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Chasing nostalgia of the 20th century home video

It’s not everyone’s experience to rewatch home videos from the 80’s, but for those who do, they know the joy it brings.

I’m fortunate to have several hours of home videos across most of my childhood that I converted from VHS to digital and will have forever. It’s not uncommon to pull those videos up at a family gathering and connect with each other, recalling shared experiences. Watching home videos is moving.

We’ve had cameras in our pockets for two decades now. Thanks to Google Photos, I think I’ll be able to keep all of that forever (or at least until it faces a Yahoo-like demise), but we’ve created a media pit… a graveyard for photos and videos that will never be looked at again because of the enormity of the task to actually do that. My kids alone, only two and four, will probably have to set aside a full year of their lives to consume everything my wife and I have captured already.

Annual summaries

Instead of giving my kids the keys to the media vault and wishing them luck to find meaning, I’ve started creating annual summaries.

These annual summaries are my version of home videos my kids will be able to rewatch with each other and their new families. They’re short, a few minutes, so it’s not exactly the same as watching my Mom’s 20-minute walkthrough of our house or 45 minutes of my 3rd grade play, and yet I don’t think my kids will feel deprived.

Instead, they’ll get the highlight reel, and still have access to the raw stuff that they can go dig deeper into. Google and Apple have made media search so good, and it will likely improve even more dramatically by the time they’re ready to remember their wonderful parents.

I make these videos at the end of each year and put month markers throughout to help understand the chronology – probably more significant with young kids who change so quickly.

I record song overlays

A departure from the traditional home video is that I don’t include any video audio. The reels are overlaid with music I’ve recorded myself … at least some are. I’ve used artist recordings as well, but the tradition of recording a song myself is something I think my kids will appreciate. This year I recorded “Beautiful Life” by The Collection, “Forever Young” by Bob Dylan, and my toddlers helped me record “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”.

The songs are chosen to pair well with themes of that year, and based on what I can actually recreate myself. I’m no pro. My hope is that this extra personal touch of Dad’s music makes rewatching these home videos that much more heart warming.

I’m sure there are tools that aid with creating this sort of annual summary video, and if they aren’t quite as robust now I’m sure they will be at some point because I think it’s a problem younger generations will want to solve.

I hand pick all the clips and edit them down in iMovie. I’m guessing I spend about 15 hours creating one of these videos, plus more time on recording and editing the songs. I’m fulfilled just by creating these; I look forward to it. It’s a joy and I love watching the final video with my family and can’t wait to watch with them when they’re adults with their own kids.

My 2022 Annual Summary

Here’s what 2022 looked like for the Dalys!

A Daly 2022