The magic’s in
Documenting a life history
has a wealth of options
By David Wight
HERE IS GOOD news for chroniclers of all
ages: There are more do-it-yourself tools and
methods available than ever before for capturing, recapturing, presenting and distributing your personal or family story.
If you’re a boomer, like me, those old
family photo albums, scrapbooks and Super 8
movies languishing in the attic or basement
can be easily digitized, breathing new life into
Those from younger generations can
appreciate incredibly affordable new technology for starting to capture their chronicles.
The prices of high-definition (HD) camcorders and sophisticated movie-editing software
have never been lower.
And for all ages, if you
don’t want to tackle the
technical and creative tasks
yourself, there are more
opportunities than ever
before to sit in the Steven
Spielberg executive-pro-ducer chair as a professional
videographer crafts your
story, Hollywood style.
32 ;e Costco Connection NOVEMBER 2009
The basics: Tools
you should have
Personal computers have really opened
the door for all chronicling opportunities.
You’ll need to know your way around a
computer, how to save and edit images, and how
to burn a CD or DVD. An Internet connection is a must, providing you with access to
resources, tips, ideas, projects and support
from countless sources on the Web.
A scanner will prove vital when using old
images, artwork or documents in
your story. The scanner digitizes those old hard-copy
elements, making them
digital files that you
can easily store, copy,
edit and manage on
Creating new images
for your story requires a digital
camera. Here’s an area where the prices have
dropped as features have grown in sophistication and number.
Digital camcorders are also getting more
features as their prices shrink: Quality HD
video can be captured with a $200 camcorder.
A good microphone is important if you are
planning to interview family members; don’t
rely on the built-in microphone to do the job,
because placing the microphone closer to the
subject than the camera is often necessary. A
tripod to stabilize the camcorder is a must, and
good lighting requires some trial and error.
Digital cameras and digital camcorders
usually come with bundled image-editing
software. Explore the capabilities available
with those tools before deciding to invest in
any additional software.
Easy photo chronicles
Boomers remember the one-of-a-kind
family albums that used black corner adhesive tabs to hold photos on the pages. This
wasn’t the greatest presentation, and each
album was very labor intensive.
Now photobooks are available that walk
you through the process of quickly creating
your own coffee-table (or smaller) book of
images or images plus text. And once you’ve
created one, ordering multiple copies basi-
cally requires only a mouse click.
Most photobook publishers have you
download an application that you use
to build the book on your computer,
then electronically send your final
design to the publisher to be produced
and shipped to you. In the design process
you work with the photos already on your
computer, so you would need to use your
scanner to digitize any old snapshots or art-
work that you want to include in the book.
Each publisher also has specific image require-
ments for the pixel size, so you’ll need to know
in advance if your images meet those specs.
You’ll be prompted to make choices about
the size and style of the book, the layout of the
pages, the organization of your photos and
the captions or text you want included. You’ll
need to carefully preview your final design
before uploading the order.
Similar services are available that deliver
a DVD photo show instead of a book as the
end product. Again, a downloaded application walks you through building your DVD
show. You can choose from an array of styles,
and different music selections can be sampled
for use as a soundtrack.
o cs -
Breathing new life
into old media
Luckily, computer technology enables the
conversion of obsolete media types to DVDs
for playback on your home TV or computer.