Multi-Media Storytelling

February 10, 2016  - by 
Pool resources to create multi-media family stories.

Devin Ashby, a Project Manager for FamilySearch, also known as the Google Genealogist, and more importantly, a father who loves to document his life and the lives of his ancestors and posterity, basically showed us how he created multi-media stories with simple, mostly free tools, some photos and memories.

He calls multi-media storytelling, “digital embellishment.” It is the art of telling stories in new ways.

Ashby started by showing us a video he had created about his ancestor, Rachel Pass Davenport who came to America alone at age 8 and crossed the plains to Salt Lake City. Using her own journal history, he took the written story and used his family to narrate. He used photos he had and some photos he found online for the visuals. He then added some music to make an engaging and heart turning story of this woman with tools available to anyone. He uploaded it to YouTube, and linked it to on her Find-A-Grave page where it is accessible to her descendants around the world.

Taking a written story and making a video with family narrations, photos, and music will bring it to life. Devin asked us to write down everything we could remember from our year in 2015 for 90 seconds. Then he asked if we had any photos of these memories. He then explained that this is a great place to start to tell a multi-media story.

Through a few more stories he shared, Devin introduced the class to an array of tools to work with to create multi-media stories.


Create a free blog to post photos with stories via WordPress, and with Shutterfly print it into a book.


GIMP – This is a free open source photo editor.


PICASA – Free Google photo editing tool. It makes collages, videos and other options with your photos.

SNAPSEED – Mobile app. It is available at GooglePlay and iTunes.

FamilySearch – Journaling – Used to upload a photo into Memories and write about it. By tagging you can share with others. Devin has his kids pick a photo and write about it every week.

Google Photos – This was his favorite. He suggested that the mobile app is actually better than the desktop version. It has facial recognition technology to identify and find all photos of that person. It will take all the photos of a person and make a video of them. The “Assistant” will suggest stories from your photo collection.


Audacity – An open source free audio editing tool that lets you record voice, sound effects, instrumentals and merge into a single mp3 file to go with your videos.

There are voice recording apps that work great on your phone. Check your app store.

FamilySearch has a built in audio app to record stories as well.

Adobe Voice for iPad. Use it to add pictures and audio narration.


Vemory is a mobile app for turning your photos into videos.

iMovie is an app for the iPad and iPhone .

Windows Movie Maker  This is a free PC download.

Devin suggested to make a folder with all the photos and audio clips for your story and use a video tool to make a movie.


DropBox This is not public but is shareable to anyone you send the link to.

YouTube  It’s free and allows you to upload videos up to 10 minutes long.



Google Drive is part of any Google+ or Gmail account and allows you to upload and share files.

Finally, Devin invited us all to just pick a story and begin!  Use a photo and tell your story!

This article is a recap of a RootsTech 2016 presentation.

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  1. This looks wonderful. Do you have a video of this presentation. We would like to use it in our Family History Center in Tupelo, MS.

    I am the director of the Tupelo, MS Stake FHC.

    Thank you.

    Kay Nelson

    1. Kay, I would contact FamilySearch Research Support at 18664061830 or to see if they know of any presentation available to you. Just to keep your information confidential I thought it safest to remove your phone number 🙂

  2. Devin, The trick now is to get the URLs created at these various sites to become more permanent as we upload our stuff to Family Tree as sources using the Create a Source template, the only place on Family Tree that allows URLs. Why don’t you take that up for discussion somewhere. Please!