Episode 115 - Olympic Gold Medalist Apolo Anton Ohno & Dr. Robin Smith on DNA Week!Nov 30, 2015
Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic and Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. David talks about the historic "First Leftovers!" (It's true!) Plus, a flock of Russian birds that have gathered pieces of antique documents in their nests. What type of bird and what have they found? Catch the story on the podcast. Plus, hear David's latest family history pickup from eBay... for all of ten dollars. And if you're interested in having an electronic accounting of all the books you have in your home quickly and easily, you won't want to miss David's Tech Tip of the Week. And David has another free database of the week from NEHGS! Fisher then visits with Dr. Robin Smith from 23andMe talking about some of the new report features that are available. Health? Physical tendencies? Ancestry? Dr. Smith touches on them all. Whether or not you've spit in a cup yet, you're going to want to know where this exciting field is going. Fisher was recently surprised to run into Olympic Gold Medalist Apolo Anton Ohno who agreed to come on the show and talk about his research into his background... half Japanese and half who-knows-what. His Japanese research brought about some terrific surprises, and he's putting DNA to work to solve the problem on his mother's side. By the way... she was adopted. It's a great visit you won't want to miss! Plus, Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, the preservation authority, talks about a listener question regarding audio for interviews. Tom is going to save you a lot of heartache and errors! Don't miss his segments. That's all this week on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show!
Transcript of Episode 115
Host Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert
Segment 1 Episode 115
Fisher: And you have found us! Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. Well hopefully you had a fantastic Thanksgiving! You’re on the treadmill and you’re just getting ready for the next run at Christmas time. Have we got a show for you today! I’m very excited about it. Of course it’s our monthly DNA show and we have Dr. Robin Smith on from 23andMe talking about what’s going on with them because there have been a lot of changes lately on their reports, and it will be really interesting to hear what they’ve got going. Plus later in the show, very excited to have Olympic speed skating champion Apolo Anton Ohno on for a segment! And Apolo has been digging into his past trying to figure out some of his background. And you’ll be interested in hearing what the journey’s been all about for him. It’s going to be a great segment later in the show. So hope you’ll be here for that. Right now let’s check in with Boston and our good friend the chief Genealogist for the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org, David Allen Lambert. Hello David!
David: Greetings from Beantown, and not far from the first Thanksgiving!
Fisher: That is true.
David: How are you?
Fisher: I’m feeling fat, I really am. A little too much pie but I am hitting the gym. I’m taking good care of myself.
David: Well that’s good. You know I always find if you’re going to go run on the treadmill you might as well have a piece of mincemeat pie or something to lead you on, to get that extra mile in.
Fisher: [Laugh] Yes! It is a quality of life thing.
David: That it truly is. I wanted to share a little story with you and wanted people to know, the first leftovers actually probably occurred during the first Thanksgiving. And I’ll explain.
David: Yeah back in 1841, Alexander Young published a book in Boston containing a letter from Pilgrim Edward Winslow. And it goes on to say the following. “Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling that we might after more a special manner rejoice together. There were many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest the greatest king Massasoit were some 90 men for whom three days we entertained and feasted.”
Basically what you’re caring about is a Thanksgiving that lasted for days. Well, isn’t that kind of what our leftovers are?!
Fisher: Yeah that’s true. I hadn’t thought of it that way. You are correct sir.
David: And I don’t know if they brought home doggy bags from the first Thanksgiving.
Fisher: [Laughs] I don’t know if they had a lot of dogs back there.
David: They did. I mean hopefully they were not part of the first feast.
Fisher: Right. [Laughs]
David: [Laughs] But sharing things doesn’t always have to be from humans. Apparently if you’re a pigeon, you’ve heard the term pigeon hole and putting things away.
Well in Russia, in a Catholic cathedral, in the Cathedral of Assumption in Zelenograd, 40 miles west of Moscow, they have found scraps of paper that had been put away in nests from birds since the 19th century.
David: Yeah it’s like the little mini archives. Of course you know birds will store away any piece of straw or string and what not, and build a nest to keep their chicks warm. In this roof that they were redoing in this 15th century cathedral, they found fragments of letters dating back to the 1830’s records that was written in calligraphy from the 1820s to ‘50s and these are all torn apart by birds.
David: But enough if they can get little fragments of them, including part of a calendar bearing the date of December 6th 1917 with a note that Emperor Nicholas the second, the last Czar of Russia, had been executed.
David: You think pigeons are historians? I don’t know.
Fisher: Apparently so. At least those are.
David: I guess. I mean selective news stories of historical interest. I think Family Histoire News may have been done by pigeons in Russia, at one point. [Laughs]
Fisher: At one time, yes. [Laughs]
David: You know I always love a touchstone of history, and of course for New Englanders, we never throw anything out. I think the term “hoarders” comes from the New England attic.
Fisher: I think that’s true.
David: My great grandfather was in the Canadian expeditionary forces in World War I. I have very few things that belonged to him for his service, including a postcard and a couple of photographs. If I was there, I’d probably want to bring back some sort of a souvenir you know, like maybe a German cannon.
Fisher: Right! Who wouldn’t want one of those?
David: Put it on your lawn. A captured German cannon. You can get one and I bought a small part of a German cannon on eBay this week for $10.
David: During the Liberty War Bonds Drive back in World War I, if you purchased a war bond for a certain amount of money, they gave you a token that was made from a piece of a German cannon captured during the war.
Fisher: Wow, really?!
David: So I now have a piece of a cannon that fits my pocket and it’s a piece of an artefact that could have been you know from a cannon on a battlefield, that my great grandfather was trying to attack.
Fisher: Who knows?
David: I mean I don’t know, it’s just a theory. It’s a great little piece of history. I have coals from the Titanic. I have wood from different vessels, The Constitution. So, in my shoebox I have my own Smithsonian.
Fisher: Very nice.
David: And I think for historians and people who are trying to get a touchstone, you know you pick up a rock from a battlefield or something from where your ancestor served or where they lived or a piece of a brick from an old house or a solavel, it allows you to have that three dimensional connection. And now for this piece of German cannon I have another piece of WWI history and not make my neighbors feel like I’m going to shoot up their home.
Fisher: Right. [Laughs]
David: [Laughs] Ok, my tech tip: As genealogists and historians, you probably noticed you accumulate a lot of books, or do you notice occasionally you buy duplicates or you get gifts of, “Oh thanks, I already have that,” and you end up regifting it?
Fisher: Right, yes.
David: This is a perfect app called LibraryThing. LibraryThing is a free app that you can download from the iStore. You can basically download it; it has a barcode reader if you have a camera on your phone; you can scan in that barcode; it automatically finds the book and adds it to your catalogue.
David: You can then search by the title; you can search by the author. Who needs a bookstore registry when you can have your own?
Fisher: What a great tip. I love it!
David: Another thing that’s free. As you know, as always, for our guest users that sign up, we have two data bases, Essex County, Massachusetts original public records from 1635 to 1681and birth, marriage and dearth, and German church duplicates from the 1790s to 1870s. Now these are all data bases at NEHGS at AmericanAncestors.org have done with the collaboration with FamilySearch and we’re very glad for that partnership. Talk to you next week my friend.
Fisher: All right buddy. Thanks for coming on. And coming up next is Dr Robin Smith from 23andMe talking DNA on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show in three minutes.
Segment 2 Episode 115
Host Scott Fisher with guest Dr. Robin Smith
Fisher: And we are back! Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, with my guest, Dr. Robin Smith from 23andMe. It’s the first time having you on the show, Dr. Smith, good to have you.
Dr. Smith: Great to be here.
Fisher: You have quite an interesting background coming in from Canada, and you didn’t really start out in the field of genetics. What did you do?
Dr. Smith: Yeah, it’s been a pretty circuitous route started off studying spinal cord regeneration for grad school. Then I really got into genetics a lot. And then I did what it is called a post op at the University of California in San Francisco. There I was studying how genes are turned on and turned off. Primarily interested in how we respond to drugs, and how development works, how our limbs grow, how our arms grow. And since joining 23andMe, I’ve been working on a variety of products. I’ve been primarily writing health reports, writing wellness reports, trait reports and also on the ancestry team. So I’ve been working a lot on the new Neanderthal report and also on some of the tools we’ve been developing, for example the share and compare tool.
Fisher: Let’s go through some of these things a little bit of the time here. First of all, let’s talk about the Neanderthals report. I actually had rather high numbers on that, which may explain my forehead and extra facial hair.
Dr. Smith: [Laughs]
Fisher: Let’s talk about that a little. Where does this come from? Where does this number generate from and what is the normal range here?
Dr. Smith: Yeah. Well, you may know that Neanderthals were a sort of sister species. They went extinct around 35,000 years ago, 40,000 years ago. But they were around a lot longer before that. And they were similar to humans in a lot of ways. They were a little bit broader around the torso and had brow ridges and what not. And at some point they interbred with humans before going extinct. So basically most modern humans, present day humans that are outside of Africa have a signature of these Neanderthals in their genome. How much you have, varies person to person. In the old report we had around three percent, my mother was in the higher. In the new Neanderthal report we’ve chained it up a little because there’s been some new data coming out. So all this sequencing data has been published lately and so now we’re really able to pinpoint exactly where the Neanderthal ancestry is. And show you exactly, you know, on a chromosome 1 chromosome 2 exactly where to find it. We can also do something cool, which is basically trying to see whether those little bits of Neanderthal ancestry are correlated with any trait. So for example height, or back hair, or weird things like that.
Dr. Smith: You can kind of go in and see whether you have any higher likelihood having those things based on your Neanderthal ancestry.
Fisher: Well that’s amazing. You made me feel a lot better, because mine only came in on my 23andMe report at like 2.4 %. So maybe it wasn’t quite as high as I thought. So let’s talk about this because you’re always coming up with new tools. Let’s talk about the Share and Compare thing. Explain to our listeners exactly what it is that this does, and why it’s important to them.
Dr. Smith: Well, so in the old 23andMe experience, the reports would basically give you your results, but they would give you all of your friends and relatives, like all of your shared results as well. And it’s not exactly how we wanted to do it because if somebody had a lot of shares then they would have a lot of results. So now in the new experience, basically what we’ve done is, centralize all that information. So if you want to know anything about your relatives, your friends that you connected with, you can go to this one easy tool. On the right hand side you’ve got all the different reports that we offer. So carrier status, wellness, traits, ancestry, just click on that and you can see like in a pedigree view. So looking back to your parents and grandparents, your siblings, or just looking at your friends in general, and see what are their results for those reports. And so you can see for example; let’s say you are 5% Italian, you can go back one generation and say oh your father was 10% Italian, and then go back one more generation and see your grandparents were 20% Italian. So you can do that for any of the reports so it’s quite a useful view for looking at how things are inherited.
Fisher: Do we all actually get those kind of exact numbers where you know you’re divided in half with each generation coming down, or is that just an example you were using?
Because I’m aware that some people will show up with Greek ancestry when they are expecting Italian because their ancestors moved from Greece into Italy?
Dr Smith: Yeah, now that’s definitely a good point. That was an example. And I think that there definitely are some cases where you’ll see that but in other cases it’s not as simple as just a division. And when we’re doing these we are looking at ancestor composition, we’re sort of looking at large pieces of your genes and using statistical algorithm to figure out what it’s likely to be. But that said there’s a lot of variation in ancestry you know. If you look at people in Italy, if you look at people in Sicily versus northern Italy, there’s a lot of variation. So it all comes down to the reference operations that we use, these data sets, and we’re continuing to get more and more and make our algorithm better and better. Hopefully we’ll get more and more resolution as we go forward.
Fisher: So when you mention the grandparents and the great grandparents, do people actually need their tree on there to associate that with these results? Or does the report actually identify where this specific information came from?
Dr. Smith: It definitely helps to have some people connected, but we do have some tools that say, if you don’t have people connected yet, we have this feature called “Inferences.” Where in certain cases we can make predictions about what your parents or grandparents were likely to have had. Based on what your result is. We can’t do that for every single report, but for some of them we can.
Fisher: So talk about the sharing and comparing as far as the health traits go, a little bit more. So if I find I have a first cousin or a second cousin or even a third or fourth cousin that is on there, am I likely to see similar traits and then we can find exactly what ancestor we had in common? “Who to blame” basically for a negative trait or something positive?
Dr. Smith: It kind of depends, genetics are very complicated obviously. There are some things where there’s a single gene, you know, that’s passed down from generation to generation, and that is very informative about a particular trait. So for example: Lactose intolerance. You could probably trace that back and figure out exactly who gave you those variants. However, you know there’s other traits, such as dimples of all things, where there are lots and lots of markers, lots and lots of positions in the genome that seem to affect those traits. So trying to trace it back to a particular ancestor is a little more tricky.
Fisher: Got it. And of course we don’t want to blame any one person anyway because it could come from anywhere.
Dr. Smith: It’s true, yeah.
Dr. Smith: It can be fun you know. Like trying to figure out and I’ve heard lots of stories, CeCe told a story about how the perfect pets were passed down in her family line. And I know there are lots of stories like that so I think it’s up to customers to sort of fill in the gaps. What they know about their family history and what they can find on Gen X.
Fisher: Let’s talk about the future. Where are things going now? What can people expect down the line in terms of the constant development? You’re obviously privy to some things that may be happening down the line that are pretty exciting. What do you see in, say a year, five years, and ten years?
Dr. Smith: I think you’ll continue to see more reports from us. More tools and different ways to interact with your genomes. There’s a really good set reports there now. I think we’re going to be continuing to work on enhancing those, and trying to look at the literature and see what other scientists and finding and see how we can improve things.
Fisher: Do you think there’ll be a time where it’s more like focusing a telescope as we look back and we talk about, say, the Ethnic breakout. For instance, I had a friend whose grandfather was full Italian. When he got the results back, it was very small. It was like 3% Italian. Where we reached the point where we can say, “Okay, he was at this place.” Or your ancestors were in this place at this particular point in time, and then moved. Will you be able to follow that, do you think?
Dr. Smith: I think getting that particular ancestor...I mean you can obviously do that with some of the Haplo group features. Like you can link those back and get other people in on Genghis Khan or 909 hostages but when it comes to looking at the rest of your genome, autosomal part of your genome, I think going back to a particular ancestor is a little tricky. One thing I think that may be possible in the future is being able to get some time resolution on when a particular ancestry may have entered your lines.
Fisher: Um hmm.
Dr. Smith: So you can sort of tell by how big - I don’t know how much you know about looking at chromosomes and segments and all that, but you can learn a lot based on how much of a particular ancestry you have, but also the pattern of the segments in your chromosome. So if they’re really big, they likely came relatively recently into your line;, whereas if they’re really small and choppy they may have come further back. So you can kind of tell, for example; let’s say you’re 5% Italian, you might be able to tell based on the pattern of ancestry in your chromosomes. Whether that is likely to have come in seven generations ago, or two generations ago, or three generations ago.
Fisher: That’s fascinating stuff. It’s a new experience for me. I had my results come in a few weeks ago, and I’m starting to interact a lot with a lot of the other members on 23andMe. Cousins and people who wanted to compare certain chromosomes, and I’m learning how that works. What are some of the questions you hear most often, and what are the answers to those questions?
Dr. Smith: Well, I mean I do hear a lot about ancestry chromositions. So my wife is from Pakistan and some of her ancestors are from around that region. In her line there’s some European ancestry, so I get a lot of questions from other family. Like, “Where does the European ancestry enter the line?” We sort of tried to figure out where that was, and the best we could find is that maybe it came about from Afghanistan. Because there’s been sort of all this gene flow into that area over the years, you know Alexander was there way back when the Greeks were there. There have been lots and lots of upleash and movements in Central Asia over the years. So the best we could think of was, maybe there’s some ancestry in Afghanistan that look like European, even though maybe it’s not, you know. We wouldn’t necessarily call it European today. So there’s also some questions about Italian versus Northern African ancestry, and trying to get out those differences. So I get a lot of questions around that. I think it’s really exciting to be able to sort of help people answer those questions.
Fisher: Yeah. It’s interesting you brought that up. My wife came in with some North African ancestry, and I came in with some Iberian Peninsula, and have no idea where that would have come in, especially at a percentage of two or three percent. Because it doesn’t show up on my lines anywhere but it must have just come down through someone.
Dr. Smith: Yeah, I mean the whole area, there’s obviously been a long history of moving across the Mediterranean right? So figuring out exactly which population was part of your line. I think that’s where you can use 23andMe as a guide, but you also have to sort of fill in the gaps. What you know about your family.
Fisher: Right. As you’ve done your research and you continue moving forward. Dr. Robin Smith, with 23andMe. I’ve enjoyed it and we look forward to hearing more from what your research is showing, and all the progress that you continue to make in this exciting realm, and how it helps us with our family history.
Dr. Smith: Great, yeah. It was great talking to you too.
Fisher: And of course we do a segment on DNA every month, so if you have a question, you could email me or drop me a note on Facebook and we’ll see if we can get that question answered on the air. Not only for you, but for everybody else who listens. And coming up next... He’s a gold medalist and an NBC commentator, and he too is on a journey to find out about his background. We’ll talk to Apolo Anton Ohno the Speed Skater; next in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!
Segment 3 Episode 115
Host Scott Fisher with guest Apolo Anton Ohno
Fisher: And we are back, Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here with my very special guest, Olympic multiple Gold, Silver Medalist, Apolo Ohno in the studio with me today. And thanks for dropping by Apolo. It's good to see you.
Apolo: Of course. Of course. I love your guys' show and what you guys do. This is awesome!
Fisher: Well, thank you so much. And I was thinking about this. You're known around the world, but nobody can quite ever figure out what your background is. And obviously you've got an interest in family history. I want to hear a little about what you've done and what you know.
Apolo: Sure. I'll break it down like this. I grew up in a single parent household. My father was Japanese. He migrated to the United States when he was eighteen years old. Was married to my mom, and then they got a divorce when I was very young. My father took custody of me, so he raised me my entire life. So obviously I'm very close to my father. I don't keep in contact with my mom, so I never developed a relationship with my mother in the sense of got to know her and her background.
Apolo: And my mom was actually adopted.
Fisher: Oh boy!
Apolo: Yeah. So she doesn't know her background ethnicity, because she doesn't know her parents. I mean, you can kind of tell based on the way they look, but because I don't keep in contact with my mom, I don't know. So when people ask me all the time, "What's your background ethnicity?" I say, "Well, I'm half Japanese." And they say, "What's the other half?" And I'm like, "I don't really know." So not too long ago, I did the 23andMe genealogy test.
Apolo: Just to figure out kind of, at least generally speaking, what my history was. And then before that I think there was this show called, 'Who Do You Think You Are?'
Fisher: Right. No, it's still around.
Apolo: It's still going?
Fisher: Oh yeah.
Apolo: So a friend of mine was producing the show. I had always told him, “I really want to know what my background is.” At least on my one side like maybe on the Japanese side, like what does it look like, the tree?
Apolo: Because of the half Japanese heritage, what they did you know? And the Japanese keep this very strict catalogue of historical documentation of where the family and clans, I guess are from, right back to the Samurai.
Fisher: Right. Yes.
Apolo: And they started to dig deeper and deeper and deeper, and they tried to, they had to get like approval from my grandmother. At the time, my grandfather was alive and my father, and they were trying to just do all this research and using all these different translators. And they kept hitting a wall, because they got to a point where the Japanese just didn't want to release the information. There was so much compliance and approval that my grandma was just like, "I don't want to do this anymore!"
Apolo: So, I had the test results back from where I am and it shows that the other portion of my heritage and ancestry is primarily its northeastern European.
Apolo: Kind of like there's some Irish there. There's a little bit of like, British, maybe some Scottish. 1.6% is north African, which I was like, "Wow, that's a bit interesting."
Fisher: Isn't that interesting when you get those trace elements in there and those…
Apolo: Yes, trace elements. People always say like, "What's one thing that people don't know about you, Apolo?" You know, and I'm like, "I don't really know." I'm pretty open to my public, you know like who I am. And then I started thinking the other day, “I do a lot of reading about some pretty obscure off topic things, and one of them is like 'The origin of human species.’ I'm always interested in like, what were the first bones being excavated? What about this tribe? Where do we come from? You know, the other day I was reading about, you know, they found out this, they found this skull and some teeth in China. And they found that this kind of pre-dates what they normally thought of any human beings being inside China. They found like, "we know what their last kind of meals were based on the…" I was like, "How do you?" That is so crazy!!
Apolo: Was this guy eating like some Dim sum?
Apolo: It was incredible!
Fisher: It's fantastic!
Apolo: It's awesome! So really awesome!
Fisher: So did you get some stories out of Japan, about your parents, your grandparents, your greats?
Apolo: I did.
Fisher: What do you know?
Apolo: On my grandmother's side, they found out that I actually have real Samurai blood.
Fisher: No kidding!
Apolo: Really, I’ve got those, Yasunaga Clan. It was something in Japan, real Samurai blood. And you know I haven't done a lot of research into it.
Fisher: When did you find that out, at what point? I mean you were probably…
Apolo: Not soon enough, because I would have used that to my advantage.
Fisher: I was going to say
Apolo: Out there I was skating on razor sharp blades and like feeling “I'm fierce.” You know?
Fisher: Yeah, that had to affect you. So it wasn't until after you'd retired?
Apolo: Well, I'll tell you, it was something interesting, because my father didn't really play sports. My grandfather didn't really play sports. My grandmother didn't really play sports. And so I have this like unique athletic ability that was sort of an anomaly in my family, but there has to be some genetic heritage that has passed down through generations. We found that there's a relative in my family who was an exceptional runner, but never in a competition setting. But he would go visit his wife, and back then, you know, this is years and years and years ago, he would run to go see her. It was like sixteen miles one way or something.
Fisher: Wow! [Laughs]
Apolo: So he was like this incredible endurance athlete.
Fisher: Well you must have drawn something from him.
Apolo: Yeah. And then you know, perhaps from the Samurai bloodline, maybe there's some fighter mentality there that is, you know. At least I like to think so.
Apolo: You know.
Fisher: So you found out about the Samurais. How far back are we talking here?
Apolo: I don't know the exact date period, but it's pretty far back. I think we're going into like, you know, the 1400s, 1300s time. So this is pretty far back.
Fisher: And did you get some of your tree back that far?
Apolo: A little bit. It's bits and pieces and some of it's broken, because they were not able to really connect properly given the approval inside Japan.
Fisher: Right. Right.
Apolo: It's going to take, what it's going to take is, it's going to take for me to fly to Japan with my grandmother.
Apolo: And then like basically just say, "All right, Obachan, I need you to kind of agree to this, this, this, this, and this.”
Fisher: So you need certain approvals from within the family?
Apolo: Every single step needs approval.
Fisher: No kidding!
Apolo: Yeah, it's very cumbersome.
Apolo: And so she was just like, "Why does he have to know? It doesn't really matter!"
Fisher: [Laughs] We're talking to Olympic hero and idol, Apolo Ohno, about his family history background and some of his research. And you were saying you did the 23andMe DNA test. And since your mother side’s was adopted, did you find any cousins, first of all? Did you find any connection with some folks who might be cousins to help you open up that adopted side?
Apolo: Not yet. Not yet. But there's been like some, I think they give you like some suggestions, right? In terms of like who might possibly be related.
Apolo: I always wondered why my goatee and my sideburns were red.
Apolo: Because Japanese all have black hair.
Fisher: Yeah, that wouldn't be from there.
Apolo: And I'm like, this is, I'm either Irish or like, Native American.
Fisher: Scottish, yeah.
Apolo: Scottish. Definitely something in the north Eastern, European region.
Apolo: And it makes sense now.
Fisher: Well, a lot of people will do that. They'll suddenly find a first or second cousin pops up or even a third.
Fisher: And then they can start coming down into what you know about your mother and start putting this thing together, reconstructing the tree coming forward. And that’s how that can get done.
Fisher: But you're going to have to be paying attention to your results in order to get that to happen.
Apolo: Basically what it does is, it takes work, right? So you have to kind of sit down and you have to be committed and really kind of see what you can.
Fisher: Well, and like you say, you've got that natural curiosity…
Fisher: …about history and the human factor. I mean, this is something you can do on the plane.
Fisher: On your handheld device.
Apolo: That's what I do. I do it on the plane.
Fisher: Yeah, all over the place. So what are you doing now?
Apolo: So you know, I retired in 2010 from my pursuit of the Olympic Games.
Fisher: You miss it?
Apolo: Every day. I miss the Olympic space every single day, but I get a taste of it every couple of years when I go to the Olympic Games. You know, I'm an NBC correspondent for the Olympics. I will be in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games as a commentator. I'll be in the 2018 Games as a commentator. I'll be in the 2020 Games as a commentator. '22 and '24 and beyond. So that's what I do in relation to sports. Then I have my own serial entrepreneurial activities that I kind of focus on.
Apolo: I do some, you know, hosting and some acting based in Los Angeles. But those three are the main things that I really spend my time. And obviously the Special Olympics, and other different types of organizations that I've become partners with and try to lend my time to.
Fisher: Love the Special Olympics.
Apolo: Yeah, phenomenal.
Fisher: I remember the first time I was ever asked to host some event there. And I went there frankly, with kind of a bad attitude.
Fisher: It was like a Saturday and It’s like, “Agh, I've got to go host this other thing.”
Fisher: And I got down there. And it was the most fulfilling, heartwarming thing. And I drove home with just such a glow. And I was thinking back about how I'd felt coming down and how I felt returning. And I couldn't do enough of that stuff for many years to come. And it was just a joy to do it. And I can see you feel the same way about it.
Apolo: Yeah. You know, its…
Fisher: It's a revelation!
Apolo: You think it's a giving experience, but you get so much in return. And that's why I try to tell people, "Look, just try it. Just see what I'm talking about. I can't explain it to you."
Fisher: And the love!
Apolo: The love is so genuine!
Apolo: Yeah. I mean, the special Olympic athletes are so incredibly special and they're just unique. And I love being part of an organization blessed to be able to represent them and always kind of take part. It's been a big part of my life, you know. I'm excited about it.
Fisher: Apolo Ohno, thank you so much for your time. And good luck in your pursuit.
Apolo: Thank you. Thank you so much!
Fisher: Because I know this is going to be something that's going to keep pulling you back, especially when you've got all those Samurais back there glowing at you, you know.
Apolo: Learn more about us!
Fisher: Well, don't athletes ultimately use things, like anything they can use as a motivation, right? Some kind of slight, like the Koreans did with you, right?
Apolo: Yeah, I was their motivation. [Laughs]
Fisher: Yes, you were. [Laughs]
Apolo: Oh man! Yeah.
Fisher: He's Olympic Legend, Apolo Ohno, on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.
Segment 4 Episode 115
Host Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry
Fisher: Hey welcome back to America's Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, the Radio Roots Sleuth. That is Tom Perry over there.
Fisher: With his shining bald head in the lights.
Fisher: And [laughs] he is our Preservation Authority from TMCPlace.com. How're you doing, Tommy?
Tom: Well, now that my secret's out, not very well.
Fisher: [Laughs] Well, we have a question from somebody. And it seems to be a bit of a problem. This listener's been following all of our advice about recording and videoing and dealing with audio. He's been putting up pillows around rooms and yet he's still getting a problem with hum in his audio. So, what do you say to that?
Tom: Well my suggestion is get a good external microphone, because what's happening is, you have a tape transport system in your mini DV camcorder and it’s vibrating. It’s causing different things to happen. And as a result, your microphone is picking up these vibrations and there's really nothing you can do about it, because it's built into the camcorder. So you have these inherent noises.
Fisher: So he's done the right thing. He's got the room picked out. He's got it all soundproofed, but it doesn't much matter if the camera's getting the vibration into the internal microphone.
Tom: Exactly! He's reducing a lot of problems, but just like anything, the weakest link is going to be your problem. In this situation, his weakest link is his internal microphone. So get a good external microphone. Pick up a magazine like Video Maker or go to VideoMaker.com. And they have a lot of reviews. They have a lot of good articles of how to mic people to make sure you’re doing it right. But when you get an external microphone, if you're shooting solo you're not going to be able to hold your camcorder and the microphone, unless you have a tripod. So what I suggest you do is, go to BHPhotovideo.com and get a good mount that you can put on your camcorder, but it has rubber cushions so it will isolate your microphone from the vibration of your camera.
Tom: And that's a real good way to do it. If you have a friend that can hold the microphone, make sure you get the right kind of microphone; if you're using what we call a “shotgun” which is one of the best microphones, because it's very, very directional. Make sure your buddy's paying attention to what you're doing. And paying attention to who's talking, so they point it at the right person. So don't use a typical thirteen year old, because they'll be out in Never Never Land and pointing it wrong.
Fisher: [Laughs] Right.
Tom: So what you want to do is make sure he's pointing it at grandma when they're talking, pointing it at grandpa when he's talking. If they're very close together, you can still use a shotgun mic, just be a little bit farther away. If you're going to mic them with like a table mic, then you're going to want something that's more omni directional, where it will pick up like two or three or four people sitting around the table. Or go to a PZM type microphone that actually uses the table as a sounding board. Now you'll think, "Well, how do I get this into my camcorder?" I have never seen a camcorder that doesn't have a mic in. So just run the cables into your mic. And if you're going to use wireless, make sure you get a good system. In fact, generally you want to rent one, unless you're going to be doing a lot of shooting, because you can buy cheap wireless microphones and you're going to get exactly what you're buying… something cheap. You're going to pick up all kinds of sounds, from refrigerators getting plugged in and all kinds of things. They're going to cause noise. So you want to get away from that. And most important, make sure you have headphones on. Whether you're shooting with your iPhone, your Android, a nice camcorder, you always want to use headphones. Because you're going to hear things that otherwise your head is going to tell your brain, it's going to say, "Hey, don't bother me with that." And it'll block it out. And you won't even know it's there. In fact, what I suggest lot of people do is, if you have even if it's an old camcorder, set it up in the corner. Set it on a wide shot. Get a good external microphone and just turn it on and let it run. And set a timer on your iPhone that says, "Oh, sixty minutes I need to change the tape." And let that just run. Use you iPhone or your Android to do little one on one interviews, because you've always got that way what we call B roll. So if something is bad, you're moving to Aunt Martha or you miss something, the camera that you have over in the corner that's shooting the whole room. And you have a good omni directional microphone on it, it's going to pick up B roll. So you can cut to those things and that way, you're not going to miss little Martha telling little stories that you missed.
Fisher: I love that suggestion. You're turning us all into Hollywood people here, Tom.
Tom: Oh, absolutely! Absolutely! Just remember, the awards whether you're getting an Emmy or an Oscar, you mention that you heard it on Extreme Genes.
Fisher: Right. [Laughs] All right, what do you have coming up in the next segment?
Tom: Okay, in the next segment, we're going to talk about now that you've shot good audio with your video, we're going to show you how you can edit your audio and even make it sound better.
Fisher: All right, coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.
Segment 5 Episode 115
Host Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry
Fisher: We are back, final segment of Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show. Tom Perry is here with us, our Preservation Authority from TMCPlace.com, answering a listener question as we're getting you ready for the holidays and the interviews you're inevitably going to do with some of your senior family members of course. And Tom, we were talking about the audio. And you've straightened out a lot of people on the importance of an external microphone to avoid the hum that you would get off of a camera. But what about the editing side of this?
Tom: Okay, there is a lot of good things to do with editing and there's a couple of ways you can do this. Just because you shot really good interviews, doesn't mean you always need the audio and video together. A lot of times, all you're really concerned about is the audio. The video isn't important. And so, what I suggest you do is get a program and you can just separate the audio from the video and make CDs which are easier for people to carry around. You can make the MP3s. And one nice thing about separating the audio, it gives you the opportunity to do what we call "sweetening" in the industry. Making it sound better. So if the camcorder that you had in the corner that got all these voices and there's a hum from the refrigerator, from the air conditioning. You can't take blankets and throw it over Aunt Martha and grandma and all these people to get better audio.
Tom: You know they'll be very offended. So what you want to do is you want to get a good program like Adobe Audition. It's my favorite. It's wonderful.
Tom: It gives you the opportunity to visually edit. Audio's one of the hardest things to edit. Video's so much easier to edit. You can actually see a picture, “Okay, this is the pine tree. I want to edit after the pine tree.” You move your little edit mark past the pine tree. When Aunt Martha says the word 'two' and you want to edit after the word 'two', the word 'two' doesn't stay up on your screen, so you can’t say, "Okay, I need to scrub just past this." You have to go back and forth to find where she says the word 'two'. That's where Adobe Audition’s is great. It has color on the frequencies. And so, when you're watching, you can say, "Oh, that's the end of the purple." So you can go back to the end of the purple. That's where I want to edit Aunt Martha out. For those that want to just do a one off, don't want to get into some real heavy audio editing. If you have a Mac, you have Garage Band, because it comes free with every Mac. You can do some pretty miraculous things in “Garage Band” you can get rid of hums. And basically everything like we mentioned before, has a wave form to it. So you can go in and say, "Okay, I can see this little band that stays totally straight no matter what Aunt Martha's saying. Whether she's excited or speaking low, this thing stays consistent." That's going to be your hum. That's going to be the thing that's causing the problem. So you can go in and isolate that. Find out what frequency it is by looking at your levels and seeing where the noise is coming from. And then in something like Garage Band, almost like an eraser tool, you can go and erase that and take that out.
Tom: So it makes it so much easier. Then when you play it back it's going to sound like, “Wow! They did have the blankets over them.” And everything sounds wonderful.
Fisher: [Laughs] Now you're saying that Garage Band comes with what?
Tom: Garage Band comes free with Macs. When you buy a Macintosh, it comes with a Garage Band, and it's a great way to edit. There's a lot of PC stuff out there. I'm pretty much a Mac guy. Go to Video Maker like I mentioned in the first segment, and listen to some of their reports on audio and different programs they recommend. But Macs are the best way to edit. They're the easiest way to edit. If you have a PC, just see what they recommend. But I really like Garage Band because it's free and Macs are easy to edit on. Adobe Audition's wonderful, because it adds the visual part of editing in audio, which when I used to do music videos, that was always the hardest part to edit, was the audio. Well now with Adobe Audition, you can see the colors and see, "Okay, I need to do this where the blue is. I need to get rid of the purple. I need to do something with the green and the red." And it makes it so much easier to edit. And once you do this, all your friends will thing that they're such wonderful speakers. They're such wonderful interviewers.
Tom: Because they had a good editor that made them sound wonderful. It's just amazing. Just like you make me sound audible, so people can actually listen to me.
Tom: Well if they were in the studio, they wouldn't stand it.
Fisher: Tom thanks for coming in. I think we're putting a lot of ideas in people's heads that these things are things you can do at home. And what treasures you can create. Thanks, Tom. Good to see you!
Tom: Good to be here.
Fisher: Wow! That was a lot of show this week. Thank you so much to Dr. Robin Smith from 23andMe, for coming on and talking about where we’re going with this DNA thing. And also to Apolo Anton Ohno, the Olympic Gold Medalist, Silver Medalist, Bronze Medalist, NBC commentator, for coming in and talking about his amazing background and his journey to discover more about it. Talk to you again next week. Thanks for joining us. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!