TIPS! Ideas For Making Family Films

Making the most of our digital memories can sometimes leave us at an inspiration impasse. Luckily, J. Kevin Tumlinson gives us some great ideas to get things going:

  • Make music videos. This is by far my favorite type of production; I’ve made eight of these so far. Yesterday I wrote about making a music video as a romantic Valentine’s Day or anniversary gift, but any idea centered around your family is just as good.
  • Boil down your family video tapes. When I go on vacation, or to a family outing, I often take my video camera and shoot a bunch of footage. But I wouldn’t dare show these tapes to people as is. There’s just too much “garbage” footage in them. The idea here is simplicity itself: take those tapes and remove all the boring footage, leaving just the interesting material. The result is something you can show to family and friends without inflicting too much boredom.
  • Narrate your old home movies. This idea was suggested to me by the proprietor of a company that converts old 8mm films into DV or DVD format. Here’s how it works: You hook up a tape recorder and clip a microphone to a family member whose memories you want to record – let’s say for this example, it’s your Grandpa. Then you watch the movie, and while it plays you record Grandpa reminiscing about what he’s watching. Afterward,you take the recording of Grandpa’s voice and dub it onto the video footage he was watching, perhaps adding some soft background music. The result is a home movie with priceless audio commentary.
  • Record an oral history. This idea is similar to the previous except that there’s no videotape to stimulate your subject’s memories. Instead you ask questions in interview format, or perhaps you just sit and talk. If your subject doesn’t mind, you can also set up a tripod and videotape the interview. Afterward, you can edit the interview down to its best parts. You can merge in footage from old home movies, merge in family photos, perhaps even scans of old letters or memorabilia.
  • Make a video memoir. My nephew is a high school senior. Last year his mother bought him a mini DV camcorder so he can record the best moments of his last year in high school. Christmas Dance. Senior Prom. Graduation. That’s great starter material for a video project. Add to it digital photos, scans of his graduation announcement, yearbook photo, and the like. Set it all to the music of the senior class song (do high school kids still choose Free Bird as their class song?) and he will have a great product he can cherish forever. This idea would work well for other experiences too: a wedding, a new baby, building a new house, you name it.
  • Create sporting event videos. Does little Johnny (or Janie) play little-league baseball? Do you take your camera to the games? When you watch those tapes, you probably find yourself yawning through much of it. They’re rarely as much fun on tape as they were live, but with a little editing, you can turn a couple of hours of baseball into a much shorter, tighter production that’s great fun to watch. Edit out the field changes between innings. Take out any pitch that’s not a hit, a walk, or a put-out. Overlay the video with pitch count and score graphics. Of course, this works with other sports, though some better than others. There’s a lot of variations you can make on this idea; for example, at the end of the season, you can take your child’s best plays and put together a highlight reel.

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{photo by aka Kath}


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