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How To Make A Great Family Video

by: Neil Healy

Whether you call it a family video, video biography, legacy video or video history, nothing is more touching than sharing your family's precious moments. These videos are basically simple documentaries, that can bring your entire family together.

Do you have a family member who is an expert in your family's story? Who are your family elders and is anyone taking down their stories, either with a video camera or a digital tape recorder? Do you have grandchildren who will want to know the family’s history, i.e., where the family originated, who were the artists, the business people, the idealists, the teachers, even the black sheep?

Whether you are focusing on one person or the entire clan, the best things to do is: just get started. Here are some helpful tips:

  1. Use a script, outline or story board to get organized. Write down your goals for the video, such as, how far back you want to go with the video, which relatives you want to focus on, who in the family is a natural raconteur, and who needs to be in it.
  2. A good place to begin is with that collection of videos that Dad made of your games, plays, birthdays, special family events.
  3. Gather family memorabilia, beginning with pictures, letters, videos, and even documents, such as marriage licenses, college degrees, awards, bills of sale. These kinds of keepsake items offer nice details that will embellish your family’s history.
  4. Add video interviews by using a low-cost digital video camera or simply your smart-phone. A separate microphone works better than a microphone that comes with the video camera so when buying a digital video camera, be sure to get one with an external mic input.
  5. Write down your questions prior to the interview and see where they lead. Get your family members to relax so they’ll feel comfortable telling their stories. Don’t interrupt; let them talk…some of these impromptu stories can turn to gold!
  6. Some of the stories you capture might not be gold, so you'll need a simple computer video editing program. Many are free, such as YouTube Editor (PC/MAC), Movie Maker (PC), IMovie (MAC). Others cost money, but are more versatile such as Adobe Premier Pro (PC/MAC) at $20 per month, or Final Cut Pro (Mac) at $299. Keep your edits simple. The best edit is a simple cut. Try to avoid visual effects until you feel confident enough to use this technique competently.
  7. Music can be a lot of fun, Use it carefully unless there's a family song or a special tune that has significant meaning . You don't want the music to make the video dated or seem repetitive.

Most of all, enjoy the process. You can have your “world premiere,” distribute copies to family and friends, or post your piece of video art to a share site like YouTube.

But, if you find yourself in a bit of a bind, you want your video to be more professional or magical, or you just don’t feel like doing it yourself, contact Overnight Video and let the professionals handle it for you.

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