TIPS! Skype Turns Happy B-Day Post into Sing-Along

Send a special birthday wish to Facebook friends that is way cooler than the standard Wall Post that all the other kids are doing.  Get the full scoop here at Mashable.

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}

little tips for shooting in the dark

Fall is here! The holidays are upon us. It’s getting darker out there. Earlier and earlier. Day by day. So it’s a good time to talk about how to get the best shots from your videocamera or smartphone when in the dark:

  1. WHAT YOU SEE IF WHAT YOU GET – Can’t see your kid on the little screen? Well it’s going to be the same when you watch it on your big screen at home. Look around and find any lighting source you can take advantage of. Trust the monitor on your camcorder or smartphone as WYSIWYG: what you see is what you get.
  2. GO A LITTLE BLAIR WITCH STYLE – If your camera has a “nightshot” or infrared function then give it a shot. Everyone will come out white and green but they’ll be able to be seen. Mix it up. Try a little on infrared and then back to normal shooting mode. If you don’t have an infrared mode then try using a flashlight app on your smartphone (like Flashlight+ for iPhone or Tiny Flashlight for Android) and light it up with a little blue or red.
  3. AVOID THE POLICE FLASHLIGHT LOOK – Remember that show “COPS” – well that’s what it looks like then you use that on-camera bright LED spotlight. It’s better to embrase the dark. Use all of the dramatic black on the screen artistically. Get your kid to stand near a lamp or a (covered) candle or have someone shine their iPhone flashlight at them. Best if they are lit from the side at times to get a cool outline of their silhouette.

Photo by VancityAllie

little tip: best camcorders for every budget

Our friends over at came up with a pretty solid breakdown of the best camcorders at every budget level. From the popular sub-$200 “throw in the pocket or purse” Flip cameras to (our personal favorite) the mid-priced Canon HF20 and the luxury over-$1000 Panasonic HDC-TM300.

As we’ve mentioned before in the blog, if you’re in the market for a Flip you might also want to consider buying one of the new small digital pocket-sized still cameras. Most of the new ones have moving picture “movie” modes at the same level of HD quality video and stereo audio as the Flip. And they come with the added benefit of taking incredible stills – which the Flip cannot do so well. And they are all as plug-n-play easy as the Flip. Just an idea. We love (and own) the Flip too. But we are starting to just use our Sony still camera a lot more.

Check out the full article via the link below….

Link – – The Best Camcorders You Can Buy on Every Budget

OK, that’s it for today. Hope we helped. Always feel free to ask questions HERE.


little question: the best way to shoot my own legacy film?

we highly HIGHLY encourage you to take advantage of being around the family this holiday by whipping out your camcorder and staging formal and/or fun interviews with everyone.

some have asked us for tips on the best way to videotape family and what questions you should ask. check out the links below for good tips.

also, just plan on making a real experience out of it. have snacks available. have drinks available. and most importantly, have the TIME to really sit with your subject and get comfortable. set up the camera and then leave it and forget about it. within fifteen minutes the whole idea of the conversation being videotaped will wash away and that’s when you will start to get the gems of memories that true legacies are made of.

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