Your Family History – Recording Here and Now

1 February 2010

Last week’s blog was Recording Your Own Life, this week’s blog is on that same theme and it is a few days late because we are in Darwin playing grandma and grandpa. We haven’t seen the 3 youngest grandkids of our eldest son since the family all moved from Adelaide a few years ago. Time was spent admiring how much they have grown and although we have seen photos, it is not quite the same as seeing them in person, talking and playing with them. Time goes so fast and it was partly with that in mind that I bought my partner a HD video camera for Christmas.

It has been in his hands or in the case attached to his belt since they picked us up at the airport. Yesterday we spent the day at Crocodylus Park looking at more crocodiles than you can imagine ( the ranger said only 8000 but seemed more). Afterwards we went back to their place and plugged the camera into their huge television.

It was an absolute joy to watch the three kids watch themselves on the TV – they were rapt and their father who couldn’t join us due to work commitments, got to see his kids having fun at the Park. We went on to watch dinner from the night before and the arrival at the motel. All events that had taken place within the last 24 hours but still of interest because it was about them.

I was secretly pleased that all the adults said they were amazed at the quality and clarity of the picture, even underwater. My partner had filmed some turtles swimming and it was just so clear. In one shot he had put his hand in front of the camera and it actually looked like he was stroking the turtles in the water. This impressed the kids and even though they had watched him doing it, the effect was only visible on the film.

Another example was where a wombat was sleeping in a log and we could all just barely see him in there which was a bit disappointing. When we saw it on film, it was like we were in the log with the wombat. My partner had zoomed into the log and the wombat was so clear and visible. Truly wonderful.

The sound was equally amazing – it captured the rangers talk on the crocs and also the kids talking at the various exhibits and my partner’s running commentary and a few of our ‘off camera’ comments when we forgot he was filming. For a first outing with the camera it was a good effort and we did learn a few things – don’t forget to turn it off, who wants to see everyone’s feet as we walk along? Also don’t film continuously the boring or not so exciting bits, be careful with the zoom, slow and steady wins that race and so on.

By the time we leave Darwin we will be camera experts and the kids will have a record of our visit and also of themselves here and now.

Photographs are good in that they capture the person at that point of time. But you don’t have the sound of their voice, their thoughts and opinions and you can’t see their mannerisms. Video cameras have certainly come down in price and are smaller than ever – my partner’s fits into his shirt pocket. I am also glad that I let the salesman talk me into the HD model because the colour and naturalness of the film is so much better. I watched the demo in the store and thought there wasn’t that much difference but there is in real life instances. The extra cost won’t matter in a few years time when we look back on this trip.

So how are you recording your family’s history here and now? If you have never thought about using a video camera, visit your local electronics store and see what is available. Family history is not just about our past ancestors, it is also today’s families and leaving a record for generations yet to come.


Shauna has been tracing her own family history since 1977 and is a Fellow of the Queensland Family History Society. In 2009 Shauna received the Australasian Federation of Family History Organisations (AFFHO) Services to Family History Award for her achievements in Queensland, Canberra and Victoria.

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