Frequently ask questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Video Biography?
Better than written memoirs, a video biography captures the essence of an individual through live interviews, photographs, and home movies which are pulled together with the help of a narrator, music, and stock footage to tell a cohesive story in an entertaining and moving medium. Imagine watching a movie about your life or the life of someone you love!

How long is the tape? I don’t think I have much to say&ldots;
Everyone has an interesting story to tell, whether you are 18 or 98 years old. We will prepare you by giving you a set of interview questions, and ask that you prepare yourself in advance with your answers and the photographs associated with them. Gather together 10-15 photos, these will be recorded on location, we will not take these from your home. You will find that you have plenty to say. The final cut version will be 20, 30 or 45 minutes long, depending on what you ordered. Generally a 20 minute video carries enough information and yet is interesting enough to keep the attention of the viewer.

How is it possible that the video is only 20 minutes long?
We edit out our questions, so that all that is left is YOU telling YOUR story. We edit out repetitions, language, and we guide you through the interview process, so that you do not get distracted, sidetracked. We take time to make you feel comfortable and we might do several takes of a particular question and allow you to reword or rework your answers.

Where does the filming occur?

It can occur anywhere you’d like. Most often, we set up the interviews in the homes of our subjects simply because they are the most comfortable there. But if you want to shoot on location or in a park or office, we will gladly do that too.

How long does it take to make a Video Biography?
It all depends on the project and how much post-production is involved. For your part, the only time required is the interview portion, which can also vary in length and time. The safest bet is to allow a two-month window for the standard production. We can give you a better idea during your free consultation.

Will I receive my originals? And what about copyright and confidentiality?
Personal VideoBiography keeps an original finalized, cut copy of your biography, for its archives, but will only show it with your written permission. The copyrights to your story are solely yours. You will receive back the originals of the taped session with the final version.

What are the interview questions?
The 8 most important areas you need to answer about your life are the following:

Young Adulthood
Family/ Children
Life’s Greatest Lessons

You’ll have time to see the questions and prepare in advance. In our initial meeting, we’ll discuss the story you want to tell and a series of questions will be sent to you before the filming occurs. These will help you jog your memory and feel more prepared. During the interview, we will use these questions to draw out the stories you wish to tell. They only serve as guidelines and triggers, but the goal is to paint an intimate and flattering portrait, so the questions are arranged accordingly.

I want to have a personal documentary made, but the subject is very shy and doesn’t believe he has anything important to say. Is there any hope?
You’d be surprised at just how much hope there is. Most of the time, they are just being modest and don’t understand the fuss you want to make about them. But once the camera starts rolling and they are placed at ease by the interviewer, the stories just start to flow. Modesty is gone. Contact us today to arrange a free consultation and we will gladly put your subject at ease and help you explain how important this is to you and your family.

How does Personal Video Biography transfer the video?
The key to creating the highest quality DVD video is to use the highest quality equipment. We use the latest video/audio capture, photo scanning, and DVD recording equipment to maintain the highest quality standards to avoid ever dropping (losing) a frame of video or scanning a photo at anything less than the highest quality.

Can you animate (pan and zoom) the photographs to make them more interesting in the DVD movie?
Yes we can. Ken Burns used this technique to great effect in his award winning documentary on the Civil War. We can pan from one subject in the photo to another, or do a slow fade in or fade out.

Does the finished DVD have a menu so I can quickly navigate between scenes?
Yes, you can either play the DVD movie straight through, or you can navigate to different scenes. As an additional service, we can customize the names of these scenes (for example “Sophia’s 1st birthday party” or “Gary plays the piano”).

What equipment do you use?
Personal Video Biography shoots all footage on a Canon GL2 3-CCD DV camera. This camera is well known for its cinema-like image quality and if we may be so frank, it totally rocks. You will notice the difference. The digital video is pieced together on a Final Cut Pro nonlinear editing system and output onto a stylish and professional DVD disc or VHS tape