My favorite part of RootsTech was learning different ways to create engaging family histories–family histories our children will be interested in.

Here’s one example, from a class taught by Lisa Louise Cooke of Genealogy Gems. Her class was titled, Video Magic: Creating Brilliant Videos Quickly & Easily. She shared many methods for creating slideshows to tell the stories of our ancestors in digestible snippets.

This was my first go at this type of slideshow, and it was probably overly-ambitious to try to sum up 80 years of life in a 3-minute slideshow (my choice, not her recommendation). I used Animoto Memories with a professional license. They also have a Personal license for $5/month that will leave the Animoto logo at the end of videos and a Business license for $49/month that will give you accounts for up to 3 users.

You can use the arrows in the bottom right-hand corner to enlarge the video screen. This is their lowest-resolution video but they offer better resolutions.


Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems Animoto Offer – limited time access

Visit Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems for an Animoto tutorial. I’m including the following information from her RootsTech handout:

Animoto: When you’re willing to make a small investment to dramatically increase your options. Available as a free trial, with monthly or yearly subscription options to follow. Videos can be downloaded in four different sizes, which are optimized for a variety of video sharing platforms. It also offers a higher HD quality of 1920 x 1080. Animoto Memories is the slideshow style video tool with over 100 theme templates that include background imagery and hundreds of songs. It includes Getty Images, offering you a wide variety of stock photos and videos. The Call to Action (CTA) feature allows you to provide a linked button at the end of your video to take viewers to the website of your choice. This is ideal for driving relatives to your family reunion website or Facebook family group page. They also offer the Animoto Marketing tool, which is geared to businesses wanting to create eye-catching video ads. This tool allows you to add voice narration. For a free Animoto tutorial series and discount offers, visit: or

She has a great, limited-time offer from Animoto which gives purchasers of even the cheapest, Animoto Personal subscription, access to Animoto Memories, which is the pre-built slideshow template I used above. I believe she said Animoto Memories hasn’t been available for over a year and they’re only making it available till the end of March, for any of her followers who use a special coupon code. You’ll need to visit her site for the coupon code. This is the link that’s worked for me. The coupon code also gives you 10% off any package you purchase.

I still need to watch her free tutorials and learn how to do a better job with Animoto. Without any editing knowledge, the slideshow only gave me a certain number of characters of text, so my slideshow wording is choppy and awkward. I was impatient and anxious to make my first Animoto slideshow, so you get to see a rough draft.


Why Slideshows?

The great thing about slideshows is they’re a very digestible way to let non-genealogists learn about their ancestors. My boys have zero interest in genealogy and family history. They’ve helped me scan tons of photos and documents and I’ve encouraged them to read their ancestors’ written histories, but they always pass. They are the YouTube generation and only want to consume video. Enter Animoto. A written history in video format. This 3-minute slideshow looks much better than even the best slideshows I’ve made in iPhotos and iMovies on a Mac.

I plan on making some type of video or slideshow to go along with each written history I have for an ancestor. I’ll probably make multiple slideshows for each ancestor and focus on a specific event or time period in their life. Maybe with more focused stories/memoirs I’ll be able to create some curiosity and my boys will be willing to watch a second and third slideshow to learn how the story ends?!? One can hope.




Many thanks to Lisa Louise Cooke and Genealogy Gems for the great presentation and great family history tool!

And good luck with everyone’s family history projects. Best in your research!

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