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Making a Family History Video - Part I

Updated: Dec 19, 2021

Creating a family history video allows you to highlight a family member by pulling together photos, audio recordings, and footage from old film reels and videotapes to tell a compelling story for future generations. Depending on how much material you have, these projects can be relatively simple or can be an epic historical biography.

So what's required to make your masterpiece? In part one of this two part blog, we'll cover the common items you'll need to get started.


The base component of most family history stories includes print photos, film negatives and slides. Once you've sorted through the pictures you want to include, each of these photo

formats can be scanned to provide you with digital images of your photos. If you don't have a flat bed scanner or dedicated film negative scanner, your photos can be scanned by companies who will provide you with the digital images on a USB flash drive or by cloud storage. Some companies can also scan photo album sheets and pages.

Film & Videotapes

Footage from 8mm and Super 8 film reels as well as videotape recordings provide a great source of historical material for family history projects. Recordings of family reunions, birthdays, holiday events and interviews with relatives can all be used. These analog formats can be transferred by consumers using 8mm film conversion machines, vintage VCRs and videotape digital conversion software for your laptop. Outside companies can also do these transfers for you and provide the digital video files you'll need for your movie.

Audio Recordings

Some families have audio cassettes with recordings of family history stories told by relatives. Cassette recordings were often used for a toddler's first spoken words and other key moments in life. Interesting recordings are often found on micro-cassettes from phone answering machines as well as mini-cassettes that were used in dictation tape recorders starting in the 1960's. MP3 audio files can be created from these audio cassette recordings and added to your movie. The family history stories make a terrific background soundtrack for silent 8mm film recordings. These vintage tape recorders can purchased on eBay and the software/hardware digitizing products for Windows and Apple computers are available at BestBuy and Amazon. Free software such as Audacity can be used to capture your tape player recordings to the computer.

Once you have pulled together the video, photo and audio material that will be included in your movie, it's time to create the format and order that you'll present them in the final version. In part two of this post, we'll cover the programs that can be used and how to conduct a family history interview if you don't have a recording of one already. With the advances in computer technology and the improvements in video editing programs, it's never been easier for non-technical users to create a fun and interesting story about your family.


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