Welcome to the December issue!
The holiday season is here! This, of course, is a great time of year to celebrate our families and our family storytellers. If you haven’t already done so, I urge you to carve out some time after you carve the turkey or ham or tofu loaf to record the remembrances of your family storyteller(s). This month, I talk about a recently completed project – a series of videos that tell stories without relying on interviews. I wish you Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukkah, Happy Kwanzaa and a wonderful 2013.
I hope you enjoy this issue of the Family Legacy Video® Producer’s e-Newsletter. Please e-mail me at email@example.com or phone toll-free (888.662.1294) with any questions or comments you have.
Cheers! – Steve Pender
Holiday Gift Certificates Available.
There’s not enough time left in 2012 to start and finish a video biography project in time for Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa. But don’t despair! If you’d like to give a legacy video as a gift this year, you can do so with a Family Legacy Video gift certificate. If you book a project before the holidays, we’ll create a certificate announcing your gift and containing a personal message from you. We can either print the certificate and snail mail it to you or e-mail you a high resolution PDF that you can print. So don’t wait – contact Family Legacy Video and arrange for your gift certificate now!
Effective storytelling using archival photos.
Interviews provide the foundation for most of the video biographies Family Legacy Video creates. But I recently finished a project that posed a fun and creative challenge, requiring me to tell stories in an entertaining and compelling way using just photos, text, graphics and music. Here’s the story.
Each year, the Mining Foundation of the Southwest stages the American Mining Foundation Hall of Fame Awards Banquet here in Tucson. This is a big deal. Close to five hundred folks working for companies involved in all aspects of the mining industry attend to celebrate fellow professionals who’ve made contributions to mining today and in years past. In order to help streamline the event and add entertainment value, the producer of this year’s banquet decided that video needed to play a major role. Family Legacy Video was hired to create five videos that would tell the stories of the foundation and its mission, thanks sponsors and highlight the careers of various honorees. No interviews would be involved due to budget restrictions, logistical challenges and the plain fact that all of those being honored for accomplishments in the 1800s and early 1900s were no longer alive.
The first step involved reading over biographical information and then crafting scripts that included proposed on-screen text and descriptions of visuals that could help tell the story. Intensive photo research followed. I received a great many images from the foundation and some of the companies and individuals being honored. But I did spend much time looking for supplemental material, including photos and maps, that would help tell the stories I’d scripted.
Once obtained, hours of Adobe Photoshop and After Effects work went into touching up and formatting the photos and then incorporating them into sequences where they were layered with text and movement applied. Next, the After Effects compositions were imported into Adobe Premiere Pro for final video assembly and addition of music and sound effects. Finally, the sequences were exported as DVD files. I created the DVDs for playback at the event using Adobe Encore.
Creatively, the challenge was to convey a rather large amount of information as economically as possible and make it visually entertaining to boot. What I found worked very well for the clips featuring archival photos was to enlarge a still image so it more than filled the screen, then blur and colorize it. Over this would go the same image, much smaller, beveled and cropped and with a drop shadow and movement added. Text was placed over the blurred area of the background, making the words easily readable. Varying the direction of the motion from screen to screen lent visual interest. Along with a few added effects, like white flashes, the overall look was very sophisticated, pleasing, and, I thought, effective.
The true test came on the night of the banquet, of course. My first concern was how the video would look on the huge projection screens flanking the dais. Thankfully, it looked great. My next worry: Would the videos engage the audience? Well, you could have heard a pin drop as the clips played, and the applause as each ended was much more than just polite. Plus, the compliments paid to me and my client after the program were enthusiastic.
The morale of the story is that interviews are a great way to help tell a story, but not the only way. And if you don’t have interviews to work with, creative use of all the other elements and techniques available can still help bring your client’s stories to life.
– Steve Pender
Got a question about any aspect of family history video production?
Send it to Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org.