MMA Root

Memorial Videos – Surviving Death Has Never Been Easier

Nothing else comes as close to the reality of the bottle as the moving image. Maybe that’s because film is constantly evolving – just as life is. And the video contains sound as well as images – putting it ahead of photos, stark audio recordings and even biographical writing in terms of capturing personality. So when it comes to keeping the locals alive – even hiding death in a way – a memorial video is the best option.

Memorial videos are usually played at the funeral during the memorial service. It’s usually a 7 to 10 minute funeral slide show put together quickly by a son or daughter who knows a little PowerPoint – or maybe put together by the funeral home. For older people, the slide show tends to progress steadily through child photos – to school pictures – through wedding shots – to children’s snaps – to pics with the grandkids. And there is nothing wrong with that.

But the death of a relative gives us a chance to create something memorable. Which truly reflects the personality and heritage of the deceased. Something that will be retained and brought around and valued. And with the wonders of modern technology, it has never been more true that “surviving death has never been easier”.

Don’t wait for death

The best souvenir video celebrates life and features the person – in person. How many of us say, after they have passed, “Oh, I wish I could spend more time with them,” or “I’m sorry I didn’t record some of their stories.” As human beings, even though we know that death will visit, we are very good at pretending that it will not be today. And we are always right. Until that one day when we are not.

So don’t wait for death. Start that memorable video before you need it. Dig up that video recorder, set it up on a stand, and make a movie of the oldest members of your family. Catch them talking, laughing, crying. Ask them about the happy times, challenges, and hopes they have for their family. You don’t have to do anything with it now. Its value will come to light, and you will use it, as the content runs out.

Find out who all those people are

When a person dies, so much information goes with them. So much information is lost. Have you ever had the experience of looking at an old photo album and wondering who all those people are? You know some of them, but there are many others that matter – but who are they?

Before it’s too late, spend time with your content and go through the old photos. Find a pad of those yellow sticky notes and write down who it is. Ask the people, their relationship with the family, what the event was about, and where it happened. You may be able to scan and upload the images to a photo sharing site and have family members – who may be distant – add details.

Life in words and print

Few things are as revealing as old letters. Letters written between siblings – or to a parent or child – often show a side of someone you never guessed. They can be very personal. They can explain some of the great highlights of life. The intellect really shines in a letter – even more than the spoken word.

Encourage family members to keep their letters. And within the limits of moderation, include them in your memorabilia video. Ask your content to read them. Film of their handwriting. Ask them to talk about the times. Look at the addresses – who lived in those places at the time?

Put together the video souvenir

The key to a meaningful video memoir is the variety of content you cover. This is where you go beyond the normal funeral slide show. So you should include interview footage if you have it; you should include home movies – perhaps from a holiday or special occasion. You have to include photos of course – it would not be a souvenir video without photos. But be careful to restore some luster to them – these days photo retrieval is easier with digital editing software. And be sure to include captions on the photos in the “lower third” text.

Was there a favorite author or poet on the subject? Ask someone to read a bit on camera and include that in your souvenir video. Are there significant documents – diplomas, discharge papers, immigration documents, first pay stock? Bring those with you.

Often, after passing, friends and relatives visit. Sit them down and ask them about the deceased – record them on video. Ask them to speak to their judges – if they have written one. What about the ancestors – do you know anything about them? Where did they come from? Where did they settle? If you know these things you can include them as an imitation of the memorial video.

Give them wings

Once you’ve put together your video memoir, you’ll want to send it out to the big world. Again, today ‘s technology offers us endless possibilities. First, you will want to burn your memorabilia video to DVD. And make a nice box cover using your best images and important details about life. If you are organized, you will be able to hand out copies at the service. If you have interview material to incorporate, it will follow later.

Of course, some people will not be able to attend the service. There may have been grandchildren who are in school in another state. So why not upload the souvenir video to YouTube or another online video hosting service? You can compress it for iPod or even phone.

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