Video Services Archives - Heirloom Films and Storybooks

Category Archives for "Video Services"

Five Things To Get Ready

Five Things To Get Ready

So you think you're ready to make your life story family history film or book, right? Maybe you’ve already started or you’re stuck somewhere in the process. Or maybe you just lay awake at night thinking about it! You just want to get it done! Let's talk about what's involved in being ready to move forward.

You already know that you are getting involved in a project that is both very inspiring and valuable to your descendants. You can see the smiling faces of your future great grandchildren reading your book or watching your film. And you’re also probably figuring out that this labour of love requires an investment of your time, money, and perhaps your creativity too. You can definitely do it yourself but you’ll increase your chances of success if you get some help. Personal historian Cory Bretz talks about the Five Things For Getting Started that will need your attention, time, energy, and decision-making ability.

Why does all this matter? If you don’t get done your life story family history film or book your descendants are very likely to have absolutely no comprehension of who your parents really were. They certainly will not understand anything about your grandparents. Your grandkids and future great grandchildren won’t see any inspiring examples of related family members who lived meaningful lives, with beauty, genius, determination, and vision. All of that will vanish in an instant if you don't get done your book or film. Sorry to be melodramatic but it’s true.

On the plus side, getting done your project and being able to give the next generation a beautiful and educational life story family history film or book will make them proud to be members of your family. You’ll be inspiring them to greater things, giving them values and concepts that embolden them, encourage them, and help them through tough times...forever. You’ll be helping the next generation understand that they come from a long line of amazing people. Just imagine how good it’s going to feel to be part of creating that positive legacy in this world.

Being efficient and effective is the name of the game in getting done your life story family history film or book.

Here's five things that you’ve got to look at as you get started. You don’t have to do them alone but you or somebody else has to do them. Maybe your kids or your siblings will come up with something...or not. But these five things have to be done to inspire the next generation. And who’s the perfect person to do it? The perspective that they need to survive and thrive in the future? Yours. You can do it. And our personal historian Cory Bretz can help.

Here goes. Click to Read Number One: Characters & Genealogy

Also, check out some samples of life story family history films and books to get some ideas for your project. 

Celebrating Skumpy

Personal historian Cory Bretz interviewing Margaret for her Celebration of Life Tribute Film

When I first met Skumpy I liked her instantly. She had a unique blend of humour and humbleness, decorum and irreverence. We very quickly became friends and tongue-in-cheek sparring partners. I could tell that she liked me because she would gently feign shock and outrage at things I would say, all the while smiling and winking. It was very endearing. But this wouldn't last very long. 

Margaret Christensen -  or "Skumpy"  as she had been nicknamed by her sister a lifetime earlier -  had been issued a terminal diagnosis by her doctors. She had been told her prognosis in the summer of 2019 that she would be gone by December. Struggling with all the effects of an illness and coming to terms with her impending transition, Skumpy made time for a video interview and a review of her photo collection.  

The complexities of life prevented us getting together until mid October and she transitioned about 6 weeks after this interview. We did the interview in her living room, her on her favourite couch. She was self-conscious about her oxygen tubes and of course, her appearance. But she very quickly understood that what she shared was far more important than how she looked. 

Personal historian Cory Bretz interviewing Margaret for her Celebration of Life Tribute Film

This very short life story family history film was made from a single video interview session because that's the most we could squeeze in given her condition and all the other care concerns happening around her. Some of the storytelling was about herself and her sisters, and some about her parents and ancestors. During the session we occasionally gave her a few old photos to look at, which triggered more memories, laughs and sometimes tears. 

We digitally captured all the photos Skumpy and her daughter had on hand that day, leaving them with the original prints and albums. The interview footage and photos were assembled together with music to create a short tribute film to show at her Celebration of Life.  Those assembled to honour Margaret told me after the funeral service that as they watched the film they felt that they had just had a visit with her again - that Skumpy was present at her own Celebration of Life!

I often wonder what I would say if I was being interviewed on video by a personal historian just weeks before my own predicted transition. I hope it would be as real and as poignant as Skumpy chose to be. 

I've been interviewing elders for more than two decades now. Each time it is a pleasure and an honour to be able to witness and record their uniqueness, their gleanings from life, and to help them toss something meaningful forward beyond death to inspire their loved ones and future great grandchildren.  

Thanks for the fun, Skumpy!

Beyond Image Scanning Services

Stories are what make digital photos interesting.

Digital Is Good, But A Warning To The Wise

Kudos to you for investing your money and your time into having your collection of old photos digitized! Having those irreplaceable, one-of-a-kind images stored on a memory stick or portable hard drive along with your old 8mm films, slides, and camcorder videos is the right thing to do….technically speaking.

Because you’re absolutely right that leaving all that family history media in the attic or closet or wherever it’s hiding in it’s original paper or analog format is risking it will be lost, destroyed, or forgotten. Some day some future family member will be thanking you for being so diligent in converting all those old photos, films, slides and old newspaper articles to digital images and video files. Making those things digital means they can be easily stored, copied, and shared with your family members. 

But a warning for the wise…even though converting old photos  and films to digital media is an advantage for many reasons, it doesn’t solve the oldest problem we humans continue to have: passing on our family stories. 

Who Are Those People?

The fact is that whether your descendants inherit a box of musty old paper paper print photographs or a slick modern memory stick loaded with thousands of sequentially numbered high resolution digital images, without some identification and relevant storytelling, those images will be quite meaningless. It’s so sad to stare at a beautiful restored old photo with all it’s antique charms to not know the names of those people, nor anything about their lives or the context of the photos. You don’t want your descendants to inherit digital photos of strangers, do you?

How To Pass On The Stories Along With Those Digital Photos and Films

With modern technology we now have so many awesome tools available to connect those digital images with your story so they will be educational, cherished, and inspiring! The internet has made it possible to put your rare family history photos, slides, and films in a place where you can easily share them. Social media sites like Facebook and Instagram offer fabulous ways to showcase ancestors with photos, videos, and text story. Ancestry and other genealogy websites provide often free locations to build your family tree and upload your photo and films, along with story text. 

Video Is One of The Most Consumed Media Types

Video is now one of the most consumed media types on the internet and your great grandkids will be looking for the video about their family history. Those old photos, slides, and films are the perfect fodder to assemble an interesting and inspiring video for them to watch 24/7 anywhere in the world. Videos are easy to make using verbal recollections, video interviews, even remote video interviews on platforms like Zoom and Skype. Life story family history films are the perfect vehicle to contain life stories, family history, genealogical data like family trees, profiles of ancestors, old photo collections, 8mm, Super8, and 16mm films, and important things like values, philosophies, religious beliefs, life wisdom, and personal messages and blessings.  Future generations will be searching Google looking for videos about your family, their ancestors. 

Storybooks: Old Technology Still Works Best For Bedtime Stories

Print storybooks offer a simple and non-screen way (no batteries required) to do bedtime stories with little kids, infusing them with family identity, your family’s values, and celebrating their amazing ancestors. The best storybooks are designed so you don’t have to read the whole book in one sitting and sweet, educational conversations are started with the kids. 

Do Something With Your Old Photos, Slide, and 8mm Films!

So while at Heirloom Films and Storybooks we’re happy to digitize your old photo collection for you, for the sake of the next generation of your family we’d love to help you do something with those images and videos so they can in fact be inspiring.  Ask about our life story family history films, print storybooks,  online galleries, family history websites, interactive family trees, and photo collection organization services. 

How To Watch Video on Any Device (Almost)

The Best Format for Your Video on USB Flash Drive  

These days there is so much technology out there. One of the best physical medias for storing, sharing, and watching your finished life story family history film video is the teeny tiny USB Flash Drive or Memory Stick as some call it. Coming in ever larger digital capacities, this little storage device can hold hours of high definition video. And you can get these drives in very plain forms or very original shapes and colours disguised as typical household objects or even food!

The one problem that some folks have is not knowing which type of formatting to use on the USB Flash drive. What does this mean? Over the years several different methods of arranging the data on physical media has evolved. Different devices prefer different formats.  The most common types of media formatting are FAT, FAT32, NTFS, and exFat.  Most computers can read all formats (although Macs can't write to NTFS).

exFat is meant to be compatible between Windows PCs and Macs, and it is, both platforms being able to read and write to media using that format.  But many modern TVs with USB ports on the back still can't read exFat. 

USB Flash Drives that look like food

So which format do you want? What I've figured out with lots of trial and error is this. The USB Flash Drive format that can be played on the most devices (MacBook, Windows, and most TVs) is NTFS. Despite that a Mac can't write to NTSF, a greater number of recent TVs from Samsung, LG, and Sony can successfully read a USB FLash Drive formatted with NTFS. The fact that the Mac can't write to NTSF isn't an issue, unless you're a Mac only video producer and you don't have a Windows computer to make the Flash drive!

There are lots of articles on the web about media formatting because more ands, ifs, or buts about this topic. 

But my advice? When you're working with your videographer or personal historian in the final finishing process of a life story family history film tell them this: Put my final video on NTFS formatted USB Flash Drives.

And of course you'd want to have your video stored online for streaming to any device, but that's a whole other conversation. 

Family History Video Interviews Okanagan

Life Story Family History Video Interviews Okanagan

Personal Historian and Videographer Cory Bretz visits the Okanagan periodically to do video interviews and digital capture of old photo collections.

Cory has interviewed countless seniors about their lives, their family history, their wisdom, and to help them record personal messages for their loved ones. He is an expert in quickly converting paper print photos into usable, shareable digital images. With your video interviews and photos you will be able to give your life story family and family history to your kids and grandkids in video or books. They’re going to be thrilled!

Click here to find out more.

Video Storage Options: The Best, The Good, and The Obsolete

I get a lot of questions about how video should be stored and shared these days. You’ve finished the shooting and editing and now you want to share your movie with loved ones. In my opinion there are three common options for long term storage and viewing of your life story family history film video.

You’ll be weighing between instant digital accessibility and the habit of gifting something physical with wrapping paper and a bow!

Click here to see the three options. 

How To Easily Provide Feedback on Family History Films

We’ve had a lot of positive response to our use of Vimeo’s new Review Page system.

We’ll send you a link to your life story family history film and then all you do is click anywhere on the video and type your notes.

We’ll be able to see exactly where you’re referring to and what your suggestion is.

No more making long lists of start and end dates and descriptions of what’s on the screen.

To see how Vimeo Review Page works check out this cool video.

The Ultimate Birthday Gift!


It’s The Ultimate Birthday Gift!

When Dolores Luber contemplated her 75th birthday she knew that she wanted to do something different. She chose to show a film at her celebration party…her film, aptly name Five Generations: The Luber – Seligman Connection. Dolores had invited her grand children to her birthday party and she knew that they would never personally know her parents – their great grand parents. So Dolores pulled together all the photos and old films she could find from her family and we made a movie.

Her film tells the story of her father Ben Luber and his father Fred Luber who were industry leading textiles importers in Montreal. As a retired psychotherapist Dolores also delivered a very personal but educated psychological post-mortem of her mother Lillian Seligman, a woman dealing with loss from early in life.

Dolores goes on to share her own life story of being a mom, a wife, a student, and a successful therapist. She finishes her film with blessings: speaking directly to each of her children and grandchildren telling them what she sees as unique and admirable in each one of them.

The following short clip is a part of Dolores’ two hour movie and she introduces her parents.

>> Watch a Short Clip <<<

The problem with our youngest generation being so connected to the internet and popular culture is that their minds are easily filled with other people’s notions of what it means to be a person, a real person. When a grandmother like Dolores takes the time to speak to her family’s next generation about life – that is a real gift.

This film was constructed with video interviews, digital image capture of old photos, old 8 mm films transferred to digital, along with music and titles.

Calling All 80 Year Olds!

The Stories of 80 And More

Okay. Are you 80 and More?

It’s fine. You can tell us.

We’re trying to interview on video everybody who is 80 years plus.

Why? Because you have the most interesting stories!

About what? Life. Love. Work. Marriage. Family. Fun. (And other topics).

If you’re 80 or More we’ve got space in our interview chair so you can tell your story.

Click Free Consulation below to get in touch and book yourself for a quick Video Interview at the next 80 And More filming session.

[nx_button url=”” style=”glass” background=”#7d0849″ icon=”icon: user” text_shadow=”1px 2px 2px #000000″]Arrange Your Free Consultation[/nx_button]


What? Not 80 And More yet?Get a Free Coffee Card


Refer your 80 And More friends and family and get a Coffee Card of your choice.




[nx_button url=”” style=”glass” background=”#7d0849″ icon=”icon: user” text_shadow=”1px 2px 2px #000000″]Arrange Your Free Consultation[/nx_button]



Five Topics You Should Never Ask About

Sex Love Money Religion Politics Topics For Your Mom

Let’s Change The Topic!

When I was a boy, my grandparent’s dinner table was our family’s etiquette school. Me and my siblings were taught which fork goes where, how to request more potatoes, and the proper way to have a polite conversation….sort of. My grandmother – bless her dearly departed soul – revelled in her young grandchildren participating in the conversation. When we were pre-schooolers we said the cutest things and all the grown ups laughed and winked when us kids spoke. But as the years caused us to grow up the conversations moved into more serious topics. It became clear that my grandmother was uncomfortable with those real conversations beyond weather, recipes, and TV shows.

One year during a local election, one of us kids asked a question about how the adults chose who they would vote for. Soon a heated debate raged on about politics, corruption, and even the very basis of democracy. The adults faces got red and they started to raise their voices and breathe hard and even a few wagged their fingers, rolled their eyes, and shook their fists at each other. To us kids, this was amazing. With a single question we had learned more in just a few minutes about the values of our parents and grandparents than we had with years of polite small talk.

“Let’s change the topic”, Grandma puffed. “I won’t have this talk at my table!” And silence filled the room. Gradually small talk about the weather, sports, and TV returned. Me and my siblings smiled at each other.

It was at successive family dinners that I discovered the things that really matter in life, the big life issues that are on most people’s minds, most of the time. It turns out that those issues are also the five questions you should never ask at my grandmother’s dinner table.

It’s Okay. . . I’ll ask them for you!

So now when I interview seniors on video I deliberately bring up these five topics: Sex, Love, Religion, Politics, and Money. It’s because what our Elders have learned about these five topics has shaped their lives and indeed, our world. And it is for certain that the next generation of our children, those still unborn, will be dealing with these real life issues, most likely in far more challenging circumstances than we did.

I admit that these five topics can be uncomfortable and in fact, most families typically ban open, direct discussions on sex, love and money, and very often on politics and religion. So at times I have been criticized and censored by frightened adult children when they witness their Elders squirming with these questions. Their instinct is to save them, help them avoid those “inappropriate” intrusions from that clumsy personal historian.

At the end of the interview I ask the Elder how they felt about sharing on those five topics, having tiptoed through the minefield. Almost every senior tells me that they feel glad, gratified, even proud to have given something, their wisdom, their hard earned gleanings, something real and valuable to their grandchildren.

I too feel grateful for the chance to have heard them and understood them and helped them pass on their knowledge.
So if you want only small talk, mindless fluff, and a litany of meaningless dates and places in your family history film, don’t hire me. Instead, if you want to pass on your family’s real knowledge about how to live life, how to live fully, and how to be proud of one’s existence, then hire this personal historian.

And I have five questions for you: What do you know about Sex, Love, Religion, Politics, and Money?

Cory Bretz is a videographer and personal historian. He specializes in interviewing seniors and helping them inspire the future with their life stories, family history, wisdom, blessings, and old photos. Arrange a free consultation to find out about getting your own family history film or storybook. See a basic list of video interview questions.

Subscribe to See Latest Films