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Making a Genealogy-based Family Video
A family gathering or re-union is an ideal opportunity for making a genealogy based video-memory of the event. A camcorder, will present you with many opportunities. It will help you make the best use of the limited time available, if you decide ahead of time what shots you would like to take.
For your introduction, take a shot of a sign bearing the name of the homestead, or maybe a road sign with the name of your destination. This sets the scene for what is to come. You should also get a shot of the road leading into the gathering. Years from now, cars will be different, so take a shot of the parking area.
During the event, you should try to get a shot of everybody. This help get across the joy of seeing each other after a year's separation. You can also create themes in your video. One nice idea is to focus on some of the youngest to attend, especially those attending for the very first time, and contrast them with some of the oldest.
These kinds of gatherings often take place at the ancestral home. If that is the case, take your elder relative around the grounds, film a view of the overall scene, and then zoom in on the individual buildings. Your relative can explain what you can see, and you can use their narrative as a guide for what to shoot. The idea is to make an oral history with pictures. When your relative is pointing or using his/her hands to describe sometimes, take a step back a little to include them in the shot. If it is convenient, you can also have them take you on a tour of the house room by room, pointing out things which they feel are precious memories. You can help keep those memories alive with pictures.
If Grandma tells you how she used to slide down the cellar door, you can recreate the scene with her granddaughter. Apart from some wonderful shots, another advantage is the child will probably remember the story. If children are just told about something, they easily forget it. However, if they actively participate, they are far more likely to remember.
Animals and pets may interact with your group, and you may have some charming close-ups with the children.
After dinner, you'll probably find that most of the men and boys are getting away from the clean-up, perhaps to play ball. Concentrate on those who you haven't already got shots of. If the men are playing ball, try to get some action shots of them about to hit or catch the ball. Ball games are also a good time to get a group shot of any spectators. Be on the look-out for any old-timers who wish they were out there showing the others a thing or two - chances are, they'll be sitting together, talking about the good old days.
If men are playing ball, the chances are that women are lingering over the empty plates, sharing recipes and gossip. New mothers may be getting advice, and new girlfriends and wives are being introduced to the family. Get some pictures of these informal groupings.
There will certainly be a time for a total group picture for the archives, maybe some grand settings using the big porch, steps and yard to create several levels. This is also a perfect time to take family group photos. Besides giving you a record of the family for your genealogy, you may offer prints or a negative to the family.
If the gathering is over before sunset, you can also try to get some long shots of the people going to their cars, back lighted by the setting sun. You can also get some close-ups Grandma and Grandpa hugging your family goodbye.
The more planning you do, the better your results will be. It's good to take advantage of the unexpected, but not when the occasion only comes once a year. Remember some of these people will not be at the next reunion, for one reason or another. Two reunions are never the same, although they may have seemed that way when we were children.
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