Welcome to the August issue!
Our summer Reruns continue this month with offerings from June and October of 2007.
I hope you enjoy this issue of the Family Legacy Video® Producer’s e-Newsletter. Please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone toll-free (888.662.1294) with any questions or comments you have.
Cheers! – – Steve Pender
June 2007: Frame your subject in a flattering way.
Occasionally customers ask me to edit interviews they’ve shot themselves. I’m only too happy to help them turn their raw interviews into more polished videos. Unfortunately, I can’t do much about the picture quality, which usually suffers from insufficient lighting and hollow, low-level sound. Most of the time, there’s also a third problem: shot composition. Now, even if you don’t want to bother with lights and you’re happy with the sound off your camera’s on-board microphone, the one thing you can do to flatter your subject is to properly compose your shot.
Very simply, shot composition is the way you frame a picture. For some reason, many amateur videographers frame their subjects very widely. A wide shot showing the interview subject from head to toe can certainly serve to introduce your subject and his/her location, but it doesn’t bring a quality that’s desirable for a conversation, either in person or on video. That quality is intimacy.
Think about it. During most of your conversations, you’re only a few feet away, at most, from the person to whom you’re speaking. While you’re conversing, you’re looking in each other’s eyes and reading facial expressions. These visual cues, in addition to the content of the conversation, draw you in and help maintain your interest. You should strive to provide viewers of your video interviews with this same “up close and personal” experience.
Here are some tips for composing a more intimate interview:
No wide shots, please.
The widest you should frame your subject is from the waist up.
Change your shots.
At the beginning of the interview, pick three focal lengths – medium (from the waist up); medium close up (from the chest up); and close up (from the neck up). Switch between these shots while you ask your questions to give your interview some much needed visual variety.
Place your camera lens at your subject’s eye level.
Unless you’re going for some kind of special effect, don’t place your camera too high or too low in relation to your subject. Remember, when we’re seated we’re all at about the same eye level. It’s more natural when you frame your shot this way.
Don’t try to do it all.
If you’re the interviewer, get someone else to run the camera. This way, you can focus on the content of the interview while someone else pays attention to the composition. It’s very tough to do both things at once.
October 2007: True stories of the unexpected benefits generated by video biographies.
Video biographies are certainly wonderful ways to capture and preserve your precious personal stories and family history. They also tend to generate surprise benefits as well. Here are a few examples from Family Legacy Video’s files:
Uncovering an Olympic moment.
Mary-Lou and Dick are a wonderful couple here in Tucson, Arizona. Mary-Lou’s dad was a track star for Cornell around 1910. He also ran in the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm. During the course of producing their video biography, the couple asked me if I thought there might be film of the 1912 race. I checked with the International Olympic Committee – and sure enough, they uncovered a film clip from that long-ago event. Long story short: A copy of that race, on DVD, now occupies a place of honor in Mary-Lou and Dick’s family archives. By the way, when Mary-Lou, who is in her eighties, watched the clip of the race, it was the first time she saw her dad run. Her reaction: “You can’t imagine what a thrill it was to see Dad running. That was an amazing thing you did for us but it meant the most to me. Thank you again and again.”
Reconnecting with family.
Doug hired Family Legacy Video to create a video bio featuring his mom, Marion. She detailed events that her kid sister never knew occurred. After watching the video, her sister and other relatives rekindled their relationships with Marion. Here’s how Doug described what happened: “Mother’s only surviving sister, who is seventeen years younger, was not aware of the Washington adventures and many other items that the three older children had experienced. Mother and her sister are now much closer because of the video. Many nieces and nephews with whom she’d had little contact are now in touch with her again. Thank you for providing us with a Family Legacy Video that will be passed down and enjoyed by our family throughout the coming generations.”
Inspiring a new interest in family history.
Family Legacy Video recently taped a conversation between two brothers, Will and Pren. They had a great time recounting their family history and adventures. The project inspired Pren to do even more to preserve his family history. According to his daughter: “One of the hidden benefits of this project was the search for family photos to include in the video. I really enjoyed looking through them all with my parents, and labeling them for future generations. What a treasure! I am so glad we did this now. My father has been so inspired that he has taken on a new project – he found boxes and boxes of slides in the basement of his Illinois home and has been scanning them. He’s really enjoying it and it’s been great to see those old photos too.”
Finally telling the full story.
Len made his fortune in Peru, arriving there early in 1940. He had many fascinating adventures, both business and personal, to relate. He was most interested in detailing his business success. At the end of his interview (which stretched over three days) he had this to say: “I am very appreciative. I look forward to giving my children my background. I’ve always told them a little bit here and a little bit there, but never the complete story.”
Every video biography project Family Legacy Video undertakes results in benefits like those above. So don’t wait – get started on your family video biography project today. The benefits, both apparent and unexpected, will thrill you.