Episode 14 Video and Show Notes

Live show air date: July 2, 2020
Join me for Elevenses with Lisa, the online video series where we take a break, visit and learn about genealogy and family history.

Today I want to help you create videos. This may not be really high on your to do list currently, but perhaps it should be. Short compelling videos can have real impact on your family, helping them to understand and appreciate the family history. Videos shared can also elicit unexpected additional stories from viewers in your family. And a video leaves a beautiful legacy behind of your genealogy research.

In last week’s Elevenses with Lisa show, you saw a short video I created for Doris using the story she sent me in an email and a few photos and documents. This week you’re going to hear from another viewer, Kathy Nielsen, a Children’s Librarian in Monterrey, CA, a genealogist, and a new Grandma. We’re going to talk about her experience creating a short family history story video. I think hearing her experience will help give you an overview of what’s involved, and how really doable it is. Then I will follow up with an overview of the basic video creation process and tips help you be successful in your efforts.


Video Creation Process Notes

Select the Story

  • Sometimes what is interesting to us are not interesting to a wider audience.
  • Keep your audience in mind.
  • Family, who are not genealogists are used to video entertainment.

A few story examples:

  • A couple’s meeting and marriage
  • An ancestor’s military career
  • Why a family immigrated to America

Try creating a video that:

  • strives to grab the viewer’s attention
  • touches them emotionally
  • focuses on one story

“You need to have some kind of emotional hook” Kathy Nielsen
Ask yourself: “Why am I so fascinated with this story?”

3 Key Questions

  1. Who will watch? (Friends, relatives? Ages? Genealogy interest?)
  2. Where will they watch? (Online, social media, email, offline DVD?)
  3. How long would they watch? (Suggestions: 1 min. for social media, 3 min. for YouTube/website, and 10 min. for family gathering)

What is the right length for a video? Generally speaking, keep it short! Kathy says, “An hour is too long. You lose the interest of your group.”

Set an achievable goal: 3 minutes

Write the script

  • Shorten it to make it a little more powerful
  • Practice and Record the Audio
  • Practice reading your script, then record it.
  • Pacing is very important.
  • Try recording your script a few times. Edit as needed.

Keep in mind, not every video needs narration. You may not be comfortable recording your voice, or even writing a script, and that’s OK. Simply create an outline and use text titles to move the story along where needed. Videos that aren’t narrated are perfect candidates for adding music.

Collect the Content (Digitized photos and videos)

Listen to your voice recording and that will jog ideas for images that would fit well. Copy old family photos, documents etc. into a project folder on your computer.

You can fill in the blanks for content you don’t have. You can use public domain images. This week’s Genealogy Gems newsletter included a tip for using the free images at the Library of Congress’ Free to Use and Reuse Sets web page. Sign up for the free Genealogy Gems Newsletter here

Internet Archive has copyright-free images. You can also google for copyright-free images as well as filter an image search down by usage. (See the chapter on Image Search in my book The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox.)

When in doubt about your rights to use an image, request permission from owners.

Digitize your old home movies and incorporate them. I use Larsen Digital. They can handle all types of media formats and offer special discount for my viewers and readers. They are returned as MP4 digital files that can then be cut into shorter clips using a video editing program. Click here for special Larsen Digital discount only for Genealogy Gems. 


“Sometimes what you leave out is as important as what you leave in.”  – Lisa Louise Cooke

Videos are really layers of content: audio, music, graphics (photos and videos)

The Ken Burns effect that Kathy referred to is effective to create movement with static images and elicit emotion. (Zooming in and out.) The animation and movement can help bring out the emotion of the story. It can help you guide your viewer to what really matters and move that story forward.

Video Creation Tools

Videos Tools in Many Shapes and Sizes: mobile apps, web-based tools, and software. You can create slideshow type videos, or fully produced movie-style videos that include video and customized features.

Kathy used We Video. Monthly or annual subscription $8/month billed annually ($96)

I recommend Camtasia because you pay one fee, and you own it. It has all the tools you need and loads of templates, music and other media assets.  Software like this takes longer to learn how to use, but Camtasia offers many free tutorials.  ($249 – students and teachers discounts are available.) Click here to learn more. When you use our links we are compensated at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting the free Elevenses with Lisa show!

You can also use free apps like Adobe Spark Video. (website and mobile app) We will talk about Spark Video more in depth in an upcoming episode.

You may want to start with a free app, and as you gain confidence, graduate to software.

How much time Kathy spent on her video:

  • Script writing and editing (3 hours)
  • Time referencing her genealogy software (about an hour)
  • Collecting photos (1 hour)
  • Time spent finding photos to fill in the blanks (variable)
  • Time to learn the video creation program (variable)

Select the Music

  • Music included in video editing tools has already been cleared for use.
  • YouTube has copyright-cleared music in the Audio Library (See the chapter on YouTube in my book.)
  • If you upload a song, be sure you have rights to use it.

Idea for Getting Started

Try following the format of George Ella Lyon’s poem Where I’m From. Listen to Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 185 featuring Ms. Lyon.

Check out this article on the Genealogy Gems website featuring another video version of the poem by a Genealogy Gems Podcast listener: A “Where I’m From” Video and More from Our Poetry Contest

More from my guest in today’s episode, Kathy Nielsen

If you have California roots, visit the Monterey Public Library California History Room: https://www.monterey.org/library/History-Room

Watch Kathy’s webinar “Searching for Your Roots at the Library.”  This is a get started webinar on how to use library resources.  


video magic

This video tutorial series by Lisa Louise Cooke is part of Genealogy Gems Premium Membership.

3-part Genealogy Gems Premium Video Series: Video Magic by Lisa Louise Cooke. Click here to learn more about becoming a member. 

In Part 1 you will learn:

  • The various types of videos
  • key questions you need to answer when preparing your video
  • the importance of story and character
  • how to create videos your family will want to watch through focus and structure

In Part 2 you will learn:

  • how to identify content for your video
  • the different types of video editing programs available
  • how to select the right program for your project

In Part 3 you will learn:

  • how to find free music to use in your video
  • understanding copyright issues
  • using storyboarding as a video creation tool
  • the special details that will make your video memorable
  • how to share your video

Live Chat PDF– Click here to download the live Chat from episode 14 which includes my answers to your questions. 

Show Notes PDF – Genealogy Gems Premium Members can click here to download the show notes PDF for this episode. (Log in required.) Become a Premium Member here

DNA Kit Sale 

The sale mentioned on this episode has ended. 

I Want to Hear from You

Please leave a comment below and let me know if you enjoyed this episode. Outline your first video story this week and then leave a comment or question about the process and your experience. Also, when it comes to creating videos, what would you like to learn more about? 

Also, I appreciate your help in spreading the word about Elevenses with Lisa. You’ll find social share buttons on this page or simply copy the URL and paste in a Facebook post. Thank you!



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