How to Make a Legacy Video

Create your own Legacy Video with this easy-to-follow guide using equipment you probably already have!

What is a Legacy Video?

This is a video of a senior citizen being interviewed to capture some of their life story and experience so that it can be shared with the community. Consider interviewing your grandparents or other elder members of your family and share them to the Terrebonne Legacy Video Group on Facebook so that the living history of our community will live on and be shared with future generations. This guide will give you all of the information you need to make your first legacy video today!

1) Have Your Equipment Ready

Your primary piece of equipment is your smartphone. You can record high-quality video with it, but there are a few things to check before you get started.

Battery Charge

Make sure your phone has a pretty good charge before you start. Recording video takes a good bit of battery power.

Storage Capacity

Make sure you have enough storage space available on your smart phone to record an hour or so of video before you begin. Check the recording settings to make sure you are not recording at too high of a resolution. At a resolution of 1280 x 720, video will take about 100 Mb of storage per minute. Try to save the video to an SD card so you will have plenty of space.

Tripod / Stand

You need to stabilize your camera as you record with a tripod or some other system. Walmart has a smartphone tripod for about $8.00. It doesn’t need to be anything expensive or fancy, you just need something that will hold the camera steady during your interview. You can even make a stand for free.

Smartphone tripod suitable for legacy video available at Walmart

Smartphone tripod available at Walmart


You don’t need to buy any special lighting, but you do want your subject to be as brightly lit as you can manage. Use natural lighting by opening blinds and curtains. Make sure your subject is lit from the front, not back-lit, as that will make their faces be in shadow in the video. Avoid direct lighting. That is, don’t point a light directly in their face or have them sit with the sun in their eyes. Indirect lighting is light that is diffused by light curtains or bounced off lightly-colored walls.


You want the area you are recording in to be as noise-free as reasonably possible, so your subject can be heard clearly.

2) Setting Up for the Interview

When you get to the site you plan to record your video interview, there are some steps you need to take before you get started.

Securing the Time and Place

Make sure everyone in the area understands what is going on and what a legacy interview video is so that they won’t interrupt. Let people know about how long this will take (it is usually going to be a half an hour or so at a time). Close doors and otherwise try to prevent interruptions and outside noises.

Making Sure Your Subject is Comfortable

Have your subject get in a comfortable location where they will be able to sit or lie for the interview.

Checking the Lighting

See what you can do to improve the lighting as much as possible.

Positioning the Camera (Smartphone)

Set the camera up so it is over your shoulder or off to your side. Have it face your subject directly as if it were a third person in the room. Place it about 5-6 feet away from your subject.

Framing the Shot

The “frame” is the rectangle that is captured in the video. You want to take some care in “framing” your subject, which means that you want to pay attention to where and how they appear within the boundaries of what the camera sees.

The cellphone should be set sideways so that the frame is in a panoramic view. Point the camera at the subject so there is little room between the top of their head and the top of the frame, and that about the top half of their body is in the frame. You should not be in the picture at all.

a subject properly framed in a legacy video

Framing the Video. Click for an article on making better interview videos.

Set the subject off a bit to one side or the other from the center of the frame. Which way you place them in the frame depends on which direction they will be facing to talk to you. You want them to be facing “across” the frame, so if they are on the left side of the frame, they are facing to the right side and vice-versa.

3) Starting the Interview

Explain How the Interview is Going to Be Conducted

Go ahead and start recording. Then, explain to your subject the purpose of the video and how long you plan to record. It’s best to plan to take a break every half an hour or so. Tell the subject to ignore the camera and just face you and talk directly to you.

Start Slow and Easy

Start with simple questions to help both you and your subject get comfortable and get into the “flow” of the interview. Ask things like their name, when and where they were born, etc.

4) Conducting the Interview

Your role in the interview is to help elicit great stories from your subject. You might gently prompt the subject if they get stalled; but as long as they are telling their story, it’s their show. Don’t interrupt or try to force the interview in a particular direction because of the questions you may have on a list. Only refer to your list if things are stalled and you can’t think of a natural follow-up question. Your list of questions is to aid you, not to confine you. Ask about anything that you are curious about and allow your questions to flow naturally as part of the story your subject is telling.

Interview Questions

Here are a few lists of questions you can consider using for your interview or, of course, you can come up with your own.

Questions from LegacyProject.Org

Questions and other tips from www.Caring.Com

52 Questions in 52 Weeks from FamilySearch.Org

Remember, you don’t have to follow a list blindly. Ask questions that make sense to ask and that feel right. Don’t try to force the interview in any particular direction.

5) Preparing and Uploading your Legacy Video

Be sure to ask your subject if it is okay for you to upload your legacy video before you do so. Explain that the project is to share the living history of our community with future generations.

Edit the video before uploading. Edit out the very beginning and endings that are between the interview itself and the moments you start and stop the recording. Also edit out any major interruption. Other than that, you don’t really need to do anything to the video.

Upload the video to the Terrebonne Legacy Video Project Group on Facebook. You have to have a Facebook account and be a member of the group to do so.

So, go out there, make some great legacy videos and have fun!