How to Create Captivating Family History Videos Episode 2
In this blog and video series I’m showing you how you can create captivating videos about your family history quickly and easily with Animoto.
In the First Episode
In episode 1 we laid a foundation for the family history video that you are going to create. Doing this will save you time and ensure a cohesive, well-told story. We also:
- defined your audience
- identified and outlined the story that you want to tell
- collected the content that you will include in your video
If you missed episode 1, you can watch it below:
Get a Free Animoto.com Account
The first thing to do is to go to Animoto here and sign up for a free trial account, which gives you the full power of Animoto Pro. No credit card is required. This trial period is the perfect opportunity to test drive Animoto and see just how easy it is to use. As I’ve said before, if you can click, drag, and drop, you can make videos with Animoto.
The videos you create during the trial will be watermarked, but still downloadable and shareable. If you decide to use Animoto beyond the trial period, there are several pricing plan options. You can purchase as little as one month for around $16 (check their site for current pricing). If you’ve done your prep work like we did in episode 1, you can create several videos in that time period.
OK, I know you’re anxious to get going, so let’s create a video!
It’s super easy. Once you’re signed into your account, click the Create button.
First up, select a style that fits your story. Here are some of my favorites for family history:
- Memory Box
- Antique Bouquet
- Vintage Voyage
You’ll notice that some styles have a Premium banner. Those require a Premium subscription. However, if you’ve opted for a Personal level subscription you still have lots of wonderful styles to choose from.
Click on a style that catches your fancy and watch a preview of what it will look like. When you find the one you want, click the Create Video button on that style page. This will load the Video Creator.
The style you chose will include a song, but you can change that if you want to. To select a new song, click Change Song, and you can pick a song from the Animoto library.
You can also upload your own music mp3 file from your computer. (Remember to keep copyright in mind, and make sure you have the rights to use the song.)
But wait, you can add more than music! You can also upload an audio file, such as a family history interview, or even an mp3 file that you created that includes both music and words.
Adding Pictures & Video
Now it’s time to add your photos, images, and video clips. Of course that’s easy because in episode 1 of this series you created an outline for your story, and you copied the files you wanted to use to illustrate that story into a folder on your computer. So you’re all set to go!
There are two ways to add files. From the menu, click Add Pics & Vids, or on the timeline click the plus sign in the empty box. In the pop up window you’ll find lots of options for imagery, including stock photos from Animoto. But for now, let’s add the images you put in the folder on your drive (see episode 1).
Under Your Computer click Upload Pictures and Video. Navigate your way to your content folder on your computer’s hard drive. Click to select the first image, and then you can select them all by holding down the shift key on your keyboard, and clicking the last image in the folder. Press Enter on your keyboard to add them to your project.
You can rearrange the order of your images and videos by dragging and dropping them with your mouse. If you decide to eliminate an image, simply click to select it and from the menu click Delete.
Next, we’re going to add text to your videos, creating title cards. Again you can do this from the menu, or just click the plus sign in the empty box on the timeline, and then click Add Text.
In the pop up box you’ll type a title (or the main text) and then you have the option to add a subtitle. This is where the outline we created in Video 1 comes in so handy! When you’re done, click Save. And don’t worry because you can always go back and change any text at any time.
Title cards are great for the beginning and ending of your video and also for transitioning to different parts of the story.
Simply click and drag the cards into the order that you want them.
You can also add text captions to each of your images. Hover your mouse over the image and click Caption under the image. In the pop up window containing your image, click to place your cursor in the text area, type in the desired text, and then click Save.
Spotlighting an Item
You may have a few images or title cards that you want the “camera” to spend a little more time on, thereby spotlighting it. To create that effect, just click to the select the image or title card, and then click Spotlight in the menu. I particularly like to Spotlight title cards so that the viewer has plenty of time to read them.
So let’s see how this looks so far, and to do that we’re going to click Preview Video. You can preview your video at any time during the production process.
A low resolution version of your family history video will be created in about 15 seconds. Then you can watch and see what little tweaks and changes you want to make. Click Continue Editing to head back to the timeline and keep working.
I hope you’re getting excited about your video projects. Next time we get together, we’re going to bring our projects down the homestretch and produce them into glorious shareable videos.
If you can’t wait and you want to jump in right now and get started, go for it! Click here to get started with Animoto.
Watch episode 2 below:
Got Criminal Ancestors? How to Investigate Their Crimes
Lydia thinks her great-grandfather was murdered–perhaps even by her grandfather! Here’s some advice for her and everyone researching “cold cases” for criminal ancestors on your family tree.
I heard recently from Lydia with these intriguing questions:
My great great grandpa William John Gabriel Nelson disappeared one day, never coming home from work. It was family lore that he had been “shanghai’d.” But even as a child the story didn’t add up. [Through a] few other mentions of the account throughout the years, and recently reconnecting with cousins through Ancestry.com/DNA and your advice to just email DNA matches, I have a growing reason to believe my great-grandfather was murdered. An even bigger fear is that my grandfather may have been the one to do it.
All parties involved with this are now dead, so follow-up is impossible with them. But I’m wondering about contacting the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) or the library to determine if indeed there was a cold case, missing persons report or John Doe. Since this happened in the mid 1940’s, would I contact the LAPD or is this now a job for a historian?
As a citizen, Lydia can certainly contact the LAPD here. It might take a bit of persistence to get to the right person or resource. I would start by asking for how you can find out the status of a cold case from the year in question.
Here are 4 ways to follow up on your own criminal ancestors’ cold cases:
1. Look for cold case files online.
As I often say, all good searches start online because they will help you prepare to go offline. In other words, not everything is online, but searching online first will give you a lay of the land, revealing what is available, who to contact, and where to go in person. Start with a Google search such as LAPD cold cases. The search results include several good leads:
With a case like Lydia’s that is over 70 years old, I wouldn’t expect to pull it up in an online database (though you never know!) But I do see several sites here that provide phone numbers to gain access to those who can lead you in the right direction.
2. Search Google for clues.
Use Google’s powerful search technology to look for online mentions of the names, places, and dates of your particular case.
In Lydia’s case, she might begin with keywords relating to her great-grandfather’s disappearance, with his name, year, and the place he was last seen. Including descriptive keywords such as disappear, mystery, vanished or murder might also yield helpful results.
Learn more about effective search techniques in my book, The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, Second Edition.
3. Check old newspapers.
4. Look for criminal records.
If you knew (or suspected) that a relative was prosecuted for a crime, it’s time to start looking for records relating to the criminal case. There may be several kinds:
- In cases of suspicious death (where there was a body, unlike Lydia’s case), look for any surviving coroner’s records.
- If a trial may have occurred, research the jurisdiction to find out what court would have handled it, and then look for files relating to the case.
- If an ancestor may have served time, look for prison records. Genealogy Gems Premium podcast episode 29 is devoted to the topic of prison records.
Read this article about a woman who was researching not one but two mysterious deaths on her family tree.
Want to help investigators lay to rest their own cold cases?
Click here to read about the Unclaimed Persons Project and how you can help.
How a Genealogy Society Can Grow Membership
Genealogy is growing dramatically in popularity. Multiple television shows depict family history discoveries, and the use of DNA to help folks climb there family tree has become mainstream. If genealogy is so popular, why is genealogy society membership declining, and how can we slow hat trend?
Genealogy societies have traditionally been centered around genealogists coming together in person, sharing research success stories, and learning more about how to find the records and stories of elusive ancestors.
These days though it’s easy to get distracted by by online research and perceived short cuts. The newest generation of researchers started their search not in a library, but on a computer keyboard. The problem is that they often don’t know what they are missing when it comes to what genealogy societies have to offer.
One solution: show them the value with video!
Create Video Magic with Animoto
(Full disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. Thank you for supporting the Genealogy Gems blog!)
One of my favorite video creation tools is Animoto because it helps you creates incredibly professional-looking videos in a shockingly short amount of time. And most importantly, Animoto requires no more technical skill than clicking, dragging, and dropping with a mouse.
Rather than seeing the Internet as the enemy of your society, embrace it and put it to work for it. Online video is terrific tool for:
- Creating awareness
- Promoting events
- Building your membership
- Providing genealogical educational information
- Sharing events with those who are unable to attend in person
just to name a few ideas.
See It for Yourself
Last year I had the pleasure of presenting a full day genealogy seminar in Fresno, California. Turning photos of the day into a video that could be used to build membership was a breeze With Animoto. I selected a design, uploaded my images and added text to help make the case. Here’s an example of a video I created for the Fresno Genealogical Society.
Getting the Word Out
A video like this can spread the word and reach prospective members in a variety of ways. Here are just a few ideas for how a genealogy society can grow membership using video to achieve their engagement goals:
- Download the video from the Animoto website and show it at your next meeting so visitors can envision reasons to return
- Embed the video your society’s website (just copy the code from Animoto and paste it on your webpage and the video will appear in a convenient video player)
- Share the video on social media sites like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram to not only get views, but provide a super simple way for supporters to share it which will get your society more exposure.
Keys to Video Success
Just a bit of planning can deliver great results. Here are my recommendations for how a genealogy society can grow membership and achieve promotional video success:
- Keep it short – it took just 1 and 1/2 minutes to convey the answers to the who, what, where, and why questions folks may ask when considering a genealogy society in the Fresno area
- Let images do most of the talking – there’s no need for being verbose if you have energetic imagery that convey your ideas.
- Highlight the benefits – the big question potential members have is “why should I bother joining a genealogy society? Make sure you answer that question in your video
- Tell them at the beginning and end how to find you – repeating your website address and keeping it on the screen long enough to jot it down gives them what they need to contact you. And after all, that is the goal of your video.
How to Create Your Genealogy Society Video
We have lots of how-to video creation resources for you here at Genealogy Gems. Click here to find step-by-step instructions for creating videos on Animoto, and to see more examples of the role that video can play in your family history.
More Resources Reveal How a Genealogy Society Can Grow Membership
READ: Need a Genealogy Speaker? Here’s the Affordable Solution
Anabaptist Genealogy Records: Anabaptist Ancestors Revealed Part 2
Anabaptist genealogy records include Amish, German Baptist and Mennonite ancestors. In a past post titled “Amish Genealogy Revealed,” we shared tips for searching out your Amish family tree. Here are more helpful resources submitted by our wonderful readers that you won’t want to miss.
What is an Anabaptist?
The term Anabaptist refers to those religions who reject infant baptism in favor of a believer’s baptism. Amish, Mennonite, and German Baptists fall into the category of Anabaptists.
Anabaptist religions often subscribe to more conservative views and dress. Their families are very much intertwined with their religion, making the study of their history rich in detail and customs.
Anabaptist Genealogy Records: More Amish and Mennonite Family History Resources
We shared in our “Amish Genealogy Revealed,” the resources of the Amish newspaper, The Budget, the Amish church directories, and newsletters and books on Amish families. Many thanks to reader Loren Johns for sharing yet another amazing resource. Loren shared:
As someone who has a couple of hundred thousand Amish in my genealogical database, I enjoyed reading your focus on Amish genealogy. Somewhat surprised to see it!You did not mention the most important source for Amish genealogy. It is the Swiss Anabaptist Genealogical Association, of which I am the secretary. This is a rather informal non-profit association of amateur genealogists interested in Amish and Mennonite genealogy who share their research with each other and with others interested in it, and make it available online.
If I search for an Amos J. Whetstone (an Amish name,) I get 17 hits, to three separate men. Amos J. Whetstone (1903-1984) appears in 6 different databases; Amos J. Whetstone (1919-2003) appears in 4 databases; and Amos J. Whetstone (1945- ) appears in 7 databases … so the 17 hits actually represent three men.
A most important book on Amish genealogy is Amish and Amish Mennonite Genealogies by Hugh Gingerich and Rachel Kreider. It is sometimes called the Amish genealogy “Bible.” It traces all of the Amish immigrant ancestors (144 different surnames) and their families to 1850, where it had to stop lest it explode into an encyclopedia.
Anabaptist Genealogy Records: Resources for the German Baptist or The Old German Baptist Brethren
Another group of Anabaptist’s are the German Baptist, also known as the Old German Baptist Brethren. Here in Ohio, we sometimes refer a particular break-off by their nickname, Dunkards. The Dunkards were given this nickname for their belief in baptism by immersion.
It is my own family ancestors who were among the Dunkards. Luckily, we have a wonderful archive in Brookville, Ohio called Brethren Heritage Center. The Brethren bodies involved with the Brethren Heritage Center are:
- Church of the Brethren
- Conservative Grace Brethren International
- Dunkard Brethren
- Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches
- German Baptist Brethren
- Old Brethren
- Old Brethren German Baptist
- Old German Baptist Brethren
- Old German Baptist Brethren-New Conference
- Old Order German Baptist
- The Brethren Church
This heritage center offers many books and collections including family histories, maps, letters, diaries, census records, and birth records. In particular, the heritage center website also has a large list of helpful links to begin researching your Brethren ancestors. To see the list of links, click here.
Anabaptist Genealogy Records – Share Your Knowledge
If you have Anabaptist heritage, you may be aware of additional Anabaptist genealogy records that we have not mentioned. We would be delighted if you would share that information with our Genealogy Gems community in the comments below. We look to you to be an inspiration and teacher to us here at The Genealogy Gems Podcast, and you always come through. Thank you!