Friday, August 15, 2014

Editing Tips for Amateur Video #135: Interview Your Loved Ones

Prepare to create a Biography or Memorial Video

You and I are the family historians!  We're the ones who often witness birthday parties, picnics, and vacations through a camera's viewfinder.  Our archives consist of priceless memories, and as a result we may be called upon at the last minute to "bring something" to a memorial service, bachelor party, or birthday celebration.   When it happens, the best I can usually do is make a quick slideshow with music and maybe titles.

"If only I had more time, I could have done something nicer!"
What if you had time to plan ahead.   Imagine this:  "Aunt Mary's 80th birthday is coming up next September, do you think you could put together a slideshow or something?"  

My mother was seventy-four when I decided to create her video biography.  I had lots of time to gather old footage, scan photos, and most-importantly conduct interviews!

Watch the video above to gain a glimpse of the interview I did with mom in 2001.  She sat in her favorite chair with good even natural light coming through a window.  (Thank goodness for the overcast weather; I knew nothing about reflectors and fill lighting at the time.)  My miniDV camera was in a static position, set for a medium shot, with a Radio Shack lavaliere microphone hard-wired into its external input.  (Hooray for the microphone!  Turns out that using her narrative as voice-over was critical to the success of the movie.)

We joked and chatted a bit, then I started the camcorder.  I knew enough to ask her leading questions about her life.  For example:  "What's your earliest memory?"; "Tell me about your father."; "What do you remember about World War II?"  Slowly we stepped through the major events in her life.

Next days we visited newspaper archives at the public library, and interviewed some of her life-long friends.  (Those interviews are precious memories for the friends' families too!).

I had hoped to present Mom's biography at a birthday party, but she never got to see its final edit.  Thankfully I was well prepared for the big party we held to celebrate her life.  And everyone took a bit of her home, not just in their hearts but also on a DVD.

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