How to Achieve Immortality by Professionally Editing your Home Movies!
How to Achieve Immortality!
Times of your Life
You hear stories all the time about when someone’s house burns down, the first thing they grab are the family photo albums and home movies before the go running out the door. But in fact, while these items may be the first thing they grab, most people’s home movies and photo collections are stored in assorted boxes locked away in a dusty closet or slopped together in cheap photo albums that lay strewn on the bottom of a basement bookshelf where they rarely see the light of day. What people do with their home movies would make Steven Spielberg cry.
Your family media can be more then just a scattered collection of pictures and video tapes. Put together properly they can become more valuable then the world’s largest diamond or a fancy sports car. When all is said and done, your diamonds end up being fought over by greedy relatives and your sports car ends up in the used car lot. But your family media has the potential to live on and influence people for eternity. In a sense, it is the closest thing that we have at this point to immortality. Something that we can offer the next generation in regards to passing down little bits and pieces of our lives.
The Cold Hard Reality of Home Movie Editing
Editing home movies is a bitch. Sorry to phrase it that way, but there is really no other way to state what is a cold hard cruel fact of life. Editing and organizing home movies is one of those projects that we always say were going to do that somehow never seems to get done, and by the time we’ve resolved ourselves to the actual task of doing it, the mountain of home movies socked away in the closet has grown to Everest size proportions that the sight of defeats most of us before we even begin to properly edit and organize our home movies. Hence, the pile grows, the video degrades and our memories are cast off into the sea of digital oblivion.
The task of organizing and editing home movies is usually so overwhelming that it does not get properly done, if ever done at all. And that’s a crying shame. These memories are one of the most valuable possessions that you have. It’s extremely discouraging that most people put more time and money into purchasing and maintaining a new car then they do in preserving the videos of their kid’s first spin on a bike without training wheels. These are the times of our lives and if we don’t do something to properly maintain and store these digitally perishable items, they will be lost for the ages.
We are the first generation that has the technical ability to capture these moments for prosperity. A few years back, all you had, if you were lucky, was a shoe box full of handmade three minute films where you or our relatives usually danced in front of the camera doing something incredibly stupid in splendid scratchy, washed out silence. Now with the technology available to the masses, it is possible to record and document some ones entire life.
So, how do you take this great concept of documenting your family’s life, a shoe box of unmarked videos collecting dust in the closet, and put them together to make a great DVD that won’t bore people to tears. It’s not easy, but it is definitely worth it to try. Consider this. Would you rather give a gift that falls apart after a few years and crumbles back into the earth, or give your family a beautifully edited DVD of all the wonderful moments that you shared together raising them, that they in turn will hopefully pass down to their kids. It is, in a sense, one of the few things that you will leave behind that has the potential to be your living legacy. There are few things in life that one can give that offer this. But the reality of that gift is that you have to make the effort to do it for it to take effect.
I just spend a few weeks researching this article and unfortunately the bottom line is, this article included that if there is a need there is someone there trying to sell you something to do something, that even if you do buy whatever it is that they are selling, you’re not going to be able to do. Problem with editing and organizing home movies, is that just like everything else, there are more hucksters and rip off artist then there are actually people who can do what you need done, well.
When it comes to editing and maintaining your home movies, the first thing that you need that nobody can sell you, is time. So beware before you buy anything related to editing you own home movies. The market is swamped with products that claim to make this task simple. It is not a simple task. To properly put together your home movies, you are going to have to pay someone, or take the time to learn how to do it yourself. The key ingredient here is time. Time to install hardware, time to install software, time to digitize, time to log material and time to actually sit down and do the editing.
Motivating yourself to do it and getting started is probably the biggest obstacle you will have to overcome. IM a professional video producer and it took me a year and a half to get my ass motivated enough to sit down and do the actually dirty work of editing together a family video about our beach vacations. What it actually involved, once I got started was daunting, even to a seasoned pro like me.
For starters, there is the collecting of all of the material that you are going to need to produce a decent production. This is where you go around the house looking for all of those home movies that you are your family has shot over the years. It is also at this point you may want to sit down and decide what it is that you are attempting to do. If you are planning on tackling your whole home movie collection in one sitting, forget it. This won’t happen overnight. It’s better to take on the task of editing home movies in small manageable chunks.
Then after you have collected all of your home movies and sill photo’s you have to make sure that you have the technical means to complete the project. It is at this point that you will probably find that you are missing something and you will need to spend money to purchase what is needed to produce whatever it is that you want to do. Let me repeat, spend money! Just like everything else in life, you’re going to get what you’re willing to put into it. And to properly edit your home movies you’re going to spend some cash. There’s really no way around it.
There’s several ways of going about the process of creatively editing and storing your home movies. Except of one exception, all these options require a large time commitment and extreme effort. Any publication or sales pitch promising you that this process is easy, and simple, should be avoided, shredded and sent back to the publisher. If someone tells you that the process of producing a family documentary and family media management is easy, then they are lying to you and trying to get you to buy something. Should you spend your cash on anything that has these two words “easy and simple” in their advertisement or web site, then you have been or are going to be ripped off.
What I’m trying to outline here in this article, is information that you can use to make a decision that will change your life forever. Why? Because if done properly, home movies can be a medium that you can use as an extension of yourself that can transcend generations. It is a way for you to communicate feelings that we have to people who do not even know us yet. Imagine for a moment the warmth and joy that you feel watching your child take his or her first steps. Now imagine being able to convey those feelings to that child ten years later. We now have the technology to make ourselves immortal.
Ten, twenty years from now, we are not going to be the same people that we are now. The home moves we share can, if used properly, allow us to traverse those spans in time and give us a chance to express just exactly who it is that we were. That said doesn’t make the task or organizing and creating those memories any easier. So let’s begin.
A well produced home movie can convey all of those wonderful feelings that we just discussed and they can also cause people to want to kill and maim themselves if they are subjected to watching home movies that are not creatively edited. There is nothing more dreaded by visitors to your home then hearing you ask “anyone one to see some of our home movies?” It is usually at this point that people begin complaining about food poisoning or some other ailment, or they claim to hear their mothers calling and have to go home. Home movies the way they are usually presented, flat out suck the life out of a friendly gathering and are a real evening killer. Personally I would rather stick forks in my eyes then watch some ones unedited home movies of a trip to Disneyland. But, on the other hand, a well edited home movie can be a work of art and a pleasant surprise for everyone watching.
Twenty years from now do you want to watch something that makes you want to stick forks in your eyes or something that will make you remember the wonderful life that you have hopefully lived? Just remember this when you are making the decisions that will effect your videos.
Leave it to the professionals.
The first option is that you pay a company like “Times of Your Life” to do it for you. If you can afford it, and not many of us mortals can, I highly recommend this for numerous reasons, too many to list them all here. If you can afford it, then by all means, let some highly creative producer put it together for you. Yes, you will pay a lot of money, but in the end you will have a quality documentary about your family delivered to you on a DVD that can be shared with everyone. You will also get all of your family media stored and organized onto hard drives that you can access later for your own use. Once this is done correctly the first time, updating the files is not that difficult and can be done yearly. Compared with what most people can do on their own, the results of letting a professional do it for you, pale in comparison.
Problem with this option is that there are not too many companies out there who can really do the job well. But if you are fortunate enough to have the expendable cash and access to a producer, like myself (A little shameless self promotion here for our company Times of Your Life Media), then this is the ultimate option which will provide you with the highest quality production, the most organized delivery of your digitized media, and what we Americans like most, and that is it is the easiest way for you to do it.
Now, just like buying that expensive car, the above option presents two major hurdles. Funding, and finding someone who can do it well. The market is swamped with wedding photographers who claim that they can also edit and organize your home movies for you. Don’t you believe it! Most wedding photographers are amateur hacks who think because they bought a semi-professional camera on e-bay that it entitles them to call themselves professional video producers. Just like any other profession, you get what you pay for. Go cheap, and then pass out the forks with the pop corn when you show people the results.
If you are going to spend the cash to have someone produce your family home movies, spend it wisely and on someone who knows what the hell they are doing. Find someone who is a real television producer/editor and someone who is passionate about what they do. After all, these are the times of your life. Your home movies no matter what the quantity or quality can be transformed into family heirlooms if properly produced.
Also, if you are laying out the cash for this option, make sure that you get your media back in a way that you can access it yourself, preferably on hard drives with everything organized into bins that you can add future home movies into.
The do it yourself route.
There are plenty of do it yourself options available to anyone with a powerful computer, lots of disc storage space, the right software and access to whatever machine it is that you need to playback whatever format it is that you shot your home movies on. And let’s not forget the main ingredient, lots of time.
The easiest do it yourself route is to buy a computer that is equipped with all of the proper video and audio cards, memory and whatever else it is that it needs to be compatible with the editing software your going to use. The key word here is fire-wire and converting analog to digital. Fire-wire is a god send when digitizing your home movies. For the most part all you have to do is plug in the fire wire from your camcorder to your computer, start up the software and you’re in business. Since most of us have home movies that are more then five years old, somewhere in the process, unless all of your video is digital, you will have to convert from analog to digital. God has his plan, and converting analog to digital was not one of them. If you are not familiar with the word analog, then add more time to the learning curve. More on this later.
Unless all of your video and media is in the digital domain, then you have quite a job ahead of you in terms of getting your home movies into a useable format that can be used by you and your computer and then finally onto a DVD or some other digital storage medium. This means that you must ask this question to whomever it is that you are dealing with in terms of setting up your computer. How can I convert analog to digital?
Digitizing Home Movie Home Movies
16 mm, 8 mm and super 8 film home movies, the kind that your dad or grand dad used to shoot on those short three minute reel silent movie cameras need to be transferred to a DVD or some other digital file before they can be used by you and your computer. To do this process correctly means that you have to send out the film to be digitized onto a DVD. The cost of this is usually around 15 to 30 dollars per reel, depending on whom and where it is done. Same goes for any other type of film you might want to have transferred.
One trick that might work to get these movies into the digital domain is to lock the camera down on a tripod and shoot the images off of a wall using your digital camcorder. Sometimes this idea works, but only if you have a halfway decent camera that shoots well in low light. You’ll know if it works when you look into the viewfinder. If it looks crappy in the view finder, it’s going to look worse when you put it into your home movie masterpiece.
Usually I hate to offer these tips, because people will then substitute good production values for saving a buck. The rule here is that if you can do it, and it looks good then do it. But the best fail safe way of doing things, is to spend the time and money to do it right in the first place. Whenever possible, send out these films and have them professionally transferred to DVD.
A lot of people have had their film home movies transferred to VHS tape. While it does preserve the film home movies, the quality of VHS transferred home movies leaves a lot to be desired. If possible, for quality purposes have the film transferred to a DVD. It looks better, and once you have it done you can easily make multiple copies for yourself and future generations. It also makes loading your home movies into your computer a hell of a lot easier. If this is not an option, then the VHS copies are better then nothing. But remember, the VHS tape, like any other tape source will eventually degrade. Tape is not a long term solution to your home media storage solution.
Tape Formats and Digital Oblivion
Thanks to corporate competition and built in obsolescence, we the consumer ended up with several different video tape formats throughout the eighties, nineties and the new millennium. Now, we the consumer are about to pay the price, once again, for corporate greed and our own stupidity in terms of family media storage. One of the biggest problems facing a lot of us is that our home movie collections are spread out on several different formats. Problem number one. The tape we shot these precious memories on is in danger of falling apart.
The problem with video tape of any format is that it wears out. Don’t believe me? Ask the networks that are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to digitize decade’s worth of video tapes and finding that a lot of the stuff has degraded to the point of not being usable. Don’t kid yourself; at some point your tape and what is on them are history. Once the video on those tapes is gone, it is gone forever.
As a rule of thumb, if your tape is over six years old, you had better check it to see if it’s degrading. You’ll be able to see just how bad it is degrading by the number of hit marks on your television screen. A lot of hits and drop outs, then your tape is already in the process of degrading. The hits, by the way, are caused by the oxide coating on the tape actually coming off of the tape due to the shrinking of the actual tape. This problem will increase as the tape ages. It not only degrades the quality of your video, it also clogs the heads of the device you are using to transfer the video.
If your tapes are over ten years old there’s a better then 50/50 chance that the tapes are probably damaged to the point of not being usable. I recommend that if your tapes are over five years old that you at least begin the process of transferring them to some other format remembering that once these tapes are gone, they are gone. Now that you know the risk and are running to your closet to begin the preservation process, the fun part begins.
Since most of us no longer have the original device that was used to shoot our home movies to play the tapes back on, your first task will be to find a way to get your home movies onto a different type of media which you can use to edit and watch your home movies. That means you repair the old device, buy a new device, or hire us (Times of Your Life Media), or some other company to do it for you. Either way, depending on the number of tapes that you have, you can plan on dropping some pretty big bucks to do it. The longer you wait, the better the chance that your tapes will become completely unusable.
Most of my family members have home movies that were shot on Hi 8 tapes that were in their time, considered state of the art. Now none of us have a working device to play them back. In other words our home movies are sitting in a closet rotting away, and none of us can enjoy them because we do not have a machine to watch them on. In the mean time, these tapes are in the process of degrading.
If you shot your movies on a “Hi-8 or an 8 millimeter, unit, there are only a few companies left that manufacture these machines. Those few companies know that most of us are going to be desperate to own one of their machines and they price their product accordingly. Last time I checked, the cost of a new Hi-8 machine was almost a thousand dollars. If your format is VHS, you’re in luck because there are still a lot of VHS machines on the market. VHS-C, the same, assuming that you have the adapter. If your media is on some other format, and you do not have access to a machine to play your tapes back on, then you’re going to pay to get your home movies back into a format that you can access. The only recommendation here is to go on e-bay or some other online auction site and see if you can find an old unit that still works so you can at least get your home movies backed up into some other format.
Even if you’re not ready to edit your home movies, get them backed up some how, some way onto a DVD. Give up the latté’s, and whatever other vices you may have and spend the time and the bucks to do this before it’s too late!
The manufactures would have you believe that maintaining your home movies is as simple as clicking your mouse. Sure it is. Till you get home, plug in your computer and have it tell you that what you want to do can not be done without buying something else to make it work. The truth is that you need to ask someone who knows, and not someone who is trying to sell you something. Research first, then make a list, and then buy whatever it is that you need to put together a system that can edit, and organize your home movies and digital media. One of the best place’s to do this is PC world magazine.
You will need lots and lots of hard drive space to properly edit your home movies. You will need even more hard drive space if this is where you plan to store your home movies. I recommend that you store your media on hard drives, and make DVD back up copies. That way, you have two copies of your media just in case your hard drive crashes, which it will at some point, or you damage your DVDs.
Hard drives are a weird gadget of life. Go cheap with these babies, and you’ll be crying later when all the home movies you spent hours to digitize end up in digital oblivion. Once again, research and buy the most hard drive space you can afford from a reliable company.
When digitizing home movies, keep in mind that you will want to maintain the highest level of resolution possible. That means digitizing at the highest resolution possible. And with the advent of HDTV that means you will need double the space necessary if this is the format you are editing on. Sound confusing? It is, but the main thing to be concerned about is to get your material into the digital domain. Once your material is in the digital domain, you can work with it and transfer it to different formats. And unless you are currently shooting your home movies in the HDTV format, then don’t worry about it.
So how much digital storage space do you need? The answer to this will depend on just what it is that you want to do with your home movie collection. If you’re looking to back up the whole collection, then simply count the number of tapes you have times the minutes on the tapes, then divide by five minutes per gigabyte. This will give you some sort of idea of how much storage space you will need to back up your entire collection. The other option is to load up ten hours of home movie material, edit it down, consolidate it, then delete the master material, and begin again with a new batch.
One of the things to consider is to clip your home movies into best of bins, and then delete the unused material off of the hard drives to make space for unedited material that you can clip into best of sequences. Keep in mind, that once you delete the original material, that the only thing that you will have is the best of material. Should you want to access the original material you will have to re-digitize it. Sound confusing? Not really considering that once you edit your home movies into best of bins, that this is the material you will want to keep anyway. But if for some reason you decide that you want to keep all of your material, then you will have to purchase the hard drives to accommodate the material.
One thing about living in the digital domain is that all of this material is subject to technology changes, format changes and digital loss of material due to equipment failure or technical glitches. Most media, if properly handled, should last as long as your lifetime, if you stay on top of the technology and perform data back of your home media. But the risk of losing your media is still there. One thing that you can do to help prevent loss of media is to back it up your home media at a few different sources.
For most people a few DVD back ups should suffice, just as long as you keep those DVDs in a safe place. But at some point you should consider either sharing your DVDs with a family member to save for safe keeping, or an off site storage server. The off site server offers some protection but your best bet is to scatter DVD copies amongst family members and hope that everyone does not misplace their DVDs at the same time.
Since the digital domain is fairly new, it is difficult to gauge the long term storage capacity of the medium. Is there a permanent way to record your media? No, not really. But if you back up, safely store and maintain your media it should last a life time, and maybe by that time your kids and grand kids will have access to something a bit more stable. But until then, be careful and back up your media.
There is a lot of editing software out there. Some of it is good, a lot, not so good. One thing for sure, is that unless your are semi familiar with the editing process, most of them are confusing and unless you read the instructions thoroughly you could end up spending a lot of time learning by trial and error. Despite the claims by the manufacturers of these so called, “easy to use software packages”, I have found that most of the lower priced software is incompatible with the better editing software packages and using the cheaper software will cost you later when you upgrade and want to change the format of what it is that you are working on. Depending on your project, keep in mind that what you do today will not necessarily work with a different computer or software set up later on. So once again, do your home work when buying your hardware and software.
I have found that the Avid line of editing software to be incredibly reliable and the best as far as it works most of the time without crashing your computer. Avid software is semi easy to learn, and the company looks as though it will be around for a while to support its software.
Avid is one of two platforms, the other being Final Cut Pro, that seem to be the industry leaders and destined for long term company survival. This is an important factor when considering what to buy. The long-term life of your home movies will depend on it. Edit on software from a cheap fly by night operation, then your home movies stand a good chance of being doomed to digital oblivion should your software become corrupted or lost with no way to replace it.
Since you already waited this long to begin the project, it’s probably a good idea to give up lattés for a few months and use the cash you save to buy yourself some decent editing software. You will not regret this decision especially when you’re sitting up at two in the morning asking yourself why your $ 49.99 editing software ate your child’s first Christmas and won’t give it back.
Regardless of what they tell you to get you to purchase their products, the learning curve for editing software is high. Depending on whatever brand you purchase you will spend at least a weekend or more mastering the basics needed to use the software. You will also probably end up pulling your hair out figuring out how to get your video into the computer.
In the digital domain, anything fed with a fire wire is good. But if you plan on using video that is analog, which needs to be converted to digital, then you will soon discover what I’m saying about learning curves.
Windows Movie Maker comes installed in a lot of the newer systems, and while fairly easy to use, it is extremely limited in what it can do as far as giving professional results. Which brings us to a very important point and that is, what are the results that you want to achieve.
Creatively Editing Home Movies…
Problem with home movies is that they are for the most part boring. I just had a look at a website that showcased people’s raw home movies, and man I got to tell you, the Pentagon should really consider forcing terrorist suspects to watch unedited home movies as a form of extracting information. No offense but beside seeing people that you recognize dancing around on New Years, with lampshades on their heads, a home movie, in it’s raw state is not really what I would consider a entertaining way to spend a evening. Now on the other hand, a properly edited, creatively produced home movie can be a valuable keepsake that can be handed down from generation to generation. The key words here are creatively produced.
This past summer I took fifteen years of beach vacation home video and edited it into an hour long mini documentary about our family’s vacations at the beach. In my production I used home movie material and I went around interviewing people in my family and asking them to tell me there best beach stories. I also added still pictures and our favorite music. The final result was a highly produced program that told the story of our family’s trips to the beach. The finished program looked great, sounded great, and is now a permanent record of some of the greatest moments of our lives. Each year all I have to do is edit what was shot during subsequent vacations and update copies for my family members. Not only is it a permanent record of some of the greatest times of our life, it is also entertaining to watch, even to people who are not part of the clan.
What it took as far as labor and time is something that you will have to consider when approaching your project. For just the summer vacations I had to digitize over 46 hours of various format home movies. This involved five 300 gigabyte hard drives. Countless hours of dealing with video that would not capture, and finding machines that I could use to playback dated video material that had to be converted from analog to digital.
Then all of this material had to be labeled, sorted into bins, trimmed and color corrected. Then there was the sorting and scanning of hundreds of family photos and finding the music that I wanted to use. On top of all of that I went around and interviewed most of my family members about their favorite beach moments, and digitized this material as well. All in all the process took almost 5 weeks of full time work. And this was before the actual editing process even began.
Once the material is digitized it is fairly easy to edit. But once again, depending on what kind of result you are trying to achieve, the creative editing process can take a while. In the end, it is the editing and how you put it together that will make or break your finished product.
When capturing and digitizing material, avoid being lazy by not properly labeling the clips that you are storing into the hard drives. Failure to do this properly will add hours to the editing process which will be spent searching for files that you have no idea what they contain. Same goes for music files. Label and organize.
It’s a good idea to decide on titles before you start editing. What I mean by titles are the graphics you are going to use. I find that as far as titles go that less is better. A few simple chapter cards, like a black screen with white letters saying, “This is my Life” is all that you need. Fancy, flashy graphics usually take away from the production.
The Creative Process of Editing Home Movies
Before you actually begin editing, it’s a good idea to decide what it is that you want to edit. The choices vary between a full blown Discovery Channel family documentary, a single edited event like a wedding or an anniversary, the birth of a child or whatever you topic that you want. Each project has to be approached differently. Some people will be satisfied with just having edited home movies that are in no particular order, while others will opt for more ambitious projects like a detailed history of how grand mom or grand pop came to America and started the family.
Personally, IM currently editing a project for my daughter. I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience of being married and being a father. IM now experiencing the best times of my life and I have made a concerted effort to document those moments to share with my daughter and her children. I want her to know just how much I and her mother loved being her parents. I want to share with her the joy of being a parent, so that when she grows up, and decides to have her own children she can share that joy with them as well. This medium offers me the opportunity to share with her moments that I will remember, and now see again, for the rest of my life. Nothing substitutes for the love of a parent, but this medium defiantly allows us to share with others who and what we are and to share them with others. I firmly believe that this will have a positive effect on my daughter’s life and how she sees herself, and the relationships she develops throughout her life.
So when preparing for your production keep in mind what your message is and stays on track. One great way to enhance any production is to conduct interviews with yourself and other people in your family about the events you see in the home movies. A great way to make otherwise boring video come to life is to use those interviews with video laid on top to help tell the story. It’s also a great way to communicate the way you feel about people.
The point IM trying to make here is that when planning a production, spend a little time figuring out what you want it to look like. Design some graphics, use a combination of video and still shots interlaced with music. When possible, let the pictures and the words of the people in the home movies tell the story.
The actual editing…
All one has to do is take a look at all of the video material that is on You Tube. Most of the material posted is footage of people beating each other up, vomiting, peeing, burping or doing other stupid things that most other people could care less about. Oh from time to time you see a good video or two, but for the most part it is a waste land. Same goes for most of our home movies.
One of the problems when editing home movies is that it is extremely hard to detach yourself from the material. My goal was to edit together a video that could be viewed and enjoyed in an hour or less. Try taking fifty hours of video material and compressing it into an hour when you think everything that your kid did was the cutest thing in the world.
Assuming that all of your video has been successfully digitized, and is resting comfortably in your hard drives and all of your software is functioning properly, the first thing that has to be done, is that you watch all of the material and do what they call a rough cut. That means you begin the process of selecting the shots that you want to include in your finished production.
What I suggest doing is setting up bins and clip files. For example if your video is covering multiple years, organize your bins by the year, season or event. Then as you’re going through all of your home movies, clip out the best birthday shots, Halloween shots, etc… and collect them into these bins. Same goes for other events like beach vacations, Christmas, etc.. You may also find it helpful to set up bins for cute moments, and other outstanding best of shots that you like. This process takes a while, so be patient. Sometimes finding the good shots is like finding a needle in the hay stack so to speak. If you go through the material too fast, you’re going to miss something that will probably never be seen again. So take your time and enjoy.
When you’re finished clipping your reels, it’s probably a good time to make back up copies of the clipped material. So while you’re in between editing sessions, burn off a copy of the clipped files and put them away. This serves two purposes. One, you have back ups just in case something should happen during the edit process. And two, these are your condensed versions of your home movies for you to enjoy later.
The editing process for a creatively produced home movie is tedious and slow. That is if you want a decent product that will not bore people into burying their heads into the wall from boredom. You will find, especially if you can not stand back from the footage and view it as a producer, verses a proud dad, that you want to keep everything. As an editor and a producer, this is not a good. The whole idea about doing a video project like this is to produce something that is not painful to watch. Your main goal at this point should be to produce an entertaining and heartfelt family heirloom that can be passed down through the ages without disappointing the fans.
When editing, keep in mind, that you are trying to tell people a story about you and your family. If necessary use voice over’s of yourself and others laid under the pictures to help tell the story. Remember this while filming future home movies. Try to get people to explain what they are doing while they are doing it. But the main thing is that you want the end product to tell your family story without boring people to tears. This is not an easy task for a professional let alone someone who is a weekend editor, but it can be done.
A good home movie production is a work of art. For it to be produced well takes a creative soul who is able to organize, prioritize and finally complete what they started. For those about to embark on taking on such a project, we salute you.
The ultimate option? Let a professional do it for you.
Should you not be so inclined, let me leave you with this final option. Let a professional do it for you. That’s what my company “Times of your Life” does. We are a full service production company producing high quality, documentary style videos for consumers. What it means is that we take peoples home movies, pictures and actually develop a scripted documentary about someone’s family that looks as good as anything that you see on regular television. This means that we use the same approach that we do for our network clients like Discovery, TLC and Court TV to produce a finished television production. The results are impressive.
Times of You Life, produces anything from a full blown family documentary, to short professionally produced video projects that include a “Day in Your Life videos, or an anniversary tape for grand parents. We also produce projects that cover specific home movie productions for family events like vacations, kids birthdays and holidays.
In the past we have produced short projects that cover the life of a child or a relative that can be given to loved ones as mementoes. These projects cover specific time periods and are not as involved as the production of family documentaries, but the results are, once again impressive. Give us a call and either my self or one of our producers will fill you in on the details.
I do not take this business of home movies lightly. For me, it is one of the few things that I will be able to give my daughter that will allow her to understand who I was and the role I played in her life. When I’m gone, she will have these collections in which to learn about where she came from, and who I was. So in a way, I will be able to be with her
For most of us mortals, producing a project like this is out of reach financially. But if you are interested, give us a call or visit our web site a www.timesofyourlifemedia.com. For the rest of us, we will have to make do with the means available.
A few closing notes…
Protecting and preserving your home movies should be the first thing that you do. If you’re a family person, then those video tapes should be treated like gold. Except this gold will end up worthless unless you take proper care to make sure that it maintains its value.
Back up your back ups.
It’s a good idea to make multiple copies of home movies regardless of format. If it’s a DVD, then while you’re burning one copy, burn another and stash it away. If possible make a copy of the more important DVDs, such as a child’s birth or first birthday, then burn off a few extra copies and give them to responsible relatives to hold on to.
In this digital age, the memories of all those wonderful family moments are on your hard drives, flash drives, memory sticks and whatever other digital storage devices you use. Eventually these hard drives will crash. The only way to really protect them is to make backing up the media a part of your life. So back them up every few years. Spend a few bucks now, and you’ll be crying over watching your kid’s first ride without training wheels instead of crying over a smoking hard drive. You owe this to your children and their children.
It’s All in Your Hands
So, it’s all in your hands. The good news is, that once you get started, the process gets easier. Once your home movies are properly maintained it’s just a matter of taking a few moments each month to update your family media files. After you’re done shooting a tape, or a DVD, take an hour or so and edit down the material and keep the best of material on a clip reel, or even better yet. Keep adding to the epic that you have already started.
In the end
Think about it. You are part of the first generation that is able to hand down a visual record of the life that you are living. Without that, you’re just a deleted social security number and a tomb stone. I just finished editing the home movies for the first four years of my daughter’s life. I love my child more then I ever thought possible, and I have from time to time, sat in front of the camera and told her just how wonderful it is to be her father. Now thanks to this medium, and the fact that I took the time and made the effort to produce her video, I can share those feelings of joy with her now and for the rest of our lives.
The Family Media that I have produced is something that will live on beyond my mortal life. And someday, when my daughter becomes her own person and shows these video productions to her children, I too will live once more.
About the Author
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