Bringing home the Gold!

I just found out that Family Legacy Video, Inc. has received a Gold Award from the 2014 AVA Digital Awards competition! The award came in the Video Tribute category, for a video highlighting the life and career of James D Toole, founder and CEO of Tucson’s Southwest Energy LLC. Mr. Toole was the 2013 Inductee into the American Mining Hall of Fame, sponsored by the Mining Foundation of the Southwest. The video was played at the Hall of Fame banquet in December 2013. If you’d like to view our handiwork, you’ll find the clip here.

The AVA Digital Awards is sponsored and judged by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals (AMCP). The awards recognize outstanding achievement by creative professionals involved in the concept, direction, design and production of media. There were about 2,100 entries from throughout the United States, Canada and several other countries in the 2014 competition. The international organization consists of several thousand production, marketing, communication, advertising, public relations, and free-lance professionals.

Creative editing gives new life to old VHS interviews of 1930s race car owners & drivers.

They were loud, fast and dangerous. They were the sprint and midget cars of the 1930s and a recent Family Legacy Video project brought the memories of those seat-of-your-pants racing days to life.

It all started when a client sent me a VHS recording (probably a copy of a copy of a copy) from the mid 1980s. The recording featured a casual, living room interview conducted by a racing photographer/racing historian named Bruce Craig. On the tape, Bruce speaks with some of the early owners and drivers of the 1930s East Coast circuit: Sam Alperti, Bill Scarince, Bill Morrissey and Myke Collins. My client wanted to share this interview with other racing history aficionados and hoped I could take his old, grainy VHS tape and create a show with a professional look.

Happy to take on the challenge, I asked my client about visuals he could provide. Through his connections, we turned up vintage photos of all the interview subjects from their racing days, including shots of one horrific accident that one of the racers was lucky to have survived.

The photos were a great start, but I wanted more. I managed to track down a video that featured archival film of 1930s racing action, shot at the very tracks where our racers competed. Things were definitely looking up. But – I needed sound. The racing film was silent – I wanted to hear the roar of the engines!

An Internet search led me to a racing museum in the Midwest and a referral to a site featuring just the sound effects I was looking for. Then it was time to pick some upbeat, 1930s-style tracks from my music library and start editing.

The old VHS interview footage was far from pristine, but I was able to improve the image using color correction. The host employed a handheld microphone which he sometimes forgot to aim at his subjects, so I had lots of audio adjusting to do. The opening, featuring vintage racing shots, great music, screaming engines and animated text really evoked the early racing days and set up the interviews beautifully. Skillfully using the photos, I was able to illustrate the racers’ stories and also cut out some unneeded dead air. Delivered on a custom-printed DVD in a DVD case with a custom-printed insert, the final product exceeded my client’s hopes.

The moral of the story is this: You may be presented with an occasional lemon (like old VHS footage). But if you apply some initiative and creativity, you can produce some very tasty video biography “lemonade.”

Helping a town celebrate its stories – and storytellers.

Ajo, Arizona is a small town about a 2 1/2 hour drive west of Tucson. The town is chock-full of stories, thanks to its years as a copper-mining boom town and the mix of cultures (Native Americans, Hispanics and Anglos) who worked the mine. Preserving those stories, as told by the folks who lived them, became a passion for a group of history-minded Ajo residents. In 2008, they formally organized as the Ajo Story Gatherers. Their mission, to videotape interviews with the town elders, and incorporate their remembrances into a video for all to enjoy.

The group faced some initial challenges. One was funding, which was overcome when the Story Gatherers secured a grant from PRO Neighborhoods. A second, and perhaps more daunting challenge, was gaining the skills they needed to create the video. None of the group members had ever embarked on a video project like this before. So group leader Cheryl Langer set out to find someone who could provide the guidance the Story Tellers needed.

After searching the Web, Cheryl found Family Legacy Video’s workshop page. A short time later, she placed a call to Steve Pender. Her question: Could Family Legacy Video hold a video biography workshop in Ajo? Steve and workshop partners Dan Crapsi and Ginny Temple were happy to help – and in October 2008 they travelled to Ajo. The Family Legacy Video team shared their expertise during two days of hands-on sessions (see the November 2008 e-Newsletter) and then wished the Story Gatherers good luck.

Then, this January, an invitation to attend the gala premiere of “Ajo Stories” appeared in Family Legacy Video’s mailbox. Eager to see what the Story Gatherers accomplished, Steve and his wife Halina decided to attend. On the evening of January 30, they strolled into Ajo’s historic Oasis Theatre – and were treated as honored guests. They were seated in the first row, alongside many of the town elders interviewed for the video. During her opening remarks, Cheryl Langer introduced the Penders to the packed house and said that the Story Tellers “couldn’t have succeeded without the workshop conducted by Family Legacy Video.” Then, the lights dimmed, the projectionist pressed “play,” and Ajo’s storytellers filled the big screen with their remembrances, some poignant, some hilarious, of Ajo’s past.

Afterwards, the excited and appreciative audience mingled over coffee and sweets – with the younger folks plying the elders for even more stories. “It was a great evening,” said Steve Pender. “I applaud the Ajo Story Gatherers for preserving the remembrances of their town’s elders. This was a huge undertaking for the group, and I’m honored that Family Legacy Video could be a part of their successful effort.”