Bringing the Past Alive:
Multimedia for Family Reunions

by Barbara Renick ©Copyright 2002 

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Today’s computer equipment and software have revolutionized presentations—whether you deliver those presentations in person or record them to be shown elsewhere.


Part I.  Modern Media for Presentations


A.    Transparencies

  1. Transparency projectors: Transparency projectors are widely available and easy to use, but limit your presentation to still images and no sounds.

2.      PowerPoint software: PowerPoint offers the features you most need to produce intricate transparencies. Many free PowerPoint templates are available which give consistency and style to your presentations.

3.      Printing: Keep in mind that if you don’t have a color printer, you can produce only black-and-white transparencies. Be sure to use transparencies specifically made for your type of printer.


B.    Computer Presentations

1.      Equipment: These types of presentations typically require a notebook computer and an LCD or DLP computer projector.

2.      Software: These types of presentations are created with presentation software like PowerPoint, but PowerPoint need not be present on the computer used to give the presentation. Microsoft’s free PowerPoint viewer program can be downloaded from the Internet and must be included for the slide show to work elsewhere.

3.      Uses: Computer presentations are rapidly becoming the standard format for:

§         genealogy lectures

§         family reunion presentations


C.    CD Slide Shows

1.      created via:

§         presentation software (example: PowerPoint)

§         photo editing software (example: L-View Pro)

§         photo album software (example: FlipAlbum CD Maker)

§         CD recording software (example: EasyCD Creator 5 Platinum)

§         Genealogy database programs (example: Legacy or PAF)

2.      copied: Your presentation can be “burned” onto CD-Recordable disks for distribution and display elsewhere. This is a more complex process than it seems, but many of the above listed types of programs are being upgraded to include this capability.

3.      CAUTIONS: For successful multimedia presentations, all the fonts used plus links to multimedia files (and the actual movie or sound files themselves) must be correctly packaged with the presentation for the presentation to work properly on another computer. Even then, that computer may be set up in such a way that your presentation CD will not run properly on that machine.

4.      UTILITIES: PeopleMedia’s “Producer” ( accepts images from photo editing programs, PowerPoint slides, and screen captures in Adobe Acrobat. Producer makes them into slide shows to which you add narration. Producer make it easy to record slide shows onto CDs.


D.    Videos & Movies


Part II.  PowerPoint to Get Across Your Point


A.    Style templates—where to find them on the Internet

*      Presenters University

* search for PowerPoint Templates


B.    Where to get presentation help online

*      Presenter’s University

*      Ask Dr. Know

*      PowerPointers

*      Presenter’s Information Center


*      Presenting Solutions




A.    Clip Art Resources


*      Barry’s Clip Art Server   


*      ClipArtConnection                      


B.    Copyright Issues

While the Internet may seem to be a clip art hunter’s paradise, there are significant copyright issues to consider when using such clip art for presentations.


Clip art is free for any use if it truly has been placed in the Public Domain; however, if the creator has restrictions or requirements on the use of their clip art—whether stated at that Web site or elsewhere—then that clip art is not truly in the Public Domain and you are liable for the way you use it.


Be advised that very few Web sites have collections of true Public Domain clip art. While many sites claim to contain Public Domain clip art, they actually contain clip art that they haphazardly copied (often sans restrictions) from anywhere. If there are no terms of usage mentioned at that Web site, send an e-mail to the owner of that site asking for clarification of the terms of use by the owner of that piece of clip art.


Commercial clip art packages come with their terms of use spelled out in detail on the packaging. Usually these clip art packages are made for use in presentations. Read the fine print to be sure! Screen captures (of Web sites or software program screens) generally come under the heading of “fair use” when used for instructional or educational purposes.


For more information on copyrights and clip art, see the following Web sites:

*      “10 Big Myths About Copyright Explained” by Brad Templeton

*      “Free Clip Art But Is It Really Free?” by Bobbie Peachey




Five ways to acquire digital images:

  1. via a scanner
  2. via a digital camera
  3. via video capture of a still image from a video recording
  4. from someone else
    1. via e-mail
    2. downloaded from the Internet
    3. sent to you on a disk


The purpose for which you are capturing a digital image determines the file format and settings you use. File formats that family historians encounter (and use) most often:

*      GIF (Graphic Interchange Format files end in .gif)

§         an older format which allows animation and fade-in effects on the Web

§         does lossless compression (but compression is not as much as JPEG)

§         limits images to 256 colors—great for clip art and cartoons

§         but not good for archiving color photos with continuous tones

§         used frequently on the Internet because of its ability to make the background of an image transparent

*      TIFF (Tag Image File Format files end in .tif)

§         does little compression (but it is a lossless file format)

§         most universally used image file format today

§         therefore it is the format of choice for archiving

§         however, it creates huge files and is not acceptable for Internet use

*      JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group files end in .jpg)

§         does good compression on image file sizes for continuous tone images (like color and grayscale photographs)

§         but it is lossy compression (each time a JPEG file is opened, edited, and resaved, image quality is lost!)

§         adequate quality for display purposes—it is designed to remove details the human eye (hopefully) cannot detect

§         used extensively on the Web (smaller file size means faster loading)

§         also good for sending pictures via e-mail


Resolution is set in the acquisition software for scanners and with the menu on a digital camera before the image is acquired. Size settings:

*      If you plan to enlarge the original or a portion of the original, set the image size larger.

*      If the size of the file generated is an issue (you want a smaller file size) and archival quality is not needed, set the image size smaller.

*      The lightness or darkness of the original source and the size you are going to reproduce it at (for display) need to be considered.

*      The most common mistake genealogists make is to scan a large original photo at a really high resolution, then display it at a smaller size and wonder why the image comes out so much darker than the original photo.

*      When archiving image files, the ideal is to save two copies of all important images—one in TIF for storage and editing of a master copy, then one in JPG for viewing and security.

*      In reality, JPG may be the more practical choice for average scanning and digital photography.




A.    Many camcorders can record video clips from your VCR.

B.    Remember, television and video use rectangular pixels, whereas computer screens use square pixels—so, some quality will be lost when going from TV/video tape to computer.




A.    Three types of sound files: music, voice recordings, narration

B.    Many file formats make for confusion on what can be used on a computer and how to transfer from one file format to another.

C.    For preservation, you should make backups of important recordings in more than one type of media and in more than one type of file format.

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