactly where to pick up when they sit down to continue. And if someone wants to revisit a particular section of the video, chapters make it easier to do that, too.

So learn to put together your video biographies one chapter at a time. It’ll make things easier on you and more enjoyable for your audience.