Welcome to the November issue!
Pictures and other visuals can be valuable additions to any legacy video. Finding, organizing and digitizing images stored away in family albums and shoeboxes can be challenging, but it’s a challenge we relish at Family Legacy Video®! I’ll tell you more about that in this month’s newsletter.
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
Have Scanners – Will Travel
Michigan. The first week of October. The leaves of the trees were just beginning to trade their summer greens for autumn golds and oranges. Two large squirrels, one black and one brown, scampered to and fro, scouting for winter provisions. The sun played peek-abo with passing clouds, dimming the scene one moment, and brilliantly illuminating it the next. It was a beautiful tableau, one I enjoyed each time I looked up from the scanner on my client’s glass-enclosed porch. But as nice as it was, I didn’t fly to Michigan for the view. The images I was after were the ones contained in the family albums piled around me.
Incorporating shots of the very people, places, and events being described by family storytellers really enhances and illustrates their reminiscences, and helps add the entertainment value that will draw family members back to a legacy video time and time again. So tracking down and acquiring those visuals is always a key part the production process. Sometimes it’s easy. Other times it can be a bit of a challenge.
The first step in acquiring photos and other visuals is figuring out what’s needed and what clients and their families can supply. That’s where the preinterview comes in handy. A preinterview is essentially a chat I have, either over the phone or in person, with a storyteller I’ll later be interviewing on-camera. The stories I learn during the preinterview give me a good idea of the kinds of images that could lend visual interest to the video biography. These can be photos, of course, but can also include things like yearbooks, wedding invitations, newspaper and magazine clippings, mementos, keepsakes, family movies, etc. I draft a wish list of the items I’d like and send it to the storyteller. Now, storytellers and their families may not have everything I ask for, but this initial list provides guidance and hopefully gets them started on collecting and organizing material.
Making A Plan
How I get my hands on the photos, clippings, etc., so I can scan and shoot them, varies from project to project. There are those rare times when a family is so organized that they assemble everything I need and ship it to the Family Legacy Video® office. That’s certainly convenient for me. Other times I arrange for some time to look over the family archive when my crew and I travel out for the interview shoot. I’ll decide then what I can use and then either carry or ship the items back to Tucson, and then ship the stash back to the client after I finish scanning. In other instances, especially with fragile photos, I may add a person to the crew who scans/shoots stills while the rest of us tend to the interviews. We may add extra days to the shoot to accommodate scanning. And when a project is extensive and there are a lot of photos and other items to review, scan, and shoot, we plan a separate trip just to concentrate on scanning. That’s why I was camped out on my client’s porch for four days in October.
Tools Of The Trade
Three flatbed scanners: one large format, one standard format, and one portable, comprise Family Legacy Video’s arsenal. The large format scanner lives in the office. So does the standard-sized scanner – most of the time. The portable scanner easily fits into my carry-on bag and travels with me frequently. It gets its power from my laptop, making it very convenient. The portable, however, is not as full-featured as my standard scanner. So when I’m not sure what I’m going to encounter in terms of the sizes of photos and transparencies like slides and negatives, I’ll ship my standard scanner ahead and bring my portable as a backup. That’s what I did for my Michigan client, and I wound up giving the standard scanner quite a work out.
I’m also never without my high-quality DSLR. Clients often have framed photos that can’t be scanned. In fact, I once worked with a storyteller who had no loose photos; everything he had was hanging throughout his home. My only option was to shoot each photo with the still camera. The camera also comes in handy for shooting keepsakes and memorabilia, like the doll my most recent client has had since childhood.
Rounding out my tool bag is a laptop with high-speed USB ports and an external hard drive. I always copy the files from the laptop to the external drive so I have them in two places when traveling back to Tucson. After I return to the office, I also transfer the raw files to an archive drive.
What’s In A Name?
When it comes to file names, they’re key to keeping images organized. While I’m scanning in the field, I’ll label folders with titles that correspond to particular subjects, and save scans to the appropriate folders. I’ll also label the scans as completely as I can, with dates, names of people, etc. I can further refine labels when I’m back in the office, but doing this organization in the field saves me the trouble of trying to identify places and people at a later date.
Of course, acquiring the visuals is just the beginning. Now it’s time to prep the over five-hundred images I obtained in Michigan for editing!
– Steve Pender