It’s all in their minds; use a video camera to dig it out!

We are image makers, and story tellers.
And the story you tell of your own life is a composite of the actions you take, the feelings you have, even how you dress, and the edit you make of all the information to present to the world.
Some people are calling it FaceBook.

There is another history that was written long before you decided on this one.
As Homo Sapiens, we have built-in DNA to pass on information learned to those who come after you.
With an oral history,a generational and familial tree, got passed on through the community.

The Nuclear family spread out the components far and wide so the interconnections of daily life became unknown and the family history was built on holiday fare, special occasions, and key markers such as birth, and death.

In the past century we recorded this with the tools we all know.Photos and Home Movies.
Sure, communication today makes sure we don’t miss a beat of life, some life, your life, everyone’s life.

But what about before all of this? What about your parents history,and their parents history?

For the past 20 years, I’ve sat with my family elders with a video camera. Questions about the past, their childhood, relatives, I barely knew, brought a sparkle to their eyes. And strangely enough, photos from their archives.

If you want to develop your interview skills, who better to practice with than family?
_AIP4966There is gold that awaits you on this trail.

Not saying that you’ll discover that Uncle Henry actually invented the windshield wiper (wasn’t that Greg Kinnear?), but perhaps that before becoming an actuary, he was an actor, performing in 40 movies.

All I’m saying is that there is a history that you have, that you may not fully be aware of, that can be passed on to others, and by using your photo/video skill sets, you can share this information in a creative, enjoyable way.

The stories may be long, the answers to questions may wander off on their own trail,
so let your edit prowess grow. Many times a door opened leads to corridors you had no idea existed.
Music and graphics? Sure, why not? Perhaps to separate, punctuate, open and close a sequence.


My tools for this include a Canon XF100 Pro Camcorder with 10x HD Video lens, Compact Flash (CF) Recording
with a shotgun mic AT 4073, a Nikon D800
with a 28-300mm
lens for capturing stills and also some impromptu copy work. Enough batteries and cards to handle a few hours of record time.
Trust me, your key subjects will most likely never go for that long, but there are are other family members that most likely will be present.

As a headset (yes, you do need one) the standard is the Sony MDR-V6 Monitor Series Headphones , and I love it, but earbuds will do you just fine. Since it’s primarily voice, and most earbuds are made for music, it’s your choice. Just do a test so you know what the differences are in audio quality, from your ear and what’s goes in the camera.

The goal is also natural light, or perhaps a reflector, but a full lighting package with this subject matter can put them people off, make them nervous, and probably change the demeanor of the whole shoot.

Remember to shoot B-roll!! What the heck is that? Additional footage related to the shoot that you can cut away to, or lay audio under to give a change in the visual.
While you are shooting the interview, you can have a second camera covering a different angle of the interviewee. That can help with dramatic moments, move the visual emphasis from one place to another, give the viewer relief from looking at one thing.
I always prefer to have one camera static and another hand held and loose to give some variety.

If you don’t have a second camera, set aside some time dedicated to the environs, or hands going through a photo album, or clicking through a photo site. Perhaps just off beats of the subject or other family members. Maybe there is a table with family photos. Or they love to make a cuppa tea, and you record the process. Basically, you’ll need the options in edit to shift focus/attention.

I usually capture some flat art archives with the still camera, as well as portraits. They can be sprinkled into the video, or be used as title card backgrounds.

In this shot below, my 92 year old aunt is listing off all of the folks that had done her wrong:

Tripods or monopods are a big help, as long as they are not in the way. Obviously, with short crew, a second camera will get mounted on a tripod (or strategically clamped with a Gorillapod) And the main camera can be on the monopod for stability, yet flexibility.
I generally use the “Brian”, from 3 Legged Thing as a main, with one leg able to come off and used as a monopod.
Or the Manfrotto Monopod is great as well, but a bit tougher to pack.

We have been speaking about recording a collection of remembrances, and the same goes for more current histories.
I edited a video of my daughters life to this point as a birthday gift, and it gave her and the family a reminder of why what her life was like growing up.
There were no interviews, but scans and edits.

As a parent, son/daughter, brother/sister, or relative this is a project that can be shared and enjoyed by the whole family.

Don’t forget – this is their version of history! You still have the power of edit to get closer to the truth. Or your truth.

And when you discover that your great uncle was a circus strongman, you’ll finally realize why you like to twist iron horseshoes.
It comes naturally.

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