In this chapter I will teach you how to convert the video into a physical book. Imagine if your final video product were converted into a physical book, complete with photos, that mirror the video. The photo above demonstrates the book I created for my family. This section is totally optional and the work is hard. If you can power through transcribing a vido recording, the reward is totally worth it.
You may not have considered this when you started the project, I certainly didn't, but you can turn the interview into a book. Some people prefer technology and the video medium, while others prefer holding a physical book in their hands. Totally up to you. While I was editing my grandfather's video, I kept wondering how it would look on paper, photos and all. Part of me started this phase out of curiosity, and part of me did this for my mother, an avid book reader. (My grandfather is her stepfather.)
After the video was completed I donned a pair of headphones and opened the video file and a blank Word document, split the screen, and started transcribing. I won't sugarcoat this. Transcription is hard work. It's tedious and not conducive to any kind of multitasking. You must focus on transcription and nothing else. This means no TV or music in the background, no side conversation or web browsers open. Torture, isn't it? I strongly recommend donning earbuds or headphones during transcription. This cuts out external noise and distraction, and enables you to better hear what is being said. The work itself is not fun, and I recommend you spread it out over several sessions with multiple breaks. The final result is worthwhile, I promise.
Transcription is the act of typing an audio file word for word. You have to possess substantial typing skills such that you can more or less follow along with the audio. There will be starts and stops and rewinds. You may have trouble hearing or understanding precisely what was said. I took some pressure off myself during this process, and sometimes paraphrased what was said in the video. Unlike court reporting during a court hearing or deposition, where every utterance is transcribed verbatim by a certified shorthand reporter, you can relax here. We all include unnecessary words and improper grammar in our speech. We use "ummms" and "uhhhs" and other such non-words. We trail off and forget the question or the point we were trying to make. My objective in creating these videos and books is to preserve the person's life story. I want to honor them and cast them in a positive light. Accordingly, when you hit some rough patches in the speech, you can omit superflouous words, fix grammatical errors and cure mispronounced words.
Here is an example of the format I employ in my books:
Q: What was your first job after graduating from college?
A: I went to work for an insurance company.
Q: What company did you work for?
A: ABC Insurance.
I transcribe in Q&A format. I like to keep it simple and have the book generally mirror the video. Aside from smoothing over speech issues, both mediums generally match each other. I like to use a hard return between each Q&A because it makes the document easier to read.
You are free to type up the book in narrative format, and not use Q&A at all. That would be a much bigger project, requiring certain artistic liberties. Q&A is easier because it tracks the video and does not require you to interpret or rephrase the interview into a narrative.
The next part was the real test for me - inserting the photos. I use the same photos in the book that I use in the video, in the same location. When my grandfather spoke on video about the beach trip with his mother, I faded in with a photo of that beach trip. I inserted the same photo at the same place in the book. Here's how to do it. I use Word 2013. In this version you simply leave the cursor where you want to insert the photo. Go to the Insert tab at the top of the program, then select the Pictures icon. This brings up the browser window, and you need to find the location for the photo you want to use in your hard drive. If you are using a different program or different version of Word and cannot find the appropriate icon, go a Google search like, "how to insert photo in Word [version]".
I actually took some liberties in the book I did not take in the video. My grandfather's interview mentioned an old family home in Duxbury, Massachusetts that is a preserved historical home where tours are given. I did not know how to spell Duxbury (I'm from San Diego, okay?), so I looked it up. During this process I looked to see if I could find a photo of the historical home, and quickly found it on Wikipedia. I right-clicked on the image and saved it, then dropped it into the book. When my grandfather recalled witnessing an A-bomb test in New Mexico before taking off for a training flight during WWII, I found an image showing the general location of the bomb test, and used it in the book to supplement the story. Feel free to take liberties and find public images that complement the story. Have fun with it! You can use them in the video as well.
I also like to create chapter headings that mirror the video. You can see a chapter heading in the photo above. I won't insult your intelligence or waste your time by telling you basic text formatting instructions. You don't have to employ my formatting style, I just want you to make the book appear professional and visually appealing.
Once you've finished the transcription, and poured a celebratory cocktail, I suggest you create a Table of Contents to lay out the chapter headings and pages. This serves an analogous purpose as the menu screen on the DVD. It helps people navigate what they want to see. You can also create a cover page.
If your interview subject has important writings, like an essay, poetry, drawings, or recipes, you can include them in the book as an appendix. You don't have to limit the book to a transcription. I offer this option to my clients.
The next step is to get the book printed and bound. You may not notice them if you do not use them, but print shops are located all over the place. We have used the same printer for many years for my wife's wedding invitation business, so we sent him the book files for printing, and he printed them on quality glossy paper. The pages looked amazing and I instantly knew I created something special. Find a local printer, give them a call, and send the files via email.
I had the printer bind the pages into a paperback book, and this didn't work out over time. The book looked great at first, but as I shared this project, showing the book to prospective clients and sharing it at events I sponsored, the binding quickly wore down and pages started falling out. It was embarrassing. The whole point of this project is to preserve someone's story, so you need to preserve it in a durable medium. I ditched the paperback and had the book redone in a hardcover book. That is the only way I offer the book to my clients today. I ordered the book through my printer. We even designed a custom book jacket and had it printed at Kinko's. (That takes a specialized printer that can be hard to find.)
The end result is a durable hardcover transcribed book, complete with photos, that mirror the life story video.
About the Blog
Here I write about the evolution of this project, the act of preserving life stories and personal development. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it.