My friend John just gave me a bunch of his father's 16-mm and Super-8 film reels to digitize. His summer project is to edit the video into a DVD for a family reunion. I made a comment about how his siblings must appreciate the work and love that go into a project like this and he laughed. "We've gone on a cruise together, vacationed in Africa, Europe, and I've made some beautiful DVDs for all of us but no one watches them except my wife and I".
His comment reminded me of my own similar experience in the past. My parents are abroad and I made beautiful videos of the children to send them. After many cross-atlantic calls to get them to watch it, they finally did and my dad fell asleep in the middle of it. How insulting. Don't they love their grandchildren enough to watch to the end of the video?
Why don't friends and family watch your videos? I have a few ideas, and it's got nothing to do with whether they love you or not.
1. Home videos are usually long and boring. To the parents, 10 minutes video footage of watching baby eat his peas is darling, to others it's like watching grass grow, death by boredom. Suggestion: Make your videos short and sweet, 3 minutes maximum. Even your 7-day European tour, check out my post on keeping your finished movies 3 minutes or less.
2. Got no humor. Have you noticed that the successful TV commercials are the ones with humor? Same thing with YouTube videos that get millions of views, they are very funny. Like this video on How To Hug a Baby (a Guide for Ambitious Dogs). Suggestion: Turn on your funny bone. Got not funny bone? Find humor videos on the web, watch how they do it.
3. No documentaries please. We play reporter with the video camera, capturing every blow, every turn our marathoner makes, every step up Heartbreak Hill (Boston Marathon), all the way until he disappears into the shower stall. Is this video for the archives or for entertainment? Suggestion: If it's to share with friends and families, I suggest it's more entertaining to capture more details about a specific incident than a long stretch of the event. That's why the Charlie Bit Me video got virally passed around to millions of viewers. Long generalities makes a good historical archive, detailed video clip of an emotion, an incident, an experience makes a good story.
4. It's not on their errand path. How many harried families take a breather, sit down and pop in their old home movies to reminisce? The DVD is much easier to pop into a player but it still takes tearing away from your normal routine to sit down for a home movie. It's not the natural errand path of busy families. Suggestion: Send it by email. I don't mean the actual large video file (or you'll lose even more friends and family), I mean the link to the video that you post on the web. That's just one option, there are many ways to share your video today, be versatile if you want your families and friends to watch your video.
Happy video editing. Remember, keep it short, keep it funny, keep it tight, make it easy for them to watch, and you'll have friends and families raving and asking for more. To do all that, you will need to know how to do simple video editing. If you've been intimidated with that in the past, don't. Today's software, such as Windows Movie Maker (free), and camcorders such as the Flip Video, for example, make the process a lot simpler and quicker. Also many video tutorials out there to guide you every step of the way.