Fisher opens this week’s show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and American Ancestors. David shares a great way to get kids interested in family research… the very fun lineage of Harry Potter! He’ll tell you what that is all about. FamilySearch releases another great new database. Learn what it is and if it relates to your research. Then listen to David’s awesome “Tech Tip” concerning Facebook, and NEHGS has another free database for you to check out.
In the second segment, Fisher visits again with Thomas MacEntee of High-Definition Genealogy in Chicago. Thomas is ramping up for another “Genealogy Do Over.” It’s an on line opportunity for you to fix mistakes you made when you were just starting out, or to begin your efforts on the right foot. You can participate on line from anywhere. Thomas will tell you what it’s all about.
Then (starts at 25:11), Fisher visits with Crystal Johnson, a woman who stumbled on a record that told her that her husband’s grandparents divorced in the 1970s. Only the living grandparents knew nothing of it! Fisher also brings in grandmother Aloha Bennett, who explains how this happened and what they had to do about it. The discovery saved the Bennetts a lot of potential problems. It’s a story you don’t want to miss!
Then, Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, the Preservation Authority, handles a listener question about transferring and editing video from cell phones to computers to DVDs. It’s tricky stuff, but Tom has some important thoughts for you.
That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!
Transcript of Episode 106
Segment 1 Episode 106
Fisher: And welcome back to another rousing episode of Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. I am Fisher, your Radio Roots Sleuth, on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. Well this week, I’m very excited about this, Thomas MacEntee is coming back on the show, he’s the Chicago professional who is doing a little thing called the “Genealogy Do Over.” And this means basically if you’ve just been a name collector, you know, as most of us are in the very beginning of our careers in this stuff. You will want to go back through and actually document the material that led you to some of your conclusions. And Thomas is going to talk about what he’s got going, how you can participate in it, just about seven minutes from now. And then later in the show, imagine getting a call from your granddaughter-in-law who tells you that she has learned that you’ve been divorced for over forty some odd years. Yes it has happened! We’re going to talk to the woman who found it, and we’re going to talk to the grandmother who learned about it. What is the state of that marriage now? It’s incredible stuff later in the show. But right now let’s check in with Boston and the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and American Ancestors. It is David Allen Lambert. Hi David, how are you?
David: Greetings from Boston, having freshly come back from Syracuse, New York.
Fisher: Yeah how was that?
David: It was a great conference. There were comfortably over 600 people. People were coming in from Canada, from the West Coast and obviously down in Florida, with New York roots. Great lectures, lot of interesting vendors, including a colleague of mine, her name is Brenda, she runs something called “Gravestone Girls.”
David: Get this. If you’ve been to a cemetery and you’ve seen that old sleek gravestone and you’ve got a photograph of it but it didn’t come out well. How about the idea that you could actually have a company make a casting of the gravestone or imagery from it, like maybe the skull and the wings the death head, etc., and have it at home as a refrigerator magnet? Oh yeah. She does this sort of thing!
Fisher: [Laughs] No really?!
David: Exactly. So if you want to have a full size copy of your ancestor’s sleek gravestone from long ago or marble, she can do it, and I’ve purchased a few from her just for the macabre and nostalgic imagery because they do a lot with cemeteries.
David: So that was fun. I’ve got some good Family Histoire News for you this week. People are big fans of Harry Potter.
David: J.K. Rowling as you know has wrapped up the series, but she does release on her Harry Potter site different little snippets of Harry Potter news and trivia. And recently she announced the Potter surname was a nickname not an occupational surname.
David: Well, long time Harry Potter fan and genealogist at NEHGS Lindsay Fulton who you’ve had on before.
David: She looked into this very interesting approach looking into the location of Linfred of Stinchcombe, a patriot of the Potter family.
David: And looking into potentially what the surname should be. And so we’re hoping that J.K. Rowling jumps in on this. And if you have a Harry Potter fan who’s not a genealogist yet, maybe this is your way you can embrace that child or grandchild to be more interested in the genealogy of Harry Potter than in their own!
David: Check out the most recent Vita Brevis at AmericanAncestors.org, which is available to see online, and then looking for Lindsay Fulton’s article on Harry Potter. Other exciting news I’m still always so grateful for what FamilySearch and others do to put things online. We don’t speak much about Canada, but it’s very near and dear to my genealogical work. Prince Edward Island deaths from 1721 to 1905 over sixteen thousand records that was recently put online, which I think is amazing!
Fisher: Isn’t that incredible? And thanks to the volunteers who make that possible.
David: Really, really. And you know, all the extra hours that they could be doing other things but they’re doing it for the greater good of genealogy, and helping people find their family. By the way, the pocket watch that my great grandfather, a railroad engineer….
David: It has safely arrived in my hands! And they said it didn’t work. I wound it, and it chimes perfectly!
Fisher: Ah! Isn’t that a killer thing to find? That is so incredible. You don’t even have a picture of him, but you’ve got his watch!
David: I do. I do, and I cherish it. To me, it’s a connection to a family that I have nothing from. Two photographs of his wife, nothing beyond that. I know the genealogy, but I don’t have anything concrete. Now I have this watch which I can pass on as an heirloom. But one of the heirlooms I have from another great grandfather is a postcard from WWI that he sent back to his wife with an embroidered collage of flags for those who were involved in the allied forces in WWI to fight against the German army. And sometimes these war memorabilia pieces are sweetheart pins, or something you might have from WWI, WWII Trench art that maybe your relatives made while wittling a bullet down into maybe a cigarette case or something like that. I’m sure you’ve seen it maybe in your family or friends that they’ve saved these things.
David: It’s great stuff. One of the things on that same line, I’ve often talked to you about Facebook, how I love social media and what it does for genealogy, to reunite people and kind of gather data together. And on Facebook, I have a concept, I always just want to talk about military collections. It’s called “Adopt the Regiment.” Why not create a Facebook group for free for the Twelfth Massachusetts Infantry and the Civil War?
Fisher: What a great idea, yes!
David: People would Google it. You don’t have to do any web page. Facebook does it for you. You post some pictures, post some stories, and the next thing you know, it starts auto filling. I did something. After the survivors at Pearl Harbor disbanded, I decided that I wanted to keep track of the new stories of the last veterans from Pearl Harbor. I created this and it went viral. And it’s always very popular on Facebook around December 7th because it’s a go-to place where we all post the latest news stories and snippets of WWII veterans from Pearl Harbor. And this can be for the Civil War, Pearl Harbor, and Revolutionary War, whatever you want. But this way people will have a go-to place. And it’s like a forum so you can talk about it. You can post documents, etc. I think it’s a great idea and hopefully I’ll see more people doing that.
Fisher: That is a marvelous Tech Tip! You got a database for us this week?
David: I do. NEHGS and FamilySearch have combined, yet again to launch Indiana births and Christenings from 1773 to 1933, and Indiana marriages from 1780 to 1992. And this in total combines twelve thousand births, twenty three thousand christenings, and over two million marriage records, which you can find as a guest user on AmericanAncestors.org. And don’t forget, follow me on Twitter @DLGenealogist. And of course, go to our Extreme Genes Facebook and Twitter pages and follow what we’re doing between the shows.
Fisher: Exactly. All right, great stuff David! Good to talk to you again. We’ve got to get ready to talk about our cruise coming up soon. Maybe we’ll get to that next week, all right?
David: That would be wonderful!
Fisher: All right, good stuff. And coming up next in three minutes, Thomas MacEntee is back on the show talking about his “Genealogy Do Over.” It’s something that you can do online, coming up in the not too distant future. Stay close, we’ll have him in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 2 Episode 106
Host Scott Fisher with guest Thomas MacEntee
Fisher: And welcome back to Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show. Fisher here, the Radio Roots Sleuth, and on the line from Chicago with me right now is my friend Thomas MacEntee. He is a professional genealogist and consultant. He is the guru of technology in the industry. We just talked to him a couple of months ago about some of his insight about what is to come. Thomas, you’ve got a great course coming up here soon. I thought we ought to touch base with you again about this, because I think a lot of people could use it.
Thomas: Yeah. It actually is going to start on October 2nd, and it is called the “Genealogy Do Over.” It’s kind of radical in nature. It’s been running all year on a thirteen week cycle. So this will be cycle number four. Anyone can join in. It’s free, and it’s got its own Facebook page. And it’s radical this way. I’ve been doing genealogy for twenty five plus years and like you, I know you’ve been doing it for about thirty years.
Thomas: When I started out I wasn’t siting sources, I wasn’t following proof standards.
Fisher: [Laughs] Who did that? Come on!
Thomas: Exactly. I was a name collector.
Thomas: If it was in a book, it had to be in my family and it went into my database.
Thomas: And then you wind up on these wild goose chases. You have what you think are brick walls, but they’re actually self-constructed brick walls.
Fisher: As most are.
Thomas: Copy research.
Fisher: Hmm hmm.
Thomas: So I came up with this idea of, why not just put everything aside, put it in a box, put it away, and I’m not saying burn it or destroy it, but start over from scratch. So the Genealogy Do Over is a reset button.
Fisher: I love it. Now, you’re in Chicago, I assume it’s not just in a classroom there?
Thomas: No it’s not. This is virtual, this is all online. In fact, our Facebook group has probably over ten thousand members right now. And it’s a very supportive group where you can ask questions. Every week I post tips, I post videos, about that week’s topics. Every week in the thirteen week cycle has a set of topics. We cover things like DNA testing, how to pick the right tests for DNA.
Thomas: The difference between collateral research and cluster research. Using a research log. I mean, how many times, Scott, have you ordered the same vital record? Two or three times, I have.
Fisher: Well, when you do it over the decades, you don’t remember those things. I’ll also say this… and that is your ability to interpret data, gets better later.
Thomas: Exactly. Right. But I found that I didn’t have a to do list. I would just sit down on Ancestry or any other site, at like 10 o’clock at night, next thing I know it’s 2 in the morning. And I look and say, “What did I accomplish? I just went from shaky thing to shaky thing, on the screen.”
Fisher: [Laughs] Yes.
Thomas: And I really didn’t break through in any research. So it’s very structured, but I don’t want to say it’s overly structured. It gives a lot of leeway. We also have a sub-group that does what is called a “Go Over” not a Do Over.
Thomas: Go Over people actually don’t put their stuff aside, but they go through their records meticulously. Citing sources, actually working on proving each data point, and because that’s what they want to do.
Fisher: Right. And you know this, as I mentioned a couple of months ago, sounds like a great plan for anybody who would consider joining a heritage society like the Mayflower Society, DAR, SAR, because this is what they require you to do.
Thomas: Exactly. And this is what I found out… I think in week three, you actually sit down and you do your research on yourself. And it’s not as easy to prove your own birthday and your own birth location as people think.
Thomas: You know, I was born in the early ‘60s, but even then, it’s not an easy thing. I know when I was born, but I was not cognoscente at that time of the day and place. I rely on family information that I was born on a certain day and place.
Thomas: Now, if someone came to me and said, “Prove it” I know where I can get the records because I’ve done that work.
Thomas: So it builds good research habits. It gets you to stop and think. We’ve also seen this, we’ve seen people work, and go back with records like a death certificate and they said, “You know, I never noticed this on the death certificate ten years ago.” Or “I never looked at this because I didn’t have the good habits to pick up on that.”
Fisher: Well, that’s true. And I think the other aspect is that we get certain ideas in our heads about what we’re looking for. We make the presumption and we make the pieces kind of fit the presumption.
Fisher: And then sometimes you go back and revisit it. No matter how good you are, I think we all go back and say, “Oh wait a minute, look at that! I hadn’t picked up on that detail before.”
Thomas: Right. And that sort of bias that we have, that is why this seems very radical of putting stuff aside, but I didn’t want the bias of previous research for me. So sort of like going all in on my genealogy, but I want people to know that it’s not an easy button. There is no easy button in genealogy.
Fisher: [Laughs] No.
Thomas: It did really come through over thirteen weeks. And you become a much better genealogist. You work in a supportive group. Every week there’s a PDF that you can print and work from. We also, one nice side effect of this, we have genealogy societies starting up special interest groups that are actually doing the Do Over.
Thomas: And each month they take a topic. Instead of each week, they do one each month. So they’re doing a thirteen month program.
Fisher: So you’ve got other collaborative groups getting involved and they’re teaching it as well in terms of everybody kind of shares their explorations and discoveries.
Thomas: Right. Exactly. The materials are all free. I don’t charge for any of them. And they are copyrighted but as long as you’re sharing them responsibly. That’s what I encourage societies. I have a base article that is free to any genealogy society for their newsletter. They can contact me at “High Definition Genealogy” and I will send it to them. It explains the Do Over and really a lot of societies said that that’s what got our members motivated. It’s also a great New Years thing. I know we’re coming up. It’s not that far away. So we have what’s called “Lurkers.” Lurkers are people that don’t purchase or pay, but they sort of watch on the Facebook group and they get mentally ready for the next cycle.
Fisher: Right. [Laughs] Well, that makes sense, doesn’t it? I think there’s a lot of research that’s done in the winter because we’re so stuck indoors, you know.
Fisher: And then we get to the cemeteries and everything in the warmer months.
Fisher: But it’s a great concept and I really appreciate that you’re stepping up to help people to get there. And really, this is the next level from beginner. And people are just getting interested to really learning what it takes. Because I’ll tell you what, it’s much more satisfying to do it right than to do it on the fly.
Thomas: Yeah, and I agree. I think what’s happened, in the past few years we’ve seen companies market to newcomers to bring them in the door. But that door has been a revolving door. It’s been a turnstile where they don’t stay long. They don’t stay engaged. They don’t follow the educational options. And so what we want to do is, if we want to keep those newcomers in the genealogy space, we really need to be better about how we educate them on the right way to do genealogy.
Fisher: We’re talking to Thomas MacEntee. He is with High Definition (HD) Genealogy. He’s got the Genealogy Do Over that’s coming up. It’s a class that’s on line that you can be involved in. How do people sign up for this?
Thomas: Well, the best thing is if you’re on Facebook, just go ahead and search for Genealogy Do Over or search for Geneabloggers. The other thing is, we have our own Url, www.genealogydo-over.com
Fisher: Now Thomas, you’re going to be at Roots Tech in February, and I understand you’re on the docket to speak?
Thomas: Yes, I am. Actually, I’ll be speaking on behalf of the Association of Perpetual Genealogists. Their sponsored lecture, it’s about privacy. It’s called “Scarce New World – Privacy and Genealogy” and how we are dealing with privacy issues, and whether we should be concerned. One of the things I touch upon is, will our successors have access to our census records, a hundred years from now? Or will government lock them down?
Fisher: That’s a great question.
Thomas: So, accessibility to records is addressed as well.
Fisher: Don’t you think also we’re going to have some accessibility problems just because of the technology issues like from 1960 and ‘70?
Thomas: Exactly. And also, those censuses for ‘60 and ‘70 were very different. Right now, I know that Steve Morson, Joel Winethrob, who got us ready for the 1940 census back in 2012, they’re already working on the 1950 census release which is scheduled for 2022. But I don’t know if that’s really going to happen. When people in 1940 were enumerated, the enumerator said that no one would ever see this information. Not your neighbor, etc. And seventy two years later, you’re sitting there with your grandfather or father, and saying, “Hey, this is where you lived in Chicago, or Bloomington.” So yeah they’re definitely… let me ask you a question, do you think you have more privacy than your ancestors did a 150 years ago?
Fisher: No, obviously I don’t think I have more privacy than they did.
Thomas: Yeah, actually it’s a perception issue. You do have more privacy, because the expectations are different. There’s sort of a “right to be left alone” that people have. But a 150 years ago when my ancestors stepped out the door, their life was public. And the community felt they had a right to know. I’ll give you an example. As late as the 1960s, where I grew up in New York, the local newspaper published a list of people admitted to the hospital.
Fisher: Yeah, that’s right.
Thomas: But you would not see that today.
Thomas: It would hit the laws and everything. We have more protection. Also, I found in the newspapers in the 1900s that hotels published a list of people expected to check in that day and it would say, “This person…”
Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah, that’s right.
Thomas: And it was great because you found out where they were living and it told you where they were coming in from. But nowadays when I go and travel, you know, the newspaper doesn’t go and announce it.
Fisher: No, we do on Facebook and Twitter [Laughs].
Thomas: Exactly right, we do.
Thomas: The fact is that a lot of these records were public or still are public, but we can sit at home in our pajamas at 2 in the morning and get a hundred or a thousand of those records in one fell swoop. Whereas we used to have to get dressed up, go down to the county clerk, we had to know what we were looking for or we had to ask for them.
Thomas: And there was a process that took much longer.
Fisher: Unbelievable. Well, it’s going to be a great talk. We look forward to hearing it in February at Roots Tech in Salt Lake City. Thomas MacEntee with High-Definition Genealogy, so glad to have you back on the show, Thom, and we’ll talk to you again soon!
Thomas: Great. Thank you.
Fisher: All right, and coming up next – Imagine getting a granddaughter in law telling you that you haven’t been married for the last forty some-odd years! Yeah, it happened. Wait till you hear the story from Crystal Johnson and grandma Aloha Bennett herself, coming up next on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!
Segment 3 Episode 106
Host Scott Fisher with guests Crystal Johnson and Aloha Bennett
Fisher: Welcome back to America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExrtemeGenes.com. I am Fisher, your Radio Roots Sleuth. And every week I get very excited about hearing some of the amazing discoveries that you make. And usually they have to do with people who have been long gone, centuries gone in many cases. But once in a great while, it has to do with people who are still very much with us. And that is the case for Crystal Johnson. Hi Crystal, how are you?
Crystal: I’m good. How are you today?
Fisher: Good. You’ve been working on your family history for a long time and this one actually was on your in laws side. Tell us what you were doing and what you were looking for and what you found.
Crystal: Well, I was just double checking a lot of records. I’m always looking for the little things that they have missed because there’s always new things to find online.
Fisher: That’s right.
Crystal: And so I was looking around, double checking all the documents. And this document showed up for my husband’s grandparents that they were divorced. [Laughs]
Crystal: Yeah, but we had just celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary a couple of years ago and so it was really shocking.
Fisher: Now wait, wait a minute. So you find a record that said they were divorced, but you were at their fiftieth anniversary. And so what were you thinking when you found this?
Crystal: I thought, “Oh no! Did I find something that I wasn’t supposed to?”
Fisher: Ah, yeah.
Crystal: “Was this a secret that wasn’t supposed to get out?” That was my first reaction.
Fisher: And then, did you think it through like, “Oh there must be a mistake here. There must be an error.”
Crystal: Well, I went and thought that it was an error because it was an official document. Her name was “Zeld” there was one letter off, but everything else matched up, the dates and names. And so I turned to my husband and said, “Look what I found! This doesn’t make any sense.” And so we were kind of nervous. We didn’t want to call his grandparents and expose that we had figured out their big secret or whatever.
Fisher: Right. So who’d you call? You had to call somebody. Did you call his parents, his mother?
Crystal: No. We went straight to grandma and grandpa, because we figured if this was a secret that they didn’t want anyone to know, we should probably check with them first.
Fisher: Yes. Well let’s get them on the line right now and find out what their thoughts were about this whole thing. This is kind of crazy.
Fisher: Let’s see, we’ve got Aloha Bennett on the phone from Placerville, California. Hi Aloha. Aloha! [Laughs]
Aloha: Hello, how are you? Thank you, I hear that a lot.
Fisher: I’m sure you have your entire life. So we’ve been talking to Crystal about this whole thing. She was poking around in your affairs and discovered this document about you getting a divorce. Now give us a little background on this.
Aloha: Well, about thirteen years after we were married, we had a few problems in our family, so we decided to file for a divorce. But at that time of course we had to wait six months.
Aloha: Because that was the law. And you had to have both signatures on that to make it final. Well, we decided that we could work out this problem. So I called my attorney and he asked me a few question like, “Are you together again?” And I said “Yes.” “Well, that probably null and voids it already.” I said, “Do I need to get remarried?” and he says “No. I will take care of it.”
Fisher: Now wait a minute. Aloha, what year are we talking about here?
Aloha: 1971. November 11th, 1971
Fisher: Wow! Almost forty four years ago, okay.
Aloha: Yeah. So that’s what actually happened. We didn’t do anything about it because we didn’t get any papers.
Fisher: The lawyer said “It’s good, don’t worry about it. I’ve got your back.”
Aloha: Yeah, exactly.
Aloha: I just didn’t pay any attention to it until my second grandchild, Wendy Droge found it also. And I thought “Not again, I’m not going to worry about it. It’s just a mistake.” But her mother really got on me she said, “Hey, you can have repercussions if you don’t take care of this.” So that’s what happened really. [Laughs]
Fisher: All right. So you went out and found out that this actually had taken place, that the divorce had been final.
Aloha: Yes. We were so surprised and so was the clerk that was at the clerk office in Placerville.
Fisher: Let me ask you this, did you guys have more kids after this?
Aloha: Yes, we did.
Aloha: And I told my daughter that was born in ’81, “Guess what? You were born out of wedlock!”
Aloha: She says, “What?! Shut up!”
Fisher: [Laughs] So tell us what did you have to do? Did you have to reconsider your entire lives after this thing? “Wow, we’ve been divorced. We can do what we want.” You’ve made business decisions, where does one go once one finds out they’ve been divorced for forty four years and didn’t know it?
Aloha: So that’s what we did. We filed at the clerk’s office in Placerville and she looked at that and says, “I’ve never heard of anything like this!” She says, “You’re going to need a lawyer, you’re going to need a judge. That’s going to take forever.” And she said, “Hold on a minute, that might even cost you. I don’t know. But anyway, I think that the district attorney is right downstairs. He might be on a break.” So she races down there. He comes straight up and looks at the books and says, “Yeah, you’re divorced.” So he opens another book and looks at it for a while and he says, “I think I’ve got something on here. Let me go downstairs. You come with me and we’ll whip this thing up for the judge.”
Aloha: He had a whole line of people waiting for him. He had to say, “Hold on please, I’ll be right with you.” He takes us in for another twenty minutes or so and asks us questions. He writes up the stipulations in order to set aside judgment and we go back upstairs. And the girl says, “Looks good. Now we’re going to need a judge. And I think he’s in session. But wait a minute, I think he is on a break.” She runs down where he is and it turns out I guess he’s on a break. And she’s there for about twenty minutes and he has signed it. And she comes back elated. “Guess what, he signed it! You are legally married for your fifty four years!”
Aloha: But that’s not all.
Fisher: Uh oh!
Aloha: Now we’re going to have to make sure that this is recorded. She takes a whole bunch of papers out and starts stamping I don’t know how many pages. Gives me a copy of it. Doesn’t charge me for anything of it. And says, “Take this down to the recorder’s office in Placerville now and you have to make sure that they record this right now. And if you have any problems, you give me a call.” I did that. They gave us a little problem and I said, “Call this number.” She comes back in about twenty, thirty minutes and says, “You are legally married!” That’s how it happened.
Fisher: [Laughs] So you got married another time. How cool is that!
Aloha: [Laughs] No kidding. She says, “Go have honeymoon or something!”
Fisher: Yeah, did you have a reception or some kind of celebration?
Aloha: No, but we went out to dinner and had a good time anyway.
Fisher: That is amazing. Because you really think of the ramifications of it, not knowing that you’re divorced. If one of you had passed before the other and then you get into the ownership of property.
Fisher: And all these things. What a mess, huh?
Aloha: Oh yeah, I probably would have had to return my social security. I probably would have had to… but then if he had passed away, I couldn’t get his retirement. There’s just all kinds of things that could happen.
Fisher: Wow! And Crystal, you were thinking you were being snoopy, but I think you saved your grandparents-in-law a lot of trouble.
Crystal: I’m just glad that she looked into it and could get it all worked out.
Fisher: No kidding. Well, great story you guys! Aloha, I’m very happy for you and Brian that things are going well. You’re fifty four years now?
Aloha: Yes, fifty four years, going on fifty five.
Fisher: And they’ve all been made official.
Aloha: It is all official. I have my papers sitting right in front of me, yes.
Fisher: [Laughs] Well, great stuff! Thanks to both of you for coming on and sharing this remarkable discovery. And family history research saved the day, Crystal, with this!
Aloha: That’s what I was going to say, this is the main reason I’m talking to you is because I know how important genealogy is and family history. And this is a good example of one of them.
Fisher: Good stuff. Thanks so much for coming on Aloha and Crystal!
Aloha: Thank you Crystal, too.
Fisher: And coming up next, Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, our Preservation Authority. Answering a listener question about taking videos shot on a cellphone and then transferred to a computer and turning it into a workable DVD. Wow, sounds complicated! But as always, Tom will have the answers, coming up for you in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 4 Episode 106
Host Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry
Fisher: It is preservation time on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show. Fisher here, the Radio Roots Sleuth, that is Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, our Preservation Authority. Hi Tommy, how are you?
Tom: Dynamite! Super wonderful!
Fisher: All right. We’ve got an email from Jake in Tremonton, Utah, asking about videos he has shot on his cellphone. He said, “I’ve shot these movies on my iPhone. I’ve transferred them to my computer. And I’m having problems turning them into a playable DVD that I can play for friends and family. What do I do?”
Tom: Well first off, get a Mac!
Fisher: [Laughs] Oh boy!
Fisher: Yeah, that’s cheap. [Laughs]
Tom: Yeah, that’s cheap. Just go buy a Mac. I just love Macs. Macs are so easy to use, but you have a PC, so we’ll deal with your PC. One thing that you need be really careful with, we have people bring phones in to us all the time or bring in the SD card or email us photos, Dropbox them. And one thing you have to be really, really careful with when you’re shooting in a family reunion or just making up your own movie or whatever and you’re using your camera phones, everybody for some reason shoots them in portrait form which means they’re tall, they’re vertical.
Tom: But then they don’t realize that my TV at home is horizontal, unless you’ve got a spinner that can spin it around. So you want to be really, really careful, otherwise you’re going to lose a lot of stuff. You can always stretch it, but then it looks really crazy, especially if you have an aunt that’s a little bit overweight, she’ll look really, really bad.
Tom: So you don’t want to go there. Just always remember, when you’re shooting your phone, if your final use is going to be making a playable DVD like Jake says he’s looking for, you want to make sure you shoot in landscape mode. So your camera’s horizontal so it’s longer, the way your television is.
Fisher: I think we’ve all made that mistake at one point or another, because we shoot our photos mostly to fit in a photo album.
Fisher: And then we do the video it’s like, “Okay do you turn it this way or the other way to go landscape?”
Tom: Exactly! Because most people when they use their phone, they always have it going vertical. They don’t do it horizontal. It’s just, I guess it’s like reading a book or something. For some reason, your brain just tells you to do it that way. Even though if you turn it horizontal, the keyboard’s bigger, everything’s nicer, but just our brains aren’t adapted to it that way. That’s why cameras, when they were invented, when they made like Nikons and the real nice cameras, they were built in landscape mode, because that’s the way you’re supposed to shoot.
Tom: And so people automatically did it. But then when they wanted something in portrait, they have to physically turn the camera sideways. So in most cases, they shot it in landscape, but with the phones, it’s just the opposite. So if you shot it the wrong way, there’s several things you can do in PhotoShop. You go and pick the most important part of the picture. But if you’re framing somebody properly and they’re in like in “portrait mode” like you want to put them in a frame, there’s no way you’re going to be also to save that. You’re going to have to make it so small that when you’re looking at your TV, you’re only using a 1/4 to a 1/3 of your screen and it just does not look very good. So preventive maintenance, if this is something you can reshoot, do it! If it’s something you can’t change, what you’re going to have to do is, now that it’s on your computer, the easiest way for computers to understand, since obviously computers are digital, not analogue, is I would recommend turning it into what’s called an “MP4.”The nice thing about MP4s… MP4s are small, but yet they’re super, super good quality. And they’re easy to handle. They’re easy to move along. If you need to send it to us, you don’t have to send us the phone, you can send us a MP4 via Dropbox. And you can get Dropbox accounts for free, And I have several Dropbox accounts. They’re just really awesome. So what you want to do is go in and make it as an MP4. Go into Movie Maker or whatever program you have on your PC and then once you have it the MP4, then send us the MP4 via Dropbox or you can burn it onto a disk. And I think in Jake’s letter also he mentioned something about he was having problems burning it.
Tom: If you have those problems, then you’ve got to either put it on a thumb drive, which, remember thumb drives are not a storage device. Thumb drives are a transfer device. You put it on there, you transfer it, then you back it up on the cloud, you back it up on your harddrive, you back it up on a disk.
Fisher: Boy, there’s so much ground to cover here! And, you know what occurred to me when you were talking about this? We probably should get in the habit of shooting everything, photographs and videos in landscape. Because you can always make them smaller. You can always turn them into portrait from landscape, but you can’t turn them into landscape from portrait, right?
Tom: Exactly! That is so true. It’s easy like you say to go in and take a landscape and edit it so it looks good. And the thing is, most times, you’re going to hang a photo on your wall in landscape mode, it’s still going to look fine, but you can’t turn you television sideways. And I have actually had somebody, what they did is, they shot their television to try to make it bigger, but then you get into pixelization. If you have a good plasma TV, it’s not as bad. However, I don’t recommend that. That’s really trying to band aid something. So basically on the next segment, I’m going to, now that you got the MP4, there’s different ways you can edit the MP4, yourself. You can send it to us or edit it. And I’ll tell you secrets that we have that’s how we edit MP4s.
Fisher: All right. It’s coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 5 Episode 106
Host Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry
Fisher: Oh I know we’re freaking some people out here Tom, talking about MP4s and formats and technical stuff, but you know this is really important. Hi it’s Fisher with Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and this is Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, our Preservation Authority. And we’re answering a question from Jake in Tremonton, Utah about converting his phone footage into MP4s and what you do with it.
Tom: Exactly. You need to be really careful. People get language mixed up. People always call me and say, “Hey I have a VHS I want to put on a CD.” Well I know what they mean, they really mean a DVD. Same thing with this, MP3s and MP4s can be very confusing. On your iPhone or your MP3 player you have audio which are what they call MP3s. MP4s are video. They can be video and audio. But you want to be careful when you’re asking somebody to do something for you. You could take in a clip and say, “Hey, I want an MP3 made out of this.” And if they’re taking your word, you’re going to get a CD back with just the audio and no video.
Fisher: Oh boy! [Laughs]
Tom: So you want to be really, really careful whether you’re talking to us or anybody else. Make sure when somebody’s helping you, if you want video also, you want an MP4. And the MP4 can be video and audio. If you say MP3, all you’re going to do is get the audio out of it.
Fisher: That’s great to know.
Tom: Okay, we’re talking about MP4s here. And the reason like I mentioned in the first, MP4s are great. They’re small, but they’re really good quality. And they’re easy to put on a flash drive, they’re easy to put on a SD card, you can Dropbox them. In fact, if you can compress them, you can even email them. But so once you have the MP4, they’re really easy to edit. And the nice thing about editing them, there’s a great program from Cyberlink, it’s called Power Director. It’s only fifty bucks and it’s made for PCs. And Jake said he had a PC. And with that you can go in and edit your MP4s and do all kind of cool stuff with them. So that’s a good reason to go with MP4s. For other people out there, I’ve talked about doing AVI files if you’re pretty much a PC person or do MOVs if you’re a Mac person or you’re a PC person that’s really into video because there are some programs that can edit both. If I can take anything off the table, off the buffet, I will take an MOV every time, because they’re small and they’re amazing quality. You put those into Photoshop and you can take sections out of them. You put them in different kinds of editing programs like Final Cuts Pro, it’s amazing what you can do with those things. They’re absolutely awesome. But they’re more for somebody that knows what they’re doing, that they had hard drives that they are trying to work on something
Fisher: Right. An intermediate type tech.
Tom: Exactly. And if you have iMovie, you can edit them. If you have a PC and you’re not really into the techy stuff, then you want to go with an AVI, they’re bigger, but they can be used with Movie Maker. They can also be used with Power Director. But if you want something that’s down and dirty that’s going to look nice, it’s not going to drive you nuts. MP4s are a great way to go. And like I say, with Power Director, you can edit MP4s, you can edit a lot of different things. But Power Director is only fifty bucks. You download it, go to NewEgg.com or whoever your favorite retailer is and just download the program. And it’s absolutely an awesome program. And so now that you’ve got your things in MP4, you go into Power Director or Final Cuts Pro or whatever you’re going to do and edit it. One thing you want to do, too, is, on your first pass, you want to go through and do all your color correction so your video is exactly how you want it before you go and start messing with your audio. Because a lot of times you’re going to have MP4s and you’re going to find out, “Wow, the microphone of my camera really isn’t that good. The pictures look great, but the audio’s not very good.” Then you want either get an app that had better audio or you want to just redo the audio. Like you can go in and narrate it, you can add different things to it, but after you have the video exactly how you want it, that’s when you want to add the audio. Because if you do it backwards, sometimes the video itself can change the timing and it’s going to be out of lip synch and you’re going to drive everybody nuts. It’s like a backwards echo. An echo doesn’t bother you. A backwards echo drives you nuts. So just make sure you do all you video part. When you get that totally timed out, it’s perfect, then go and add your narration or other kinds of audio.
Fisher: Oh, so much to know, Tom! Thanks so much. Thanks also to Jake for the email. And if you have question for Tom Perry, you can email him at AskTom@TMCPlace.com and you might hear your question answered on the show. Thanks so much, Tom. See you next week.
Tom: Awesome, we’ll see you then.
Fisher: That is it for this week. Thanks once again to Crystal Johnson and Aloha Bennett for talking about the divorce that never took place, but was in effect for forty four years and they didn’t even know it. Unbelievable stuff! If you missed it, catch the podcast. Also to Thomas MacEntee for talking about the “Genealogy Do Over” he’s got going on. Find out more on our website, ExtremeGenes.com. Talk to you again next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows we’re a nice, normal family!