Collecting Multimedia for an Interactive Family History
following information is aimed at collecting multimedia from a family but there
are many guidelines here that would apply to collecting for other purposes.
multimedia for your interactive family history from relatives is an art and
a science. It is an art because each one of your relatives will be motivated
differently and it is a science because you will need to be methodical.
work out any cost sharing issues in advance.
out to create advocates-- relatives with computers who understand the potential
of multimedia. Direct them to the demos at this site. Hopefully, your advocates
will be spread out geographically. They can serve others as a local resource
and encourage contributions. These advocates may also assist you when it comes
time to proofread your interactive family history CD.
you or someone else in your family is doing genealogy on the computer you definitely
want to arrange to send a GEDCOM file to be used in the
After collecting your advocates, do a mailing to everyone. The mailing answers the questions why, what, who, where, when and how. Why? because multimedia is the ultimate way to record your family's history. What? is multimedia; words, images, sounds, and videos. Who? is a list of people that your project includes. Where? is your snail mail address, phone number and, if you have one, your e-mail address. When? will be your deadline for submissions. How? is insured snail mail, e-mail or better yet, personal delivery.
your mailing include examples of words. Write your own biography. Assure people
that they can do a "good parts" version if some have hurtful memories.
Multimedia is not constrained by the rules of genealogy. "Snippets"
are another alternative. These are memories in point form. Stories are another
wonderful contribution. Resumes are valuable historical documents. Poems, letters
and journal entries are other possibilities.
a list of prompts to help relatives get started. Here is one:
keep your childhood, teen, adult and retirement years in mind as you reflect
on these prompts: family, children, brothers, sisters, relatives, friends, school,
teachers, classmates, work, business, religion, pets, firsts (socially acceptable
ones only please), funny incidents, vocabulary, habits, health, accidents, mischief,
entertainment, celebrations, houses, rooms, places, travel, bikes, vehicles,
unusual events (fires, storms...), hobbies, interests, talents, pleasure, deaths,
funerals, weddings, volunteering, politics, clubs, sports, parties, recreation,
of the many books of prompts is _To Our Children's Children: Preserving Family
Histories_ by Greene, Bob and Fulford, D.G., 1993, New York: Doubleday. It has
"questions designed to elicit answers that will form the patchwork of a
writings for your deceased relatives to a relative who knew them best. Assure
the writer that they are not expected to do a detailed authoritative biography.
Ask them to write about what the deceased relative loved.
possible allow the individual control over their own interactivity. Children
are great at writing their own biography and are keen to hear and see themselves.
They may very well be your best advocates so don't overlook them.
photo may be worth a thousand words so create a cover page for your mailing.
Consider the people on your list when you do your mail out. Try to include at
least one face that they will recognize and be inspired by. Encourage your relatives
to look outside the cover of their photo albums too. Artwork, collections, graves
and other images can become photos.
ask before including sensitive photos that your relative might not want used.
Once again, your interactive family history is not constrained by the rules
of genealogy. If the divorce was nasty, it is possible to omit the ex-spouse
from the individual's or the whole interactivity. Asking politely, but directly,
will get you an answer.
that all photographs MUST be identified. You may know the individuals intimately
but a baby picture is a baby picture is a baby picture. If you are writing on
the backs of photos state this explicitly and explain why. (Digitell Legacy
Productions requires a four character code.) Use a Stablio or similar pencil
when writing on photos. If you don't have a Stablio be very aware of the pressure
you use when writing. Preservationists will explain why you are never to write
on the back of a photo but the benefits outweigh the costs from our viewpoint.
and videos need to be really short. It is these two forms of multimedia that
consume the most space on the CD. Unlike firewood; collect what you need and
then divide it in half and then divide it in half again. (Firewood is doubled
and then doubled again. Our home has wood heat so we know this rule well.) Just
30 seconds of one video can eat up 20mb of a 650mb CD. Think along the lines
of a fast paced commercial.
a relative is sending unedited tapes have them reset the counter to zero at
the beginning of the tape, record the counter at the begin and the end of the
clip _plus_ write a detailed description. Some of the new VCRs don't appear
to have a counter but suggest in your mailing that your relative check the manual
for the "display" feature. Digitell Legacy Productions requires cassette
tapes, CDs or VHS tapes.
you have antiquated media-- reel to reel, beta, fragile old cassette tapes,
etc., approach the audiovisual department at your local college. If they can't
help you they may be able to direct you to a business specializing in conversions.
you set your deadline explain your reason(s) for the deadline. You may be aiming
for a reunion or you may wish to distribute the project as a Christmas gift.
If you are preparing the multimedia for Digitell Legacy Productions you will
need time to code and organize any multimedia sent to you before sending it
on to DLP. Also leave yourself enough time to do a reminder mailing. Six months
seems to work well as a deadline.
you list the people your project includes, star your advocates as resource people
and include their addresses and phone numbers. Make sure you include spouses.
It may be the spouse who makes the contribution.
your snail mail address and, if you have one, e-mail address obvious. Place
it on as a foot note and on the envelope. Keep all multimedia in its package
until you have coded it so it can be returned to its source. When you code it,
write the codes on the outside of the package as a record of who sent what.
is imperative that all snail mail be insured. This should be stressed at least
three times in your mailing and stamped on your forehead whenever you talk to
someone. If the package is insured there is hope it can be traced. Without insurance,
there is no hope. Return all the multimedia by insured mail if it cannot be
you don't have a genealogy program, look for someone among your close relatives
who does. When everything else is ready to go, Digitell Legacy Productions will
also want any genealogical data in the form of a GEDCOM file; this is all your
genealogical data for all your relatives, not just the ones contributing multimedia.
Check in the genealogical program under "File" for "Export GEDCOM."
The exported file can be attached to an e-mail.
you have collected and prepared all the multimedia reward yourself. Present
and future generations will treasure your timeless "digitell" legacy.
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created 1998 refreshed Apr. 2006
© Digitell Legacy Productions, N. Carswell