Welcome to the September issue!
I hope you had a great Labor Day holiday. With summer behind us, we can look forward to some cooler temperatures and autumn delights, like crisp apples and my favorite: pumpkin pies!
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
Giving voice to a distant relation.
At 8 AM I put on my headsets, opened Skype on my desktop, and pressed “Call Phone.” It took only a second or two to make the connection.
“Hello, Steve! This is Phil. How are you?”
The voice filling my headsets belonged to audio recording engineer. The voice was friendly, youthful, and had a pronounced Scottish accent. The accent wasn’t unexpected, since I was, in fact, Skyping to an studio in Glasgow, Scotland. The reason: I was about to direct a narration session for one of Family Legacy Video’s latest video biography projects.
While I’ve used voiceover narrators extensively for corporate and not-for-profit videos over the years, I rarely employ them for legacy videos. In a typical Family Legacy Video-style video biography, you’ll see a storyteller or storytellers talking on camera and also hear their voices continue while a variety of visuals fill the screen. But you normally won’t hear the voice of an unseen narrator helping to tell the story. That’s because I find it much more personal and effective when family storytellers describe their own experiences. This project, however, required a different approach.
That’s because the subject of this video, the first in a three-DVD series, was a Scot who emigrated to the U.S. in 1839. He was, of course, no longer available for an interview. Fortunately for his descendants, however, George Tullock left behind an autobiography, along with a collection of diaries, all written in beautiful, flowing longhand. My clients, Tullock’s great-granddaughter and her husband, wanted to share this distant relative’s story with their children and grandchildren.
The project presented an exciting and creative challenge. One way to go was to have the great-granddaughter relate all the stories contained in her great-grandfather’s writings. Unfortunately, she was not up to that challenge. Another option was to use a narrator to act the part of the great-grandfather by reading excerpts from the autobiography. I was confident I could find the right narrator somehow, but having to create the visuals needed to illustrate the narration would have required time and budget we just didn’t have. What to do?
The creative approach I presented to my clients combined the two ideas. I chose portions of the autobiography representing important chapters in George Tullock’s life. My idea was to have Tullock’s great-granddaughter introduce each of these chapters on screen. After laying the foundation with her interview, we’d continue with appropriate visuals while hearing the “voice” of her great-grandfather relating the rest of the story. My clients loved the idea. The next step was to find a voice actor who could portray George Tullock.
Hoping to find a Scottish voice talent here in the U.S., I consulted some local narrators. One of them directed me to a site called ScottishVoiceOvers.com. The site offered an array of talent, along with demo reels I could stream and download. I found two fellows who could fit the bill and sent a query to the site. Within a day I had a response. During the course of a few e-mails the owner of the studio and I chose the narrator, negotiated a rate, arranged payment by wire, and scheduled the session. The day after the session an edited audio file winged its way to my inbox. I was good to go.
George Tullock’s 1839 journey from the Scottish Highlands to Illinois took three months. It took me mere seconds to electronically travel from Tucson to Glasgow for my collaboration with the engineer and actor who helped me give voice to George’s autobiography; an example of how technology and the creativity of a skilled video biographer can combine to create a unique and custom personal video biography.
– Steve Pender