In my mind, summer is the season for home video. Graduations, recitals, weddings, soccer tournaments, family outings, and vacations make this a perfect time to take moving images of family milestones. If youâ€™re the average family photographer then you own at least one home movie recorder. This might be a dedicated video camera or a digital camera with an MPEG movie feature. My teenage kids take a lot of short clips using their cell phones.
About five years ago after years of resisting the trend, I finally purchased a video camera. It uses little tapes that are convenient to tote around and takes pretty good footage. At the time I thought, â€œIâ€™ll buy the camera, download the footage, edit it, and share it with family.â€ It was a statement full of good intentions. Unfortunately Iâ€™m still looking for the right hook-up for my computer.
Youâ€™re probably wondering why Iâ€™m mentioning my failures as a home movie enthusiast. Well, recently I just bought a new camera. It wasnâ€™t expensive, and I can either upload footage to my computer using the internal USB connection or view it on my television. Itâ€™s a dream come true for anyone that needs some quick footage. Did I mention it uses AA batteries and is so easy to operate even little kids and non-technical elders can â€œpoint and shoot.â€ Itâ€™s called the Flip. Pure Digital TechnologiesÂ introduced it at the beginning of May, and itâ€™s a sellout at local stores. Once I saw what it could do, I had to have one. (Pure Digital sells two versions of the device for less than two hundred dollars; one records for thirty minutes and the other for sixty minutes.)
The afternoon I bought a Flip, I used it to record my sonâ€™s drum recital. All I had to do was turn the camera on, push the red button on the back, zoom in (it has a 2X zoom) and hold the camera steady. Then I came home and within a couple of minutes downloaded the footage to my computer. (My son previewed his performance on the camera during the ride home.) You donâ€™t need extra cables or software (thatâ€™s built in). Now that the footage is on my computer, I can make a DVD or email it to relatives. Of course, since itâ€™s digital itâ€™s also ready to be added to my family history software, a family home page, or for the public on YouTubeÂ if I were so inclined. (Iâ€™m not!) The quality of the recording canâ€™t compete with high-end cameras, but you canâ€™t beat its simplicity and size. It fits in a pocket or small purse.
If youâ€™ve ever thought about using home video to preserve family history, nowâ€™s the time.
- Take footage of all your special family moments
- Record an interview with an elderly relative.Â
- Get the kids involved by asking them to shoot movies at events.
- Share your home videos with family and friends.
Point and shoot devices like the new Flip camera, a digital camera with movie capabilities, or even cell phones have a place in preserving family history. Before impulsively pointing the camera, reflect for a minute or two on what youâ€™d like to capture. These devices have limited storage space, so you might not get a chance to record the whole event. Think ahead toward the highlights, and plan for the important moments worth saving.
Thereâ€™s a family history revolution in the works. Instead of using pen and paper, more genealogists are turning to digital devices to tell their family story using pictures, moving images, and audio recordings. Your descendants wonâ€™t have to wonder if you had the dance moves; theyâ€™ll be able to see you in action and hear you humming along.
Maureen Taylor writes about family photos in her blog on the website PhotoDetective.com