Flip for Footage, by Maureen Taylor

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 you’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, “I’ll buy the camera, download the footage, edit it, and share it with family.” It was a statement full of good intentions. Unfortunately I’m still looking for the right hook-up for my computer.

You’re probably wondering why I’m mentioning my failures as a home movie enthusiast. Well, recently I just bought a new camera. It wasn’t expensive, and I can either upload footage to my computer using the internal USB connection or view it on my television. It’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 “point and shoot.” It’s called the Flip. Pure Digital Technologies introduced it at the beginning of May, and it’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 son’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 don’t need extra cables or software (that’s built in). Now that the footage is on my computer, I can make a DVD or email it to relatives. Of course, since it’s digital it’s also ready to be added to my family history software, a family home page, or for the public on YouTube if I were so inclined. (I’m not!) The quality of the recording can’t compete with high-end cameras, but you can’t beat its simplicity and size. It fits in a pocket or small purse.

If you’ve ever thought about using home video to preserve family history, now’s the time.

  • Take footage of all your special family moments
  • Record an interview with an elderly relative. 
  • 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 you’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.

There’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 won’t have to wonder if you had the dance moves; they’ll be able to see you in action and hear you humming along.

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Maureen Taylor writes about family photos in her blog on the website PhotoDetective.com

3 thoughts on “Flip for Footage, by Maureen Taylor

  1. There are other fairly easy to use digital cameras that will give similar or even better results. I bought a Sony DSC-W55 digital camera–under $200, with 7.2 megapixels. I also bought a 2 gigabite memory card and an extra battery. I can record up to an hour and a half on the memory card, in video form. I can also switch back and forth to still photos. I don’t know if I can get still photos out of a video–some of them do that, too. My computer doesn’t write dvds, but the videos can be put on cds, and viewed on a computer screen. The batteries are easy to change out and the camera came with a wall-socket charger. An included usb cord allows you to transfer to the computer or view the video or still photos directly from the camera to the television. If I were more tech savvy, I could do more. And the best part is that the camera is only about 3 x4 inches, and 3/4 of an inch thick. I love it!!

  2. Custom DVD’s are a great way to preserve and share your family history. Family biography DVD’s can incorporate interviews, home movies, photos, documents and family trees. Your precious research materials and photos will be preserved for the next generation. Add beautiful effects like photo zoom and panning or add a music soundtrack. A custom DVD can breathe life into your genealogy research and will delight your family and friends. If you are interested but don’t have the time or technology to make a DVD yourself, visit my website at KeepingTimeDVD.com.

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