What Happens When the Biggest Geek in your Family Chronicles the Holidays?

The holidays are here and this is a great opportunity to chronicle family festivities- everything from tamaladas, to holiday dinners, to post-election family squabbles, to impromptu football scrimmages. This is also a great time to proudly wave your geek flag and declare yourself the king or queen of geeks in your extended family.

Panoramic real-time sharing
One of the cool things about mobile technologies is the ability to share in almost real-time. We know about mobile photo sharing sites like Instragram and  social networks like Twitter,  Facebook and Pinterest. So don’t be surprise if your last bite at Thanksgiving or your massive glug of holiday wine ends up on someone’s social media timeline. If you want to be the head geek in the family, take out that smartphone and start snapping away at family festivities then share the photos online.

One of my favorite new instant sharing features is taking photos in panoramic mode. Apple’s iPhone 4s and 5 both have a built-in panoramic photo feature with the iOS 6 release (which came out in mid September of 2012).

iPhone panorama photo view

To use the new panoramic photo feature, open up your iPhone camera then click on the “Options” button at the top of the screen and click on the “Panorama” button. You’ll see a kind of timeline with an arrow in the middle of the screen. Push the photo button and turn with the camera, trying to stay on the center white line as you record. This will record 180 degrees then stitch it all together automatically and save it to your photos. Then you can share it to your favorite photo sharing sites.

This is what the initial screen looks like (on the right):

If you think the built in iPhone panorama feature is geeky goodness, then you’ll totally geek out when you download the 360 Panorama app for iOS and Android. This application allows you to take a spectacular 360 degree view of your holiday event and you don’t even need 3D glasses to view it. This app is similar to the built-in iPhone app in how it works but the result are much more impressive, especially if you view the end product on the app’s website in stereographic view. A friend of mine, @Suebob on Twitter, uses the app to take shots of landmarks and events in nearby Ventura, California. This stereographic photo is a great example of how to share one of your holiday scenes. Click and drag the photo to see it in action.

Note: you may have to practice a few times before you get nice seamless shots.

Photo Slideshow
The holiday slideshow method has a slow turnaround time to create but is sure to get everyone’s attention. At your first holiday get together, take a ton of digital photos then mix them in with some from previous years. Take these photos and add them one at a time to a Power Point presentation. Add transition animations between each slide and make sure the slide is set to automatically transition after a certain number of seconds. Two or three seconds in between each slide is fine.

If you are going to step it up a bit then you can synchronize the slideshow timing with some inspiring music. Then, at your next family get together, you can either whip out your giant laptop or plug a compuer into your digitally-enabled TV and play the slideshow. This also works well for weddings and corporate presentations. If you do this for a wedding, make sure the bachelor/bachelorette party photos don’t get mixed in.

This Web article has technical details on how to set up a photo slideshow using Power Point.

Videos with a splash
If you want to wow your family with your geek skills with a more multimedia method, you can use the Animoto.com site to combine your photos and digital video in a jiffy. The free version of Animoto allows you to quickly mix several photos and a video then select a music track from its library of 600 songs. The free version only creates a 30 seconds video and it shows the Animoto logo at the end.

The nifty thing about Animoto is that it takes your photos and video and automagically sets  the transitions to the beat of your music selection. This gives it a professional look and feel and you can generate the video in no time. Unlike the photo slideshow method above, you can create this right after the family event and share it on your Twitter or Facebook or family email list. Of course, you can also play it at your next family get together.

This is an example of an Animoto video I created a while back after attending my first Latinos in Social Media (LATISM) event over two years ago. I created this the day after the event and am still good friends with many of the people I met there for the first time so it was kind of a family event.

Filmmaker in the making?
If you’re a geek and always thought of becoming a filmmaker or videographer, you may want to go all in and create a short video out of your family event. I did this a couple of years ago when family members got together at Casa de Luna to make tamales during the holiday season.

I love going back to look over this video because it reminds me of the fun we had that day and because it provides a snapshot of a Latino family tradition.

I used a Kodak Zi8 digital camera (but a decent cellphone video camera would do) to record family members going through the steps of making tamales. Different family members had different tips so I had them share those tips on camera. If they “messed up” a take, I’d have them restate the instructions with the idea that I would edit things. Everyone else involved in making the tamales kept working and having fun as I recorded.

The total video footage came out to over 20 minutes long so I used video editing software to crunch it down to 3 minutes then posted it to YouTube. I shared it online and with family members the next time they came over.

Here is the finished product:

I’m glad that the “How to Make Tamales” video is being viewed by thousands of people on YouTube because it shows a taste of the holidays and of family alegria.

How will you chronicle the holidays this year?