Welcome to the December issue!
This end-of-the-year holiday season is special. It’s the time when we glance back at the year that’s drawing to a close as well as direct our gazes toward the future. That also makes it the perfect time to preserve, celebrate and share your life stories and those of your family storytellers, both to honor your family’s past and to secure those remembrances as a legacy for future generations. Family Legacy Video, Inc. stands ready to help you create a life story keepsake – but in case you’d like to capture some family footage on your own, this month’s e-Newsletter features a reprint of an article containing some holiday video recording tips.
I wish you a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2016!
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
Mining Foundation of the Southwest enlists Family Legacy Video’s expertise.
For the fourth year in a row, Family Legacy Video® has been honored to create videos for the American Mining Hall of Fame Awards Banquet & Fundraiser, sponsored by the Mining Foundation of the Southwest.
This year’s banquet, held on Saturday, December 5, in Tucson, Arizona, attracted over three-hundred attendees and honorees from across the U.S. and from around the globe. Working in conjunction with the Mining Foundation, Family Legacy Video’s Steve Pender created videos profiling four inductees who made significant conributions to mining in past years. Pender also produced a video telling the story of a woman who has risen to the position of mine manager – a post typically held by men – while still under forty years of age. The Family Legacy Video® team shot her video on-location at a working mine south of Tucson. Another video highlighted the employees of a local company honored for its contributions to the industry.
Capture your holiday celebrations on video.
Note: This article originally ran in the December 2011 issue.
A smiling family, their glasses raised in a holiday toast. It’s a typical family scene, in this case captured with the technology available in 1950: a black & white still camera. Today we have the benefit of video technology that can capture far more than just silent, frozen moments in time. Here are some tips on how to get those holiday shots that will help you create a holiday video your family will treasure:
Start wide. A standard video technique is to start every scene out with a “master” shot. Simply put, this means first recording the entire scene as a wide shot. If you’re taping a party or a dinner, for example, set up your camera so you have a view of the entire room and everyone in it. Then start recording. If the camera is in a secure enough place you can even walk away from it for a couple of minutes so you don’t call attention to the fact that you’re taping. Set the camera on a bookcase, or on top of a TV, anything that gives you a panoramic view of the room or area. Even a tripod in the corner of the room can work; while people may notice it at first, they’ll get used to it and ignore it after a while.
Let people be themselves. Walking up to people, sticking a camera in their faces and telling them to act naturally is a sure-fire way to suck the spontaneity out of any shot. If you know your subjects are a bit skittish around cameras, hang back a little bit and use your camera’s zoom control to get that closer view instead of thrusting the camera into the middle of things. On the other hand, if your subjects are comfortable around you and your camera, don’t be afraid to move in close. You can even engage them in conversation if it suits you.
Don’t be afraid to direct. While you want to intrude as little as possible on a family scene, there may be times when a little direction is called for. Maybe you have an idea for an opening for your video – let’s say you want to show a long line of relatives, arms filled with presents, filing in through the front door. Don’t be afraid to tell everyone what you want them to do and enlist their cooperation. Set up your camera, place everyone where you want them to be, tell them what they need to do and where they should go after they do it. Then cross your fingers, press the record button and yell “action!” Remember to have fun and also accept the fact that you’re not working with professional actors. Be happy with what you get on one or, at the most, two tries.
Look for special moments. In every family gathering there are countless small, precious moments that help tell the story of your family. Maybe it’s a grandmother reading to her first grandchild, or a group chatting and cooking in the kitchen, or your cousins hanging holiday lights on the porch. Keep your camera close by. When you see moments like these, don’t hesitate to capture them on tape. An added plus is that when people are having fun and are truly engrossed in what they’re doing, they’re less likely to notice you and your camera (and if they do notice they’ll be less likely to care that you’re taping). Case in point: Years ago I was hired to shoot a profile of an insurance salesman. He was a wonderful, elderly gentleman. We spent a day with him and his family and, as my crew was packing up, I saw the salesman’s granddaughter sit down at the family piano and begin to practice. I quickly asked the salesman to join his granddaughter at the keyboard and hustled my cameraman over to the scene. The result was a lovely moment with grandpa and granddaughter enjoying some private time – totally oblivious to the camera.
Vary your shots. Tape your subjects and action from below, above, straight on, from behind and in profile. Change your focal lengths from shot to shot, moving from close to wide. The more variety you have in the way you frame your shots, the more visually interesting your finished video will be. You can use the flip out monitor on your camera as a view finder to help you get those ultra high or ultra low shots you wouldn’t be able to get if you just relied on your camera’s eyepiece.
Have fun. Enjoy yourself. Relax. Laugh. If your family sees you, the cameraperson/director, having a good time, the more likely they are to relax and join in the video fun with you.
PS – Don’t forget to stock up on memory cards and to keep your batteries charged!