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Your Life is Your Story, Issue #069 – Video Biographies
September 29, 2009

"Your past is your story up to now. The future is the story yet to come. The present is where you live with that experience, your hopes and your dreams."

Your Life is Your Story Newsletter

September 29, 2009 Issue #069 – Video Biographies

From Tom Gilbert – Editor and Writer,

In this Issue:

Opening remarks: Nice To Hear From You
Featured Article: Video Biographies
Resources You Can Use

Opening Remarks: Nice To Hear From You

As more and more people have discovered Your Life Is Your Story I get to “meet” more of you through emails and phone calls. It’s nice to hear from you. It’s even more gratifying when I discover that some of you have made progress in your life story projects, often with inspiration from these newsletters!

Keep at it. Don’t get discouraged. Continue to learn how to improve your writing or other ways to preserve your personal history. And feel free to email your thoughts, questions and comments.

You are receiving this e-zine because you signed up for it or someone who is subscribed passed it along to you. If a friend DID forward this to you consider subscribing by visiting our signup page . Also, let me know what you’d like to see more of in this newsletter – simply reply to this email e-zine.

While the main focus of this newsletter is to share thoughts, ideas, and insights on life story writing you should know that I offer various services and also mention some products and services that can be helpful. You are under no obligation to purchase anything, but if any of these products or services are helpful and you decide to utilize them then I am most grateful.

Thanks for reading. – Tom

Featured Article: Video Biographies

By Tom Gilbert - Copyright © September, 2009

“A picture paints a thousand words” – so goes the old adage. When it comes to preserving your personal history with video those pictures can tell a story in a dramatic way.

The popularity of video biographies is increasing. According to a Seattle Times article, “The explosion of interest in tracing one's roots has given rise to another phenomenon. Ordinary people — particularly baby boomers and their elder parents — are hiring filmmakers and writers to immortalize their histories on pricey videos and books that can look good enough for the History Channel or bookstore shelves."

While I personally favor working as a writer for personal histories I appreciate the work of a good videographer. I’ve endorsed a number of these talented personal historians on my video biographies page.

If you are looking to create a video life story you should consider the following:

• Make sure you have the proper equipment and know-how or hire someone who does (there are many excellent professionals).

• Prepare your subject. Many people are uncomfortable on camera. Spend some time with your subject explaining the process, letting them know that there will be lighting, how you will “mic” them, that they should be comfortable and act natural. It doesn’t hurt to rehearse a bit and most cameras are now digital, so it’s no problem to let the camera roll and let them see a bit of how they will appear. At the same time, don’t let them obsess over their appearance. A good director will know how to prepare interview subjects.

• Consider what “B role” footage you might want to include. Capture your subject doing some things that aren’t part of the interview. Maybe they like to jog, play the piano, needlepoint or spend time in the garden. Also, you can insert still photographs and use special effects to enhance them.

• Spend proper time and effort in the editing process. Again, professionals know this as part of their work. Be clear about it. If you are doing it yourself it will take time and learning to become competent.

• Use of music can enhance the finished product, but remember that you can’t just use your favorite CDs. Most music is protected by copyright. Investigate music that can be used for such products. There are many sources of music that can be licensed for your use (try Googling “royalty free music”). Or create your own.

These are just a few tips. If telling your story with video is the way you want to go I encourage you to research it more. I’ve seen some fantastic high-quality video biographies and it can be a wonderful way to preserve your story. One of the highlights of the annual Association of Personal Historians conference is the video share. This year it will be hosted by Bob Breakstone of Our Living Tree. So if you are a personal historian working in video and plan to attend the conference don’t miss the special presentation on October 22 at 8PM.

You can read other articles on life-story writing here.

Resources You Can Use

Video Life Story Services

Stellar Media From its offices in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, Stellar Media is committed to providing high quality writing, editing, and video production services to businesses and nonprofits across the country. Find out more about Eric and Marian Larson, company president and vice president respectively here.

Your Story Here A video biographies service dedicated to preserving family history. Based in Southern California, this husband and wife team produce high quality "A&E" style video biographies and video memorials utilizing interviews, photographs, historical footage and music. Their work has received awards and media coverage and their website is full of useful and helpful information plus multiple samples of their work.

Family Voices Media This company produces professional, in-depth, family history videos. With over twenty years of award-winning filmmaking they combine the interview, family photos and home movies with archival film, graphics, maps, scanned documents, along with music into a complete family video biography.

Legacy Multimedia Stefani Twyford's video life story services include custom crafted and high quality DVD's of individuals as well as corporate histories and legacies. She is based in Houston, Texas.

Closing Information

That’s it for this month’s issue. Thanks for reading. Be sure to visit our blog regularly, and here’s to telling your story. Do give it some serious consideration because I just know you’ve got a great story to tell! Be sure to see the Get Started section.

Any comments, ideas or feedback is greatly appreciated. Just reply to this ‘zine and tell me what you think!

Until next time, – keep your story alive!

Tom Gilbert

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