How to create your own video biography

Video 1: 3Ps – People

G’day, I’m Lee Hopkins from My Video History.

Welcome to the first in a series of videos that looks at how to create your own video biography.

The series looks at this through the lens of the 3Ps – People, Pets, and Places. A later video will look at how to record yourself, but today’s video looks at what sort of memories you are going to share.

Now, I want to talk about the first of the 3Ps – People.

Here’s a link to a worksheet that you can download and work with. You don’t have to download it and print it off, but it will make it easier to pull everything together in a later video in the series.

People have such an impact on our lives. Our family, our friends, our neighbours, the people we meet on our journey through life — all have an impact on us. So for the first step in the process of creating your own video biography, I want you to write down the names of six significant people, and for each person make a note of one thing you learned from them.

An example would be Uncle Stephen you taught you how to fish, or your mother who taught you how to make quick meals for unexpected guests, or Susan from Year 3 who helped you settle into a new school.

Here’s a quick list of potential notables: your parents, siblings, extended family members, school friends, church or club friends, teachers, bosses, shopkeepers, doctors, family friends, and so on.

Next, answer the following questions: What do you remember about gaining or losing a sibling or family member? What do you remember about the birth of your children? What is the cheekiest thing you ever did as a teen?

Write these answers down on your worksheet, and when you’re ready, join me in video 2, when we will fondly remember our pets.

Thanks for watching today’s video.

 


Video 2: 3Ps – Pets

Welcome to the second in a series of videos that looks at how to create your own video biography.

The series looks at this through the lens of the 3Ps – People, Pets, and Places. A later video will look at how to record yourself, but today’s video looks at what sort of memories you are going to share.

Now, I want to talk about the second of the 3Ps – Pets.

Here’s a link to a worksheet that you can download and work with. You don’t have to download it and print it off, but it will make it easier to pull everything together in a later video in the series.

Our pets—and animals in general—can be significant in our lives. For this video exercise, list 3 pets or animals and a fond memory you have for each of them.

This could be something like Ginger the cat, who would always curl up behind our sofa and we would often have to search for hours to find her. Or it could be an animal that’s the focus of an animal rights group, like elephants or dolphins, and you remember being inspired by the work of others who care for them.

Write these three pets or animals down on your worksheet, and when you’re ready, join me in video 3, when we will fondly remember some special places.

Thanks for watching today’s video.

 


Video 3: 3Ps – Places

Welcome to the third in a series of videos that looks at how to create your own video biography.

The series looks at this through the lens of the 3Ps – People, Pets, and Places. A later video will look at how to record yourself, but today’s video looks at what sort of memories you are going to share.

Now, I want to talk about the third of the 3Ps – Places.

Here’s a link to a worksheet that you can download and work with. You don’t have to download it and print it off, but it will make it easier to pull everything together in a later video in the series.

Places can be a very special part of our lives. I distinctly remember where I was when I proposed to my wife. For today’s exercise, I would like you to list three places that you have either visited often, or found yourself in often, or went to once and have always wanted to return to.

For example, a favourite park, town, restaurant, or a workplace you spent many days and hours in. Add a note about a key memory next to each one you list, such as Tom made the best pizza, or the sunsets in Normanville were always breathtaking.

Write these three places down on your worksheet, and when you’re ready, join me in video 4, when we will fondly pull all of the content you’ve generated from the three videos so far.

Thanks for watching today’s video.

 


Video 4: Bringing it all together

Welcome to the fourth in a series of videos that looks at how to create your own video biography.

Today I want to talk about bringing together all of the content you’ve created so far. You’ve created a collection of memories about People, Pets and Places. Now is the time to take the three worksheets and think about what you are going to include in your recording, and which memories you are going to leave for another time and perhaps another video. Perhaps some memories are more ‘special’ than others; perhaps some are less important now that you have a collection of memories from which to pick.

Aim to pick three memories from your People list of memories, one or two from your Pets memories and one or two from your Places memories.

It might be hard to whittle your lists of memories down to just these few. Don’t sweat it. Some things are too important to be left out. If that’s the case, then keep them in.

With an asterisk or a tick, mark the memories you are going to talk about, and think about the words you can use to introduce those topics when the camera is recording.

And here’s one more question you can consider to add to your collection of memories: what piece of advice would you like to pass on to future generations? Write it down on your master worksheet, and don’t worry if it takes a little while to figure out in your mind, it’s a big question and maybe not something you can rattle off from the top of your head at a moment’s notice.

All that you have done up until now is preparation for filming your own video. When you’re ready, join me in video 5, when we will look at the equipment you will need to successfully record your own biography video.

Thanks for watching today’s video.

 


Video 5: Equipment

Welcome to the fifth in a series of videos that looks at how to create your own video biography.

Today’s video will be longer than our previous videos, because I want to talk about the technology you can use to record your own video biography.

You can pay a fortune for professional-grade cameras, like the ones we use here at My Video History, or you can record your video with a modern mobile phone. You’ll get a difference in quality, but mobile phones are lightweight and just about everybody’s got one.

I use my iPhone to take videos of my young grandchildren; perhaps you or other members of your family have a smartphone that you could use for 2 or 3 hours.

Most modern smartphones record movies in what’s known as 4k quality. This is the new standard for archival quality videos, and I strongly suggest that whatever tool you use to record your video, that it records at 4k quality.

One item that will help your smartphone recording is a dedicated microphone. You can pick one up for under $200 and the improvement in sound quality over the smartphone’s built-in microphone is enormous. A dedicated microphone helps you record clearer sound with less background noise, but it won’t eliminate background noise, so try and avoid recording in a noisy environment.

A step up from using a smartphone is to use a DSLR camera. All the big brands — Canon, Nikon, Sony, Panasonic, Olympus, Pentax — have still cameras that can shoot video. The picture quality is better than a smartphone, because the sensor that performs the recording is much bigger, allowing for greater clarity. Just make sure that the camera records movies in 4k, not just HD quality.

As with smartphones, you can purchase dedicated microphones that sit on top of the camera and provide a much-improved sound. Rode is the microphone market leader for DSLR cameras and you should be able to pick up a Rode mic for between $100 and $250 at most camera retailers and online stores.

If great sound quality is something you’re aiming for, you can’t go past a lapel mic, known in the trade as a lavalier mic. Rode have a wireless lavalier mic for around $400-450 and it’s the mic we use here at My Video History. Because the microphone is located on the shirt or top of the speaker, on the chest near the neck, you get to hear the speaker with much more clarity, which is helpful if the speaker is quietly spoken or mumbles a bit. Being so close to the body, the microphone is also good at cutting down the amount of noise in the surroundings. But again, it doesn’t completely eliminate background noise and you need to be careful where you record — road traffic noise and bird song in particular seem to cut through even the best audio defences.

If you are recording your biography outdoors, you’ll want to pick up a wind sock for your microphone. These look like fluffy animals and are often known in the trade as dead cats or dead rat. They stop the wind from otherwise ruining your audio soundtrack. Ask where you buy your dedicated microphone if they can supply you with a wind sock as well.

One thing that you’ll need — whether you shoot with a smartphone or a camera — is a tripod. You don’t need to spend big on one, and you can pay in the many hundreds of dollars for a pro-level tripod, but you should expect to pay around $60-$80 for a tripod that will be robust enough to record without shaking the camera if there’s a slight breeze. And if you are using your smartphone to record, you will need a mini clamp. Joby have one for $30 that will hold your smartphone nice and tight and still allow you to situate the clamp on any traditional tripod.

If you are shooting indoors, you may want to consider hiring some lighting from a local lighting hire specialist. In Adelaide I use a company named Picture Hire. Good lighting for video is a whole artform, and is out of the scope of these videos, but a Google search for two- or three-light setups for video photography will supply you with plenty of good reading and watching.

All that you have done up until now is preparation for filming your own video. When you’re ready, join me in video 6, when we will look at the actual recording of your own biography video.

Thanks for watching today’s video.

 


Video 6: Day of recording

Welcome to the sixth in a series of videos that looks at how to create your own video biography.

Today I want to talk about the actual day of recording.

Let’s check we have our equipment ready and setup:

  • lights;
  • smartphone or DSLR camera to record the video;
  • dedicated microphone for better sound quality;
  • any small props the interviewee might want to hold up, show and talk about;
  • any notes or aids that the interviewee wants to refer to during the recording;
  • the completed worksheets that the interviewee will draw from and the interviewer will ask questions about.

Ok, sit the interviewee in a comfy chair, but not one that rocks or swivels, and definitely not one that squeaks. Once your subject is sitting comfortably and is ready to begin, hit the record button on your smartphone or camera and ask your first question from the worksheet. Away you go!

When the interviewee has finished answering the first question, stop recording and take a moment to relax. Then, check the interviewee is ready to begin answering their second question, hit the record button and go again.

Complete all the worksheet questions in this way, or until the interviewee is tired and wants to stop. Remember, talking about these things will bring back memories, some of them painful, and talking about these memories will possibly drain the energy of the interviewee.

At the end of recording pack up everything and if necessary agree on a date and time for a further recording to take place, to cover the topics not covered in this first recording.

Our next video will look at editing the videos you’ve recorded.

Thanks for watching today’s video.

 


Video 7: Editing

Welcome to the seventh and last in a series of videos that looks at how to create your own video biography.

Today I want to talk about how to edit your video.

Your final video will end up being the edited parts of several smaller videos, each one looking at a question or theme in your video biography, drawn from the answers on the worksheets.

What you will need now is a piece of editing software that will enable you to stitch all of the short videos together to make one long video, plus edit out any fluffed takes.

A side note, but you can’t edit out all the ‘umms’ and ‘ahhs’ a person makes — attempting to do so will drive you mad and leave you with a video devoid of the human touch. Far better to leave the ‘umms’ and ‘ahhs’ in. After all, that is how the person speaks in daily life and you want to show that essence of ‘humanness’.

Editing software can be cheap to purchase, or free in the case of Shotcut, a great editor for the Windows and Mac computers. Another cheap package is Corel’s powerful VideoStudio Pro, which you can pick up for around $100 or less as I record this video.

Of course, the other end of the spectrum are the pro tools like Final Cut Pro on a Mac, and Adobe Premiere Pro on Windows machines. They cost in the many hundreds of dollars and have features you will probably never use. My suggestion would be to try Corel’s VideoStudio software and Shotcut and see which one best suits your own personal style of working.

When editing, look for examples and help files from the software developers, or check out Google and YouTube for editing hints and tips for interviews.

One helpful tip is to pick one transition style between video segments, say, a cross-fade, and stick with it throughout your video. A cross-fade is the most popular transition style, as it is the least abrupt of changes from one video snippet to another. A nice cross-fade can be simple and look better that just cutting from one take to another, especially if your subject has moved slightly in their chair.

Once you’ve finished editing, your editing software will have a way of saving your completed video into a format useful for burning to a DVD or for uploading to YouTube or Vimeo.com. You can save the video file with a password so that only those who have the password can see the video. This saves the embarrassment of seeing your private and personal video showing up on Google’s front page!

Well, that’s the end of this video, and of the series of videos. If what you’ve seen interests you, please feel free to call us on (08) 8120 0300 to discuss how we might be able to help you record your own personal video biography.

Goodbye.

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