7 Steps To Make Your Own Family Legacy Video

7 Steps To Make Your Own Family Legacy Video

First off, why should I make a family legacy video? Family legacy videos are one of the best ways to capture family stories and history. If you love understanding your family’s history, what better way to learn about it than hearing it straight from the person that experienced it?

As compared to other ways to capture family history, a legacy video not only preserves the stories, but it also captures exactly how that person tells them. Their facial expressions, mannerisms, tone, how they laugh, how they smile, how they frown, and even how they cry are all vital parts to preserving someone’s true essence. It’s quite challenging to encapsulate someone’s true essence in a scrapbook or written story. Capturing your family member’s essence, stories, and history in a legacy video will quickly become a cherished family heirloom.

Now, how do I create a family legacy video?

Creating a legacy video is a 7-step process that requires some preparation, interview prowess, video editing + production skills, and a computer. Let’s get started.

Step 1) Decide how you would like to record your legacy video

When recording a video the key variables to keep in mind are: the audio, the lighting, the video recording quality, and the background.

You have a few different approaches to consider when making a family legacy video. Let’s start by breaking those options out and discussing budget and recording style.

  1. Work with a professional family legacy video service such as Kindred.
    1. With this option, you don’t need to purchase any gear, have any video know-how, or worry about any of those variables. Kindred records interviews over Zoom so you can interview from the comfort of your own home. Zoom records up to 1080p video, high quality sound, and you can set up your background however you’d like it to look on the video. Their team will also handle any lighting adjustments that need to be made after the interview.
  2. Do-it-yourself (DIY)
    1. If you’ve got the time, know-how, and budget - the DIY method is a great option. Desktop Documentaries suggests using any recording device that fits your budget and can shoot video (with the way iPhones are recording today, you can just go ahead and use one of those!). They suggest using an audio recording device to improve the quality of your audio recording (see: Zoom H1n for $99). Plus, you’ll want to plan out a place in your home or residence where you would like to set up a scene for the interview to take place with adequate lighting, a beautiful background, and no audio distractions.
  3. Hire an in-home documentary service
    1. This option is on the upper-end of most budgets (in the thousands typically), but will produce phenomenal results. There are documentary professionals that you can hire to handle everything from start to finish. Family Legacy Video is an example of a video production company operating out of Tuscon, Arizona that is willing to travel to you! They have a variety of packages with customization options such as interview duration, number of photos, transcripts, and music.

Step 2) Narrow in on topics & questions for your interview(s)

Before you interview family members, it’s important to decide what you’re trying to accomplish with your legacy video. It can be incredibly challenging to sum up an entire person’s life in one interview, so we suggest focusing on 2-3 topics for each interview that you can go deep on instead of covering a variety of topics at the surface level.

Some examples of topics are: family and their impact on your life, meaningful relationships + friendships, milestone life events + moments in time, exciting career highlights + accomplishments, and legacy + acquired wisdom to pass on to the next generation.

After you’ve decided on some topics, it’s important to have a game plan for the types of questions you plan on asking your family member for their legacy video. We suggest having a list of primary, follow-up, and ‘dig deep’ questions at your disposal during the interview. To help get you started, here’s a resource with primary, follow-up, and dig-deep questions for each of the previously mentioned topics!

Step 3) Collect photos to help tell the story

Once you’ve selected your topics, it’s time to message that family group text and ask for any photos (or videos) that can help tell the story! Your legacy video will truly come to life with relevant photos.

Step 4) Record the interview with your family member

Again, you have a few options for this step. 

  1. If you work with a service like Kindred, they will schedule an interview with your loved one and interview them via a Zoom online conference call.
  2. If you went the DIY route, you’ll pull out the equipment you decided to use in Step 1, set up the scene of the interview in your home, and hit record. 
    1. Pro tip: the less footage you have total, the less editing you’ll have to do after the interview! This can save you hours of time in the editing phase. You should consider waiting to press record until you’ve actually started the interview, pause the recording during breaks and moments of distraction, and take notes along the way. The notes you take will narrow your focus down during the editing process and save you even more time. These notes will help categorize the clips with annotations such as “keep this story,” “remove that part,” “great opening remark,” and “perfect for a heartfelt ending.”
  3. If you hired an in-home documentary service, they will have this step covered for you!

Step 5) Choose a video editing software

Before we get started, video editing is hard. There is no shame at all if you decide that this is where you want to ask for some help. If you decide to solicit help, we would recommend UpWork as a great place to post the details of your video and request help from a community of freelance video editors. Here’s how to post a job on UpWork.

Now, selecting the right video editing tool for your legacy video editing is important. You can save yourself time with a simple tool or shoot for the moon with an advanced software. The main things to consider are how robust of a tool you need and what your budget is.

If you don’t want to do it yourself, a service like Kindred or an in-home documentary service will handle the editing and production for you!

If you’ve chosen the DIY method; consider the following:

  1. Ask yourself some questions. We’ll defer to Adobe for some of the best questions to ask yourself when choosing a video editing tool for your legacy video.
  2. Explore your options. We’d recommend PCMag for a ranking of their favorite video editing tools ranging from free to a few hundred dollars.
  3. Sign up for free trials to quickly test out your top options.
  4. Purchase your favorite and start creating your legacy video!

Step 6) Video editing and production

As we can’t cover every single detail of what it takes to edit a video in a couple of bullet points, we want to highlight the general concepts and things to keep in mind specifically for legacy videos. If you want some additional detail, here’s a resource with Tips for Video Editing and Production specifically for legacy videos.

  1. You’ll want to first chop your legacy video up into stories. Remove the interviewer’s questions and any gaps between stories and the end result will be a series of clips encapsulating stories told. Once you’re there, you can decide to keep the same order of stories or move those clips around as you’d like.
  2. Don’t be tempted by perfectionism. Most likely your video will include a lot of “uhms” and “ehhs” while your interviewee is getting in the groove of their stories. Don’t worry about these. Many video editors might want to remove those, but we’ve found that it distracts from the real reason you’re recording this interview in the first place… a genuine depiction of your loved one telling a story exactly how they are.
  3. Incorporate some music. To add some flair to your legacy video and keep your audience engaged, add some subtle background music to your video to help set the tone. We recommend using Artlist.io and subscribing to their “Social Creator” plan for $14.99/month. This will ensure if you upload your legacy video to YouTube or any other social platforms that you don’t get flagged for copyright infringement.
  4. Break your legacy video up into chapters. Breaking your video up into chapters based on the interview topics you selected in Step 2 will help provide some organization and flow to the video. Simple title slides with photos can serve as your transitions between chapters.
  5. Break your chapters up with photos and additional footage. A single angle, single person interview can get a little monotonous. Use the photos you gathered in Step 3 to break up the interview and bring the stories to life. A picture is worth a…
  6. Add introduction and closing slides. An exciting introduction and pleasant ending will transform your family’s comments from “oh you just recorded this and chopped it up, nice” to “wow, you really thought this through!” You can use the intro specifically to date the recording, introduce the interviewee, and set the tone for the video. The closing slide can serve as a conversation starter for your group.

Step 7) Upload & share your legacy video

Now it’s time to upload your video online where you can easily share it! We agree with Forever Legacy Video and recommend uploading your video to YouTube as “Unlisted.” Unlisted means that you can view & share your video but it won’t show up in search results or on your channel. So it’s up to you who you share the link with! Watch, share, cherish, and enjoy.

Pro tip: once your legacy video is uploaded to YouTube, you can share it just about anywhere. A fun way to create engagement around your video is to use a tool like Pic-Time to create a web page for your legacy video. Share the link to this web page with your family and they can upload more photos, like & download others’ photos, and easily share the legacy video to social media themselves!

Finally, if all of this sounds like a lot of work… well… it is. That’s why we’ve created Kindred for quick and affordable legacy videos. Learn more here!
Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.

Your loved ones deserve their own documentaries.

Gift them the experience of telling their life story now, and cherish it forever.

Let's create a documentary