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How to Create a Family Tree Video

written by: Kumara Velu•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 6/2/2011

A family tree video could be the answer to a boring family tree chart, which is difficult to create and share. Here are some tips that you could put to good use.

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    Have you been making your family tree in the form of a document that has to be folded many times over to accommodate an extensive list of family members? Do you have family members who lose interest in the format you compile your family tree? Do you have difficulty reproducing copies of your family tree to be shared with your family members?

    Well, it’s high time you consider making a family tree video.

    One advantage of a family tree video is you could make DVD copies cheaply and share them with your family members and other interested parties with whom you have physical contact. What’s more, you could even share these videos with family members in distant lands through email or file sharing sites like YouTube.

    Here are some pointers on how you could get started with creating a family tree video.

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    Collecting Materials

    Collect photographs, documents, letters, certificates or whatever that could help illuminate the family tree you’re compiling. You would have to spend some time contacting family members to see what’s available. Explain the nature of your project. Ask for their cooperation and promise them a copy of the family tree video when it's done.

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    Digitize Materials

    After you have collected the relevant materials, you would want to digitize them. For this purpose a scanner is indispensable, especially when you’re dealing with family members or relatives who are reluctant to part with precious documents or photographs.

    Call on these relatives and family members with a laptop computer and a scanner to capture relevant documents or photographs. If you don’t have access to a scanner, make close-up shots with your video camera or still camera.

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    Selecting and Editing Image Files

    If you have a lot of photographs and documents to be scanned, you may need to shortlist those available to you. Select documents and photographs that say something significant about the family. If your grandfather was photographed standing on board a steamer ship when he migrated to America, that could be an important aspect of your family history.

    Some documents or photographs may be in a bad condition or not clear enough. You may need an image editing software to set these images right. You don’t have to run out and buy Photoshop. A freeware image editor like GIMP would do a good job.

    Selection of documents or images should be based ion how interesting they are and the valuable information they provide. Pay special attention to documents highlighting achievements – academic, sports, arts and so on.

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    Selection of Video and Audio Materials

    Chances are you may not have video materials relating to your forefathers. That doesn’t mean you can’t include video materials relating to the era your forefathers lived in. You may include some public domain video. If your grandfather arrived in Washington before the war, you could include a video of a Washington street scene during the period. Do a Google search to unearth such material.

    One of the major benefits of compiling a family tree video is the ability to include audio. Again audio shedding light on the family tree would be hard to come by. However, you could always include music relating to the era. For example, if you have photographs of your uncle and aunty in a dance hall, you could include an Elvis Presley number to highlight the era. Choose your music according to mood, too.

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    Audio Commentary

    You may need audio commentary to make your family tree video more presentable. You can use the audio commentary to explain who’s who in the family and how different family members are related to each other. Get someone from your family who has a pleasant voice to record a commentary from a script you have written.

    To record audio commentary, you could use the sound recorder that comes with Windows which you can find under Programs – Accessories – Entertainment. Use a USB-type headset microphone for quality audio recording.

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    Editing Your Video

    Once you’ve finalized the materials to be included and the information to explain them, you’re now ready to go into the final stage of family tree video creation process – video editing.

    You don’t need a sophisticated video editing program to get started. Windows Movie Maker suits fine for your family tree video creation. If budget permits, you may want to use a dedicated slide show maker to give your family tree video a sophisticated touch.

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    Watch documentaries over the History Channel for ideas and techniques. View also other family tree videos over YouTube to pick up useful ideas.

    Strive to make your family tree video short and sweet, leaving viewers wanting for more.