February 21, 2017

You May Already Have the Makings of a Family History Video

Think it’s too hard to create your own family history video? Think again! You may already have the foundation already poured!

Video is one of the best ways to tell your family’s story. Imagery, text and music comes together to quickly capture the attention of all ages. But whether it’s a blank computer screen or a blank page, getting started is often the hardest part of any creative project.

That’s why when I wanted to whip up a tribute video to my husband’s father’s Naval service, I didn’t start from scratch. Instead, I turned to small book I created over ten years ago for inspiration and content. My research of his military career has certainly evolved since I first put those pages together. Creating a new video on the subject gave it a nice facelift in a modern medium that everyone in our family loves!

The Foundation

Back in 2006 Kodak Gallery offered one of the first print-on-demand services to the public. It was a tantalizing idea to think of being able to create my own full color, hard cover book. And what would I write about? Family history, of course!
My husband’s father’s military service records had recently come into our possession, and one afternoon I sat down and scanned all of the photographs and documents at a fairly high resolution (about 600 dpi). I created my first book that day using that imagery, and added text where I had more details. The end result was a mighty nice coffee table styled book. Just 20 full color glossy pages double sided, for a total of 40 pages. This was just about all I could expect of the average attention span of my non-genealogist relatives. To my happy surprise, the book was devoured, with many exclamations of “I’ve never seen that!”, and “oh, isn’t that great!

books videofamily history

Fast forward to today. Kodak Gallery is long gone, and today’s relatives rarely have the desire to sit and even flip through pages of a book. What are they willing to spend time on? Video! Brief video, albeit, but video is the book come to life. And so, when in search of a new project to get family history out in front of the clan, I decided to do just that: breathe life into that book I created 11 years ago.

The Process

First, I located the computer file folder containing all of the original scanned images, both photos and documents. I renamed the files to start with a two-digit number so that they would appear in chronological order in the folder on my hard drive. Before I knew it, the story began to emerge on my screen.

Then it was off to Animoto, the online video creation tool. Animoto doesn’t require any special skills to create professional looking videos. If you can click, drag and drop you can create fabulous family history videos.

I started by selecting choosing to create a “Slideshow Video” and selecting the video style called Old Glory. Being a patriotic theme it already included the perfect music called Presidential Welcome. If I had wanted something a little different, it would have been easy enough pick another tune out of their vast music library, or upload one of my own.

Next, I dragged and dropped the images into my new project. I already had about 25 images from my original folder, and I was able to add 5 newly discovered scanned documents and photos that really fleshed out the story. One click of the Preview button showed me that I already had an awesome video in the works. All that was left was to add a bit of text to the storyvideo project in Animoto

The Video Text

The text part of this project actually turned into a great way to pull my youngest daughter Hannah into family history a bit. She loves making videos on her phone, and during a recent visit she became intrigued by my project. I asked her if she would help me out and use the book as her guide and type captions onto the video images. She obliged, and the next thing I knew she was in the family room, computer in lap, talking with her Dad about his Dad. (This genealogist’s dream come true!) It was easy to add the text to tell the story by adding titles and captions to the video in Animoto.

Time to Produce Your Video

With all the content added, we hit the Preview button, and were amazed how Animoto timed everything to the music nearly perfectly. After a few final tweaks, we hit the Produce button. I must say, I’m really pleased with the results! Watch below, and then leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Make Your Own Video Project

What do you already have lying around the house that would make a terrific video? A scrapbook, or a drawer full of letters and photos? Click here to try out Animoto. I’ve been so thrilled with what I’ve been able to create for my family, that I proudly accepted Animoto as a sponsor of my free Genealogy Gems Podcast, and I happily recommend them. I think you’re going to love how quickly and easily you can bring your family history to life with video too.

 

How Facebook Users Reunited a Bible with its Family: Facebook for Family History

family-bible-cover-2These genealogy sleuths used Facebook for family history when they responded to a plea to help return a family Bible to its family.

Back on March 21, Donna Whitten posted a video on her church Facebook page. Her post says, “How far would you go to get back something you’ve lost?”

She was talking about a 150 year-old family Bible she’d come across while antiquing one day in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Her post says, “We want to find this family and return it to them! Can you help?” (Click here to see that post and video.)

family-bible-marriagesThat video post got 34,000 views, thanks in part to more than 600 people who shared it! Family history fans immediately stepped up to the challenge. They looked for names on Ancestry.com and reached out to tree owners. Within two days, several descendants were aware of the Bible and asking for copies. The bible eventually went to a woman in California named Carrie Robinson, who has been researching her tree for several years. It contained obituaries clipped from newspapers and handwritten vital family events. (Wouldn’t you love to receive that kind of family treasure?) Click here to watch the follow-up video about when Donna took the bible to the new owner.

Hats off to Donna and her team of sleuths who took the time to find Carrie’s family and return their past to them! I find a few take-home messages in this story:

  • Social media is a great way to cast your net wide, not just when you’re sharing family history, but when you’re looking for information. Click here to read more about gathering memories through Facebook.
  • You can watch for orphaned heirlooms in your path and return them to descendants. Click here to read tips on how to do that.
  • The video Donna created got attention on Facebook! Video is powerful. Use it to share your family history. Click here to read about Animoto, a DIY-video making service I love that lets you produce your own professional-quality videos. Below is one quick video I created. Can you say shareable?!

Avoid the Eye Roll with New Video Creation Tool

It’s a common phenomenon for the genealogist: the eye roll!

image_1Relatives who have never had a desire to delve into genealogy often roll their eyes when an enthusiastic genealogist in the family shares a newly discovered census or other genealogical record. And who can blame either party? The genealogist is giddy having won a long fought battle to unearth another piece of the family tree puzzle, and the non-genealogist hasn’t a clue what difference it all makes.

Creating a short story slideshow video about your family history is an ideal way to bridge that gap. Here at Genealogy Gems (on my blog, podcast, and YouTube channel) I’ve shared not only examples of professional-quality videos, but also the step-by-step instructions for creating them with one of my favorite website tools called Animoto. It’s an online video creation tool that requires no special skills or software. You just drag and drop your content (digital images and even video files) and select from Animoto’s cache of professional video styles and music tracks. Within minutes you can whip together a video that generates not eye rolls, but instead, ooos and ahhhs!

Simple slideshow videos aren’t the only eye-rolling defense weapon in Animoto’s arsenal. You can take your video creation to the next level with Animoto’s Marketing Video Builder. Don’t let the name fool you, because it’s rich with features that any genealogist can sink their teeth into.

One of the key features you get with the Marketing Video Builder, available with Professional and Business subscriptions, is the ability to add voice narration to your video. Your voice (or the voice of relatives that you interview) will bring an intimacy and personalization to your video project that will tug on your viewer’s heart strings.

Raymond and Harry

Raymond age 13 (4th from left) and his father Harry Cooke (2nd from right), Tunbridge Wells, England circa 1909

Recently I took the Marketing Video Builder for a whirl on a project that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time: the story of my husband’s great grandfather. My husband’s grandfather, Raymond Cooke, wrote up a short autobiography just before his death in 1987. It’s a wonderful glimpse into the world of his youth and his memories of his father, Harry Cooke.

I used the portion of the autobiography that was focused on Raymond’s father Harry to create an outline for my video. I then set up a project folder on my hard drive, selected images that represented the story, and copied them into the folder. In the image below you can see how I laid out my plan in a simple Word document. This created a script that indicated which portion of the autobiography would be read for each image. 

video script

The video script indicates the image and the narration that accompanies it.

The next step was to head to Animoto.com, sign in to my account, click the “Create” button and select “Marketing Video.”. I selected a pre-built storyboard called Portfolio because I really liked the design, but changed the music to a lilting melody called A Thousand Years that I found in the vast music collection. It had just the right for the feel of the story!

The beauty of a marketing video is that you can personalize the storyboard with your choice of font and colors, and you can add and delete sections as you see fit. Animoto always gives you the ability to customize your storyboard so that it fits your imagery perfectly.

With my storyboard set up, I proceeded to upload all the content I had gathered in my project folder. It’s super simple to drag and drop them into the right order.

record video narration

Bill recording his Grandfather’s words for the video

Next, I recruited Raymond’s grandson, my husband Bill, to narrate the video, using Animoto’s voice-over feature. He was a little hesitant at first, but once he saw my outline and script, his enthusiasm for the project grew and he agreed. 

I kept the dialogue brief for each image, because the length of the narration dictates how long the image appears on the screen. I found that 2-3 sentences per image was plenty, and the recordings averaged about 14 seconds each. You will be able to see in the bottom left corner of the tile how many seconds you recorded. And rest assured, you can record as many takes as you like and play them back to ensure you love the final result!

The Preview button is your friend, and I encourage you to preview your project several times throughout the creation process. When you are happy with the final video, click the Produce button that appears in the Preview window. This part of the process is just like Animoto’s Slideshow Video Builder. Click here to read my blog post and watch my step-by-step tutorial video.

With a bit of planning out your story, collecting your content, and production time on the Animoto website, you can get results like this:

I love that Raymond’s grandsons voice shares his words with the viewer!

Videos like these are so simple to create, and will bring your family history to life in a way that every member of your family will enjoy. And the holidays are just around the corner. Why not share your family history video when your family gathers togethers? Then, get ready for the ooos and ahhhs!

How One Genealogist Used YouTube for Family History with Astonishing Results!

Here’s a gem of a success story about using YouTube for family history. This woman found footage of her daddy racing his 1959 El Camino.

youtube genealogyOne of my favorite places to teach classes is at the Southern California Genealogical Society’s annual Jamboree, where they know how to have a great time AND pack in top-notch family history learning.

Are Your Ancestors on YouTube?

youtube for family historyJust before one of my sessions at the 2016 Jamboree, Robyn came up to me and introduced herself. Then she proceeded to accuse me of keeping her up all night!

Turns out that she had attended my class the day before on the subject of finding your family history on YouTube. The tips and examples I shared in that lecture came from chapter 14 of my book The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, which is devoted to YouTube. The session inspired her to stay up late that night and try it herself.

It can seem so far-fetched when I first tell the audience that they might find amazing footage relating to their families on YouTube. But results don’t lie.

The Search on YouTube for Family History

Robyn reported a thrilling find! She searched YouTube for Cleves, Ohio:

cleves-oh-youtube-for-family-history

The Results

“Up came a video that was Edgewater sports park, which was where my father drag-raced when I was a little girl,” she said. “There was a picture of him racing his 1959 El Camino! It was so exciting!” It was a black and white video. She sent it to her brother to share–and came back to my class the next day to report her success and see what else she could try.

Thanks for sharing, Robyn! Here’s the video:

More Ideas for using YouTube for Family History

Want more inspiration and ideas for using YouTube for family history? Click the image below to read about 6 fantastic ways to use YouTube for family history!

YouTube for family history

Google Drive: A Challenger to Dropbox and Evernote

Google Drive Packs Powerful PunchGoogle Drive is giving some of their competitors a run for their money. This free google tool is just what genealogists are looking for to create, consolidate, and organize their files.

I have been using Google Drive for about a year now. I upload my family photos, GEDCOMs, and my family history notes to the drive. I love the ease in which I can save these things to the cloud and rest knowing my hard work is safely backed up. You can imagine my excitement when our Google expert, Lisa Louise Cooke, shared her new premium video: All About Google Drive. There is so much more I didn’t know Google Drive could do!

Lisa shares ten benefits to using Google Drive and how it packs a powerful punch. Used as a file hosting service, Google Drive can offer you more free storage than Dropbox. Further, Google Drive may be a viable competitor to Evernote for several reasons. You can store files, create files, and edit them all via Google Drive. What’s even better is that Google Drive works across all different computing devices like PC, Mac, Windows, Android, and Apple. This means that syncing and accessing it all has never been easier.

Getting More from Google Drive

But wait, there’s more! Just when you thought you have heard it all, Lisa shares the power of the companion tool, Google Docs, to create documents, drawings, forms, and more. Haven’t had the money to purchase Microsoft Office yet? Not a problem! Google Docs is free to use. Lisa walks you through how to create and save a document and other files by using Google Docs. It is so easy!

Google Drive and Google Docs

You will continue to be amazed at the Google Extensions that are available from the Google Store. I had no idea there were so many. I was particularly excited to hear how I could easily save and clip items from webpages. Imagine finding a digital image of your great-grandmother’s obituary you want to save. How do you do that without having to save the whole page? There’s a Google Extension for that!

Google Drive, Google Docs, and the many extensions available really pack a powerful punch. Watch All About Google Drive to learn more about these knock-out features!

The Genealogy Gems Premium website members have exclusive access to all our full length video tutorials on topics ranging from research strategies to technology tools. They also have access to the full audio archive of The Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast. Click here to learn more about The Genealogy Gems Premium Membership.

Watch a preview:

More Gems on Google Drive and Tools

How to Use Google to Search for Family History & Genealogy

7 Free Google Search Features Every Genealogist Should UseGoogle Drive and other tips

Google Keyword Search Tips

How to Create Captivating Family History Videos – New Video Series

family history video documentsFamily history videos can captivate the non-genealogists in your family. In this step-by-step video series I’m going to show you how to create them quickly and easily!

If you’ve spent some time researching your family history, your discoveries probably look like this: old documents like census records and death certificates – not exactly exciting stuff to your kids and grand kids. And yet they are the ones you hope to pass your family’s history on to.

animoto family history videosThe truth is that the non-genealogists in your family may not be all that captivated by the same things you are. You can solve the “boring genealogy” problem with a tech tool that will help you create fabulous and captivating family history videos.  It’s called Animoto. It’s super-fast and incredibly easy, and no special skills are required.

(Full disclosure: The links I provide in this article are affiliate links, but if you follow me then you know that I only recommend and provide links for services I use myself and think are “Gems.”)

There are many wonderful opportunities to share videos:

  • Birthdays, Weddings, & Anniversaries
  • Family Reunions
  • Holidays
  • Facebook and other social media
  • Your own genealogy website or blog

Riveting Family History Videos

Creating digital video can be intimidating. In the past I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on video editing software, and then invested hours trying to learn how to use it. When my eldest daughter got married, I offered to create a short (5 minute) video to show prior to the ceremony. My goal was simple: create a heart-warming look back at the bride and groom and how they found each other, including old photos, nice fading transitions, a few home movie video clips, and a favorite song.  That short video took 3 days to create! It’s that kind of financial and time investment that keeps so many of us from attempting family history videos.

Animoto is a game changer! If you can…

  • click
  • copy
  • paste

…you can use Animoto to create family history videos.

I want you to see what Animoto can do to help you share your genealogy research through riveting family history videos. In this first video we’re going to lay the ground work for the story you’re going to tell in your video. In fact, you’ll probably find that this step takes longer than actually creating the video! Click the video below to watch Episode One of my series Creating Captivating Family History Videos. Then click here to head to my Genealogy Gems YouTube channel. Click the SUBSCRIBE button to get all new upcoming free videos.

How to Share Family History with the Non-Genealogists in Your Family

How can you share family history stories and memories without boring your relatives? Catch this free video preview of a new Premium video class that inspires YOU on how to inspire THEM!

Inspiring Ways to Captivate the Non-Genealogist; how to share family history

If you are researching your family tree but haven’t shared it with your family in a way that sparks their interest, then you are only experiencing half of the joy of genealogy! And if your descendants don’t grasp the importance of their heritage, your hard work may tragically find it’s way to the city dump when you are gone.

military heritage displayDon’t just collect your family history and store it away in binders and files! In her newest Genealogy Gems Premium video, Lisa Louise Cooke shares several projects–displays, multimedia shows, crafts–even a sweet treat to eat! The World War II display shown here is just one of her ideas. She’ll inspire YOU on how best to inspire your family’s interest in your heritage.

Watch the free preview below on how to share family history with the non-genealogists in your life. ( Genealogy Gems Premium website members can watch the whole thing here (along with more than 2 dozen videos) as a perk of their membership. Premium website members also have access to our monthly Premium podcast and all archived episodes. Click here to learn more! And keep scrolling down to click on more blog posts with great ideas for sharing your heritage.

Additional Resources

Message in a Bottle: Why Not Make Your Own?

Top 10 Ways to Incorporate Family History into Your Family Reunion

My Name is Jane: Heritage Scrapbook Celebrates Family Tradition

thank you for sharingThanks for sharing this post with others who will want a little more inspiration on how to share family history with loved ones. Just email the URL or post this article on your favorite social media channel.

 

Here’s How You Can Add Video to Evernote

tv_film_icon_400_wht_15178 (1)Do you have old home movies, footage of oral history interviews or any other type of family history video to keep track of? I recently heard from Ricky with this question:

Q: How do I add video to Evernote?

A: Thankfully, it’s easy on your computer:

  1. Open Evernote.
  2. Click New Note button.
  3. Open Windows Explorer and resize so you can see both the window and Evernote.
  4. Locate the desired video on your hard drive.
  5. click on the video and drag and drop it on to the new note.

That’s it!

From your mobile device when you have the Evernote app installed:

  1. Locate the video (ex. on the iPhone open Video app).
  2. Tap Share icon.
  3. Select Email.
  4. Start to type “ever” and your unique Evernote email address associated with your Evernote account should auto-fill.
  5. Send.

This will send the video to Evernote as a new note.

Keep in mind that video files are very large so take up a lot of your monthly upload limit. If you are a Premium Member, that’s not so much of a problem.

Resources

Evernote for Genealogy Quick Reference GuideHow to Get Started in Evernote, and the Ultimate Evernote Education

My Evernote for Genealogists quick reference guide is available for both Mac and Windows users (purchase the one that goes with your computer’s operating system, not your mobile device). Click to download it!

Genealogy Gems Premium members can also access exclusive full-length videos on how to use Evernote for family history, like:

Not a Premium member yet? The Evernote video series alone makes Premium membership worth the low annual fee, but you get SO much more! Learn more here.

How to Make a Family History Video: Premium Video and Podcast Now Available!

figure_at_3d_movie_800_13404Last weekend at Midwestern Roots, I debuted a new talk on technology tools for family history. One thing I mentioned was harnessing YouTube to share your family history. YouTube is now one of the top search engines – period! That means people may be looking for your common heritage on YouTube. Share what you know with them (and bring what they know to you) by creating and posting a family history video.

So what goes into a family history video? What technology tools will help you create one? How do you post it online?

Genealogy Gems Premium members can now access the answers to these and more questions about making your own family history videos. This is a great project to do as a family or with your grandchildren! There’s an audio-only podcast on the topic and a video version as well:

Genealogy Gems Premium Membership and PodcastListen to the Premium Podcast #111 here (and download the shownotes)

Premium Video: 10 Ways to Add Volume to Your Family History Video

Not a Premium member yet? Click here to learn more about all the benefits of Premium membership.

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