Family Tree Digital Video – Experience the Value of What Digital Video Can Do For You

What do you think of when you think of “media”? Today, that word means a lot more than it did just a little bit ago. Today, video is ubiquitous, and very easy to do, with the advent and common usage of recording equipment, streaming video online, the common use of text and picture files online, and so on. This means that many more people have access to video today than they ever have before. This has been especially advantageous for genealogy enthusiasts; because they can find things online today that they couldn’t have found anywhere just a few years ago. And many people use these genealogical discoveries to create truly artistic and interactive family tree books and charts.

In fact, these advances in technology have made it possible to make family trees and family histories come alive in ways our ancestors never dreamt of. We can make digital slideshows and videos, and we can capture these family histories in forms that we can share and make gifts of to others.

When you do genealogical research and then put what you have found on digital video, this not only makes it great archival material, but it actually makes the past come alive. That’s because pictures, voices, home video footage, and music can be included in these videos. It certainly takes work to make Family Tree Digital Video come alive in this way, but think about that for a minute; what you’ve done is going to be treasured as a true heirloom by anyone who has a copy for years to come. Family Tree Digital Video lets your descendants not yet known to you be able to see and hear you, your parents, grandparents, great aunts and uncles, great grandparents, and so on. It preserves family members’ images, voices, stories, and mannerisms — truly, it makes them come alive.

Professional services like Family Tree Digital Video can create videos from your materials if you wish, or you can make them yourself. If you choose to do the work yourself, you’re going to need software like Windows Movie Maker or Apple’s iMovie. You’ll need to convert any video, audio or pictures into digital format before you use them. Everyone of course will love hearing and seeing family members, but including actual geological information is very important to the process, too. You can include this information as voiceovers, done over pictures or other records shown of deceased family members, or done over a picture-framed, visual version of a family tree.

You can make your final product as long as you want to, but the longer you make it, the longer it’s going to take to put together. 15 minutes of video are probably going to take several hours to put together, depending on how good you are with movie making software. You may have grand visions of your final product, but when you first start out, it’s probably a good idea to keep things simple, at least at first. You can of course become more elaborate with what you do as you learn and develop your family tree video further.

Perhaps the most time-consuming part of the process will be in putting everything in digital format first. You can scan film photos, and you can have a service convert videotape to digital format. If your original audio is not digital, you will have to digitize it into MP3 or another usable audio format. Any material that you’re going to be using should be converted to digital format first before you worry about putting your video itself together.

Your video is your own to organize, but one of the things you can do is to have your video tell a story. Start off with a simple story, leaving lots of details out, and then add as you go. You can make sequels to your videos after you’ve done your first. After you’ve planned your story out, plan where you’re going to put photographs and videos. Any basic movie making software will have several transition effects that you can choose from as you show a series of videos, or picture clips. You can also add titles whenever you want to with the movie software.

For included audio, any VHS video that’s been converted will have its audio included as well. If you want to use background music come you can fade it out when you want to listen to people talking, and then you can fade music back in when you want to play a series of silent video or still photo selections.

Most importantly, make this video yours, and put your heart and soul into it. Even if your video isn’t the most perfect at first, people will very much appreciate the work you put into it. Most often, people want a family tree video that’s clear, easy to understand, and provides a visual piece of recorded family history, with lots of pictures and any relevant audio and video you can find. This will be much more important to those you make the video for than any smooth transitional cuts or other cinematic “polish.”

Daniel K. Voyles is a genealogy enthusiast. To read more great information on family tree digital video visit

Author: Daniel K. Voyles
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