Next-gen Genealogy: Using the technology of the future to better understand our past

Did you struggle for years to write your magnum opus, The Family History, only to share it with relatives who just flipped through a few photos? Perhaps you slaved away at your research, collected piles of documents and pictures, and could talk for hours about each aspect of Great-Great-Grandpa Archibald’s life, but you’re overwhelmed by the idea of organizing it all? How can the first researcher hook the family’s attention, and how can the second share all the information they have? The answer is the same for both: family history films. Video technology has transformed the web—with 6.2 billion online videos viewed in July 2011 alone—and now it’s starting to revolutionize the world of genealogy.

Video offers a number of benefits for family history. In this blog, I’ll address five key reasons to get started on your family video today.

1) It’s a great way to tell a story
People will always love to gather to hear a really good story. But, while crowds once circled the campfire for tall tales, we now turn to the mysterious flicker of the television or computer screen. Though times change, the concept remains: a powerful story fuels the imagination. And few stories are as powerful—or as meaningful—as the ones that relate to our own lives. Our own ancestors’ triumphs, loves, and adventures are inherently fascinating, but never so much as when we can see and hear them unfold. Unlike dusty tomes of names and dates, neglected by all but the most savvy genealogists, video draws the entire family into the story behind the research.

2) Video preserves information for future generations
Documents disappear in fires and get pitched in overzealous spring cleanings. What would you do if your work was lost? A video production of your family history is easy to reproduce and upgrade to the newer technology as it becomes available. Books and photo albums may not stand the test of time, but video is one source of family history that will be around after other accounts have long vanished.

3) Video makes genealogy accessible to non-experts
It’s not just the researcher who will benefit from his or her hard work. Streaming videos online is now incredibly easy and video documentaries can instantly be shared with family members and friends around the world. Even busy uncles and squirmy kids can enjoy family history in a captivating film.

4) Video captures so much more than just data and information
You can’t put Grandma’s laugh into a book. You can’t hear Uncle Jim choke up, or see the look on his face when he speaks of his platoon brothers in the war, with a photo tucked away in the filing cabinet. A book can’t fill the home with the tunes that Grandpa John played during his short-lived musical career. Our children learn history in school, but do they feel it? With a family video documentary, your siblings, your niece, your grandchild, will not only learn. They will be inspired.

5) It’s much easier than you think
Making a video is surely worth it when you consider the joy and knowledge that you’ll share with family and friends around the world. Best of all, if you don’t plan on teaching yourself to become the next documentary guru Ken Burns, Reel Tributes is here to help you produce a customized broadcast-quality film. A professionally made documentary is like your grandma’s quilt– precious, irreplaceable, and full of stories. Each family has a unique and extraordinary history. Shouldn’t the documentation of that history be unique and extraordinary, too?